Richard Falk has never been one to pull punches. He simply states what everybody involved in the so-called ‘peace process’ has always suspected – that the ‘two-state solution’ has been dead in the water for many years.
It’s hard to know whether John Kerry really believes his efforts will make a difference. Certainly Mahmoud Abbas must no better. Meanwhile, as they play out their charade, the Palestinian people continue to pay the price.
Falk: Two-state solution presently obsolete
BEIRUT: Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the U.N. Human Rights Council, Thursday called the two-state solution “presently obsolete.”
Falk, who has drawn controversy in the past for his criticism of Israeli policies, was delivering the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut, speaking on the topic “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus.”
Falk did not completely rule out the two-state solution, saying, “Perhaps in the future it will again become a plausible political project.”
But for now Falk said U.S. President Barack Obama’s model of a two-state solution “continues the global mirage of a negotiation … is essentially a bridge to nowhere,” adding that “no image of an end-game solution at this time is possible as a viable political project.”
Since 2005, he has been the chair of the Board at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and taught at Princeton University for 40 years.
In the wake of the June 1967 war, Falk said, the situation can be characterized as one in which the Palestinians have lost, and the Israelis have gained.
“And they [the Israelis] have been able to do that behind the mirage that a two-state solution was in the cards.”
Using South Africa as an example, he highlighted the need to satisfy a number of political preconditions before a solution becomes a realistic possibility.
Saying that “conditions for a just peace do not presently exist,” Falk also noted, “I realize it’s discouraging to emphasize the prematurity of proposing a solution after 65 years.”
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Professor Richard Falk, is again under the spotlight for apparent bias against Israel, which is seen as being incompatible with his role in the UN.
This time the issue is the comparison he made between Hamas militants and the French Resistance in World War II. His point seems to have been simply that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. This would seem innocuous enough, but comparing the enemies of Israel to those who fought the perpetrators of the Holocaust has evidently aroused some sensitivities!
Falk is also under attack for publishing a cartoon on his blog that has been widely condemned as anti-Semitic. You can see the cartoon here. It depicts a dog wearing a kippah and an American flag, urinating on a statue of Blind Justice and eating human bones and blood. Certainly the cartoon could be depicted as being in bad taste, but it seems to me that the dog is supposed to be the USA and not the state of Israel.
Falk, who is an American Jew, has been accused multiple times of being a self-hating Jew. I don’t know whether anyone has accused him yet of being a self-hating American?
UN Palestine expert Falk: Hamas like French resistance
The United Nation’s Palestine expert has compared Hamas terrorists to fighters with the French resistance during the Holocaust.
Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, made the comments in a piece posted on the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine website.
In an article that included repeated condemnations of Israel, Mr Falk asked his audience to “imagine the situation being reversed as it was during the Nazi occupation of France or the Netherlands during World War two”.
“Resistance fighters were uniformly perceived in the liberal West as unconditional heroes, and no critical attention was given as to whether the tactics used unduly imperiled innocent civilian lives,” he said.
“Those who lost their lives in such a resistance were honoured as martyrs. “[Khaled] Meshaal and other Hamas leaders have made similar arguments on several occasions, in effect asking what are Palestinians supposed to do in the exercise of resistance given their circumstances, which have persisted for so long, given the failures of traditional diplomacy and the UN to secure their rights under international law.”
read the rest of this article here: www.thejc.com…
Haaretz journalist Yoel Marcus put it well: “If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then anti-Semitism is the last refuge of the occupier.”
Jeffrey Blankfort went further: “I have been attacked as a “self-hating Jew”, as an anti-Semite, but it does not matter to me because I consider the accusation of anti-Semitism to be the first refuge of scoundrels. Patriotism is the last refuge, anti-Semitism is the first.”
Perhaps Mr Falk should take it as a compliment that he has been labelled as ‘anti-Semitic’ and a ‘self-hating Jew’. He is in excellent company. Even so, these vitriolic attacks take their toll (as I myself well know) and it’s hard to imagine the personal pain that it must have caused Falk to have this labelled pinned on him by no less a figure than Ban ki-Moon!
Falk’s response is thorough and credible, but will it lead to an apology from his high-profile accusers? Probably not, but the rest of us will hold him in our prayers.
An Open Letter of Response to CRIF (Conseil Représentif des Institutions Juives de France)
I am shocked and saddened that your organization would label me as an anti-Semite and self-hating Jew. It is utterly defamatory, and such allegations are entirely based on distortions of what I believe and what I have done. To confuse my criticisms of Israel with self-hatred of myself as a Jew or with hatred of Jews is a calumny. I have long been a critic of American foreign policy but that does not make me anti-American; it is freedom of conscience and its integral link with freedom of expression that is the core defining reality of a genuinely democratic society, and the robust exercise of these rights are crucial to the quality of political life in a particular country, especially here in the United States where its size and influence often has such a large impact on the lives and destiny of many peoples excluded from participating in its policy debates or elections.
It is always difficult to negate irresponsible accusations of this kind. What follows is an attempt to clarify my honestly held positions in relation to a litany of charges that have been given currency by a defamatory campaign conducted by UN Watch ever since I was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to be Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2008. What follows are brief attempts at clarification in response to the main charges:
–the attacks on me by such high profile individuals as Ban ki-Moon, Susan Rice, David Cameron were made in response to vilifying letters about me sent to them by UN Watch, and signed by its Executive Director, Hillel Neuer. The contention that Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also attacked me is misleading. She regretted the posting of a cartoon on my blog that had an anti-Semitic cartoon, but she took note of my contention that it was a complete accident and that the cartoon was immediately removed when brought to my attention;
– UN Watch charges that I am biased and one-sided in my treatment of Israeli behavior, and cites Susan Rice and others for support, as well as noting my failure to report on violations by Hamas, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority. I can only say once more that I am trying my best to be objective and truthful, although unwilling to give in to pressure. I did make an effort in my initial appearance before the Human Rights Council to broaden my mandate to take account of Palestinian violations, but was rebuffed by most of the 49 governmental members of the Council for seeking to make such a change, and reasonable grounds were advanced for not changing my mandate. I have noted Palestinian violations of international law wherever relevant to the assessment of Israeli behavior, as for instance in relation to the launch of indiscriminate rockets. Palestinian abuses of human rights of Palestinians under their control while administering portions of Occupied Palestine is outside my mandate, and I have no discretion to comment on such behavior in discharging my responsibilities as Special Rapporteur.
It is my view that Israel is in control of the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and is primarily responsible for the situation and the persistence of the conflict, especially by their insistence on undertaking provocative actions such as targeted assassinations and accelerated settlement expansions.
I would grateful if this account of my actual views and beliefs can be circulated widely in response to the CRIF repetition of the UN Watch attacks.
29 December 2012
Read the complete letter on Richard Falk’s blog: richardfalk.wordpress.com…
Richard Falk is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 books, speaker, activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories. He has been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.
Falk is interviewed here by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.
Can’t see the video? Try this link.
It is a common spectacle nowadays – someone highly respected speaks out and confronts the cultural and religious establishment and suddenly they have no friends but are being targeted by all their peers and roundly condemned from all sides (the name ‘Richard Goldstone’ comes to mind)!
What is encouraging is to see Richard Falk standing his ground and receiving some degree of recognition for his courage.
In defence of UN Palestine rapporteur Richard Falk
Richard Falk is the present United Nations special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories. His job is to monitor the human rights situation in the territories, with particular reference to international law, and report back to both the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. He is Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and well qualified for his UN post.
Telling unsettling truths
Professor Falk was appointed in 2008 to a six year term in his present position. That means he has been telling the unsettling truth about Israeli behaviour for four years now, with another two to go. Repeatedly, he has documented Israeli violations of international law and its relentless disregard for Palestinian human rights. For instance:
- In 2008 he documented the “desperate plight of civilians in Gaza”;
- In 2009 he described Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip as a “war crime of the greatest magnitude”;
- In 2010 he documented Israel’s array of apartheid policies;
- In 2011 he documented Israeli policies in Jerusalem and labelled them “ethnic cleansing”; and
- In this latest report for the year 2012, he has concentrated on two subjects:
– Israel’s treatment of Palestinian prisoners which, he concludes, is so bad as to warrant investigation by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It should be noted that Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ. However, condemnation by this organization would, within the context of growing awareness of Zionist crimes, help further educate public opinion.
– Falk documents the assistance given to Israel’s expansion of colonies on the Palestinian West Bank by a number of multinational corporations, including Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Caterpillar Inc. This assistance may be profitable, but it is also manifestly illegal. The chief executives and board members of these companies stand in violation of international laws, including provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Since no nation, nor the UN itself, seems ready to prosecute them, Professor Falk has recommended a boycott of the guilty firms “in an effort to take infractions of international law seriously”.
In a sane world this work would make Richard Falk a universally acclaimed defender of justice. But ours is not a sane world. And so you get the following sort of responses from both Israel and its supporters:
Karaen Peretz, the spokeswomen for the Israeli Mission at the United Nations, found Professor Falk’s latest report “grossly biased”. This is a sort of response used by someone who cannot dispute the evidence and so must resort to attacking the character of the one presenting the evidence. Peretz also asserted that “Israel is deeply committed to advancing human rights and firmly believes that this cause will be better served without Falk and his distasteful sideshow. While he spends pages attacking Israel, Falk fails to mention even once the horrific human rights violations and ongoing terrorist attacks by Hamas.”
Actually, this is not true. Back in 2008 Falk requested that his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council be extended to cover infringements of human rights by Palestinian governments just so he would not be seen as partisan. Subsequently, Mahmoud Abbas’s pseudo Palestinian Authority called for Falk’s resignation. In this job, you just can’t win.
In any case, Falk’s documenting of Israel’s crimes puts the lie to Peretz’s claim that Israel is “deeply committed to advancing human rights” and that documentation cannot be dismissed as a “sideshow”. Relative to 64 years of ethnic cleansing, it is the militarily insignificant missiles out of Gaza that are the “sideshow”. And, can we honestly assume that Ms Peretz’s attitude towards Professor Falk would turn for the better if in this report he had mentioned Hamas “even once”?
Then there is United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. She echoed Peretz by describing Falk as being “highly biased”. Well, what sort of attitude is one suppose to have toward overwhelming evidence persisting over many years? Isn’t one supposed to be “biased” in favour of such evidence? To ignore it doesn’t make you balanced or fair. It makes you either corrupt or in a deep state of denial.
Ms Rice goes on to say that “Mr Falk’s recommendations do nothing to further a peaceful settlement … and indeed poison the environment for peace”. These are pretty strong words, but if considered critically they make little sense.
First of all, Falk’s mandate requires him to reveal the facts about human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. It makes no reference to “furthering a peaceful settlement”. That is what the US government claims to be doing. And its record in this regard is pitiful.
Second, just why should conclusively documenting practices that may well be standing in the way of a settlement, be equated with “poisoning the environment for peace”? That doesn’t add up at all.
There are many other spokespeople who have reacted negatively to Falk’s latest report, ranging from the Canada’s foreign affairs minister to representatives of the companies caught on the wrong side of the law. And, remarkably, they all sing the same song: Falk is biased, ad nauseum. They can do no better because they cannot refute the professor”s evidence. Thus, all of these well positioned, well paid representatives of nations and multinational businesses are reduced to sounding like lawyers defending the mafia.
Professor Falk’s experience should serve as a warning to both those who would, on the one hand, make a career out of being a spokespersons for governments or companies, and on the other, those who would dedicate themselves to “speaking truth to power”. Taking on the role of the former is the equivalent of selling your soul to leadership whose sense of right and wrong goes no further than their own local interests. Taking on the role of the latter is to face seemingly endless frustration for, as Noam Chomsky once noted, power already knows the truth and doesn’t care one jot for it.
Yet, for those who would travel down this latter road, Richard Falk is as good a role model as can be found. Having dedicated himself to the role of truth teller he is to be commended for his devotion to justice and sheer durability. He is a hero who, hopefully, will have his praises sung long after Ms Peretz and Ms Rice are deservedly forgotten.