The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), comprised only of Muslim majority nations, published a report Wednesday defining Israel “conclusively” as “an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”
The report was published without the consultation with the UN secretariat, according to a spokesman, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to order its removal from the ESCWA website.
“The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
In response, Rima Khalaf, executive secretary of ESCWA, announced her resignation, saying she stands by the report.
“It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims,” she said in her resignation letter.
Meanwhile the United States and Israel praised Gutteres.
“U.N. agencies must do a better job of eliminating false and biased work, and I applaud the Secretary-General’s decision to distance his good office from it,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nicki Haley said in a statement.
“Anti-Israel activists do not belong in the UN,” Israel Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said.
The ESCWA is headquartered in Beirut and includes Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority.
The report claims to establish “beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law.”
The report defines apartheid as, “Inhumane acts… committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”
“The attempt to smear and falsely label the only true democracy in the Middle East by creating a false analogy Is despicable and constitutes a blatant lie,” Danon said.
The term “apartheid” originates in South Africa and describes a historic governmental system where the white minority ruled in a highly undemocratic, oppressive and discriminatory manner over the black majority. In January, KNI reported on South African Kenneth Meshoe, president of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), who described such comparisons with Israel as “deceptive and slanderous,” bringing him into conflict with the ruling ANC party.
Jake Beaumont, research analyst for Honest Reporting Canada, a non-profit organization which monitors Canadian media coverage of Israel, in 2016 proposed 10 reasons why Israel is not an apartheid regime:
“1. All people living in Israel have full equal rights.
2. An Arab judge, George Karra, sentenced an ex-Israeli president Moshe Katsav to prison for seven years — a testament to Israel’s equality amongst all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity.
3. In 1953, the Bantu Education Act was passed. This separated blacks from whites in the South African educational system. Palestinians and Arabs in Israeli universities both study and teach as professors. Today in Israel there are hundreds of Arab schools. Furthermore, education in the Palestinian areas of the West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
4. Incitement to racism is a criminal offence in Israel. This is the polar opposite of apartheid in South Africa, whose government specifically passed incendiary racist legislation.
5. Arabs and Israelis receive the same treatment in hospitals.
6. Non-whites in South Africa had separate amenities. None of this discrimination is prevalent in Israel and a law prohibits discrimination in public places.
7. Israeli Arabs have their own political parties in the Knesset – some of whom are Israel’s harshest critics.
8. Arab citizens are allowed to seek redress through the courts and government if they feel they have been wronged.
9. Arabs in Israel have more fundamental rights than other Islamic and Arab countries in the Middle East. Ironically, they have more rights than they do in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.
10. In Israel, there are 1.6 million Arab citizens integrated within Israeli society. They make up 20 percent of Israel’s population. There was no such integration in South Africa.”
Furthermore, according to a Harvard University poll, 77 percent of Arab citizens living in Israel would rather live there than any other country in the world.
In January KNI, raised the question of whether the UN can be reformed and, if so, how and, earlier this month, we cited a report that the US is considering pulling out of the UN Human Rights Council. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said America will continue “to evaluate the effectiveness” of that organization, which the Bush administration withdrew from entirely.
It seems that in order to regain credibility, the UN should either reign in, defund or abolish organizations within its wider body that consistently and without base discriminate against Israel or any other state or people. Instead, the UN should focus its resources on the plights of Christians and Jews in Muslim-majority nations, who arguably are facing life-or-death situations.
“Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
2 Chronicles 19:7
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”