United (Nations) We Fall
By Adina Rosenthal
Anthony Weiner may have proved that social media can reveal the naked truth, but a far more stark reality has emerged from the personal blog of the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk. Earlier this month, he posted a cartoon on his personal blog depicting a dog on a leash wearing a kippah bearing the Star of David, bloodied by chewing on a pile of bones while urinating on his owner, Lady Justice. In response, both the United States and Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League, have called for U.N. Human High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, to condemn Falk, and demanded his resignation.
Though initially denying the cartoon’s anti-Semitic connotations, as Falk himself is Jewish, he eventually deleted the post and issued an apology, claiming he did not see the Jewish star on the small image, but adding the final caveat: “I am quite aware that many of the messages were motivated to discredit me due to my views of Israeli policies and behavior.”
However, this is not Falk’s first time around the questionable comments block. In his tenure as U.N. Special Rapporteur, Falk has been accused of conflating the personal with the professional, sympathizing with 9/11 conspiracy theories through his infamous blog (you be the judge), likening Israelis to Nazis as perpetrators of a Palestinian Holocaust, and flat-out accusing Israelis of ethnic cleansing. As ADL National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, correctly points out in his letter to U.N. High Commissioner Pillay, “Mr. Falk has a long record of incendiary and blatantly biased criticism of Israel, including statements comparing Israeli defense measures to Nazi atrocities…Such biased behavior and clear intolerance is fundamentally against the values and ideals a Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council should uphold.”
But will the U.N. heed Foxman’s advice and deal with Falk? Don’t count on it. Last week, Rupert Coleville, spokesman for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told The Jerusalem Post “that the matter had effectively been dealt with, since Falk had apologized for the cartoon, and although it was ‘clearly unfortunate and shouldn’t have been there,’ it was not the place of the OHCHR to comment.”
U.N. Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, however, disagreed with this assessment in a letter to the OHCHR, citing past precedent as evidence for such condemnation to be within the scope of the OHCHR’s responsibilities. Neuer concluded, “For the U.N. human rights system to be credible in the fight against racism, its own representatives must not be allowed to incite hatred and racial discrimination with impunity.”
Neuer makes an important point. Doesn’t the U.N. have the obligation to uphold its purported commitment to human rights and not turn a deaf ear to its representatives who tarnish this image?
Apparently not when it comes to Israel. The U.N. has a long history of singling out Israel for atrocities and ignoring actions committed against Israelis. Since its inception almost 70 years ago, the U.N. has passed well over 200 resolutions against Israel, more than any other state. Though it was rescinded in December 1991, on November 10, 1975 (the anniversary of Kristallnacht), the U.N. General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 declaring Zionism as tantamount to racism. To this day, Israel is blocked from serving on both the Security Council, unlike neighbors Syria and Lebanon, and the Human Rights Council, a post Libya held until its membership was suspended in March. Just last week, the U.N. condemned Israel for firing on Lebanese protestors, numbering 10,000, who attempted to breach the border in May, accusing the Jewish state of violating the 2006 cease-fire agreement that ended the six-week conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. In the report, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon stated, “I call on the Israel Defense Forces to refrain from responding with live fire in such situations, except where clearly required in immediate self-defense.”
Based on this ostensibly hypocritical track record regarding Israel versus the rest of the world, Falk’s actions and the U.N.’s response—inaction—seem to meet the status quo. For an organization that claims to be the paragon of human rights and freedoms around the world, the U.N. loses credibility due to its clear anti-Israel bias. United we stand, divided we fall; unless the U.N. gets its act together, the latter will hold true.