U.S. urges U.N. sleuth resign over blog cartoon

Fri Jul 8, 2011 1:13pm GMT

* American academic Falk accused of bias against Israel

* Already apologised for running "anti-semitic" picture

* He a blight on the U.N. system, U.S. says

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, July 8 (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday it has called on the U.N. human rights investigator for the Palestinian territories to resign after he published a cartoon on his blog which he later withdrew as "anti-semitic".

The U.S. diplomatic mission said its ambassador to the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, Eileen Donahoe, had made the call in lodging a "strong protest" with the world body about the investigator, 80-year-old U.S. academic Richard Falk.

Falk, long a controversial figure, has himself apologised for running the cartoon showing a dog wearing a blue-and-white Israeli skullcap and a body-warmer marked USA chewing on human bones while urinating on a figure representing justice.

In her statement, Donahoe said she was repulsed by the cartoon and condemned "in the strongest terms" comments and postings on Falk's blog. "I am registering a strong protest with the U.N. on behalf of the United States," she added.

Falk's approach to his mandate from the U.N. Human Rights Council rights council -- which alone has the right to remove him but is controlled by countries critical of Israel -- was "one-sided and politicised", the U.S. envoy declared.

"We hope that he will resign, recognising that his continued status as a U.N. mandate holder is a blight on the U.N. system," Donahoe added.


The former Princeton University professor, himself a Jew, has been fiercely critical in his reporting to the council on Israeli behaviour in occupied Palestinian territories and of its blockade of Gaza, and opposes U.S support for Israel.

A personal blog posting on June 29 ran the cartoon, apparently originating from an Arabic website, along with a comment on the International Criminal Court's indictment of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

But on July 6 he ran an apology "for unintentionally posting an anti-semitic cartoon" whose symbolism he said he had earlier failed to notice. He had never intended "to demean Jews as a people" despite opposing Israeli policies, Falk added.

Falk, who now teaches at the University of California's Santa Barbara campus, was rebuked earlier this year by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for suggesting U.S. authorities may have been involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In June he dubbed Ban in another blog posting as "shameless" for calling on governments not to allow their ships to join a "freedom flotilla" to take supplies to Gaza. The flotilla has since been blocked by Greece.

Last year a similar flotilla was turned round after Israeli paratroopers landed on one of the vessels and nine pro-Palestinian protesters on board, eight of them Turkish citizens, were killed.

Falk, who has published many books on international law and relations, has held his U.N. post for four years but is barred by the Israeli government from entering the country or occupied territories under ITS control.

His blog can be seen at richardfalk.wordpress.com (Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Jon Hemming)

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