Dion J. Pierre
StandWithUs holds a press conference outside the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, featuring Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, October 27, 2022. Photo: Dion J. Pierre
A UN commission announced Thursday that it will investigate the allegation that Israel is an “apartheid state,” eliciting strong rebuke from pro-Israel organizations.
“We’re focusing on the root cause, which is the occupation, and part of it lies in apartheid,” said Navi Pillay, a member of the United Nations’ Commission of Inquiry on Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza (COI). “We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate. It gives us the scope.”
Commissioner Miloon Kothari, who in July made comments about the undue influence of a so-called “Jewish lobby” on the media, said the COI would “have to look at issues of settler colonialism.”
“Apartheid itself is a very useful paradigm, so we have a slightly different approach, but we will definitely get to it,” he added.
The COI’s announcement follows the release of its second report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Commission was established last year following the 11-day war between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas group in May. COI is the first UN commission to ever be granted an indefinite period of investigation, which has drawn criticism from the US State Department, members of US Congress, and Jewish leaders across the world.
StandWithUs, a nonprofit that educates the public about Israel and raises awareness of antisemitism, denounced the commission for its anti-Israel bias, at a press conference outside the United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday.
“Dozens of organizations stood together against the hateful, predetermined, manipulative report by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s ‘Commission of Inquiry’ against Israel,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein told The Algemeiner. “People around the world who appreciate truth and stand against anti-Jewish bigotry should be proud.”
South African lawyer Olga Meshoe-Washington of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) also disputed the commission’s allegations that Israel is an apartheid state.
“Shame on the commission for continuing to appropriate the history of my people and trivializing my family’s pain, under the banner of human rights,” she said. “It erases the very real, very lived experience of the brutality of apartheid; a reality that includes millions of Black South Africans fleeing their country and living in exile under fear of persecution purely because of the color of their skin. This is not Israel.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan also spoke, arguing that “this is a council that has condemned Israel, a liberal democracy, more than Iran, Syria, and North Korea.”
“Today, it’s no longer politically correct to blame Jews for all the world’s problems, so antisemites adapt,” he said. “Rather than burning Jews at the stake, antisemites burn the Jewish state at the stake.”