Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae
Canada's Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, on Thursday blasted a UN human rights investigator, who claimed that social media is controlled by a "Jewish lobby" and questioned why the Jewish state is a member of the United Nations, The Canadian Press reported.

Rae said in a tweet that comments made by Miloon Kothari, who sits on a UN commission of inquiry set up in response to last year’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, are “a disgrace to institutions supposedly dedicated to the rule of law.”

In an interview with Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist blog, Kothari had said, "We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by whether it's the Jewish lobby or it's the specific [nonprofit groups]. A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us."

He added that the commission "will get to the apartheid question, at some point in the future, because we will be looking at discrimination in general, from the River to the Sea."

"I would go as far as to raise the question of why [Israel is] even a member of the United Nations. The Israeli government does not respect its own obligations as a UN member state. They, in fact, consistently, either directly or through the United States, try to undermine UN mechanisms," said Kothari.

Irwin Cotler, who serves as Canada’s special envoy on combating antisemitism, said the remarks mean Kothari does not belong on the UN commission of inquiry, which has already accused Israel of war crimes.

“Miloon Kothari’s comments reveal, and this is an understatement, a reasonable apprehension of bias,” said Cotler.

“That alone should disqualify him as commissioner, in a commission which itself is tainted by its open-ended and prejudicial mandate,” he added.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, an advocacy group, urged the Canadian government to condemn what it called the appointment of biased members to the commission of inquiry, saying Kothari flagrantly contravened UN rules on impartiality.

Ambassador Michele Taylor, who is the US permanent representative to the UN Human Rights Council, also condemned the “outrageous, antisemitic remarks” by Kothari and called on Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, to denounce them too.

Kothari is not the only member of the UN commission of inquiry to have come under fire. The committee’s chairperson, Navi Pillay, has a history of anti-Israel statements as well.

In 2014, she condemned Israel for "targeting" UN-run schools and hospitals in Gaza, while failing to mention three UN-run schools in Gaza had been used as rocket warehouses, a gross violation of international law that clearly falls within the category of war crimes.

Weeks before that, Pillay opened an emergency UN debate on Gaza by saying there is a "strong possibility" that Israel is violating law in Gaza, and that could amount to war crimes.

She said the killing of Gaza civilians, especially children, raises concerns on Israel's precautions and respect for proportionality.

Israel has announced that it will not cooperate with the UN probe, noting Pillay has endorsed “the shameful libel” branding Israel an apartheid nation and backed the boycott movement against Israel.