Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Thursday that the comments of Miloon Kothari, a member of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (COI) “echo the darkest days of antisemitism”.
Kothari stated on a podcast for Mondoweiss that a lot of money was being spent on efforts to “discredit” the UN Human Rights Council, which set up the commission, and that social media was “controlled largely by the Jewish lobby.”
“It’s not only governments. 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 into trying to discredit us,” Kothari added.
‘Apartheid’ is not sufficient: PALESTINE’S SELF-DTERMINATION IS THE ISSUE: an interview with UN Human Rights Commissioner Miloon Kothari https://t.co/GgrKVcsc3Q
— Zakia Belhachmi (@BelZakia) July 29, 2022
Responding to Kothari, Keren Hajioff, Lapid’s international spokesperson, said in a statement that “the international community should be outraged by Miloon Kothari’s antisemitic comments.”
Hajioff’s statement also described the commission as the “epitome of moral hypocrisy” and “makes a mockery of the UN Human Rights Council’s own supposed standards of independence and impartiality.”
“This illegitimate and biased commission must be disbanded and its commissioners disqualified from UN work,” the statement concluded.
The chair commissioner of the UN Commission, Navi Pillay, defended her colleague against allegations of antisemitism from pro-Israel groups, Israeli politicians, and US officials.
CoI chair Navi Pillay: Mr Kothari’s comments “have deliberately been taken out of context”.?
Having listened to the podcast with Kothari, I agree.
His remarks in question were poorly worded.
But they’re being mischaracterised in a dishonest smear campaign against the CoI. pic.twitter.com/p5LD4Ztqw5
— Martin Konečný (@MartinKonecny) July 29, 2022
In a letter to UN Human Rights Council President Nazhat Khan, Pillay said that Kothari’s comments “seem to have deliberately been taken out of context.”
“The Commission also wishes to underline that Commissioner Kothari’s comments on efforts by governments as well as specific NGOs to discredit individual members of the Commission were again deliberately misquoted to imply that ‘social media’ was controlled by the Jewish lobby,” the letter reads.
“The Commission takes great exception to personal attacks against individual Commissioners appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Such attacks have been continuously directed against all three commissioners throughout our tenure, and it is to this that Commissioner Kothari was making reference.”