Sir, — The latest condemnation of Israel by Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council's "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," requires some context ("UN: Israel violated Geneva Conventions," October 25).
First, Falk's UN title is deliberately deceptive. The actual terms of his mandate do not address the overall "situation of human rights" in the area concerned. Rather, the Arab-controlled council decided in 1993 to investigate only "Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law." That means Hamas brutality against Israelis and Palestinians alike is entirely excluded.
Falk's is the only UN mandate that is inherently one-sided, presumptive of guilt and immune from regular review. What kind of person would accept such a biased mandate?
One with the moral compass to argue, as Falk did in 2002, that suicide bombings were the "only means still available by which to inflict sufficient harm on Israel so that the (Palestinian) struggle could go on." One with the political judgment to write, in a 1979 New York Times op-ed, that Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution "may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country." One with the good sense to support — as Falk has done openly and repeatedly — conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In March 2008, he told a radio interviewer that there are "a lot of grounds for suspicion" that the attacks were an inside job. In June, he called for an investigation into whether "some sort of controlled explosion from within" destroyed the Twin Towers. Finally, Falk praised "the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence" of conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin, to whose 2006 book, 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Falk contributed a chapter.
How tragic that in the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN's representative figures have gone from luminaries like René Cassin and Eleanor Roosevelt to loonies like Richard Falk.