B’nai Brith Canada on Wednesday asked the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Chair to dissolve a Commission of Inquiry that has become a mouthpiece for Hamas and a driver of antisemitism.
Last week, Commission of Inquiry member Miloon Kothari caused an uproar when he claimed that social media is controlled by a "Jewish lobby" and questioned why the Jewish state is a member of the United Nations.
B’nai Brith Canada noted that Kothari has a long history of attacking Israel, making his inclusion on the Commission panel incomprehensible. A review of Kothari’s writing dating back decades show he has consistently taken public and hostile positions against Israel on the very subject matter that he is now being called upon to independently and impartially investigate.
Federico Villegas Beltrán, Chair of the UNHRC went on the record last Friday to say that Kothari’s remarks stigmatize Jews. He also wrote to Commission Chair Navi Pillay indicating that Kothari’s words “could reasonably be interpreted as stigmatization of the Jewish people, which… is at the heart of any expression of antisemitism.”
B’nai Brith said it is disappointed with Villegas Beltrán’s remarks, which simply asks that Kothari consider the possibility of “publicly clarifying his unfortunate comments and his intentions behind them.”
“That’s not nearly enough,” says Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Last week, we appealed to Western nations to push for the dissolution of this hateful, unabashedly biased Commission and that is what we are insisting Villegas Beltrán do now. This Commission is hopelessly compromised.”
B'nai Brith had filed a complaint with Villegas Beltrán on March 16, as to bias of the Commission. Villegas Beltrán decided then not to intervene. Not doing so now, said B’nai Brith, would infer he condones the Commission's inherent bias.
“UN rules require Commissions to function impartially, and the persons charged to conduct inquiries must be perceived as being scrupulously fair, yet rarely has there been a more biased group,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights. “The Commission’s Chair declares Israel guilty of every crime possible and that’s before the inquiry even begins, member Kothari’s hostility spills into open antisemitism and the third panelist, Chris Sidoti has a long history of working for pro-Palestinian organizations. It’s time to pack up this charade."
B’nai Brith Canada last week called on Western nations to push for the immediate dissolution of the Commission of Inquiry.
That call came after Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, blasted Kothari’s comments and said they are “a disgrace to institutions supposedly dedicated to the rule of law.”
In its statement on Wednesday, B’nai Brith Canada noted that while the controversial Commission has been roundly denounced by Western Nations for its clear bias against Israel as it investigates the Hamas - Israel conflict of May 2021, it enjoys the support of much of the UNHRC, which itself, comprises many of the world’s worst human rights abusers.
Current UNHRC members include such countries as Libya, Cuba, Eritrea, Somalia, Qatar, Pakistan, and China. Russia was recently expelled from the UNHRC for its invasion of Ukraine, but its friends and allies remain as members.
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.