Critics of the United Nations special rapporteur for the Palestinians—and there are many—say that Francesca Albanese’s historically chronic fault-finding of Israel and repeated comments and actions deemed antisemitic make her unfit for the job.
An Italian lawyer, Albanese serves as what many supporters of Israel say is a microcosm of the United Nations’s hyperfocus on demonizing Israel at every turn, grounded in a disdain for the Jewish state and for Jews in general.
Albanese sat down for an extended interview with JNS recently, and several of her comments and positions struck a chord with those who watch the United Nations and its treatment of Israel closely.
Asked whether Hamas was justified in crossing the Israel-Gaza delineated border and killing Israeli soldiers on Oct. 7, Albanese told JNS: “Killing soldiers is not an international crime. I mean, why is this so unbelievable? You seem to be puzzled by this. What is the right to resist for the Palestinians? No one wants to live under oppression.”
David Litman, a senior analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a watchdog, told JNS that Hamas did not aim to kill soldiers.
“Its purpose was to brutally murder and kidnap every Jew it could get its hands on. The soldiers were just in the way,” he said. “That’s not ‘resistance.’ That’s an act of genocide.”
Albanese has “a history of whitewashing the murder of Israeli civilians,” according to Litman, who said that the U.N. official goes so far as to “pretend Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian terrorists were just soldiers.” Litman added that Albanese has advocated for the convicted murderer Nasser Abu Hamid, who she claimed was sentenced for “alleged involvement” in “attacks” against “Israeli forces.”
Abu Hamid, who was convicted for murdering six civilians, died in Israeli custody in late 2022.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch and a frequent critic of Albanese, was also taken aback by what Albanese told JNS in the extended interview.
“When she says that thousands of terrorists crossing the border and killing soldiers in their beds is the right of resistance, that’s absurd,” Neuer said. “It’s a crime of aggression and absolutely a violation of international law. She has a perverted morality, whereby she thinks that killing Israelis is always justified.”
Albanese said in an interview with an Australian television station that Israel’s recourse for Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attacks—the bloodiest day for Jews since the Holocaust—included asking the United Nations to demilitarize Hamas or conduct a law enforcement investigation. JNS challenged that suggestion as both nonsensical and impractical and asked the U.N. official several times what recourse Israel had, in her view, for the Oct. 7 massacre.
“Israel has recourse. Israel occupies the Palestinian territory illegally, continuing to colonize the land, to brutalize the people, to let its armed settlers go around and terrorize everyone,” Albanese told JNS. “So excuse me, what did the Palestinians have to do?”
“I’m not justifying what Hamas has done,” she said. “I’m just asking what they are left with.”
Litman noted that if Israel “occupies” Gaza, the Jewish state would have an obligation under international law to disarm Hamas and restore law and order in the territory.
“Albanese’s fantasy version of international law naturally skips over that bit,” the CAMERA analyst said. “The only thing the Palestinians are left with is the one thing they’ve never actually tried: agreeing to the existence of a Jewish state and its right to live in peace and security next to a Palestinian state.”
“They’ve had 75 years of opportunity to do this and instead have consistently chosen the perpetuation of conflict in pursuit of their delusion of the erasure of the Jewish state,” he said.
Neuer told JNS that this is “systematic” for Albanese: “being sort of a wink and a nod to evil actions by Hamas, and then adding some kind of disclaimer saying she’s not justifying them, after she spends half an hour justifying.”
‘Baseless’ attack on the United Nations
In the interview with JNS, Albanese took issue with a question suggesting that Hamas remains in control of Gaza “in part because the United Nations is happy to do Hamas’s work of taking care of its people and creating a U.N. jobs bank in Gaza while Hamas builds up its military capabilities.”
Albanese claimed there is “no evidence” for the claim, citing her previous work with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
“The United Nations does the utmost to ensure peace and stability in the region, despite what the Israeli government says,” she said. “The Israeli government is very happy to have the United Nations managing the conflict, managing the humanitarian costs without taking political responsibility for it. … This attack against the United Nations is absolutely disingenuous. It’s totally baseless.”
Litman called that a “standard delusional inversion” from Albanese.
“Consider that when a former UNRWA Gaza director made the mistake of admitting Israeli strikes were sophisticated and precise, he was driven out of his job—not because he was wrong, but because he did not tow the Hamas party line,” he said.
“UNRWA is a fundamentally political organization that serves only to perpetuate the conflict,” Litman added.
Neuer cited a UN Watch report documenting UNRWA teachers, principals and other staff inciting jihadi terrorism, glorifying Hitler and calling for the murder of Jews.
A report released last month by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education identified at least 100 Hamas terrorists who are graduates of UNRWA’s education system.
“In numerous cases, UNRWA has acknowledged that these teachers have done these things and claims that these are a few bad apples, But we see the opposite is true,” Neuer said.
“Whenever a teacher posts Facebook posts inciting all of their peers, you see on social media that they don’t criticize the perpetrator,” he said. “They celebrate them. They praise them.”
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Albanese was defiant in the interview with JNS about charges that she hates Jews.
“I will always speak in defense of any Jews, including those who feel very strongly about the State of Israel,” she claimed. “It’s their right. I don’t judge.”
“I totally understand what it means for a Jewish person to see the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people. I don’t judge it. I don’t question it,” she added. “It’s their obligation to make sure that Israel, as a partner of the international community, behaves according to international law. That’s it.”
Albanese is an antisemite “masquerading” as a human rights activist, Litman told JNS.
The U.N. official’s “invention and weaponization of imaginary standards in pursuit of her goal of destroying the Jewish state only serves to debase the very concept of human rights and to embolden terrorists and dictators,” he said.
“If Jews have to choose between preserving our right to self-defense, which Albanese would deny to us, and relying on someone who once claimed the ‘Jewish lobby’ has ‘subjugated’ the United States to speak in our defense, I’ll choose the former,” Litman added.