Interviewed live on i24News TV, on August 1, 2022, Hillel Neuer exposed the anti-Israel bias that pervades the UN, and called to dissolve the UN Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry on Israel, after member Miloon Kothari ranted about “the Jewish lobby” and questioned Israel’s right to be a member of the United Nations. Join UN Watch’s petition to terminate the commission.
i24News: We’re joined by Hillel neuer, executive director of UN Watch. Always good to have you with us here. Let’s talk about this commission member. He told an Israel-critical podcast that “the Jewish lobby” was controlling social media, and also questioned why Israel is even allowed to be a member of the United Nations. Do i have that right?
Hillel Neuer: Yes. Look, David, this is a critical time for the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. This has never happened before, in the past several days we’ve had 10 countries condemning this UN commissioner, Miloon Kothari, for having said that “the Jewish lobby is controlling social media” concerning his issues, and he also questioned the right of Israel to be a member at the United Nations.
You have 10 countries on the record — France, Germany, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and others — condemning a UN commissioner for antisemitism.
You have the special envoy of the United States Deborah Lipstadt, and Canada’s Special Envoy, Professor Irwin Cotler, condemning this individual for antisemitism…
i24News: It sounds like you’re describing a positive turn of events at the UN surrounding Israel, despite this dark element that we start with here. Is this the reaction that you and others have been working to — to build in institutionally that this type of thing shouldn’t be tolerated at the UN, that it should be responded to harshly? Is that what happened here?
Hillel Neuer: The jury is still out. But it’s not only the 10 governments, it’s also two significant UN officials: the president of the Human Rights Council rejected the attempt by Navi Pillay — she’s the chair of the commission, she wrote a letter saying that Miloon Kothari’s remarks were misinterpreted — and the president of the Human Rights Council, Federico Villegas of Argentina, rejected what Pillay wrote.
He said that a reasonable interpretation of the comments would indicate stigmatization of the Jewish people, which is at the heart of antisemitism. This is the president of the Human Rights Council, not a friendly body.
I want to note the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion, Ahmed Shaheed. He’s a Muslim and was foreign minister of the Maldives. He has said that these antisemitic tropes resonate, they are echoing what we heard a year ago from the Pakistani foreign minister, when he went on CNN and spoke about “Jews with deep pockets” who “control the media.”
The Pakistani foreign minister is the one who sponsored the commission of inquiry that Miloon Kothari now belongs to, so there is a certain vicious circle here.
But indeed we have 10 governments, we have two senior UN officials who spoke out. What we don’t yet have is the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet — she so far is silent. The commission of inquiry needs to be disbanded now.
i24News: Does that seem a likely outcome from what you know of the UN? Besides these comments, the commission’s problematic open-ended mandate, how are you following all the things that emerged towards Israel in the UN? How are you seeing this commission?
Hillel Neuer: This commission is perhaps one of the most anti-Israel bodies ever created in the history of the United Nations. It has 18 full-time staff, who are tasked with collecting evidence to be used in legal tribunals to prosecute Israelis.
There is no question that their goal is to declare Israel an apartheid state. That’s why they chose Navi Pillay as the chair. She’s from South Africa. Two years ago she signed a petition to governments lobbying them to “Sanction Apartheid Israel!”
Bear in mind: the UN’s own rules require independence and impartiality by their commissioners. That includes prior public statements. Each of these individuals, according to the UN’s own rules, is completely in breach of the impartiality requirement, and legally they must step down.
i24News: How does this happen? Is it institutionalized? How do these people end up on this commission?
Hillel Neuer: It’s institutionalized. Those who sponsored the resolution to create the COI were Pakistan and the PLO, and an automatic majority of anti-Israel countries, dictatorships. The Human Rights Council is made up of two-thirds dictatorships — China, Cuba, Venezuela, Eritrea, Libya, Pakistan.
They’re sitting on the Human Rights Council, they influence things, and sadly these are the commissioners that they picked deliberately — and that’s what we have today.