The malevolent scapegoating of Israel by the United Nations has long been a scandal.
These abuses are regularly highlighted by tireless U.N. watchdogs such as Hillel Neuer, the executive director of UN Watch, and Anne Bayefsky, president of Human Rights Voices.
Last week, Neuer testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. He described how Israel is routinely demonized by the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Neuer also revealed that, in retaliation for exposing this bias, the head of UNHRC Eric Tistounet has been running an antisemitic dirty tricks campaign against him.
After hearing this, the chairman of the hearing, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) expressed outrage and promised to take up this harassment with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in order to put a stop to it.
The problem with the United Nations, however, is far more fundamental.
In May 2021, after Israel took military action in Gaza against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), which had been firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians, the UNHRC created a commission that targeted not the attackers but their Israeli victims.
The commission’s scope is vast and one-sided, covering the “root causes” of the Middle East conflict and alleged “systematic discrimination based on race.” Unprecedentedly, it has no end date—because the U.N.’s animus towards Israel is never-ending.
The UNHRC appointed Navi Pillay as head of the commission. Pillay had previously called for sanctions against “apartheid Israel”—the signature big lie of Israel-haters. The second commissioner, Miloon Kothari, had ranted about “the Jewish lobby.” The third commissioner, Chris Sidoti, had said that “accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like rice at a wedding.”
The commission has now released a report that widens its scope still further, attacking not only Israel but also its defenders, including private individuals and non-governmental organizations “worldwide.”
The U.N.’s campaign of double standards against Israel, ignoring or sanitizing attacks against it while damning it falsely as a human-rights abuser, goes on week in, week out.
The U.N.’s resident representative in Jerusalem, Norwegian diplomat Tor Wennesland, recently made a series of willfully distorted, inflammatory and disgusting statements. Ignoring the barrages of rocket attacks from Gaza directed at Israeli civilians earlier this year, Wennesland condemned Israel’s remarkably precise military strikes against PIJ leaders as “unacceptable” because of the few civilian deaths that were unavoidably involved.
In an even more egregious attempt to avoid referring to Palestinian Arab terrorism, Wennesland referred to Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee, who were shot dead at point-blank range in their car by Palestinian terrorists, as having been killed “by perpetrators in a car with Palestinian plates.”
Last December, Wennesland tweeted that he was “horrified” that a Palestinian Arab terrorist, who had attacked an Israeli soldier and border police officers, was killed in what he called a “scuffle.” He sent “heartfelt condolences” to the terrorist’s “bereaved family.”
Recently, the United States, United Kingdom and 25 other U.N. member states objected to the Pillay commission, which they said was “further demonstration of long-standing, disproportionate attention given to Israel in the council, and must stop.”
That was a welcome move. However, the United States and the rest of the free world should be going much further. They should be saying that the United Nations itself isn’t fit for purpose.
This is because the world body contained the seeds of its own corruption right from the start.
The United Nations was created after the Second World War as an institution that would bring the world together to promote peace and justice. Yet most countries are not democracies and do not uphold human rights. So, by definition, any such world body was unlikely to promote peace and justice and more likely to promote the opposite.
So it has proved.
Last year, the U.N. General Assembly condemned Israel in no fewer than 15 resolutions compared to 13 for the rest of the world together, with just one resolution on Iran, one on North Korea and one on Syria.
As Neuer observed, the U.N. gives most of the world’s worst human rights abusers a free pass. More surreal, abusers such as China, Cuba, Qatar and Pakistan actually sit on the UNHRC.
Last month, the UNHRC appointed to the chairmanship of its social forum the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s most dangerous terrorist state, which beats women to death for failing to wear approved head coverings and hangs gay people from cranes.
Yet the only country with a standing agenda all to itself at the UNHRC is Israel—the sole upholder of human rights and democracy in the Middle East. From 2006, the council has adopted more resolutions on Israel than on Iran, North Korea and Syria combined.
Last year, the UNHRC appointed Francesca Albanese as a special rapporteur on “Palestine” with a mandate to investigate only Israel’s supposed violations.
Albanese is not an honest broker. She has repeatedly equated Palestinian Arab suffering with the Holocaust, falsely accused Israel of war crimes and genocide, and in 2019 wrote that America was “subjugated by the Jewish lobby.” Last year, she told Hamas, “You have a right to resist.”
In May the U.N. commemorated “Nakba Day,” the propaganda term the Palestinian Arabs have given to the date on which the State of Israel was founded. It invited the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to address it.
He used that platform to repeat the P.A.’s murderous lie that Britain and the U.S. had decided “for their own colonialist purposes” to establish “another entity in our historical homeland” because they “wanted to get rid of the Jews and enjoy having them in Palestine—two birds with one stone.”
As for the WHO, Neuer observed that every year its annual assembly deviates from surveying global public health to hold a special debate singling out Israel. There is no such focus on Syria, where hospitals are repeatedly bombed by Syrian and Russian forces; nor on North Korea, which has one of the worst health systems in the world. On the contrary, the WHO recently elected North Korea to its executive board.
As ever, the deranged onslaught upon Israel stands proxy for the endangerment of the world itself.
A WHO mission to study the Covid pandemic’s origins in China announced in February that the possibility that the virus had escaped from a laboratory needed no further investigation. The mission had been put under pressure to reach that conclusion by Chinese scientists who made up half the team.
The United Nations has been impotent over China’s systemic abuses of its population and over Russia’s war against Ukraine. Who can be surprised? Both China and Russia have places on the U.N. Security Council with veto power. The United Nations places foxes in charge of its hen house.
In a similar vein, Iran, which is racing towards developing nuclear weapons to further its war on the U.S. and its intention to wipe Israel off the map, has been made vice president of the General Assembly.
Even more grotesquely, Iran has been made rapporteur of the General Assembly’s Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Committee. This is despite its persistent violations of the Security Council resolution banning its ballistic-missile program and its refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The United Nations isn’t just anti-Israel. It is morally corrupt at its very core. As a result, it doesn’t just victimize Israel and empower its attackers. It doesn’t just betray its charter commitments by endangering the wider world.
By supposedly promoting global peace and justice but actually promoting those dedicated to war, terror and tyranny while demonizing their victims, the world body has also knocked the free world off its moral compass.
That world will only stand a chance of regaining its balance if it walks away from the United Nations and creates an alliance of democracies instead.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.