Letter from a citizen to collect signatures calling for the UN’s anti-Israel commission of inquiry
(February 14, 2022 / JNS) Immediately after “Operation Guardian of the Walls”, which began after Hamas in the Gaza Strip began firing barrages of rockets into Jerusalem and its civilian population last May, the United Nations Human Rights Commission United Nations, reacting to Israel’s reprisals against Hamas, set up an inquiry to investigate “all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law since April 13, 2021”.
The commission, titled “The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry into the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel”, and which has been denounced for its overt and single focus on Israel, is headed by Judge South African Navi Pillay who openly supports the BDS movement and has spoken out against Israel on several occasions in the past.
According to the commission’s terms of reference, its investigation will focus not only on the military operation but also on “the roots of the conflict, including racial, religious and national discrimination”. This predetermined outcome reinforces the claim that the commission has already decided that Israel is guilty and will produce an extremely biased report to fit its anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic narrative.
But a new initiative has been launched to combat this bias.
The Citizens’ Letter, a civilian initiative, is sent to the United Nations with the aim of raising the voices of hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have experienced first-hand the rocket terror that targeted civilian populations with the intention of maim, injure, terrorize and kill as many people as possible – a war crime and a flagrant violation of international law.
The letter, which was launched on February 13 and has already garnered hundreds of signatures, was drafted in collaboration with lawyer Yifa Segal, an expert in international law.
“We are not concerned with finding the truth,” she told JNS. “We really want that to be the goal of the UN and its organs.”
Instead, she said she was “concerned about politicization and pre-written conclusions, which unfortunately experience proves. An honest examination of international law would necessarily lead any objective investigator to a clear and simple conclusion: a terrorist organization that deliberately targets civilians while using its own as human shields is the worst kind of criminal.
Segal questioned the commission’s approach, noting that political claims and the context of the dispute “are clearly irrelevant issues unless one seeks political determination disguised as legal determination.”
Segal said the letter calls on the UN Commission of Inquiry and all world leaders “to recognize the war crimes that Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza have committed and continue to commit” against Israeli citizens.
Any Israeli citizen over the age of 16 who was in Israel during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” can now sign the letter on the official website (www.TheCitizensLetter-English.com). The final letter will be submitted with signatures to the UN commission of inquiry to prevent the commission from ignoring the voices of Israeli citizens.
“I woke up late to take up the challenge”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the decision ‘discriminatory’ because the commission did not mention the actions of the terrorist organization Hamas, which intentionally fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli population centers in May 2021, and the commission has never opened an open investigation into any other nation in its history.
“We vehemently oppose this unilateral investigative farce, which once again demonstrates the clear anti-Israel bias within the UN body,” the Conference wrote in a press release.
The commission is extremely problematic for a number of reasons.
According to Avi Bell, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and Bar-Ilan University School of Law, the commission “differs from the many UN institutions and employees who make and publish anti-Israeli propaganda in two main respects. First, it is the largest full-time anti-Israel body ever created by the United Nations. It is chartered forever and has a large budget and 18 employees. Second, he is explicit about his witch-hunting goals: he says he aims to have Israeli Jews tried and punished for phantom crimes that the commission intends to fabricate.
Bell told JNS that the commission is “a serious threat in the ongoing fight against the Jewish state. He tailors his propaganda to criminalize Israeli Jews for prosecution. It will produce “official documents” that will replace evidence to “prove” false accusations against Israeli Jews. »
In January, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that the commission could conclude that Israel is an “apartheid” regime as part of the UN’s ongoing efforts to discredit Israel in official international forums and documents. But it remains unclear whether the foreign secretary or ministry took any action beyond that statement or whether he made it clear he would not engage the biased commission.
Bell criticized the Foreign Office, saying it “woke up late to meet the challenge”.
He noted that the commission was endorsed by the Human Rights Council almost a year ago. Its huge budget was approved on December 23 by the United Nations General Assembly with the support of 125 member countries, while the United States, Israel and six other countries voted against, and 34, including some traditional allies of Israel, abstained from voting. .
“While the ministry took no effective action to derail the commission, a number of pro-Israel organizations foolishly decided to organize formal submissions of information to the commission, thereby granting the commission legitimacy. she doesn’t deserve,” he said. “Shockingly, instead of discouraging such destructive submissions, the Foreign Office is inexplicably cooperating with these organizations.”
Bell also excoriated the members of the commission, all of whom he said had been “selected for their prejudice against the Jewish state and against Jews.”
Additionally, Bell pointed out that “the commission’s procedures for producing their propaganda are carefully hidden from public view to ensure complete bias. It is therefore obvious to all that the reports will contain specific false allegations against Israeli Jews suitable for criminal charges, as well as a handful of pro forma admissions of Palestinian wrongdoing that are not specific enough to lead to criminal charges. .
Bell stressed that the committee has already decided the outcome, and that it would be “illusory” to believe that Israel could influence its members, the content of their reports or their decisions.
“The commission has safely isolated itself and its reports from the influence of Israel and all other reasonable and responsible actors on the world stage,” he said. “The only viable strategy is to work to starve the commission of allies and funds, starting with ending all cooperation with the commission.”