Israeli supermarket tycoon sues UN Human Rights Council for putting business on blacklist

Supermarket chain and telecom tycoon files defamation lawsuit against UN body for putting his businesses on a blacklist for operating over the so-called Green Line.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Rami Levy, owner of a large Israeli supermarket chain and telecom company, filed a lawsuit Monday against the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for putting his businesses on a blacklist because they operate in what the body calls “occupied territories.”

The blacklist was published in February and contains the names of 112 businesses that the UNHRC is trying to encourage people and countries to boycott because they allegedly hurt Palestinians by operating in the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

With the help of the Shurat Hadin Law Center, Levy is fighting back. Charging the world body with defamation in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, the suit says that instead of taking advantage of the Palestinians, “the plaintiff companies improve the rights of Palestinians and their financial well-being immeasurably.”

Levy pointed out that the non-Jews who work for him earn much more than they would working in the Palestinian Authority.

“I believe in true coexistence,” he said. “All of the workers in our market chain are employed regardless of differences in religion, race or nationality, and are equally entitled, and even earn three times higher wages than the average wage in the Palestinian Authority.”

The organization’s listing of the companies in such a manner is no less than “a blood libel,” said Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“This blacklist reflects the true image of the UN Human Rights Council, which has once again been found to be racist, dark and biased,” she continued.

The center’s founder based her charge in part on the fact that Israeli-Arab owned companies working in Judea and Samaria are not included on the UNHRC list. Eleven such businesses were enumerated in the lawsuit.

The complaint claims that the organization is not entitled to the usual legal immunity UN bodies enjoy because it had acted with “pure racism on the basis of nationality and religion” and thus “blatantly deviated” from its official mission.

Jerusalem has long charged that the UNHRC is blatantly biased against it, as the Council has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined. Israel is also the only country in the world that the group reviews in every session for alleged human rights abuses.

In 2018, the United States resigned from the body in protest of this behavior and the fact that it regularly rotates into the Council countries with poor public records of human rights. Libya, Sudan and Venezuela were the latest of these to win three-year spots in January.

Levy is seeking NIS280,000 ($82,350) in damages.