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Richard Falk: Speaking Truth to Power

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Richard Falk: Speaking Truth to Power


by Stephen Lendman


Falk is Princeton University Professor Emeritus. For 40 years, he taught international law and relations. In 2008, he was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.


He's outspoken about longstanding Israeli human rights abuses. They're too horrendous to ignore. On June 6, he addressed them. More on that below.


May 15 is Nakba Day. It's the "day of the catastrophe." In 1948, Israel stole 78% of historic Palestine.


In 1967, it took the rest. June 5 is Naksa Day. It commemorates the "day of the setback." It's when Israel occupied Palestinian-populated West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.


It remains illegally occupied. It's militarized for control. It's dominated ruthlessly and repressively. For 46 years, Palestinians been criminally oppressed. Millions have been terrorized. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, injured, and/or displaced. 


Around one-third have permanent injuries. About 20% of Palestinians have been imprisoned. Around 40% of Palestinian males endured incarceration. 


So have many thousands of women and children. Some are aged 10 or younger. Israel terrorizes them for political advantage. It does so with impunity.


Many Palestinians are held uncharged for years. Prison conditions are deplorable. They're nightmarish. Militarized ruthlessness reflect official Israeli policy. Palestinian rights are systematically denied.


Besieged Gaza's the world's largest open-air prison. Life in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is little better. State terror reflects official Israeli policy. 


Dozens of Palestinian community and neighborhood incursions occur weekly. Farmers are attacked in their fields. Children are assaulted to and from school or at play. 


Families are terrorized. Lawless arrests follow. So do beatings, detentions, interrogations and torture. Confessions are forced for offenses Israel invents. Guilt by accusation is policy.


Israel's rogue terror state. It remains unaccountable. It's complicit in global state terror. It's history is blood-drenched. 


It threatens regional peace and security. It menaces humanity. Palestinians live in the eye of the storm. They're not sure each day if they'll see another.


On June 6, Richard Falk addressed what's too important to ignore. He did so forthrightly. His candor was unequivocal, explicit and damning. "In Occupied Palestine, there's no distorting the facts on the ground," he said.


"Neither Israel nor its proxies can justify" what's ongoing. "So they distract, distort and defame to allow violation to go on."


"It’s a shame that there are lobbying organizations whose sole purpose is to distract the world’s attention from Israel’s unacceptable human rights record, but irresponsible and dishonest smear campaigns to discredit those who document these realities do not change the facts on the ground forty-six years after Israel launched the war that began its occupation of Palestine."


Facts on the ground are indisputable. Israeli policy is ruthless. Police state rules apply. Fundamental international laws are violated with impunity. Palestinians are terrorized into submission. 


"Israel continues to annex Palestinian territory. Israel persists in demolishing Palestinians’ homes and populating Palestine with Israeli citizens." 


"Israel routinely detains Palestinians without charges. Israel maintains a policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip." 


"Israel prosecutes its occupation with impunity, refusing to accept the world’s calls to respect international law."


"The Israeli population registry confirms that around 650,000 Israelis had settled in the occupied Palestinian territory by the end of 2012." 


"Just last week, Israel took another step toward building the 3,000 additional settlements authorized by Prime Minister Netanyahu in November, even as Israeli leaders pay lip service to peace negotiations."


So-called peace process overtures are pretense. Israel deplores peace and stability. It prioritizes violence, belligerence, confrontation, intimidation and dominance.


It wants Palestinians occupied, exploited, abused and denied. Netanyahu heads Israel's most extremist government ever. It mocks democratic values. It spurns rule of law principles. 


Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon spoke for others saying Israel won't permit Palestinian self-determination. Preventing it means no peace.


"Look at the government: there was never a government discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution," he said


"If you will bring it to a vote in the government - nobody will bring it to a vote, it’s not smart to do it - but if you bring it to a vote, you will see the majority of Likud ministers, along with the Jewish Home (party), will be against it."


"If there's a move to promote a two-state solution, forces will block it within the party and the government." He added that Netanyahu called for peace talks because he knows resolution won't be reached.


"The International community can say whatever they want, and we can do whatever we want."


Falk understands what Palestinians face. He addressed the UN Human Rights Council. He raised longstanding concerns. "Israel remains committed to ignoring international law and pursuing its own set of facts on the ground," he said.


Conditions in Gaza are especially deplorable, he stressed. Seven years of lawless, oppressive siege continues. It's "suffocating Palestinians in Gaza, with an incredible 70% of the population dependent on international aid for survival and 90% of the water unfit for human consumption."


"These violations deprive Palestinians of hope and make a mockery of revived peace negotiations." 


"While Israel and its proxies may wish to ignore the world's efforts to induce compliance with international law, it's contrary to the aims and purposes of the United Nations to distract attention from or distort the facts on the ground."


In his report, Falk accused Israel of refusing him entry to Palestine. Doing so is required to gain firsthand information. Israel's obligated to comply. UN Charter Article 104 states:


"The Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfillment of its purposes." 


Article 105 says UN representatives have "privileges and immunities as are necessary for the independent exercise of their functions in connexion with the Organization."


Falk raised another concern. He addressed UN Watch. It's a pro-Israeli front group. It demeans Falk maliciously. 


Its "smear campaign has been carried out in numerous settings," said Falk, "including at the Human Rights Council, as well as university venues" where he lectures.


Its "smears (were) sent to diplomats and United Nations officials, including the Secretary-General, who apparently accepted the allegations at face value…."


It's no surprise, Ban Ki-moon is a longtime imperial stooge. His credibility is sorely lacking. His legitimacy's very much in question. He bows to the will of powerful interests. They control him. He spurns Palestinian rights.


Falk's full report is detailed and damning. He issues them annually. They fall on deaf ears. World leaders able to act ignore his findings. They let Israel get away with murder.


The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted its own statement to the Human Rights Council (HRC). It did so jointly with the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.


It's titled "No justice or remedy for Palestinian victims in the Israeli legal system." Throughout 46 years of occupation, Israel systematically violates international law, it said.


Long denied redress is unconscionable. "Israel disregards its State duty, under international law, to investigate and prosecute alleged violations of international law, and to make reparations for breaching or violating international legal principles." 


"Palestinian victims are systematically denied the right to an effective judicial remedy. This has led to the development of a culture of impunity, in which Israel is permitted to consistently violate the rule of law without repercussion." 


"While victims of past crimes wait for justice, the lack of accountability continues to give way to future violations."


US HRC representative Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe assailed Falk. It didn't surprise. Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. America's complicit in occupation harshness.


Donahoe denounced Falk's report. She called for his resignation. "His views and behavior, both official and unofficial, are offensive and provocative and do nothing to advance peace in the Middle East or to further the protection and promotion of human rights," she said. "We again call for his resignation."


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) disseminates pro-Israeli propaganda. It conducts smear campaigns against Israeli critics like Falk. 


It does so on the pretext of fighting anti-Semitism. It claims to support human rights. Its long history suggests otherwise. It reflects demagogic duplicity. It supports Israel's worst crimes.


National director Abraham Foxman welcomed Donahoe's condemnation. He urged member states to "denounce Falk and his outrageous abuse of the position he hold."


"We fully agree with Ambassador Donahoe’s conclusion that Mr. Falk 'is unfit to serve in his role as a UN special rapporteur.' "  


"His continued affiliation with the UN makes a mockery out of the Human Rights Council’s founding purpose, and undermines the important work of the UN."  


"If he does not leave voluntarily, the Human Rights Council should remove him."


On May 28, Netanyahu addressed the "Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism." The issue's exploited for political advantage. It's been so for decades. The notion of unique Jewish suffering doesn't wash.


Netanyahu called it anti-Semitic to accuse Israel of war crimes or violating human rights. "(T)hree arguments are put forward by the anti-Semites all the time, and they are false all the time," he claimed.


"The first is that Israel is guilty of war crimes. We, who fight war criminals with measured means, whose cities are attacked by terrorists who fire from built-up areas and try to pinpoint the rocketeers - we are accused of war crimes by the war criminals." 


"That is one facet of the vilification that we experience."


"The second is that we are expansionists, we don't want peace, we never agree to compromise. That's patently false." 


"The State of Israel repeatedly has offered concessions, has made concessions for peace that no other people, no other state has made in history." 


"I don't know of any other case in which the victor made concessions in order to achieve peace, but we've done it again and again."


"We are prepared to compromise for peace - for a genuine peace. This is our most reverent hope, to live in peace with our neighbors. It is not reciprocated as much as we want, and recently it is not reciprocated at all. We can only hope that it will change."


"The third argument is that we are violators of human rights. Did you hear that? Israel, the one country in the vast expanse that recognizes the rights of everyone - women, minorities, every individual - who have access to the best court system in the world." 


"Israel has a free press and a vibrant democracy, and Israel is accused of violating human rights. This is when in our neighborhood hundreds of people are killed daily, massacred daily in neighboring regimes."


"These three vilifications - that Israel is guilty of war crimes, that it doesn't want peace, it wants to continue expansionist policies, and that we are guilty of violating human rights - are part and parcel of the anti-Semitic campaign that is leveled against the Jewish people and their state."


Netanyahu's a serial liar. He's a war criminal. He's unfit to serve. He's a world class thug. Only a flagrant human rights violator/Islamophobe could make these type statements with a straight face.


He and likeminded ideologues reflect the enormous cross Palestinians must bear. Falk and other human rights supporters courageously challenge him. It's high time everyone did.


A Final Comment


On June 12, Falk responded to critics. He did so forthrightly, saying:


"I don't intend to resign, and there doesn't seem to be any formal initiative that is seeking my dismissal."


He rejected accusations calling him anti-Semitic. He called them "hurtful" and "completely malicious."


Falk is Jewish. He's not self-hating. The term is oxymoronic. It's slanderous. It's unprincipled. It doesn't wash. 


Falk said these type attacks "make it appear as if criticizing Israel is tantamount to what everybody agrees to be objectionable, which is anti-Semitism." 


"I'm not willing to be intimidated in this way. The attack on the messenger is a way of diverting attention from the message."


"Why do I keep getting into trouble? It's because of my role in trying to speak honestly about the situation that Palestinians are facing under this condition of prolonged occupation," he added.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 


His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."




Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 


Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.




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