In response to the latest unprofessional and discriminatory actions and statements of the UN Human Rights Council, particularly in appointing an evidently biased committee to investigate Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza, I am calling on the U.S. House and Senate to launch one or more urgent special inquiries into the UNHRC.

Congress must examine why, once again, the UNHRC picks on Israel alone, out of all the nations and movements involved in conflicts in the Middle East and worldwide, including others inflicting vastly more collateral damage to civilians. Congress should invite such unbiased, professional witnesses as Col. Richard Kemp, the ex-commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, who has examined Israeli efforts to avoid collateral damage in this and prior conflicts, to complete any needed updates to their relevant investigations, and testify before the congressional committees conducting such inquiries.

The actions a Congressional Committee should take are as follows:

Investigate the UNHRC mandate for the Schabas Commission to discover whether it is biased, selective, or discriminatory in defining its mandate for investigating human rights infractions during Operation Protective Edge.  Ensure that the mandate given to the UNHRC’s inquiry is to investigate violations of international law, rather than “crimes perpetrated”.

Determine if Commission chairman Professor Schabas’ past record of conduct is biased, selective, or discriminatory in any manner. While Schabas is a respected legal scholar with particular expertise on genocide, he has repeatedly denounced Israel, which calls his objectivity into question. By his own admission, Schabas has expended significant effort trying to persuade the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity, stating that his “favourite would be [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu in the dock.” At the very least, Schabas’s record on Israel presents the appearance of bias, violating the spirit of Canadian law and further calling into question the neutrality of the UN inquiry.

Expand the time frame the commission is investigating, going back to first rocket attacks by Hamas. Compile a data base of Hamas incitement in schools, TV programs, camps, mosques, etc.

Create an in-depth investigation into the veracity, accuracy, and reliability of data on dates, age, sex, status (civilian, combatant, both) of all injured or killed, and methods to verify the validity, accuracy, and reliability of the databases used as sources.

Investigate the role of UNRWA as complicit/enabler/bystander so that its responsibility for civilian casualties in Israeli defensive actions in Gaza can be fairly evaluated.  In particular, use of UNWRA facilities by Hamas, especially hospitals, schools, mosques and ambulances for storage of weapons, operational centers, launching of rockets and transporting of weapons and terrorists, must be intensively investigated.  Hamas’ influence in reporting of casualties by UNWRA to the media and payments by UNWRA to Hamas of funds intended for civilian purposes must also be investigated.