Israel Rejects UN Official’s Apology for Remarks Condemned as Antisemitic

By Hamodia Staff

Miloon Kothari. (Simon Fraser University)

YERUSHALAYIM – A U.N. official who was accused of making antisemitic remarks apologized on Thursday.

Miloon Kothari, a member of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into last year’s fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, had claimed that the “Jewish lobby” controls social media and questioned why Israel is allowed to be a member of the U.N., provoking widespread criticism, including Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s demand that he be dismissed and the panel be disbanded.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected the apology and reiterated the demand that Kothari and his fellow commission members should resign immediately.

At least 18 countries, including the United States, condemned Kothari’s remarks, as has the European Union and the office of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In a letter published on Thursday, Kothari wrote that he would like to “sincerely express my regret and unequivocally apologize,” adding that “the offense I have caused by using these words has deeply distressed me.”

“It was completely wrong for me to describe the social media as being controlled largely by the Jewish lobby,” Kothari said.

“This choice of words was incorrect, inappropriate, and insensitive,” he added in a letter he wrote to the United Nations Human Rights Council President Federico Villegas. 

He maintained, however, that his comments on Israel’s U.N. membership were aimed at highlighting “the non-compliance of Israel with U.N/ decisions related to its obligations under international law,” but that he never “questioned the existence of the State of Israel.”

Kothari’s letter came 10 days after his words caused an international furor.

Later on Thursday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying:

“The hollow apology of COI member Miloon Kothari is a pathetic and unconvincing maneuver, which doesn’t compensate for the long record of anti-Israeli and antisemitic statements made by him and the other COI members.

“In our view, in light of the antisemitic and anti-Israeli statements of the commissioners, and the fact that they do not meet the minimal standards of neutrality and impartiality required from individuals in these positions in the U.N., Kothari and his colleagues must resign immediately. The COI in its entirety must be disbanded. If the U.N. is committed to fighting antisemitism and to upholding its values, this is the only reasonable and acceptable result,” the ministry added.

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