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Opinion

Shocking UN ‘inquiry’ promotes terror

It’s time for Congress to turn off the money spigot.

Navi Pillay, chair of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, addresses a press conference. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré/U.N. Photo.
Navi Pillay, chair of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, addresses a press conference. Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré/U.N. Photo.
Anne Bayefsky
Anne Bayefsky is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and president of Human Rights Voices.

On the morning of June 20, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry greenlighted Palestinian terror. That afternoon, Palestinian terrorists killed more Jews.

Hamas praised its operatives. Congressional inaction has left U.S. taxpayers paying the U.N. inquiry’s bills.

The members of the inquiry—more accurately an inquisition—were presenting a report to the current session of the U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The call for Palestinians to “resist” came from inquisition member Miloon Kothari. 

Kothari analogized Israeli self-defense to Russian aggression and said that Ukraine and “Palestine” should be “dealt with” in the same way. In his words, “International law uphold[s] correctly the rights of Ukrainians to resist and we would like to see the same standards being applied to the case in Israel and Palestine.”

Hamas, for its part, had “welcomed the decision” to create the inquisition on May 27, 2021. At the same time, Hamas called its own actions “legitimate resistance” and urged “immediate steps to punish” Israel.

Hamas even issued a statement in response to the inquisition’s first report to the Council in June 2022, saying, “The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas welcomes the report issued by the international commission of inquiry formed by the U.N. Human Rights Council” in response to Israeli “crimes.”

The symbiosis between an internationally-recognized terrorist organization and the U.N. inquisition is impossible to miss.

Hamas and the inquisition also bond over antisemitism. The same Miloon Kothari now promoting Palestinian “resistance” claimed last summer that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and Israel ought to be kicked out of the U.N.

Kothari isn’t the only inquisition member with such a bent.  

In June 2022, inquisition member Chris Sidoti belittled Jewish victims of antisemitism, telling the Human Rights Council that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding.”

The chair of the inquisition, Navi Pillay, has repeatedly referred to “the extremist Israel lobby.” She responded to criticism of Kothari and Sidoti by defending them.

In Oct. 2022, Pillay sneered at the U.N. press corps in New York in response to questions about antisemitism. “This is always raised as a diversion,” she claimed.

U.N. rules demand that mandate-holders exemplify (in theory) impartiality, objectivity, independence and personal integrity. But despite multiple calls for the inquisitors’ removal by numerous states and major Jewish NGOs, the U.N. circled the wagons and all of them remained on the job.

The inquisitors got the message: They were unaccountable. Pillay commented on their antisemitism problem at a U.N. press conference on June 20: “It’s an old issue about one of the commissioners being antisemitic. We’ve addressed all this.”

The inquisition has been mired in controversy from the outset. It was created in May 2021 at the behest of Islamic states with the help of human rights stalwarts like China, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela, without a single Western country voting in favor.

The inquisition’s reports are meeting its sponsors’ expectations. For example, the June 20 spectacle included the declaration that Israel is the “root cause” of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The new report couldn’t manage to identify a single Palestinian terrorist or terrorist organization. It cited only Israelis supposedly guilty of wrongly “labeling them as ‘terrorists.’” The word “terrorist” appeared in quotation marks.

The real question, however, is why Americans are paying their bills?

In Dec. 2021, the U.N. General Assembly voted to fund the inquisition  to the tune of millions of dollars—in perpetuity. Incredibly, the inquisition’s mandate has no end date. The inquisition members have admitted to these double standards, boasting that the breadth and scope of their job description is “unique.”

All of this means that, unless Congress is proactive on the issue, the U.S. taxpayer will continue to pay a quarter—the usual fraction of U.S. contributions to regular budget items—of the inquisition’s bills forever.

In 2022, it appeared Congress might step up with the COI Elimination Act. The act would have been a vital policy statement objecting to the inquisition and an action plan withholding American funding.

Unfortunately, the bill couldn’t get past the Democratic-controlled House, even with 119 bipartisan co-sponsors. The bipartisan Senate version was stonewalled by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In January, the COI Elimination Act was reintroduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), but the Republican-controlled House is letting it gather dust.

A June 22 hearing on the U.N. and anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias, led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), astonishingly made no mention of the Act. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has failed to reintroduce it in the Senate.

The Biden administration criticized the overt antisemitism associated with the U.N. inquisition at the Council and the American ambassador delivered a group statement on behalf of 27 countries objecting to it—which Germany shamefully refused to join. But talking the talk isn’t enough.

Pillay smelled weakness. She scolded the U.S., saying that the Council resolution creating the inquisition “was adopted by a majority and once that happens at the U.N., every Member State is obliged to support that mandate because it is a U.N. resolution.”

Palestinian terrorists couldn’t have said it better. The problem is it’s not true. A U.N. Human Rights Council or General Assembly resolution is not legally binding.

American law already prevents U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding certain U.N. bodies steeped in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias. While Pillay and company are happy to trash American sovereignty, it’s time for Congress to demonstrate it will not.  

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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