Israel Demands UN Disband Investigating Commission over Antisemitic Remarks

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben-Gershom (Israeli GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday sent a letter to the head of the United Nations calling upon the international body to disband the Commission of Inquiry (COI) investigating Israel and the Palestinians due to antisemitic remarks made by one of the members. In his letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which was published by Israel, Lapid highlighted a recent interview by Commission Member Miloon Kothari that included the libel that the “Jewish lobby” exerts substantive control over social media and in which Kothari questioned why Israel is even a member of the UN. Furthermore, Lapid noted that COI Chair Navi Pillay failed to condemn the remarks and instead “chose to defend and excuse them”, claiming they were taken out of context.

“This cannot stand. Slurs about a ‘Jewish lobby’ that acts to ‘control’ the media, are reminiscent of the darkest days of modern history,” wrote Lapid.

“…The fight against antisemitism cannot be waged with words alone, it requires action. This is the time for action; it is time to disband the Commission. From Mr. Kothari’s outrageous slurs to Ms. Pillay’s defense of the indefensible, this Commission does not just endorse antisemitism—it fuels it.”

Lapid highlighted that multiple nations condemned Kothari’s comments—including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada—and argued that the COI had shown itself to be biased against Israel.

“The COI has been fundamentally tainted by the publicly expressed prejudices of its leadership, who do not meet the basic standards of neutrality, independence and impartiality required by the United Nations,” said Lapid’s letter.

This isn’t the first concern about the COI, which was formed by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2021 to investigate alleged human rights violations in Israel and territory controlled by the Palestinians. Around the time the COI released their first report in June—about which Pilay said in a press release on the Human Rights Council website the findings were “overwhelmingly directed” against Israel—the US and 21 other nations voiced concern about the commission.

US State Department Spokesman Ned Price on June 7 said in a press statement that the US “firmly oppose the open-ended and vaguely defined nature” of the Commission that “represents a one-sided, biased approach that does nothing to advance the prospects for peace.”

In his letter on Sunday, Lapid noted the various nations’ concerns about the COI, saying the “fundamentally flawed nature” of the Commission was seen again in Kothari’s antisemitic comments. “This latest shameful episode is a further example of its flawed and biased nature,” said Lapid of the Commission.

In the letter, Lapid directly quotes Kothari as saying in the interview with the Mandoweiss podcast, “We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by—whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs, a lot of money is being thrown in to try to discredit us.”

Lapid also included a comment from Kothari in which he stated of Israel, “I would go as far as to raise the question as why they are even a member of the United Nations.” 

Lapid asked UN head Guterres to listen for himself to the interview to prove the comments were not taken out of context. Said Lapid, “These antisemitic remarks are a stain on the entire United Nations and are not befitting of a person with such a position of responsibility.”

Lapid recalled prior comments from Guterres in which the UN leader said in 2017 “a modern form of antisemitism is the denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist,” and that “Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.” 

In view of Guterres’ past sentiments, Lapid urged him to respond to the antisemitic comments emerging from the Commission of Inquiry. Said Lapid, “Excellency, I call on you today to honor your word in this egregious case, to set the record straight… take all necessary measures to bring about the immediate resignation of Ms. Pillay and the other commissioners, and the disbanding of the Commission.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, August 1, 2022)

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