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Executive Summary

  • Michael Lynk is UN Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” The record demonstrates that Lynk is unfit to fulfil his mandate due to:
    • Partnerships with organizations that have alleged ties to terror groups and that promote BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.
    • Self-admitted lack of expertise in international law.
    • Moral failures, as shown in labeling a virulent antisemite as a “human rights defender” in his March 2017 report to the UN Human Rights Council.
  • In addition to his long history of involvement in overtly anti-Israel events, since becoming Special Rapporteur, Lynk has spoken at eight events with BDS activists and highly political organizations and NGOs that are part of the campaign to delegitimize Israel.
  • It appears that Lynk has only affiliated himself with groups that promote an entirely biased Palestinian narrative of the conflict. NGO Monitor research found no instances of Lynk participating in events that present alternative views.
  • Lynk’s writings consistently dismiss Israel’s security concerns, such as the claim that terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah pose “no real threat to Israel.” He further refers to a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization as a talented writer and poet. A key component in the campaign to delegitimize Israel is to minimize and even erase the context of terrorism.

Introduction

In March 2016, Michael Lynk, an associate professor of law from Canada, began his term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the “situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” According to the application form for Special Rapporteur, the basic requirements for this role include knowledge of international human rights and humanitarian law, experience in the field of human rights, and the ability to be objective and credible in advancing human rights and peace.  In addition, under Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, Special Rapporteurs are required to exhibit personal integrity, expertise, independence, impartiality, and objectivity.

Based on these criteria and the following evidence, we conclude that Lynk is unqualified to fulfil this mandate for the UN:

  1. On his application for Special Rapporteur, Lynk misleadingly stated that he had no conflicts of interest. However, Lynk’s long history of anti-Israel activism irreversibly damages his claimed objectivity, impartiality, and credibility.  Both prior to and during his appointment, Lynk has spoken at events (see table below) hosted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that advocate for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) campaigns against Israel, as well as other promoting policies that demonize and single-out Israel for the region’s conflict.
  2. During a June 2017 event in London, Lynk admitted, “I am not an international lawyer, I want to make that clear, by profession. In Canada I am a labor lawyer I teach Canadian labor law, Canadian human rights law.” This statement contradicts his application to the UN for the position of Special Rapporteur, where he wrote that “I have extensive experience in the areas of industrial relations and labour law, human rights law (both domestic and international) and in the Middle East, particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
  3. In his March 2017 report to the UN Human Rights Council, Lynk included the virulent antisemitic Manal Tamimi in a list of human rights defenders. Following an official complaint sent by NGO Monitor Legal Advisor Anne Herzberg, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights removed Tamimi from the report and published an amended version. Lynk never apologized for his actions.

The examples highlighted in the following report demonstrate that Lynk’s continued involvement with groups that advocate for BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions), delegitimization, and other forms of anti-Israel campaigns disqualify him from serving as an impartial expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict for the UN.

Lynk’s History of Anti-Israel Activism

In 2009, Lynk signed a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper calling on the government to “implement sanctions against the Israeli government until it ceases its attack against the people of Gaza and fully complies with international law.”1 In 2008 (updated in 2011), Lynk signed the “Faculty for Palestine” “Open Letter to university community regarding Palestinian Rights and Canadian Universities,” supporting the “freedom to use the term ‘apartheid’ to identify and debate certain policies associated with the state of Israel and the freedom to support, facilitate and participate freely in activities under the rubric of ‘Israel apartheid week.” (Labeling Israeli as an “apartheid state” fits within the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism.)2

Lynk was listed as a Friends of Sabeel North America’s “Patrons and Advisory Board.” Sabeel promotes BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) campaigns against Israel, and is a proponent of supersessionism and related antisemitic theologies.

Lynk’s “Regional Experience”: Meeting with a Terror Group Member

Lynk published an article “Vignettes of Nablus,” in the Journal of Palestine Studies (Autumn 1990),3 where he discusses his brief time spent as a refugee affairs regional officer for UNRWA – an experience he listed as a qualification on his application for Special Rapporteur.

In the article, Lynk tells the story of “Abu Khalid,” who, he declares, “worked closely with the Popular Front” (p.110). Lynk refers to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, designated as such in the EU, US, Canada, and Israel, as “one of the left-wing groupings within the PLO” (p.110) and as a competing political organization (p.103). Lynk further refers to the PFLP terrorist organization member as a talented writer and poet (p.110).

Manal Tamimi Incident

At the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (February 27 – March 24 2017), Lynk presented a report falsely labeling a virulent antisemite, BDS activists and individuals linked to terror groups – including someone currently standing trial for allegedly funneling $40 million to Hamas – as “human rights defenders.” Following an official complaint sent by NGO Monitor Legal Advisor Anne Herzberg, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights removed one of such individuals, Manal Tamimi, from the report. Tamimi frequently posts antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. For instance, she has tweeted the following:

4

Antisemitism & Reliance on Anti-Israel NGO Campaigns in March 2018 Report

In his March 2018 report to the UN Human Rights Council, Lynk utilizes classic antisemitic rhetoric of greed in his description of Israel and its behaviors, referring to Israel’s “rapacious decisions” and its “avaricious occupation” (paragraph 64). Both these terms refer to “greed” for “wealth” and “material gain” and evoke the classic antisemitic trope of describing Jews as “greedy” that has been used throughout history, and was particularly visible in Nazi propaganda. Lynk also refers to “pathologies of power,” another antisemitic canard, ascribing “causes and effects of diseases” to the behavior of the Jewish State. Throughout history, Jews have been accused of being psychologically variant or “pathological”.

In addition to utilizing this classic antisemitic trope, Lynk also relies on a number of highly biased NGOs – including those with links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization – to make a number of false accusations against Israel. For instance, in paragraphs 10-14 and 22-23, Lynk cites UNICEF, Military Court Watch, B’Tselem, and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) as independent sources of information. However, as NGO Monitor’s report “UNICEF and its NGO Working Group” demonstrates, UNICEF’s branch in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza (UNICEF-oPt) spearheads a campaign to have Israel included on a UN blacklist of “grave” violators of children’s rights.5 This political agenda is a primary facet of UNICEF’s activities relating to Israel, completely inconsistent with its mandate of “child protection” and from its guidelines for neutrality and impartiality.6 Furthermore, DCI-P has close links to the PFLP – designated as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. Numerous DCI-P staff and board members are hailed by the PFLP as “comrades” and/or “leaders.” Lynk’s reliance on UNICEF and its NGO partners for “data” on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors, particularly his citation of UNICEF’s infamously defective 2013 report and its accusation of war crimes, therefore parrots a complete distortion of international law and of rudimentary criminal law concepts and procedures and serves to further this biased campaign.

As in the past and consistent with the prejudiced mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, Lynk’s March 2018 report places sole blame on Israel, negating the roles and responsibilities of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in the violation of Palestinian human rights. For example, Lynk states that the reconstruction of schools following the 2014 Gaza war “remains difficult given Israel’s tight restrictions on import of materials,” completely negating the fact that Hamas diverts materials that have entered Gaza through Israel to build terror tunnels and other terrorist infrastructure.

Furthering his reliance on NGOs, Lynk relies on Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) and Al Mezan for a number of claims regarding the right to health in Gaza, while also citing a February 2018 WHO report. NGO Monitor’s analysis of the WHO report and similar NGO claims note a number of legal inaccuracies and methodological flaws, such as (1) the fact that Israel is not obligated to approve travel requests, yet facilitates medical treatment for thousands of Gazans annually, (2) intra-Palestinian fighting and diversion of medical aid and services by terrorist organizations is primarily responsible for Gaza’s dysfunctional health system, (3) Palestinians have abused medical travel permits to engage in terrorist activity, (4) it is not clear that Palestinian deaths can be attributed directly to delayed or rejected permit requests, and (5) it is unclear how many individuals applied for permits in the first place.

Lack of Professionalism

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) states that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur includes investigating “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention…” At a June 2017 event, however, Lynk brought his qualifications as Special Rapporteur into question when he declared, “I am not an international lawyer, I want to make that clear, by profession. In Canada I am a labor lawyer I teach Canadian labor law, Canadian human rights law.”

At the same event, he also demonstrated to lack knowledge on the functioning of the Human Rights Council, saying that he “has not looked at the June schedule” but had “gone back and looked at the schedule from a month or so ago in March.” He furthered remarked that “the Human Rights Council met for four weeks five days a week for those four weeks and each day would have a morning and an afternoon session so that’s 80 sessions and just one item, item seven, was about Israel.” This admission reflects either a profound ignorance of the operating procedures of the Human Rights Council or was a willful distortion. Agenda items by definition are part of the Council’s permanent schedule and Israel is the only country assigned to a permanent agenda item.

Furthermore, Lynk’s October 2017 report in large part copied an obscure 2005 paper authored by Israeli academics (who are active with politicized NGOs) advancing a theory of “illegal occupation.”7 Lynk’s appropriation is part of a long-standing trend by Special Rapporteurs on Israel who exploit their UN role and platform to promote fringe legal theories for political campaigns.

Speaking Engagements with Highly Biased NGOs

Medical Aid for Palestinians, Amnesty International UK, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights Event

On June 13, 2017, Lynk spoke at an event titled “Accountability and Human Rights at 50 years of Occupation,” sponsored by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Amnesty International UK, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR).

While Lynk stated that as Special Rapporteur he does not take a position on BDS, he added that he will defend BDS as a movement entitled to freedom of expression or speech and that he thinks that it is “only though the creative activism and the enlightened conscious that will be a major factor in bringing this conflict to a successful conclusion…”

Lynk also alleged falsely that “In Canada you have almost no examples of critical pieces of Israel in mainstream media,” despite the fact that he himself published an opinion piece that was highly critical of Israel just a few days prior in the Globe and Mail  (see Appendix II for more opinion pieces published by Lynk).

The groups hosting Lynk are problematic in their own right. MAP promotes BDS and presents political analysis, legal declarations, and speculations regarding Israel’s military operations and weaponry, far beyond the scope of any medical expertise it might possess. Furthermore, MAP’s “2014 Gaza relief partners” included the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health (MoH) and IDEALS, an NGO funded by Interpal, which the United States has designated a terrorist entity. In 2014, MAPs founder, Swee Ang Chai, was exposed disseminating an antisemitic video, “The ZioMatrix of Control” by white supremacist David Duke.”

LPHR, together with Al Mezan and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) submitted a February 6, 2015 joint public statement to the UN following the 2014 Gaza war, falsely accusing Israel of “repeated apparent deliberate or reckless targeting of medical infrastructure and personnel by the Israeli military,” “apparent unjustifiable obstruction of emergency medical access to the injured,” and “serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.” The letter altogether omits the countless violations of international law by Hamas, such as rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, terror tunnels running beneath the border into Israel, and Hamas’ systematic exploitation of civilians and civilian structures illegally shield their operations. LPHR also promotes BDS campaigns against Israel.

Amnesty International disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation, focusing solely on the conflict with the Palestinians, misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict, and ignoring more severe human rights violations in the region. Amnesty’s contact for the Lynk event, Kristyan Benedict, has a strong anti-Israel obsession fueled by conspiracy theories. He has also compared Israel to ISIS calling it “JSIL.” On November 19, 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, he tweeted: “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon & Luciana Berger walk into a bar….each orders a round of B52s (inspired by @KarlreMarks Bar quips) #Gaza.” The three people he characterized as war-mongers are British Members of Parliament, all of whom are Jewish. (See herehere, and here for more on Benedict’s anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric).

Norwegian Refugee Council Event

On June 29, 2017, Lynk served as chair of an event in Geneva hosted by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). At the event, Lynk ignored the context of violence and terrorism under which Israel implements security measures and completely fabricated the number of checkpoints that exist, claiming that there are approximately “200-300 checkpoints. Every time a Palestinian tries to leave Area A or B [of the West Bank] to leave they are going through multiple checkpoints. That impinges upon freedom of mobility and has an impact on the economy.” Even B’Tselem, an NGO known for criticizing Israel, counts just over 80 checkpoints throughout the West Bank.

Lynk also made reference to his report to the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/34/70), in which he absurdly labeled Manal Tamimi (see above) as a human rights defender. Again at this event, Lynk accused Israel of having “illiberal tendencies with respect to human rights defenders. Over the course of the past months the Israeli cabinet has been increasingly aiming to limit, restrict, reduce the effectiveness of Israeli and Palestinian and international human rights defenders.”Columbia Law School Events

Lynk presented at a Columbia University Law School event in October 2016, co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies. One of the center’s main “topics” of its “research and analysis” is BDS, and the center has hosted speakers such as the leading BDS ideologue Omar Barghouti. CPS also runs a website, “Nakba Files,” together with the political NGO Adalah, aimed at exploring the ongoing “consequences of the Nakba” in the format of an “online work and discussion space.

The moderator of the event, Katherine Franke, is also involved in BDS and related campaigns of demonization.8

At the event, Lynk did not display the impartiality that ought to accompany the position of UN Special Rapporteur, and completely negated Hamas as an actor responsible for the humanitarian crisis that exists today in Gaza. When questioned by a student in the audience about this, he responded, “Hamas was only an answer, although a radical one, to the belligerent occupation.”

Exactly one year later, Lynk was again hosted by BDS activists at Columbia’s Law School, co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies. Katherine Franke was this time in conversation with Lynk, as well as Rashid Khalidi – the anti-Israel demagogue who is also supportive of BDS campaigns against Israel.

Scheduled Event with BADIL

Lynk was additionally scheduled to speak at an even hosted by BADIL9 in March 2017. BADIL supports BDS campaigns against Israel, accuses Israel of “slow genocide,” and publishes antisemetic cartoons – for instance, in 2015 the organization published a cartoon depicting a tsunami of keys rising up and washing over what is supposed to be the “negotiation table” and two people, one of whom is wearing a kippah with a Jewish star on it. Another 2015 cartoon shows a clenched fist rising up through a map of the State of Israel with the caption reading “Return is our Right and our Destiny.” An antisemitic cartoon won a monetary award for 2nd prize in BADIL’s 2010 Al-Awda Nakba caricature competition.  The cartoon is a blatant representation of classic antisemitic tropes, including a Jewish man, garbed in traditional Hasidic attire, with a hooked nose and side locks. He stands above a dead child and skulls, holding a pitchfork dripping with blood.

Meeting with Palestinian Return Center

In June 2017, a Palestinian Return Center (PRC) researcher shared a photo of Lynk and a number of PRC employees. The post states that Lynk met with PRC to “discuss his mandate and new reports.” In addition to PRC’s highly politicized advocacy, which includes accusing Israel of “Judaization,” promoting BDS campaigns, and using antisemetic rhetoric, PRC has alleged ties to the Hamas terrorist organization. In December 2010, then Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared the PRC an “unlawful association” due to its alleged association with Hamas. According to the Israeli Security Agency, PRC “is involved in initiating and organizing radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while de-legitimizing Israel’s status as a nation among the European community.” A 2011 intelligence service report of the German Ministry of the Interior likewise found that “Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Center in London as a forum.” According to a report in The Telegraph, PRC “has regularly hosted Palestinian leaders, including [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh, at its annual conferences.” Furthermore, according to a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, PRC is allegedly headed by a number of Hamas activists, including:  Zaher al- Birawi, Majed al-Zeer, Sheikh Majdi Akeel. Ghassan Faour, and Arafat Madi Shukri. According to the report, PRC also has affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Source: https://twitter.com/PietroStefanini/status/874980351629721600

Upcoming Events with Politicized NGOs

In November 2017, Lynk will speak as NECEF Sabeel Canada’s 2017 James Graff Memorial Lecturer (see above for details concerning Sabeel).

 

Appendix I: NGO Events Lynk has spoken at Since Being Special Rapporteur

Name of EventGroups InvolvedPeople InvolvedLocationDateQuotes
The UN, Israel and Palestine: Human Rights and OccupationThe Canadian Club of LondonLondon, OntarioSeptember 14, 2016
Human Rights, International Law, and the Israeli Occupation of PalestineOpen Society Fellows (Michael Sfard)
Center for Constitutional Rights (Katherine Gallagher)
ACLU (Jamil Dawkar)
Center for Palestine Studies
Professor Katherine Franke, Michael SfardColumbia University, NYCOctober 25, 2016“Israel’s blockade on Gaza imposes its separation from the rest of OPT, as in no other country in the world, contrary to international law.”

“Life in Gaza is like a life in a collapsing Third World economy. Not because of an economic collapse, but because of a man-made collapse, an Israel-made collapse.”
International Law Series: Skype with Michael LynkInternational Law Society – Windsor LawWindsor, OntarioFebruary 13, 2017
Human Rights in Palestine: The ongoing violations and severe suppressionBADIL
IHLRC
Al Mezan
Civic Coalition for Jerusalem
Diankonia
Marina Mattirolo (Diakonia/IHLRC), Mahmoud AbuRahma (Al Mezan), Zakaria Odeh (Civic coalition for Jerusalem), Rania MADI (BADIL)March 20, 2017
ACLA presents: An evening with Prof. LynkArab Canadian Lawyers Association Prof. Reem Rahdi, Windsor LawToronto, OntarioMay 10, 2017
Accountability and Human Rights at 50 years of OccupationAmnesty International UK

Human Rights Action Centre

MAP

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights
Geoffrey Bindman

AI contact: Kristyan Benedict
London, UKJune 13, 2017“I am not an international lawyer, I want to make that clear, by profession. In Canada I am a labor lawyer I teach Canadian labor law, Canadian human rights law.”
Can an Occupation Become Unlawful? Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories and third party responsibilitiesLSE –Dept. of IR and European Council on Foreign RelationsDr. Valentina Azarova, Dr. Federica Bicchi, Dr. Victor Kattan, Hugh Lovatt, Prof. Toby DodgeLSE, London, UKJune 15, 2017
The Disintegration of Occupation: Rule of Law in Protracted Belligerent OccupationNorwegian Refugee CouncilDr. James Munn (NRC), Mr. Itay Epshtain (NRC), Prof. Marco Sassoli, Prof. John Cerone, Prof. Michael Bothe, Ms. Brona Higgins(NRC).International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, GenevaJune 29, 2017
Center for Palestine Studies Guest Lecture - Michael Lynk, UN Special RapporteurCenter for Palestine StudiesProfessor Katherine Franke, Professor Rashid KhalidiColumbia University Law SchoolOctober 25, 2017
Fifty Years of Occupation and Counting: Is it time for a new EU Policy on the Middle East Peace Process?European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPal) European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Palestine (DPal) European ParliamentNovember 27, 2017“Essentially what it comes down to is yes… With respect to your power in Europe. You know, Israel is a trading nation. Israel depends heavily on its trade with the outside world. The European Union is its greatest single trading bloc. You must not walk away from the authority and the power you have from doing that…”
Michael Lynk – the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 – will be NECEF Sabeel’s 2017 James Graff MemorialCanadian Friends of Sabeel: A project of NECEF Sabeel CanadaJonathan KuttabToronto, OntarioNovember 29, 2017 “Can it be too much to hope that a finding of illegality by the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice similar to the advisory opinion on Namibia together with the international resolve to apply pressure points to Israel would hasten the end of the occupation and the achievement of Palestinian freedom?”
Palestinian Journalists Under Attack International Federations of Journalists, Palestine Journalists Syndicate Nasser Abu Bakar (PJS), Jim Boumelha (International Federation of Journalists), Jeremy Dear (International Federation of Journalists), Hechmi Nouira (Federation of Arab Journalists), Osama Qarasmi (Mission of the State of Palestine to the UN Office).Palais des Nations, Geneva March 19, 2018 CANCELED
Access to Justice for Palestinian Victims of Torture Al Mezan
World Organization Against Torture
Mahmoud AbuRahma (Al Mezan)
Helena Solà Martín
Palais des Nations, GenevaMarch 19, 2018
Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Health, Gender and Economic Impacts of Prolonged OccupationWomen’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
Palestinian Farmers Union (PFU)
Neil Sammonds (MAP)
Randa Siniora (WCLAC)
Abbas Melhem (PFU)
Geneva2018
Ongoing Annexation and Colonization of JerusalemBADIL
Al-Haq
Society of St. Yves
Addameer
Lubnah Shomali (BADIL)
Rania Muhareb (Al-Haq)
Dalia Qumsieh (Society of St. Yves)
David Deutch (Addameer)
Joseph Schecla (Habitat International)
Palais des Nations, GenevaMarch 20, 2018
Health Under OccupationAmnesty International UK
Human Rights Action Centre
MAP
London, UKMarch 27, 2018

 

 

Appendix II: Selection of Articles Authored by Lynk

NewspaperTitle of ArticleDate PublishedQuotes
Globe and MailFifty years ago, an Israeli occupation foreseenJune 9, 2017“Living in these territories were more than one million Arabs, most of them Palestinian. By September, the international community was expressing opposition to the embryonic Israeli settlements springing up on the West Bank and to Israel’s ‘municipal fusion’ of East Jerusalem.”
Toronto StarInternational law should give both sides pause in Israel-Palestine conflictAugust 11, 2014“The Hamas rockets, while a legitimate concern, and the Palestinians' lightly-armed police forces pose no existential threat to Israel.”
Toronto StarThe return of the Lebanese quagmireJuly 19, 2006“The unsavoury regimes in Syria and Iran, in varying degrees, support Hezbollah and Hamas, but not enough to pose a real threat to Israel. The only other barrier to Israel's objective would be the conscience of the world.”
Globe and MailCanadian-Israeli free trade: a step backward for peace SIGNALS / Ottawa embarked on free-trade talks with Israel when the Mideast peace process had genuine momentum. To follow through now would send a different message.November 5, 1996“… CIFTA contains no prohibition against the entry of goods produced by Israeli settlements in the occupied territories into the Canadian market.”
Journal of Palestine StudiesVignettes of NabulusAutumn 1990“Abu Khalid worked closely with the Popular Front, one of the left-wing groupings within the PLO which attracted support both in the camps and among younger Palestinian intellectuals”

“In 1978 the Camp David accords were negoti ated over the heads of the Palestinians, promising them only a future of Israeli-dominated “autonomy.’”