U.N. rapporteur apologizes for posting anti-Semitic cartoon

(JTA) — The United Nations Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on Palestinian rights apologized for re-posting an anti-Semitic cartoon on his personal blog.

The cartoon, posted by Richard Falk, depicts a dog wearing a shirt labeled "USA" and a yarmulke marked with a Star of David devouring a bloody human carcass. Lady Justice stands by blindfolded, holding the dog’s leash as it urinates on her foot.

In the apology posted July 6 on his blog, Falk said the cartoon “had strongly anti-semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me.”

“To be clear, I oppose any denigration of a people based on ethnicity, race, religion, stage of development, and believe in the human dignity of all people in their individual and collective identity,” Falk wrote. “Beyond this, if we are to have a sustainable human future we must also make peace with nature, and treat animals with as much respect as possible.”

The Geneva-based U.N. Watch, which is affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, had sent a letter to Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, urging her to condemn Falk’s action. U.N. Watch’s executive director, Hillel Neuer, wrote that the cartoon "is manifestly anti-Semitic and, before a worldwide Internet audience, incites hatred against Jews as well as against Americans."

While apologizing “for any unintended hurt and outrage caused thereby,” Falk also wrote that many of the criticisms of his action “were motivated to discredit me due to my views of Israeli policies and behavior.”

The cartoon was posted with a June 29 blog post by Falk accusing the International Criminal Court in The Hague of "double standards" for issuing an arrest warrant for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Falk, who is Jewish and an emeritus professor at Princeton University, assailed the "impunity accorded to European, American, and Israeli leaders."

In the comments section of his blog, Falk initially responded to criticism of the cartoon by writing that "Maybe I do not understand the cartoon, and if it offends in this way I have removed it from the blog. It may be in bad taste to an extent I had not earlier appreciated, but I certainly didn’t realize that it could be viewed as anti-Semitic, and still do not realize."

Falk has called Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians "a holocaust in the making."

Last year, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rebuked Falk for a blog post in which he questioned the notion that American government officials had no previous knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The American ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, responded to that incident by calling for Falk to be removed from his U.N. post.

NEXT STORY