One member of the UN committee, Brazil’s Deputy Special Secretary for Human Rights
Silva Albuquerque, asked the Palestinian representatives about “the presence of anti-Semitic
and discriminatory contents in textbooks used by children and teenagers in Palestinian schools.

August 30, 2019 — In a rare UN criticism of the Palestinians, the world body’s racism watchdog urged Ramallah to combat “hate speech and incitement to violence,” saying it was “concerned” about statements by Palestinian public figures, politicians and media officials, as well as in school textbooks and curricula, pointing to “hate speech against Israelis” which it found “fuels hatred” and “may incite violence” and “antisemitism.”

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) further called on the Palestinians to “remove any derogatory comments and images from school curricula and textbooks that perpetuate prejudices and hatred.”

In addition, the panel found that Palestinians laws and policies failed to implement UN treaties on racism, or to properly investigate complaints for acts of racial discrimination. 

The 18 independent experts reviewed the Palestinian record and those of six other countries at a session that ended on Thursday, when they issued their findings.

Palestinian Delegate Lashes Out at UN Watch

In wake of the review session two weeks ago, Palestinian representative Ammar Hiajzi lashed out at UN Watch after the Geneva-based non-governmental organization briefed the UN experts on Palestinian incitement.

“We must not allow our discussions to be diverted and side-tracked by those organizations founded and funded to deny the Palestinian narrative, dehumanize the Palestinian people by spreading lies and half-truths about them,” he tweeted on August 15th, prompting a sharp reply from UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.

Reaction by UN Watch

UN Watch, one of the few NGOs to brief the committee on the Palestinian record, commended the UN experts for calling on the representatives of President Mahmoud Abbas to take action against antisemitism in Palestinian textbooks, and for spotlighting the mistreatment of minorities in Palestinian-controlled areas. 

UN Watch’s founder, civil rights leader Morris Abram, was a key drafter of the UN anti-racism committee’s core document, the convention to eliminate racism, when he served as a UN expert in the 1960s. A new book to be published in December, “Touched with Fire: Morris B. Abram and the Battle against Racial and Religious Discrimination,” recounts this history.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer issued the following statement:

“What happened this week was unprecedented. Since 1974, when Yasser Arafat and the PLO were welcomed into the United Nations, this is the first time that the world body’s spotlight was officially placed on Palestinian racism, discrimination and antisemitism. Accountability is always the best disinfectant.”

“UN Watch submitted a major legal brief, and our Legal Advisor Dina Rovner appeared before the committee to document systematic anti-Jewish hate and other forms of racism incited daily by Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials, preachers, school books, TV stations, and social media.”

“Importantly, several committee experts used our materials to ask serious questions of the Palestinian delegation.”

“Sadly, despite their signing of UN treaties, the Palestinian side failed to show any sense of accountability, instead repeatedly pointing the finger at Israel as an excuse. The Palestinians declined to explain why, for example, their newspapers and websites publish grotesque caricatures of Jews that look straight out of Der Sturmer. UN Watch regrets the Palestinian attempt to politicize the review session.”

“Astonishingly, while dozens of EU-funded Palestinian NGOs routinely address UN sessions on Israeli actions, and submit voluminous reports, not a single one of these groups submitted a report at this first-ever UN review of the Palestinians’ record on racism.”

 

Morris B. Abram, expert member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, addressing the world body on January 15, 1964. During his term, Abram became one of the drafters of the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.

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