The UN can’t seem to get enough of bashing Israel. Not only did the Human
Rights Wrongs Commission condemn Israel last week for the umpteenth time, but yet another UN agency, one that I’ve never heard of, called the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA), issued a report condemning Israel for its “apartheid practices” which Israeli rightfully condemned:
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations slammed the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on Wednesday after the commission released a report accusing Israel of establishing “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report, titled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” says that “available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.”
The Beirut-based commission slammed Israel’s Law of Return, “conferring on Jews worldwide the right to enter Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship regardless of their countries of origin and whether or not they can show links to Israel-Palestine, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians, including those with documented ancestral homes in the country,” as a policy of “demographic engineering” meant to uphold Israel’s status as the Jewish state.
The report further accuses Israel of “practices” that have fragmented Palestinians, arguing that it is the “principal method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s UN envoy, hit back at the report, saying the “attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie.”
Honest Reporting makes an important point about the composition of this unesteemed commission:
The New York Times notes that the Beirut-based ESCWA is “composed entirely of Arab member states; most do not recognize Israel,”
As the Times of Israel remarked on commission’s members:
The report was compiled by Richard Falk, a Princeton professor emeritus with a long track record of vehemently anti-Israel rhetoric who previously was the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, and by Virginia Tilley, an American political scientist who authored the book “The One-State Solution” in 2005.
Haley described Falk as “a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories.”
Richard Falk has a long, long record of vicious anti-Israel activity, as readers of this blog will know.
Here is Ambassador Nikki Haley talking about the biased report (via Israellycool):
And here is UN Watch’s short video about the main instigator of the report, the revolting antisemite Richard Falk:
How anyone could consider this a fair investigation is beyond me. It is obviously only the sort of thing that the UN could think up.
To put this into its right context, the commission first created the title and “job description” of the report, and then “found” (or rather, invented) the facts to fit their verdict. In the words of American Jewish leaders: (emphases are mine):
World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer called the report — authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley — “a sad attempt to reinstate the infamous 1975 UN resolution that considered Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination” and said UN leaders and member states should “dissociate themselves from this report and to condemn it for what it is: a piece of vile anti-Israel propaganda that has not basis in fact.”
The authors of the report, Singer went on to note, “seem to live in a parallel universe. They don’t care about facts when these don’t fit into their one-sided narrative. It is sad to witness how time and again the United Nations is being hijacked by people whose agenda it is to deny the Jewish people’s right to a democratic and free state in its ancient homeland, Israel.”
The very good news is that the US has demanded that the report be pulled:
The United States on Wednesday demanded that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres withdraw a report by a UN body accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians and of racially dominating them.
Guterres distanced himself from the report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) but US Ambassador Nikki Haley said it should be scrapped altogether.
“The United States is outraged by the report,” said Haley in a statement. “The United Nations secretariat was right to distance itself from this report, but it must go further and withdraw the report altogether.”
Based in Beirut, ESCWA is comprised of 18 Arab countries, according to its website, which lists the state of Palestine as a full member, and works to strengthen cooperation and promote development.
“That such anti-Israel propaganda would come from a body whose membership nearly universally does not recognize Israel is unsurprising,” said Haley.
And now, the best news, (via Brian Goldfarb) after all the brouhaha, is that the head of the ESCWA has resigned over pressure from the Secretary General of the UN himself to withdraw the report:
The head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has resigned over pressure she said she received from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to withdraw a report published earlier this week that accused Israel of establishing an “apartheid regime” that “dominates the Palestinian people as a whole,” according to Reuters.
Under Secretary-General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf made the announcement on Friday in Beirut, Lebanon — where the 18-member ESCWA is headquartered.
As of Friday, a link to the report could no longer be found on the front page of the ESCWA website.
Nikki Haley was delighted with this news as was Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon:
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon also praised Guterres, stating, “The secretary-general’s decision is an important step in ending the bias against Israel at the UN. Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN. It is time to put an end to practice in which UN officials use their position to advance their anti-Israel agenda.”
“Over the years,” Danon continued, “Khalaf has worked to harm Israel and advocate for the BDS movement. Her removal from the UN is long overdue.”
The damage has now been partly undone. Partly because while the report has been withdrawn from the Web, the reports in the international media, especially in print, are now out there – and what has been read cannot be unread, what has been seen cannot be unseen.
The UN under the new Secretary General Antonio Gutteres seems to be heading in a better direction than the past, but if Gutteres really wants to improve its standing he could do worse than start by disbanding such blatantly biased and one-sided commissions such as ESCWA which seem to have no purpose other than bashing Israel.