McGill Convocation 2018: Meet Your Keynote Speaker

CAMPAIGN_UNWATCH_350X5005.pngHillel Neuer, a graduate of McGill University’s Faculty of Law is currently the executive director of UN Watch. UN Watch’s describes itself today as “foremost concerned with the just application of UN Charter principles.”[1]  Yet many consider UN Watch to be an international pro-Israel lobby group and accuse Neuer of “selective morality, anger and rage.” [2] 

Neuer and UN Watch’s work aligns most closely with the organization’s historic focus described as “monitoring the continuing discriminatory treatment of Israel in the UN system […], as well as those matters which concern American interests.” [3]  This helps explain why UN Watch seems to try to delegitimize and even criminalize individuals and organizations working for equal rights for Israeli Jews and Palestinians. [4] 

In one bizarre example, Neuer tweeted that Amnesty International was “pro Taliban-Hamas.” [5]  In another weird case, Neuer attacked Canadian author and intellectual Naomi Klein, accusing her of having Nazi-like qualities and criticizing her for supporting a boycott of a film festival in Toronto.[6]  Another example is UN Watch’s attacks on respected Canadian law professor Michael Lynk, currently the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Palestine human rights.  In an odd twist, UN Watch even accused Lynk of “breaching” the UN Charter for investigating Israeli human rights abuses.[7]  It has also pointlessly attacked Lynk’s academic institution, the University of Western Ontario, for failing to condemn Lynk’s UN mandate.[8] 

McGill has praised Neuer for advocating for human rights around the world[9] — but the vast majority of UN Watch’s donors also fund a collection of right-wing pro-Israel and Islamophobic organizations, including Birthright Israel, Central Fund of Israel, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and others. [10]  Not surprisingly, therefore, UN Watch consistently ignores Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.  For example, the vast majority of the world[11] – including Canada[12] – opposes Israel’s illegal colonies (a.k.a. “settlements”) in the Palestinian West Bank.  Yet UN Watch has praised companies doing business in these same colonies, claiming they “promote peaceful co-existence by bringing Jews and Arabs closer together in a shared work environment.” [13]

World leaders have struggled for decades to finalize a peace agreement to end Israel’s 51-year-old military occupation of the Palestinian territories.  Yet, in direct opposition to the UN Charter’s prohibition against the conquest of territory by force,[14] UN Watch has described Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 as simply an “acquisition” of the territory, and suggested that Israel’s illegal colonies were “built on public land.”[15]

The world watched in horror in recent weeks as Israeli snipers shot Palestinian protesters, killing over 120 Palestinians and wounding over 13,000, including children, members of the media and medics. [16]  Yet the UN Watch statement to the UN last month asserted that the, “failure to admit that [the Palestinians are] responsible for every drop of blood spilt on the Gaza border encourages their violence and use of human shields.” [17]

Examples of Neuer’s and UN Watch’s pro-Israel bias are unending.  In 2010, Neuer defended Israel’s brutal and lethal attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, [18] an attack which left nine unarmed Turkish activists dead. Even the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry, which was criticized as being overly soft on Israel, held that Israel’s attacks were entirely unwarranted. [19] Yet Neuer insisted that Israel needed to “protect itself” against what UN Watch termed a “terror flotilla.”[20]

It is easy to argue against McGill awarding an honorary degree to a divisive and questionable individual like Hillel Neuer when there are so many accomplished international figures[21] who support international law unconditionally and advocate for equality, justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. 

 

 

[1] “Mission & History.” UN Watch Website. Accessed June 3, 2018, https://www.unwatch.org/about-us/mission-history/

[2] “UN Watch,” Right Web, Dec. 1, 2011, Accessed June 3, 2018, https://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/un_watch/  

[3] Marusek, S., & Miller, D., 2015, “How Israel attempts to mislead the United Nations: Deconstructing Israel’s campaign against the Palestinian Return Centre,” Public Interest Investigations, p. 13

[4] Marusek, S., & Miller, D., 2015, “How Israel attempts to mislead the United Nations: Deconstructing Israel’s campaign against the Palestinian Return Centre,” Public Interest Investigations, p. 13

[5] “Ohhh - now I understand all that pro Taliban-Hamas stuff,” Twitter, @HillelNeuer, Aug. 28, 2012, accessed June 3, 2018 https://twitter.com/HillelNeuer/status/240602781885542400  

[6] “UN Watch,” Right Web, Dec. 1, 2011, Accessed June 3, 2018, https://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/un_watch/  

[7] “Canada’s Western University supporting anti-Israel U.N. mandate of Michael Lynk.” UN Watch. July 20, 2017. https://www.unwatch.org/canadas-western-university-supporting-anti-israel-u-n-mandate-michael-lynk/

[8] “Canada’s Western University supporting anti-Israel U.N. mandate of Michael Lynk.” UN Watch. July 20, 2017. https://www.unwatch.org/canadas-western-university-supporting-anti-israel-u-n-mandate-michael-lynk/

[9] “McGill University to Award Honorary Doctorate to Hillel Neuer.” UN Watch. May 4, 2018. https://www.unwatch.org/mcgill-university-award-honorary-doctorate-hillel-neuer/

[10] Marusek, S., & Miller, D., 2015, “How Israel attempts to mislead the United Nations: Deconstructing Israel’s campaign against the Palestinian Return Centre,” Public Interest Investigations, pp. 21-23.

[11] “Israel’s Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of International Law, Security Council Reaffirms,” United Nations, Security Council, 7853 Meeting, Dec. 23, 2016

[12] “Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Occupied Territories and Settlements,” Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada Website, accessed June 3, 2018, http://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/mena-moan/israeli-palistinian_policy-politique_israelo-palestinien.aspx?lang=eng

[13] “Amnesty UK cancels event featuring supporters of Israeli settlements.” Middle East Monitor. January 22, 2018 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180122-amnesty-uk-cancels-event-featuring-supporters-of-israeli-settlements/

[14] “Conquest: International Law,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed June 3, 2018 https://www.britannica.com/topic/conquest-international-law https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180122-amnesty-uk-cancels-event-featuring-supporters-of-israeli-settlements/

[15] “Amnesty UK cancels event featuring supporters of Israeli settlements.” Middle East Monitor. January 22, 2018 https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180122-amnesty-uk-cancels-event-featuring-supporters-of-israeli-settlements/

[16] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Aljazeera, June 3, 2018, accessed June 3, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html

[17] “Col. Kemp to UN Gaza session: ‘Hamas seeks destruction of Israel and murder of Jews everywhere’,” UN Watch, May 18, 2018, accessed June 3, 2018 https://www.unwatch.org/col-kemp-un-gaza-session-hamas-seeks-destruction-israel-murder-jews-everywhere/

[18]“Submitted Testimony Disregarded by the UN Human Rights Council's Flotilla Probe.” UN Watch. September 27, 2010. https://www.unwatch.org/submitted-testimony-disregarded-by-the-un-human-rights-councils-flotilla-probe/

[19] Abunimah, Ali. “Egypt activist Mona Seif, nominated for Geneva human rights prize, hits back at Zionist smear campaign.” Electronic Intifada. May 2, 2013. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/former-insider-explains-how-human-rights-watch-panders-israel-lobby

[20] Abunimah, Ali. “Egypt activist Mona Seif, nominated for Geneva human rights prize, hits back at Zionist smear campaign.” Electronic Intifada. May 2, 2013. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/former-insider-explains-how-human-rights-watch-panders-israel-lobby.

[21] “Calls for inquiry into Israel’s Gaza killings.” The Guardian. May 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/calls-for-inquiry-into-israels-gaza-killings

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