United Nations in Geneva
United Nations in GenevaiStock

An unusual hearing was held in the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva. Tuesday evening.

The participants dealt with the incitement, racism and anti-Semitism that exists within the Palestinian Authority.

“Several NGO reports pointed out antisemitic and anti-Israel prejudice and incitement to hatred, especially in the [PA] media and speeches of state officials. Can the state party [the PA] provide any explanation in this regard?” asked Chinsung Chung, the South Korean representative on the committee.

Committee member Silva Albuquerque said that he had been presented with concrete examples of racism in PA publications, including school textbooks.

“Our convention obliges state parties to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in education, to combat racial discrimination and prejudice between different racial and ethnic groups, over jurisprudence,”Albuquerque said.

PA representative Ammar Hijazi denied that the PA engaged in any form of racism or anti-Semitism. “We do not discriminate against any of our citizens based on ethnicity and religion or sex. We are a state that is trying to find its path and still formulating its law."

Hijazi further accused the committee members who questioned him of unquestionably accepting the statements of NGOs which he said were "founded and funded to deny Palestinians their rights, their narrative and to spread untruths about them.”

Professor Gerald Steinberg, the founder of NGO Monitor, which provided documentation of racist and anti-Semitic material from the PA to the committee, said that the questioning of the PA representative by a UN committee was historic.

"UN committees are usually frameworks where attacks on Israel and demonization are standard fare. But when the expert committee held its first session on Palestinian compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the issues of antisemitism and incitement, including in schools, was the main focus. And instead of the usual anti-Israel NGOs, we were there and the experts listened carefully," Steinberg said.

Anne Bayefsky, the Director of the Human Rights Voices NGO and the Touro Institute and Human Rights and the Holocaust, said: "The UN’s so-called “State of Palestine” wants to have it both ways: the entitlements of statehood without the responsibilities; the ability to demand non-discrimination while practicing anti-Semitism. The only question is whether this UN committee is going to call out and expose would-be “apartheid Palestine” or give it cover."