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Former UN official charged with anti-Semitism, now California academic, takes on Israel in Gaza

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March 21, 2014: Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on occupied Palestine, addresses a news conference at the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva. (Reuters)

Richard Falk, the notorious former United Nations human rights official who was widely castigated for his anti-Semitic statements and aggressively anti-Israeli stance before finally leaving office in May, is at it again.

Falk, formerly the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of the Palestinian people, is orchestrating a new manifesto accusing Israel of making war against “the people of Gaza as a whole,” calling on the U.N and “in particular the United States of America” to hold Israeli political leaders and military commanders accountable for war crimes, and demanding that the U.N. Security Council refer the entire situation in Palestine to the International Criminal Court.

The manifesto is signed by Falk, who is now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and 124 other legal academics around the world, including a handful in the U.S. The most prominent signatory aside from Falk is John Dugard, a South African legal scholar who was also widely condemned for anti-Semitic findings as the U.N.’s human rights special rapporteur on Palestine — until Falk took his place.

The “Joint Declaration by International Law Experts on Israel’s Gaza Offensive” is currently posted on Falk’s personal blog and is spreading through the left-wing blogosphere.

Falk adds that he and his fellow signatories welcome additional signatures that can be sent to me in the comments section, with affiliation noted for identification, and names will be periodically added to the text.”

Falk’s latest eruption is “par for the course,” observes Brett Schaefer, a U.N. expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “This is what he did at the U.N. human rights council and it’s unsurprising that he’s doing it again.”

“Richard Falk has a well-deserved reputation for anti-Semitism and bias against Israel that he advanced through his six years at the human rights council and it is no surprise that he would again be attacking Israel in the current circumstances” of Israel’s Gaza offensive.

What is more surprising, perhaps, is the arc of Falk’s career alongside that of his wife, Hilal Elver, as they have shuttled in and out of UC Santa Barbara into stints as U.N. human rights council rapporteurs — with roughly equivalent complaints about their anti-Semitic and often anti-American views — as well as other continuing U.N. ties.

 As Falk stepped down at the end of six years — after opining, among other things, that the Boston Marathon bombings were the result of the “American global domination project” — Elver stepped up, as the newly-appointed U.N. human rights council special rapporteur on the right to food -- even though she had no experience related to the role. She is an environmental lawyer and at one point was director of women’s studies in the office of Turkey’s Prime Minister.

What she did have, as the Obama administration noted at the time, was a published track record of “biased and inflammatory views regarding the United States and the state of Israel.” At times, she and Falk have co-signed their work. Her views, the U.S. mission to Geneva noted, “run counter to the dispassionate professionalism central to the work of a Special Rapporteur.”

The Administration’s concerns ended, however, with a wan hope that she would take a “constructive approach” to the new job. Whether she has done that is hard to tell: her official U.N. website lists no new activities or country visits since Elver, a Turkish-born naturalized American citizen, took office.

Aside from her U.N. job, however, both Elver and Falk maintain an important presence at UC Santa Barbara, as co-directors of a nebulous project on “Global Climate Change, Human Security and Democracy,” a project launched in 2010 while Falk was drawing widespread criticism for his vocal special rapporteur antics.

The climate change program is nestled inside the university’s Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, created in 2005.

The project website is officially hosted by the Regents of the University of California, but funding comes, the website notes, from “private sources.” Mark Juergensmeyer, director of the Orfalea Center, notes that while the Elver-Falk project is “externally” funded, both are among scholars “for whom we provide affiliation and administrative support for their projects.”

Funding for the project according to the website comes from the Moulay Hicham Foundation for Social Science Research on the Middle East and North Africa, a charitable organization directed by Prince Mouley Hicham, a cousin of the King of Morocco.

Members of the project’s advisory board on the website include not only Prince Hicham but also Rajendara Pachauri, chair of the controversial, U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Lakdhar Brahami, until recently U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for the crisis in Syria.

Questions to Falk from Fox News about the project, his wife’s role in it, the role of its advisory council and the project’s cost went unanswered.

Falk is also linked to Orfalea and the U.N. in another way: as director of a project entitled Global Futures: The Transnational World of 2030, jointly sponsored by Orfalea and the Tokyo-based United Nations University.

Its aim is apparently to consider “the local and global character of such challenges as intervention, nationalism, gender equality, climate change, and scarcity of water and other natural resources.”

“Professor Falk’s and Professor Elver's roles with the U.N. Human Rights Council,” Juergensmeyer says, “are not related in any way to these two projects or to their positions as Research Scholars and Fellows in our Center.”

Nonetheless, the center linked them itself as it hailed Elver’s ascension to her new U.N. role earlier this month in an official press release.

George Russell is editor-at-large of Fox News and can be found on Twitter:@GeorgeRussell or on Facebook.com/George Russell