31 March 2008

31 March 2008 - Richard Falk's history of radicalism

Be careful what you wish for. John Dugard’s term as UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian rights may have come to an end last week, but his replacement, Princeton professor Richard Falk, is even worse. Whereas Dugard compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, Falk recently compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Falk himself claims to be an American Jew, which is of course partly why he was chosen.

There have been several posts around the blogosphere documenting Falk’s offensive views. (for example, here at It’s Almost Supernatural). It is also worth noting that Falk backed the failed anti-Israel divestment campaign on American campuses in 2002. We were assigned one of his articles in Duncan Kennedy’s class last semester, in which Falk tried (but failed) to argue for a Palestinian “right of resistance.”

Falk is, in short, a flag-waver for the hard left and for anti-Israel radicalism. A person who backs Ayatollah Khomeini (and the Khmer Rouge, according to a 2002 article by Martin Peretz) and who breezily compares the Nazi Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the atrocities in Bosnia to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be disqualified from holding any human rights job, UN or otherwise.

Below I have provided a few Falk quotes (there are plenty more out there) that indicate precisely why he is the worst (or, from an anti-Israel point of view, the best) candidate for the job:

“The PLO issue has got mixed up with the terrorist issue and a lot of other things that a large segment of American public opinion appears to be concerned about.” – Interview, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1. (Autumn, 1978), p. 90

“[The Iranian Revolution] is amazingly non-violent in its tactics and orientation, despite extraordinary levels of provocation and incitement designed to induce violence. . . . One of the stereotypes that has been definitely fostered by the US government to create confusion and resistance to the movement is that anything Islamic is necessarily reactionary. It is very important to clarify its real identity, which I think is progressive.” – One of the Great Watersheds of Modern History, MERIP Reports, No. 75/76, Iran in Revolution. (Mar. - Apr., 1979), pp. 9, 12.

“The entourage around Khomeini, in fact, has had considerable involvement in human rights activities and is committed to a struggle against all forms of oppression. The constitution he proposes has been drafted by political moderates with a strong belief in minority rights. Contrary to the superficial reports in the American press about his attitude toward Jews, women, and others, Khomeini's Islamic republic can be expected to have a doctrine of social justice at its core; from all indications, it will be flexible in interpreting the Koran, keeping the 'book of research' open to amendment and adaptation based on contemporary needs and aspirations.” – Khomeini’s Promise, Foreign Policy, No. 34. (Spring, 1979), p. 32

“[T]he Soviet role in the Third World has, up to this point, been less widely detrimental to the pursuit of human rights than has the American role.” - Comparative Protection of Human Rights in Capitalist and Socialist Third World Countries, Universal Human Rights, Vol. 1, No. 2. (Apr. - Jun., 1979), p. 15

“Let us not sit too quickly in judgment of Ayatollah Khomeini for his evident refusal to shape Iranian policy by reference to the law on the books.” – The Iran Hostage Crisis: Easy Answers and Hard Questions, The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 74, No. 2 (Apr. 1980), p. 413

“Palestinian resistance to the occupation is a legally protected right.” – International Law and the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Middle East Report 217, Winter 2000, p. 16

“Collective punishment of a people subject to the exigencies of a military occupation with territorial ambitions is clearly as much a form of terrorism as reliance on suicide bombers to explode deadly ordinance in places where innocent civilians abound.” - Azmi Bishara, the Right of Resistance, and the Palestinian Ordeal, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 31, No. 2. (Winter, 2002), p. 21.

“The failure of the United Nations in 1994 to protect the threatened population of Rwanda against genocide is illustrative of the refusal of the organized world community to lift a finger under conditions of humanitarian emergency. This same refusal to act locally was dramatically evident in relation to the struggle over Israel-Palestine, where the illusion of a ‘peace process’ was coupled with the concrete realities of settlement expansion and a humiliating Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in defiance of international law. There were many other expressions of this pattern, including a willed indifference to poverty and disease in the South, as well as the minimal engagement with ‘ethnic cleansing’ in former Yugoslavia, culminating in the horrendous massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, while UN peacekeepers looked on as virtual bystanders.” – Reviving Global Justice, Addressing Legitimate Grievances, Middle East Report 229, 2003, p. 16

“Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not.” – Slouching Toward a Palestinian Holocaust, Zaman (July 2007)

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