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August 4, 2022 2:47 pm

‘Pathetic and Unconvincing’: Israel Rejects UN Investigator’s Apology for ‘Antisemitic’ Remarks

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Miloon Kothari, member of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission. UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré

Israel called an apology by UN investigator Miloon Kothari “pathetic and unconvincing” and reiterated its demand to disband the inquiry commission on the 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict over his “antisemitic” remarks.

“The hollow apology of commission of inquiry member Miloon Kothari is a pathetic and unconvincing maneuver, which doesn’t compensate for the long record of anti-Israeli and antisemitic statements made by him and the other COI members,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “In light of the antisemitic and anti-Israeli statements of the commissioners, and the fact that they do not meet the minimal standards of neutrality and impartiality required from individuals in these positions in the UN, Kothari and his colleagues must resign immediately.”

“If the UN is committed to fighting antisemitism and to upholding its values, this is the only reasonable and acceptable result,” the ministry’s statement read.

Kothari, a member of the UN’s International Commission of Inquiry (COI) expressed his “regret” on Thursday for using the words “Jewish lobby” when talking about its influence on social media.

“It was completely wrong for me to describe the social media as ‘being controlled largely by the Jewish lobby,’ Kothari wrote in a letter to United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) President Federico Villegas. “This choice of words (…) perceived and experienced to be antisemitic was incorrect, inappropriate, and insensitive.”

In recent days about 20 countries have condemned Kothari’s remarks made during a podcast interview at the end of last month to Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist web publication, as antisemitic.

In the letter, Kothari explained that his intention had been “to denounce the relentless and vitriolic personal attacks against the members of the commission on social media and some publications, launched to delegitimize and undermine its work.”

During the podcast interview, Kothari had also questioned the appropriateness of Israel’s membership in the UN. In his letter to Villegas, Kothari clarified that he “did not intend to suggest that Israel should be excluded from the UN.”

“I realize that this choice of words has also caused offense and sincerely regret it,” Kothari wrote. “The offense I have caused by using these words has deeply distressed me.”

UN Watch condemned Kothari’s “non-apology apology letter” as an attempt to “whitewash his use of a notorious antisemitic trope that has sparked pogroms and his literal questioning of Israel’s membership in the UN.”

Kothari “has disgraced the council, and cast a shadow upon the United Nations as a whole.” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “ He must go, and the COI must be disbanded.”

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