There is no question who will be found wanting. That anyone would pay any heed to people who would characterize Richard Falk in this way is ludicrous, and -- to those who are less inclined than Richard to a sense of calm and patience -- infuriating. It's especially so for HRW, an organization which claims to be independent and progressive. Anyone who knows Richard -- and there are just too many whom he has taught and touched for this to go down any other way -- knows that it is he who should be proud, and HRW which should be ashamed. It is their credibility, which voices like Richard Falk's gave them, that has been undermined. It's their loss, not his.
We have all watched HRW's struggle to be fair. On balance, I think they've done good work and I've been a supporter. Given their donor base and their ties to the US elite, they are under enormous pressure. Nonetheless, given what is now the ever-more-blatant willingness of the US and Israel to do anything they want with impunity, American-based human-rights organizations like HRW are going to find it increasingly difficult to maintain their credibility unless they are willing to clearly and unequivocally denounce the outrageously illegal activities of the countries their donors are prone to identify with. They know that, until and unless they call for American and Israeli politicians in the dock at the ICC, their denunciations of African and Third World dictators will ring increasingly hollow. If they cannot stand up for a man who's been one of the outstanding voices of peace and human rights of our age, in the face of ludicrous charges from reactionary neocons who spend their lives promoting war, then there is little chance they will do anything other than avoid the hard judgments that are likely to be necessary in the face of the future actions by the world's worst aggressors.
I will certainly have nothing more to do with HRW unless they make some statement abjuring the UN Watch complaint, and assuring Richard Falk that he will be welcomed back once his UN appointment is over. I urge everyone to make their feelings known to HRW.
1 Neuer condemns Richard for "anti-Semitic" acts and remarks about eight times in the letter, which you can find here: http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/12/17/human-rights-watch-should-remove-antisemitic-u-n-official-richard-falk-from-its-board/. The letter makes a mistake, that's repeated elsewhere, identifying Falk as a member of the HRW "Board." He was, in fact, a member of the Santa Barbara City Committee, a part of what HRW calls its "global network of regional support committees."
It is a fool's errand to try to respond to any of the specifics of the letter. Richard is a target because he has been a fair and persuasive advocate of justice for Palestine and the Palestinian people. Period. The rest is hogwash. And everybody knows it.
2 His official title is "Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967."
3 The discussion of the HRW flap is in the comment section of this post on Falk's blog: http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/responding-to-the-unspeakable-killings-at-newtown-connecticut/ . You'll also see what I mean about Richard's calm and patient voice in response to the incessant Zionist trolling that's in play.