Analysis and Commentary from UN Watch in Geneva
July 7, 2011 — Issue 302
UN Official Admits Posting “Strongly Anti-Semitic” Cartoon
UN Watch Calling for Richard Falk to be Fired
GENEVA, July 7 -- After the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories finally admitted to posting a “strongly anti-Semitic” cartoon on his blog, in which Jews and Americans were depicted as bloodthirsty dogs, UN Watch today called on UN rights chief Navi Pillay to lead efforts to fire him. Click here for Falk statement and timeline.
Richard Falk's “apology” raises serious questions that go to both his judgment and his character. Finding himself in a corner of his own making, he states that, “I oppose any denigration of a people based on ethnicity, race, religion,” as if this were a special badge of honor, and then adds to ethnicity, race, religion, “stage of development”—which is not a human rights issue.
Even stranger is the banality that follows, “We must . . .. treat animals with as much respect as possible.” Falk here appears not only to be equating animals with human beings, but to be apologizing for his cartoon's insult to Jews as well as dogs. Do these mutterings truly befit someone the UN Human Rights Council has chosen to employ as an expert on human rights?
This is only the latest of several Falk blog posts this year which have harmed the reputation of the UN as a whole.
In January he implied American complicity in the 9/11 attacks—Falk is a revered figure among proponents of the 9/11 conspiracy theory—while last month he called UN chief Ban Ki-moon a shameless secretary-general.”
Richard Falk clearly lacks the judgment required for a credible human rights figure and moral authority. His support for the Hamas terrorist group is so strong that, as he himself disclosed to the Ma’an news agency, the Palestinian Authority last year urged him to quit. In 1979, he endorsed Ayatollah Khomeini in a New York Times op-ed. These days he offers apologetics for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden.
According to UN procedure, only the 47-nation Human Rights Council can fire Falk, but in practice this is unlikely to happen unless Navi Pillay, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, leads the call.
In January, after Falk suggested a 9/11 cover-up, Ban Ki-moon denounced Falk before the council plenary. “I condemn this sort of inflammatory rhetoric,” Ban told the assembled delegates. “It is preposterous—an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”
US Ambassador Susan Rice said Falk’s comments were “despicable and deeply offensive.” She called for him to be fired, saying that the cause of human rights “will be better advanced without Mr. Falk and the distasteful sideshow he has chosen to create.” However, according to UN sources, Falk’s term was quietly renewed in March.
Timeline: UN Watch Exposes Anti-Semitic Cartoon,
Falk's Denial, and The Non-Apology Apology
• June 29 - UN Palestine expert Richard Falk, whose Human Rights Council mandate is to investigate "Israel's violations of the bases and principles of international law," posts a cartoon on his blog depicting a bloodthirsty dog wearing a Jewish religious headcovering.
• July 6, 9:22 AM (Pacific time) - UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights organization, exposes Falk's publication of the cartoon, condemns its incitement to anti-Semitism, and calls on UN rights chief Navi Pillay to speak out.
• July 6, 10:38 AM - Falk responds: "It is a complete lie. I know nothing about such a cartoon, and would never publish such a thing, ever."
• July 6, 10:54 AM - Falk deletes the cartoon. He explains: "Maybe I do not understand the cartoon, and if it offends in this way I have removed it from the blog. It may be in bad taste to an extent I had not earlier appreciated, but I certainly didn’t realize that it could be viewed as anti-semitic, and still do not realize."
• July 6, 1:42 PM - Falk is still unable to see any problem with the cartoon: "I did not perceive any racist connotations, and certainly no anti-semitic implications, and since it offends people I have removed it without understanding why."
• July 6, 2:30 PM – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, denounces Falk’s cartoon on the floor of the US Congress. Click here for text and video.
• July 6, 3:41 PM - Falk points a finger at UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer: "Neuer consistently defames me, claiming I am a 9/11 conspiracy theorist when I am not, and so forth." Click here for sample of Falk's 9/11 statements.
• July 6, 5:00 pm - Falk issues an Apology for Unintentionally Posting Anti-Semitic Cartoon in Qaddafi Arrest Warrant Blog:
"With apologies, I realize that the cartoon... had strongly anti-semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me...
"My intention has never been to demean in any way Jews as a people despite my strong criticisms of Israeli policies, and some versions of Zionist support...
"Beyond this, if we are to have a sustainable human future we must also make peace with nature, and treat animals with as much respect as possible...
"At the same time, I am quite aware that many of the messages were motivated to discredit me due to my views of Israeli policies and behavior."
• July 6, 7:54 PM - Falk admits to knowingly attacking his own country, the United States: "I did realize that the cartoon was anti-American, but I did not realize that it was also anti-semitic." This is the same Richard Falk who in January was "dismayed" when US Ambasador Susan Rice condemned his 9/11 remarks without first speaking with him, protesting that, as "a citizen of the United States, I am at least entitled to this minimal courtesy."
• July 7 - UN Watch called on UN rights chief Navi Pillay to lead efforts to fire Richard Falk. Click here for UN Watch press release. In response, Pillay's office is now claiming that it has no authority to criticize an expert of the Human Rights Council. However, UN Watch already preempted this excuse in its initial letter to Pillay yesterday:
We are aware that mandate-holders are answerable only to the Council, and that Mr. Falk and his supporters will claim that the cartoon was published in his “personal capacity.” As you know, however, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in identical circumstances, unequivocally ruled that Mr. Falk has “a clear responsibility to uphold the high standards of the United Nations and the Council.” Accordingly, the Secretary-General twice condemned Mr. Falk for having propagated the 9/11 conspiracy theory and insulting the memory of the 3,000 victims of that attack. Likewise, in 2005, your predecessor, High Commissioner Louise Arbour did not hesitate to condemn expert Jean Ziegler for what she described as his “inflammatory” and “highly irresponsible” remarks."