The United States expressed its intentions last week to rejoin UNESCO after leaving it entirely under the Trump administration. UNESCO has repeatedly denied the Jewish connection to historical sites in Israel.
On Tuesday, the U.N.’s endemically anti-Israel Human Rights Council is expected to review its “Commission of Inquiry” report aimed at Israel.
The writ of the commission is effectively limitless. To understand the implications of the report for Israel, for Jews worldwide and for supporters of Israel in the United States and around the world, Caroline’s guest on this week’s “Caroline Glick Show” is Professor Anne Bayefsky. Bayefsky is the director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, as well as president of Human Rights Voices. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the United Nations, its official bodies and agencies, and their anti-Semitic campaigns.
As Bayefsky noted, the commission is chaired by Navi Pillay, the former U.N. Human Rights Commissioner who has a long history of systemic discrimination against, and demonization of, the Jewish state. The two members of Pillay’s commission have also been exposed for their application of double standards against Israel—undermining the fight against antisemitism—and for the overt use of antisemitic tropes against Jews. Bayefsky explained the lengths Pillay and her colleagues have gone to prevent what Pillay has labeled “pro-Israel” voices from addressing them in their deliberations. Pillay has told the U.N. General Assembly, and the latest report indicates, that the “inquiry’s” intention is not only to criminalize, among other things, the Jewish state as a practitioner of “apartheid” but also to criminalize actions of what the report labels Israel’s “supporters.”
Bayefsky and Glick spent the bulk of their discussion going through what the report says and what it means in terms of possible criminal prosecutions of Israeli citizens before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They also discussed what Congress can do and what it is not doing to take action against the Human Rights Council and, at a minimum, to defund the commission.
Glick and Bayefsky began their conversation with a discussion of the Biden administration’s intention to rejoin UNESCO, the U.N.’s Education, Science and Culture Organization. UNESCO was the first U.N. agency to grant full membership as a state to the non-existence “State of Palestine.” UNESCO has been similarly involved in denying the Jewish ties to heritage sites, including the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron.
American law bars the United States from funding U.N. agencies that grant full membership to a “state of Palestine.” Former President Donald Trump withdrew U.S. membership from UNESCO. The Biden administration announced recently that it intends to rejoin the body and waive the legal restrictions on that membership in the interest of competing with China. As Bayefsky explained, the Biden administration’s move will have profoundly negative consequences for any chance at a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
With a multi-billion annual budget, the U.N.’s operations impact nearly all areas of human endeavor to a degree that we can hardly imagine. Were the United Nations a benign international organization that was truly committed to protecting human rights and improving the quality of life for people around the world, the budget and the power would be of little concern. Unfortunately, the single issue that most of the U.N.’s predominantly non-democratic 193 member nations consider unobjectionable is antisemitism. Over the course of the past 50 years and with increasing velocity in the past decade, the U.N. secretariat, and the U.N.’s bodies, councils and agencies, have increasingly devoted themselves to demonizing, delegitimizing and criminalizing Israel, as well as appropriating Jewish rights, history, culture and heritage to Israel’s enemies, including Palestinians.
As Glick and Bayefsky noted, in light of the U.N.’s power and the danger it poses to Jews, the Jewish state and friends of Israel worldwide, it is imperative that the public is aware of the danger so that they can tell their leaders to confront and combat it.