GENEVA, June 9, 2017 – An independent watchdog group today called on UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a former Jordanian ambassador and member of the royal family, to apologize for profoundly offensive remarks in which he compared “Palestinian suffering” with the Holocaust, and Palestinian refugee camps with Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau. Hussein’s odious analogy was immediately endorsed by Qatar. Click here for video.
While he disingenuously insisted that the two cases were different, and though he made a point of predicting that he would be criticized by those acting ‘mechanically almost’, the fact remains that Mr. Hussein not only unfairly singled out Israel by dedicating the opening part of a major UN speech to the Palestinian situation, but repeatedly juxtaposed the alleged suffering of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis with Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis.
Hussein, who also expressed sympathy for Israelis, spoke on Tuesday to open the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council. UN Watch took the floor to respond—see below.
While the high commissioner addressed the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2015, his odious analogy — unless he fully apologizes — renders him unfit to be invited back.
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UN Human Rights Council, Update by High Commissioner, June 6-7, 2017
Click for Video
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: Fifty years ago, this was the day I first heard the sound of war. I was three and a half years old and, while fragmentary, I can still remember military men milling around our home in Amman, an armored car stationed nearby and later, planes that flew overhead. It was a war that shaped my life, and forged my later desire to understand the depths of Palestinian suffering but not only that, Jewish suffering too – the latter spanning over two millennia, and which culminated in that colossal crime, the Holocaust.
I grew up not far from the massive Palestinian refugee camp in al-Baqa’a. I worked across the street from the al-Wihdat refugee camp. In the past thirty years, I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, visited Dachau, seen Buchenwald. I have studied in depth the trials at Nuremburg and elsewhere, the long and painful history of anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and later, Arab countries – an antisemitism which remains still present in far too many places around the world.
Some will respond, mechanically almost, that the experiences of the two peoples are not equivalent, how could I mention them in one breath? Indeed, I agree – the Holocaust was so monstrous and so mathematically planned and executed, it has no parallel, no modern equal.
Yet it is also undeniable that today, the Palestinian people mark a half-century of deep suffering under an occupation imposed by military force… Click here for full statement.
Qatar: My country would like to thank the High Commissioner for his updated report… With respect to the conditions experienced by Jews throughout history depicted in the [High Commissioner’s] report, we must establish a link with what Palestinians are today experiencing today due to atrocious crimes committed by Israel…
UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer: Mr. President, in this hall, an analogy was made, a comparison was drawn, and a word was evoked.
And yet — and yet you chose to evoke the symbol in world history of absolute evil.
Thank you, Mr. President.