State-Sanctioned Incitement: Israel’s Extremist Rabbis


Chief rabbi of the city of Safed, candidate for chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel
In November 2011, Israel’s attorney general opened an investigation into Eliyahu for “suspicion of incitement to racism” for remarks he made several months earlier. He reportedly said: “Arab culture is very cruel… Arabs use different codes and violent norms that amount to an ideology. Just like their stealing agricultural products is an ideology. Just like extortion of protection money from farmers in the Negev is an ideology.” He also declared: “A Jew should not run away from an Arab. A Jew should chase away Arabs… Expelling Arabs from Jewish neighborhoods is part of the strategy.” The investigation was subsequently closed without any charges being filed.
In 2010, Eliyahu was one of the initiators of a religious ruling calling on Jews not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs and other non-Jews. Some 50 Israeli rabbis, including more than 40 municipal chief rabbis, who like Eliyahu are on the government payroll, subsequently signed on to the ruling, which read in part:
“Their way of life is different than that of Jews… Among [the gentiles] are those who are bitter and hateful toward us and who meddle into our lives to the point where they are a danger… The neighbors and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed.”

Signatories included the chief rabbis of the towns of Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Rishon Letzion, Carmiel, Gadera, Afula, Nahariya, Herzliya, Nahariya and Pardes Hannah, and others. In defending his support for the ruling, Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, head of the Ashdod Yeshiva (religious school), stated, “Racism originated in the Torah… The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel.”

Eliyahu had previously told an interviewer: “You can say the word “racist” 20 times… It doesn’t have an effect on me. By the way, Jewish religious law prohibits the selling of apartments to Arabs and the renting of apartments to Arabs.”
In December 2010, Haaretz newspaper reported on a poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah (PSR) that found 44% of Jewish Israelis supported the rabbis’ call for Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews, while 48% opposed it.
In late December 2010, Eliyahu helped to organize an open letter from the wives of some 30 rabbis, including influential rabbis in Israel’s religious nationalist movement, urging Jewish women not to date, socialize or work with non-Jews or else they would be cut off from their “holy race.” The letter read in part:

“For your sake, for the sake of future generations, and so you don’t undergo horrible suffering, we turn to you with a request, a plea, a prayer. Don’t date non-Jews, don’t work at places that non-Jews frequent, and don’t do national service with non-Jews.”

Signatories included Nitzchia Yosef, the daughter-in-law of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, and Esther Lior, the wife of Rabbi Dov Lior, the influential chief rabbi of settlements in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. (See below for more on Yosef and Lior.)

In March 2008, Eliyahu called on the Israeli government to carry out “state-sanctioned revenge” against Palestinians by “hanging the children” of militants responsible for violent attacks.
In May 2007, Eliyahu urged the government to kill “a million” Palestinians if necessary to stop rockets being fired from Gaza, stating: “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand… And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”
In 2004, Eliyahu warned Jewish women to beware of Arab men, declaring that “Jewish girls are held prisoners by Arabs in the village of ‘Akbara… this is another form of warfare waged by the Palestinians.”

In August 2002, after a bus bombing in northern Israel, Eliyahu called on Safed’s Academic College to expel its Arab students.

In July 2013, Haaretz newspaper reported that a majority of the members of parliament from the Jewish Home party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, supported the candidacy of Eliyahu in his bid to be Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel.


Spiritual leader of the Shas party, which was a part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government from 2009-2012
In May 2012, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the influential spiritual leader of the Shas party, which was then part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, said that doctors who were religious Jews shouldn’t treat non-Jews on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, even if the patient’s life was in danger, stating: “If a gentile were to get injured in a car accident during Sabbath, and he is brought to the hospital – Israel must not treat him.” He concluded “the Torah forbids to violate the Sabbath for gentiles.”
In September 2010, Yosef declared that non-Jews were created to “serve” Jews, stating:
“Goyim [non- Jews] were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world; only to serve the People of Israel… Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat… With gentiles, it will be like any person: They need to die, but God will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant. That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew.”
In August 2010, on the eve of peace talks in Washington, Yosef delivered a sermon describing Palestinians as “evil, bitter enemies” and calling on god to make them “perish from this world” by striking them with a plague.
In 2005, Yosef said that New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina because US President George W. Bush had supported Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of settlers from Gaza, stating, “He [Bush] perpetrated the expulsion. Now everyone is mad at him… this is his punishment for what he did to Gush Katif.” He added: “There was a tsunami and there are terrible natural disasters, because there isn’t enough Torah study… black people reside there [in New Orleans]. Blacks will study the Torah? (God said) let’s bring a tsunami and drown them… Hundreds of thousands remained homeless. Tens of thousands have been killed. All of this because they have no God.”
In 2001, Yosef delivered a sermon in which he stated: “It is forbidden to be merciful to [Arabs]. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable…The Lord shall return the Arabs’ deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world.”
In July 2011, Yosef’s son, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, was arrested on suspicion of incitement to racism after he endorsed The King’s Torah, a book that used religious texts to justify the murder of non-Jewish civilians, including children. He was released by police after a few hours. (See section below on Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira for more on The King’s Torah.)


Chief rabbi of settlements in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], leading figure in the religious Zionist movement
In September 2012, Lior, one of the most influential figures in the religious Zionist movement, was one of several rabbis and politicians who led an event to honor an Israeli settler convicted of tying up and beating a Palestinian teenager, stripping him naked, and then dumping him on the side of the road. A few months previous, the same settler and another assailant attacked the same teen and killed a baby goat belonging to him. Lior claimed that the settler was framed, adding that Israeli courts are “driven by racist hatred of Jews.”
In February 2012, Lior, called President Barack Obama a “kushi,” a derogatory term for individuals of African descent, and compared him to Haman, an enemy of the Jewish people described in the Biblical Book of Esther. He also called for increased settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, in order to “eradicate the jungle.”
In September 2011 Lior told a conference that Arabs are “wolves,” “savages,” and “evil camel riders.” The same month, he told a settler rally “There are no innocents in war,” stating: “We have murderous rioters surrounding us, according to the Torah, there is room for collective punishment and the IDF must carry out the punishment against the rioters.”
According to a July 2011 article in Haaretz newspaper:
“Leading rabbis have testified that Lior was the source of rulings labeling the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a “rodef” and a “moser” (a traitor who endangers Jewish lives). Here, too, he didn’t stop at incitement. Rabin’s assassin used to travel to Hebron to see the rabbi. Baruch Goldstein [who murdered 29 Palestinians at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994] also visited King Lior for instruction. After he massacred dozens of people, the rabbi ruled that Goldstein was ‘holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.'”

Lior, who has stated repeatedly that killing non-Jews is condoned by Jewish law and that the commandment “thou shalt not kill” only applies to killing Jews, gave a eulogy at mass-murderer Goldstein’s funeral.
In June 2011, Lior was arrested and subsequently released without charge by Israeli police on suspicion of incitement after he endorsed The King’s Torah, a book that condoned the killing of non-Jewish civilians, including children.
In January 2011, at a “women’s health conference,” Lior warned Jewish women against marrying non-Jewish men, saying that “Gentile sperm leads to barbaric offspring.”
In December 2010, Lior’s wife was one of some 30 wives of prominent rabbis who signed an open letter calling on Jewish women not to date, work, or socialize with non-Jews. (See above for more on the letter.)
In March 2008, Lior issued a religious ruling declaring that it is forbidden for Jews to employ Arabs or to rent homes to them.
In December 2007, Lior stated: “We must cleanse the country of Arabs and resettle them in the countries where they came from.”


Former chief rabbi of the Israeli military (2006-2010), current head of a yeshiva in the settlement of Itamar
In 1984, Rontzki helped found the West Bank settlement of Itamar, which is home to some of the most extreme and violent Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. Today he still lives in Itamar, where he runs a yeshiva (religious school) that combines religious and military training.
In October 2011, Rontzki said that Palestinians suspected of carrying out acts of violence against Israelis should be killed “in their beds” instead of being arrested, stating: “they should just be shot, exterminated. They were terrorists that murdered people and should be killed in their beds.”
In November 2009, the then-chief military rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned,” stating: “In times of war, whoever doesn’t fight with all his heart and soul is damned – if he keeps his sword from bloodshed, if he shows mercy toward his enemy when no mercy should be shown.”
In January 2009, Israeli and international media reported that the Israeli army rabbinate under Rontzki’s direction had been distributing leaflets to soldiers containing extremely inflammatory and racist content. One pamphlet stated: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers.” Another leaflet informed soldiers that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute” and that all Palestinians were their enemy. Another asked: “Is it possible to compare today’s Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David?” It concluded: “A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land … They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country … Today the problem is the same.” The soldiers in question were preparing to take part in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009, which killed approximately 1400 Palestinians, most of them civilians. A UN fact-finding mission under internationally renowned Justice Richard Goldstone found that Israel and Hamas both committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity during Cast Lead. Human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch came to the same conclusion.
While chief rabbi of the Israeli military, Rontzki conducted a tour of Hebron in the occupied West Bank for soldiers working in Military Intelligence in which they met with Rabbi Dov Lior, who is known for his extremist and racist views towards Palestinians and other non-Jews (see above for more on Lior).


Head of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar
In August 2010, Shapira, head of a state-funded yeshiva (religious school) in the settlement of Yitzhar that is one of the most extreme settlements in the occupied territories, co-authored The King’s Torah, a book condoning the murder of non-Jewish civilians, including children, because they may grow up to pose a threat to the state. The book claimed that non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks against them “curb their evil inclination.” It also declared that “the ban on killing a gentile does not stem from the intrinsic value of his life, which is not essentially legitimate as such,” concluding that the injunction ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’ applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew.” Regarding the killing of non-Jewish children, The King’s Torah asserted:
“there is reason to harm children if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us… we have seen in the Halakha [body of Jewish law] that even babies of gentiles who do not violate the seven Noahide laws, there is cause to kill them because of the future threat that will be caused if they are raised to be wicked people like their parents.”

A number of other prominent rabbis subsequently endorsed the book, including Dov Lior, the influential chief rabbi of settlements in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and head of the settler Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. (See above for more on Lior.
In July 2010, Shapira was arrested for suspicion of incitement to violence for The King’s Torah after its publication made international headlines, but was released a few hours later without charge.

In August 2010, Shapira urged Israeli soldiers to use Palestinian civilians as human shields, a practice known as the “neighbor procedure” by the Israeli army. Addressing his students, he stated: “According to true Jewish values, your lives come before those of the enemy, whether he is a soldier or a civilian under protection. Therefore, you are forbidden from endangering your own life for the sake of the enemy, not even for a civilian.”

Shapira is also suspected of being involved in a string of arsons and vandalism carried out against mosques in the West Bank over the past several years. In January 2010 he was arrested in connection with the torching of a mosque in the Palestinian town of Yasuf but was subsequently released for lack of evidence.


Co-author of The King’s Torah
In August 2010, Elitzur was arrested (and subsequently released) on “suspicion of incitement to racism” for The King’s Torah.
In August 2011, Elitzur was denied entry to Britain based on a law forbidding entry to anyone “fomenting or justifying terrorist violence … and seeking to provoke others to commit terrorist acts” because of The King’s Torah.


The president of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar
In 2010, the American-born Ginsburg was detained and questioned by Israeli police in relation to The King’s Torah, which was published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva (religious school). (See section above on Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira for more on The King’s Torah.)
In 2003, Ginsburg was charged with incitement to racism after publishing a book that described Arabs as a “cancer” and arguing that Israel should be “cleansed” of Arabs and foreigners.
In 1998, Ginsburg wrote a chapter for a book entitled, “Baruch the Man,” which praised mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinians while they prayed in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron in 1994. Following an investigation for incitement, Israeli authorities decided not to lay charges.
In 1989, Ginsburg was quoted in The New York Times stating that killing non-Jews was a lesser offense than killing Jews, declaring: “Any trial based on the assumption that Jews and goyim are equal is a total travesty of justice.”


Head of the religious nationalist organization Ateret Cohanim’s seminary in Jerusalem, leading figure in the religious Zionist movement
In December 2010, Aviner, who heads a religious school associated with Ateret Cohanim, an extremist organization dedicated to expanding Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, was one of 50 rabbis who signed on to a rabbinical ruling urging Jews not to rent apartments to Arabs and other non-Jews. Aviner explained his support for the ruling stating: “We don’t need to help Arabs set down roots in Israel.” (See section above on Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for more on the ruling.)
In January 2009, it was reported that the Israeli army had been distributing leaflets to soldiers that were based on Aviner’s teachings, instructing them that cruelty is sometimes a “good attribute,” and that all Palestinians were their enemy. The soldiers were preparing to take part in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating three-week assault on Gaza in the winter of 2008-9 that killed approximately 1400 Palestinians, most of them civilians. A UN fact-finding mission subsequently found that Israeli soldiers had committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity during Cast Lead, as did human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.


Head of the Ohr Etzion yeshiva and spiritual leader of the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement, the world’s largest Zionist youth movement
In the early 1970s, Druckman, along with a small group of other rabbis, founded Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”), an extremist settler group whose members, in addition to founding over 100 Jewish-only settlements built on occupied Palestinian land, carried out terrorist attacks killing and maiming numerous Palestinian civilians. According to Haaretz newspaper:

“While Gush Emunim was a success, it also caused damage. According to the outlook of its spiritual leaders, a greater authority existed above that of the state. This undermined the rules of the political system and led to an understanding that the law could be broken if this served ‘higher’ aims… At first illegal settlements without government sanction were erected, and then a small Jewish terror underground took form… Finally, there were demonstrations against the government and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered.”

In September 2012, Druckman, was one of several rabbis who led an event to honor an Israeli settler convicted of tying up and beating a Palestinian teenager, stripping him naked, and then dumping him on the side of the road.

In December 2010, Druckman defended a group of dozens of municipal rabbis who signed a religious ruling urging Jews not to rent apartments to Arabs (see above for more on the ruling). Although he declined to sign the ruling himself and criticized the edict, shortly afterwards Druckman told Israel’s Army Radio:

“An Israeli-Arab that wants to buy or rent an apartment in Israel is usually funded by enemy parties and thus it is forbidden to sell to him… [Arabs] have a desire to take control of our towns and we must defend ourselves. We have nothing against non-Jews, but Arabs are trying to disinherit us from our land.”
In late 2009, Druckman urged Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. He subsequently claimed he was misunderstood and that he wasn’t advocating subordination on the part of soldiers.

During the 1990s, Druckman opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Druckman also opposed the signing of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt. Following Israel’s withdrawal from the Egyptian Sinai according to the terms of the treaty, Druckman co-founded “Return to Sinai” to advocate for Israel’s re-conquest of the territory.

In 1980, as Gush Emunim members were waging a campaign of violent attacks against Palestinian civilians, he was quoted praising the maiming of two mayors of Palestinian towns in the West Bank by members of the Gush Emunim-connected Jewish Underground terrorist organization, stating: “Thus may all Israel’s enemies perish.”

In 2012, the Israeli government awarded Druckman the Israel Prize, considered Israel’s highest honor”.



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4 responses to “State-Sanctioned Incitement: Israel’s Extremist Rabbis

  1. Christopher Proudlove

    It is so sad to see the hate rhetoric and tactics common amongst Palestinian Arabs mirrored in some sections of Judaism in Israel. During my first visit to Israel my heart sank in despair when I read about a rabbi leading a march in which some chanted ‘We hate Arabs.’
    Ultra-Orthodox Jews persecute Israelis who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Jewish Messiah. Last week they were responsible for the arrest and deportation of Londoner Barry Barnet, of Jews for Jesus, for witnessing to this effect. Barry loves Israel and stands for the right for Israel to live in peace without the threat of genocide from neighbouring countries. This episode shames Israel.
    I have another friend Jacob Damhani, of Hotel Gilgal in Tel Aviv, which houses a Messianic Jewish congregation, who has been physically attacked 20 times by Orthodox Jews for preaching Jesus in the streets. Thankfully, this does not always occur as he gives out tracts in public.

  2. Christopher Proudlove

    The International New York Times carried this article on Palestinian Arab hate written by Yuval Steinitz: “On Sept. 26, the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, told the United Nations General Assembly that the Palestinians “keep reaching out to the Israelis saying: let us work to make the culture of peace reign.” Honorable sentiments, to be sure, but sadly not free of hypocrisy.
    Just after returning from his U.N. speech, Mr. Abbas cleared time to host the celebrated Egyptian poet Hisham al-Gakh, author of a famous hit proclaiming that “our enemy is the fork-tailed Zionist devil.” That evening, Mr. al-Gakh had an opportunity to recite his “lovely” song upon receiving an award from the Palestinian minister of culture.
    And in July, the program “Palestine This Morning” featured two sisters reciting a poem referring to “sons of Zion” and “barbaric monkeys” and “wretched pigs.”
    These are but a few of the thousands of examples of Palestinian incitement against the Jewish state and the Jewish people. There are even numerous instances of the glorification of Hitler on the Facebook pages of some government-supported Palestinian schools and in children’s publications funded by the Palestinian Authority. Such messages, propagated daily in P.A. media and classrooms, are internalized by the population at large — and children in particular.
    Two decades ago, I was a chartered member of Israel’s Peace Now movement and an unabashed supporter of the peace process. Since then, I — and many Israelis like me — have become deeply skeptical about Palestinians’ real intentions. And it’s not only because of the terrorist attacks which have emanated from areas handed over to Palestinian control, but also because of the repeated Palestinian calls for Israel’s destruction. Jewish history has taught us the hard way never to underestimate the power of hatred.
    The Palestinian Authority’s television and radio stations, public schools, summer camps, children’s magazines and Web sites are being used to drive home four core messages. First, that the existence of a Jewish state (regardless of its borders) is illegitimate because there is no Jewish people and no Jewish history in this piece of land. Second, that Jews and Zionists are horrible creatures that corrupt those in their vicinity. Third, that Palestinians must continue to struggle until the inevitable replacement of Israel by an Arab-Palestinian state. And fourth, that all forms of resistance are honorable and valid, even if some forms of violence are not always expedient.
    Instead of being schooled in the “culture of peace,” the next generation of Palestinians is being relentlessly fed a rhetorical diet that includes the idolization of terrorists, the demonization of Jews and the conviction that sooner or later Israel should cease to exist.
    Even after Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of the resumption of peace talks, incitement remains prevalent. For example, P.A. television coverage of a “peace visit” to the West Bank’s Hebron district by the famed FC Barcelona soccer team took the trouble to remind viewers that Palestine extends “from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra” — that is, not just the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the entire land of Israel. This remark was followed by a song performed by Muhammad Assaf, the winner of the popular TV show “Arab Idol.” The lyrics envisioned the “liberation” of Israeli cities such as Haifa, Tiberias and Safed.
    The fact that this anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic indoctrination persists, despite the much-touted relaunch of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, constitutes a huge obstacle on the road to peace. It should have disappeared 20 years ago, as a result of a clear Palestinian commitment to end all forms of incitement included in the Oslo Accords. And until it ends, the current round of talks cannot hope to reach a successful outcome.
    Progress toward a peace agreement requires that both Palestinians and Israelis foster an environment conducive to productive dialogue. Israel’s anguished decision on July 28 to release over 100 convicted terrorists, as well as to help the Palestinian economy, were a courageous attempt to build trust and improve the atmosphere surrounding the negotiations, and I supported it.
    Palestinian leaders must now reciprocate by immediately and fully halting their encouragement and sponsorship of hatred.
    If they do not, attempts at renewed diplomacy are doomed to fail, Israelis will become more skeptical about the peace process, and we in the Israeli government will have greater difficulty taking the additional confidence-building steps that we have been considering. Indeed, with each passing day, my colleagues and I will find it more and more problematic to authorize any further release of prisoners.
    If Israelis are ever to believe that peace with Palestinians has a chance, the first step Mr. Abbas must take is to swiftly terminate the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish people and its state.

  3. Christopher Proudlove

    Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland, has revealed that a United Nations document discriminates in favour of pro-Palestinians for employment purposes.
    He says that the United States President would be barred from a job at the United Nations human rights office, due to an apparently discriminatory hiring exam that screens applicants who differ from the office’s anti-Israel narrative.
    Anyone who, like Barack Obama, has vocally opposed efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel at the United Nations would be unable to complete this exam in good faith.
    According to UN Watch, certain applicants for employment within the 1,000-strong U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)—the civil service for the 47-nation Human Rights Council—were required to complete a test that presumes unquestioned support for Palestinian claims of Israeli criminality at the UN.
    He wrote in The Times of Israel: “The exercise opens with a fact scenario. Three investigators of the U.N. Human Rights Council—the monitors on adequate housing, water and sanitation, and on the right to food—have been sending allegation letters to Israel ‘raising concerns about the demolition of houses, water tanks and agricultural structures in the West Bank.’
    The test stipulates that unspecified ‘NGOs and UN actors’—the latter could be anyone from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to murderous UN member states like Syria or its backer, the Islamic Republic of Iran—are now ‘encouraging’ the three experts to issue a press release on the subject.
    Meanwhile, ‘the Palestinian request for recognition of statehood is being discussed at the Security Council and General Assembly.’
    The facts established, the applicant is instructed to draft an OHCHR memo advising the three experts on the pros and cons of issuing such a press release, and of its timing. Alternatively, applicants could draft talking points for the experts to use in media interviews on their allegations against Israel.
    Second, the applicant is obliged to draft a 1,500-word concept note for organising a public event at U.N. headquarters in New York to promote the topic of Israeli human rights violations.
    The applicant must further elaborate on his or her concept for the program, format, speakers, audience, and steps needed, all of which could be shared with ‘States that may wish to sponsor such an event.’ Syria? Iran? Sweden?
    This UN job test is highly problematic on two levels. First, the exercise clearly favors candidates who support holding one-sided events that focus on allegations against Israel while ignoring massive human rights abuses by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.
    Second, the exam, which obviously reflects the real-life working methods of the OHCHR, reveals a level of professional complicity in the bias of the UN’s political bodies that was not hitherto documented.
    On numerous occasions, when UN Watch has complained to the UN about the actions of problematic investigators of the Human Rights Council, the response has been to disclaim and deny any responsibility for the so-called independent experts.
    In October 2011, for example, UN Watch complained to Ban Ki-moon about the Special Rapporteur on Food, Olivier de Schutter, whose political campaign against Israel included, without any connection to his mandate, a pre-emptive attack on the Palmer Commission, which produced a rare UN report endorsing Israel’s view of the flotilla incident as well as the legality of the blockade to stop Hamas’ import of missiles.
    In response, the top UN bureaucrat insisted to us that mandate-holders like Schutter ‘enjoy an independent status, which is crucial for them to fulfill their functions in all impartiality, free from any extraneous influence… from any party.’
    In reality, however, we now see that UN rapporteurs are sensitive to the demands of UN member states, and of NGOs; and that the professional staffers in Geneva, who are meant to be objective and neutral, are intricately involved in some of the anti-Israel machinations by the rapporteurs.
    Similarly, when in that same year we complained to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, about an anti-Semitic cartoon published by Richard Falk, the council’s permanent investigator on Israeli violations, we received the same disclaimer of responsibility. Yet Pillay’s office may be more involved with Falk than previously thought.
    The UN Charter requires (Article 101) that the paramount consideration in the employment of staff be ‘the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity.’ Choosing applicants based on their political views, therefore, is completely illegal.
    How many applicants were given this exam, which appears to be a political litmus test with a partisan agenda, is unknown.
    How common is it for OHCHR applications to include writing exercises with scenarios involving real-life country-specific situations?
    For example, have such exercises ever featured scenarios addressing the specific human rights situations of China, Cuba, Congo (DRC), Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan or Zimbabwe? Can the UN provide samples of such country-specific writing exercises?
    I posed these questions to the Office of the High Commissioner. In an email response Monday, OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville told me that it was ‘quite possible that some of the countries you mention have been used for tests’ — but also ‘quite impossible to find out which ones have been used when, or by whom, or for what specific purpose, given that hundreds of such tests have taken place all across the world for a wide range of jobs on a wide range of issues and situations in the 20 years since OHCHR was created.’
    Is it really ‘quite possible’ that the UN produced an exam contemplating UN action on human right abuses concerning Tibet, Chechnya, and Cuba’s political prisoners? I will believe it when I see it.
    According to the OHCHR, the tests ‘are of no importance per se, but only for what they reveal about a particular candidate’s capabilities.’
    Sadly, we fear these tests may reveal far more.

  4. Christopher Proudlove

    A cousin of renowned jurist Dr. Raphael Lemkin, who coined the the term ‘genocide’ and who drafted and pushed for the adoption, in the United Nations, of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, has spoken out on what he sees as UN hypocrisy.
    The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, in partnership with the United Nations office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, commemorated the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Genocide Convention on December 9 with a program titled, “From Prevention to Protection: The UN Genocide Convention 65 Years On.”
    Several members of the Lemkin family in the New York area attended the prestigious event honouring the memory of their esteemed relative.
    Adopted by the UN in 1948, the Genocide Convention affirms genocide as a violation of human rights under international law. Lemkin, a Holocaust survivor who died in 1959 at the age of 59, lost 49 family members, including his parents, in the Shoah; he arrived in America in 1942.
    Even before the Holocaust, Lemkin had been acutely disturbed by what he later described as the “crime of genocide,” which “should be recognized therein as a conspiracy to exterminate national, religious or racial groups.” The massacre of Armenians by Turks and, later, of Christian Assyrians by Iraqis, had inspired him to devote his life to this heroic endeavour.
    In fact, according to his writings, Lemkin had predicted the extermination of European Jewry, as pointed out by his relative, Binyamin Lemkin, also an attorney, in an interview with United with Israel.
    Binyamin’s late father, Daniel, also a Holocaust survivor, was a first cousin of Raphael. Notwithstanding the profound honour at the UN, Binyamin pointed out what he sees as a “great dissonance between the UN’s official proclamations and professed identification with the principles that Raphael Lemkin promoted and the actual course of action the UN takes day-to-day.”
    Indeed, just two weeks ago, in a vote of 110-to-7, the UN approved its latest anti-Israel resolution, declaring 2014 as the “Year of Palestinian Solidarity.”
    “I view the UN as a hotbed of anti-Israel activity,” Binyamin stated. “The enemies of Israel, these days most notably Iran, pose a genocidal threat to the Jewish state and the Jewish people. We must remember that the Arab countries in previous years, when they thought they were capable of doing so, sought to liquidate the State of Israel and its Jewish residents. Raphael Lemkin himself considered the Arab riots in the 1920s and 1930s against the Jews in the Land of Israel to be genocidal in nature,” as his writings reveal.
    “If the UN really wished to live up to Raphael Lemkin’s legacy, it would be acting forcefully and unambiguously against the regime in Iran, which is in flagrant violation of the Genocide Convention,” Binyamin asserted.
    “We must remember that those who are remiss in fulfilling their moral obligations towards the Jewish nation ultimately are not only leaving Israel and the Jewish people vulnerable to genocidal threat, but the entire world,” he stressed. “I have no doubt that Iran’s genocidal intentions will be translated into genocidal action, which will ultimately result in disastrous consequences for the world. I believe that the world’s neglect up until now to enforce the Genocide Convention will lead to tragic cataclysmic consequences not yet seen.”
    Binyamin, born and raised in the US, moved to Israel in 1992 at the age of 25 for “idealistic reasons,” he explained. “I believe the Jewish people are obligated to settle in the Land of Israel.”
    “I feel that right now, by choosing to speak out, I’m contributing to carrying out the legacy of Raphael Lemkin,” he said. “If he were alive, he would expect the world to act to prevent another Holocaust.”
    “The world loves to commemorate the Holocaust, but the slogan ‘Never Again’ is meaningless if nothing is actually done to prevent it from happening again,” he declared.
    Raphael Lemkin was described by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as “one of the unsung heroes of the international human rights movement.”

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