US, others protest as wife of controversial UN official Richard Falk named to new post

It didn't take long for the United Nations to fill the anti-Israel role that controversial human rights investigator Richard Falk played -- as he left his post earlier this month, his wife and co-author on numerous pro-Palestinian papers was named to a separate position by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The perfectly timed switcheroo has the Obama administration and others fuming. Falk was notorious in his role as the point person for the Palestinian territories, known for his anti-Israel remarks and association with the 9/11 truther crowd -- his wife, Hilal Elver, carries a similar reputation.

A statement from the U.S. Mission in Geneva warned that the appointment, to be the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, could "reflect negatively" on the council. The statement noted "several of Ms. Elver's previous publications include biased and inflammatory views regarding the United States and the state of Israel."

Further, the Obama administration said her "lack of relevant experience" in the area of food "raises questions about her readiness" for a post dedicated to studying access to food.

But it is her public statements and writings that have caused the most concern. UN Watch, a United Nations watchdog group, repeatedly objected to the appointment, including in a recent letter to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power.

"Decisions like this threaten to turn the UN into a joke," UN Watch director Hillel Neuer said in a statement. "Falk was an open admirer of 9/11 conspiracy theorists and an apologist for terror groups whose term was finally up, so now the UN installed his closest professional collaborator -- his wife."

A 2007 article by Elver and Falk compared the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories to genocide. She also has repeatedly warned about the "Jewish lobby," claiming it has been "manipulating American politics" to ensure support for Israel.

Further, in December she presented a paper on what she called "water apartheid," focusing on Israel's alleged control over water to deprive Palestinians.

Like her husband, Elver has associated herself with 9/11 conspiracy theorists. She was listed in David Ray Griffin's "The New Pearl Harbor," which suggests the George W. Bush administration was complicit in the 2001 terror attacks, as having helped on the project.

UN Watch detailed all these examples in its May 5 letter to Power, warning that her looming appointment would "undermine the interests of the United States."

Attempts to reach Elver for comment were not successful.

Elver is a research professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, for a climate change project. She holds a law degree and two doctoral degrees, and has taught at numerous institutions.

Her application for the U.N. post -- which UN Watch mocked for its numerous spelling errors -- cited that background, as well as her experience in human rights research. "I have acquired competence in human rights law through teaching, conducting academic research and working for the Turkish government" as a legal adviser, she wrote, adding that she also worked with the Intellectual Forum of the UN Least Developed Countries.

The Obama administration, while voicing concerns with her appointment, said the U.S. nevertheless hopes she uses it to "take a constructive approach to addressing the complex challenges of global food security and nutrition."

The administration, and others, had rejoiced when it came time for Falk to leave after a six-year term in his position.

Power, representing the U.S., put out a statement blasting Falk earlier this year for his "relentless anti-Israeli bias" and "noxious" perpetuation of 9/11 conspiracy theories, calling his departure "long overdue."

But while the U.N. already has appointed his wife to a separate position, Falk's replacement in the Palestinian investigator role -- Makarim Wibisono -- also has been highly critical of Israel, suggesting there may be little change of pace in that post.