HAIFA, Israel – A controversial United Nations official renowned for his anti-semitism, praise of Ayatollah Khomenei and 9/11 conspiracies is leaving the world body, and the U.S. and Israel agree that's a good thing.
Richard Falk, the 83-year-old Princeton University professor and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, announced plans to leave the post, prompting an unusually harsh farewell from U.S Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.
"The United States welcomes Mr. Falk's departure, which is long overdue," Power said in a statement. "Falk's relentless anti-Israeli bias, his noxious and outrageous perpetuation of 9/11 conspiracy theories [and] his publication of bizarre and insulting material has tarnished the U.N.'s reputation and undermined the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council.”
The darling of the anti-Israel and pro-Hamas lobbies for many years, Falk has been viewed by the U.S., Britain, Canada, Israel and other UN members as deliberately misrepresenting the Israel-Palestine question in his senior role at the UN Human Rights Council, a role continually dogged by allegations of serial bias. Falk has long been at the forefront of those seeking to label Israel an “apartheid” state and has been repeatedly and publicly chastised by his own UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his one-sided appraisals of the Israel-Palestine issue.
Reflecting the view that the 47-member UNHRC has deliberately singled out Israel ahead of all other countries for what many perceive as unjustified criticism, his critics strongly contend that Falk has played a major role in the UN's demonization of the Jewish state. The controversial UN Human Rights Council currently includes several nations with dubious human rights records, including Algeria, China, Cuba, Indonesia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based organization whose mandate is to "monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own charter," offered FoxNews.com his own critique of Falk and the job he has held for the past six years.
“The Arab States created this mandate so it can only focus on Israel, so that if there is a barrage of rockets against Israel, or a terrorist bombing or a stabbing and Israel responds, the mandate holder will only speak about Israel’s action, devoid of any context, because he says he is obliged only to look at Israel," Neuer said. "The very terms of this permanent investigation are fundamentally unjust, a violation of due process, and a classic case of selectivity, politicization and discrimination against Israel.”
Neuer, however, believes Falk took his one-sided role to a new level and was unashamedly a torch bearer for the internationally designated Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization.
“Richard Falk embraced this biased mandate and brought it to new levels of depravity because of his avid support for the Hamas terrorist group, something that has been under-reported,” Neuer stated, adding that Falk has been unpopular among the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ bitter rivals.
On Monday, Neuer spoke at the UN Human Rights Council and was repeatedly interrupted by representatives of the anti-Israel bloc as he presented the council with damning evidence about Falk contained in a cable released by WikiLeaks, dated February 16, 2010. In the cable, senior Palestinian Authority official Imad Zuhairi was described by Michael Posner, director of Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) in the State Department, as being “visibly upset by Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT Richard Falk's reference to Hamas in his draft report... Zuhairi argued that he had too often corrected Falk's many errors and that this latest misguided effort by Falk had gone too far.”
Posner’s 2010 cable continued, “Zuhairi [of the Palestinian Authority] also said he wished Falk would drop his repeated suggestions that Israel's actions in the OPT be equated with the Holocaust.”
Falk has courted controversy for many years. His admiration of Ayatollah Khomenei, leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, led him in 1979 to state that “The depiction of him [Khomenei] as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.” He later admitted he was wrong.
Falk accused the George W. Bush administration of “official complicity” in the 9/11 attacks and was also quick to lay the blame for the Boston marathon bombing at America’s close relationship with Israel, a charge that prompted Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird to state, “Once again, United Nations official Richard Falk has spewed more mean-spirited, anti-Semitic rhetoric, this time blaming the attacks in Boston on President Obama and the State of Israel. The United Nations should be ashamed to even be associated with such an individual.”
If his many detractors think they have finally seen the back of Richard Falk they might just have to think again. Falk's wife, Hilal Elver, who collaborates on papers with him, is reportedly the front-runner among three candidates to be appointed UN "Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.” This, despite nagging questions about her suitability for the role, in particularly that she reportedly only speaks Turkish and allegedly made numerous errors in her application form for the UN job, including answering “No” to the question, “Do you satisfy the job’s conflict of interest rules?”
Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist, who can be followed on Twitter @paul_ alster and at www.paulalster.com