US, Jewish groups demand Falk resign over blog entry

UN special rapporteur to the Palestinians territories posted an offensive cartoon depicting a dog wearing a skullcap over pile of bones.

Falk cartoon 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Falk cartoon 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
NEW YORK – The United States joined a chorus of Jewish groups and lawmakers on Friday calling for a United Nations official who posted an offensive cartoon depicting a dog wearing a skullcap to resign.
US envoy to the UN Joseph M. Torsella said the posting of the cartoon on the blog of UN Special Rapporteur to the Palestinians Territories Richard Falk earlier this month was highly inappropriate.
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“I am deeply disturbed that once again UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk has used his personal blog to publish abhorrent material,” he said. “His shameful and outrageous behavior is an embarrassment to the United Nations. Someone who publishes such vicious images has no place in the UN system. Mr. Falk has yet again created a distasteful sideshow that distracts from the cause of human rights. We reiterate our call for him to step down immediately.”
UN Watch was the first to report on the posting of the cartoon, which shows a dog wearing a skullcap bearing the Star of David and standing with a bloodied mouth over a pile of bones while urinating on Lady Liberty.
Falk initially responded to complaints of the cartoon by saying he did not think it was offensive. Later, he removed the post and issued an apology to anyone whose feelings were hurt.
“With apologies, I realize that the cartoon that originally appeared on my blog devoted to the arrest warrants for [Libyan leader Muammar] Gaddafi and two others issued by the ICC had strongly anti-Semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me,” he wrote.
“I posted the cartoon to express my view that double standards pertained to the American and ICC approach to international criminal accountability. As soon as I was made aware of the anti- Semitic content of the cartoon I removed it from my blog... My intention has never been to demean in any way Jews as a people, despite my strong criticisms of Israeli policies, and some versions of Zionist support.”
Since the controversy began last week organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and lawmakers such as Republican Representative from Florida Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have insisted that Falk step down.
“This latest action compounds the long existing problem of Mr. Falk’s blatant biases and repugnant behavior,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Richard Stone and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein in a joint press release on Friday.
“His history of hateful provocations, including the spread of 9/11 conspiracy theories blaming the United States for self-inflicted terrorism, and comparison of Israelis to Nazis are evidence that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities consistent with the UN’s mission and standards.”
Meanwhile, UN Watch said Falk has adamantly refused to step down from his position despite repeated calls. UN Watch head Hillel Neuer said only UN rights chief Navi Pillay can remove Falk from office.
“The Geneva-centered UN human rights system reveres the high commissioner as the Catholic Church does the pope,” Neuer said. “If she reprimands Falk, the word will ripple throughout the system. He would be shamed within the diplomatic and human rights communities, and would eventually have to resign. I therefore trust that the US will register its protest not with the UN in abstract, but with Ms. Pillay’s office in particular.”