January 20, 2022

Hillel Neuer Executive Director, UN Watch

“I grew up in a tradition that says you’re responsible – you can’t be indifferent. I think that’s why Jews, who are also not necessarily religious, are activists. I think that activism is actually part of the religion. You have to care for the other.”

International lawyer, diplomat, writer and activist, Hillel C. Neuer is the Executive Director of UN Watch, a human rights NGO in Geneva, Switzerland. He holds five degrees including an honorary degree from McGill University for his work to advance human rights, and for being “a voice for those without one.”

On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel adopted a resolution declaring Hillel Neuer Day, citing his role “as one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates” and his contributions to “promote peace, justice and human rights around the world.”

The Tribune de Genève has described him as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships.

The Journal de Montreal wrote that he “makes the U.N. tremble.”

Israel’s Ma’ariv newspaper named him to its list of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.”

Hillel Neuer is an acclaimed speaker who has testified often before the United Nations and the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Hillel taught international human rights at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, and has served as Vice-President of the NGO Special Committee on Human Rights in Geneva.

Since 2009, he has headed a coalition of 25 human rights groups as chair of the annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, a renowned international gathering that provides a global platform to courageous pro-democracy dissidents from around the world who put their lives on the line to demand fundamental freedoms in oppressive regimes. Concordia University Magazine said he is “helping to shape history.”

Prior to joining UN Watch, Hillel practiced commercial and civil rights litigation and even represented Oprah Winfrey and other high-profile individuals and corporations.

In 2007, Hillel Neuer’s banned U.N. speech became the most viewed and written-about NGO speech in the history of the United Nations. News reports described it as a “stunning rebuke of the U.N. Human Rights Council” and “a diplomatic moment to remember.” In 2017, Neuer’s “Where Are Your Jews?” speech before the UNHRC, replicated in multiple languages across social media, was seen 3 million times on Facebook and nearly 5 million times on YouTube.

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Some Timestamps:

The most hated man at the UN. (02:46)

How do you deal with that kind of hatred on a personal level (06:35)

Do you really think the UN is going to change at this stage (16:13)

So what really drives you Hillel? (23:22)

What’s the hardest thing about what you do? (32:11)

How do you measure success in your field? (35:00)

Why is Israel singled out? (42:42)

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?  (55: 26)

What can Jews do to fight back against casual antisemitism on the left? (1:o7:11)

a couple of things that people have said about you. (1:15:51)


Edited Transcription with typos – sorry:

Eitan Chitayat 2:06
Hillel, How are you doing today?

Hillel Neuer 2:08
Great. How are you?

Eitan Chitayat 2:09
I’m pretty great. I’m excited to talk. You in Switzerland?

Hillel Neuer 2:14
Yes, sir. In Geneva.

Eitan Chitayat 2:17
Where you have sunny skies.

Hillel Neuer 2:20
Um, we have some blue skies. So the cloudy too. But whenever you get a bit of blue sky in Geneva in the winter, it’s great. Otherwise, what needs to escape to the mountains to go above the clouds. But when Geneva is pretty, it’s very nice place.

Eitan Chitayat 2:34
As I said, I’m very excited to talk to you. Before we jump in, I’m going to ask you the question that we usually open up with here on the podcast find that which is hello, lawyer, can you please complete the sentence? I’m that…..

Hillel Neuer 2:46
…….most hated man at the UN.

Eitan Chitayat 2:50
You know, I’m not surprised that you would say that. I mean, you had a few things I would have imagined you would have said. Tell us about that?

Hillel Neuer 2:57
Well, look, that’s my reality, a ton. Here in Geneva. I’ve been here now for a number of years. And when I walk into the United Nations, it’s a very tangible, powerful and significant feeling you walk in, and there are eyes around the room of, of, you know, if looks could kill, I’d be dead 1000 times there’s a number of hardline Arab states, such as I don’t know, Syria, or radical Muslim states like Iran, and they look at you.

And you know, we’re exposing their lies and hypocrisy all the time. And we’re speaking out against the demonization of Israel at the United Nations, which is a violation of the United Nations Charter, which speaks of equal treatment of all nations, large and small. So it’s obvious that the Syrians, the Iranians, the Libyans, and some others are going to hate us. That’s kind of obvious for me en UN watch. But then, you know, it’s the net is much wider, because you want to watch doesn’t only speak out against anti-Israel bias, we speak out for human rights that are neglected at the United Nations, when the UN puts China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, Venezuela, Eritrea, on the Human Rights Council in Kazakhstan, which is shooting at protesters.

Now in the past week or two. We’re the first ones to call them out on that. So we’re bringing their victims to speak some of the most famous dissidents and political prisoners. So dictatorships a whole range of dictatorships hate me. So there’s those things are kind of obvious, the less obvious thing is, and then there’s the UN officials in the room or kind of the bureaucrats, and not all of them, but a number of them don’t like us because they would like to think that when they wake up in the morning and go to work for the UN, that they’re doing something noble and altruistic, when, maybe that’s their intention, but if you are serving if you’re a bureaucrat, and your job is to serve the Human Rights Council, which is now 68.1%, non-democracy dictatorships, you’re serving something that’s not very pretty.

And we’re lifting up America that so many of the UN officials could be French people, Swedish people, you name it, don’t like us either. And then just to make it a little bit wider, where we sit in the room at the United Nations in the back, is where the, you know, the government set, let’s say in the front, and the back is the nongovernmental organizations. And that’s the human rights groups. And, and sadly, while we work with a number of them, we work with 25 groups to organize an annual Human Rights Summit. But some of the larger well known groups like Amnesty International, and others, are, in the past couple of decades have tended to go to the fringes of the radical left, I would say they’re in the camp of Jeremy Corbyn. And they hate Israel, they hate America, they hate the West, they hate capitalism.

Not that we’re defenders of capitalism. But we don’t think that Cuba, or Chavez policies are the economic solution, they’re not. So when I walk in the room, I kind of embody everything that they hate. And, and we were effective. And we’re, we’re when we’re not just doing Israel, we’re doing human rights issues around the world. And we’re doing it differently than they do, because they have a very radical agenda. And I would say we’re centrist. And there’s a whole bunch of human rights people who come to us because their issues are getting neglected by the others. So there’s just a lot of hate my go around the room, if they get 360 camera, it’s the dictators, it’s the Arabic Islamic states, not all of them. When you after the Abraham accords. It’s the UN officials. It’s NGO. So I’m the most hated man at the UN.

Eitan Chitayat 6:35
So we’ll talk about what it is that you do and everything. But before we get to that, I understand what you’re saying, when you explain it, why you’re hated. But how does that feel? I mean, from a very personal perspective, how does that feel to be? How do you deal with that, with that, with that hatred on a personal level?

Hillel Neuer 6:52
It’s unpleasant, it’s not nice, it’s negative energy. I don’t like to spend more time in the room than I need to. And I would say there’s, there’s different kinds of I have different kinds of reactions, when I see that the Venezuelans or the Cubans or the Syrians, you know, hate me. Well, they’re kind of working for dictatorships, and in a way, in a way, they’re, they’re, they’re doing their job, some of them actually, a number of them do believe in it, do believe in what they’re do believe in the hate. I don’t know if the Venezuelans and Cubans always do I have some indications that they don’t but, you know, sometimes the Syrians, the Iranians, the PLO, representatives, they believe it, and I’ve, I’ve, you know, bumped into some of them in the hallways, and it was unpleasant. So that’s, that’s unpleasant. What’s worse a term? What’s worse is the NGOs.

That’s hard, because we are an NGO. And so we meet with them in different we sit with them in different fora. And we might be invited together with diplomats. And, you know, when, when a number of NGO activists in Geneva across the street because they don’t want to be seen next to you, even though they have no problem, you know, meeting with Hamas terrorists or Hezbollah terrorists, the people that Jeremy Corbyn calls, quote, unquote, his friends who seek peace and political justice and social justice, they have no problem meeting with those people, because that would be bridge-building. But for me, literally across the street, that’s unpleasant, and, and it’s, it’s not, it’s not easy to deal with.

Eitan Chitayat 8:26
So how do you deal with it? I mean, like, I think that when, you know, when thinking about like, I don’t know, unpopular football player at the moment when he has to psych himself up to go out into the stadium, and there’s going to be a lot of booing. always wonder like, what’s that? Like? I mean, how do you do? I mean, you go to work, do you prepare for that in a certain way? Do you kind of like switch off? Do you meditate to kind of like, just be like, or does it do the opposite? Just like, No, fuck these haters. I’m gonna go and I’m gonna fight today.

Hillel Neuer 8:53
When I go out there I guess I’m putting on my armor. Maybe the way a lawyer goes, I was a lawyer a bit, but I didn’t spend too much time in court. But maybe when a lawyer goes into court, you’re, you’re on. And so certainly when I head towards the United Nations I’m on and I assume that I’m under attack. And it’s usually not physical because it’s Geneva. So we usually play by Geneva rules. But when I’m in the room, and I speak, and I only get, you know, two minutes or now it’s even a minute and a half. And one feels embattled because you’re speaking and there’s, there’s people around you, who could be turning at you and looking at you. There’s the Chinese official, he’s banging on the, on the thing trying to interrupt you.

And so just to be able to sort of finish your speech. So yeah, I think you have your guard up. I don’t meditate. Maybe I should. There was a speaker that we brought once who went outside and he’s an interesting person. And he put his face to the grass outside at the UN nice garden outside. And he did a kind of a meditation, and maybe I should do that. I don’t know. But I guess I guess I put my guard up. And I’d say that one thing that’s significant that gives me a lot of energy and strength or it has for many years is, I know that I’m, I know what I’m up against. And you sit in that room and you hear such terrible things, whether it’s against Jews or demonizing Israel, or for terrible lies about human rights, we have the Chinese government, you know, embodying everything, if the worst things that you’ve seen from 1984, saying that, you know, the wiggers in Shin Jang, where we have documented evidence that about a million people have been herded into camps, and they say, everyone is happy there, everything is wonderful.

And we have testimonies from other countries who say how everything is great. So you just hear these terrible lies. And that doesn’t empower us. And it doesn’t power me because often, not always, but often, we’re the only ones in the room at the United Nations. So that’s the world, we’re often the only ones in the world who are going to expose certain lies. So that does give you a lot of moral energy. And I hope it doesn’t make a sanctimonious, but it certainly you are up against true evil. And that does give us that does give you with a lot of force, I can get my speech, where I’m hearing what they’re saying. And I know that I have something important to say it’s only 90 seconds. But I’m, I want to say it, it’s going to be recorded, and it’s going to go out to the world. And some of our clips have been seen millions of times, and no one else is going to say it and that you know, you’re going to push the buttons of, you know, maybe 50 countries, 100 countries, that can be up to 193 countries in the room. And that’s a powerful thing, knowing that you’re in the room, and you’re taking on the Iranian and Syrian. And so I’d say that that gives us a bit of because we’re up against such giants of evil, that that does give a corresponding energy.

Eitan Chitayat 12:00
Let me actually just read the first line from the UN watches mission statement, which I have on your website here in front of me, because I think that that best sums it up. United Nations watch is a nongovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own charter. Now, I don’t think a lot of people know that that’s what you do. It’s not that Hillel Neuer lawyer is up there just saying all sorts of bad things about what the UN is doing and human rights, it really is about calling them on their shit, based on what it is that they said that they would do at the beginning when it was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt. So, um, and I think that’s, that’s something that people really don’t know that but you’re, you’re saying things that they said you’re calling them out on stuff that they should be doing that they said that they would do that they’re not doing?

Hillel Neuer 13:00
That’s right. That’s right. And I think, you know, speaking of the founder’s generation, someone who was not quite as old but is of that generation was more as Abram he founded you and watch. And he was a civil rights activist. He was close with Martin Luther King, not in the 60s, when it was already more popular, but in the 50s, when he was a Jewish lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was not popular to speak out for the black minority. And Morris Abraham did. And he was one of the leading civil rights activists was not black in the 1950s in the 1960s. And, and helped defeat the Georgia election system which effectively denied equal voting to blacks and got the US Supreme Court to rule one man, one vote.

And Morris Abram was also a UN human rights expert he drafted. He’s one of the drafters of the UN anti racism convention Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. So indeed, when we speak, we speak on behalf of an organization that was founded by one of the leading civil rights figures leading UN Human Rights figure a leading anti racist figure, who believed, as we believe in the UN Charter, the United Nations Charter is a product of the best of liberal internationalism, the World War Two era was FDR and his brain trust that sat there and wrote, the Charter of the United Nations so really represent represents the best of humanity at a time when they were taking on the Nazis. It represents moral clarity. It speaks for equal rights, fundamental freedoms, human dignity, peace, security, all the things that we believe in. And a number of United Nations bodies have done the necessary work and I work next to the UN refugee agency where millions of refugees turn to them for help. They can’t help everyone but they try and we need them. And there’s many other UN agencies that that are fulfilling their men. But sadly over time, too many UN bodies have gotten hijacked by dictatorships. And the West often is silent.

And here in Europe, there are often silent people go along to get along, countries go along to get along, diplomats go along to get along. And so indeed, when we speak out when I see Libya, as they were when Qaddafi when his ambassador was chairing the Human Rights Council, at the Human Rights Commission, and chairing the lead up to the Durban to conference, the anti racism conference of 2009 just crazy, right? And I’m the bad guy, right? I’m the one being interrupted and Qaddafi’s Ambassador jolly dodgy. She’s sitting there with the gavel. And, and we’re saying know, something’s upside down here. We actually believe in the United Nations Charter. And you putting Qaddafi’s representative here is completely perverted a perversion of the UN principles. So yes, the surreal thing is that when I walk into the UN, I’m the bad guy. And the UN officials are looking at me, oh, he’s, you’re gonna make trouble when, you know, sitting on Human Rights Council today, our China, Cuba, Russia, Pakistan, Libya, Mauritania, where there’s slavery. Alright, and the list goes on.

Eitan Chitayat 16:13
So do you at this stage? Do you have faith in the UN to actually change? Or do you feel that they’re too far gone? I mean, I know that this is what you do. And you’re there. You’re fighting? But I mean, come on. I mean, do you really think that they’re going to change at this stage?

Hillel Neuer 16:31
Well, you know, the UN is kind of like, a river, it’s, the water is changing all the time. It’s, it’s, you know, governments come and go. So, you know, the United States under Trump is not the United States, under Biden, they have different positions of the US United States, and sometimes voting at the UN in a conservative way, conservative way on issues, and sometimes voting in a liberal way. And take other governments, you know, governments come and go and us not even an extreme example of extreme example, would be, you know,
would be Afghanistan.

So Afghanistan was a US-backed government. Up until recently, they were elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women to the executive board of UN Women, Afghanistan currently holds those seats. And if the Taliban gets recognized, which they requested, they will sit on the UN Women’s Rights Commission. So so the un, un reflects the world, okay, it’s a skewed representation, because the UN is not representing legitimately 1.4 billion Chinese people. They don’t have an elected voice. They never got to vote in a free and fair election. So it’s the Chinese regime. So the UN represents the governments that control the world. And and they can come and go when there was the Soviet Union, the UN had a resolution called Zionism is racism the day after, so Union collapsed, the US succeeded in repealing that resolution. So yes, there is hope. It’s, it’s you are quite right, that it’s far along. And I’d say there are two UN’s. Alright. There are two things.

There’s one un is the one that I described, which sometimes apologists for the UN, like to refer to that as the UN is the map is Madison Square Garden. It’s just a room. It’s a forum, it’s 193 countries, it has no it has no corporate characteristics. It’s not a corporate entity, it’s a  a forum where 193 countries sit. And if you’re angry at the UN, you’re just angry at X number of countries. You’re not angry at the UN. Right? That’s, there’s some truth to that. Then, of course, there’s something entirely different, which is the UN Secretariat here you’re talking about. I don’t know if it’s 10 or 20,000 or more, I don’t have the exact figures. But 1000s of people wouldn’t itself has 30,000 UN officials who, well, people who work for one route. So you have 1000s of you have 1000s of people who work for the UN, and that’s the bureaucracy and those people there is a certain culture, and certainly there, I would say that it’s mixed in there to its mix.

There are some UN officials that I know who are really trying to do the right thing. And they do want the UN Commission of Inquiry on Venezuela to hold Maduro to account. And there are other officials who are, you know, Cuban apologists who work there. So even within the bureaucracy, you could have a rift, but I’d say it does have its own culture. And that that is a corporate entity of a kind. And then I would say the two come together because, you know, Human Rights Council has a chair, a chairman or chairwoman. Last year, it was from Fiji Naja Khan. And she interrupted me when let me finish the speech about UNRWA. And so she she represents sort of a government and she represents the intergovernmental body, this forum that I told you about. But she’s she was taking instructions, you can see the bureaucrat, the civil servant whispering in her ear, saying, here’s what you should do, you should interrupt Hillel or he’s handing her piece of paper. So really, it’s a combination as like in the government. If you remember the British show, yes, minister, and yes, Prime Minister.

So there’s a civil servant, sometimes a civil servant is telling the minister what to do. So really, it’s both that the culture has both the civil servants and the governments and the intergovernmental bodies, and they are of a peace. And if you take them together because one influences the other. The Human Rights Council has a Twitter account. When I first saw that I said, that doesn’t make any sense. The Human Rights Council is 47 nations, they only adopt resolutions, they only speak when they adopt a resolution or statement. They can’t do regular tweets. The United States just joined the Human Rights Council is the United States being asked to approve every tweet. And it turns out that the Human Rights Council Twitter account they’ve put it’s the Secretariat of the Human Rights Council that’s putting out the tweets. So it’s kind of they have their cake and eat it too. They have, they can put out a good tweet about something about the situation in Kazakhstan.

And if Kazakhstan, which is on the Human Rights Council, complains and says, Wait, the Human Rights Council never approve that tweet this No, no, but we you put in the byline, it’s the secretariat. So we the bureaucrats, we put that out. So the truth is that it’s all of a piece, both the intergovernmental body and the civil servants are kind of working together. And sometimes each one trying to deny saying it wasn’t us, the civil servants were say, not angry at us. I’m the UN Human Rights Office. I’m the Office of the High Commissioner. I’m Michelle Bachelet. You know, that wasn’t me who did that? That’s the Human Rights Council. It did that that’s political body. But the truth is that there really have a piece.

And there is a culture and the culture has developed in a way that’s very anti Western. That is that there’s there’s a toxic Alliance, where you have the dictatorships who want to demonize the West who, historically one sought to demonize Israel, and a number of NGOs who agree, who also are sort of anti colonialist, anti Western, and so you do have this red green Alliance. So the UN is far along in a bad way. We don’t give up because there is no choice. You know, this is the real body, if you give up you’re saying I’m giving up on the world, and it can change and when the US does the right thing when the UK does the right thing, when Germany in the Netherlands do the right thing. Good things can happen.

And actually today, as we speak a time the Israeli government is introducing a resolution. It’s a sad day, it’s 80 years since the VINCI conference, when top Nazi officials met in a villa in Germany in 19 4280 years ago, to plan in a bureaucratic way, the rounding up deportation and systematic mass murder of millions of Jews. And that’s 80 years ago today, and on this day, Israel is introducing a resolution against Holocaust denial, and 70 countries have joined with it, I’d say it’s a very rare moment that the United Nations, when I expect that we’ll get moral clarity, I expect the resolution will be passed, I was sad to see that almost all of the sponsors are sort of Western countries, I didn’t see any Arab or Islamic countries on it.

And a number of other countries should have been there or not. But there were 70 countries who sponsored it, I expect that it will pass. So this is just an example of, you know, be a resolution against Holocaust denial, calling on countries around the world social media companies to do everything they can to combat Holocaust denial and antisemitism. That’s definitely a rare moment. But I’m giving you a long answer. But just to sum up, if our democracies in the free world step up and do the right thing, they can make the United Nations a decent place, and we don’t have any choice but to fight for that.

Eitan Chitayat 23:22
So I think you do have a choice, but you choose to fight. And so I think most of my listeners know and I think most people know, clearly of your support for Israel. But there is so much more because you’ve advocated and testified at the UN for for many different people. You’ve touched on this a little bit. The victims in Darfur in particular, you’ve tackled the UN HRC track record on human rights against nations.

And you’ve mentioned a few of these like Sudan and Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, women’s rights in the, in the middle east of passion of speech in Saudi Arabia, human rights violations in many, many places. So what really drives you Hillel, like what? You the person not you, the organization like you, why do you do what it is that you do? And maybe this is an opportunity to talk about how you got into this? What drives someone to fight to make the world a better place? Because essentially, that’s what you’re doing. And that’s not something that is a given. Yeah, that’s a choice. Yes, we don’t have a choice. And I think that we do I think that you do I think you make a choice every day. So what drives you?

Hillel Neuer 24:42
Yeah,  I’m not sure if I have a single answer, but I guess I’ll try to reflect and think back a bit. Certainly, I grew up in an environment at home and in my school I, my community in traditional background, learned a lot about Judaism. And Judaism is an activist religion. You know, the first thing that you that we learned were learned the Tomlin, which is the compendium of Jewish law is the obligation to return the last object that sounds kind of mundane. So someone lost and found and turn the last object. But there’s something profound in it, which is someone dropped something on the street and lost something. And you’re sitting at home when you see it on the street, or you’re walking somewhere.

And you say, All right, well, you know, finders keepers, losers. weepers, as we said, when we were kids, tough luck, or, you know, I mean, I live in Switzerland, and people are very, you know, I made a comment that when the when the pandemic began, said, You have to keep two meters distance from people social distance, I put up a comment, I said, I, I can’t wait till this ends, until we can go back to the norm of five meters, social distancing in Switzerland. So the normal sorts of people are very polite, but no one gets in your way. And, and if you if you’d be sitting there with a giant map, and your face is lost in the map, Normally people would not come up to you and say, Sir, can I help you obviously lost, if you’d ask someone they’d help. But there’s a tremendous sort of distance.

And that’s, in some Western societies we have that in Israel, obviously, it’s very different. It’s the opposite. But, but I’d say Judaism does not, does not accept that you can be indifferent to someone losing something, you see something, you must return that object. There’s another idea in Judaism, which is the someone that the Bible tells of someone who, who a traveler who’s in the, in the, in the fields in the forest, and died. We don’t know how this person died. But they were out there in the forest in the fields outside the city, and they died and the nearby town has to give a sacrifice and has to kind of make a communal apology. Why does the town have to apologize? What did they do?

There was some traveler died? Well, the, the commentary is that, that this person may have been a stranger who was visiting your town and no one, no one offered that person that man or woman hospitality. No one said how are you and take care of them. And then they had no choice. And they wandered along, and they got accosted by a wild animal or, or a criminal and they were killed. And so you have to apologize that and say that, you know, you, you, you, you have a responsibility. So I think I grew up in a tradition that says you’re responsible, you can’t be indifferent. I do think that’s why Jews who are also not necessarily religious are activist, I think that activism is actually part of the religion, you cannot be indifferent. You have to care for the other. And I certainly grew up with that tradition. Certainly.

When I grew up at the time when Jews were in the Soviet Union were being arrested for teaching Hebrew for practicing their religion. I remember demonstrating in the bitter cold streets of Montreal in front of the Soviet consulate, to free Anatoly Sharansky who later was freedom became nothing Sharansky. So that was part of my background. And so I think I always I always had that activist spirit. And, and I guess I did always have a passion and an energy. And yeah, from the time that I was in, in high school and college, I was always an activist. When I was in law school, I had the privilege to study with one of the great human rights activists of our time, Professor Irwin Cotler, who is a great, great man, yes, the Council for the oppressed, you know, someone who was lawyer for some of the great political prisoners of our time, and, and I got to see that as a model for human rights work, actually, I took every course I could in his when he was teaching at McGill. And one of his classes was, was a civil liberty seminar. And he asked the question, What will you do when you’re the head of a human rights NGO? What will you do about this or that? And I remember going around the room and you had to answer that question.

I didn’t know what he was talking about. But I guess he had planted a seed. Because about 10 years later, yeah, less than 10 years later, I was the director of a human rights NGO. So I think that those are some of the things that influenced me growing up. And I would just say that, again, to quote Professor Cutler, he, he says that, to fight for justice, you have to have a sense of injustice. And maybe I’m,

yeah, maybe I’m spoiled. But at the United Nations, it’s not that hard to see the injustice when you walk into that room. So sometimes if I’m feeling a bit, you know, unsure about a certain topic. I’ll say two things about that. One is if you walk into United Nations, you see terrible things. You see terrible injustice, you see or Complete Orwellian inversions. And not just by the dictatorships, but by the civil servants who go along with it and will revise un press releases to try to change history. And I seen it happen on the night the Human Rights Council was created. It didn’t follow procedures, Canada objective, this is June 2007. and Canada made formal objections and the UN altered time, because there was a certain time period, you had two things had to be adopted by midnight, and it happened past midnight. So the UN changed the press release, and change the summary of what happened. In order to alter history is kind of a Stalinist kind of move. There were objections by the United States and others afterwards, but it just happened. So these are just examples of these terrible injustice is you see that again, give me that energy.

And you know, maybe someone else who doesn’t give them that energy. And I guess it’s not really for me to say why one person has that one person doesn’t. The other piece that I’ll say for me, is that as you said, we do speak out for human rights victims around the world. And one of the great things we do is the Geneva summit for human rights and democracy. We’ve been doing it now for 1314 years. And every year we bring the most courageous, inspiring former political prisoners. Vladimir Karr Mirza, who was poisoned twice in Russia, and is continuing to live in Russia, one of the most brilliant people I’ve met, who gives speeches at the UN perfect speeches off by heart, nobody does that he does that was poisoned, twice, went into a coma because he is one of the leading dissidents. Yang Jently he was a political prisoner in China and went back to China. And you hear his story of how he was in prison and feeling crushed in solitary confinement until one day, he got a year later package of letters that were sent him from around the world of people supporting him and that stiffen his spine. So you meet these incredible people. That is one of the great things about my job, not not, it’s not all negative, you need to Great to meet, get to meet inspiring people. And you know, to come back to your question why I make that choice and others might not? I guess it’s for others to say, but those are some of the things that me

Eitan Chitayat 32:11
What’s the hardest thing about what you do? I mean, you opened up by saying I’m the most hated man in the UN. I don’t know if that’s the hardest thing. But like, what is the hardest thing for you? What’s the hardest thing about your job?

Hillel Neuer 32:25
Yeah, that can sometimes be hard. Certainly, when it’s, again, the closer it gets, as I said before, you know, if it’s the if it’s the Cuban or the Chinese or the Syrian Ambassador, railing against you. That’s, that’s, that’s a badge of honor, actually. But if it’s a major NGO who’s treating you like you’re contaminated, which in some cases is antisemitism in a modern, cleaned up form. Those are definitely very hard. And I’d say that there is there is frustration, and I’m, you know, I’m dealing with a lot of negativity. I’m dealing with dictatorships, I’m dealing with mass human rights abuses, happening all the time, testimonies and meeting victims of terrible things that is difficult. And there is a lot of frustration in the work I’d say in, you know, we were fighting for against anti semitism, we’re fighting against discrimination against Israel. That’s frustrating, because it’s pervasive, and it doesn’t seem to be going away. I think our work is necessary, but it doesn’t seem to be going away. So I’d say that’s, that can be frustrating. And, and the same with human rights.

You know, people sometimes ask, well, you know, how do you affect change? And, you know, it’s like, the Soviet Union resisting the Soviet Union. That evil regime lasted for more than seven decades. But it did fall, and it and it fell without a shot, but it fell because there was, you know, Solzhenitsyn, and Sakharov and Sharansky, and many other people who refuse to tell lies. And because 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s, millions of people did marched in the streets of Montreal and Washington and London and Manchester and all around the world. And each bit was a brick.

So we look at the Iranian regime, which is an evil regime, which is taking hostages Naza Nene Ratcliffe is an innocent woman and she hasn’t seen her daughter and her husband for years, because they’re keeping her as a hostage for they want to use Iran wants something from the UK, so she’s just a hostage for her and, and there’s at least two dozen other hostages Iran is keeping an eye meet some of the victims of the Iranian regime. And it’s been around for a long time. It’s been around for more than four decades. But I do believe that every time we do a press conference, and every press release and every tweet and every speech is one more piece that in the fight to end that regime, so

Eitan Chitayat 35:00
You know, it’s interesting, because that touches on something that I wanted to ask you about success, which is, how do you measure success in your field? Like, is it like the little victories that you have? And that ties into another question that I had, which is, are there more victories than there are losses? Or is it the opposite?

Hillel Neuer 35:23
Well, good question. So I’ll start with the last question more victories and losses. You know, it’s, it’s hard to get victories where we are. And again, the question is, you know, what do we define as victory? Do we think we’re gonna get a un vote on Chinese human rights abuses tomorrow? Unfortunately, no last time that I went to see an ambassador, to ask them to introduce a resolution. It was from a large German-speaking country, I’m not going to say the name of it, but a very large German-speaking country here in Europe. And the ambassador, literally laughed at my face literally laughed in my face. He said, Who’s going to bring a resolution on China? Okay, in 2004 is the last time that a country did introduce a resolution in China.

So that’s 18 years ago, that was the United States. And it hasn’t happened since then. And so too, but you know, we mentioned I mentioned two things. We introduced a resolution several years on Venezuela, just a draft resolution, we couldn’t formally submit it, because only a government can do that. But we circulated it. And I went to Madrid, and I gave it to the Spanish word ministry. And they said, you need to submit that. Here’s the text I’ve written for you submit it. And we did this for a number of years. And we brought Venezuelan activists for about a decade here against Chavez and then against Maduro.

By the way, Venezuela is a country for those who don’t know, where 5 million people have fled. 5 million people have fled Venezuela has, naturally I think, more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia. It’s actually one of the most wealthy countries in the world. But it was squandered because of the awful authoritarian, socialist dictatorship policies of Chavez and Maduro, which destroyed the country. And repression, human rights abuses, and 5 million people have fled. And for 10 years, we worked on this, and we introduced circulated resolution, and finally about two years ago, for reasons that may not be due to us, but maybe we planted a seed, the UN didn’t introduce a resolution on Venezuelan human rights. And there is a fact-finding mission on Venezuela that reported on their crimes against humanity.

So and when I meet the Venezuelan activists, and they say to me, you have all thank you, for all the work you’ve been doing all these years, and you’re one of our, you know, best friends and supporters at the United Nations. And when someone escapes them as weilai, MP and comes to Geneva, they ask us to organize the press conference, and they can ask so many other groups Human Rights Watch an amnesty and many occasions they come to us so that for us is a victory, I’d say that those small thank yous that you get from a leading dissident means everything. And it’s from people in the know. I mentioned one other case about planting a seed is, you know, Libya, was elected, as I mentioned, chair of the Human Rights Commission back in 2003.

This is when Colonel Qaddafi was the dictator who was there for decades, one of the most brutal dictators of the time, and yet he was elected Chair of the Human Rights Commission. And then they created the new and improved human rights council in 2006. Gaddafi was reelected as a member of the Human Rights Council and we started the campaign, expel Qaddafi and people laughed at us. They said hello, 140 countries voted for Libya. Nobody voted no, no one spoke out the US didn’t speak out. Western Europe didn’t speak out. At the time, Qaddafi was an ally of some kind. And then a short time later, the end of 2010, if memory serves, correct, there was the war began in Libya. And Qaddafi said he was going to kill his own people and France and the UK, started fighting him and Obama was leading from behind and joined. And they toppled Qaddafi. And…hold on a sec, I’m just gonna turn off my phone and sorry for the ringer, folks on a podcast, it’s like getting a movie. Remember, turn off your phones.

Eitan Chitayat 39:21
I’m not even going to edit that out. No worries, no worries, just the way it is.

Hillel Neuer 39:25
It’s the way it is how it flows. And, and suddenly, the British government got embarrassed of the fact that Libya was on the Human Rights Council, and they were fighting a war with him. And they brought up they called a special session to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council, and then the General Assembly ratified it. And they removed Qaddafi from the Human Rights Council. And this was a campaign we start we started the campaign we got, I don’t know 5070 NGOs to sign we bought victims of the Lockerbie bombing, which Libya had done. We’ve been victims of Libyan torture. Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor were tortured by Qaddafi. We brought them to the UN. So we launched the campaign people said there’s no chance and first time ever a country was removed. So it wasn’t because of us. I don’t think so.

But we planted the seed, the idea that you could remove Libya, was written in the charter of the council. But, you know, we planted that idea in the minds when the UK stopped voting against Israel, which they had done for a number of years here in Geneva, the Human Rights Council. And when they they set they announced a few years ago, first, Theresa May, then Boris Johnson announced that if the Human Rights Council will continue singling out Israel under this agenda item that only targets Israel, they will vote no on every resolution. And eventually they did. And when the British ambassador stood up to explain why they voted no, they quoted our data and statistics on the UN bias on the extreme un bias and came from UN watch. So there definitely are many moments of frustration. But there’s those few but meaningful moments where something actually changes. It’s not necessarily the ultimate change you want. But it’s progress in that direction.

And the other thing I will say, and I hear I spoke about, you know, removing Libya from the Human Rights Council, or getting a resolution on Venezuela, those I would say, are rare outcomes, getting a country to change its vote, it’s you haven’t changed the resolution yet, but the votes begin to change. That’s a kind of an outcome. And then there are things that are minor victories for us, which is, I can’t stop. I wish I could, but I can’t stop Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran from getting elected to the UN Women’s Rights Commission, and they’re going to take their seats on March 25 2022. Yeah, right. Iran was elected. And, but we didn’t know they were running. These things are sometimes buried until it happens. But we did expose it to the world, we did get the truth out to the world. We did embarrass governments around the world, we didn’t embarrass the United States into having to explain what their position was. We did embarrass Canada to promising that it was a secret ballot, but they, they wouldn’t tell the secret ballot. But eventually, they said, we did not vote for Iran, on the UN Women’s Rights Commission. So we expose that to the world. And that tweet getting, you know, 1000 5000 10,000 retweets being seen 700,000 times and been quoted in newspapers around the world. Those are moral victories. They’re not just moral victories. They’re truth, telling victories, and those happen every day. That’s not the final outcome. But it’s, it’s important steps towards towards achieving justice.

eitan chitayat 42:42
Now, one of my, one of my favorite quotes, I actually don’t even know who said this, but I’ve mentioned it on my podcast before is little by little, a little becomes a lot. And I really believe that and I think, you know, that’s in life in everything, whether it’s a creative endeavor, you know, okay, I have a thought in my head, I, I’m just going to put a couple of words down. And that can turn into, you know, something magnificent and inspiring. And I think that that’s what, that’s what you’re talking about. It’s just like these little things, you just have to do them, you know, and that’s inspiring. I want to ask you, before we get to the questions from some of my online community, something that you mentioned, and that we know is about Israel being singled out. And I think I think I know the reason and but I think that there are a lot of listeners who might not know so much about Israel, and might not know so much about antisemitism. So I’ll ask the question to you, because I don’t think there’s a better person to answer the question. Which again, might be obvious to some. Why is Israel singled out?

Hillel Neuer 43:58
Let me first outline some of the statistics. And then and then give you my my own sense of why this happens. At the General Assembly, which is the Parliament of the United Nations last year, there were about 14 or 15 resolutions on Israel. There was one on Iran, one on Syria and one on Myanmar. I think maybe one on Crimea, maybe one other North Korea, I mentioned. And that’s it. So one on Syria, 14 or 15 on Israel, and that’s just insane. It’s insane. And there’s zero on China, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Venezuela at the General Assembly, and you can go on Okay, so you know, 15 to one Israel represents about point 1% of the world’s population. It’s about 10 million people not quite but almost there. And you know, China has 1.4 billion people. There’s zero resolutions on China, the biggest human rights abuser in the world by any measure. So why,

Eitan Chitayat 44:59
By the way, just Not to interrupt you, but I’m going to interrupt you like, it makes complete sense to me, given the state of the world why people are afraid of China, but Zimbabwe, right, Cuba, who gives a fuck you know? I mean, I mean that China, I understand it because it you know, but….

Hillel Neuer 45:16
Yeah, yeah, no, no, that’s a very good point. I think the norm is and that you raise a good point I’m trying to I get people are afraid of China, China, if you if you vote the wrong way, in China, you’re in trouble, right? Ireland signed on to a speech, a number of other countries calling China for something. And the next day there were headlines in the Irish papers. China cancels contract for Irish beef. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean, people get it, but like you say, you know, Zimbabwe and many, many other countries, that, you know, the norm at the UN, is not to criticize countries, that’s the norm. It’s kind of looking out for each other, and to be diplomatic. And that really is the norm and criticizing countries is the exception. It’s because something terrible is happening. And there’s a political coalition available to call that out, or because there’s something else.

And that leads into the Israel thing. So my my sense of why Israel is singled out, I identify the following two categories. The first category is what I would call a kind of real politic, which is who introduces the resolutions on Israel, it’s the Palestinians together with the Arab and Islamic states. And, and that enmity was taken for granted for at least seven decades, it was sort of obvious the Arab world was fighting wars against Israel, saying they want to destroy Israel in 1948. And afterwards, and 1973, when Israel was invaded on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar in Yom Kippur War by Syria and Egypt. And, and Israel thought its existence may have been threatened as it did in 1967. And in 1948, for sure, so there were Arab wars against Israel, and the UN was just seen as another forum for those wars. If the Arab states could not defeat Israel in a military battlefield well with the, with the UN, as it was configured by the 1970s, with third world countries and the Soviet Union, directing them against America and sort of Israel as a proxy, then you quickly got this, this automatic majority against Israel. So it was the Arab and Islamic States.

Today, the Palestinians play a role map of the Arab Islamic States against Israel, let me quote, okay, fine. There’s only post 22 Arab countries. And if you and if you make the circle larger Islamic countries, there’s 56 Islamic countries that have the vote, okay, that’s a lot 56. But that’s not 193. How do you get how do you get those larger majority? So why do the rest of the countries? Why do so many European countries, you can people should know we have a database called un watch.org/database, you wouldn’t watch.org/database And you can get all the stats about the things I’m talking about.

And there, you’ll see if you punch in France, Germany, the Netherlands, you will see that the average European country votes for about two thirds, maybe even three quarters of the resolutions against Israel. So yes, we get why Iran and Syria would introduce 15 resolutions against Israel and zero on Zimbabwe. But to make the question even more pointed, why is why are Latin American countries? Why is Peru? Why is Singapore which actually has good relations with Israel? Why? Why are European countries voting against Israel in such large numbers? And they do, it’s probably at least 75% against Israel, for most countries other than the US, Canada, maybe Australia. Those are the general statistics.

Why is it and identify several factors? Number one, vote trading. The UN works by voting you vote for me, I vote for you. It’s sometimes very crass. There’s sometimes literally an agreement. I’ve seen copies of agreements that were leaked online, where Saudi Arabia wrote to Russia, I’m going to vote you on the Human Rights Council, you’re going to me on the Human Rights Council, by the way, Russia and Saudi Arabia were historically not aligned Russia backs Iran and Syria in the region. Saudi Arabia was, you know, another US Alliance. So they were not aligned. But they made deals like that, and many other deals all the time. So if you have 56 countries from the Islamic world, knocking on your door, sending you a telegram pulling up in their BMWs in front of your, your diplomatic mission, and your chancellor is saying, this is our resolution, you need to vote for it.

And then we’ll vote for you. Then Hey, like you said, I understand why people might be hesitant to condemn China, if 56 countries say they want something. And it’s 56 in one side of the scale, and the other side of scale is one is Israel. No brainer. I have interest every country has interest at the UN and I need those 56 votes for whatever my issue is alright, that that we get sad it’s wrong but we get it then I will To say their sovereign wealth funds, there’s money. Qatar, you know, has billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds and you vote for us, you might get investments, you might get trade and you don’t vote for us, you might not. So the influence of money, oil, historically, the Arab countries had large parts, large quantities of the world’s oil, which they still do, and would use it as a weapon in the 1970s.

They told African countries, if you don’t break relations with Israel, you don’t get oil. So most of many African countries, if not most, broke relations with Israel after the 73 War, and the oil weapon was used in a very powerful fashion. So that was countries that we need oil, we need to power our economy. And finally, I would say terrorism countries, if you’re going to be one of the few countries that are going to vote with Israel against the biased resolution, you might be the target of terrorists, and who wants to stand out and say, hey, you know, we’re standing with the Jews, you know, come come get us. No, you know, whether it’s an overt threat or a implied threat, or just an understood threat. I think there’s a fear of terrorism, which continues in the world today. So those are all real politic reasons. We don’t like them. They don’t they don’t speak about justice. They don’t speak about what’s right. They don’t speak about the UN Charter that I’m speaking about equal treatment.

But we get that’s how the world works. That I think explains a lot that if there were 56 Jewish countries, with 56 votes, and if Israel discovered more natural gas, and if there was less terrorism, terrorist threats in the world, I think that the votes would be different. But there’s another factor that I need to mention. And it’s not rational, because guess what, governments are run by people. And human beings are not always rational, we can be irrational, we can be super rational. And when I sit there at the United Nations, and when I see European countries, European diplomats raising their hands to vote against Israel, one after the other, I don’t always see them, you know, being forced by the vote trading and the oil and the money and the interest and reluctantly voting, many of them raise their hands with great ease and comfort, to point the finger very comfortably, point the finger at the Jewish state and say, You know what, I know I’m putting words into their mouths, but I know you accused our European country of, you know, collaborating with the Nazis and helping to deport 90% of our Dutch Jews to the death camps.

And but you know, what? The Nazis were racist occupiers committing genocide and crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. And you know, what? Israel, the Jewish state, you’re an occupier, you’re a racist, you’re committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. And basically all the crimes that were used against the Nazis are now today thrown against the Jewish state. And, you know, if in the Middle Ages, the when there was the one that was the black plague, we saw immediately, the instinct was to scapegoat the Jews and say the Jews poison the wells. And we have to attack the Jews. And in modern times, as my teacher Professor Kotler has said, Israel has become the jewel among the nations if there’s war in the world, if they’re suffering in the world, if there’s human rights abuse in the world, it’s Israel’s fault.

You know, we wouldn’t have this we wouldn’t have wars in the Middle East if not for that. bleeping little country. Set a European diplomat some 20 years ago, reference to Israel scapegoating Israel, I remember at the Human Rights Council, when the new human rights council was created in 2006. And one of the first things that happened was the Arab countries interrupted the founding session, which was supposed to be nice and pleasant, and nothing was supposed to happen on a continent Tory nature for about a year until they made the rules, first in the Arab countries did was called an emergency session to condemn Israel, because Hamas had tunneled into Israel cannot be allowed to lead, Israel began to respond.

And they call it an emergency session to condemn Israel. And I remember the European countries saying, Ah, we’re ruining the opening of the Human Rights Council, Israel, Israel, again, is ruining the you know, because the Arab countries called an urgent session to demonize Israel. So I do think that beyond all the real politique, which we can understand, I think there is an irrational forces at play. It’s not some Bob way getting 14 resolutions. It’s not Peru getting 14 resolutions. It’s not Kazakhstan, getting 14 resolutions. It’s Israel. It’s the Jewish state. And that’s not accidental. And so yes, I do think that to be blunt, that one of the reasons Israel is become sort of the world’s scapegoat that for a number of countries, not for all of them, but for a number of them. There is a certain natural comfort countries that for many years had the Inquisition where they condemned the Jews and it today when religion is perhaps our new religion is international law and human rights in the new church of the world, which is perhaps the night Israel as the AntiChrist and Israel is the one that is the object of continuous Commission’s of inquiry and kind of the Inquisition, and that makes there’s a paradigm, there’s a meme for certainly, countries in the West, people in the West have the Jews as the scapegoat. I think that we, it’s not the only reason. But I think that’s part of the reason that Israel gets the treatment it does at the United Nations.

Eitan Chitayat 55:26
I think you summed it up pretty nicely. We’re going to ask you, um, I’m going to ask you a question, which is, I don’t know if anyone’s asked you this before. But if you weren’t doing what you were doing, you know, what, what else? What would you be doing? Like, I’m, I have a branding agency, and I love branding. I really love what I do. But there you know, there are times when I’m like, Man, I just, I just, I just want to go and be a gardener. I mean, but I have fantasies, like they’re not about gardening, but I do have my fantasies. So if you weren’t doing what you were doing, because it’s stressful, it’s negative. It’s like it’s antisemitism. It’s anti-Israel, it’s fighting for justice. It’s heavy duty shit if you weren’t doing that, and I won’t even get into how the fuck did you get into this unless you want to talk about it? But like, if you weren’t doing this, really, what would you be doing? Yeah.

Hillel Neuer 56:20
Well, you know, I did want to do other things. I did spend a number of years just thinking about constitutional law. And I did do a master’s in comparative constitutional law. So I was

Eitan Chitayat 56:31
Don’t you have something like, four degrees or something?

Hillel Neuer 56:34
Yeah, I have four degrees that I earned, honestly. And a fifth degree, I guess, that I got as an honorary degree from an honorary doctorate from McGill University. But yeah, I have a BA in Political Science and liberal arts and of Western civilization. I have a degree in Civil Law, which is sort of the French system in Canada, I have a degree in common law, which is English system in Canada. And then I have a Master’s of law. And then I got a doctorate in honorary doctorates from medium so. So I have for four degrees plus, yeah, so I did, I did, I did, I did enjoy most of my courses. But certainly law I liked a lot. And I used to before there was Twitter, I used to spend my time just sitting in libraries, and really, looking at books, and opening up old books and great thinkers. And, and I can really, you know, have the state of mind to think deep thoughts and contemplate, and …

Eitan Chitayat 57:38
I can actually, I can actually see you as a librarian, I could see you sitting at the front desk and dislike, how can I help you, and that’s in Section, capital A Zed for to z and you just like, go for a mile and find that book?

Hillel Neuer 57:52
I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be so good at categorizing things.

Eitan Chitayat 57:56
Nobody would know that you’d know where they are maybe a name. And you’d have read it probably,

Hillel Neuer 58:01
maybe. But there was a time when I really I was in that world, and I didn’t think of becoming a law professor. So certainly, I’d say the thing that I’d like to do is to have the chance, not always to deal with the day to day battles of everything that I’m describing, but to burrow deeply into getting to deeper levels of truth on things which require depth of thought, and, and I enjoy doing, I would enjoy having the time and the state of mind again, because if you’re on Twitter, which I am on, maybe I’m on it too much, but it can shorten your attention span.

And I would like to have the ability to write certainly to write a book. Maybe I can find a time to take a sabbatical. I think that would be great, at least a few months to write a book. But um, yeah, if I weren’t doing this if the problems were solved, and if, for some reason they decided to retire from this, which is not in the cards anytime soon. But I would like to do something in terms of from a professional standpoint and a personal standpoint, that would be meaningful, would be to, to think deep thoughts about some of the issues which might be law, human rights, thinks of things affecting Israel and antisemitism in the world. And those are on a thinking level. I also like doing things I like to make food I make a very mean chicken soup. I make one of the best chicken soups in Geneva for whatever that’s worth.

Eitan Chitayat 59:34
Wow, that’s right. That’s quite a statement. Okay. Well, yeah, I’m going to be coming to Geneva at some point. I’m officially inviting myself to your house for dinner.

Hillel Neuer 59:47
You’re invited. It’s the real deal. Like Bubba used to make Oh, wow. And they also make great sandwiches. Once I used to think that I would enjoy having a sandwich shop I’m sure I wouldn’t be annoying. But just I like making people sandwiches. So so those are fun things that I like to do and they’re toasted and they have a lot of things in them. There’s a lot of sprouts, and tomatoes and, and pickles and there’s tuna and there’s a bit of mayo in there.

Eitan Chitayat 1:00:16
Put me down for chicken soup and a sandwich. I’m in Geneva. I’m coming over your board. I’m already hungry right now just listening to you. I’m one of those sandwiches with sprouts. And there you go toasted the toasted bits. Good. Tasty. Sandwich Maker soup maker. Okay.

Hillel Neuer 1:00:34
Yeah, those are fun things. And I like bike riding. And, and I love listening to music.

Eitan Chitayat 1:00:47
Actually who have you listened to lately?

Hillel Neuer 1:00:51
I’ve been listening to different things. There’s, there’s a song that got into my head recently, which was every kind of people. It’s actually by Robert Palmer from a long time ago. It’s kind of a bit reggae-ish. So that’s my stuff. I was recently getting into Stephen Stills, and Crosby, Stills Nash and Young and Joni Mitchell. Old school stuff. But I like excited. I like an eclectic kinds of music, which I probably most people do. I’d like to think people like music like different things. I don’t have it on my, on my computer right now. But I used to listen to a lot of rap, including from old school from when it began, more or less from Run DMC through to through to Dr. Dre and, and, and others. So you might be surprised, but a lot of rock music. You know, since I was a teenager, I loved listening to Motown and the 60s Goodman music, so, but I also like listening to some of the great music from the 80s. And I don’t mean like Cyndi Lauper, which is fine, but I mean, bands like you too, and the police. So, yeah, but if I if I hear great songs, I don’t follow so much, you know, the latest hits. But if I hear something great, then I add it to my Spotify. And yeah, so I like a lots of different kinds of music. Unfortunately, I never got into classical music. That much though, I try to listen to Verdi. When I’m doing work.

Eitan Chitayat 1:02:39
See, that’s interesting. Like you surprised me with the with the rap. I thought you would say classical music. I mean, when I’m working. I like to listen to Dre. I like to listen to Tupac, you know, like I actually when I’m working I listen to rap, a lot of rap. And I’m all about Motown and soul. That’s actually the prince I mean, a huge Prince fan. But, um, but I also listen to classical music, you know, it just calms me down. I would have thought that. But anyway, I think that, um, what would be great is this. Let me just ask you a couple of questions. And maybe we can I know if you can answer them. I’m just cognizant of your time as well.

Hillel Neuer 1:03:12
Well let’s just come back to the music. It’s it’s important. Oh, classical music family I grew up my father is rock and roll fan, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly. And the early Beatles, his musical interests ended up at 1962 or 63. So So I grew up with rock and roll and the other stuff is kind of just a natural progression, you know? So from there, but yeah.

Eitan Chitayat 1:03:35
Well, good things I heard. I’m going to ask you a couple of questions that I have here. And I know if we can answer if you can answer them succinctly. Um, but it’s really just, I’m cognizant of your time. So I think, like, there are quite a few comments like, you know, I love your work. Can you share some objective achievements you had in counteracting the hijacked UN bodies? And I think that you answered that. But I, here’s one, like, I’d like to know what he thinks of the Ughur genocide currently happening in China. How is this being tolerated? Genocide anywhere is profoundly horrifying. And I don’t understand why we as a global community continue to accept it. So the Oghur genocide.

Hillel Neuer 1:04:11
Yeah, look, I mean, the term genocide, some some countries have recognized it as a genocide. Other people hesitate to use that term, but I hesitate to use that term because it not to conflate it, let’s say with the Nazi genocide, where they killed 6 million Jews and millions of others. There’s no evidence that China is killing millions or 1000s of wiggers.

But there’s a there’s a un definition of genocide, which is wider than killing. It’s, you know, trying to erase culturally, people and so forth. And that’s clear. It’s clear. We know that China is, you know, trying to shave off their beards and stamp out their Muslim practices and their language and their culture. That is extremely clear, and there is strong evidence that a million people have been herded into some kind of reeducation labor camps. And you know, why is the world silent? Well, the world is not entirely silent. A number of Parliament’s have, I think it was Canada and a number of others have recognized this as a genocide. A number of countries are speaking out the United States is speaking out quite robustly.

The State Department has spoken out, there’s now you know, the Olympics coming up in Beijing 2022. A number of countries are calling for diplomatic boycott. So people are speaking out. But why are Why are more not speaking out and actually doing something. And I think it comes back to what you said before people are afraid. China is huge, they are not shy, are not shy at all, when they’re when there is a diplomatic initiative in Geneva to government says, Oh, we’re going to have a panel about what’s happening with the wiggers, China will send a very strong message a letter to the ambassador saying if you go to that event, not if you vote for resolution, if you go to that event, we’re going to reconsider our relations. And every every country walk into any store in the world, go to the shelf, and I don’t know, try to find something that isn’t made in China. It’s impossible. Basically, everything is made in China. And China is maybe building your subway in your country, and may have loaned billions of dollars to your Turkish government, or Pakistan or you name it. So China is huge, and they are aggressive.

So people are doing things we’re speaking out. We’ve spoken out you and watch spoken over the wiggers going back since 2009, or 2010, or well over a decade. When we brought people like rebiya kadeer, we brought recently Jor el ham his father is in prison because he is a wigger who spoke out and we’ve continued to put that issue on the top of our agenda and sadly, too many governments are going along to get along to answer.

Eitan Chitayat 1:06:50
What was his nickname in YU? I imagine that is Yale University?

Hillel Neuer 1:07:01
Don’t know who that is. And I didn’t go to Yale, they probably mean they probably mean Yeshiva University. But I didn’t go to university. So maybe the person is complaining me with Tom Cruise or someone else? But it was yes.

Eitan Chitayat 1:07:11
Clearly, obviously. This is a good one. What wall does he bash his head against? I think that’s a very good question. You don’t need to answer it. But I thought that was good. How do you keep your resilience? I think you’ve spoken about that. Um, I think this is a good one, like what can Jews do to fight back against casual antisemitism on the left? I know that that’s a whole subject, but just if you can touch on it.

Hillel Neuer 1:07:37
Well, the subject of anti semitism on the left is difficult because anti semitism on the right is the kind that most of us can easily identify anyone in mainstream society agrees that being a Nazi is evil, saying that Jews are inferior or bad because of their ethnicity, and the race is evil. And anyone in mainstream Western society certainly is brought up in everything in our society in our culture, to immediately identify and, and condemn and reject traditional right wing, classical anti semitism, like the Nazis or Neo Nazis or Holocaust denial and so forth.

But antisemitism in history has always taken different forms. anti semitism for well over a millennium in Europe was religious because society was religious. So the instinct of hating Jews, that scapegoating took on a religious forum. And so we were people in Europe were told the Jews killed Christ, the Jews killed God. But antisemitism is a virus that mutates over history. And we saw that when society in the 19th century no longer became religious and scientific, in nature, then the accusations against Jews was based on or based on science. So in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, there was this new racial science and it was science that said that Jews were inferior and bad, and were a virus that were in destroying society. And when societies were communist, the accusation are the Jews were capitalists and that they were nationalistic, when they should have been internationalists, and so forth. So and then in a capitalist society, Jews are accused of being communist and today, in modern times in Western society, and here, I’m coming to the left. In Western society, our virtues are human rights and anti-racism.

These are perhaps the greatest virtues of society today. And so it’s not accidental that if you want to hate Jews, you know anti Semites today are very clever they know if you want to be effective and if you live in America or in Canada or Europe, or Australia, you don’t say Oh, I don’t like Jews that will automatically you know, disinvite you from the from the TV station from the interview, you’ll get turned off. But if you say I love Jews, but that Jewish state Israel, they’re just, they’re acting like Nazis. They’re the worst country in the world. They are the most racist country in the world, actually, there’s not just problems in Israel. It’s an apartheid regime. It’s the equivalent of evil. It’s the greatest human rights abuser.

Yes, there should be 15 resolutions on Israel. And you know, why don’t Iran but 15 times more on Israel, and that’s entirely based on objective human rights, international law, the fact that it was Syria and Iran that passed that resolution that is called defining international law. We’re not going to talk about that. But I’m, you know, I’m speaking in the name of human rights, international law, anti-racism. And based on those virtues, and based on my virtuous this, I’m going to say that Israel as the most evil country in the world, and it’s an apartheid regime, that is the anti semitism we see today on the left, and let me be very clear, I am not saying and no one is saying that Israel should not be held to account and criticized for human rights abuses. Of course, there are human rights abuses in Israel, as there are many other countries. And they should be calmed down and Israel should be held to account. But the notion that Israel is the most evil country in the world, which is what you do hear from Jeremy Corbyn types, and groups that echo his narrative, and including NGOs, like amnesty, and human rights, watch the head of Human Rights Watch, Ken Roth is obsessed with Israel several times a day, he will say Israel is an apartheid regime, he will talk about war crime settlements, that for him, he’s much more passionate and animated about Jews building a home in Judea, whether that is a violation of international law or not, but he’s much more morally outraged about that, then, you know, the killing of 1000 peaceful protesters in Kazakhstan.

Eitan Chitayat 1:11:47
So what can we do to fight it? For the average person.

Hillel Neuer 1:11:51
So how do you do to fight it? So it’s not easy, okay, I don’t have a magic solution. And I think the best thing that a person can do is, you know, is to state the facts. And, and again, you have to pick your battles. You, I don’t think you have to pick a fight with everyone. There are some people you’re not going to convince. But if there’s someone you’re speaking to, that you think you can convince, or there’s a forum where you think some people might listen to you, you know, on Twitter, I don’t respond to 1000s of anonymous tweets that say, nonsense, or anonymous comments on Facebook. But if someone with a platform says something, and I feel that there’s a public debate, where the the time I put in and the words that I invest in, can be spread it wider to a larger audience, then that’s a good thing.

So I think everyone does have that opportunity. Everyone does have a Facebook feed and Instagram feed. And if they feel that there are ways that they can correct the record on things, then that’s what they should do. So I think the only way that I know and I and you know, something that is, that is a sickness, anti semitism is a sickness. And it’s the problem of the people who are sick. But I’d say two things. One is to just state the facts. And if Israel is being accused of the most evil state and the regime, evil, evil country in the world, then I think people should say, you know, we’re not here to claim that Israel is perfect, because it’s not perfect. And there are a lot of problems that need to be dealt with all kinds of problems like Switzerland, where I live, there’s all kinds of problems, and people may think it’s an ideal country, it’s not. And so to for Canada, where I come from, every country’s got all kinds of problems, but it’s not the most evil regime in the world.

And you can clearly make that case. And so people need to make that case. The other thing, I think, and if it’s obviously Jews who are asking that question, is to live a life as a proud Jew and not be ashamed. And, you know, the Jews didn’t survive anti semitism, because there were groups or people fighting anti semitism. They did, because they understood and appreciated the beauty of their religion of their tradition of their people. And they were proud of it. And another someone called Eve Barlow on Twitter. And she I think she speaks about that. And, and I think Barry Weiss does too.

Eitan Chitayat 1:14:03
She’s great I don’t know if you know but I interviewed her on I’m That. So you should listen.

Hillel Neuer 1:14:08
Okay, I see a number of your podcasts, but I didn’t see that. She’s, she’s, she’s great. And I mean, these are people are fighting antisemitism. But I think just, you know, for Jews who are feeling embattled. It’s many Jews don’t know very much about their tradition, about their religion, about their culture, about their people about Israel, and they should discover their heritage the way that that you know, that other cultures, people are proud of their traditions and I think Jews need to know more about what they come from they need to know Hebrew. They need to visit Israel and discover Israel and can be extremely proud of who they are doesn’t mean that you’re not critical and make yourself better but learn about your where you came from. Be proud of it and I think that’s really the best way. The best answer to anti semitism is Be proud of who you are, and haters are gonna hate. Be proud of who you are.

Eitan Chitayat 1:14:56
I think you know, where I stand on that. So I I think that’s great. Um, this isn’t in, this isn’t in the in, you know, from my community but someone that I know wanted to ask you. Have you ever been threatened? Have you ever been actually scared given the animosity and the hatred towards you? And yeah,

Hillel Neuer 1:15:17
it’s a very good question. But I, obviously people, all kinds of things are said on the internet. But beyond that I don’t discuss security issues. But obviously, all kinds of things are said. And generally, I work at the United Nations in Geneva. And thankfully, Geneva usually plays by Geneva rules, but it’s a dangerous world. And, and we were certainly vigorous and alert to any threats that may arise.

Eitan Chitayat 1:15:51
I want to wrap this up by reading a couple of things that people have said about you. Okay, so um, hear me out on this. This is directed towards you, comments that have been made. You’re not just a candle, Halo, but a beacon of light. May you be blessed like Abraham numerously as the stars. This brilliant young man is a beacon of truth, we need millions more like him, people who will yell out that the emperor has no clothes on. And the last one, to fight that battle day in day out, knowing that it might be futile, yet still trying to make a difference, not just for Jews, but for all those whose human rights are violated yet have no voice. You are the voice. And yes, they will hate you because they know your rights and a better human being than they will ever be. Hold your head high Hillel, you are an unsung hero of our times. So I kind of feel the same way about you. Keep doing what you’re doing, keep inspiring, keep rocking. And really, do you are doing wonderful things that are not easy? A lot of people see you a lot of people hear you, and we appreciate you. Just thank you.

Hillel Neuer 1:17:07
Thank you wait, those are really kind words from you and from your followers. And it really means a lot. And it’s I’d say that going into the difficult place where I go into the United Nations. It is that support and encouragement that we get from friends and supporters around the world. That is the wind in our sails, so I can take that with me. And it’s gonna be more strength to do the right thing at the United Nations.