Rabbinical Assembly Expresses Concern over Impartiality of United Nations Human Rights Council Panel

Posted on: Friday August 15, 2014

RA calls on the United Nations to select an impartial and fair chair of the Human Rights Council

New York – In response to the appointment of Professor William Schabas as chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which was bestowed the responsibility of investigating alleged violations of humanitarian law that may have occurred during Operation Protective Edge, the Rabbinical Assembly issued the following statement:

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President stated:

The United Nations’ selection of  William Schabas, who has a known history of anti-Israel bias, as Chairperson of a council charged with reviewing Israel’s military operation in Gaza portends an unfair investigation from the start. Schabas, who previously expressed interest in trying Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, is hardly positioned to be an impartial judge in reviewing this military operation. The UN has too often been biased throughout this most recent conflict, with United States Senators specifically citing pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel bias within the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (“UNRWA”) as “troubling” in a recent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry. Further, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, 34 United States Senators criticized the UN for investigating Israel’s actions in the conflict, while turning “a blind eye to Hamas' brazen and depraved use of civilians as human shields.” The UN has the responsibility to evaluate the circumstances in an unbiased manner and appointing a chair with a known history of anti-Israel sentiment will crush the reliability of this investigation. Therefore, we strongly urge the United Nations to reconsider its appointment of Schabas to ensure an unprejudiced investigation.

Rabbi William Gershon, President added:

In the aftermath of a conflict precipitated by Hamas firing rockets into Israel and using humanitarian aid and resources for the purposes of digging murder and attack tunnels, the world, including the people of Gaza, deserves an investigation of far more integrity than the UN is poised to offer. For too long, the UN has hidden its hypocrisy and blatant anti-Semitic and anti-Israel bias behind cries of outrage while murderous terrorists are abetted by their calumny. The appointment of Prof. Schabas is only the latest such offense.

Further, UNRWA has also admitted to finding rockets belonging to Hamas in its schools. However, the UN has not publicly stated it would investigate itself for the discovery of these weapons. Rather, it turned the investigation over to local authorities, thus raising further questions about the integrity of UN investigations during times of war, since they refuse to subject their own behavior to outside scrutiny.

We call upon the sponsoring countries of the United Nations, including the United States, to engage in a process of serious reflection on bias and bigotry against Israel in the United Nations.