Part I -- Who is Richard Falk and What Has He Done?
Richard Falk is the present United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories. His job is to monitor the human rights situation in the territories, with particular reference to international law, and report back to both the U.N. General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and well qualified for his United Nations post.
Professor Falk was appointed in 2008 to a six-year term in his present position. That means he has been telling the unsettling truth about Israeli behavior for four years now, with another two to go. Repeatedly he has documented Israeli violations of international law and its relentless disregard for Palestinian human rights. For instance:
-- In his 2008 report Falk documented the "desperate plight of civilians in Gaza."
-- In his 2009 report Falk described Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip as a "war crime of the greatest magnitude."
-- In his 2010 report Falk documented Israel's array of apartheid policies.
-- In his 2011 report Falk documented Israeli policies in Jerusalem and labelled them "ethnic cleansing."
-- And finally, in this latest report for the year 2012, Falk has concentrated on two subjects:
First -- Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners which, he concludes, is so bad as to warrant investigation by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It should be noted that Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ. However, condemnation by this organization would, within the context of growing awareness of Zionist crimes, help further educate public opinion.
Second -- Falk documents the assistance given Israel's expansion of colonies on the Palestinian West Bank by a number of multinational corporations, including Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar Inc. This assistance may be profitable, but it is also manifestly illegal. The CEOs and board members of these companies stand in violation of international laws including provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Since no nation, nor the UN itself, seems ready to prosecute them, Professor Falk has recommended a boycott of the guilty firms "in an effort to take infractions of international law seriously."
Part II -- Reactions
In a sane world this work would make Richard Falk a universally acclaimed defender of justice. But ours is not a sane world. And so you get the following sort of responses from both Israel and its supporters:
Karaen Peretz, the spokeswomen for the Israeli Mission at the United Nations, found Professor Falk's latest report "grossly biased." This is a sort of response used by someone who cannot dispute the evidence and so must resort to attacking the character of the one presenting the evidence. Peretz also asserted that "Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow. While he spends pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas."
Actually, this is not true. Back in 2008, Falk requested that his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council be extended to cover infringements of human rights by Palestinian governments just so he would not seen as partisan. Subsequently, Mahmoud Abbas' pseudo Palestinian Authority called for Falk's resignation. In this job, you just can't win.
In any case, Falk's documenting of Israel's crimes puts the lie to Peretz's claim that Israel is "deeply committed to advancing human rights" and that documentation cannot be dismissed as a "sideshow." Relative to 64 years of ethnic cleansing, it is the militarily insignificant missiles out of Gaza that are the "sideshow." And, can we honestly assume that Ms Peretz's attitude toward Professor Falk would turn for the better if in this report he had mentioned Hamas "even once"?