As if UNRWA isn’t already in enough trouble being caught out with Hamas missiles hidden in its Gaza schools, and with some of its teachers praising the Jerusalem synagogue massacre, they have now called for a boycott of the Jerusalem Post for its criticism of it.
UN Watch has written a letter to the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, asking her to condemn UNRWA’s call to boycott the Jerusalem Post:
Barely has the ink dried on the 2015 UNRWA-U.S. Framework for Cooperation—in which Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl solemnly promised that UNRWA would respect impartiality—and its top spokesman Chris Gunness, tweeting on Thursday from his official account, called to “Boycott the Jerusalem Post!” The statement remains there and has not been renounced in any way by UNRWA, nor by the DC-based representatives of UNRWA USA whom we approached on this matter.
What so outraged Mr. Gunness was an op-ed by Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid that called for an audit of all allocated funds to UNRWA and the dismissal of its Hamas-affiliated employees. (“Proud Palestinians must lead the fight to reform UNRWA,” Dec. 1, 2014.) Rather than respond rationally, UNRWA lashed out. Never before has a UN humanitarian organization called to boycott a newspaper.
Mr. Gunness is a repeat offender. In July, to name one of numerous examples, he urged reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, a pro-Hamas Norwegian activist who in September 2001 supported the “moral right” of Al Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Gunness is flagrantly abusing his humanitarian mandate for political advocacy. If you don’t hold him and UNRWA to account, I fear, no one will.
It was, therefore, nothing short of astonishing for our editorial staff to discover that the Post had become the target of a boycott campaign due to its purported political bias. That the man spearheading the campaign was none other than Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, only added to the disbelief.
Gunness posted the following statement on his UNRWA Twitter account last week: “Ultra-right@Jerusalem_Post carries anti-UNRWA garbage boycotting me ie no quote.
Ask @Stevelinde y. Boycott the Jpost! don’t read their lies.”
Gunness was referring to an op-ed in the Post by Bassem Eid, founder and director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, that lambasted UNRWA. “The point is to influence donor nations to reform UNRWA and predicate future aid to UNRWA on reasonable conditions,” Eid wrote on December 2.
By singling out the Post for censure, Gunness performed two disservices. First, he betrayed his neutrality as an official employed by a UN humanitarian organization. Second, he called publicly to stifle a media outlet – one of Israel’s oldest and most distinguished – that promotes free speech and a platform for the expression of a diversity of opinions.
“The call to boycott our newspaper by a senior staff member of a UN body is unbecoming,” Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde said. “It is an unacceptable breach of protocol and neutrality he is supposed to uphold.”
In response, a UN spokesman said: “We have been in touch with Chris Gunness, who has made clear that, in his tweets, he was not calling for a boycott against any media outlet but instead was making his objections to a single article that we all find problematic.”
Ah, but he was indeed calling for a boycott. Just read his tweet. The UN are lying liars.
Linde concludes thus:
The Israeli government and local media should send an unequivocal message that Gunness’s boycott call is an unacceptable attempt to intimidate a reputable newspaper.
A precedent must not be set whereby critique is met with boycott.
Exactly true. But free speech only ever seems to work in one direction – against Israel.
In another example of attempts to stifle free speech and open criticism, UN Watch was attacked by the execrable creep Richard Falk and his wife Hilal Elver Falk and accused of defaming him – as if his own words and actions don’t defame him all by themselves:
For the third time in three months, former UN official Richard Falk has lashed out at UN Watch, this time in an interview that purports to be in the voice of his wife, new UN expert on hunger Hilal Elver Falk, but which appears to have been written by him.
Asked by the interviewer from the Moon Magazine why the U.S. condemned her appointment, Elver, who has famously accused Israel of “water apartheid”, misleadingly answered by insisting that the U.S. did not vote against her appointment, which is true — largely because the appointment of numerous experts was a package deal — but non-responsive to the question asked.
Elver claims that “the U.S. government did not oppose my appointment.” In fact, the U.S. strongly condemned her appointment, following a UN Watch letter to Ambassador Samantha Power documenting Elver’s utter failure to meet the basic requirements of the position. The U.S. slammed Falk’s wife for her “lack of relevant experience,” questioned “her readiness for this assignment,” and pointed to her “biased and inflammatory views” which “run counter to the dispassionate professionalism central to the work of a Special Rapporteur.” Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird sent a letter to the UN condemning Elver’s “abysmal judgment.”
Elver omitted all of this, and instead accused UN Watch of mounting a “politically motivated publicity campaign” against her.
Richard Falk, the infamous 9/11 Truther and author of the New York Times 1979 op-ed “Trusting Khomeini,” has not received a moment of UN Watch attention once his 6-year term as the UNHRC’s special investigator of “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law” expired, at long last, in June of this year.
Yet Falk continues to evince a profound bitterness to UN Watch, the only human rights group at the United Nations that dared to expose his toxic mix of pro-Hamas appeasement, anti-Western invective, support for 9/11 conspiracy theorists and demonization of Israel.
Asked in an October interview about obstacles to his UN work, Falk said: “I was very much attacked in a kind of defamatory way by UN Watch and other very extreme Zionist organizations, which tried — wherever I went, anywhere in the world, they would try to prevent me from speaking and mounted a kind of defamatory campaign, called me an anti-Semite, a leading anti-Semite.”
In truth, UN Watch allies in condemning Falk’s poison included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the U.S., the UK, Canada — and the Palestinian Authority, which famously tried to fire him. For a glimpse into Falk’s numerous statements supporting terrorism against America, the West and Israel, click here.
People of integrity and good conscience need to hold agencies like the UN and UNRWA to account, and to challenge the calls for boycotts and the silencing of criticism unless it is aimed at Israel.