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UN Ambassador Addresses Anti-Israel Bias


Ali Rosenblatt, Brandeis Blog

June 12, 2017
 

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted countless resolutions against Israel throughout its history, and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has been very vocal about this biased trend. On June 6, Ambassador Haley addressed the Council, calling on it to end its one-sided, anti-Israel behavior as part of her remarks at the opening of the body’s 35th session in Geneva. Ambassador Haley highlighted that the council has adopted, “five biased resolutions in March against a single country, Israel.”

These sentiments were reiterated again in Ambassador Haley’s later remarks at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, where she urged the Council to remove agenda item seven. Agenda item seven – “Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories” – constantly inspires resolutions, with an average of five passed per year since 2006. It is important to note that Israel/Palestine is the only country/issue that holds its own place on the Council’s standing agenda. As stated by a US State Department’s spokesperson, Mark Toner, this agenda item is “yet another reminder of that body’s long-standing bias against Israel.” Ambassador Haley went on to add that “since its creation, the Council has passed more than 70 resolutions targeting Israel,” in contrast to “just seven on Iran.”

This chronic behavior at the Human Rights Council and the UN as a whole demonstrates more than just anti-Israel; it is anti-Semitic. Kenneth L. Marcus, President and General Counsel for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law explains this in his book, The Definition of Anti-Semitism. Marcus describes a test that Natan Sharansky developed – the “3-D Test” – according to which anti-Israel rhetoric crosses the line into anti-Semitism if it: Demonizes Israel, Delegitimizes the Jewish state, and applies Double standards to Israel that are not the same as those applied to any other democracy. The UN Human Rights Council has most evidently engaged in anti-Israel criticism that can be rightfully classified as anti-Semitism. It consistently demonizes Israel, calling it a human rights abuser and an apartheid state.

Additionally, Sociologist Sina Arnold has highlighted 5 distinct forms of double standards that are employed with regards to Israel. One of which, the “double standard of salience” by which Israel’s conflicts garner more attention than other comparable international disputes is very evident in the Council’s consistent condemnation of Israel given how the Council has ignored many other comparable or worse international disputes. Syria, a country where its leader, “bombs his own hospitals, ambulances and medical workers,” helped sponsor a resolution to address the, “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

Instead of criticizing the countries, like Syria, that are notorious for their daily human rights abuses, the Council empowers them to target Israel. Ambassador Haley ended her remarks by calling on other countries to help her in addressing this bias and reforming the Council so that it more aptly achieves its goal; she stated that “the status quo is not acceptable,” and that “It is not a place for countries who champion human rights.”

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Over 50% of Jewish American college students report that they experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their campuses during the 2013-2014 academic year. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has announced that campus anti-Semitism “is a serious problem which warrants further attention.” Campus anti-Semitism can include subjecting Jewish students to different treatment, harassment, violence or a hostile environment. In some cases, campus anti-Semitism is related to anti-Israel sentiment. In other cases, it is not. For most purposes, we define anti-Semitism according to the U.S. Department of State definition of anti-Semitism. .
 
 
 
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Lesley Klaff
Lesley Klaff is a senior lecturer in law at Sheffield Hallam University and an affiliate professor of law at Haifa University. She is expert in law and anti-Semitism, social and legal theory, and the English legal system.
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