The UN’s bad cop for Israel
If the UN Special Special Rapporteur were a joke, he’d be one made in very poor taste. Richard Falk just isn’t funny
Richard Falk is a one-off type. No other cop in the world polices a whole nation; or is duty-bound to bring the nation to book; or to blow the whistle before he even sets off on his beat. And what other cop is a foreign appointee, beholden to people looking to slap a criminal charge on one scapegoat nation?
That’s Richard Falk, the American, UN policeman for Israel. An old Princeton law professor, with facial features that Hitler and Goebbels liked to plaster around the Third Reich to orchestrate the oldest of hatreds, Falk was lately removed from the board of Human Rights Watch, the global NGO.
The step was a long time coming. With his record, Falk is not your policeman’s policeman. There was the cartoon he posted of a Jew in the guise of a slavering dog; his likening of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to Nazi methods; his cozy partisanship for the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza; his boycott-Israel advocacy; the oddball book he recommended, titled The wandering Who? and, more wayward than all else, his conspiratorial beliefs. How many Western law professors can there be who espouse the “US was behind 9/11” theory? It’s not a portrait you’d expect for a guardian of human rights.
Anyhow, so thought the HRW board, looking over Falk’s shoulder before telling him to go.
But poison for one body can nourish another. Members of the UN Human Rights Council, including the member for the US, receive and debate Falk’s indictments of Israel, and see in their appointed cop nothing to render him unfit for the job. So he gets to keep the grandiloquent title: ‘Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.’
A mouthful of a title, but broken up into chunky bites it yields the full story – the evolutionary beliefs and commitments that lawman Falk must bring to the job.
Bite one – ‘situation’ in the title cosmetically replaced the former ‘violation’ of human rights,’ but the old Rapporteur mission stands. No different to his predecessors, Falk is duty-bound to bring home a bagful of Israeli ‘crimes’. Not for our UN lawman the principle, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ he would wax lyrical upon from the lecture podium at Princeton.
Bite two – the human rights situation due to Palestinian acts falls outside Falk’s ambit. Indeed, he’s obligated to turn a blind eye. ‘What Palestinian crimes – I don’t see any?’ is virtually engraved on his badge of office. Why tell the Human Rights Council what Palestinians get up to? They want to hear about Israel breaking laws. Remember, they appointed Falk to find Israel guilty.
Hence the UN cop is duty-bound to look away from Palestine’s youth on the front lines. In Gaza City and Ramallah he must walk past street corner justice meted out to suspected informers; ignore weapon stores in classrooms and mosques; shut his ears to clerics exhorting mothers to let children be human bombs. No matter what Palestinians get up to, Falk’s job is to ‘see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil.’
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