Australia/Israel Review

Deconstruction Zone: A new low in UN demonisation of Israel

Feb 3, 2022 | Clifford May

The UN Human Rights Council (Image:
The UN Human Rights Council (Image:

Historians usually date the start of the Holocaust to June 1941 when German troops invaded the Soviet Union, identified Jewish civilians, lined them up and shot them by the thousands. Later, concentration camps equipped with gas chambers elevated the slaughter to an industrial scale.

But that timetable omits something important. After his accession to power in 1933, Adolf Hitler began a campaign to demonise and delegitimise Jews, accusing them of imaginary crimes, conveying the message that Jews are a vile and guilty race.

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws officially made German Jews second-class citizens. In 1938, thousands of German Jewish stores and homes were ransacked and burned in the pogrom known as Kristallnacht. In 1939, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, Polish Jews were confined to ghettos. 

All this and more laid the groundwork for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” the Nazi euphemism for the genocide of European Jews.

Post-war, most countries of the broader Middle East, many of them influenced by Nazi ideology, drove out their ancient Jewish communities.

Refugees fled or, as many saw it, returned to a land in which Jews had survived for thousands of years despite multiple foreign conquests, massacres, enslavements and expulsions.

Israelis declared their independence following the departure of the British Empire from territories taken from the defeated Ottoman Empire after World War I. Israel’s founding was thus an act of anti-imperialism and decolonisation.

Recalling this history now is relevant and urgent. For decades, the UN has been at the forefront of a campaign to demonise and delegitimise Israel. That campaign is now set to sharply escalate.

In early January, the UN approved a US$4.2 million budget to establish a permanent so-called Commission of Inquiry (COI) – essentially a grand inquisition targeting and vilifying Israel. 

Under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council, a body dominated by such notorious human rights violators as China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, Qatar and Venezuela, an 18-member staff will be led by Navi Pillay, a former UN high commissioner for human rights, with “an appalling record on Israel,” in the considered judgment of Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch.

The COI will be “dedicated to manufacturing charges and mounting a global chase to arrest and incarcerate Israeli Jews,” as Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, wrote.

The ostensible inspiration for the COI is the 11-day conflict initiated by Hamas last May. More than 4,000 rockets were launched against Israeli cities, towns and villages. Israelis defended themselves, for which the COI will accuse Israelis of imaginary crimes. Hamas, by contrast, will not be seriously criticised for either its attacks on Israeli civilians or its use of Palestinians as human shields – both indisputably crimes under international law.

Expect the COI also to broadcast the slander that Israel is an apartheid state, implying that Israel has no right to defend itself – indeed, no right to exist.

I plan to say more about the bogus charge of apartheid in future. Still, for now, I’ll just point out that Israel’s Arab Muslim minority, roughly 20%, enjoys rights and freedom unavailable to Arab Muslims even in countries where they constitute a majority. No positions or jobs are denied to Israeli citizens based on ethnicity or religion. Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamic Ra’am Party and an elected member of the Knesset, serves in the current Israeli governing coalition.

Gaza, from which Israelis withdrew in 2005, is ruled by Hamas. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority. Israelis have repeatedly offered to withdraw from most of the West Bank in exchange for a conflict-ending agreement. Those offers were turned down. Should Israelis withdraw without an agreement, the West Bank would become a second Gaza. Is that not obvious?

The endless drumbeat of anti-Israeli vilification by the COI is sure to energise the economic campaign against Israel (echoing the 1933 Nazi “Don’t buy from the Jews” campaign) and perhaps lead to prosecutions of Israelis by the International Criminal Court, a politicised entity whose authority is recognised by neither Israel nor the US.

The UN campaign will make settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict impossible for the foreseeable future. Why would any Palestinian leader compromise so long as there is a possibility that what happened to the Jews of Europe – defamation followed by extermination – could happen to the Jews of Israel with the assent of the “international community”?

The UN was established following World War II to prevent and resolve conflicts. Today, it promotes antisemitism and enables both terrorists and genocidaires. 

Clifford D. May is founder and President of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times. © FDD, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved.


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