Author: Richard Falk

The UN, Israel-Palestine and 9/11 Scholarship: A Discussion with Prof. Richard Falk

Globalization1492 — Dr. Richard Falk is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. He is the author, co-author or editor of about three dozen scholarly books. In 2008 Professor Falk was appointed to a six-year term as Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967. Professor Falk has been attacked recently by UN Watch, by UN General-Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, and by the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. In this discussion, Professor Falk gives his assessment of the political context of the criticisms he is facing for identifying Israeli crimes in the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and for referring positively to the scholarly contributions of Professor David Ray Griffin and other academics who have identified serious shortcomings in government and mainstream media interpretations concerning the contested events of 9/11. Part I Part II Part...

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Supplemental Blog on Arizona Shootings

Because my blog prompted by the Arizona shootings has attracted many comments pro and con, and more recently has been the object of a more selective public attack on me personally, I thought it appropriate to post a supplementary blog with the purpose of clarifying my actual position and re-focusing attention on the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people being held in captivity. In the background, are crucial issues of free speech, fairness in public discourse, and responsible media treatment of sensitive and controversial affairs of state. Both the UN Secretary General and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations harshly criticized some remarks in my personal blog that mentioned the 9/11 attacks. They referred to the views expressed there as ‘despicable and deeply offensive,’ ‘noxious, ‘inflammatory,’ and ‘preposterous.’ Their comments were apparently made in response to a letter written to the UN Secretary General by the head of UN Monitor, a Geneva-based highly partisan NGO, that called misleading attention to this passage in the blog. Ambassador Rice called for my dismissal from my unpaid post as an independent Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council with a mandate to report upon the Israeli observance of “human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.” For anyone who read the blog post in its entirety, it should be plain that the reference to the 9/11 issues is both...

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Welcoming the Tunisian Revolution: Hopes and Fears

Almost six years ago, President George W. Bush’s otherwise inconsequential Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, gave a speech at the American University in Cairo that grabbed headlines. While lauding the autocratic leadership of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Rice indicated a new approach to the Arab world by the United States in these much-quoted words: “For sixty years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region, here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.” Explaining further this new approach in Washington, she went on to say “[t]hroughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy.” Any close listener at the time should have wondered what was meant when at the same time she praised Mubarak for having “unlocked the door for change,” whatever that might mean. As it turned out, outlawing opposition parties and locking up their leaders seemed to remain the bottom line in Egypt without generating a whimper of complaint from the White House either in the Bush years, or since, in the supposedly milder presidency of President Obama. And supporting “the democratic aspirations of all peoples” seems to have...

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On Jewish Identity

As someone who is both Jewish and supportive of the Palestinian struggle for a just and sustainable peace, I am often asked about my identity. The harshest critics of my understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict contend that I am a self-hating Jew, which implies that sharp criticism of Israel and Zionism are somehow incompatible with affirming a Jewish identity. Of course, I deny this. For me to be Jewish is, above all, to be preoccupied with overcoming injustice and thirsting for justice in the world, and that means being respectful toward other peoples regardless of their nationality or religion, and empathetic in the face of human suffering whoever and wherever victimization is encountered. With this orientation, I could, but will not, return the insult, and say that those who endorse the cruelties of Israel occupation policies are the real self-hating Jews as they have turned away from the moral clarity of Old Testament prophets, which is the shining light of the Old Testament overcoming the often bloody exploits of the ancient Israelites. So interpreted, the biblical mandate for just behavior extends to all of humanity.  As the great Rabbi Hilal teaches, “[T]hat which is hateful to you do not do to another. The rest (of the Torah) is all commentary, now go study.” Not hateful only to another Jew, but clearly meant to encompass every human being. But in...

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Interrogating the Arizona Killings from a Safe Distance

I spent a year in Sweden a few years after the assassination of Olaf Palme in 1986, the controversial former prime minister of the country who, at the time of his death, was serving as a member of the Swedish cabinet. He was assassinated while walking with his wife back to his apartment in the historic part of the city after attending a nearby movie. It was a shocking event in a Sweden that had prided itself on moderateness in politics and the avoidance of involvement in the wars of the twentieth century. A local drifter, with a history of alcoholism, was charged and convicted of the crime, but many doubts persisted, including on the part of Ms. Palme, who analogized her situation to that of Coretta King, who never believed the official version of her martyred husband’s death. I had a particular interest in this national traumatic event as my reason for being in Sweden was a result of an invitation to be the Olaf Palme Professor, a rotating academic post given each year to a foreign scholar, established by the Swedish Parliament as a memorial to their former leader (after the Social Democratic Party lost political control in Sweden this professorship was promptly defunded, partly because Palme was unloved by conservatives and partly because of a neoliberal dislike for public support of such activities). In the course...

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