Archive for November, 2012
Genocidal Yearnings – An Analysis (29 November 2012) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Some History
By the middle of the 19th century the multi-ethnic empire was on its way out as the dominant political paradigm in Europe. Replacing it was the nation-state, a political form which allowed the concentration of ethnic groups within their own political borders. This in turn formed cultural and “racial” incubators for us (superior) vs. them (inferior) nationalism that would underpin most of the West’s future wars. Many of these nation states were also imperial powers expanding across the globe and, of course, their state-based chauvinistic outlook went with them.
Zionism was born in this milieu of nationalism and imperialism, both of which left an indelible mark on the character and ambitions of the Israeli state. The conviction of Theodor Herzl, modern Zionism’s founding father, was that the centuries of anti-Semitism were proof positive that Europe’s Jews could not be assimilated into mainstream Western society. They could only be safe if they possessed a nation state of their own. This conviction also reflected the European imperial sentiments of the day. The founders of modern Zionism were both Jews and Europeans, and (as such) had acquired the West’s cultural sense of superiority in relation to non-Europeans.
This sense of superiority would play an important role when a deal (the Balfour Declaration) was struck in 1917 between the World Zionist Organization and the British Government. The deal stipulated that, in exchange for Zionist support for the British war effort (World War I was in progress), the British would (assuming victory) help create a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. It was no oversight that neither side in this bargain gave much thought to the Palestinian native population.
Years later, beginning in 1945 (at the end of World War II), the British were forced to officially give up the imperial point of view. They came out of this war with a population burdened by extraordinary high war taxes. Retaining the empire would keep those taxes high and so the British voter elected politicians who would transform the empire into a commonwealth, granting independence to just about all the Britain’s overseas territories. One of those territories was Palestine.
It is interesting to note that in other colonies, where large numbers of Europeans resided, the era following World War II saw their eventual evacuation as power shifted over to the natives. Kenya and Algeria are examples which show that this process was hard and bloody, but it happened. And when it did happen, the official imperial mind set was defeated. That does not mean that all Europeans (or Westerners) saw the light and ceased to be racists, but that their governments eventually saw the necessity to stop acting that way.
Part II – Some Consequences
Unfortunately, in the case of Palestine, this process of de-colonization never occurred. In this case the European colonists did not want the imperial mother country to stay and protect them. They wanted them out so they could set up shop on their own. They got their chance after the British evacuated in 1947. Soon thereafter, the Zionists began executing a prepared plan to conquer the “Holy Land” and chase away or subjugate the native population. And what of that imperial point of view which saw the European as superior and the native as inferior? This became institutionalized in the practices of the new Israeli state. That made Israel one of the very few (the other being apartheid South Africa) self-identified “Western” nation states to continue to implement old-style imperial policies: they discriminated against the Palestinian population in every way imaginable, pushed them into enclosed areas of concentration and sought to control their lives in great detail.
If one wants to know what this meant for the evolving character of Israel’s citizenry who now would live out the colonial drama as an imperial power in their own right, one might take a look at a book by Sven Lindqvist entitled Exterminate All The Brutes (New Press 1996). This work convincingly shows that lording it over often resisting native peoples, debasing and humiliating them, regularly killing or otherwise punishing them when they protest, leads the colonials to develop genocidal yearnings.
There is evidence that the Zionists who created and now sustain Israel suffer from this process. For a long time Israeli government officials tried genocide via a thought experiment. They went about asserting that the Palestinians did not exist. The most famous case of this was Golda Meir, who on June 15, 1969 claimed that “there were no such thing as Palestinians ….They do not exist.” One of the reasons she gave for this opinion was that the Arabs of Palestine never had their own nation state.
Others took a different approach by denying not so much the existence of Palestinians, but rather their humanity. At various times and in various contexts, usually in response to acts of resistance against occupation, Israeli leaders have referred to the Palestinians as “beasts walking on two legs” (Menachem Begin); “grasshoppers” (Yitzhaq Shamir); “crocodiles” (Ehud Barak); and “cockroaches” (Rafael Eitan).
Of course, these sentiments were not confined to the Israeli leadership. They soon pervaded most of the Zionist population because the old imperial superiority-inferiority propaganda had become a core element of their basic education. The Israelis have taught their children the imperial point of view, augmented it with biased media reporting, labeled the inevitable resistance offered by the Palestinians as anti-Semitism and took it as proof of the need to suppress and control this population of “Others.”
And, from the Zionist standpoint, this entire process has worked remarkably well. Today all but a handful of Israeli Jews dislike and fear the people they conquered and displaced. They wish they would go away. And, when their resistance gets just a bit too much to bear, they are now quite willing to see them put out of the way.
Thus, during the latest round of resistance rocket fire from Gaza and the vengeful killing that came from the Israeli side, we heard the following: “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water” (Eli Yishai, present Deputy Prime Minister); “There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing….We need to flatten entire neighborhoods…flatten all of Gaza” (journalist Gilad Sharon in the Jerusalem Post); “There are no innocents in Gaza. Mow them down…kill the Gazans without thought or mercy.” (Michael Ben-Ari, member of the Knesset); Gaza should be “bombed so hard the population has to flee into Egypt” (Israel Katz, present Minister of Transportation); Gaza should be “wiped clean with bombs” (Avi Dichter, present Minister of Home Front Defense); Israeli soldiers must “learn from the Syrians how to slaughter the enemy” (prominent Israeli Rabbi Yaakov Yosef); and then finally there were the numerous, spontaneous demonstrations of ordinary Israeli citizens, both in the north and south of the country, where could be heard chants and shouts such as “They don’t deserve to live. They need to die. May your children die. Kick out all the Arabs.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that the outside world was watching, there can be little doubt that the famed Israeli armed forces would have been tempted to do all that these ministers, clerics and citizens wished. After Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a cease fire, a group of Israeli soldiers showed their frustration by using their bodies to spell out (in Hebrew) the words “Bibi Loser” (Bibi is a nickname for Netanyahu). It was a pre-arranged photo-op and the picture can now easily be found on the web. What seems to really irk the Israeli citizenry is not that Bibi killed and maimed too many innocent Palestinian civilians, but rather that he did not kill and maim enough of them to grant Israelis “safety and security.”
Part III – Conclusion
Throughout history it has been standard operating procedure to demonize those you fight and demote to inferior status those you conquer. But as Lindqvist’s work shows, there was something different about the way Europeans went about this business. The deeply racist outlook that underlay modern imperialism made it particularly perverse. Now that apartheid South Africa is no more, the Israelis are the last surviving heirs to that dreadful heritage. So much for a “light unto the nations.” That proposition has quite failed. Wherever the Israelis and their Zionist cohorts are leading us, it is not into the light, it is to someplace very very dark.
A Zionist Worldview and the Slaughter in Gaza – An Analysis (19 November 2012) Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Introducing Fred Skolnik
Soon after my analysis, In Defense of Richard Falk (4 November 2012) was published by Media with a Conscience (MWC), the site editor forwarded to me an unusual chastising response. Unusual because it came from a relatively well-known scholar and writer by the name of Fred Skolnik. Mr. Skolnik is the editor in chief of a 22 volume Encyclopedia Judaica (second edition), a work that won the Dartmouth Medal in 2007. He is also the author of numerous works of fiction all concerning life in Israel. It is not rare for Zionists to take me to task, and Skolnik is most certainly a Zionist. Yet it is rare that those who chastise are of Skolniks stature. And so, a reply is in order.
Mr. Skolnik does not like Dr. Falk who, the reader might remember, is the present United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories. And, because I defend Falk, he does not like me either. Indeed, as far as Skolnik is concerned I am part of an army of Israel haters…churning out endless… venomous half truths about the Land of Israel. Nonetheless, Skolnik has taken the time to write a three page commentary to set me and my readers straight. He says, I will state Israels case in as few words as possible, though you of course may not choose to publish this in order not to lose the effect you are aiming at. Well, that is silly. I have no objection to my readers seeing Mr. Skolniks response. Here is how you can do so: go to the MWC site; search for Davidson; go to In Defense of Richard Falk; and scroll down to Skolniks comment.
Part II – Mr. Skolniks Arguments
That being said, here is my analysis of elements of Mr. Skolniks case for Israel.
1. Skolnik: There is no historic Palestine that has anything to do with the Arabs, nor is there an indigenous or native Muslim population there. This is a very old fantasy or myth that has been developed over the years to allow radical Zionists and violent settlers to rationalize their historical absorption of Palestinian land.
–Quoting from the Wikipedia entry for Palestinian People, an entry which reflects the latest research into this subject of who was where and when, including genetic analysis, we find that Palestinians are the modern descendants of those who have lived in Palestine over the centuries and today are largely culturally and linguistically Arab….Genetic analysis suggests that a majority of the Muslims of Palestine, inclusive of the Arab citizens of Israel, are descendants of Christians, Jews and other inhabitants of the southern Levant whose core reaches back to prehistoric times.
–Furthermore, a study of high-resolution haplotypes [DNA sequences] demonstrated that a substantial portion of Y chromosomes of Israeli Jews (70%) and of Palestinian Muslim Arabs (82%) belong to the same chromosome pool.
–What all this means is that the ancestors of those Palestinians who are now culturally and linguistically Arab have been in Palestine for time immemorial. Over the ages, the population fragmented, acquired differing religious, linguistic and cultural traits. Indeed, those indigenous Palestinians, Jews and local Christians as well, are basically the same people gone in somewhat separate cultural ways.
Poor Mr. Skolnik. It is a shock that he is so ardently supporting the ethnic cleansing of his own cousins.
2. Skolnik: Most of the Arabs with roots in the Land of Israel migrated there from other parts of the Arab world in the 19th and early 20th centuries while the Jews have been continuously present in the Land of Israel for well over 3000 years.
–This is another myth that was most prominently put forth in a book by Joan Peters, published in 1984, and entitled From Time Immemorial. Her argument and evidence were meticulously taken apart and shown to be false by Norman Finkelstein in his Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (1995).
3. Skolnik: The displacement of the Arabs in the Land of Israel during Israels war of Independence…was paralleled by the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab lands at the time whose lives were made unbearable under vindictive Arab rule. Subsequently, the Israelis received their Jewish brethren with open arms while the Arab countries that received Arab refugees herded them into camps and treated them like animals.
For an editor of a 22 volume encyclopedia Skolnik shows a deplorable tendency to slip into generalizing, stereotyping and lumping together multiple events with multiple outcomes. Here are some counterpoints:
Actually, the exodus of Arab Jews from their countries of residence went on over an extended period of time and in some cases, such as Algeria, had nothing to do with the events in Palestine. In other cases where the Arab country found itself at war with Israel, as with Egypt, Jewish immigration was a direct result of the Zionist expulsion of Arabs. And in the case of Morocco, the government tried hard to assure the Jews safety and prosperity to counter Zionist propaganda urging them to leave.
Sometimes the displacement was hastened, as in Iraq, by Zionist agents committing violent acts of sabotage against local Jewish communities.
The reception the Arab Jews got in Israel wasnt quite the open arms picture Skolnik paints. They were received by their European Jewish brethren with racial prejudice. Even today, Ashkenazi and Sephardic/Mizrachi relations in Israel are strained.
As to the Arab refugees who were allegedly treated like animals by their fellow Arabs, this is an exaggeration. The situation differed country to country. For instance, treatment in Lebanon was bad, in Jordan it was good. In none of the refugee camps in Arab countries were conditions worse than those in the tent cities and development towns in the Negev Desert into which the Israelis herded 80% of the Arab Jewish refugees.
4. Mr. Skolnik has other points which time and space do not allow me to address. The interested reader can find them in his response to my essay on Dr. Falk. If you read and consider them please take the time to follow up with other sources of information, such as the works of the Israeli historians Ilan Pappe and Benny Morris as well as the journalistic pieces of Amira Hass and Gideon Levy (both of whom work for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz), and the reports of Israels human rights group BTselem. These are all Israeli sources, but they tell a very different story than does Skolnik.
Part III – From Skolnik to Gaza
Gaza City 16 November 2012
As Mr. Skolnik so aptly demonstrates, we all live within our own world. These are usually constructed for us by our upbringing: our families, our peers, our schools, our friends and the level of attachment we develop to the community. This attachment is usually sustained and deepened by the reinforcing information environment that the community provides for us. These environments at once transform us into good citizens and simultaneously narrow our views of the world so they conform to acceptable political and cultural paradigms. The process usually works quite well. Nevertheless, it is still true that in any community you get a continuum of acceptance and devotion ranging from the skeptic to the true believer. For the latter, the community can do no wrong and its behavior can always be rationalized. When it comes to Israel, Skolnik is a true believer.
In a country like Israel, one that has armed itself to the teeth yet feels perennially insecure, and where the true believers are in charge, the situation is made dangerous in the extreme. Over the years Israeli leaders, generally believing the same things that Fred Skolnik believes, have dispossessed and ethnically cleansed the Palestinians, pushing them into ever smaller areas of concentration.
Gaza is the worst example of these cases. It is a virtual open air prison of a million and half people squeezed into 139 square miles, the most densely populated place on earth. There, with the compliance of the United States and the European Union, the Israelis have proceeded to reduce most of the Gazans to abject poverty. When, periodically, these people strike out at their tormenters, usually in ineffective ways, they are labeled terrorists and, again with Western blessing, attacked furiously and disproportionately by the Israelis. You can now witness the latest onslaught live on the web.
Part IV – Conclusion
Under these circumstances Skolniks assertions that the Jews were in Palestine first and the Arabs only came later as interlopers is really besides the point. Let us say, just for the sake of argument, that he is correct. That the Jews, even in their European guise, are the real indigenous Palestinians, having come back to the homeland after an extended absence of several thousand years. Even granted this fiction, does any of that give todays Israeli Jews the right to treat the Palestinians as they do? Does it justify the creation of an apartheid environment in the occupied West Bank? Does it give them the right to reduce a million and half Gazans to a calculated impoverishment and then provoke them until they respond, whereupon Israelis indulge themselves in self-righteous mass murder?
I dont believe any of Skolniks pseudo-history. I also dont give a damn who lived in or controlled Palestine three thousand years ago. The ones who control it now are, by their actions, no better than barbarians and the leaders in the West who back them have Palestinian blood on their hands. When it comes to behaviors like ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide the claim of self-defense is ludicrous. Nor can the fantasies of Fred Skolnik justify such on-going crimes.
ON THE REELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT — AN ANALYSIS (11 November 2012) BY LAWRENCE DAVIDSON
PART I — Positives and Negatives
Barack Obama won reelection last week (6 November 2012). And, what was the Lefts reaction? So what? Well, we are spared four years of Mitt Romney. Again, so what? They are both two peas from the same pod. Well maybe, but even peas can vary. Here are some positive differences to consider. These will be followed by some negative similarities to Romney and his conservative advisers. We will start with the bright side:
— In terms of probabilities, under Obama the U.S. is less likely to find itself at war with Iran then would be the case with Romney. On such issues as war in the Middle East, Obama seems to be able to think relatively independently while Romney, by his own admission, cant tell the difference between U.S. interests and those of racist Israel.
— Obama took a sensible attitude toward the Arab Spring uprising except, of course, in Bahrain where its support for the monarchy was lamentable to say the least. Romneys reaction would have been to ring up Netanyahu and ask him what to do.
— On issues of womens rights, Gay rights, environmental and educational concerns an Obama administration is much preferable to a Romney one.
— If there are Supreme Court vacancies in the next four years we are much less likely to have extreme conservatives nominated than would have been the case under Mitt Romney.
— Obama dropped Bushs torture directive. Given Mitt Romneys neoconservative advisers, he might well have been tempted to reinstate it.
These are only some of the positive things and they are far from unimportant. Nonetheless, Obama has a definite dark side that sometimes echos the conservative Republican mindset. For instance:
— Barack Obama is an African American with, apparently, only selective concern for civil liberties. He employs another African American, Eric Holder, with similar blind spots. Holder, who has ultimate authority over the FBI, has allowed that agency to entrap Americans mostly of yet another minority group, in this case Muslims, in alleged terrorist activities which, without the FBIs scheming, would almost certainly never have been carried out.
— Throughout his first term Obama went after illegal aliens, deporting them in high numbers, and only modified this policy as the election neared. He cannot be trusted on this front.
— Obama has continued to enforce president Bushs criminal policies many of which are institutionalized in the Patriot Act. These include unconstitutional practices such as indefinite detention and warrantless eavesdropping.
— And while Obamas foreign policy in the Middle East probably will not lead to the war so ardently desired by Romneys buddy, Israels Prime Minister Netanyahu, he is still willing to kill innocent people with drones and harm even more with draconian sanctions.
Part II — Romneys 57,591,058
The election itself was anything but reassuring. Take a look at the map showing who won which states and there is a scary amount of red (how the media came up with the color red for Republican states only one generation after the demise of Russian communism is beyond me!). The only saving grace is that these are (with the exception of Texas) the less populous states. Nonetheless, according to the Philadelphia Inquirers final election figures (8 Nov. 2012, p. A12) , some 57,591,058 American voters cast their ballots for Romney–a man who is the obvious incarnation of the dwarf chameleon –a subgroup of lizards that are particularly adept at adjusting their colors for camouflage in accordance with the vision of species confronting them. This number includes 62% of voting white men and, surprisingly, 56% of voting white women. Were most of these folks just motivated by a desire to vote against Obama rather than for Romney? Or were they good hypnotic subjects who were easily mesmerized by expertly choreographed flip-flopping?
Part III — After the Victory
After his victory the reelected president gave a lets all come together speech that, under present circumstances, is embarrassing to listen to. Having been crudely defamed and ridiculed for months on end one would like to see from Obama a public hint, a mere glint, of annoyance with the Republicans. Those feelings would be human and proper. However, according to Obama, though some of us might disagree fiercely, the insulting tone taken toward him was just a manifestation of noisy and messy democracy. In president Obamas estimation, despite the political mud slinging, we all want the same kind of America. Somehow I dont think so. The Tea Party Republicans and neoconservative militarists do not want the same sort of American that (we sincerely hope) Obama does. It is a pretty safe bet that even John A. Boehner, the Speaker of the Republican controlled House, does not want the same America as Obama.
Nonetheless, on victory night Obama told his supporters, I just spoke with Gov. Romney and…I also look forward to sitting down with [him] to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward. This is not just a pro forma offer. I am convinced that Obama wants to do exactly as he says. For in his heart of hearts he is a compromiser. He will compromise with just about anyone on just about anything. Given the political structure within which he lives, that means he will compromise with rabid Republicans, Zionists and neoconservatives–if they will only see reason and compromise with him. Actually, the probable exception to this list are American progressives. Obama and his advisers probably feel that progressives are just a fringe group who will support the Democrats anyway and so they dont have to take their goals and values into consideration.
Thus all the early indicators are that the second term Obama will be a lot like the first term one. Yet there are so many of his supporters who are sure this will not be the case. They swallow whole that teasing line the best is yet to come. As one 2012 supporter said, things are going to be different in Washington now that Obama proved he has the majority of Americans on his side. I thought he had already proved that in 2008.
Part IV – Conclusion
Well, all right, for those who count on the real progressively inclined Barack Obama showing up for his second term, here are a number of things the president can do to prove that things will be different. I take many of the following points from Juan Coles recent column Top Ten Wish List for President Obama.
— Obama can propose and fight hard for legislation that will overturn the horrible Citizens United law that, among other things, reinforced the farce that corporations are really people and Superpacs somehow have the right to try to buy elections. And, simultaneously, the real Obama can expend some political capital pushing hard for meaningful campaign finance reform.
— Obama can push for strong economic regulation, particularly for the banking and financial sectors of the economy.
—He can fight to strengthen union rights both in the public and private sectors.
— He can fight for legislation that will make illegal conservative efforts to restrict the franchise through such gambits as required picture ids.
— The president can reshape the priorities of the FBI and other national law-enforcement agencies, moving them away from enforcing the unconstitutional Patriotic Act; away from the manufacture of terrorist schemes in order to entrap otherwise innocent people; and away from the warrantless surveillance of thousands of Americans. in other words, the second term Obama should show himself publicly in opposition to Bush era crimes dressed up as laws.
— Finally, specific to the Middle East, Barack Obama can: a) get out of the way of Palestinian efforts to achieve more meaningful membership status at the UN and b) he can pardon the Holy Land Foundation leaders who have been unfairly convicted of supporting terrorism in one of the 21st centurys most outrageous miscarriages of justice.
Will the Barrack Obama who shows up for the second term fight for any of these things ? My own guess is that what efforts there are in these directions will be lukewarm at best. They will be watered down by incessant compromise. Not because that is the way politics must be played (certainly the Republicans havent met anyone half way this side of the Tea Party), but because that is the way the real Barack Obama wants to play politics.
In Defense of Richard Falk–An Analysis (4 November 2012) by Lawrence Davidson
Part I – Who is Richard Falk and What Has He Done?
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 U.N. General Assembly and the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and well qualified for his United Nations post.
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 behavior 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 his 2008 report Falk documented the “desperate plight of civilians in Gaza.”
— In his 2009 report Falk described Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip as a “war crime of the
— In his 2010 report Falk documented Israel’s array of apartheid policies.
— In his 2011 report Falk documented Israeli policies in Jerusalem and labelled them “ethnic cleansing.”
— And finally, in this latest report for the year 2012, Falk has concentrated on two subjects:
First, 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.
Second, Falk documents the assistance given 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 CEOs 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.”
Part II – Reactions
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 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 sixty four 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 toward 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 favor 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 U.S. 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 bias, 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.
Part III – Conclusion
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 spokesperson 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.