The United Nations’ human rights expert, who probes Israel’s conduct towards Palestinian Authority Arabs, on Tuesday rejected calls to step down, claiming his opponents were trying to silence his criticism of the Jewish state by labelling him as an anti-Semitic.
Falk, an 82-year-old American who is an emeritus law professor at Princeton University, has been the UN Human Rights Council’s monitor for the “Palestinian territories” since 2008.
He rejected claims of anti-Semitism, saying they were “hurtful” and “completely malicious”, given that he is Jewish himself.
“It makes it appear as if criticizing Israel is tantamount to what everybody agrees to be objectionable, which is anti-Semitism. I’m not willing to be intimidated in this way,” he said, according to AFP.
“The attack on the messenger is a way of diverting attention from the message,” said Falk.
Falk has repeatedly locked horns with Israel, the United States, Canada and some human rights groups for positions including labeling Israel’s 2008 counter terror offensive in Gaza a war crime and urging a boycott of companies helping Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria.
He has compared Israelis to Nazis and criticized Israel for keeping Islamic Jihad terrorist Khader Adnan in custody, even after a video of him pleading for suicide bombers to “carry the next explosive belt” was exposed.
Falk responded by criticizing the Jewish State and condemning the procedure of administrative detention, a procedure that also is used by the United States. He also castigated Israel for lack of compassion for the Islamic Jihad spokesman who launched a hunger strike in order to pressure Israel to release him.
Washington has said he should quit his UN role, which like other rights monitors at the world body he holds on an unpaid, voluntary basis.
Falk has also come under fire for his anti-Israel bias from UN Watch, a lobby group affiliated with the American Jewish Committee.
On Monday, Falk publicly called on the UN to investigate and potentially expel the watchdog organization, after it mobilized world leaders to condemn his comments blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”
In his annual report, Falk accuses UN Watch with “demeaning” and “defaming” his character, damaging the “credibility,” “effectiveness,” and “substantive intention” of his mandate, all of which “diverts attention from the message” and “shifts public interest away.”
In April, Canada asked the rights council for Falk’s departure after UN Watch highlighted the comments he made about the Boston bombings.
Falk said his remarks were “spun” by opponents, that he had condemned the Boston attack as “terrorist criminality”, and that his goal was to examine the roots of antipathy towards U.S. policies.
“I’ve criticized the U.S. frequently, and I don’t feel I’m anti-American,” he said, according to AFP.
“Why do I keep getting into trouble? It’s because of my role in trying to speak honestly about the situation that Palestinians are facing under this condition of prolonged occupation,” claimed Falk.
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