The undersigned 59 organizations collectively call on the United Nations (UN) to conduct an independent, unbiased investigation into the reports and documented evidence of Hamas’ rape, mutilation, gender-based violence and murder of Israeli women and girls and prosecute these war crimes to the fullest extent. We also reiterate our call for the UN to demand that Hamas release the hostages it continues to hold, including women and girls, especially given evidence showing horrific levels of continued torture and abuse.
We welcome your recent statement condemning gender-based violence and acknowledging that “accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on October 7 must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted.” As UN Women also acknowledged, any investigation into gender-based violence should be conducted “with the rights of the victim at the core.” These were critical steps forward, but we remain deeply concerned.
Unfortunately, the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which claims to be charged with conducting the investigation, has a long and clear track record of antisemitism and bias against Israel. The COI chair, Navi Pillay, has repeatedly and falsely declared Israel to be an “apartheid” state, and promoted discriminatory boycotts against Israel. Commission member Miloon Kothari has made statements to justify terror attacks against Israeli civilians, accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” and made comments suggesting that Jews “control” social media. The COI’s reports have also been criticized for displaying this bias.
Senior United States leaders share our concern about the COI’s clear bias and history of targeting Israel. US President Biden has “reaffirmed the United States’ strong opposition to the open-ended and biased nature of the UN Commission of Inquiry established in May 2021.” US Secretary of State Blinken noted that the US “continues to strongly oppose biased and disproportionate treatment of Israel, reflected in the Commission of Inquiry.” In June 2023, the US issued a joint statement on behalf of 27 countries expressing concern about the Commission’s bias.
The delay by the UN and UN women in condemning Hamas and acknowledging the evidence that Hamas used gender-based violence as a weapon of war against Israeli women cost us crucial time in conducting the investigation, which may affect the collection and analysis of physical evidence. It also undermined the UN’s and UN Women’s credibility as to its role in protecting women across the globe.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has declared that it works to ensure women’s rights are protected before, during and after conflict. And UN Women states that one of its four main priorities is to ensure that all women and girls live free from all forms of violence. However, putting the investigation of serious and egregious acts of sexual violence used as a weapon of war into the hands of the biased COI calls into serious question the UN’s intent and ability to conduct a full and impartial investigation, and will force victims and survivors to relive their trauma in an environment that is not safe for them as Israeli women and girls. Therefore, we call on the UN to establish a truly independent, impartial investigation into these crimes and pursue vigorous prosecution to hold Hamas accountable. This is the very least we can do to ensure justice for Israeli women and girls.
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America
The Hadassah Foundation
Jewish Women International
National Council of Jewish Women
ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Center for Jewish Philanthropy of Greater Phoenix
Center for Women’s Justice
Coalition for Jewish Values
Economic Empowerment for Women
Forum Dvorah – Women In Foreign Policy and National Security
FWMK Law Office
Her Academy: Vocational school for women coming out of prostitution and abuse
I Was Supposed to Have a Baby
International Women Forum – Israel Forum
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Women of Vision
Jewish Funders Network
Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago
Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh
Jewish Women’s Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago
Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey
Lada’at- Choose Well
Murder Victims Families Organization
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
NOGAFEM- Transforming women’s health
Project Kesher Israel
Rabbinical Council of America
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Seed the Dream Foundation
Task Force on Human Trafficking
The Miriam Fund
The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA) T’ruah
TURNING THE TABLES
Union for Reform Judaism
Ve’ahavta Clinic for status less people & refuges
WiSpace Israeli Women In Space Association
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Rabbinic Network
Yahel – Israel Service Learning
The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Women of Vision group was founded in 1994 to impact the lives of self-identifying Jewish women and girls across generations and geographic boundaries through strategic grantmaking, advocacy and educational programs leading to social change and social justice. In June of 2023, Women of Vision members voted to award grants to three organizations supporting women’s rights in Israel, investing $137,328 in programs that will affect change: Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI)’s “Improving Law Enforcement Systems for Victims” program, Yozmot Atid’s “Micro-Business Entrepreneurship” program, and ELI Israel Association for Child Protection’s “Protecting Haredi Young Women and Girls” program. For more information about Women of Vision, contact Director of Women of Vision and Campaign Pipeline Shara Swift at email@example.com or 215.832.0841.