IN THE MEDIA

A truly “special” Special Rapporteur

May 8, 2023 | Justin Amler

Current UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese (Image: Shutterstock)
Current UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese (Image: Shutterstock)

The Algemeiner – 5 May 2023

 

There are few positions in the United Nations that illustrate the extreme anti-Israel bias of that body better than the ‘Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories’ – a position created by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1993, supposedly to seek justice and respect for human rights.

In reality, it’s a position filled by a series of hate-filled individuals whose single-minded purpose was demonising the Jewish State – as the Commission and its successor organisation, the UN Human Rights Council, intended all along.

This record has been underscored by the current incumbent, Italian academic Francesca Albanese.

In December 2022, her social media was exposed as including a multitude of disturbing, and even antisemitic posts, yet that was only the tip of an iceberg of ugliness.

In 2014, she posted that America is “subjugated by the Jewish lobby,” while Europe is subjugated “by the sense of guilt about the Holocaust.” Another post stated “[t]he Israeli lobby is clearly inside [the BBC’s] veins…”

This revelation led to a series of condemnations by the US government and Congress, European Parliament members, and many others.

Initially, after these posts were revealed, Albanese acknowledged the comments were a “mistake”. However, she quickly backtracked, saying the criticism was “yet another malicious attack” on her mandate – because by her questionable moral compass, her comments accusing the Jewish lobby of subjugating America were  “wrongly mischaracterized as antisemitic.”

Earlier it was also shown that she has compared Israel to Nazi Germany, further evidenced when she endorsed a post by her husband, Massimiliano Calì, equating Palestinian terrorists with Jews resisting the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. She also failed to disclose that her husband was previously employed by the Palestinian Authority – claiming in her application for the Special Rapporteur role that she had no personal conflicts of interest.

Since taking up the Special Rapporteur position in May last year, she has seized the opportunity to fully indulge her anti-Israel extremism – for instance using that role to address a Hamas-sponsored conference in Nov 2022, in which she endorsed their “right” to violent “resistance”.

Then there is her response to terror attacks in Israel.

On April 7, Palestinian terrorists murdered two British-Israeli teenagers and their mother, and, in another attack, an Arab Israeli rammed his car into a Tel Aviv crowd, murdering an Italian tourist. Albanese’s response was to assert that Israel has no right to defend itself against such attacks, because it “can’t claim it [self-defence] when it comes to the people it oppresses/whose lands it colonizes.”

And in February, asked in an online exchange if she condemned a terror attack that killed seven civilians, including a 14-year-old, outside a Jerusalem synagogue, she blamed Israel, writing, “the brutal colonial occupation Israel maintains over the Palestinians (an apartheid regime by default) continues to traumatize millions of people, pushing them into hopelessness &despair, including kids.”

Disturbingly, far from being an exception, this consistent and constant expression of violent anti-Israel bias, mixed with anti-Jewish tropes, has very much been a part of the Special Rapporteur position from its early inception, no matter who has held the post.

South African John Dugard, Special Rapporteur from 2001 to 2008, said Israel was worse than apartheid South Africa, and stated that “Israel’s defiance of international law poses a threat not only to the international legal order but to the international order itself.”

Richard Falk, who served from 2008 to 2014, often compared Israeli defence actions to Nazi atrocities, writing in December 2013 that Israel was “slouching toward nothing less than a Palestinian holocaust.” His sharing of an openly antisemitic cartoon led to widespread condemnation, including from then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Falk’s predecessor, Makarim Wibisono, also openly embraced the “sacred Palestinian cause,” describing Israel as “the aggressor and the perpetrator of wanton violence.”

Michael Lynk, who served from 2016 to 2022, also had a long history of anti-Israel activity, often speaking at events with BDS activists.

He even praised Manal Tamimi as a “human rights defender” – even though Tamimi is a virulently antisemitic activist who said, “Vampire Zionists… drink Palestinian blood,” and calls on people to kill “all these Zionist settlers everywhere.”

Each of these officeholders have failed the UN’s own self-declared test of “objectivity and fairness” for special rapporteurs. Collectively, they have made it very clear that the “Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian Territories” is nothing more than a politically motivated position created by an organisation dominated by some of the world’s worst human rights violators to continue their anti-Israel crusade.

In an organisation in which, year after year, Israel is condemned more times than any other country on earth, the only thing special about the Special Rapporteur role is how it still somehow manages to raise the bar of anti-Israel vitriol hatred even higher.

Justin Amler is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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