By Elliot Kaufman
Saturday, July 01, 2017
In the early days of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Princeton professor Richard Falk was one of Ayatollah Khomeini’s useful idiots. After meeting the future Iranian tyrant in Paris, Falk penned a New York Times op-ed praising him as an example for the rest of the third world to follow. Now, in 2017, Professor Falk has returned to praising the Ayatollah. “I believe one of the lasting legacies of Imam Khomeini was to give authoritative priority to the Palestinian struggle,” he told the Iranian state news agency Tasmin News last week, before going on to stress the importance of showing that “people of conscience believe that the Palestinian struggle is worth waging and can be won.”
What was Falk doing in the intervening years? Astonishingly, this Iranian sycophant, open supporter of “the Palestinian struggle,” and 9/11 truther was for six years the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) lead investigator of Israeli human-rights abuses in the Palestinian territories. (Israel is the only nation, of course, which has a permanent U.N. Special Rapporteur dedicated to investigating it.)
Falk was back in the news in March, after authoring a U.N. report accusing Israel of apartheid. Pressure from U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley caused the report to be withdrawn, in what amounted to a major embarrassment for the U.N. But what did the leaders of the world’s foremost intergovernmental organization expect? In assigning Falk and people like him to adjudicate Israel’s actions, they showed that the U.N. has stopped even trying to hide its anti-Israel bias. Falk is, after all, who he is: the type of academic anti-imperialist who cannot help but believe the best about third-world revolutionaries and the worst about advanced democracies.
Falk sports an almost unblemished record of such hysteria. In 1979, he could not see that Ayatollah Khomeini was a dangerous theocrat. “The depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false,” he wrote. “The news media have defamed him.” Gullible to the end, Falk mistook his dream for reality, explaining “Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third world country.” And what if the Ayatollah was lying to him about all this, from his perch in Paris? Perish the thought. “To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief,” Falk wrote.
By the end of 1979, Khomeini had made himself Supreme Leader and begun killing and arresting political opponents. Moreover, he had given crucial support to the students who raided the American embassy in Tehran, holding American hostages for 444 days.
Yet it is America that has long been the target of professor Falk’s ire. In 1973, he defended violent resisters of the Vietnam War, citing the Nuremberg trials as precedent. He claimed that Americans had “a right and perhaps a duty” to oppose the war by any means possible. He would again cite the trials of Nazi war criminals during the Iraq War, comparing the American “war of aggression” to “a Crime against Peace of the sort for which surviving German leaders were indicted, prosecuted and punished at the Nuremburg trials conducted shortly after the Second World War.”
Falk’s view of his own nation is so twisted that he believes America to have been involved in the 9/11 attacks. Between signing statements written by the group 9/11 Truth to writing the preface to one 9/11-conspiracist book and a whole chapter in another, Falk surely outed himself as a kook. In 2011, while working as the U.N. Special Rapporteur, he criticized the “eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials.” He subsequently insinuated that the “neoconservatives,” had been behind the attacks, explaining, “It is possibly true that especially the neoconservatives thought there was a situation in the country and in the world where something had to happen to wake up the American people. Whether they are innocent about the contention that they made that something happen or not, I don’t think we can answer definitively at this point.”
Unsurprisingly, Falk is equally fixated on the supposed crimes of the Jews. In a blog post about the Boston Marathon bombings — he seizes every opportunity he can get — he repeated the old canard that Israelis control American foreign policy and insist on war. “The war drums are beating at this moment in relation to both North Korea and Iran,” he wrote, “and as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.”
For those who refuse to see the meaning or history behind portraying a global power as “compliant” to the Jewish state, Falk goes further. He has vulgarly compared the Israeli government to the Nazis: “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.” And he once wrote an article entitled: “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust.”
You read that right: The man who for six years investigated Israel on behalf of the international community sees the Jews as the Nazis and the Palestinians as the Jews of Germany. The realization that Falk was probably appointed to investigate Israel not in spite of these views but because of them helps explain why the U.N. treats Israel the way it does.
Back in 2011, when he was still the sitting U.N. special rapporteur, Falk chose to write a blurb in praise of the anti-Semitic book The Wandering Who, by (ethnically Jewish) holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon. Atzmon writes in the book that “The history of Jewish persecution is a myth, and if there was any persecution the Jews brought it on themselves.” The book calls the credit crunch the “Zio-punch” and blames the media, which “failed to warn the American people of the enemy within.” Falk’s blurb, placed on the book’s front cover, calls the work “a transformative story told with unflinching integrity that all [especially Jews] who care about peace, as well as their own identity, should not only read, but reflect upon and discuss widely.”
With U.N. officials like that, the “Israeli apartheid,” and “ethnic cleansing” reports almost seem to write themselves.