On Tuesday, December 18th, Human Rights Watch announced that it had just expelled Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights from one of its committees, where he helped played a key role in the organization’s global work. Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a volatile situation in a country or a specific human rights theme.
Falk, who has consistently espoused the notion that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is tantamount to the actions of the Nazis, has also promulgated 9/11 conspiracy theories and suggested that the US government may have had foreknowledge of the attacks. As a result, he has been widely condemned by such international figures as British Prime Minister David Cameron, US Ambassador Susan Rice, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Among a group of prominent citizens, Falk was an active member of Human Rights Watch’s prestigious Santa Barbara, California committee, where he was in the forefront of crafting the organization’s global defense of human rights.
Last Thursday, Falk presented his “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories since 1967” to the UN General Assembly and called on member nations to boycott companies that conduct business with Israel. After submitting his report, Falk said in a statement: “My main recommendation is that the businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards.” Having highlighted the activities of companies he said are involved in the establishment and maintenance of the Israeli settlements, Falk’s report cited Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and Motorola in the United States; Ahava, Elbit Systems and Mehadrin of Israel; and the Volvo Group and Assa Abloy of Sweden, along with Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom, the Dexia Group of Belgium, the Riwal Holding Group of the Netherlands and Cemex of Mexico.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), in his role as special rapporteur, Falk has made it his mission to single out Israel as a “human rights violator” while using the imprimatur of the United Nations to advance a tendentious agenda fueled by anti-Israel animus that erodes the credibility of the United Nations. On the eve of the session devoted to Falk’s report, Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to distance his office from the report, saying its boycott call is one of the hallmarks of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to pressure companies doing business with Israel.
“While the issue of human rights violations experienced by Palestinians is a legitimate area of concern and inquiry, Richard Falk has repeatedly abused his position as special rapporteur to unleash unrestrained hatred and disdain for Israel,” said Foxman in a letter to Ban. He added that, “This malevolence permeates his official reports and, at times, his personal statements, which include the use of anti-Semitic imagery and comparisons of Israeli actions to those of the Nazis. The United Nations should not be complicit in this wholly unjustified effort to single out Israel.”
Falk, who is Jewish, wrote on his blog that he had been asked to resign by the Human Rights Watch but said that he believed it was “because of my connection with the UN, which is contrary to HRW policy.” The organization’s website has been updated to remove Falk’s name from the committee. It has been reported that UN Watch, an organization that scrupulously monitors anti-Israel bias at the international body, was responsible for Falk’s dismissal from the HRW committee as it had sent an open letter to the NGO expressing its grave concern over Falk’s consistently anti-Israel positions.
“We commend Human Rights Watch and its director Kenneth Roth for doing the right thing, and finally removing this enemy of human rights from their important organization,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “A man who supports the Hamas terrorist organization, and who was just condemned by the British Foreign Office for his cover endorsement of a virulently anti-Semitic book, has no place in an organization dedicated to human rights,” continued Neuer. Following Falk’s expulsion from HRW, Neuer has called on US Ambassador Susan Rice to now remove Falk from his position as the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent monitor tasked with investigating “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law.”
On other related matters, UN Watch said it will be protesting the appointment of Alfred De Zayas by the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council as an “independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.” The watchdog group says that De Zayas’ books on World War II portray Germans as victims and the Allies as perpetrators of “genocide.” According the UN Watch’s web site, “De Zayas is a hero to Holocaust deniers, and is featured on many of their websites including the “Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust”. He calls for Israel to be expelled from the UN, and defends the murderous Iranian regime.”
As a graduate of Harvard Law School, De Zayas spent 22 years with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights but UN Watch has exposed what they believe is his pro-Nazi stance. They point to the fact that the prominent theme in De Zayas’ books is that the German people had no knowledge of the fact that their Jewish compatriots were being murdered by the Nazi war machine during World War II.
In an article that appeared in the New York Daily News in September of this year, Hillel Neuer expounded on De Zayas’ background by saying, “In 1996, when historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen published the book entitled, “Hitler’s Willing Executioners,” documenting the complicity of the broader German population during the Holocaust years, De Zayas responded that Germans could not have been anti-Semites because there were “many German Jews in Bismarck’s circle,” and “many mixed marriages.” Rather, he said, it was Goldhagen who was “racist.” And, he argued, just as Americans never assumed their government would kill the Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps, Germans had no reason to imagine the Nazis would do such things to Jews. De Zayas pressed Germans in Canada to prosecute Goldhagen’s book distributors on charges of “hate literature,” and advised them on how to win at a UN human rights tribunal for which he then worked.”