Head of the UNHRC probe on the Gaza campaign, William Schabas, tells i24 News that he is “very proud” of his Jewish heritage.
“I’m not uncomfortable about it. I’m happy about it, but I’m not a religious person,” he says.
Schabas’s father was Jewish.
The controversial Canadian intellectual, and fierce critic of Israel in the past, says he has become a “bit of a lightning rod over the last few days,” for criticism.
He insists that he will do his best to be impartial, and argues that Israel would be unhappy with the committee regardless of who was appointed the head.
“What I’m going to try to do is park my views at the door — I don’t want to talk about them anymore, they’re not relevant to the job I have to do — and I’m going to try to approach this as objectively and independently as I can. I think the critics — and obviously I’m on the tip of the iceberg on this — won’t be happy about anyone the UN chooses. They really are not content with the commission; they’d like to see the commission disappear — they don’t really like the Human Rights Council at all,” he says.
Schabas also addresses recent criticism after a video surfaced in which he is recorded saying that Netanyahu is “the greatest threat to the survival of Israel,” to much laughter. He says that the statement came in response to an attack on the inquiry into the IDF’s activity during Operation Cast Lead.
“I think he was citing, perhaps Netanyahu, saying that Goldstone was the greatest threat to the survival of Israel,” he explains.