Mon 15 Dec 2008
Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton, may be able to make Aliyah in Israel should he choose to exercise his right to return as a Jew, but he can't actually enter the country in his role as the UN's special human rights rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories. BBC says this about the deportation of one of the world's most respected experts in his field:
Mr Falk was stopped at Tel Aviv airport on Sunday and sent back to the United States on Monday morning.
An official accused him of following a distorted, anti-Israeli mandate.
"[He] does not try to advance human rights, but instead comes with his conclusions ready and those conclusions are of course extreme, methodic criticism of Israel and only of Israel," said foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
A spokeswoman for the interior ministry spokeswoman said the former Princeton University international law professor had been told he would be turned back if he flew to Israel.
The references to the Holocaust and to the Nazi policies were not meant to be literal comparisons but were intended to show that the policies being pursued, in Gaza in particular, had holocaustal implications if they were not changed. And the mind-set of holding an entire people responsible for opposition and resistance embodies a kind of collective punishment psychology that was very characteristic of the way the Nazis justified what they did to the Jewish people. But my intention was based on the feeling that you have to shout to be heard, and perhaps that was not the best way to make the argument. I would be quite prepared to abandon that terminology but not prepared to alter my concern about the character of the policies being pursued.
Falk's explanation for the UN's emphasis on the Israeli occupation is worth a read as well:
The Human Rights Council is often accused of being overly selective, too critical of Israel, too lenient with respect to a variety of Third World countries. There is no doubt that any political institution will establish priorities based on the concerns of its membership. From this perspective it's not surprising that a focus should be placed on Israel and the Palestinian plight. After all, the UN has a special responsibility for Palestine that goes back to its effort to partition the mandate for the territory in 1947. From the UN perspective this unconsummated effort to address the future of both Palestinians and Israelis is, in a sense, the greatest unresolved issue on the UN agenda. Beyond this, the prolonged Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is unprecedented in international experience and has produced immense Palestinian suffering. It should also be noted that the HRC has appointed special rapporteurs for other situations of severe human rights concern, including North Korea and Myanmar.