Antisemitic Dogs and Denying Antisemitism
8 July 2011
Richard Falk is the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.
His recent behaviour is a set-piece example of how the anti-racist anti-Israel left treats antisemitism. (Except, that is, for his eventual apology.)
In summary, that is to:
1. Normalise antisemitic discourse within mainstream politics and media
2. React to subsequent concerns with utter denials, calling the accusers liars acting on Israel's behalf.
3. If (and it is a very big if) the evidence of antisemitism proves overwhelming, plead innocent ignorance and stress anti-racist prinicples.
Probably the best known example of this process was the New Statesman, none of whose staff realised that their "kosher conspiracy" cover was antisemitic: not even when it also featured a golden Star of David piercing a supine Union Jack.
Time after time, these intellectuals, politcians, writers etc display astonishing ignorance about antisemitism. Nevertheless, they are so secure in their anti-racist self-image and so smitten by their smug holier-than-thou cleverness, that Jewish complaints about antisemitism are reflexively understood as being (yet more) examples of Zionist devilry.
We are currently in the middle of such a cycle right now, concerning Israeli Islamic Movement leader, Raed Salah, currently detained in the UK and awaiting legal appeals about deportation. The allegations against him appear stronger by the day, but the blanket defences of him continue unabated, as do the disgusting character assassinations of British Jews who have voiced concern - including in the editorial column of the Guardian.
CST blog showed some of the detalied allegations about Salah's supposed 'Blood Libel' speech here, and discussed the Guardian here. Michael Weiss of Just Journalism did likewise here, publishing the Arabic language original of what is alleged to be Salah claiming that 4,000 Jews conveniently skipped work on 9/11. (This is also a blood libel, but of a very different sort.)
Now, back to the esteemed intellectual and human rights guarantor, Richard Falk.
On 29 June, Falk posted a cartoon on his personal blog. It shows a dog urinating on a woman who represented justice. The dog has the letters USA across its midriff. The dog has a kippah (Jewish skullcap) on its head. The dog is not only urinating, it is also chomping its way through a human skeleton that lies on bloodied ground.
This is the cartoon:
When pro-Israel lobby group, UN Watch, complained about this antisemitic image, Falk's reply fitted the usual pattern. He called the complainant a liar and denied all wrongdoing. He wrote:
It is a complete lie. I know nothing about such a cartoon, and would never publish such a thing, ever.
The evidence, however, was on his own blog site, as this reader pointed out:
Look at your own blog post. http://richardfalk.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/images-71.jpeg
Falk's reply stuck to the stereotype, apologising "if" he had inadvertently caused offence by doing something he had not realised was antisemitic. We have seen this many times here in Britain: the professing of ignorance, yet the word "if" seeming to imply that the apologist believes that it is their accuser who is fundamentally in the wrong (as if their accuser has, like a broken clock that is right twice a day, struck lucky this time). Here is Falk, with his "if" and his innocent ignorance:
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 didnt realize that it could be viewed as anti-semitic, and still do not realize.
Usually, this is where the controversy ends. The apologist, having pleaded ignorance and questioned the motive of his (or her) accusers, stops digging and moves on, ready for the next unwarrranted accusation from the liars who struck lucky last time around.
Richard Falk, however, is clearly not a United Nations rapporteur for nothing. He posted a further apology that properly accepted the cartoon was antisemitic and stressed his anti-racism commitment: but did not forget to end on a sting about the true (pro-Israel, rather than anti-antisemitism) motives of his accusers. The full apology and sting can be read here on Falk's blog. Some excerpts are as follows:
With apologies, I realize that the cartoon that originally appeared on my blog devoted to the arrest warrants for Qaddafi and two others issued by the ICC had strongly anti-semitic symbolism that I had not detected before it was pointed out to me...As soon as I was made aware of the anti-semitic content of the cartoon I removed it from my blog, although initially I denied such a posting because I did not realize that it was anti-semitic and was mistaken as to what was being referred to...
...To be clear, I oppose any denigration of a people based on ethnicity, race, religion, stage of development, and believe in the human dignity of all people in their individual and collective identity...
...Returning to the cartoon, I regret my carelessness, and apologize for any unintended hurt and outrage caused thereby. At the same time, I am quite aware that many of the messages were motivated to discredit me due to my views of Israeli policies and behavior.
Then, the same day (6 July), Falk returned to the fray, with another blog post entitled "a final attempt to clarify my posting of the cartoon", which may be read in full here. It is quite short, contains no "ifs" and its main points are as follows:
...I want to explain my mistake one last time. I do this without trying to excuse the carelessness involved, although I would point out that I removed the cartoon as soon as I became aware of its real content.
Even now I needed a magnifying glass to identify the anti-semitic character of the dog. My vision (at 80) is pretty good, but not good enough. It looked like a helmet to me, and the main visible symbol on the dog was the USA midriff covering. I found the cartoon through a Google image search...I assumed that this blindfolded goddess of justice was being led around by the USA. I am quite sure this cartoon would never have been allowed on the Google page if its true content had been realized, and it should be removed. Without a special effort, which admittedly I did not make, this true content is easy to overlook, and even when the initial objection to the cartoon was brought to my attention, and I looked at it, I did not appreciate the objectionable character of what was intended to be communicated.
We have seen all of this so many times with the anti-Israel left that resulting apologies can be hard to take seriously, even when they do seem to be entirely sincere.
But, then again, how sincere can the apology be when the scenario always unfolds in this manner: and when the apologists fail to contemplate the lazy assumptions and reflexive hatreds that brought them to this accidental place?