UN Watch in the News — April-May 2021

UN Watch was quoted in multiple media outlets during April and May 2021 on topics including: U.S. administration should push for UN reform; German foreign minister criticizes sabotage of Iranian nuclear facility; new Amnesty head denounced for Israel conspiracy tweet; Russian dissident Navalny to receive courage award; Iranian professor’s dark past exposed; bigotry at the UN; WHO annual meeting singles out Israel; Israel under attack.

UN Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission

Quoted in Le Figaro (France), “Iran elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women,” April 22, 2021:

“Iran’s persecution of women is blatant and systematic, both in law and in practice. The UN Secretary-General himself has pointed out the ‘persistent discrimination against women and girls’ in Iran,” also protested Hillel Neuer, lawyer, human rights activist and head of “UN Watch”, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva. UN Watch has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In an article published on its site, UN Watch indicates “that at least four of the fifteen members of the group of ‘western democracies’ voted to integrate Iran”. In this group are notably present France, the United States, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Quoted in Voice of America (United States), “Iran’s Election to UN Women’s Body Draws Outrage From Rights Activists, US Silence,” April 24, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, said in an online statement that while ECOSOC typically rubber-stamps regional groups’ nominations for the Commission on the Status of Women, the US exercised its authority as an ECOSOC member to call for a vote. “I commend the Biden administration for forcing the vote, but they should also speak out to condemn the obscene election of [Iranian Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khamenei’s regime to a women’s rights body,” Neuer said.

Quoted in the Daily Mail (United Kingdom), “Outrage as Iran is selected to sit on UN women’s rights panel despite laws banning female sports, making the hijab compulsory and forcing married women to get their husband’s permission to leave the country,” April 26, 2021:

Hillel Neuer, director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch, tweeted: “No joke: UN elects Iranian regime to top women’s rights body. Electing Ayatollah Khamenei’s Islamic Republic of Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist into the town fire chief. This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights. Iran’s persecution of women is gross and systematic, both in law and in practice. Iran’s fundamentalist mullahs force women to cover their hair, with many arrested and attacked daily under the misogynistic hijab law. They require a woman to receive permission from her father to get married.”

Cited in Bild (Germany), “Women’s rights body accepts Iran,” April 23, 2021:

According to the UN-critical non-governmental organization UN Watch, at least four of the following 15 western democracies must have voted for Iran: Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, France, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, the United States and Portugal. According to UN Watch chief Hillel Neuer, the election of Iran to the women’s rights commission is like making an arsonist into the fire chief. He suspects that backroom political deals led to this maddening election.

Click here to see a full roundup of international media coverage of Iran’s election to the UN women’s rights commission featuring UN Watch, including stories in Belgium’s La Libre, the Netherlands’s Telegraaf, Brazil’s Gazeta do Povo, Scotland’s The National, Sky News Australia, Norway’s Netavissen, Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten, and Venezuela’s El Nacional.

U.S. Administration Should Push for UN Reform

Cited in the Jerusalem Post and The Algemeiner, “Biden administration must push to reform UN Human Rights Council,” Geoffrey S. Korn, April 10, 2021:

According to the Geneva-based monitoring group UN Watch, Israel has racked up more condemnatory UNHRC resolutions than any other country – a total of 90 to date. For comparison, the mass-murdering Syrian regime, whose brutality sparked a devastating conflict that is estimated to have killed more than 380,000 people since 2011, has faced 35 such resolutions. North Korea was subject to 13, and Iran only 10. Countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan and Cuba have thus far not attracted a single similar condemnation.

German Foreign Minister Criticizes Sabotage of Iranian Nuclear Facility

Quoted in The Algemeiner, “German Foreign Minister Rebuked After Saying Sabotage of Iranian Nuclear Facility ‘Not a Positive Contribution,” April 12, 2021:

The foreign minister of Germany was criticized on Monday after he expressed disapproval of the sabotaging over the weekend of Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which has been widely attributed to Israel. …

Hillel Neuer, head of the NGO UN Watch, also criticized Maas, saying, “While the foreign minister speaks officially for the German government, I know many German people who do understand the murderous nature of the Iranian regime and think otherwise than Mr. Heiko Maas.”

New Amnesty Head Denounced for Israel Conspiracy Tweet

Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, “Amnesty denounces S-G’s tweet that alluded Israel assassinated Arafat,” April 16, 2021:

Amnesty International sought to distance itself from its new secretary-general Agnes Callamard, after a tweet from 2013 resurfaced in which she asserted that Israel was responsible for the death of Palestinian political leader Yasser Arafat. …

“The tweet was written in haste and is incorrect,” Amnesty International said in a statement, according to lawyer and human rights activist Hillel Neuer, who echoed its stance on Twitter. “It does not reflect the position of Amnesty or Agnès Callamard.”

Russian Dissident Navalny to Receive Courage Award

Quoted in La Libre, RTL Info (Belgium), SwissInfo, 24 Heures (Switzerland), “Russian dissident Navalny honoured by Geneva NGOs,” April 19, 2021, concerning award granted by the Geneva Summit of Human Rights, which is organized by a coalition of 25 NGOs led by UN Watch:

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny has been honoured by 25 NGOs in Geneva for his courage. He is currently imprisoned in Russia and has been on a hunger strike for three weeks.

Navalny, a prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was chosen for his “extraordinary courage and heroic efforts to alert people to the serious human rights violations by Putin’s regime in Russia”, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer said in a statement on Monday.

Iranian Professor’s Dark Past Exposed

Cited in The Dispatch, “An Oberlin Professor Is Under Fire for His Past,” April 30, 2021:

Oberlin College’s faculty profile of Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, a professor of religion and Middle East and North African Studies, details his long career in academia and touts his development of “innovative courses with interdisciplinary approach to friendship and forgiveness studies.” Mentioned in passing, toward the end, is his tenure as Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. in the late 1980s.

What it doesn’t disclose is that Mahallati aided in covering up a mass murder of at least 5,000 political prisoners in 1988, according to a highly detailed Amnesty International report published in 2018 looking back at the legacy of the massacre.

Rather than open a formal investigation into Mahallati, Oberlin’s President Carmen Twillie Ambar has devoted her time to blocking questions about him from Iranian dissidents and journalists on Twitter.  Ambar blocked the prominent human rights expert Hillel Neuer who “politely asked” about “her school’s Peace Scholar” with respect to the massacre of thousands of Iranian political prisoners.

Bigotry at the UN

Quoted in the Sunday Telegraph, “Sexists and bigots are hiding behind the wokescreen,” May 2, 2021:

Many people were shocked recently when the United Nations elected Iran to their Commission on the Status of Women for a four-year term, joining such beacons of liberty as China and Pakistan. Especially as the commission is a “global champion for gender equality”, apparently working to develop and uphold standards in which all women can exercise their human rights, and promoting the progress of women worldwide. No wonder Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, said: “Electing Iran to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist the town fire chief… The UN’s own secretary-general has reported on Iran’s ‘persistent discrimination against women and girls’… This is a black day for women’s rights, and for all human rights.”

WHO Annual Meeting Singles Out Israel

Quoted in The Times of Israel, “World Health Organization passes motion alleging Israel violating health rights,” May 27, 2021:

The agenda item was slammed by UN Watch, a nonprofit that tracks alleged incidents of anti-Israel bias in the United Nations and its bodies, where pro-Israel critics say there is an automatic majority against the Jewish state.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer condemned the “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and other vital global health priorities and emergencies.”

“Out of 34 items on the current world health assembly’s Agenda, only one, Item 25 targeting Israel, focused on a specific country,” Neuer said in a statement.

“There was no agenda item or resolution on any other country, conflict, civil war or political impasse — not on Syria, where hospitals and other medical infrastructure are repeatedly and deliberately bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; not on war-torn Yemen, where 18 million are in dire need of health assistance; and not on Venezuela, where the health system is in a state of collapse and 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance,” said Neuer.

UN Watch said Austria, Colombia and the Netherlands had shifted their position from abstaining last year to voting against the motion this year. Other countries that opposed it were the United States, Britain, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Honduras and Hungary.

Poland, Malta and Monaco were said to have shifted their position from supporting the resolution last year to abstaining this year.

“However, amid a global pandemic, the minority of EU member states and other democracies who voted for the resolution should be ashamed, including France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, India, Ireland, New Zealand and Luxembourg,” said Neuer.

“These countries have now encouraged the continued hijacking of the world’s health priorities, and the diversion of precious time, money, and resources to fight global disease, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel.”

Quoted in the Jerusalem Post, “UNHRC poised to approve war crimes probe into Israel on Gaza, Jerusalem,” May 26, 2021:

UN Watch’s executive director Hillel Neuer said, “Today’s assault on Israel at the WHO promoted the lie that Israel is harming Palestinian health rights,” but adding that “the opposite is true.”

“Despite the fact that the Palestinians have their own health system, and under the Oslo II Peace Accords, it is the Palestinian Authority which is responsible for vaccinating their population, Israel has vaccinated over 100,000 Palestinian workers since March as well as donating thousands of vaccine doses for Palestinian medical workers,” Neuer said.

“Israeli medical teams coordinated with Palestinian medical professionals to provide training and assistance,” he said. “Israel transferred medical equipment and has trained dozens of Palestinian doctors, nurses and medical personnel from Gaza before the Palestinian Authority ceased coordination in May 2020, putting more pressure on their health care system during a pandemic.

“Moreover, it’s particularly absurd for the WHO to enact a resolution effectively accusing Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, while the director-general’s report clearly states that they have full access to universal health care under the Israeli health maintenance organizations, including COVID testing, medical care, contact tracing and vaccination,” he said.

Cited by the Council on Foreign Relations, “Amidst a Global Pandemic, Another Shameful WHO Vote on Israel,” May 26, 2021:

Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic, but the WHO’s annual meeting can still abandon its responsibilities and divert into an assault on Israel.

This contemptible resolution was supported by France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Japan, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Luxembourg, and 72 other countries, UN Watch reports.

Quoted by JNS, “WHO resolution accuses Israel of violating health rights of Palestinians,” May 27, 2021:

The resolution was harshly criticized by Geneva-based nonprofit group U.N. Watch, whose executive director, Hillel Neuer, called it “cynical politicization of the world’s top health agency at the expense of focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and other vital global health priorities and emergencies.”

According to U.N. Watch, the resolution fails to mention either Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Israel Under Attack

Quoted in The Algemeiner, “Failed Hamas Rockets Falling Short in Gaza Killed 17 Civilians in Monday Incidents Before IDF Airstrikes, Says Security Official,” May 13, 2021:

“Palestinian rockets from Gaza are misfiring & landing in Gaza,” said Hillel Neuer, director of the NGO UN Watch, in response to the IDF footage. “Many of these are killing Palestinians including children.”

Quoted by Fox News, “AOC objects to news site calling her Israel criticism an ‘outburst,’ draws quick backlash,” May 17, 2021:

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew backlash Sunday after objecting to a news site’s description of her recent criticism of Israel as an “outburst.”

One of the respondents to Ocasio-Cortez’s complaint was Hillel Neuer, who heads UN Watch, a watchdog group that focuses on the actions of the United Nations.

Neuer took issue with Ocasio-Cortez having cited the United Nations report.

“Congresswoman, that U.N. report accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’ was authored by 9/11 conspiracy theorist Richard Falk, who was denounced by his own UN chief Ban Ki-moon and by the UK for antisemitism, and it was commissioned by Syria, Libya and 18 other Arab states. #factsmatter.”

Cited in The Dispatch, “Structural Antisemitism,” May 20, 2021:

The invaluable U.N. Watch database shows that since 2015 alone, the Human Rights Council has issued condemnations for:

  • Russia: 12 times
  • North Korea: six times
  • United States: seven times
  • Syria: eight times
  • China: zero times
  • Pakistan: zero times
  • Venezuela: zero times
  • Libya: zero times
  • Cuba: zero times
  • Turkey: zero times
  • Zimbabwe: zero times
  • And Israel? 112 times.

In 2020 alone, it received 73.9 percent of all condemnations by the U.N. General Assembly.

Cited in the Jewish Journal, “The Newest Way to Malign Israel: White Supremacy” May 27, 2021:

Israel-hatred is very much like Jew-hatred—the haters will always find new ways to hate.

If you have any doubt about the irrational hatred for Israel, just consider the United Nations. According to UN Watch, since 2015 there have been 112 General Assembly Resolutions against Israel, compared to a grand total of zero for countries like China, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, Turkey, Qatar and Pakistan.

Quoted in the Jewish Journal, “UNRWA Gaza Director Apologizes for Acknowledging Precision of IDF Strikes,” May 25, 2021:

The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) apologized for acknowledging the precision of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) strikes in the Gaza Strip during the most recent escalation between Israel and Hamas.

The clip has been circulating among pro-Israel Twitter users; for instance, UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer suggested in a tweet that Schmale “tweets against Israel every day” and “knowingly employs school teachers and principals who incite antisemitism and glorify terrorism” and yet even he acknowledged the precise nature of the IDF strikes.

Cited by JNS, “UNRWA Gaza director backtracks on interview about Israeli war actions,” May 26, 2021:

Gaza director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Matthias Schmale accused NGO UN Watch and the press on Wednesday of “blatantly manipulating” comments he made in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 two days earlier.

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