The United Nations has been accused of “blood libel” – a term for centuries of false and malicious allegations against Jews – for its latest edited report on Israel’s purported treatment of Palestinians.
The report, issued by UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in June 2019, contains inflammatory language about Israel’s alleged human rights violations, including alleged use of “lethal force” and other “violent repression” against Palestinians.
The language has led to accusations of anti-Semitism and “blood libel” against the UN, with some describing the report as “a modern version of medieval anti-Semitic propaganda.”
The accusation is the latest in a long history of bias allegations against the UN and its organs. The UN has been accused of bias against the Jewish state for decades, taking positions that point to a double standard when it comes to Israel, while ignoring human rights abuses in other countries.
The HRC report is not alone in its criticism of Israel’s actions. In recent years, the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights and the International Criminal Court have all issued reports or resolutions condemning Israeli actions in the occupied territories.
These reports frequently reference the alleged injustice of Israel’s occupation, the settlement activities in the occupied territories, the blockade on Gaza and restrictions on freedom of expression and movement for Palestinians.
Part of the anger over the HRC report stems from its use of language which some believe goes further than implying moral criticism, and instead accuses Israel of committing certain acts of violence. Critics, including some within the UN, argue that these acts are not sufficiently evidenced by the report’s evidence and could be seen as parroting anti-Semitic tropes.
The allegation of ‘blood libel’ has led to international condemnation, including from the United Nations itself. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had been accused of bias against Israel in the past, has repeatedly called for dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.
In a speech in June 2019, Guterres again denounced the “blood libel” accusations, saying: “The United Nations must never be a platform to accuse any people or any nation for Israel or against Israel.”
Guterres’s position places him in opposition to the HRC, which has failed to abandon its controversial language from the report. Despite the controversy, no action seems imminent from the UN, leaving the Jewish state to face yet another accusation of “blood libel” in the international sphere.