The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a mockery of the ideals on which its forerunner, the UN Human Rights Commission, were founded in 1946, according to Hillel Neuer, the Montreal-born head of a non-governmental organization that monitors the UN.
Neuer, the director of Geneva-based UN Watch for the past 14 years, says the UN is undermining the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in Israel – which that body affirmed in 1947 – by continuously singling out the Jewish state for condemnation.
Neuer was back in his native city, speaking on June 7 at the synagogue in which he grew up, Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem, before some 700 people. Two days earlier, he was awarded an honorary doctor of laws by McGill University, where he earned a law degree. His address at the convocation was briefly disrupted by three demonstrators, who are not students of the university. The protesters, who were shouting accusations against Israel, were removed and the event proceeded.
Neuer is soon due to return to Geneva for the UNHRC’s 38th session, taking place from June 18 to July 6, trying to counter what he is certain will be another barrage of denunciation.
Since its creation in 2006, the UNHRC has passed 73 resolutions condemning Israel, more than all other countries combined, Neuer said. In contrast, Syria was denounced 25 times, North Korea 10 times, and Iran seven times.
Not once were Turkey, Russia or current members Venezuela, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Pakistan the subject of official censure, he added.
Neuer defended Israel’s actions against the violent demonstrations at the Gaza border and said he does not anticipate a new inquiry expected to be launched by the UN to be fair, whomever is named to head it.
Neuer quoted several leaders of Hamas who have stated publicly that what happened in Gaza was not peaceful resistance, but a deliberate attempt to deceive the world into thinking so.
They have admitted that 50 of the 62 killed were “Hamas operatives” disguised as civilians, he said, and that the goal is to invade Israel by violent means and return all of its land to Arabs.
Yet, none of this is mentioned at the UN, Neuer said, and little of it in the media.
Neuer noted that the UN Commission on the Status of Women has also previously singled out Israel for condemnation. The vote was cast by secret ballot, he said, with UN Watch confirming that at least five European Union (EU) countries were among those in favour of the resolution. Ireland and Belgium have since acknowledged their approval.
Neuer rejects the argument by western diplomats that a “big tent” will bring countries with poor human rights records into dialogue on reform.
“This is a big lie, and they know it,” said Neuer, pointing out that Russia’s 12 years on the UNHRC did not improve its conduct, nor have current members Venezuela or China shown any sign of a more democratic direction.
On the contrary, these autocratic nations are being awarded “a false badge of legitimacy” for their actions, he said.
“The UN works by vote trading…. It’s all about deals being made.”
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is responsible solely for Palestinian refugees, is not only ineffective in solving the problem, but has “a mission to perpetuate” it, Neuer charged.
“Children in its schools in Jordan or the West Bank are taught that that is not their home, Israel is. So why are we surprised” by the Gaza demonstrations? he asked.
Another concern of UN Watch is that the EU is sending “tens of millions of dollars” to NGOs whose aim is to prosecute Israeli soldiers at the International Criminal Court.
Neuer does not regard the media as the “enemy,” but does think it has deliberately not reported facts about the border violence.
“They are looking for a narrative. There is an element – some, not all – that relishes documenting the moral sins of the Jews.”
Neuer also had harsh criticism for Amnesty International, accusing it of bias against Israel, too. He related how, in January, Amnesty International cancelled an event that was to be held at its London, U.K., premises by the Jewish Leadership Council, an umbrella group that brings together major British Jewish organizations. Neuer was to debate a representative of the UN Association of London.
The reason given, he said, was that Amnesty International could not host anyone supporting “illegal Israeli settlements.”
“They basically banned the Jews…. It’s chilling,” Neuer said.
Despite all these challenges, Neuer said he is not discouraged. “We are going to keep on doing our best to light the candle of truth,” he said.