The Washington Post Soft-Pedals Discredited Anti-Israel U.N. Report

A Washington Post article omitted critical information about an anti-Israel UN report authored by a notorious detractor of Israel who is also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. In fact, the UN report was withdrawn a mere 48 hours after The Post’s piece was published.

The Post dispatch, “Is Israel an ‘apartheid state? This U.N. report says yes,” (March 16 online) uncritically repeated claims made on March 15, 2017, by the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. The Commission—located in Beirut, Lebanon—released an executive summary of a report that slandered Israel as an apartheid state. The Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash echoed this slander when she wrote in her uncritical lede: “If being an apartheid state means committing inhumane acts, systemic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, then Israel is guilty, a United Nations panel has determined in a new report.” However, Eglash neglected to provide pertinent information about one of the report’s authors, Richard Falk.

Richard Falk, a former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, has a long history of issuing biased, one-sided U.N. reports against the Jewish state. Indeed, as The New York Times has noted, Falk has also “compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi atrocities and has called for more serious examination of the conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11 [2001 terrorist] attacks …. In his capacity as a United Nations investigator, Mr. Falk issued a statement this month describing Israel’s embargo on Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas [the terrorist Islamic Resistance Movement], as a crime against humanity, while making only cursory reference to Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers. Israeli officials expressed outrage (“U.N. Rights Investigator Expelled by Israel,” December 16, 2009).

Falk’s actions and history of outrageous statements have led to condemnations, from the U.K. government, among others. Hillel Neuer, the Executive Director of U.N. Watch, a non-profit organization that seeks to ensure the multilateral body’s compliance with its own charter, noted several of these instances in a recent Jerusalem Post Op-Ed. In 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron “strongly condemned” Falk for publishing an antisemitic cartoon showing a dog “wearing a Jewish head-covering man urinating on a depiction of justice, and devouring a bloody skeleton.” In 2012, the U.K. Foreign Office condemned Falk for providing a cover endorsement for an antisemitic tract called “The Wandering Who” that compared Jews to Nazis. The author of that work, Gilad Atzmon, has recommended the writings of Holocaust denier David Irving.

Indeed, numerous other examples exist (some of which can be found here) that illustrate that Falk is far from the impartial individual that The Washington Post’s article suggests him to be.

The report itself was removed at the request of the U.N’s own Secretary-General a mere 48 hours after Eglash’s article was published. The head of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Rima Khalaf, was also compelled to resign. The Post later noted this development by carrying an AP brief in it’s March 18 print edition. However, readers should have been apprised of Falk’s history.

The Post similarly leaves out important information by writing that “some have questioned Israel’s hard-line approach, including expansion of settlements in the West Bank.” The Post’s own editorial board noted on Dec. 29, 2016, 80 percent of the growth in “settlements” in the last eight years was “in areas that Israel would likely annex” in a future agreement. What is more, that Post editorial pointed out:

“That growth of about 3 percent per annum, the product of a restraint for which Mr. Netanyahu received no White House credit, means that the Jewish population outside Israel’s West Bank fence may have decreased as a percentage of the overall population even as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have made it the focal point of U.S. policy.”

The Washington Post gained international renown for its investigative reporting on the Watergate scandal. However, in failing to dig deeper into Richard Falk’s background, and in presenting the discredited claims of a notorious antisemite as news, the paper failed to live up to its own vaunted reputation and basic standards of journalism.
(Note: An earlier version of this post stated that Falk had recommended the works of David Irving. In fact, it was Falk-endorsed author Gilad Atzmon, who has done so. CAMERA regrets the error.)

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