The International Criminal Court Plays Politics? the Qaddafi Arrest Warrants

29 Jun


The International Criminal Court has formally agreed that warrants should be issued for the arrest of Col. Muammar Qaddafi, as well as his son, Seif al-Islam, who has been acting as Prime Minister along with Libya’s intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi. These three Libyan leaders are charged with crimes against humanity involving the murder, injuring, and imprisoning of Libyan civilians between Feburary 10-18, 2011, the first days of the uprising and prior to NATO’s military involvement. The ICC judge speaking on behalf of a three-judge panel authorized the issuance of the arrest warrants, Sanji Monogeng of Botswana, on the basis of the evidence presented by the prosecutor that ‘reasonable grounds’ existed to support the charges contained in the outstanding indictments against these three individuals. Judge Monogeng clarified the ruling by explaining that issuing an arrest warrant was meant to convey the conclusion that sufficient evidence of criminality existed to proceed with the prosecution, but it is not intended to imply guilt, which must be determined by the outcome of a trial. The ICC assessment is likely to withstand scrutiny so far as the substance of the accusations directed at the Qaddafi leadership are concerned. Qaddafi clearly responded with extreme violence, reinforced by genocidal rhetoric, to the popular challenges directed against the Libyan government, which certainly seems to qualify as crimes against humanity. But I am led to question why such an effort to arrest and indict was pushed so hard at this time.


The timing of the indictment, and now the arrest warrants, arouses strong suspicions, and not just of bad judgment! It is relevant to recall that in the course of NATO’s Kosovo War in 1999 against Serbia, the Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, was indicted by another European-based international tribunal–the special ad hoc International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. Are we now to expect that whenever NATO has recourse to war the political leader heading its opposition will be charged with international crimes while the fighting ensues? How convenient! Lawfare in the service of warfare!

Rather than a matter of convenience, the motivation seems more sinister. Criticism is deflected from NATO’s own lawlessness. In both of these instances, NATO had itself has resorting to war unlawfully, engaging in what was designated at Nuremberg as a ‘crime against peace,’ and held by that tribunal to be the greatest of war crimes embracing within itself both crimes against humanity and gross violations of the laws of war (war crimes). In the Kosovo War NATO acted without a mandate from the UN, thereby violating the UN Charter’s core principle prohibiting non-defensive uses of force unless authorized by the Security Council. In Libya there was such an initial authorization to protect civilians by establishing a no fly zone (Security Council Resoultion 1973, 17 May 2011), but the NATO mission as executed almost immediately grossly exceeded the original mandate, and did little to hide its unmandated goal of regime change in Tripoli by way of ending Qaddafi’s role as ruler and thereby achieving victory for opposition forces in a civil war. It is certainly worthy of comment that in both of these wars initiated by NATO the leader of a country attacked was targeted for criminal prosecution before hostilities has ended. Even the Allies in World War II waited until after the end of combat before trying to impose their version of ‘victors justice’ on surviving defeated German and Japanese leaders.

A somewhat similar manipulation of criminal accountability occurred in Iraq a few years ago.  There the American led aggressive war waged against Iraq in 2003 was quickly followed by a carefully planned and orchestrated criminal prosecution, stage managed behind the scenes by the US occupation commanders), followed by the execution of Saddam Hussein (and his close associates).  The Iraqi trial was politically circumscribed so as to exclude any evidence bearing on the close and discrediting strategic relationship maintained between the United States and Iraq during the period of Saddam Hussein’s most serious instances of criminality (genocidal operations against Kurdish villages), as well as by disallowing any inquiry into American criminality associated with the attack on Iraq and subsequent allegations of criminal wrongdoing in response to Iraqi resistance to military occupation.  This American potential criminality was never discussed, much less investigated in a responsible manner.

What converts these separate instances into a pattern is the Eurocentric (or West-centric) selectivity evident in most recent efforts to enforce international criminal law. It should be noted that this selectivity is made more objectionable by the impunity accorded to European, American, and Israeli leaders. Double standards so pervasively evident in this behavior undermine the authority of law, especially in relation to a subject-matter as vital as war and peace. Unless equals are treated equally most of the time, what is called ‘law’ is more accurately treated as ‘geopolitics.’


The geopolitical nature of this approval of arrest warrants just issued by the ICC is unintentionally confirmed when it is acknowledged by NATO officials that it will not be possible to arrest Qaddafi unless in the unlikely event that he is captured by the Rebels. Governmental representatives in Washington admitting this, have declared that the warrants will nevertheless be useful in forthcoming UN debates about Libyan policy, presumably to push aside any objections based on the failure by NATO to limit military operations to the no fly zone initially authorized by the Security Council. It should be remembered that the initial authorization in SC Resolution 1973 was itself weakened by five abstentions, including China and Russia, and further, by South Africa that voted with the majority, while expressing strong objections to the subsequent undertaking.  One wonders whether China and Russia would not have used their veto had they anticipated how far beyond what was insisted on limited humanitarian purposes by the proponents of the use of force would the actual operation become. In effect, to overcome any impression of unlawfulness on NATO’s part it is useful to demonize the adversary, and an opportune way to reach this goal is to put forward premature accusations of severe criminality.

Of course, as has been pointed out more than once, there was an embedded hypocrisy in the central argument put forward by the states seeking a UN green light to intervene in Libya, which was based on the responsibility to protect norm that supposedly confers a duty on the international community to protect civilian populations that are being subjected to severely abusive behavior. Too obvious contradictions were present. Why not Syria in the current regional setting? And even more starkly, why not Gaza back in 2008-09 when it was being mercilessly attacked by Israel? The answers to such questions are ‘blowin’ in the wind.’

There are further more technical reasons in the present setting to challenge the timing of the arrest warrants. They seem legally and politically dubious. Legally dubious because the most serious criminality associated with the behavior of the Qaddafi regime during the conflict occurred after the ICC cutoff date of 18 February (e.g. the siege of Misrata). Why other than ulterior motivations was there this rush to prosecute? Politically dubious because there is now a new obstacle to diplomacy in a situation where the alternative seems likely to be a prolonged civil war. Negotiating space for an accommodation is definitely reduced by this implication of Qaddafi’s criminality that creates incentives for the Tripoli leadership to fight on as long as possible.

Perhaps, cynics would argue that law always reflects power, and of course they are correct to a certain extent. Progress in human affairs arises from a struggle against such pretensions. And the locus and nature of power is changing in the world: the West is losing its capacity to shape history and high technology warfare, upon which the West depends to enforce its will on the non-West, is losing its capacity to produce political victories (e.g. anti-colonial wars, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan). This politicized use of the ICC in the course of the Libyan War offers an opportunity for those dedicated to global justice, especially in the Arab world, to insist that international law should no longer serve as a plaything for those who intervene with hard power in their region from the comfort zone of NATO headquarters.

83 Responses to “The International Criminal Court Plays Politics? the Qaddafi Arrest Warrants”

  1. Hiam T Odds June 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Excellent analysis. Hope you don’t mind me posting on facebook. Thank you.

  2. Albert Guillaume June 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Thank you Dr.Falk for daring to speak out in such a clear and concise manner.”Perhaps, cynics would argue that law always reflects power, and of course they are correct to a certain extent”.Of course cynics would and anybody with a grain of humanity in them would too.We see that wholesale abuse of power every day everywhere and at every level.Not too long ago Gaddafi was praised up and down by the Americans.First the uprising in Tunisia,very valid,then Egypt,equally valid, so why not seize the moment and instigate troubles in Libya?Why do war criminals in the US go around unhindered and still even get praise after having illegally attacked another sovereign country?Why is there still a NATO,which was supposed to counteract the Warsaw Pact,which ceased to exist with the ending of the cold war?And why do the UN continue on their very undemocratic path of giving and maintaining veto rights for a small select group of countries?Did all other nations belonging to the UN unanimously agree to such a warped idea?The stated reasons for the different invasions and wars since WWII are all lame excuses.This rather young American Empire seems to go the same way as the Roman Empire.Rot and moral decay within at the highest levels seems to be building up for a humongous implosion.

  3. John M June 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk:
    Granting all you say about the politicized use of the ICC, should Qadaffi nevertheless be arrested and brought before the ICC for possible prosecution? That is the position of Amnesty Interntional and, I believe, Human Rights Watch. The implicit view (I’m not aware of anything explicit) of these two groups (at least in the case of Qadaffi) is human rights law, even if warped or politicized, is the law and must be respected.
    And how might you respond to the criticisms of Diana Johnstone, who has written at length about the ICC? At the risk of misrepresenting her view, perhaps it could be summed up as int’l human rights law, yes; a politicized ICC (or any other int’l court), no (i.e., it should be abolished). Thank you.

    • Richard Falk June 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      Thanks, John, for such a thoughtful questioning of my position. I still think there is no justification for proceeding against Qaddafi in the middle of hostilities, especially when the legal grounds for NATO’s use of force is itself questionable from the perspective of international law. Also, to exempt his most serious forms of criminality over-politicizes any potential prosecution.

      The ICC has been used exclusively for either African leaders, and now maybe to reach the Muslim leadership in Syria. Those accused are, to be sure, guilty of severe crimes against humanity, but so are several Western countries, including the United States. Would you want to live in a society in which only ethnic minorities were being held criminally accountable and the rest of the population enjoyed impunity? In my view, we have to think about the integrity of the SYSTEM as well as the guilt or innocence of particular individuals.

  4. Ana Luiza July 2, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    I admire Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch but I have already ask both organizations why they pay so little attention on crimes committed by US government or any other European country.
    It’s very strange that someone comes here showing the Amnesty International/HRW “badge”.

    “The implicit view (I’m not aware of anything explicit) of these two groups (at least in the case of Qadaffi) is human rights law, even if warped or politicized, is the law and must be respected.”

    How can it be that law is being treated this way?
    US, first wanted to take control of the Libyan invasion but after seeing that it wouldn’t be a good idea to put the public opinion against Obama because of another intervention, especially near elections, passed the work to NATO.
    ICC is a joke. Luis Moreno Ocampo? Accused of raping a South-African journalist and everything he did till today end up in nothing.

    I’m very happy to find you Mr.Falk.
    You wrote what many haven’t the guts to say. I’ll come back to read more of your articles.

    • Richard Falk July 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      Thanks, Ana, for your insightful comment with which I agree, and for your supportive words!

      • Joel Steinberger July 7, 2011 at 8:21 am #

        Once again, you don’t miss an opportunity to drag a condemnation of Israel into your analysis. Your refer to Israel’s military foray into Gaza without mentioning a word about the endless provocations, rockets against her civilian populations which she has had to endure. Your so obvious bias disqualifies you from being taken seriously by any fair minded and objective reader. Alas, there are too many readers whose own bias becomes justified when a so-called academic such as yourself lend your credentials to lies and half-truths.

  5. Joakim Bröms July 3, 2011 at 5:03 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    I agree with your assessment of the situation. However, as far as I can tell, the arrest warrants seem to concern a slightly different time frame than the one stated above. According to an ICC pressrelease it deals with crimes “allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011” ( That notwithstanding, I find it peculiar and disturbing that UN resolution 1973 explicitly exempts all nations that haven’t recognized the ICC from prosecution by this court. If I’m not misinformed, that would mean that neither USA, nor Qatar, can be prosecuted for any possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Libya. What would you make of that? And what do you think could possibly be the reason that so little attention has been brought to these facts (assuming I haven’t just misunderstood the situation) by politicians and the media?

    Joakim Bröms
    journalist, Sweden

    • Joakim Bröms July 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

      Sorry, my mistake. I’m refering to resolution 1970, paragraph 6, which states that nationals of states not party to the Rome Statute will not be tried by the ICC.

      Joakim Bröms

  6. Yehudi Geeh July 6, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    You’ve been rightly taken to task for displaying a racist cartoon! Shame on you!!!

    A letter from UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer:

    Ms. Navi Pillay
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Palais des Nations
    1211 Geneva 10

    6 July 2011

    Dear Madam High Commissioner,

    We write to convey our grave concern over the publication of an overtly anti-Semitic cartoon by Richard Falk, an expert of the UN Human Rights Council. We urge you—as the highest moral authority of the UN human rights system—to condemn Mr. Falk’s actions, which constitute incitement to hatred and racial discrimination as defined under Articles 1 and 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

    Mr. Falk published the attached cartoon in his blog post of June 29. As you can see, it depicts a dog urinating on a woman symbolizing justice, and devouring a dead body with blood and bones spewing out of its mouth. The dog is shown in a garment marked “USA” and wearing a Kipa, the Jewish religious head covering, which is marked by a Star of David. The cartoon is manifestly anti-Semitic and, before a worldwide Internet audience, incites hatred against Jews as well as against Americans.

    We are aware that mandate-holders are answerable only to the Council, and that Mr. Falk and his supporters will claim that the cartoon was published in his “personal capacity.” As you know, however, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in identical circumstances, unequivocally ruled that Mr. Falk has “a clear responsibility to uphold the high standards of the United Nations and the Council.” Accordingly, the Secretary-General twice condemned Mr. Falk for having propagated the 9/11 conspiracy theory and insulting the memory of the 3,000 victims of that attack. Likewise, in 2005, your predecessor, High Commissioner Louise Arbour did not hesitate to condemn expert Jean Ziegler for what she described as his “inflammatory” and “highly irresponsible” remarks.

    For the UN human rights system to be credible in the fight against racism, its own representatives must not be allowed to incite hatred and racial discrimination with impunity. We urge you to speak out.
    Hillel C. Neuer
    Executive Director

    • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 10:38 am #

      It is a complete lie. I know nothing about such a cartoon, and would never publish such a thing, ever.

      • Nadav July 6, 2011 at 10:44 am #

        Look at your own blog post.

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 10:54 am #

        Maybe I do not understand the cartoon, and if it offends in this way I have removed it from the blog.
        It may be in bad taste to an extent I had not earlier appreciated, but I certainly didn’t realize that it could
        be viewed as anti-semitic, and still do not realize.

      • esther kandel July 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

        you are a liar “dr” falk. that you are in any way working toward promoting human rights for the UN is disgusting. you hate israel, you hate jews, your comments are repugnant and you belong just where you are as the UNHRC is so anti israel you fit right in.
        time for you to find a new issue to ruminate on. how about focusing on the congo, rape of women, forced genital mutilation of women there and in the sudan.

        by displaying and lying about this cartoon, you show your hand. Just what kind of expert are you on human rights? enough with israel and move on to where the real problems are.

        for a professor, you dom’t strike me as terribly bright.

      • Robert S. Orr July 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

        Seems a bit inconsistent to say ” I know nothing about such a cartoon” and then “I have removed it from the blog”

        On the face of it… this seems to be dishonesty. Did you or did you not post that cartoon?

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

        Yes, I posted the cartoon, but at first misunderstood the reference because I knew that I had not published anything on
        the blog that I thought to be anti-semitic, and even when I became aware of the cartoon that was being referred to, I thought
        that it was referring to U.S. attitudes. I admit to my carelessness, and will write a supplemental blog to clarify my true intention
        and my responsibility for what I have done, but truly there is not an anti-semitic bone in my body.

      • Nancy Hoyle July 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

        Mr. Falk,
        You denied that you ever published it and later you said you did. You are not credible. Shame on you.

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

        I am deeply sorry about this incident. I denied publishing an anti-semitic cartoon, and only later realized that the reference was to the cartoon in the Qaddafi blog, and even then when I looked at it, I did not appreciate its anti-semitic symbolism, which appalls me. I will try to clarify on the blog. I am critical of Israel, but have never knowingly given any aid and comfort to such vile anti-semitic attitudes.l

      • Miguel July 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

        You should be ashamed of yourself on so many levels for so many things. The UN will be defunded by the US in due time. You don’t understand the cartoon? Hilarious…

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

        I am sorry to say it is true. I really did not understand the cartoon, and misinterpreted it as critical of American double standards when it comes to criminal accountability. I have never and never will be associated knowingly with any anti-semitic attitudes, and intend to clarify what I intended, and apologize for my carelessness.

  7. Moll July 6, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Mr. Falk: Don’t you know that when you “tilt at the windmill called Israel” and the jewish people, you are going to lose? The God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob has called the “children of Israel” the “apple of His eye” for a reason. Why exert your tremendous intellect into researching the possibility that if you “bless israel” you too, will be blest? At this current moment in time, you are busy mounting your energies into a “cursing” profile, and that is counter-productive. Wise men know on which side of the God of Angel Armies he position himself. Just because you don’t believe anything about this God, doesn’t make this God any the less real. Just watch and wait.

  8. renny July 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Make up yr mind Mr. Falk either you published the cartoon or you didn’t!

    • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

      I published the cartoon, but with the intention of illustrating double standards with respect to criminal accountability in the context of the Qaddafi arrest warrants. I did not perceive any racist connotations, and certainly no anti-semitic implications, and since it offends people I have removed it without understanding why.

      • Ben July 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

        Neuer’s letter describes the cartoon accurately and in detail.
        You respond 43 minutes later saying you “know nothing about such a cartoon, and would never publish such a thing, ever.”
        Then you admit to publishing it and claim not to understand why it offends people.
        So why did you you initially say you would never publish such a thing, ever?
        Maybe it’s time for you to retire and give up the hate business, eh? It seems to be wearing on you, making you sound stupid, dishonest and arrogant all at the same time.

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

        I never have seen the Neuer letter or I would have clarified the situation immediately. He did not send the letter to
        me and I do not know where it is posted. He consistently defames me, claiming I am a 9/11 conspiracy theorist when
        I am not, and so forth.

      • J21 July 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

        Yet you still (1) lied about posting it, clearly showing your awareness that linkage to such a cartoon is embarrassing, and (2) are really trying to pretend that a cartoon portraying the US as being controlled by a vicious, Jewish dog isn’t offensive or anti-Semitic? It would be an insult to your own intelligence to believe that this is what you really think.

        If there is a double standard at play, it is in the legions of activists who ignore 99% of the world’s problems to focus exclusively and vociferously on the MidEast conflict. This is not he behavior of someone truly concerned about fairness or justice.

      • Harold Kaufman July 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

        Mr. Falk,

        How disengenuous of you. A dog meant to portray the United States with a kipot that has a Jewish star on it is not a racist cartoon?

        You are trying to say that portraying the US shown as chewing on bloody bones as supposedly being controlled by the Jews is not a rascist cartoon?

        This is supposed to show the the double standard to which the Qaddafi regime is held and you think this is not racist?

        Please Mr Falk, take your head out of the sand. You are supposed to be the investigator for the UN Human Rghts Council. You are to be held to a much higher standard but if your own personal bias requires that you publish such hate, than you should resign. You cannot have such personal beliefs and do an impartial job of investigating abuses.

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

        I can only say that I didn’t appreciate this symbolism even when it was pointed out that the cartoon was anti-semitic. I apologize for this, and intend to formalize this apology on my blog. I would never have knowingly associated myself with such anti-semitic attitudes, and will never. I am critical of Israel, but have always opposed anti-semitic attitudes, which I detest.

  9. Bart Smith July 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Hi Richard

    Why did you respond in an earlier posting
    at July 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

    “It is a complete lie. I know nothing about such a cartoon, and would never publish such a thing, ever.”

    Initially you made out as if you never posted the poster and now you are admitting to having done so but instead are making an excuse that you see nothing wrong with it.

    • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      I did not understand the reference in the initial message as to the best of my knowledge I had not published any anti-semitic cartoon, and even when I realized what cartoon was being referred to, I did not appreciate its anti-semitic symbolism. I would never publish such a cartoon had I realized, and admit to my carelessness about not being more aware. Now that I realize the intended meaning of the cartoon I repudiate it, and will add a prefatory note to the blog to indicate this.

      • Sandy Groper July 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

        Mr Falk
        Perhaps you have been “careless” and “not…more aware” about some of your other anti-Israel comments in the discharge of your duty as the UN Human Rights investigator?

        I do agree with one popint you make, however. The ICC is a politicised joke, as is virtually every part of the UN. Both you and the rest of the UN have a lot of apologising and repudiating to do….

      • Sharon L July 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

        I’m sorry, but it doesn’t ring true that a man of your intelligence in your position wouldn’t recognize a skullcap as a Jewish reference and wouldn’t realize that having it on the head of a dog that’s defecating all over the Statue of Liberty is offensive and anti-semitic.

      • Frederick Herman Grubnik July 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

        Mr. Falk, You apparently thought that if you deleted the antiSemitic cartoon, you could get away with saying that it was never there. Maybe that was a case of being computer illiterate and unsophisticated in the ways that things put on the internet can be recreated or saved. It was only after you realized that you were irrevocably linked to the antiSemitic cartoon that you fessed up and then said: “OK, you got me, I confess that I put it there but I could not know that it was antiSemitic”.
        What does it take to make Richard Falk recognize antiSemitism? You come across a crude cartoon, the type of cartoon that was published in Nazi Germany during the Hitler era, and decide that you like it so much that you will publish it for the world. An angry, snarling dog with a Jewish star biting into Justice in a bloodthirsty way and you say: “Antisemitism, where art thou?”. I fear that you have spent so much time supporting the Arab position in the Arab-Israeli dispute that you will allow no criticism of anything done by any Arabs for fear that it will undercut your debating talks. Or it could be a matter of self loathing?

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

        I know that I could never convince you, but when I posted the cartoon in some haste I paid no attention to the dog. Of course, I would not want to associate my views with anti-semitism and never have. It was for this reason that I removed the cartoon, feeling very bad about the whole incident, as soon as I realized what I had inadvertently done. If I had wanted to disseminate such views there would have been many occasions and venues much more appropriate than in the midst of a blog on a technical issue of international criminal law.

      • Bev Berm July 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

        I find it very hard to believe that a highly educated international law and international relations scholar would be so ignorant as to not appreciate the anti-semitic, anti American symbolism of this vile cartoon.

      • Richard Falk July 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

        I did realize that the cartoon was anti-American, but I did not realize that it was also anti-semitic, and had I realized it, I would never have posted it. My anti-American point was a limited one, in the context of an arrest warrant for Qaddafi whose behavior I would never defend. I was criticizing double standards in the application of international criminal law.

      • Ben July 7, 2011 at 8:42 am #

        Yesterday, I pointed out that you responded to the Neuer letter with a flat denial 43 minutes after that letter was posted on your blog. You have responded by denying ever having seen the Neuer letter. Take another look at the entry which prompted you to write “It’s a complete lie.” It’s the one right on top of your “It’s a complete lie” claim. It’s the Neuer letter (albeit reporduced in the body of an entry from Yehudi Geeh). When you wrote “It’s a complete lie,” what were you responding to? Are we to believe that you didn’t understand reference to “Neuer’s letter” to be to the “letter from Hillel Neuer” in which he complains about the anti-Semitic cartoon? Either you are foolish, or you think your readers are. Either way, your accusations against Neuer are irrelevant and lack credibility.

      • Jen July 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

        Uh… yeah… you didn’t understand the cartoon… sure. Hey, while we are at it.. I have a bridge to sell you.

        I would be interested to hear what you DID think the cartoon meant, as it isn’t like there are endless possibilities here…

      • Jen July 7, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

        Ooops, I thought you meant that you saw the kippah and didn’t think it was Antisemitic… after reading more of your blogs, I realize that indeed, it can be mistaken for a helmet. Please ignore my sarcastic other response here, as it clearly shows my “knee jerk” reaction to what I interpreted you saying as to what you actually said in another posting.

      • Richard Falk July 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

        I appreciate your acknowledgement of what I actually meant and said.

  10. Steven Burton July 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    How you can equate the plight of the Libyan people to the Gazans?

    In the Libyan case, we see West stepping in the protect civilians from the Libyan government’s attempts to crush the democratic aspirations of their people.

    The case of Gaza, Israel was forced to act to protect their civilian populations from the incessant bombardment of thousands of mortars and rockets launched from Gaza.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the West should have stepped in to preserve the right of Gazans to continue to try to murder Israeli civilians?

    • Look July 8, 2011 at 6:29 am #

      “The case of Gaza, Israel was forced to act to protect their civilian populations from the incessant bombardment of thousands of mortars and rockets launched from Gaza.

      Are you seriously suggesting that the West should have stepped in to preserve the right of Gazans to continue to try to murder Israeli civilians?”
      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

      This must be one of the most insanely, dramatic and ignorant assessment of the situation in Gaza I ever read. Full stop!

      • Steven Burton July 8, 2011 at 10:46 am #

        Why do you say that?

      • Look July 11, 2011 at 11:49 am #

        Why, you ask?

        Because you said:

        “(…) incessant bombardment of thousands of mortars and rockets”

        … but, the truth is something else:

        “According to the IDF, approximately 670 Kassam rockets, mortar shells and Grad missiles were fired at Israel since the beginning of 2009.”


        I’m afraid that large amount of pro-Israel commenters are simply projecting.

      • Steven Burton July 15, 2011 at 9:54 am #

        Look, If you read more carefully you will notice that I did not say anything about “since the end of 2009”. I simply stated that thousands of mortars and rockets have been launched from Gaza, which is entirely correct and true.

        Rocket and mortar attacks actually commenced in 2001, not the end of 2009. Since the Gazans decided to start firing rockets and mortars there have been thousands (not hundreds) of rockets and mortars fired. This is not bias in any way, just a clear statement of fact.

        You on the other hand, arbitrarily chose a cutoff date (the end of 2009) before which you pretend that no rockets or mortars were fired, as evidenced by your selective choice of source. Yet it is difficult to understand why you did this. Do you seriously think that the behavior of the Gazans should be considered in anyway “better” if there were found to only have fired HUNDREDS of rocket and mortar shells at civilian population centers? If not, what point are you trying to make?

  11. Howard July 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

    Mr. Falk:

    Is it your contention that you did not understand that a skullcap with a star of David on it is a symbol of Judaism? That is quite a failure in knowledge of other religions for someone who is in charge of investigating human rights violations. Are you equally ignorant of the meaning of a crescent moon and a star? I suspect not.

    And even when it was pointed out that the cartoon was anti-semitic, you still did not “…appreciate this symbolism…”. This means that this incident reveals more than mere carelessness in not being aware, which can be solved by an apology. How did you come to realize the intended meaning of the cartoon? How can you claim to uphold objective justice when you are that insensitive to one side of a conflict?

    Finally,equating Israeli actions in Gaza to Nazis in the holocaust evidences your inability to actually walk the very fine line separating criticism of Israel from anti-semitism. You have a pro-third world agenda which does not know any limits when it encounters violations of human rights by persons from the third world of the human rights of Americans or Europeans. That seems to empower you to ebrace such fringe causes as 9/11 conspiracy theories. Hardly good credentials for an academic, a protector of human rights, or an upholder of true justice. But very trendy. Very trendy indeed in left wing circles.

  12. Buddy Macy July 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Mr. Falk, your criticism of Israel is not the product of careful independent study from an impartial observer — it is pure ANTI-SEMITISM.

    In the article, above, you wrote: “And even more starkly, why not Gaza back in 2008-09 when it was being mercilessly attacked by Israel?”

    It was Israel’s civilian population that for years was was being “mercilessly attacked” by Hamas and other terrorist murderers in Gaza, not the other way around. Thousands of rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza, with the intent of killing as many Israeli civilians as possible.

    For the truth about Israel’s war of self-defense in Gaza, please see: – Watch the BBC interview with Former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp and Listen to His Discussion of the IDF’s Operations in Gaza.

    Buddy Macy

  13. scrubbingrust July 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    You do not have to apologize for being anti-Semitic, it’s called free speech and forty years in academia. Your only fault in this incident is a complete loss of Critical Thinking lead by a fervent blind hatred of a country and its people which is enabled by the unquestioning environment in which you have worked everyday.

    I do feel sorrow that you were able to teach young impressionable minds for so long. To be a humanitarian, as you claim to be, is an ethic of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings. I sense that you generally hold an exception for the “all human beings” portion of that definition. Anyone who would dare say that racism (not just for they who cling to guns or religion in small town America anymore) was the cause of your conduct would be wrong in my opinion as elitism would bracket your predicament more effectively.

    Your bio says you have worked in international law and relations for forty years coupled with extremely opinionated views of the ME and you expect people believe that did not recognize or understand the anti-Semitic symbolism that it projected? Supercilious indeed.

  14. David Schmitt July 6, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Even if I accept your denial of noticing the anti-semitism in the now-deleted cartoon, I find it just as outrageous that you posted the cartoon because you considered it anti-american!

  15. M. July 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Even if you were somehow blind enough to miss the vicious anti-Semitic aspect of that cartoon, Mr. Falk, it’s still a grotesque (and poorly drawn) slur on America as well. Aren’t you supposed to be an international diplomat? And yet you go out of your way to spread such vicious propaganda? Shame on you. You should resign, go somewhere far away and think about where your life went so wrong.

  16. Abbie July 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    You are either not very bright, if you didn’t look at the cartoon and yet posted it on your personal blog, or you are lying. These are the only two conclusions that are possible. Your lying about posting it, shows that lying is the most probable answer here. Shame on you, you are a shame to America, the Americans, and the west as a whole. If you think you can dupe everyone than you are even more of a troll than you were for just posting that ugly, antisemitic cartoon. How could you not see the dog has something on its head? Give us all a break!

  17. Jonathan Even-Zohar July 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    What a ridiculous witch-hunt.

    • Look July 8, 2011 at 6:35 am #

      It’s getting more difficult to earn the stripes but I see some real creative stuff here…

  18. Naccache July 7, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    ce monsieur qui est parait il juif , mais qui est plutot anti juif est un infame personnage a la solde des pays terroristes comme l’iran et autres pays arabes qui deversent leur haine sur Israèl , mais sachez Monsieur qu’Israèl vivra et ce ne serait pas des gens comme vous qui le detruirez , Israèl a encore 10 000 ans a vivre et vous , vous remplirez les catacombes de l’histoire depuis très longtemps qu’on ne se rappellerait mème pas de votre nom Falk , bien que celui que l’on connaisse s’appelle Peter Falk , un autre juif plus sympatique que vous

  19. MiddleEastInterpreter July 7, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    There is one of possible 3 scenarios here that sheds light on your conduct of work:

    1. You post a cartoon without looking at the content
    2. You are not capable of understanding the content
    3. You understand the content is anti-semitic and decide to publish it

    Any of these scenarios indicates that you are not suitable to do any work on behalf of any serious organization. The lost credibility of the UN and especially the HRC is due greatly to people like yourself, who are motivated by hate rather than facts.

    For your 80th birthday you gave yourself this blog as a present, maybe give yourself a gift for your next birthday and retire completely

  20. Bev Berm July 7, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    If you google the author of the cartoon, you will find that it is Emad Hajjaj from Born in Ramallah, very obviously anti-Jew and anti-Israel. A site full of vile content.

    • Some Guy July 7, 2011 at 4:19 am #

      Oh, you just thought it was anti-american, and that’s supposed to be an excuse?

      You’re busted, Dick. That was a career-ending mistake, even for a leftist apparatchik like you.

    • Asaph July 7, 2011 at 6:15 am #

      Mr. Falk,

      When you sink to the level of publishing something that would have easily be on Der Stürmer, you may may want to have some inward looking evaluation. In the past. people have accused you of Anti-Semitism. Have you just proved them right? Your denials and your actions do not match.

      Mister “Human Rights”, “humans” include Jews as well. (Though some think of us as “Sub-Human”.

      A Jew who is wearing a kippa and has side-curls

      • Joel Steinberger July 7, 2011 at 8:06 am #

        Professor Falk,
        That which you profess is hatred. I shudder to think how many young minds your academic influence has poisoned. Even the pretention of impartiality would lead you to also condemn the constant barrage of rockets from Gaza which Israel returned to the Palestinians in the pursuit of peace. Do you not notice the antisemitism daily presented in the media and taught to children in Palestinian elementary schools and institutions of “higher learning”? Why are you silent about this when the seeds of future Jew-hatred are being sown in the minds of young Palestinians who are thus disabled to make peace when their time comes to lead their people? If you are so sensitive about the plight of the suffering Palestinian People, why do you not acknowledge that there is a plentiful supply of all manner of goods and services, even luxuries in the Palestinian territories, much of which is supplied on a daily basis by and through Israel? There is NO humanitarian crisis there. Of course, your attitude is consistent with the leftist agenda that to denigrate Israel is but one of the steps to bring down America, your country. I pity that you do not have the character to admit of your own bias. As an academic and as a Jew and as an American, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  21. Russell Golkow, MD July 7, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    Dear Mr Falk

    I am an American, a liberal and a Democrat. Your continued employment by the UN as an expert, ostensibly an unbiased expert, on any matter, is the reason why increasing numbers of New Yorkers look upon the tract of land along the East River between 49th and 40th St as “Occupied Territories,” requiring liberation and return to their proper owners, the people of the United States. The presence of the UN in my city, viewed with such great respect and optimism in the time of my youth, has increasingly become a source of disgust, not least because it has become the refuge of international blood-stained thugs and kleptocrats, providing them with mouthpieces, such as you.

  22. Bruce July 7, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Is that moderation by a panel or changing it to a more moderate position. No.

  23. David M. Jacobson July 7, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Admiral Boorda committed suicide for much less.

  24. Chiara Brown July 7, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    I hope you just stop answering these people — I had to look closely and study the cartoon before I could see anything that could indicate anti-Semitism as well. These people are just out to get you, ignore them.

  25. Sam July 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Maybe you can understand this:

    a/ you will be killed by the muslims whose anus you worship when (i) they are done using you as a useful infidel, the same way they killed Juliano Mer Khamis, or (ii) when they realize there is no way you cold be causing them so much embarrassment vs gain unless you are the Mossad spy everyone else assumes you are.

    Perhaps you can run to your friends the iranians or the north koreans, assuming of course they don’t kill you first while interrogating you for the transmitting devices you have been planting around the offices in the UN.

  26. Bev Berm July 8, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    Chiara Brown, no one is “out to get him”. Have a closer look at the religious Jewish headcovering in that vile cartoon which Richard Falk found by googling on which website………… Artist Emad Hajjaj, born in Ramallah, blatantly anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Jew. There is an array of vile content on this site.

    • Look July 8, 2011 at 6:33 am #

      So, let’s assume the cartoon lady wears a hijab and holds a Quran and the dog has, say, Hezoballah Islamic insignia.

      Now that it is aligned with your political position, inlcuding “terrorist” designation, would it incite as much ire?

      You know, the same ire and outrage re: “infamous” Danish cartoons (snicker).

      …thinking, thinking…

      Yeah, thought so.

  27. Prof of Hate July 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Mr Falk, you are a hateful old man, a racist,a terrorist and a thug. Americans have shed their blood so savages like yourself can have the freedom to spew your hate. Happy 80th Birthday

  28. Mats July 9, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    Well, I guess thos shows graphically on which side the UN is on the “palestinian” myth.

  29. Mats July 9, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    thos = this

  30. Ashok Kanjilal July 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    The trolls attack. I’m pretty certain most of the above comments have been made by the same person under different names. “So did you publish the cartoon or didn’t you?”, “You liar”, etc., over and over again.

    Any person with a reasonable amount of intelligence can see that he published the cartoon without recognizing the anti-Semitism in it. The first time I saw that cartoon (from a link from the JTA website), I didn’t see the yarmulke nor the Star of David inscribed on it. And I’m 25 years old, and have perfect vision, and yet failed to see the ‘Semitic’ link in the photograph until I saw the comments and went back to the cartoon to see where the Star of David that I missed was.

    And since when did criticism of the USA or Israel become ‘anti-Semitic’ or even ‘undiplomatic’ or ‘hatred’? I believe it is each person’s duty to be most critical of his or her own nation, rather than pandering to narrow nationalism. Pointing out the faults, or even hypocrisies, are not ‘hatred’. It is unfortunate that we live in this binary world where you can only either love Israel or hate Israel. And of course, being critical of a nation-state’s policies has become synonymous with hatred of the Jewish people. Thus Jews who are critical of Israel are depicted as ‘self-hating Jews’. It is indeed sad that we live in such times.

    That said, Prof. Falk, you show your decency by responding to all these repetitive harangues, as you would in the real world. However, this is the Internet, and the best way to deal with trolls is by not feeding them (i.e., by ignoring them). I pray, for your sake, that you don’t get so much one-sided attacks for each of your posts.

  31. monalisa July 13, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I have also the opinion that a state who offends and bombs other states instead of searching for better living conditions in its own state especially in our times, where it cannot be denied that we have already a climate change, and it has or should be dealt with immediately, doesn’t take care of !
    No, its really like already above has been stated:
    The Roman Empire fell – it fell because of too much buerocracy and corruption within its own people !! Too weak from inside due to corruption, power struggle and so forth means implosion and can easily overturend by an outer force.

    Nowadays, with the same argument/s the game is on:
    “humanitarian war” “helping the people” etc.
    I wonder who can believe this anymore !
    Nobody can help people by bombing even civilians, hospitals etc.
    Nobody can believe that bombs – US bombs are usually equipped with DU-warheads (DU = depleted uranium, lasting in the soil for quite some very very long time) will help people !

    Same arguments were already discussed more than twothousand years ago:
    Cicero wrote about the “justified” war
    and Caesar justified his extremely cruel handling towards inhabitants when annecting another piece of land to the Roman Empire, that those people aren’t “cultivated” enough.

    Empires who are going to be too big usually suffer an implosion.
    So it was in the past.
    As we can see, mankind hasn’t changed to have reached/gained a more cultivated way of thinking and handling than rulers and thinkers of the Roman Empire.
    So history will repeat iself – I think.

  32. Buddy Macy July 15, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    re: Steven Burton’s comment of July 15th:

    Steven, your comment about the number of rockets and when they were fired from Gaza is an excellent one. If ONE SINGLE ROCKET were to be fired from a town in Mexico into Texas, that town would cease to exist within 24 hours!

    Please see my post of July 6th.

    For the truth about Israel’s war of self-defense in Gaza, please see: – Watch the BBC interview with Former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp and Listen to His Discussion of the IDF’s Operations in Gaza.

    Buddy Macy

  33. treassydagdag August 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Excellent topic

    • johnscallan September 15, 2011 at 3:33 am #

      Where to begin!

      First, Dr. Falk, it is only to be expected that in a world run by liars, those who seek the truth will be attacked. I admire your courage and congratulate you on the insightful analysis you bring to a subject so clouded by spin, propaganda and downright lies! I do not agree with all you say concerning Libya or President al-Gaddafi, but where I disagree, I bow to your superior knowledge of international law.

      May I raise two points before I offer some words on the disgusting and orchestrated personal attacks on you by people who seem to have no moral scruples where there own fanatical belief’s are concerned.

      1) You say

      “The ICC assessment is likely to withstand scrutiny so far as the substance of the accusations directed at the Qaddafi leadership are concerned. Qaddafi clearly responded with extreme violence, reinforced by genocidal rhetoric, to the popular challenges directed against the Libyan government, which certainly seems to qualify as crimes against humanity.”

      I ask, how is a leader of a state [Democratic or Undemocratic] to stop chaos and civil unrest except by the use of violence in the last resort?

      By your definition was Abraham Lincoln a war criminal, for fighting to preserve the Union over the heads and will of 9,000,000 of his own citizens? At the cost of 600,000 or more dead.

      Or if you want to talk about the world after Nuremberg, where the US government guilty of a war crime when they used deadly force and the National Guard to quell anti war protests against Vietnam?

      Surely it cannot be reasonably argued, that just because a government [and let us be clear President al-Gaddafi’s government was internationality recognised as the legitimate government of Libya at the time these events happened] uses deadly force, to put down an uprising its leader has de facto committed ‘a crime against humanity!’ This I dare say is a bridge too far.

      2) Of President al-Gaddafi comments.

      “Gaddafi vowed to fight his opponents “until the last drop of his blood had been spilt” rather than step down, describing anti-regime protesters as “rats” and “mercenaries” working for foreign states and corporate agendas. Gaddafi said the rioting urban youths that were opposed to his rule were manipulated by others who gave them drugs and who were trying to turn Libya into an Islamic state.”

      Taken from Wikipedia

      You say,

      This remarks “….reinforced…genocidal rhetoric,”

      Now these comments are vile and indeed somewhat deluded, but ‘genocidal’ ?

      The UN defines Genocide as:

      ..any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

      These people are by his own definition not a group, President al-Gaddafi describes them in the vaguest terms youths and kids and criminals terrorists, but they are all Libyan, do you think he wishes to kill all Libyans? I submit to you, that it is arrant nonsense to describe these comments as genocide, as they are not directed at a clearly defined Ethnic religious or any other kind of ‘group’ within the meaning of the UN’s original intent. Just as politicians in Europe and America, talk of ‘Dole Scroungers’ and ‘black market criminals’, ‘hooligans’ and ‘yobs’ and plan drives to eliminate them from society, I submit this is how President al-Gaddafi comments must be judged.

      Lastly may I turn to the unfair and disgraceful attack on you and your character led by people with a clear political agenda. They need to read the papers, and a few books.

      A) Anyone who opposes the criminal actions of Israel is by their point of view ‘Anti-Semitic’. This is morally and factually a lie.

      As a matter of fact all people both Jewish and Arab who are involved in the conflict are Semites:

      “The term Semite means a member of any of various ancient and modern Semitic-speaking peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including; Akkadians (Assyrians and Babylonians), Eblaites, Ugarites, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews (Israelites, Judeans and Samaritans), Arameans, Chaldeans, Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Hyksos, Arabs, Nabateans, Maganites, Shebans, Sutu, Maltese, Mandeans and Ethiopian Semites. It was proposed at first to refer to the languages related to Hebrew by Ludwig Schlözer, in Eichhorn’s “Repertorium”, vol. VIII (Leipzig, 1781), p. 161. Through Eichhorn the name then came into general usage (cf. his “Einleitung in das Alte Testament” (Leipzig, 1787), I, p. 45). In his “Geschichte der neuen Sprachenkunde”, pt. I (Göttingen, 1807) it had already become a fixed technical term.[1]”

      So to describe anyone who opposes Israel’s occupation of Palestine as Anti-Semitic is a nonsense Linguistically.

      B) In all the calls for the toppling of President al-Gaddafi and the removal of Hosni Mubarak, and the end of Bashar al-Assad, Israel has been very quiet. Why? Because they do not want to get involved in the affairs of their Arab neighbours? I submit no, because they fear they will not be able to make such an advantages deal with a democratic Syria and Democratic Egypt, and so they are happy to see Bashar al-Assad and the Egyptian army brutally suppress all opposition. But this is not ‘Genocide’ or ‘Crimes against humanity’ this is, American foreign policy, and of course as an earlier commenter pointed out only those who have signed up can be tried by the ICC so I suppose that means America and its proxy Israel can do as they please. If I draw any small comfort from what has recently happened it is my anticipation of the squirming both American and Israeli spin doctors will have to engage in when they are trying to explain how a largely democratic but anti Israeli middle east is still something to be dreaded and feared.

      • Steven Burton October 7, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

        Antisemitism is…

        “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group”

        Please note the lack of any mention of Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Eblaites, Ugarites, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Samaritans, Arameans, Chaldeans, Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Hyksos, Arabs, Nabateans, Maganites, Shebans, Sutu, Maltese, Mandeans or Ethiopians.

  34. demotivator November 9, 2011 at 6:07 am #

    magnificent issues altogether, you just gained a new reader. What would you recommend about your publish that you simply made a few days in the past? Any sure?

    • johnscallan November 7, 2012 at 5:12 am #

      to Steven Burton

      I see you omitted to include the following telling section taken from the above definition:

      “Although the term anti-Semitism has wide currency, it is regarded by some as a misnomer, implying discrimination against all Semites, including Arabs and other peoples….”

      I do not argue as you seem to imply, that people mean to say discrimination against Jews when the say Anti Semitic, I argue that they are linguistically wrong when they use that term, and it seems to me the article you quoted above is in agreement with me on that.


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