Hoyer: The United Nations’ historic anti-Israel bias emboldened Hamas

Feb 15, 2024 | History, Voices

Steny H. Hoyer, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s fifth district in the U.S. House of Representatives and is the former House Majority Leader. Richard P. Schifter is the chairman of the American Jewish International Relations Institute. Hoyer worked closely with his co-author’s late father, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Richard Schifter, to support Soviet refuseniks and the State of Israel.


Just a few days ago, a Hamas tunnel network – complete with a data center, living quarters, industrial battery power banks, and other vital operational infrastructure – was found beneath United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’s (UNRWA) Gaza Headquarters. The news came out not long after reports that twelve UNRWA employees likely participated in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack. These revelations are appalling but unsurprising, particularly given estimates that around 1,200, or one tenth, of UNRWA’s employees in Gaza have ties to Hamas and its affiliates. The UN must not only investigate this grave oversight but also reckon with the anti-Israel bias that has long plagued its institutions.

The UN’s predisposition against Israel has never been more apparent – or more harmful – than it is today, but it’s nothing new. In 1975, the UN passed Resolution 3379, which falsely equated Zionism with racism and apartheid in South Africa. Critically, the resolution established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) and the Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR). Along with the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories (SCIIHRP), these UN institutions pursue an explicitly anti-Israel agenda. Although Resolution 3379 was revoked in 1991, the anti-Israel infrastructure it created remains.

For decades, these entities have churned out anti-Israel propaganda that reinforces the false equivalency between Zionism and racism, which protestors around the world have repeated countless times since October 7.

[The Semafor Report continues]

Some sympathetic to Hamas now demand to hear directly from the survivors to confirm that rape took place. Aside from the grim fact that Hamas murdered or took captive most of its victims, the idea of forcing survivors to speak about their trauma – especially publicly – defies legal necessity and the treatment of rape survivors in modern society.

The UN’s failure to rectify its maltreatment of Israel also undermines innocent Palestinians. Hamas often siphons UNRWA humanitarian aid for its own malicious ends. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while imperfect, can better serve Palestinians than an agency with ties to the terrorists ruling over them. Recognizing that UNRWA is the only agency capable of aiding Palestinians right now, once the war is over, the UN ought to dissolve UNRWA and transfer its resources and responsibilities to the UNHCR without diminishing any aid for Palestinians. It should also dismantle the infrastructure which spews propaganda seeking to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State.

Certainly, Hamas, whose charter states its mission is to “fight Jews and kill them,” can draw comfort from a UN that also tries to vilify Israel. As the recent UNRWA debacle revealed, the UN’s opposition to Israel can lead to direct support for those who seek to destroy the world’s only Jewish democratic state.

If we’re to prevent that unspeakable outcome, the UN must take an objective look not only at what happened on the ground on October 7 but also at what happens in its own halls every day.

View this Semafor Report from February 15th