Op-Ed: Richard Falk, The UN's Bad Cop for Israel
Steve Apfel, South AfricaThe writer is a prolific author of novels and non-fiction, essayist and...
Richard Falk is a one-off type. No other cop in the world polices a whole nation; or is duty-bound to bring the nation to book; or to blow the whistle before he even sets off on his beat. And what other cop is a foreign appointee, beholden to people looking to slap a criminal charge on one scapegoat nation?
That’s Richard Falk, the American, UN policeman for Israel. A former Princeton law professor, with facial features that Hitler and Goebbels liked to plaster around the Third Reich to orchestrate the oldest of hatreds, Falk was lately removed from the board of Human Rights Watch, the global NGO.
The step was a long time coming. With his record Falk is not your policeman’s policeman. There was the cartoon he posted of a Jew in the guise of a slavering dog; his likening of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Nazi methods; his cozy partisanship for the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza; his boycott-Israel advocacy; the oddball book he recommended, titled "The Wandering Who?" and, more wayward than all else, his conspiratorial beliefs. How many Western law professors can there be who espouse the “US was behind 9/11” theory? It’s not a portrait you’d expect for a guardian of human rights. Anyhow, so thought the HRW board, looking over Falk’s shoulder before telling him to go.
A mouthful of a title, but broken up into chunky bites it yields the full story – the evolutionary beliefs and commitments that lawman Falk must bring to the job.
Bite one – ‘situation’ in the title cosmetically replaced the former ‘violation’ of human rights,’ but the old Rapporteur mission stands. No different to his predecessors, Falk is duty-bound to bring home a bagful of Israeli crimes. Not for our UN lawman the principle, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ he would deliver from the lecture podium at Princeton.
Bite two – the human rights situation, when due to Palestinian acts, falls outside Falk’s ambit. Indeed, he’s obligated to turn a blind eye. ‘What Palestinian crimes – I don’t see any?’ is virtually engraved on his badge of office. Why tell the Human Rights Council what Palestinians get up to? They want to hear about Israel breaking laws. Remember, they appointed Falk to find Israel guilty.
Hence the UN cop is duty-bound to look away from Palestine’s youth on the front lines. In Gaza City and Ramallah he must walk past street corner justice meted out to suspected informers; ignore weapon stores in classrooms and mosques; shut his ears to clerics exhorting mothers to let children be human bombs. No matter what Palestinians get up to, Falk’s job is to ‘see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil.’
Bite three: Falk’s job title has more legal flaws than a UN resolution. No law provides for Palestinian territories, which in any case meets a problem of logic. In 1967the Palestinians were still a year away from being born. Egypt and Jordan, which lost the territories in their 1967 defeat, could make a song and dance – a token one – but not Palestinians. Falk’s title anticipates a settlement between two parties, of which Israel, the holder certainly of the ‘West Bank,’ is one. His title with ‘Palestinian territories’ is more than premature, it’s presumptuous. What entitled Falk to remove Israel from the equation?
All in all the UN cop’s title is a mine of disinformation: historically empty, legally flawed, overtly anti-Israel.
What qualified him for the cop job? What does it mean to be a rapporteur for the Human Rights Council? Looking into it you’d find that a rapporteur is a kind of honorary person. And he seems to be a free, not to say loose, canon. Falk does not represent the Council head, nor is he a Council employee. Member states appointed him, and he reports directly to them.
They are supposed to select the rapporteur on six criteria: (a) expertise; (b) experience in the field of law and human rights; (c) independence; (d) impartiality; (e) personal integrity; (f) objectivity. Because of Falk, how diligently members apply the criteria is no longer a question.
In going about his work of digging up the dirt on Israel, Falk could not possibly be independent of UN Council members – chiefly the Arab bloc – that appointed him. Nor, by any stretch of meaning, could he be impartial. To begin with, Council members would have to select Falk from candidates short-listed by ideology. Before any other quality, the rapporteur would have to be anti-Israel. Why else would he take on a job that obligated him to find one party – Israel – guilty and the Palestinians blameless? Why would he be willing to turn a blind eye to Palestinian-on-Palestinian abuse and violence? By his own, extra-legal, title he must be ideologically-driven.
So the job designation tells all, fairly yelling at Falk not to be objective or impartial. Another thing, why would Falk volunteer his expensive time? A rapporteur is not paid. A man who is prepared to work for nothing would have to be driven by beliefs – articles of faith, ideology.
All things considered, how is it possible for the UN cop to conduct himself with integrity? And there are still his methods and sources. Where would Falk get his information on ‘Settler violence?’ Or on ‘Detention and imprisonment?’ He’s fed by the UN agency UNWRA, effectively a grand employment agency for Palestinians; and by NGO entities whose flow of cash would dry up without their continuous supply of Israeli ‘crimes.’
So, when Falk throws the book at Israel it’s ideology at work, not the international law he taught at Princeton.