McCarthyism at the UN

Richard Falk is on the warpath. He wants the United Nations to launch an investigation into a well-respected NGO, which has had the temerity to expose him for his absurd and conspiratorial beliefs about Israel.

Falk, who is the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, wants the UN Human Rights Council to close down the Geneva-based UN Watch, which was established in 1993 to monitor the performance of the international body.

He blames UN Watch for damaging his credibility and shifting public attention away from his Israel-bashing agenda. The NGO is one of Falk’s biggest critics. It has regularly exposed his abuses and accuses him of “promoting anti-Semitism by blaming Jewish communities everywhere for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

In a statement, UN Watch says Falk’s attempt to silence his critics is a type of McCarthyism.

“We call on UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon to denounce Richard Falk’s McCarthy-style attempt to have rogue regimes conduct a retaliatory ‘investigation’ of UN Watch, as a punishment for successfully exposing his gross misconduct.”

Unfortunately, Falk is in good company at the UN. The Human Rights Council has been conducting a witch-hunt against Israel for years. In 2006, the Council – thanks to pressure from an Islamic organization – voted to make Israel a feature of every council session. Between 2006 and 2010, Israel was condemned in 32 resolutions, comprising almost half of all country-specific resolutions.

Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon, the EU, the US and Canada have all accused the Human Rights Council of focusing disproportionately on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Falk is relying on the Council’s innate anti-Israel bias in order to restrict dissent and political criticism. America’s envoy to the UN Human Rights Council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, says Falk’s attempt to investigate and shut down a UN-accredited NGO could “threaten the independent voice of civil society at the United Nations.”

What Falk is doing is unfair and disproportionate. It is also cowardly and hysterical.

But then again, Falk is hardly a man to be reasoned with. Incredibly, he endorses the conspiracy theory that the US government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks and recently blamed the Boston Marathon terrorist attack on “Tel Aviv” and “the American global domination project.”

He supports Hamas, exonerates Palestinian suicide bombers and accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza and practicing apartheid in Judea and Samaria. In July 2011, Falk posted a cartoon on his blog which depicted a bloodthirsty dog wearing a kippah. Most insidiously, he accuses the Jewish state of harboring “genocidal tendencies” and of planning a Palestinian “holocaust.”

Not surprisingly, his absurd comments have drawn criticism from all over the world. British prime minister David Cameron, for example, has expressed concern over Falk’s anti-Semitism. And Ban Ki-moon has described Falk’s 9/11 conspiracy theory as “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

What is particularly troubling is the fact that Falk is Jewish. This has given comfort to Israel’s enemies. When Israel protested over the appointment of Falk as Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Mohammad Abu-Koash, a Palestinian representative, said it was “ironic that Israel which claimed to be representing Jews everywhere was campaigning against a Jewish professor.”

Falk reminds me of another self-hating Jew, the Israeli-born jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. Both men subscribe to ludicrous anti-Israel and anti-US conspiracy theories. Both compare Israel with Nazi Germany. Both share the strange belief that the Jewish people have little or no claim to the Land of Israel. Both are adept at using the media to spread their pernicious views. Interestingly, both men have been criticized by the Palestinians. Atzmon’s views are so repellent that several anti-Zionists have publicly distanced themselves from him. Meanwhile, Falk has been accused by the Palestinian Authority of being “a partisan of Hamas.”

How Falk manages to be both Jewish and anti-Semitic is something of a mystery. Judging from statements on his blog, Falk actually sees himself as a biblical prophet who is destined to shine a light on the “bloody exploits of the ancient Israelites” (his words). His characterization of the Jewish people and modern-day Israel as “bloody” and barbaric is a serious issue of concern. His view not only exacerbates negative attitudes towards the Jewish state, it runs the risk of legitimizing anti-Semitism among people who should know better. He is, after all, quite influential. As well as being professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, he is the author (or co-author) of 20 books and the editor of many more.

It remains to be seen whether he has the capacity to persuade the Human Rights Council to strip UN Watch of its powers. Let us hope that common sense prevails and Falk’s McCarthyism is opposed by saner voices.