Rima Khalaf heads the Beirut-based U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. Last week it was disclosed that outgoing Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor has asked the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, the ombudsman agency of the international body, to investigate her, for having “abused her position in order to promote an anti-Israel agenda, in a flagrant violation of U.N. obligations and principles.”
Last year, Ambassador Prosor asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend Ms. Khalaf, but met with no success. In his more recent letter to the head of the ombudsman agency, Carmen Lapointe, Mr. Prosor minced no words, accusing Ms. Khalaf of “modern-day anti-Semitism,” and asked for a disciplinary hearing for the U.N. official.
The request is well warranted. In a speech in late February 2014, Ms. Khalaf referred to “Israel’s adamancy that it is a Jewish State, which violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the 20th century.”
Those words reveal a truly malign mind, one that wishes to see Israel’s Jewish identity, despite the country’s embrace and protection of all her citizens, as something somehow equivalent to the Third Reich.
That same year, Khalaf’s agency had released a report, “Arab Integration: A 21st Century Development Imperative,” that insinuated that Israel’s claim to being a “Jewish State” was racist. It manages to invoke Israel over 150 times, holding her responsible for acting in defense of her populace, yet does not so much as mention Hamas and Hizbullah, the reasons for Israeli actions in self-defense.
Khalaf also said that Israeli actions against flotillas trying to break its blockade of Gaza, “is like the violent abductions carried out by pirates at sea, in the air and on land, which the world does not hesitate to call terror.”
Asked about the recent Israeli request for a hearing, she said that she stands by her statements describing “Israel’s documented violations of international law against the Palestinian people” and rejecting “the concept of religious or ethnic purity of states.”
Ms. Khalaf has not had any words of censure against any of the many other democracies that identify with a particular religion, much less any Muslim monarchy or dictatorship.
The U.N. secretary-general’s office seems unperturbed by Khalaf’s words and stances. Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for the Secretary-General, said that his superior “continues to support Rima Khalaf and he has full confidence in her work.”
That’s unfortunate, although not very surprising. The U.N. has long evidenced a bias against Israel, and that animus has hardly abated in recent years. A permanent Human Rights Council agenda item is dedicated to singling out Israel for hostile scrutiny. A U.N. “special rapporteur” is dedicated to publicizing the alleged crimes of one nation: Israel.
And no less than three discrete U.N. bureaucratic bodies are dedicated to the advancement of Palestinian political goals and an anti-Israel narrative.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), moreover, has repeatedly focused negatively on Israel. Just last month, it voted to keep Jerusalem’s Old City on its list of endangered World Heritage sites, condemning the “persistence of the Israeli illegal excavations” in the Ir Haatikah, the light rail line that runs near it and the Ir David archaeological site.
Whatever hopes anyone ever had for the United Nations, the body has become riddled with disease. The veto power of Russia and China ensure that its violations of territorial and human rights will always avoid censure, much less action.
But the larger issue of a blighted U.N. is not a problem that can be addressed simply or quickly. Ms. Khalaf, however, is.
When asked last week whether her office would investigate, Ms. Lapointe said that the Office of Internal Oversight Services “is not allowed by our mandate to discuss whether or not it has opened a case, or the status of a case that may have been opened.”
We have no problem with that. But if such a case is not in fact opened, and Ms. Khalaf’s ugly attitude toward Israel not dealt with as it should be, we will be presented with yet another piece of evidence of the United Nations’ unconscionable bias against Israel.