Another day, another instance of officially sanctioned U.N. anti-Semitism. This week, the U.N. Human Rights Council accepted the latest report of its Special Rapporteur for the “Palestinian Territories” and the document confirmed everything already known about the world body’s obsession with demonizing Israel and descent into anti-Semitism.
Many in Israel and the United States have grown numb about the United Nations and its Human Rights Council to the point where they largely ignore it and dismiss its work as insignificant. They point to Israel’s growth, prosperity and military strength. They also note that the trend towards normalized relations between Israel and the Arab states—symbolized by the Abraham Accords—has marginalized the Palestinians and their rejectionism. They see U.N. bureaucrats and so-called “human rights” activists of groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who are spend their time promoting the “apartheid state” lie about Israel and essentially reviving the old Soviet canard about Zionism being racism, as irrelevant to diplomatic and strategic reality.
In one sense, they’re right. The United Nations is a talking shop that spews invective against Israel but has been powerless to enforce the vicious agenda of those who control its agencies. On the other hand, they’re also wrong. The world body and network of groups that feed off of it are continuing to build an international alliance of activists that take it as a given that democratic Israel is the worst violator of human rights on the globe. The fact that the UNHRC has passed more resolutions condemning the tiny Jewish state than those directed at every other country is proof of just how out of touch it is from reality.
Yet a growing constituency of left-wing groups, even if just in the United States, subscribe to intersectional myths about the Palestinian war on Israel being linked to the civil-rights movement, believing it’s a function of “white privilege” to be condemned as a matter of principle. The influence of these factions on the Democratic Party and American politics is a matter of record as “The Squad” and its “progressive” allies increasingly line up against Israel.
So when the UNHRC holds another Israel-bashing session in Geneva, where it puts on the record another report giving credence to the apartheid lie, it would be foolish to think that it doesn’t reinforce the smears of the Jewish state that are uttered by the likes of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and echoed by the left’s fans who largely control the world of popular culture.
That’s why those who think the Special Rapporteur’s latest report is simply noise to be regarded with contempt rather than something to sound the alarm about fail to understand the problem. That’s especially true since, in contrast to the Trump administration—it pulled out of the UNHRC when U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley to the United Nations rightly denounced it as a “cesspool of political bias”—the Biden administration has rejoined it, lending it the legitimacy of the American presence.
The official tasked by the UNHRC to monitor the situation in the territories for the last six years is Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor who had long been a vocal foe of Israel. He fit right into the pattern set by one of his predecessors, American academic Richard Falk, who set the standard for biased, propaganda-filled reports that tossed reason, logic, history and legal principles to the winds. Everything he did was aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state and ignoring Palestinian responsibility for terrorism, in addition to the ongoing stalemate that has left the area in a diplomatic limbo. Indeed, so one-sided and distorted were his official accounts of the situation that even President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the UNHRC demanded his resignation.
Everything that was said about Falk is equally true of Lynk. He didn’t merely ignore arguments rooted in international law that respected the right of Jews to live and build in the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland. He relied solely on Palestinian non-governmental organizations that are funded by terror groups and others who are opposed to the existence of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.
While Lynk has been particularly vicious, part of the problem is that this is more or less what the institution asks the person appointed to this job to do. Their task is to solely report on the Palestinians with no context or balance.
Still, his report isn’t just wrongheaded or an example of the U.N.’s prejudice against Israel; it crosses over from run-of-the-mill unfair criticism of Israel into outright anti-Semitic invective.
The report’s entire purpose is to justify the canard about apartheid. But to make its argument, it uses the kind of loaded language that is redolent of traditional anti-Semitic tropes. In it, it speaks of Israel as a “covetous alien power,” of Jewish “greed,” of Israel as an “acquisitive occupier,” “rapacious Jewish Israelis” intent on “permanent domination” and of “fever dreams of settler colonialism.” In Lynk’s screed, Israelis are “pitiless” oppressors building security fences and bombarding the Gaza Strip for no apparent reason with “dark” and “ominous” intent, while also playing the role of “torturer” and “child killer” in order to advance an agenda of “racial supremacy.”
As Professor Anne Bayefsky of Touro College and the Human Rights Voices monitoring group said in her response to Lynk’s presentation, his report used language that was familiar to readers of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf, both of which used similar imagery and words in order to promote myths about Jewish evildoing. Yet when Bayefsky pointed this out, she was interrupted and chided by UNHRC president Federico Villegas of Argentina for speaking inappropriately, although he had listened complacently to anti-Semitic invective from Lynk—and his various Palestinian and NGO supporters—without a word of protest.
The context for this travesty is the U.N. General Assembly’s current project in which it has commissioned a formal report from a so-called “independent commission of inquiry” about Israeli actions that has been given an open-ended mandate to harry the Jewish state. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court continues to plot a prosecution of Israel for fake war-crimes charges intended to criminalize its self-defense against terrorism.
Yet the most infuriating aspect of this is the way the Biden administration, despite occasional ineffectual protests, continues to support the UNHRC with its presence and pay 22 percent of U.N. costs with American taxpayer dollars.
The Biden foreign-policy team is made up of people who believe in multilateralism and the United Nations as if it were a religion whose value must not be questioned, despite what it says and does in its name. Nor can it be ignored that the U.S. State Department has now contributed to the effort to bolster the apartheid lie with its own contribution: the offer of nearly $1 million in public funds offered as grants for “human-rights” groups in the West Bank that will doubtlessly continue in the same vein as Lynk’s screed.
Rather than treat this as an annoying irrelevancy that does no real harm, it must be understood that the United Nations and its agencies, and allies like Amnesty and HRW, are providing the foundation for further “progressive” attacks on Israel as well as cover for the anti-Semitic BDS movement. Rather than tolerate their antics, the world body should be starved of funds, and its Jew-hating bureaucracy told to get their stipends from sources other than the American people, who—the left’s advocacy notwithstanding—want no part of its anti-Semitic invective and actions. Until he moves to disassociate the United States from the dangerous anti-Semitic routine of the United Nations, Biden must be held to account for his administration’s willingness to be part of an institution where this kind of vicious prejudice is considered business as usual.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS (Jewish News Syndicate). Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.