"Surely it is by now an established principle of Irish foreign policy that if we don't condemn racism, xenophobia and religion-based hatred, we are at least giving a subtle nod to the one who is inciting the hatred."
Imagine a scenario in which the United Nations is conducting a commission of inquiry into China’s detention of over one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps in Xinjiang. Then imagine the global reaction if it emerged that the head of the commission had made islamophobic comments in an interview. Those comments would render their position untenable. They would simply have to resign.
Or what if a similar commission of inquiry had been launched into the oppression of the LGBT+ community in Iran or Pakistan only for it to be revealed that the head of the commission harboured homophobic or transphobic opinions? Again, that person would have to resign. It’s so self-evident that it hardly needs to be stated: the head of any inquiry must be completely above reproach with regard to their impartiality. If they have any prejudices concerning any of the parties they’re investigating, then the commission of inquiry and its conclusions will be hopelessly tainted.
Kothari invokes the “Jewish lobby”
There is a growing international furore over antisemitic comments made by UN commissioner Miloon Kothari in the last few weeks. Mr Kothari is the head of a UN commission of inquiry looking into alleged crimes committed in outbreaks of violence over the last few years between Israel and Palestinian controlled territories. In a recent interview with the Mondoweiss website, Mr Kothari made some wild allegations about social media being “controlled by The Jewish Lobby”. He goes on to say that “a lot of money is being thrown to try and discredit us”.
Even if Mr Kothari had referred to the “Israeli lobby” as opposed to the “Jewish lobby”, it would render him completely unfit to head the UN commission of inquiry. However, he went much further than this and dragged up dark old antisemitic tropes about Jewish control, and Jews pulling strings in the background. He simply cannot remain head of the commission of inquiry.
Whence the Irish government’s silence?
To take another scenario similar to the ones mentioned at the start of this article, it would be completely unacceptable to the Irish government if the head of a UN commission of inquiry looking into crimes committed in Northern Ireland (NI) by all sides between the late 1960s and the 1990s were to reveal deep-seated anti-Irish prejudice on his/her part. Indeed, if the person heading the inquiry were shown to harbour anti-British prejudices or views that were derogatory towards the Protestant-Unionist-Loyalist community in NI, I’d imagine that the Irish government would take a similarly dim view. An inquiry led by such a person would be doomed to failure owing to its being tainted from the start and would be a waste of time and money.
So, why is the Irish government silent on Kothari’s anti-Jewish remarks, especially when all our neighbouring countries, as well as Australia, Canada, and the USA have condemned them Surely it is by now an established principle of Irish foreign policy that if we don’t condemn racism, xenophobia and religion-based hatred, we are at least giving a subtle nod to the one who is inciting the hatred.
Not even Mahmoud Abbas uses this language anymore
Ireland is regarded as being one of the European countries that is most blindly anti-Israel and most blindly pro-Palestinian – completely blind to the security dilemmas that Israelis face on a daily basis and completely blind to the corruption and human rights abuses of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The comments made by Kothari are – in diplomatic terms – a free shot for the Irish government. Not even Mahmoud Abbas talks about “Jewish lobbies” any more – at least not in any language that’s not Arabic.
Ireland is a signatory to various UN conventions on combating racism and sectarianism. What is the point of signing such conventions, only to remain silent when such a flagrant example of racism and sectarianism comes to light? Condemning Kothari’s comments and calling for him to resign would be the correct things to do and should pose no problem for the Irish government.
If you wish to contact Irish government leaders on this issue, their email-ids are below.
– Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (email@example.com)
– Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
– Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney (email@example.com)
Please be polite, respectful, and concise.
By Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh