Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

PLO deletes tweet defending Falk; it urged UN to fire him, Wikileaks reveals

Update: hours after this article was published, the PLO deleted their specious tweet; luckily we kept the screenshot below.

PLO defending Falk

Hypocrisy pervades the UN, and nowhere more than in the vast expanse separating the public positions and private actions of delegates dealing with the Arab-Israel conflict.

Today’s rush by the PLO’s Negotiation Affairs Division to defend UN official Richard Falk provides a classic example.

This morning it tweeted: “Canadian FM Baird says that UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk makes ‘anti-Semitic’ statements. Does Mr. Baird know that Mr. Falk is a Jew?”

Yet only three years ago it was the PLO itself which, as Wikileaks reveals, secretly asked the U.S. government for help in firing Falk. The “visibly upset” PLO delegate objected not only to Falk’s support for Hamas, but also to his penchant for Holocaust comparisons.

And there is even more hypocrisy concerning today’s PLO tweet for Falk.

Put aside the fact that Canada was perfectly justified in calling for Falk to be fired over his latest remarks calling Israel “genocidal,” and in accusing Falk of anti-Semitism.

By accusing Israel of acting like Nazi Germany, as Falk has done repeatedly, he stigmatizes the Jewish state as pure evil, with the necessary implication that it should be expunged from the face of the earth. And Falk explicitly attributes the pure evil to Jews worldwide—“the organized Jewish community”—whom he indicts for what he describes as Israel’s Nazi-like crimes.

Worthy of note is that while this PLO division sought to mock Canada’s condemnation of Falk’s anti-Semitism, Ramallah’s lawyers notably kept silent when the UK Foreign Office—from whom it receives at least 1 million British pounds in funding—likewise condemned Richard Falk for anti-Semitism, on three separate occasions

But let us go straight to the source of the PLO’s true feelings about Richard Falk.

In a secret U.S. diplomatic cable from February 2010, as revealed by Wikileaks, we learn about Palestinian Deputy Permanent Representative Imad Zuhairi’s Geneva conversation with his U.S. diplomatic counterpart:

[O]n February 16, in a separate conversation with Charge and PolCouns, PA DPR Zuhairi was visibly upset by Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the OPT Richard Falk’s reference to Hamas in his draft report. In para 8, Falk states that UNGA resolution 64/10 calls on Hamas – vice the PA – to undertake investigations. Zuhairi argued that he had too often corrected Falk’s many errors and that this latest misguided effort by Falk had gone too far.

The PLO, which today holds itself out as a defender of Falk, then put forward a plan of action to stymie Falk, and detailed the reasons:

Zuhairi said he might use the February 18 HRC organizational meeting to seek to block Falk’s report from being presented to the HRC on the grounds that Falk overstepped his mandate, had addressed issues outside his brief, and had failed to appropriately recognize a UNGA resolution (not to mention the legitimate authority of the PA).

In fact, that is exactly what happened: amazingly, in 2010, as was reported by UN Watch here, the Palestinians actually blocked Richard Falk’s report for several months.

The PLO-U.S. meeting in Geneva was on February 16, 2010. Two days later, the PLO delegate went ahead and told the UN to delay Falk’s report, giving this interesting reason:

Taking into account the number of reports related to the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories under agenda item 7, in order to treat them with the most appropriate manner, I request to postpone the report of Professor Richard Falk to be considered during the 14th session of the HRC.

That’s right: the Palestinians were complaining that there were just too many reports on Israel!

(Precisely what the truth-telling UN interpreter said last month in her famous remarks caught over the hot mic: “C’est un peu trop, non?“)

And so the U.N. duly and obeisantly postponed Falk’s report and the surrounding debate for several months—all in deference to the PLO’s political agenda.

None of this was lost on Hamas, whom Falk has praises as anti-Nazi freedom fighters. The Islamist terrorist group quickly went to bat for their beloved Richard Falk.

But let’s go back to the 2010 Palestinian meeting with the Americans. Interestingly, it was the PA itself that objected to Falk’s use of Nazi metaphors:

Zuhairi also said he wished Falk would drop his repeated suggestions that Israel’s actions in the OPT be equated with the Holocaust. Such language has allowed Israel to justify its refusal to allow Falk to visit, and has limited his usefulness as a rapporteur.

And then the PLO revealed that it had actually spoken with Richard Falk and called on him to go:

In light of the reference to Hamas, Zuhairi said he had called Falk personally and asked him to step down, something Falk angrily rejected.

Because Falk wouldn’t go, however, the Palestinians asked America for help:

Zuhairi sought our advice on how best to approach the issue…

In the upside down world of the UN, here is how the February 2010 episode ended. It was America that rejected the PLO’s request to fire Richard Falk:

Charge and PolCouns, while acknowledging the problem of recognizing Hamas, told Zuhairi that the U.S. defended the independence of the special procedures mandate holders and that we objected to state’s use of the code of conduct as a means to muzzle rapporteurs.

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."