UN's Richard Falk under fire for ‘anti-Semitic’ cartoon

Caricature seen in UN’s special rapporteur's blog post alleging that ICC arrest warrants issued against Gaddafi were politically motivated.

July 8, 2011 04:09
2 minute read.
A cartoon posted on Richard Falk's blog

Falk cartoon 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Richard Falk, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, has come under fire for posting what has been described as an “overtly anti-Semitic” cartoon on his blog.

In a post written last week, Falk posted a cartoon of a dog with “USA” written on his midriff and wearing a kippa, urinating on a depiction of justice while devouring the bloody bones of a skeleton.

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The cartoon was placed in a post alleging that the International Criminal Court arrest warrants issued against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi were politically motivated.

The UN Watch monitoring organization noticed the post and wrote a letter to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Navi Pillay, calling on her to condemn Falk for posting the “manifestly anti-Semitic” cartoon, adding that it incites “hatred against Jews as well as against Americans.”

OHCHR spokesman Rupert Coleville told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday 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 on a special rapporteur who are appointed by of the Human Rights Council.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer dismissed this claim, pointing to an incident in 2005 when the high commissioner at the time, Louise Arbour, strongly criticized an incumbent special rapporteur.


“This is a sham excuse,” Neuer said. “The OHCHR provides staff support for the special rapporteur and they work closely together. She [Pillay] can speak out about anybody is she so wishes.”

When made aware of the UN Watch complaint by a commentator, Falk called the claim a “complete lie.” He subsequently removed the cartoon from his blog, saying, “Maybe I do not understand the cartoon... I certainly didn’t realize that it could be viewed as anti-Semitic, and still do not realize.”

Falk later claimed to have thought the kippa on the dog (which bears a Star of David) was a helmet, and apologized for posting the cartoon, acknowledging that it was anti- Semitic.

Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman called on the UN Human Rights Council to dismiss Falk from his position, saying that such behavior “is fundamentally against the values and ideals a special rapporteur of the Human Rights Council should uphold.”

In his post on the arrest warrants against Gaddafi, Falk wrote that the motivation behind their timing seems “sinister,” and that the international community’s central argument for intervening in Libya, in order to protect civilians, was hypocritical.

“Why not Syria in the current regional setting?” he wrote. “And even more starkly, why not Gaza back in 2008-09 when it was being mercilessly attacked by Israel? The answers to such questions are blowin’ in the wind.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, harshly criticized Falk over the affair and said that Congress should withhold funding from the Human Rights Council until reforms are enacted.

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