Antisemitic Comments by UN Official Draw Global Condemnation From Top Decision-Makers

Miloon Kothari. Photo: Jean Marc Ferré / UN.

August 1, 2022

Antisemitic comments made last week by United Nations official have drawn global condemnation, including from top U.S., German, British, French, Canadian, Dutch, Austrian, Czech, and Israeli officials, as well as the heads of major Jewish organizations.

In an interview with the anti-Israel website Mondoweiss, Miloon Kothari — one of three members of the UN’s “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel” — said, “We are very disheartened by the social media, whether controlled by the Jewish lobby, or specific NGOs, a lot of money is being thrown to try and discredit us.”

Kothari also questioned why the Jewish state was “even a member of the UN,” asserting, “The Israeli government does not respect its own obligations as a UN member state. They consistently, either directly or through the U.S., try to undermine UN mechanisms.”

In a joint statement, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Human Rights Council Ambassador Michèle Taylor and U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt denounced Kothari’s remarks, saying, “Antisemitism and anti-Israel bias are a persistent venom that for far too long has poisoned international discourse and polluted international organizations including the United Nations.  The United States condemns it unequivocally.”

Germany’s UN Mission in Geneva tweeted, “Germany firmly stands against any form of #antisemitism. We therefore deeply deplore recent statements by Miloon Kothari, member of the COI on Israel/OPT @UN_HRC”

UK Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Simon Manley tweeted, “Recent comments by Miloon Kothari, a member of the @UN_HRC Israel Commission of Inquiry, questioning Israel’s UN membership and speaking of ‘the Jewish lobby’ controlling social media are unacceptable and offensive. Antisemitism has absolutely no place in the @UN.”

UN Human Rights Council President Federico Villegas said, “Some of the comments made by Commissioner Miloon Kothari could reasonably be interpreted as stigmatization of the Jewish people, which, as all are aware, is at the heart of any expressions of antisemitism.”

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid urged the disbandment of the Commission of Inquiry, calling it a “moral travesty.”

“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,” Lapid said.

Similar demands for the dismissal of the Commission of Inquiry were issued by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and B’nai B’rith International.