Advocates Call for Action Against UN Official Who Headlined Anti-Israel Event at University of Toronto
Advocacy groups are urging action against a United Nations official who headlined an event organized by an anti-Israel group at the University of Toronto (UT) last month.
Michael Lynk — special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory — was the featured lecturer at a November 29th event cosponsored by Canadian Friends of Sabeel and Emmanuel College, UT’s theological school.
According to the Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada, “attendees at the event were required to pay for tickets, with the proceeds earmarked for Sabeel’s operations.”
Sabeel is a leading proponent of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, with its work largely focused on Christian congregations in North America and Europe. The group peddles a Palestinian variation of “liberation theology,” which rejects a Zionist interpretation of the Christian Bible, and has accused Israel of operating a “crucifixion system” against Palestinians.
Lynk in turn is charged by the UN with investigating “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law” — a mandate criticized for both presupposing Israeli guilt and failing to address potential abuses committed by Palestinian factions. A law professor at Western University in London, Lynk has previously endorsed boycotts of Israel and was described before his appointment as “an ardent anti-Israeli activist” who “plays a leadership role in groups that advocate against Israel” by the monitoring group UN Watch.
“By headlining a fundraiser for an extremist group that seeks to boycott Israel, Rapporteur Lynk breached the UN Code of Conduct,” charged UN Watch chief Hillel Neuer. “He promoted a group that targets the same state he is investigating, thereby violating his duty of impartiality, as well as the prohibition against using his office for third party gain.”
“Rapporteur Lynk must step down from his position or be removed,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, who shared his concerns in letters sent to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
“It is now obvious that he sees himself as an advocate, rather than the unbiased expert this position requires,” Mostyn added.
Adam Austen, a spokesperson for Freeland, told The Algemeiner on Monday that “the Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories is an independent appointment of the United Nations Human Rights Council.”
“Canada closely follows the work of the Special Rapporteur,” Austen added, “and as is always the case, we expect that the highest standards of impartiality be applied.”