A key chain of developments in Judea and Samaria, (or the West Bank) within the last two weeks—both closely correlated, but drastically different in nature and severity—warranted remarkably similar responses from the UN, reflecting a broader dangerous trend in the organization of increased brazen antisemitism and anti-Israel bias.
The Israeli coalition government’s new settlement expansion plans approved recently, were, not surprisingly, met with an explosion of backlash from the United Nations. The plans—which permit families to return to their homes and strengthen Israel’s presence in the region by approving 4,500 new housing units and shortening the process for building new settlements—“deeply concerned” and even “alarmed” the UN, which raced to announce that the settlements have “no legal validity” under international law.
The following Tuesday, two masked Palestinian terrorists carried out a heinous terrorist attack at a gas station and murdered four innocent Israeli civilians. In response to this heinous attack, the UN’s Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, issued a weak statement that sounded remarkably similar to the UN’s response to the Israeli settlement plan. The UN was again “deeply alarmed” by the murder of four innocent Israelis just as they were ‘alarmed’ by the Israeli settlement expansion plans. Furthermore, the UN avoided using the term “terror” even once in their response, choosing instead to refer to an “ongoing cycle of violence,” deliberately conflating military efforts to eliminate terrorists with the indiscriminate targeting and murder of Israeli civilians.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, justifiably posits that the UN’s “empty condemnations” mean nothing, and that the UN’s representatives make “immoral and false comparisons between a democracy neutralizing terrorists posing imminent threats and vicious terrorists targeting innocent civilians. Calling it a ‘cycle of violence’ only gives a green light for the terrorists to continue.”
The Israeli response to the shameful attack, on the other hand, was to move forward with 1,000 new housing units in Eli, adjacent to the site of the murder. Netanyahu’s office explained in a statement that their answer to terrorism is to “strike it hard and build our country.”
The irresponsible and reckless reactions of extremist Israeli settlers, however, cannot be overlooked. Hundreds of Israeli settlers recklessly rampaged through the Palestinian town of Turmus Ayya, torching houses and cars, and ultimately leaving one Palestinian dead.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made absolutely clear that such callous behavior has no place on either side of the aisle, reprimanding the rampaging settlers: “Obey the law!” He also confirmed that the perpetrators will be “held to account.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, conversely, refuses to condemn the deplorable murders and continues to sponsor terrorist organizations and allow terrorist celebrations in areas under his control. There is a complete lack of accountability in the Palestinian government, and the UN has neglected to call out President Abbas for his lousy leadership.
. . .
This is not the first time Netanyahu has had to defend Israeli settlements to the UN; following a December UN vote that called on the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory rule on Israeli “occupation, settlement and annexation” of the West Bank, Netanyahu responded by dubbing the decision “despicable,” and assured that the Jewish people will not be considered “occupiers in their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can distort that historical truth.” He added that the Israeli government will refuse to be bound by such a decision. To his credit, Netanyahu fulfilled these promises last Sunday.
To quote from Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz’s speech at a 2016 EMET dinner reception, “To refuse to apply a single standard is to refuse to apply human rights. Human rights must be general, they must apply across the board.” Dershowitz was, of course, arguing against the despicable BDS movement, but his words ring true to any self-proclaimed human rights body: any standard for human rights must be universal. Nevertheless, the UN Human Rights Council has undoubtedly failed to employ an ‘across the board’ standard and instead fabricates inequitable standards to apply to whichever countries they choose to go after.
The UN’s Human Rights Council has a history of attacking Israel through lies and twisted theatrics, recently involving their one-sided Commission of Inquiry. The Commission was born in 2021 after an unprecedented decision to conduct a permanent investigation of so-called rights violations in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. As Director of Touro Institute of Human Rights and the Holocaust Anne Bayefsky put it, the Commission was ‘predestined’ to be anti-Israel. In October 2022, the Commission released a blatantly biased report against Israel, which supposedly probed charges of ‘apartheid’ against Israel.
Consistent with their mission, the commission unleashed another baseless attack on Israel this past Tuesday – this time an outrageous report rife with falsehoods aiming to criminalize the state of Israel. The intolerant report ignored all incitement on the Palestinian end and efforts on the Israeli end to compromise with the Palestinians, and instead painted Israel as “occup[iers]” and “discriminatory.” The report was so transparently biased and false, twenty-seven countries, led by the US, signed a joint statement denouncing the mandate and accusing the Council of disabling bias: “We believe the nature of this [Commission of Inquiry] is further demonstration of long-standing, disproportionate attention given to Israel in the council, and must stop…this long-standing disproportionate scrutiny should end, and that the council should address all human rights concerns, regardless of country, in an even-handed manner.”
Elsewhere in the UN, UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization) made headlines just a few months ago after the US readmitted itself to the agency as a member of its executive board, realizing a troublesome term-long goal of the Biden Administration. Twelve years prior, the United States withdrew from UNESCO under the Obama Administration, and then again along with Israel in 2018 under the Trump Administration, following a recurring pattern of anti-Israel bias exhibited by the committee—much of which had to do with its view of the West Bank and disputed territory! The ever-so-ignorant UNESCO had referred to the Old City of Hebron as a “Palestinian World Heritage Site,” and called the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb an “integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Perhaps worst of all, a 2018 UNESCO resolution claimed that Israel had no rights to Jerusalem whatsoever.
The UN is an organization founded on the ashes of the holocaust with the goals of “maintaining international peace and security,” and “protecting human rights.” Today, unfortunately, the UN finds itself far removed from its roots—and instead takes advantage of its prominent position in international politics to subject Israel to disproportionate scrutiny and seemingly endless efforts to impair Israel’s standing in the public eye. The Human Rights Council, UNESCO, and other biased organizations at the UN, waste so much breath condemning Israel, while hundreds of protesters are murdered in Iran and terrorism runs rampant in Africa. Instead of focusing its efforts and attention on the indisputable atrocities and human rights violations that plague the world on a daily basis, the UN obsesses over blaming Israel every chance it can find. The assault on tolerance and accountability at the UN and the recent increase in disturbing distortions and wholesale fabrications against Israel, as well as its fervent antisemitism exhibited regularly throughout the organization is what is really so ‘deeply alarming.’
If the UN wants to reach a two-state solution, it must purify itself of ill-intentioned bodies like the Commission of Inquiry against Israel, and begin to demonstrate consistency in the pursuit and condemnation of human rights violations, and the countries that warrant its scrutiny.
Micah Cyrulnik is a student volunteer at the Endowment for Middle Eastern Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C.
 Bayefsky, Anne: Lies and Unapolagetic Antisemitism from the UN ‘Commision on Inquiry’ https://www.israelhayom.com/2022/11/08/how-the-un-commission-of-inquiry-was-pre-destined-to-be-anti-israel/
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