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In wake of his viral tweet seen more than 3 millions times, Hillel Neuer was interviewed by ILTV about dictatorships sitting on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Lidar Gravé-Lazi, ILTV: Joining us now is Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of United Nations Watch. Let’s start with the UN Human Rights Council. How do you explain the fact that 70% of its members are non-democratic countries, many with major human rights violations?
Hillel Neuer: The world needs a credible Human Rights Council to defend millions of victims in places like Iran, Syria, North Korea, who are suffering arbitrary executions, torture, prison, rape, and they need to be defended. When the world elects regimes like China, Cuba, Pakistan, to its highest human rights body, that’s like naming Al Capone and his gang to fight organized crime. It’s a betrayal.
ILTV: This double standard…how can the world be expected to take the council’s decisions seriously?
Hillel Neuer: There is a serious credibility gap. When 70% of the members of the UN Human Rights Council are either full-on tyrannies, like China and Cuba, that are police states, or authoritarian regimes like Qatar and Pakistan, that mistreat women and migrants. It’s very hard for the world to take it seriously, and it raises the question, how can they even implement mandates that are positive, like the inquiry created on Iran. Who’s going to be running the inquiry? When you know who the members of the Human Rights Council are, it raises questions and undermines the credibility of the entire operation.
ILTV: And we know that the UN in general and the UN Human Rights Council in particular has an obsession with Israel. We’ve seen countless resolutions on Israel, while other nations with really questionable human rights records have received zero resolutions. Why do you believe this is the case? Why this obsession with Israel?
Hillel Neuer: There are many factors at play. These resolutions are introduced by the Arab and Islamic States, historically to deflect attention from their own records. It’s their narrative to demonize Israel, and they have the power. They have the oil — historically, countries vote with them for that. Then there’s vote trading. The Islamic group is 56 nations. Jewish countries, there’s just one. Countries are afraid of inviting terrorism if they dare to be the few who will stand opposed to this automatic majority against Israel.
And let’s face it, there’s also today what we call the new antisemitism. If once in the Middle Ages when there was the black plague, they said the Jew is poisoning the wells, today, if there’s human rights abuse and problems in the world, it’s the Jewish state that gets blamed. The General Assembly last year had one resolution on Iran, one on North Korea, one on Syria — and 15 on the Jewish state. There’s no question that Israel today plays the role of the Jewish scapegoat.
ILTV: And now I want to also ask about the recent vote in the UN General Assembly against Israel. Even some of Israel’s newest allies, some of the Arab states were voting against us. What does Israel need to do at the UN to change this ridiculous obsession, or is this going to continue to be the norm?
Hillel Neuer: Well, it’s been the norm for many years. And you mentioned the new Arab states, it’s hard to expect them to vote for Israel when even countries that Israel has excellent bilateral relations with for many years, countries like Singapore, vote against Israel. It has become the default, and Israel needs to work hard to change it. It’s very much an uphill battle. It has to begin with Israel’s closest allies in the democratic world sometimes. Last week, countries like Germany, Canada, Australia, they voted for Israel. Others like Luxembourg did not.
Israel has to make the case among its allies. Countries need to realize that this obsession is not only bad for the peace process, polarizing the Israeli and Arab sides, but it’s bad for the world. All this time spent on demonizing Israel is time not spent on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Cuba and Pakistan. And that’s part of the strategy of these countries.
ILTV: Absolutely. Hillel, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today, and for the work that you do at the UN.
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Meet the 2023 U.N. Human Rights Council.
Members now include:
I wish I were making this up. I'm not. Today, 70% of UNHRC are non-democracies. Happy New Year.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) January 1, 2023