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The UN Commission of Inquiry: An Exercise in Historical Revisionism

 
Filed under: International Law
Publication: Jerusalem Viewpoints

The UN Commission of Inquiry: An Exercise in Historical Revisionism

Institute for Contemporary Affairs

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

No. 656,     June 8, 2022

  • The Commission of Inquiry created in 2021 by the UN Human Rights Council issued its first report on Tuesday. The three commissioners appointed to conduct the inquiry were on record accusing Israel of apartheid, and urging boycotts and criminal prosecution – in advance of investigating anything. At least two reports annually may be expected to pound a steady drumbeat of modern anti-Semitism, namely, delegitimizing Israel.
  • The UN handed the Commission a search warrant unrestricted to any period of time, to seek “all underlying root causes” of the conflict and hunt for “systematic discrimination and repression.” So we submitted the names of 600,000 Jewish refugees and victims of Arab persecution in Middle East and North African nations in the past 75 years.
  • We submitted the names of 4,220 civilians – Israelis and foreign visitors – killed by unremitting Arab violence from the beginning of modern Zionism until today. We submitted the names of 24,092 Israeli military and security forces who have fallen in defense of their country against the Arab goal to eradicate the modern Jewish state.
  • We gave the Commission documentation that the Palestinian Authority pays bounties for killing Jews – an amount that increases the more deadly the attack. We presented irrefutable evidence that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza maintain a system of racist indoctrination demonizing Jews and inciting violence against Jews – in schools, official television programming, summer camps, public displays and public honors.
  • Our submissions contained evidence of the ceaseless, unrelenting, violent attacks on Jews prior to Israel’s independence and until today. War after war, terror attack after terror attack, suicide bombing, kidnapping, torture, arson; with rockets, mortars, grenades, pipe bombs, drones, firebombs, stones, bullets, vehicles, and knives, decade after decade; with one goal: the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea – the ultimate violation of human rights. Yet the report finds no Palestinian terrorism.
  • This UN exercise in historical revisionism seeks to invent a narrative of powerless Arab victims and criminal Jewish perpetrators, invert who violated the rights of whom, and challenge the moral imperative of the modern Jewish state. It is far more than an outrage. Unless stopped, it has and will continue to breathe oxygen into a highly flammable cauldron of modern anti-Semitism.

The United Nations and its top human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council, is now engaged in an active campaign to destroy the state of Israel – by way of lethal politics.1 The tool is a “Commission of Inquiry,”2 created last year by the Council,3 which has just reported for the first time.4 Its opening salvo: the Jewish state is a racist state, and discrimination by Jews of non-Jews is a driver and root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.5

The three commissioners appointed to conduct the “inquiry,” chaired by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, were on record accusing Israel of apartheid, and urging boycotts and criminal prosecution – in advance of inquiring or investigating anything.6

Extraordinarily, even for the UN, their job description has no end date,7 and the process has been financed in perpetuity.8 At least two reports annually will pound a steady drumbeat of modern antisemitism, namely, delegitimizing Israel.

Israel itself will not be voluntarily appearing before the firing squad. But when the UN announced it would open the door to submissions, an historic campaign was launched by NGOs to fill the UN inbox with what its Council and inquisitors didn’t expect or want to hear.

To date, more than five million unique submissions and individual names of Jewish victims of Arab incitement and violence have been delivered.9

The UN handed the “Inquiry” a search warrant unrestricted to any period of time, a license to seek “all underlying root causes” of the conflict, and a green light to hunt for “systematic discrimination and repression.”10

So we submitted 4,812,829 named victims of Jew hatred advocated and spread with the assistance and participation of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini. This Nazi collaborator and propagandist is the man Palestinians themselves called “Palestine’s national leader,” “our hero,” and “the voice of the Palestinian people.”11 He remains a singular role model to the Palestinian terrorists and political leaders of today.

Actually looking for a root cause? Under al-Husseini’s leadership, the strategy of equating the Jewish presence in the land of Israel with an existential threat to the Muslim faith become an Arab template for attempting to achieve the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.12

How about systematic discrimination and repression and its victims?

We submitted the names of each of six hundred thousand Jewish refugees and victims of Arab persecution in Middle East and North African nations in the past seventy-five years.13 Jewish refugees from the land of Israel were the longest-standing refugees in human history. Exiled to Arab and Muslim countries from their indigenous homeland, they were subject to systematic discrimination and repression and lived as second-class citizens for thousands of years.

But against all odds, they persevered, retained their religious identity, and more than 800,000 returned to their ancestral homeland after the rebirth of Israel in 1948 – following huge sacrifices, harrowing escapes, systematic robbery, and racist expulsion.

And then there are the violations of human rights – starting with the right to life.

We submitted the names of 4,220 civilians, Israelis and foreign visitors, killed – gunned down, blown apart, knifed, stoned, rammed – by unremitting Arab violence from the beginning of modern Zionism until today.14

We submitted the identities of 24,092 Israeli military and security forces who have fallen in defense of their country.15 Those who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting Israel’s inhabitants from attacks driven by one overriding Arab goal: to prevent, deny, reject and eradicate the modern Jewish state.

The “inquiry” advertised that it would “adopt a victim-centered approach in all of its work.”16 So we sent over 5.4 million identified victims of Jew hatred, encouraged or incited or celebrated or perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs and their Arab brethren.

Also submitted were 46,862 submissions17 containing detailed accounts of developments on the ground, weekly situation reports, video and photographic evidence, legal documentation and analysis, and meticulous demonstrations of Palestinian antisemitism, remorseless violence directed at Jews, and the unrelenting attempt to commit genocide since Israel’s modern founding.

The “inquiry” said it wanted evidence of “overall patterns, policies, historical legacies and structural inequalities that affect the enjoyment of human rights.”18

So, we gave them documentation that the Palestinian Authority pays bounties for killing Jews – a dollar amount that increases the more deadly the attack. Irrefutable evidence that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza maintain a system of racist indoctrination demonizing Jews and inciting violence against Jews – in schools, in official television programming, summer camps, public displays and the selection of public honors. And we gave them quotes from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and former longtime Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat insisting that Jews will not be permitted to live in a Palestinian state.

The inquisitors declared they wanted to know about “systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”19

So, we showed them the Palestinian Penal Code saying that Palestinians are forbidden from selling land to Jews on pain of “life imprisonment with hard labor.”20 Sent evidence that Jews who make a wrong turn in their automobiles, and find themselves in “Palestinian territory,” risk losing their lives – and have. Evidence that Abbas has referred to Jews as “filth,”21 unclean, undeserving to comingle with others. A copy of the Hamas Covenant, the governing document of the Palestinians running Gaza, demonstrating its grotesque antisemitism and unabashed call for genocide against the Jews.

And then there is their quest for those allegedly elusive “underlying root causes.”22

Our submissions contained evidence of the ceaseless, unrelenting, violent attacks on Jews prior, during and after Israel’s independence in May 1948 until today. War after war, terror attack after terror attack, suicide bombing, kidnapping, torture, arson…With rockets, mortars, grenades, pipe bombs, drones, firebombs, stones, bullets, vehicles, knives…23 Almost every day, decade after decade. With one goal: the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the river to the sea. Genocide – the ultimate violation of human rights.

We sent all these submissions. And then what happened?

The Inquiry’s first report says: “the Commission has received several thousand written submissions.”24

Except we carefully logged all our submissions, even as the UN refused to acknowledge them. Meaning millions of submissions challenging the UN routine of Israel-bashing and anti-Israel bias didn’t make the cut in a report that claims to present “an overview of the wide range of violations and abuses at the heart of the conflict.”25

Moreover, the report repeatedly cites “stakeholders,” but the tiny subset of stakeholders featured turn out all to be Israel-bashers.26

The report finds no Palestinian terrorist, no Palestinian terrorist organizations, and no Palestinian terrorism. The furthest the grand inquisitors ventured was to speculate the actions of Gaza’s “de facto authorities” and anonymous “Palestinian armed groups” “could spread terror among the civilian population in Israel.”27 As for “Hamas,” they’re only named definitively as engaging in the “exercise of government-like functions.”28

In this la-la land, Israelis interact and react to Palestinians differently in a security vacuum. Therefore, Jews must be racists. The report repeatedly claims that Jews discriminate against non-Jews and couldn’t come up with a single instance the other way around. And there’s no mention of the fact that Arabs have more rights and freedoms in Israel than in any Arab state, including the would-be Palestinian one.

The report takes direct aim at Israeli laws granting every Jew the right to return to their indigenous homeland and find safe harbor from a world that allowed the Jewish people to fall victim to the gravest atrocity in human history.29 In other words, they interpreted the fulfillment of Jewish self-determination – a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people – not as an event two thousand years overdue, but as a wrong to non-Jews.30

The report delivered exactly what the Human Rights Council wanted and what the inquirers had opined before they inquired: (1) The underlying root cause of the conflict is “the occupation”31 – that is, it’s Israel’s fault; (2) “discrimination” by Jews of non-Jews is responsible for feeding resentment, fueling tensions, and driving violence;32 (3) the solution is “individual criminal responsibility”33 (International Criminal Court here we come34); and (4) alleged duties of “third parties” and “private actors”35 (BDS) are high up on the inquiry’s to-do list.

Perhaps the central UN pathology at work here is the cyclical nature of this attack on right and wrong and common sense. The “inquiry” was designed to identify and then parrot “the similarities in the findings”36 of decades of prior anti-Israel, grossly biased UN reports, statements and resolutions. And then to turn around and blame Israel for failing to “implement” those noxious findings.37

Hence, the report’s overriding standard of “proof” that the Jewish state is allegedly a moral affront to humankind is this: the UN said so. Not only did the report lean on a system of entrenched prejudice, Pillay relied heavily on prior UN hatchet jobs in which she herself played a key role.

In short, this UN exercise in historical revisionism seeks to invent a narrative of powerless Arab victims and criminal Jewish perpetrators, invert who violated the rights of whom, and challenge the moral imperative of the modern Jewish state. It is far more than an outrage. Unless stopped, it has and will continue to breathe oxygen into a highly flammable cauldron of modern antisemitism.

* * *

Notes

* Thank you to Sarah Willig for her excellent research in the preparation of submissions and creation of a public database on all aspects of the “Inquiry” at https://hrvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/

1 For an early analysis of the Commission of Inquiry, its origins, mandate and members, see: Anne Bayefsky, “The Newest Anti-Israel UN Action Must Be Challenged – Now,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, December 20, 2021, https://jcpa.org/article/the-newest-anti-israel-un-action-must-be-challenged-now/

2 Formally entitled: “The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel,” https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/hrc/co-israel/index

3 See for the vote on the Human Rights Council resolution: Human Rights Voices, http://www.humanrightsvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/the-mandate/

4 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, https://undocs.org/en/A/HRC/50/21

5 While the report states in various places that the Inquiry is just warming up, it does claim that “the report offers primarily an overview of the wide range of violations and abuses at the heart of the conflict.” Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 28

6 The “Inquiry” Members, The UN’s “Commission of Inquiry,” Human Rights Voices, http://www.humanrightsvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/the-inquiry-members/

7 UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/2-30-1, adopted May 27, 2021, https://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?OpenAgent&DS=A/HRC/RES/S-30/1&Lang=E

8 For the details of the budget see: Human Rights Voices, http://www.humanrightsvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/the-budget/

9 Submission or submission templates have been made available to the public here: https://hrvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/submissions-submit-here/

10 UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/2-30-1, adopted May 27, 2021, para. 1, https://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?OpenAgent&DS=A/HRC/RES/S-30/1&Lang=E

11 See submission concerning the victims of Jew hatred incited by Nazi collaborator and Palestinian leader and mentor Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini, Human Rights Voices, https://hrvoices.org/assets/attachments/documents/Holocaust_Victims_of_Hate_Monger_Al-Husseini.docx

12 See for instance:“Hajj Amin al-Husayni: Arab Nationalist and Muslim Leader,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/hajj-amin-al-husayni-arab-nationalist-and-muslim-leader; Jeffrey Harf, “Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Nazis and the Holocaust: the Origins, Nature and Aftereffects of Collaboration,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2014, Vol. 26, No. 3/4, pp. 13-37, at p. 17

13 The list, currently in the process of being made available to the public, can be found here: Human Rights Voices, https://hrvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/human-rights-voices-submissions/ and Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust https://hrvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/touro-college-institute-on-human-rights-and-the-holocaust-submissions/

14 See for civilian victims of Arab violence: https://laad.btl.gov.il/Web/He/TerrorVictims/Default.aspx?page=0

15 See for fallen defense and security forces of Israel: https://www.izkor.gov.il/%D7%90%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%9F%20%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%9C%D7%A8/en_399451c07d6af2edbb259e94a77362b2

16 “Frequently Asked Questions about the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel,” April 11, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/FAQ_COIOPTEJI.pdf

17 See for submissions of Palestinian Media Watch, MEMRI, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the Jewish Virtual Library (a project of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE)), the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA): Human Rights Voices, https://hrvoices.org/pillays-pogrom/submissions-submit-here/; this page also contains links to the submissions of other NGOs and individuals.

18 “Frequently Asked Questions about the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel,” April 11, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/FAQ_COIOPTEJI.pdf

19 “Frequently Asked Questions about the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel,” April 11, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/2022-02/FAQ_COIOPTEJI.pdf

20 Decision Number 20 of 2014 Regarding an Amendment of Penal Code Number 16 of 1960 and its Amendments, signed by Mahmoud Abbas, Ramallah, October 20, 2014

21 Official Palestinian Authority TV, September 16, 2015, Palestinian Media Watch, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4Mq63fUwEo

22 UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/2-30-1, adopted May 27, 2021, para. 1, https://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?OpenAgent&DS=A/HRC/RES/S-30/1&Lang=E

23 See for list of kinds of attacks and weaponry, for instance reports at אנגלית מאי.pdf (shabak.gov.il)

24 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 26

25 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 28

26 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, See for instance: paras. 47, 48. The one variation merely lamented “the continuing political division between the Fatah and Hamas movements” – “notwithstanding the occupation.” Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 48

27 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 40

28 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 24. The report speaks of Hamas as the “de facto authorities in Gaza” and not as definitively carrying out terror attacks itself – in marked contrast to the treatment of Israel throughout the report. Para. 40 states in full: “The commission of inquiry investigating the conflict in Gaza in 2014 further called upon the de facto authorities in Gaza and Palestinian armed groups to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions, including by ending all attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and stopping all actions that could spread terror among the civilian population in Israel, and to take measures to prevent extrajudicial executions and eradicate torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Elsewhere in the report, they say in general terms: “The de facto authorities in Gaza show little commitment towards upholding human rights, and little adherence to international humanitarian law.” (para. 75)

29 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 46

30 In fact the report only speaks of the “enjoy[ment]” of the Palestinian “right to self-determination.” UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/2-30-1, adopted May 27, 2021, para. 2(e), https://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?OpenAgent&DS=A/HRC/RES/S-30/1&Lang=E; See also Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 30.

31 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, see for instance: paras. 69, 70

32 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, paras. 13, 74

33 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 78

34 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, see for instance: para.25

35 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, para. 79

36 UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/2-30-1, adopted May 27, 2021, para. 2(e), https://daccess-ods.un.org/access.nsf/Get?OpenAgent&DS=A/HRC/RES/S-30/1&Lang=E; See also Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, Summary, page 1, para. 11, Section VI. See also para. 28: “…the findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, and the report therefore reflects this.”

37 Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, A/HRC/50/21, dated May 9, 2022 but actually published June 7, 2022, See summary, page 1.