Israel suffered a spate of deadly terror attacks at the end of last week: Two young Jewish sisters, and their mother, were shot on April 7, the second day of Passover, and an Italian tourist was hit by a car in Tel Aviv. While many worldwide mourned in response, Francesca Albanese—herself Italian—took to Twitter to politicize the deadly events.
“The loss of life in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel is devastating, especially at a time that should be of peace for all, Christians, Jews, Muslims,” Albanese, U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, tweeted on April 8.
She added that “Israel has a right to defend itself, but can’t claim it when it comes to the people it oppresses,” whose “lands it colonizes.”
Albanese has a reputation for such comments. In January, a bipartisan group of nearly a dozen members of Congress called for her to be fired. The unrepentant U.N. official has compared Israelis to Nazis and said, during an event attended by senior members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad—both terrorist groups according to the United States and the European Union—“You have a right to resist this occupation.”
On April 11, the International Legal Forum and Italian lawyer Barbara Pontecorvo sent a letter to António Guterres and Volker Türk—U.N. secretary-general and high commissioner for human rights, respectively—calling for Albanese to be fired.
“Furthermore, we called to abolish her entire mandate altogether and suggested the U.N. would be far better served by replacing it with a special rapporteur for combating antisemitism instead,” Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of the International Legal Forum, told JNS.
Ostrovsky and Pontecorvo cited the U.N. code of conduct for special rapporteurs, which directs them to be guided by “impartiality and objectivity.” With Albanese, who displays “persistent, ongoing and blind bias and hostility,” there “is not even the pretext of these values,” the two wrote. “How much longer can the United Nations tolerate this?”
“António Guterres and the U.N. leadership repeatedly claim that combating all forms of racial hatred and intolerance are sacrosanct goals of the U.N., yet Jew-hatred at the Human Rights Council is the one type of hatred that continues unabated,” Ostrovsky told JNS.
“As long as the U.N. allows Albanese to continue in this role and her irredeemably one-sided mandate to continue, they are legitimizing antisemitism and endorsing violence against Jews,” he added.
Albanese is evidently aware of the press coverage her remarks have received. She took to Twitter again to say that she is “disheartened” to see her words misrepresented and decontextualized.
She then used language that questions the elasticity of “impartiality and objectivity,” again referring to Israeli “military occupation” and “denying Palestinians their rights for 56 years,” in addition to Israeli actions serving to “stoke the flames of violence, perpetuating a cycle of needless suffering for both sides.”
Be a part of our community
JNS serves as the central hub for a thriving community of readers who appreciate the invaluable context our coverage offers on Israel and their Jewish world.
Please join our community and help support our unique brand of Jewish journalism that makes sense.