UN's musical chairs
Richard Falk's wife is top nominee for a post on the Human Rights Council
By Hillel Neuer
As UN chief Ban Ki-moon today joins foreign ministers from around the world in Geneva to inaugurate a month-long session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he should tell the 47-nation body to stop a controversial appointment that will expose itself to ridicule.
The secretary-general is surely looking forward to the upcoming exit of Richard Falk, the council's pro-Hamas investigator of "Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law."
More than once, Ban had to take the extraordinary step of condemning one of his organization's own human rights experts — Falk — for spreading "preposterous" 9/11 conspiracy theories. After six years, term limits finally require Falk to go.
Yet it turns out that Falk may not really be leaving after all: the Human Rights Council is set to appoint his wife and closest collaborator to a similar post at the end of the month, days after Falk makes his final presentation to the plenary.
According to a UN document circulated in Geneva, Hilal Elver — a Turkish academic on law and climate change who has been married to Falk for the past 18 years, co-authoring many of his articles — is rated first among three nominees to become the council's next "Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food."
The troubled history of this UN mandate suggests the practices Elver would likely follow.
Despite its lofty title, the position was created by Cuba in 2000 as a political tool to attack the West, one of several UNHRC mandates created by third world dictatorships to disguise themselves as victims of human rights violations committed by Western capitalism, imperialism and racism.
The first right-to-food expert was Swiss socialist politician Jean Ziegler, a long-time shill for Havana's Castro regime, and the shameless co-founder (and 2002 recipient) of the Mummar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize.
Turning a blind eye to genuine starvation in places like Burundi, Ziegler spent much of his time finding imaginative pretexts to use his UN mandate on hunger to attack America and Israel. He condemned the Jewish state so often that journalists began to describe him, mistakenly, as the council's investigator on Palestine.
Sadly, there are many reasons to suspect that Elver would follow in this politicized and prejudiced path.
First, although Elver and Falk own a million-dollar Santa Barbara home by the Pacific Ocean, she devotes much of her writing to condemning America, and the West.
Like Falk, Elver is explicitly acknowledged in the world's leading 9/11 conspiracy book, "The New Pearl Harbor" by David Ray Griffin, for the help she provided the author.
In turn, Elver's academic work cites to Griffin's conspiracy book, which argues that the Bush Administration helped orchestrate the attacks on the World Trade Center to justify wars against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elver's words are more cautious, but hint in the same direction. In a 2012 law journal article citing to Griffin's notorious conspiracy tract, Elver compares 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, saying that both incidents "gave permission to the government to unleash the war power" and "invade countries", "create new hegemonies", and "racially discriminate against and segregate the people inside the United States."
According to Elver, the "American establishment" – she singles out the media and Hollywood — is guilty of "hostility towards Islam."
Second, like her husband, Elver's work is infused with dogmatism and tendentiousness, with sloppy attention to facts.
In June 2011, after the Economist advised Turkish voters to vote against the party of Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Elver and Falk published an article on the Al Jazeera website accusing the British magazine of a "Eurocentric virus," because it "never did venture such an opinion on the eve of the election of such reactionary and militarist figures as George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, or Binyamin Netanyahu."
The magazine, they wrote, revealed "a mentality that has not shaken itself free from the paternalism and entitlements of the bygone colonialist days."
The only thing was that the Economist indeed had advised American, Canadian and Israeli citizens how to cast their votes. "Don't professors do any homework nowadays?" asked the magazine in response.
Similarly, Elver's very application for the UN post underscores her unprofessionalism. Her form is replete with spelling mistakes, non-sequiturs, and even self-disqualifying answers. Asked if she satisfied the job's conflict-of-interest rules, she replied "No."
Third, there is every indication that Elver would, like Ziegler, twist the hunger post to go after Israel.
In 2007, Elver connected the Jewish state to "genocide" and Israelis to "Nazis."
As UN food expert, we know exactly what her first charge will be. At a December conference in Qatar, she gave a lecture on Israel entitled "Water Apartheid."
Like Erdogan, Elver is obsessed with what she calls in her Turkish articles the "Yahudi lobisini" — "the Jewish lobby."
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Elver wrote that "the Jewish lobby" is "manipulating American politics" to ensure unlimited support for Israel.
In 2012, she warned about "the strong Zionist lobby" in the United States. Indeed, "many Muslim organizations are being controlled" in the American political arena by "pro-Israel lobbyist groups."
Appointing Elver will be like appointing Falk. They travel, work and write together. She is not only his "constant companion," says Falk, but also his "deepest collaborator."
When in 2012 I urged Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth to finally remove Falk from one his organization's influential committees, after he was condemned by the UK and other countries for anti-Semitism, they did so. Yet Falk's wife remained on, allowing the couple to continue hosting HRW events in their home.
It seems like the UN is now trying to pull the same trick.
Hillel Neuer is the executive director of UN Watch.