Hillel Neuer: Fighting the UN anti-Israel bias

Executive Director of UN Watch Hillel Neuer gave a riveting address at the 71st annual B'nai Brith Calgary Lodge Dinner on April 9.

(AJNews) – The United Nation Human Rights Council, founded on the principles of protecting universal human rights, today is overrun with “sixty percent dictatorships” and “serial human rights abusers,” explained Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Speaking to a sold-out crowd at the 71st annual B’nai Brith Calgary Lodge #816 dinner held on April 9, 2024, at Beth Tzedec Congregation, Neuer said that the intergovernmental body was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust and founded, in 1946, on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Council is now so corrupt, he said, that it not only consistently fails to condemn murderous acts, but members of its own staff – working for UNRWA, the United Nations agency whose sole purpose is to work with Palestinian refugees – incite hatred and (allegedly) participated in the murder, mutilation and kidnapping of Israelis.

Neuer explained that the founders of the UN Human Rights Council were great friends of Israel, but “today, things have turned on its head and some of the leading figures at the UN Human Rights Council are great friends of Hamas.”

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer.

Speaking extemporaneously to an audience of seven hundred, Neuer recounted how the UN began to turn against Israel in 1961. In 2003, the chair of the UN Human Rights Council was Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The Chinese regime is a regular member that persecutes 1.5 billion people who have no freedom of speech, religion, or assembly. “Over a million Muslim Uyghurs in China have been taken into camps, their beards cut off, forcing them to eat pork, destroying their language and their culture.” In Hong Kong, democracy has been extinguished. The Cuban communist police state is a member along with Qatar, which supports terrorism, and Venezuela.

The UN Human Rights Council functions thanks to the funding it receives from UN Member States, which in 2023 totalled $282 million. UNRWA’s contributions from UN Member States for 2023 totalled $1.46 billion (up from $1.17 billion in 2022) of tax-payer money, the top funders being the US, Germany, EU, France, Sweden, Japan.

In contrast, UN Watch’s tiny staff of a dozen – that relies on support through donations such as from partial proceeds from the B’nai Brith Calgary Lodge #816 dinner – is now doing the work the UN Human Rights Council was mandated to do. Having only the power of their writings and their words, they are warning governments of the corruption and abuses of the UN Human Rights Council and UNRWA – warnings many democratic nations refuse to heed. Among these nations is now Canada, as directed by the government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who ignored UN Watch’s reports sent to him in 2017 describing the messages UNRWA was spreading calling for the destruction of Israel.

This policy was not always the case. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who UN Watch honoured with the Moral Courage Award in 2019, Canada was once the only country, out of 47 nations, voting with Israel from 2006 to 2009, at a time when the United States pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council.

The current corruption of the UN Human Rights Council is not something its founder, Eleanor Roosevelt, would recognize, as Neuer explained, describing the former First Lady of the United States as a great defender of Israel, a proud Zionist who travelled to Israel regularly and who was the honorary chair of Hadassah Youth Aliyah.

Neuer recounted that Eleanor Roosevelt – who was the first B’nai Brith Calgary Lodge #816 dinner honouree in 1949 – was the founding chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, as the organization was then known, along with René Cassin, the French legal philosopher, and John Humphrey, a professor of law at McGill University, who co-drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “This document sets forth the rights and freedoms we all hold dear: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to life, right to be free from torture, arbitrary detention.”

He explained, “This declaration was adopted in response to the barbarous acts, which outraged the conscious of mankind. It’s a reference to the Holocaust. They were gathering in the aftermath of the Holocaust to reaffirm the principle of human dignity. In our time, we saw the unspeakable atrocities committed by Hamas; sadistic torture, mutilation, rape. That’s exactly the kind of thing the United Nations was meant to combat.” Neuer gave examples that immediately after the October 7 massacre some world leaders did speak out, including US President Biden who stated, “There are times when pure unadulterated evil is unleashed in the world,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke of “the pogrom that had been carried out by Hamas” and a number of world leaders expressed “the outrage of the conscious of humankind.”

Prior to the B’nai Brith Lodge Dinner, Hillel Neuer gave an address to students from CJA, Halpern Akiva Academy, and Hillel.

The reaction from the UN, Neuer continued, was “almost the opposite.” UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said he condemns the atrocities, “But, the actions of Hamas did not happen in a vacuum” and went on to enumerate Palestinian grievances, “effectively justifying Hamas’s actions.” Neuer talked about UN Special Rapporteur, Francesca Albanese, who he called, “a notorious antisemite who has been condemned for antisemitism by France, Germany and the United States.” According to Neuer, Albanese disputed French President Emmanuel Macron remarks that this was the greatest antisemitic massacre since the Holocaust, saying: “It’s not true. It’s a response to oppression.” Neuer agreed that Hamas’s actions did not happen in a vacuum, but said they were the result of the education students receive in Gaza schools.

On January 30, 2024, UN Watch released a report revealing a Telegram chat group of 3,000 UNRWA teachers in Gaza who were celebrating the massacre on October 7, saying, “They were breastfed the Jihad in their mother’s milk” and they too need to give the same great education to their students.

Neuer described the close ties between the UNRWA leadership and Hamas. In 2011, the chair of the UNRWA staff union, Suheil Al-Hindi, was also a member of the Hamas politburo with Yahya Sinwar, who orchestrated the atrocities of October 7. After UN Watch embarrassed UNRWA into suspending Al-Hindi, the entire Gaza staff union of 8,000 teachers went on strike from September to December 2011, to rally in support of Al-Hindi.

“We are meant to believe that UNRWA is some kind of a noble humanitarian group. They put up posts celebrating Adolf Hitler, calling to murder Jews and are taking part in atrocities,” Neuer stated.

The US recently signed into law that they are defunding UNRWA. In January 2024 Canada announced that they were pausing funding to UNRWA in response to the allegations; in the past few weeks Canada, Germany, Australia and Sweden have reinstated funding UNRWA.

UN Watch, a non-governmental organization was founded in 1993 by civil rights leader, Morris Abram, in Geneva after he retired from the UN and having himself witnessed the corruption that was rife at the intergovernmental body.

UN Watch’s work extends beyond fighting antisemitism and anti-Israel bigotry at the UN and includes, as Neuer explained, fighting for equal rights for all people suffering oppression. He described how UN Watch brought Rosa María Payá, daughter of murdered Cuban human rights advocate, Oswaldo Paya, to speak at the UN. “They insulted her after she spoke, but her words went all around the world.”

Neuer discussed the Venezuelan regime that caused seven million people to flee the country and brought, by video, María Corina Machado, the leading opposition figure in Venezuela, who Venezuelan President, Nicolás Maduro, won’t allow to run. She called out the abuses of Venezuela. From Russia, UN Watch brought Evgenia Kara-Murza, the wife of Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was poisoned twice and went into a comma twice, to speak at the UN. Vladimir Kara-Murza returned to Russia where he appeared on CNN and called out the Putin regime for murdering innocent people in Ukraine. Two hours later, he was arrested, put in prison and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for treason, which he is serving in Siberia.

On May 15, 2024, UN Watch will hold the 16th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and will bring people who are fighting for human rights in Zimbabwe, Cuba and other dictatorships, including Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic who was arrested by the Iranian regime, tortured in the Evin prison for two years and released. Moore-Gilbert is fighting for Iranian hostages.

Neuer concluded recounting how Esther in the Purim story was hesitant to speak to the king about the evil Haman. Mordechai urged her saying, “Relief and deliverance are promised. Deliverance will come, the only question is if you will be silent.”

The second dinner honouree was Dan Balaban, CEO and executive chair of Greengate Power Corporation, and longtime community philanthropist.

Rabbi Menachem and Rebbetzin Rochel Matusof, of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta, were honoured with the Ben Docktor Award of Excellence for more than thirty years of service to Alberta’s Jewish community.

Howard Silver, B’nai Brith Calgary Lodge #816 dinner co-chair, succeeded in securing the Geneva-based Hillel Neuer as the honouree and commented that this was one of the best dinners in recent memory.

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