As 2021 ended, the United Nations General Assembly once again singled out Israel differently from any other member nation. By a vote of 125 to 8 with 34 abstentions, the General Assembly established a permanent Commission of Inquiry (COI) through the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate “all alleged violations of international humanitarian law and all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law” by Israel against Palestinians indefinitely into the future.
Based upon a proposal from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UNHRC voted to create the permanent COI based upon Israel’s actions defending itself from more than 4,300 rockets and mortars fired by Hamas toward Israeli population centers. The UNHCR declared Israel may very well be guilty of war crimes in defending itself. Never in its history has the United Nations adopted a similar open-ended, standing investigative commission.
Among the eight votes against the establishment of the COI, the United States stated the Commission “perpetuates a practice of unfairly singling out Israel in the UN and, like prior U.S. administrations, we strongly oppose such treatment of Israel.” Australia explained its decision to abstain because of its strong opposition to the anti-Israel bias of the vote. Australia’s representative stated it normally votes in favor of resources for human rights even when they are for mandates Australia does not necessarily support. However, in this case, he stressed the COI was “excessively broad.” He further said Australia believes in “Israel’s right to self-defense….”
The creation of the permanent COI is but one example of the bias of the UN against Israel during 2021. During the course of the year, the UN General Assembly adopted 14 resolutions targeting Israel with only five other resolutions targeting the rest of the world combined. Looking at the last six years, the General Assembly has adopted a total of 157 “condemnatory” resolutions. Of those, 112 have been against Israel. In second place is Russia with 13, followed by the United States and Syria tied with eight each. The UNHRC has adopted 172 “condemnatory” resolutions from 2006 through the end of 2021 of which over half (95) have targeted Israel, with Syria a distant second with 38 condemnatory resolutions and North Korea even a more distant third with 14 such resolutions.
The bias and discrimination against Israel have been acknowledged by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who referred to Israel’s treatment in the UN, saying, “Israel’s been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias – and sometimes even discrimination.”
On the positive side, the number of nations that either vote against condemnatory resolutions or abstain from voting in favor of them has continued to grow. Recently, the UN’s Ahmed Shaheed condemned antisemitism and stated it is “toxic to democracy.” (Mr. Shaheed, a Muslim, is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives and served as a Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.) Speaking at the New York UN Headquarters, he warned antisemitism poses “a threat to all societies if left unaddressed” and called upon countries to invest more in education to combat antisemitism.
What can you do to help? U.S. administrations, whether Democrat or Republican, have strongly supported Israel in the UN. It is important to the American Jewish community and to Israel that Israel not become a partisan issue but remain a bi-partisan one. You can thank the President (whitehouse.gov/contact/) and our UN Representative, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (usun.usmission.gov/mission/contact-us/) for their support, no matter what party is in power. You can write to the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres at un.org/en/contact-us-0) to complain about unfair treatment of Israel.
Stay informed and learn about Israel. Share your love of Israel with your children and grandchildren. Make sure they are informed, as well. One source for information about what goes on at the UN is UN Watch, a non-profit headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland (unwatch.org).
As part of its charter, the Federation’s Community Relations Council works to support Israel and fight antisemitism. If you have questions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, your question or concern could end up as a future column in CRConnect.