Appeal to UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay on myth of Palestinian organ stealing

The following UN Watch appeal was sent to High Commissioner Navi Pillay.

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

cc: Rupert Colville, OHCHR Spokesperson

April 28, 2010  

Dear High Commissioner Pillay,

We wrote you on March 24, 2010, requesting that the UN Human Rights Council website cease hosting an anti-Semitic text (A/HRC/13/NGO/23) that, in a modern adaptation of the medieval blood libel, falsely accuses Israeli doctors of a racist conspiracy to steal Palestinian organs.

We are grateful to have recently received a reply, sent from Chief of Human Rights Council Branch Eric Tistounet. This response, however, rejects UN Watch’s request while ignoring our argument. We urge you to overturn this decision, for the reasons explained below, and to immediately remove all such hateful material from the UN website. We also call on you to speak out against the moral inversion that, in its mere four years of existence, has already become the hallmark of the UN Human Rights Council.

First, we address your office’s reply. It justifies doing nothing about the text submitted by the “International Organization for Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” (EAFORD) — a group created in Libya and closely tied to Col. Kaddafi’s regime — on grounds that the UN purportedly plays no screening role, simply publishing all submissions as received.

That premise is demonstrably untrue.

Mr. Tistounet quotes from the footnote of the UN cover sheet affixed to NGO written statements, which indicates that the latter are “unedited.” This quote, however, is selective, incomplete and misleading.

The same cover sheet indicates at the top that such statements are circulated “in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.” As your officers well know, Article 31 of that resolution requires them to engage in a process of “appropriate consultation” with the submitting organization, with the latter required to give “due consideration” to any “comments” that your officers may make “before transmitting the statement in final form.”

In other words, contrary to the premise that forms the basis of Mr. Tistounet’s decision, the rules say explicitly that your office does play a screening role.

Not only is this the official procedure, it is also standard practice. As already stated in our complaint, your office carefully screens all NGO submissions before deciding whether or not to publish them. Following are three examples.

UN Watch recently submitted a written statement — indeed to the very same March 2010 UNHRC session in which the organ-stealing blood libel was readily circulated — and your office refused to publish it as received. We were told to remove the word “regimes” where we had referred to the regimes ruling Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Second, we were then informed that our reference to “Burma” was not allowed — only the military junta’s adopted name of “Myanmar.”

The third example concerns a 2005 submission, in which UN Watch submitted a written statement to the now-defunct Sub-Commission on Human Rights. It featured excerpts from an article I had published in The New Republic. Our statement questioned the propriety of such serial human rights violators as Cuba, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia sitting on the UN Commission on Human Rights, and noted that “Havana, Harare, and the House of Saud” controlled the committee that ruled on victim petitions.

It further pointed out that Ms. Halima Warzazi, then head of the Sub-Commission — and today chair of the UNHRC Advisory Committee — was personally responsible for shielding Saddam Hussein from UN censure after Iraq’s 1988 genocidal gassing of Kurds in Halabja.

All of this was unacceptable to your office, which duly informed UN Watch that “when referring to certain States, Heads of States, or even certain members of the Sub-Commission, the language used was not entirely in accordance with accepted United Nations standards.” NGO submissions, we were told, had to be “imbued with the appropriate level of dignity and respect.” Until we made the required changes, your office informed us, processing of our statement was “suspended.”

Therefore, it is clear that not only does your office screen and, when so inclined, suspend NGO submissions, but its editorial policy appears, from a moral perspective, to be upside down: Pro-democracy statements that expose the serial human rights violators who sit in judgment on others at the UNHRC are rejected as being “not entirely in accordance with accepted United Nations standards” and not “imbued with the appropriate level of dignity and respect”; whereas hateful statements, which demonize Israelis as Nazi-like perpetrators of “ethnic cleansing” and “pogroms against Palestinians,” and accuse “Israeli physicians, medical centers, rabbis and the Israeli Army” of a conspiracy to steal organs of “dead, kidnapped and killed Palestinians,” are approved, and, by necessary implication, deemed to be entirely in accordance with “accepted United Nations standards.”

Madame High Commissioner, how can this be the policy of the foremost intergovernmental agency charged with promoting human rights?

Worse, as I am sure you will agree, this is not the first anti-Semitic statement by EAFORD to be published, distributed and web-hosted under the imprimatur of the UN Human Rights Council, which has been on notice for some time about the hate emanating from this group. 

In September 2008, your office reviewed, approved and circulated an EAFORD written statement (A/HRC/9/NGO/1) calling Israel an “illegal state” — an even harsher term than “regime.” Far worse, however, this text, in the guise of a rhetorical question, went on to accuse “Jews everywhere” of having “forgotten the terrors of the Holocaust to such an extent as to allow Israel to pursue and inflict one on the Palestinian people.”

After it was published, UN Watch immediately requested and obtained a private audience with then UNHRC President Martin Uhomoibhi. We explained that accusing “Jews everywhere” of complicity in a Nazi-like genocide amounts to the depiction of an entire people as absolute evil, which is anti-Semitism by any definition.

Indeed, as the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism recently testified before a committee of the U.S. Congress, “Criticism of Israel crosses the line to anti-Semitism when, for example, that criticism applies double standards, comparing a current policy of Israel to that of the Nazis, or holds all Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel, or denies that Israel has a right to exist… At the UN, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment often overlap.”

Sadly, however, this text accusing “Jews everywhere” of absolute evil remains published on your office website to this day (see second statement listed here), in contravention of the UN’s own anti-racism principles, as found in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Beyond these particular hateful statements, however, let us acknowledge the context in which this betrayal of founding UN values is allowed to occur, a broader culture of moral inversion that extends deeper, into the very essence of the UNHRC’s work:

  • Since it was created in 2006, the council has issued 40 condemnations of countries — with 33 of them targeting democratic Israel. As a result, the world’s true abusers of human rights, including the most serious perpetrators, continue to go ignored.
  • Out of the council’s nine emergency sessions that criticized countries, six have been against Israel. Recent and well-publicized killings of innocents — in Iran, China, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Zimbabwe — have gone completely ignored.
  • The council’s agenda, which governs every session, features a permanent item targeting Israel. No other country in the world is singled out in this fashion. The council’s anti-Israel resolutions, the one-sided Goldstone Report, the hateful statements by EAFORD — all of these appear under the rubric of this biased agenda item, which has come to symbolize the council’s systematic discrimination against Israel.

Madame High Commissioner, if the equality provisions of the UN Charter are to have any meaning, this bias — casting a shadow upon the reputation of the UN as a whole — must end.

In his historic 2004 speech, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged that “the United Nations’ record on anti-Semitism has at times fallen short of our ideals,” and in this context specifically cited the 1975 resolution equating Zionism with Racism as “an especially unfortunate decision.”

Secretary-General Annan pledged that “the human rights machinery of the United Nations has been mobilized in the battle against anti-Semitism.”

Madame High Commissioner, as the head of this human rights machinery, can you please tell us: Where is this mobilization, and where is this battle?

Secretary-General Annan specifically called on your office — whose resources include 982 employees and a budget in this biennium increasing from $312.7 million to $407.4 million — to “actively explore ways of combating anti-Semitism more effectively in the future.” He called on all parts of the Secretariat to be vigilant.

Madame High Commissioner, where is this vigilance?

Secretary-General Annan concluded his call to action by proclaiming that “Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home, too.”

Yet Madame High Commissioner, how can this be possible so long as your website continues to host a statement that, to a worldwide audience, declares “Jews everywhere” to be evil?

In conclusion, therefore, we urge you to overturn the rejection of our request, and to immediately remove these anti-Semitic texts from your website.

More broadly, we urge you to use your global podium to speak out — regularly and forcefully — against all manifestations at the UNHRC of demonization, disproportionality and double standards, which violate the noble principles upon which the United Nations was founded.

UN Watch is situated directly across from the UNHRC headquarters, and I stand ready to meet with you at any time to explore ways of achieving corrective action on these urgent matters.

Sincerely,

Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director

11 Responses to “Appeal to UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay on myth of Palestinian organ stealing”


  • It is remarkable to me that the UN is as “United” against Israel as it is. Simply reading the blood libel text got my blood boiling, and I can not fathom why anyone would believe this kind of propaganda and allow it to remain posted in a way that suggests it is UN condoned.

    Keep up the great work you are doing to call out these atrocities against our people. We may never end antisemitism, but at least there are groups like yours working to help educate and minimize it.

  • Dear Mr. Neuer,
    My congratulations and thanks for the excellent and needed article above!
    Sincerely,
    Mr. Allan MacLeod
    Canada

  • Thank you Hillel for pointing out the hypocrisy that has become the United Nations and more so the UN Human Rights Counsel. This once great institution of peace has truly been hijacked by many states who strive for nothing more than to allow this institution to crumble or to at least further remain ineffective.

    Thank you for your hard work and for UN Watch.

  • I attempted to contact this UN Organitzation only to receive my letter returned unopened. I concur with yout detailed position and need guidance as to how I can help. Is there swome way to get rid of this so0called Human rights commision? We need a worldwide movement to override this biased, UNMITGATED, SHAMELESS ORGAN.

  • Dear Hillel Neuer,

    You’re a blessing on the Jewish people, and on the world.

    Thanks for your important work.

    Dave London

  • This letter points out the totally outrageous inequities in the UN High Commission on Human Rights decisions. On what factual basis do they make these libelous claims?
    Keep up the vigilance and reporting. I too would like to help.

  • I am astonished that an sgency of the UN is engaged in this vile example of antisemitism.
    To compare all the jews with the Nazis is not only disgusting but makes this agency and it’s spokesman more like the Nazis.
    I have expected better from the UN>
    sincerely,
    Otto Schiff,
    a survivor of the holocaust

  • Thank you, Hillel. You speak for all of us: not only Jews, but people with a mature sense of decency, rather than those driven by one-sided, political and economic power agendas. May the seeds you are planting grow into a beautiful, peaceful forest in a not-too-distant future…

  • Margaret Frassrand

    It amazes me that people expect more from the UN. This is exactly what I expect…thank u for your hard work trying to expose them and make them accountable.

  • I want to join all the people who expressed themselves before me. I agree with them and support UN Watch in their valuable work!

  • The rationale to create Jewish homeland, it was to find a safe haven for the Jewish community, to spare them from the persecution suffered by them.

    Chronologically,Jews and Muslims did get on well with one another for,both religions have originated for Melate- Ibrahimia.

    They declined all options, for Jewish homeland, put to them by the International Fraternity, against all odds they chose Palestine, and in quest of reaching this goal,the actions taken in the name of the Jewish fraternity, by the likes of Avraham Stern the founder of ” Lehi group” generally known, “Stern group or Stern gang, Harganah and Irgan, “It carried out the November 1944 assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne, along with several attacks on the British administration in Palestine. It was described as a terrorist organisation by the British authorities..September 1948 assassination of UN mediator Folke Bernadotte. The UN Security Council called the assassins ” criminal group of terrorists,and Lehi was similarly condemned by subsequent Untited Nations mediator Ralph Bunche. Israel granted a general amnesty to Lehi members on 14 February 1949. In 1980 group was honoured by the insitution of the Lehi ribbon, a Military decoration award ” for military service toward the establishment of the State of Israel. Future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was amongst its members.”

    Obviously State of Isreal was established for Jewish fraternity, in the constitution of State of Isreal, the international Jewish community have the inherted right to citizenship of Israel, and it has no international borders,the actions commited by the forces to establish the State of Isreal, and after, under the pretext of national security, are committed in the name of the international Jewish community, does hence International Community sees the justification directing its criticism at Jews? as the Muslims are branded terrorist for actions of Bin Laden.

Leave a Reply