Richard Falk is United Nations Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” So why does he find anti-Semitic cartoons humorous?
The cartoon below was posted on a blog on June 29, 2011. Okay, so what’s the big deal?
I have seen hate filled and Anti-Semitic cartoons before, but this was posted on the blog of Richard Falk. Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”.
Let’s look it over, shall we? A dog wearing a USA shirt, a skull cap (otherwise known as a yalmakue) that has a Jewish Star on it, is devouring a human carcass while peeing on Lady Justice. How nice.
Wikipedia describes Richard Falk thus,
Richard Anderson Falk (born 1930) is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 books, speaker, activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.
Falk described his family background as "assimilationist Jewish with a virtual denial of even the ethnic side of Jewishness", and more recently described himself as "an American Jew".
Originally when he posted the cartoon and started receiving complaints on his blog he stated,
Well, he went from saying that “it is a complete lie”, to “I certainly didn’t realize that it could be viewed as anti-Semitic, and still do not realize”.
Really? I find that interesting because once it started to hit the news and the criticism began to flow, his apology took on a whole new attitude. Even the Obama Administration could not let this slip by as the JTA reported:
The Obama administration, joined by U.S. Jewish groups, called for the United Nations to dismiss Richard Falk, its rapporteur on Palestinian rights, after he posted an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog.
"I am deeply disturbed that once again U.N. Special Rapporteur Richard Falk has used his personal blog to publish abhorrent material," Joseph Torsella, the U.S. representative for management and reform to the United Nations, said in a statement on Friday. "His shameful and outrageous behavior is an embarrassment to the United Nations. Someone who publishes such vicious images has no place in the U.N. system."
Abraham H. Foxman, the National Director of the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) wrote a letter to Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights asking that Falk be removed. His letter stated in part,
Such an obvious demonstration of anti-Semitism cannot be overlooked, particularly when considered within the larger context of Mr. Falk’s clear and inappropriate politicization of his podium in the past. Mr. Falk has a long record of incendiary and blatantly biased criticism of Israel, including statements comparing Israeli defense measures to Nazi atrocities. In a 2008 BBC interview he defended his comparison of Israel treatment of Palestinians in Gaza as a “Holocaust.”
After all these complaints drenched Falk more than the cartoon dog did to Lady Justice, he posted the following apology to his blog,
Apology for Unintentionally Posting Anti-Semitic Cartoon in Qaddafi Arrest Warrant Blog
With apologies, I realize that the cartoon that originally appeared on my blog devoted to the arrest warrants for Qaddafi and two others issued by the ICC had strongly anti-semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me. I posted the cartoon to express my view that double standards pertained to the American and ICC approach to international criminal accountability. As soon as I was made aware of the anti-semitic content of the cartoon I removed it from my blog, although initially I denied such a posting because I did not realize that it was anti-semitic and was mistaken as to what was being referred to. 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. My interest and commitment has always been directed at finding a just and sustainable peace for both peoples, although I believe that this must be based on a belated recognition of Palestinian rights, and not on power relationships.
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. 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. This is both a sacred imperative of my idea of a spiritual life, but also an integral aspect of species survival on an increasingly crowded, overheated, and endangered planet.
Returning to the cartoon, I regret my carelessness, and apologize for any unintended hurt and outrage caused thereby. 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.
I guess that was an apology, though I am not sure what “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” has to do with anything.
On the other hand, if we are to “treat animals with as much respect as possible” I find that the cartoon was also disrespectful to dogs, so I’m not quite sure how that all fits in with his idea of a spiritual life.
Later the same day he posted the following on his blog,
A final attempt to clarify my posting of the cartoon
Because this unintentional posting of an anti-semitic cartoon has attracted such attention to my blog, and elicited a stream of venomous comments, I want to explain my mistake one last time. I do this without trying to excuse the carelessness involved, although I would point out that I removed the cartoon as soon as I became aware of its real content.
Even now I needed a magnifying glass to identify the anti-semitic character of the dog. My vision (at 80) is pretty good, but not good enough. It looked like a helmet to me, and the main visible symbol on the dog was the USA midriff covering. I found the cartoon through a Google image search on the page devoted to the International Criminal Court. Almost all the images there were about the Court or justice, and I assumed that this blindfolded goddess of justice was being led around by the USA. I am quite sure this cartoon would never have been allowed on the Google page if its true content had been realized, and it should be removed. Without a special effort, which admittedly I did not make, this true content is easy to overlook, and even when the initial objection to the cartoon was brought to my attention, and I looked at it, I did not appreciate the objectionable character of what was intended to be communicated.
So we should believe it was not his fault; blame should lie with his assumptions and his eyesight that were faulty. As he explained “this true content is easy to overlook”. That explains those people that are no calling for him to be fired, because it is so easy to overlook.
Maybe Falk isn’t as bad or as one-sided as he appears. He was expelled from Israel back in December of 2008 for comparing Israelis to Nazis as explained by Haaretz,
Professor Richard Falk, a United Nations envoy who once sparked controversy by comparing Israelis to Nazis, has been barred entry to Israel and was put on a plane bound out of the country early on Monday.
In March, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council appointed Falk, a Jewish American and professor emeritus at Princeton University, to a six-year term monitoring the human rights situation as UN Special Rapporteur in the Palestinian territories.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said in September that it would not allow Falk to enter the country, after the BBC quoted Falk as defending statements he made last year equating Israel's treatment of Palestinians with Nazi treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.
Of course the reasons behind his being expelled were not limited to equating Israel to the Nazis,
Israel has also complained that Falk's mandate as an investigator was confined to human rights violations by Israel toward Palestinians and did not encompass violations by Palestinians toward Israelis.
That was Israel’s point of view and I am sure they could be biased so let’s just look at what others have stated about him and his work.
Here is just part of the statement by the Delegation of the United States of America to the Human Rights Council 14th Session in Geneva, June 14, 2010,
The United States takes note of the report of the Special Rapporteur “on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories.” As we have relayed previously, we regret that the mandate of Special Rapporteur Falk extends only to reporting on Israel, and on many occasions we have urged this Council to adopt a balanced, objective, and constructive focus on the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We are not asking the Council to refrain from addressing Israel but rather ask that the human rights situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza be examined in the same way as the human rights situations in other countries. Beyond our concerns about the biased mandate that Special Rapporteur Falk inherited, we also remain concerned about the one-sided focus of his report.
They were “concerned about the one-sided focus of his report.” The delegation went on to state,
The report’s conclusions and recommendations are seriously flawed. The Special Rapporteur fails to adequately address the responsibility of Hamas in the lead up to the Gaza conflict, and indeed, seeks to minimize that responsibility. Falk also fails to address the real and serious abuses and violations of international law by Hamas in Gaza as it seeks to promote its radical agenda and entrench itself in power, including everything from unlawful killings to harassing NGOs, limiting their ability to provide humanitarian assistance.
Read that last paragraph again, where the Delegation mentions failing to “address the real and serious abuses and violations of international law by Hamas in Gaza.” Falk is fair and unbiased for sure.
Mr. Falk should do himself and the rest of the Middle East a favor, get some new stronger prescription glasses and go retire on some uninhabited island somewhere. Or, if he prefers, go retire in Gaza since they seem to like his kind of people.
There is one favor I would ask of him, before he moves into Gaza; I have a hat which I want him to wear. He should not worry about what’s on it, as he cannot see it anyway and I assume it’ll be just fine.