Crescent Kashmir

UN body voices concern about Israeli hate speech against Palestinians

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GENEVA: A UN committee on racism voiced concern on Friday about a “sharp increase in racist hate speech and dehumanisation” directed at Palestinians by Israelis, including senior officials, since the Oct 7.

Since the start of the unrest there have been a growing number of reports of both anti-semitic and Islamophobic incidents in places such as the United States and Britain.

The Geneva-based committee said it was “highly concerned” by recent comments including those made by senior Israeli officials, politicians and public figures and called for Israel to condemn hate speech and investigate and punish such acts.

It made specific reference to remarks made by Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Oct 9 in which he referred to Palestinians as “human animals” and said such language “could incite genocidal actions”. Gallant’s comments have already drawn condemnation from Palestinians and others.

The committee also repeated a past recommendation for Palestinian authorities to combat hate speech and incitement to violence.

But Israel’s diplomatic mission in Geneva criticised the statement which it said “failed all the victims of the October 7 massacre and the victims of anti-semitic attacks worldwide”.

Israel’s diplomatic mission to the UN in Geneva said the committee’s statement “ignored surging antisemitism, including attacks on Jews and what it said were calls by protesters to murder them.” “This has all been cynically cast aside by the Committee,” it said.

The comments from the UN committee follows Israel’s criticism of the global body’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres whom it accused of justifying Hamas raid on Israel. However, Guterres rejected Israel’s accusation, calling them a “misrepresentation of his remarks.”

The UN committee is made up of 18 independent experts and tasked with monitoring compliance with a 1965 treaty against racism which Israel and Palestinian authorities have both ratified.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2023


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