[Published 3 August 2012]
Richard Falk - UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 - appears to have landed himself in hot water once again - as his web site “Citizen Pilgrimage” - has hosted a series of posts that contain comments that are highly offensive and insulting of Jews.
He apparently has not learned any lesson after having been rapped over the knuckles by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay following his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on the same website last June - which drew the following admonition from Ms Pillay in a letter to UN Watch:
“Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Falk is neither a representative nor an employee of my Office, thank you for drawing my attention to the anti-Semitic image that was posted on his personal website. I utterly deplore and condemn anti-Semitism, as I do any form of incitement to hatred and racial discrimination.
I also note Mr. Falk’s series of public apologies, in which he explained his inadvertent mistake and clearly acknowledged the anti-Semitic and objectionable nature of the cartoon. I welcome the fact that he swiftly removed the image from his website, and expressed his regrets at his own “carelessness” in not examining it more carefully before posting it in the first place.”
One of Mr Falk’s apologies contained the following statement::
“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". To be clear, I oppose any denigration of a people based on ethnicity, race, religion, stage of development, and believe in the human dignity of all people in their individual and collective identity.”
Yet one year later Mr Falk has allowed the following views (and many more) to be openly espoused on his web site in a series of separate posts:
“If Israel and the Jews hope to avoid the next shoah, they had better start learning a little empathy, because, while you are laughing now, things can change very rapidly, as we have seen in the last century (and the one before that, and the one before that….). Do you really want to be on the side that takes down our fragile civilization?”
“We can’t afford any more wars, especially ones to rescue Jews who have acted recklessly again and gotten themselves in trouble again with their big mouths and by flaunting their wealth in an unseemly manner.”
“The truth is that Jews have a terrible track record, and they seem to be obsessed with the (false) notion that people hate them for no reason. There are very good reasons for hating jews today, and that makes me sad. How can jews be acting this way so soon after the last catastrophe?"
I have been witness to these vicious posts as I endeavoured to get some responses from Mr Falk to objections I had taken to an article he had written in which he maintained that the moral and legal premises of Jewish claims in the West Bank were “without substance”.
Mr Falk’s assertion - at the time of his cartoon apology - that he opposed the denigration of people based on ethnicity - could not be possibly squared with what he was allowing to be published on his web site just twelve months later.
Mr Falk supposedly realised the seriousness of his publishing similar comments by stating:
“Recently my blog posts have attracted some venomous comments. I have somewhat reluctantly ‘approved’ of most such comments unless blatantly anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-Semitic, racist, or personally defamatory, and even with such offending comments I have leaned toward inclusion. Recently, however, I have received several critical messages (one of which I assume was from me - author) suggesting that allowing such comments demeans the quality of the dialogue generated by the blog. These messages have prompted me to reconsider my way of filtering comments,and lead me to become somewhat more of a gatekeeper.”
In a further sign of his intent to forbid posts such as those set out above - Mr Falk stated:
“ I welcome dissent, I will exclude ‘Jew haters,’ but include all who seek discussion and debate carried on in a civil tone, without bashing those whose views they disagree with.”
However, Mr Falk actually published these remarks the day before the publication of the above offensive statements. It would appear that his protestations at ending the publication of Jew-hatred posts lasted less than 24 hours.
Mr Falk might show how serious his intentions are this third time around by immediately removing the above offensive statements and many more posts in similar vein still able to be read on his site.
Will it be a case of “three strikes and you’re out” as Special Rapporteur if he doesn‘t?
These inflammatory statements have no place on the web site of a Special Rapporteur.
Perhaps he also needs to rethink his stated opinion that the Jewish People have no legal right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home anywhere in former Palestine as expressed by him in the following post:
“I regard the Balfour Declaration and the mandatory system as classic colonial moves that have lost whatever legitimacy that they possessed at the time of their utterance, and prefer to view the competing claims to land and rights on the basis either of the 1948 partition proposal or the 1967 boundaries, although if there was diplomatic parity, I would respect whatever accommodation the parties reached, but without such parity, it seems necessary to invoke the allocation of rights as per settled international law.”
Of course the partition proposal was in 1947 - not 1948 and there were no 1967 boundaries - only armistice lines.
Denying the Jews have any legal rights under the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter perhaps helps explain why so many vile comments were received on Mr Falk’s website such as this one:
“And give me a break with the nonsense about how there are 59 islamic countries but no jewish ones. Grow up, would you? Jews aren’t rich and powerful enough?“
The sooner Mr Falk acknowledges that his position requires him to uphold international law - not denigrate or demean it - the sooner he might be able to bring the prestige and influence of his office to bear in helping to end the 130 years old conflict between Jews and Arabs.
Has the leopard changed his spots or merely tried to camouflage his tracks?
I reserve my judgment.