UNRWA-run Elementary School at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City (AP/Adel Hana) (AP/Adel Hana)
UNRWA school Gaza

UNHRC President Nazhat Shameen Khan turned the floor over to the Palestinian Return Center, a London-based non-governmental organization that has affiliations with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

The UN Human Rights Council pulled the plug on UN Watch director Hillel Neuer during a Friday session. Neuer, who addressed the council by video, was quoting anti-Semitic social media posts by UNRWA teachers,when UNHRC President Nazhat Shameen Khan cut him off.

Khan insisted that Neuer was “out of order,” though the first two incidents he managed to cite were sourced to a March 17, 2021 written statement to the UN — an official UN document. UN Watch issued a fuller report in August that exposed more than 100 UNRWA staff.

“I have noticed that in the course of this video, derogatory, insulting and inflammatory remarks have been made which in particular refer directly to specific individuals. This amounts to personal attacks against those individuals, and it is not acceptable in this forum,” said Khan.

Khan then turned the floor over to the Palestinian Return Center, a London-based non-governmental organization that has affiliations with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

UN Watch’s August report shined a light on 113 teachers, principals and administrators working in UN schools for Palestinians posting material on social media that “that praise Hitler, propagate hatred against Jews and support terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians on social media.”

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates schools for Palestinians in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It teaches nearly 540,000 students in 710 schools. Members of the European Parliament recently pressed the head of the UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, over reports of incitement to violence and prejudice found in Palestinian textbooks used in it schools.

Posts cited by the UN Watch report featured conspiracy theories accusing Jews of creating the coronavirus, images celebrating the 1972 Munich massacre, maps eliminating Israel, videos of Adolf Hitler and posts generally lauding violence and jihad.

Neuer took to Twitter to accuse Khan of cutting him off by “making up a rule that doesn’t exist.”

“I have every right to quote the racist Facebook posts of UNRWA teachers—funded with hundreds of millions by US, Germany, EU, Canada—and to name them,” Neuer tweeted. He also posted the full video Khan didn’t want shown.

Israel and the UN Human Rights Council have a tense history. In May, following the Gaza war, the UNHRC called for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” — the most potent tool at the council’s disposal — to monitor and report on rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. It would be the first such commission of inquiry with an open-ended mandate.

Protesting the UNHRC’s disproportionate focus on Israel, the US withdrew from the council in 2018. In 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden instructed the State Dept. to re-join the council.