UN Chief Should Rescind Ban on Naming Antisemitic UNRWA Teachers

GENEVA, October 5, 2021 — A watchdog group today appealed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to intervene after the UN Human Rights Council president on Friday cut off a speech for naming antisemitic teachers who work for UNRWA, the UN agency that runs schools for Palestinians.

In an unprecedented and controversial move, President Nazhat Shameem Khan cut off Hillel Neuer for what she said were unacceptable “personal attacks.” She then ruled his statement “out of order.”

Khan interrupted the Geneva-based human rights activist as he began to present examples from UN Watch’s recent report that exposed over 100 antisemitic UNRWA teachers, a study that has already prompted UNRWA investigations — and, according to Al Jazeera, suspensions.

“I have noticed that in the course of this video, derogatory, insulting and inflammatory remarks have been made which in particular refer directly to specific individuals,” said the council president, reading from prepared remarks.

“This amounts to personal attacks against those individuals and it is not acceptable in this forum. This statement is out of order,” ruled Khan, who then gave the floor to the Palestinian Return Centre, a group linked to the Hamas terrorist organization.

Click here to see the footage of Khan cutting of Neuer.

Appeal to UN Chief Guterres

Neuer had urged Khan over the weekend to rescind her ruling and apologize, but there was no reply.

The incident was widely reported in Israel, including in Yneti24News TV, the Jerusalem Post, and Makor Rishon.

Today, Neuer appealed directly to the head of the United Nations:

“I am calling on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to acknowledge:

1. That my perfectly legitimate quoting of antisemitic posts by UN teachers can in no way be characterized as ‘derogatory, insulting and inflammatory remarks’ nor as ‘personal attacks.’

2. That the highest human rights body of the United Nations sends a dangerous message to the world when, without any basis, it summarily and arbitrarily blocks human rights activists from presenting a report on systemic antisemitism incited daily by the teachers of UNRWA, a UN agency.

3. That the United Nations believes in and will uphold freedom of speech as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that it will support the work of non-governmental delegates in exposing and combating antisemitism.”

Only Standing Agenda Item Targeting A Specific Country

The incident took place during the 48th session of the UNHRC, which opened on September 13 in Geneva and runs until October 8, under the council’s infamous Agenda Item 7 on Israel — the only standing agenda item that targets a specific country.

Held three times a year, the debate routinely features Iran, Syria, North Korea and dozens of other non-democracies accusing Israel of numerous crimes and human rights violations, while making no mention of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Authority or Iran.

UN Watch