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« Rhodes University to Honour Zapiro and John Pilger | Main | If not Annapolis, what then? »

March 31, 2008



A cynical appointment as a Jew can always be openly more antisemitic than a gentile. A Jew can get away with it. It is the reason why Jews like Zapiro and Ronno Einstein are courted by the Islamic fundamentalists.

After Falk's appointment by the UNHRC was announced, Yitzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, criticised it in an address to the council: "In a recent article, [Falk] stated that he did not think it to be 'an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with the criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity,'" Levanon stated. "He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of 'struggle'. He has disturbingly charged Israel with 'genocidal tendencies', and accused it of trying to achieve security through 'state terrorism'. Someone who has publicly and repeatedly stated such views cannot possibly be considered independent, impartial or objective," Levanon alleged.


The linked article says that "little pretext is made in Tel Aviv of acknowledging the innocence of this long victimized civilian society".

Tel Aviv is not and has never been the capital of Israel. The capital is Jerusalem, Judaism holy city. Jerusalem has always been the capital and, by the grace of God, will forever be.

The big questions are: Does Gaza acknowledge the innocence of the civilian population in Israel? Does Hamas still promise the destruction of Israel and its population?

And why should a future Palestine be Judenrein?


I would imagine that Falk is highly intelligent. As professor of international law at Princeton University, it is likely that his IQ is well above average. However, this does not preclude him from being extremely stupid. Intelligent people can, and often do, function without common sense


It's called evil. These people are intelligent indeed, but they are pure evil.
That is what this jihad from the left against Israel is all about- it is as evil as Nazism if not more.


It's called evil. These people are intelligent indeed, but they are pure evil.
That is what this jihad from the left against Israel is all about- it is as evil as Nazism if not more.


Hannah Arendt wrote re Eichmann about "the banality of evil" which suggests that it is commonplace.
What amazes me is not that Falk has got a job with The UNHRC but that he is actually Professor of International Law at Princeton. When you reflect on that, it is evident that American academia is, to quite a significant extent, now allied to the Islamic fundamentalists.
Of course Hitler also gained the support of many German academics.
Heidegger was one of the more famous names and his philosophy is still respected today. I attach the following extract because it reveals that highly intelligent academics often have extremely evil political allegiances...
Philosophical historian Hans Sluga places Heidegger's embrace of National Socialism during this period within the context of a similar and often even more enthusiastic acceptance of Nazism from many other German philosophers. He characterises Heidegger's stance while Rector in the following way:
"Though as rector he prevented students from displaying an anti-Semitic poster at the entrance to the university and from holding a book burning, he kept in close contact with the Nazi student leaders and clearly signaled to them his sympathy with their activism."


Date: 31 March 2008 4:06:49 PM

Dear Prof Falk,
Mazaltov re your UNCHR appointment.
I alert you to the following ...

Perhaps you would like to comment on the discussion with regard to "the banality of evil" ?

kind regards



I have wonder about the reason why extreme left academics support all evil under the sun and hate all good.
I wonder if it is actually metaphysical.
A spiritual attraction to the dark side?
If anyone disputes this then they must explain what they belive the reason is for the evil political allegiances of leftwing academics.


I would ask Falk to answer the question: "What would you elect if forced to choose between being a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp or a Palestinian in Gaza or Ramallah?"

There is only one answer possible, unless one has decided to be a martyr and it highlights the abuse of the events of history engendered by Falk's analogy.

It is the same principle used by the Nazis to demonise Jews. This was done deliberately, as is Falk's demonisation of Israel. To whatever extent Israel's actions are similar to anything the Nazis did, they are initiated by hostile actions from the Palestinian and broader Arab/Muslim world. Falk is closer to being a Nazi than is Israel.

There are too many Jews who suffer from this malady. Falk is fortunate his co-religionists seem willing to respond only by argument.


In the States, I think that academics often think that they are so clever tha they should be running the country. They resent the fact that George Bush, who they perceive as being less clever than themselves, has a lot more power. Chomsky is a prime example. Of course Chomsky would get very few votes if he actually ran for office.

Academics like Obama because they think that he is educated and they love the fact that he makes "nuanced" speeches about racism. Of course,they have no problem with the fact that Obama has been listening to Jermiah Wright's clap-trap for the last 20 years!


I think , Anthony, that they also passionately hate Judeo-Christian civilization and want it destroyed at any and all costs.
Therefore they will support any totalitarian or terrorist regime that is anti-Western, regardless how brutal.
They will basically go against all they were brought up to belive and support all they were brought up to believe were evil.
They hate Israel because it is the quintessential symbol of Judeo-Christian beliefs and civilization.
Just like Satanists deliberately do all that the bible tells them not to do, so Leftists do all that is dimaetrically opposed to Judeo-Christian value systems.


The reaction to "Fitna" in South Africa seems to be quite muted. I doubt whether it will be broadcasted on The SABC.
Jane Duncan is a prime example of a lefty who makes her living pandering to Na'eem Jeenah, an Islamic activist. They are both anti-Bush, anti-zionist and never say a word against Ahmadinejad's appalling dictatorship. Standard Prof Falk groupies.

Dear Jane Duncan and Na'eem Jeenah,
It is a pity that "The Freedom of Expression Institute/ Palestine Solidarity Committee" has chosen to remain silent about "Fitna". I have to conclude that it must raise some tricky issues for a couple of "libertarians" like yourselves!

But don't be frightened to have an opinion about the film... there's no point keeping shtumm ... what do you reckon about the following?....

Omar Bakri, the Libyan-based radical Muslim cleric who is barred from Britain, did not think the film was very offensive. ‘On the contrary, if we leave out the first images and the sound of the page being torn, it could be a film by the [Islamist] Mujahideen,’ he said.

Or perhaps The Freedom of Expression Institute feels more at ease with.....

‘The correct Sharia (Islamic law) response is to cut (off) his head and let him follow his predecessor, van Gogh, to hell,’ a member of Al-Ekhlaas wrote on the al-Qaeda affiliated forum, according to the SITE Institute, a US-based terrorism monitoring service.


PS: Perhaps Na'eem should write about "Fitna" on his M&G "THOUGHT LEADER" blog?

Joel Pollak

Also, Falk has backed a campaign of divestment from Israel. Hardly an impartial observer!

Joel Pollak

Martin Peretz described Falk in 2002 as "once an enthusiast for the Ayatollah Khomeini and a defender of the Khmer Rouge."

Joel Pollak

Check this out:

He's also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.



Unbelievable. You would think that the UN were blatantly anti-Israel to appoint a nut like this to such an important position.


What was the voting procedure re Falk's appointment ? Do you know who voted for and against?


These extracts from Joel's blog reveal Falk's unwavering support for Islamic fundamentalism. I particularly love the bit about how the rights of women and jews are protected by Khomeni's constitution.

Falk writes:
“[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


Obviously he doesn't mention the total persecution of the Bahais in Iran.


With regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Falk has written that it is "inescapable that an objective observer would reach the conclusion that this Iraq war is a war of aggression, and as such, that it amounts to a Crime against Peace of the sort for which surviving German leaders were indicted, prosecuted and punished at the Nuremberg trials conducted shortly after the Second World War."

No mention of course that a grotesque dictator, Saddam Hussein was removed from power and a serious attempt was made by the US to institute democracy!


We can discuss from an academic angle this phenomenan all day and all night but nthe fact is that people like Falk, Chomsky and Kasrils support evil purely for the sake of evil.


It is still astounding that Falk can write that crap about Khomeini in 1979 and yet still be appointed as Professor of International Law at Princeton.
It is interesting to consider why/how American academia has been subverted by charlatans. It would certainly make a good Phd thesis. Perhaps Joel Pollak can let us know if anyone has been allowed to write one?


And what about the UN? 30n years ago you'd have never got a pro-terror ultra-left crank 'academic'being apointed United Nations Human Rights Council investigator.
The totalitarian left and the Islamo-Nazi allies are definitely taken more and more control.


Yes, it is difficult to actually believe what is going on.
I am not sure how many Jews take cognizance of the forces that are posed to destroy them. A similar situation to the 1930's when American Jewry did not foresee that an extermination was about to take place in Europe. There are so many parallels to 70 years ago. Quite frightening.


The saddest thing of all is that a lot, if not most, Jews in the diaspora think that the problem is only that of Jews of Israel, and are quite happy to throw the Israeli Jews to the wolves.
They do not realize that without Israel, there position too will be in great danger.

It is a well know principle that G-D interacts MIDA KENEGED MIDA. As a person acts towards his fellow man, so to speak, G-D acts towards him. If the Jews in the Galut act with such indifference or, even worse, with hostility towards the dangers faced by Jews in Israel, how do they expect G-D to treat them when they will be endangered?

These diaspora Jews who say they do not care if Israel is destroyed should not be rescued by Israel if there are ever attacks on Jews in the USA or elsewhere.
The Jews who are voting for Obama fit perfectly into this categoree.


About half of the Democrat Jews in the US are in the Obama camp. I wonder if they know that Obama has adjusted his statements with regard to the Middle East to ingratiate himself with the main stream American public. It is obvious that Obama does not believe in what he is saying.
However, if Obama does become US President, he will certainly be more tolerant of Islamic fundamentalists. He will try to do a deal with them. However, by appeasing Ahmadinejad, Obama will inevitably empower him further. That is the lesson of the 1930's when politicians like Chamberlain believed that a rapprochement with "Mr" Hitler was possible.


Well, President Bush knows that apeasement doesn't work, but for trying to fight Islamonazism, hew has been so demonized and villified that any future US President will try to gain cheap popularity by appeasement.


Even the Iranians themselves agree that several hundred thousand Iranians were liquidated in the early months of the Islamic Revolution in 1979-80. Most of the Army senior officer corps was removed as was a great deal of SAVAK. Anti fundamentalist academics and writers were disappeared. Again, not even the Iranians themselves dispute this. Anyone who claims the Islamic Revolution (note the word, revolution) was non violent is openly lying for some political purpose. After all this is the same genre of 'academics' (Like Chomsky) who have never altered their support, even now, of Pol Pot. These are people who view genocide as a political instrument.

... and, Mediocrates, they will also use false, ridiculously false, allegations of genocide for their sinister political purposes. Despicable.


A friend of mine, who is an academic in the States, responds to my critique of Falk as follows:
"It’s always dangerous to get locked into a set of views and just ridicule or hate the other side. Its important to understand the historical experiences and cultural forms that lead to particular junctures. I have no love for Hamas, the Bush administration, or Israeli policies - all blind and suicidal. The world is getting to be a scary place - between climate change, mega-recession, etc. we are likely to see the rise of fascism and Islamic fundamentalism."


...but, Blacklisted Dictator, sometimes the other side is just ridiculous, or wicked. Oh, if only we could just understand the historical experience of the Janjaweed... Self-criticism and understanding is important but doesn't mean giving up on one's values or senses.



I agree with you.

I wonder whether my friend's views are symptomatic of a post-modern US academic world where there are no absolute values. Everything is relative. We must, as a result, "understand the historical experiences and cultural forms that lead to particular junctures." Perhaps that phrase, rather than "Arebeit Macht Frei" will be written above the gates of the new "intellectual" Aushwitz?


This reminds me of an article in Jpost by Isi Liebler

Where he recounts the craven stupidity of UC Irvine's (University of California, Irvine campus) Hillel organization when they welcomed the President of UCI, who's never done a damn thing about antisemitic violence, actual come to blows violence on campus. They proceed to kvell and debate about how there are no good or bad people or ideas, merely misunderstandings and a failure to embrace the 'other'.

These morons remind me of the first few minutes of the original "War of the Worlds" (the 1950's version) movie where 3 men bring a white flag to the Martian space ship and declare THEY come in peace whereby they are all promptly vaporized.


Let us imagine that the Israelis and Hamas now start to "understand the historical experiences and cultural forms that lead to particular junctures."
Will that lead to
It reminds me of that Scott Walker song "if you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair."


RE Obama "the intellectual"...

Obama tests America's cult of ignorance
By Kevin Horrigan

Early on in Robert Harris' new novel, "The Ghost," a literary editor says to an author who ghost-writes celebrity memoirs, "Tell me. When did it become fashionable to be stupid? That's the thing I don't understand. The cult of the idiot. The elevation of the moron."

I worried about this question last week as I listened to Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race. I wondered, is America going to get this? Isn't this speech way too carefully constructed and nuanced? Shouldn't he have explained what he meant by "Jim Crow"? Shouldn't he have explained who William Faulkner was?

What's he doing giving this speech at 10 o'clock on a Tuesday morning? Doesn't he know about prime time? Why did he write this speech himself? Doesn't he have speechwriters and focus groups who can test this stuff? Shouldn't he be shouting and waving his arms instead of standing coolly behind a lectern and talking in measured cadence? Why isn't he pandering?

In what surely ranks as, among other things, one the boldest political gambles in modern times, Sen. Obama decided that the American people were willing to wrestle with complex ideas about the most divisive issue in nation. If it turns out he's right, it will be a signal moment in recent intellectual history.

The trend surely has been in the other direction. In her controversial new book "The Age of American Unreason," author Susan Jacoby argues that the "scales of American history have shifted heavily against the vibrant and varied intellectual life so essential to functioning democracy. During the past four decades, America's endemic anti-intellectual tendencies have been grievously exacerbated by a new species of semiconscious anti-rationalism, feeding on and fed by an ignorant popular culture of video images and unremitting noise that leaves no room for contemplation or logic."

In other words, she argues, it's become fashionable to be stupid.

Here is a nation founded by an eerily atypical cadre of intellectuals — Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin and their ilk — who not only had read the Greeks but also had absorbed them, who had read Locke and Voltaire and were building a nation along Enlightenment principles.

Here is a nation that has been led by that archetypal American hero, the self-made man: the Lincoln who strides out of the backwoods with an ax on his shoulder and a book in his hand; the Truman who failed as a farmer, failed as a haberdasher but somehow, because he read widely and deeply, had the wisdom to help rebuild a shattered world.

And now, here is this same nation, led by a man who can't correctly pronounce the word "nuclear" and who once told an interviewer that he avoids reading newspapers because they're full of "opinions."

This is not to say that President Bush is stupid, only that he is profoundly intellectually incurious, willing to substitute belief for science, ideology for fact. And in this, he is typical of his age.

"Just before the 2004 presidential convention," Jacoby writes, "the journalist Ron Suskind reported a chilling conversation with a senior Bush aide who told Suskind that members of the press were part of what the Bush administration considers 'the reality-based community' — those who believe that solutions emerge from judicious study of discernible reality."

The aide bragged that "when we act, we create our own reality."

These "realities" — that the Iraq war has been a stunningly successful response to 9/11, that FEMA did a heck of a job in responding to Hurricane Katrina, that tax cuts for the rich benefited all Americans, that tapping telephones in Tuscaloosa stops terrorists in Timbuktu — speak for themselves.

In much the same way, many Americans create their own reality from what they choose to believe, be it fundamentalist preachers preaching that the world is 4,000 years old to street rumors about AIDS being a white plot unleashed to devastate black communities. The A.C. Nielsen Co. reports the average American watched 4 hours and 30 minutes a day of television in 2006. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that the same average American spends 26 minutes a day reading.

Oh, and the choices TV offers! You don't ever have to watch anything hard or unpleasant if you don't want to. If you choose, you can watch people getting tattoos for an hour or two each day. You can devote yourself 24 hours a day to sports news or celebrity news or news that you agree with, and commentators who tell you only what you want to hear. And when they make fun of egghead professors and book learning — global warming, what a joke! — you can revel in your own anti-intellectualism.

Politicians know all of this, of course. That's why they use 30-second attack ads that pander to short attention spans and that reinforce distorted beliefs. TV news directors know it, too; to avoid driving off any more of their dwindling audiences, they try not to use any more than 10 seconds of any candidate's remarks. In 2000, Jacoby reports, the average political sound-bite was down to 7.8 seconds.

So there was Barack Obama, making a 37-minute speech on a very unpleasant subject, replete with literary and historical allusions, in the middle of a Tuesday morning, trusting that Americans somehow would stop and pay attention to it. Even if you don't plan to vote for the man, you have to hope he was right.


UNITED NATIONS - The lead human rights body of the United Nations Wednesday picked a Jewish academic to monitor Israeli treatment of Palestinians - but Canada said he was the wrong man for the job.
An emeritus professor at Princeton University, Richard Falk has compared Israeli actions affecting Palestinians to the Nazi persecution of Europe's Jews.
Canada used its seat on the 47-member UN Human Rights Council to question his commitment to "impartiality and objectivity" as the next Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories.

Arab and Islamic states had been keen to see him named to the post, which carries a mandate to investigate "Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law."
"Canada has serious concerns about whether the high standards established by the council . . . will be able to be met by this individual," said Marius Grinius, the Canadian delegate, as the council endorsed Falk among a series of other monitoring appointments.
"It is with disappointment, therefore, that Canada dissociates itself from any council decision to approve the full slate."
The 192-member General Assembly launched the council in 2006 to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission, which countries with poor human rights records had come to dominate in order to deflect criticism.
But the new body has faced criticism for issuing successive condemnations of Israel while saying little about human rights violations elsewhere in the world.
Indeed, cheers erupted Wednesday following the appointment of a second official who, among myriad anti-Israel and anti-Western statements, has also compared Israeli practices to those of the Nazis.
Some 40 Council members elected Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss politician, to the council's new 18-member advisory committee. In 2005, he likened Israeli soldiers to concentration camp guards.
"Even within the benighted UN Human Rights Council, today was a dark day for human rights," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring agency. "The very credibility of the UN human rights system is now at stake."
Irwin Cotler, the Liberal critic on human rights, had appealed Tuesday to the Swiss government to withdraw its nomination of Ziegler for the UN post, writing a letter also signed by three other international human rights activists.
They said Ziegler had shown support for serial human rights abusers such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Cuba's Fidel Castro, and also praised the work of Roger Garaudy, a French Stalinist whose book The Founding Myths of Modern Israel denies the Holocaust.
Some of Falk's anti-Israel writing is contained in an essay he wrote last summer.
"It is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as 'holocaust' . . ." he wrote.
"Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not."


Nastiness in the Ivory Tower [incl. Richard Falk, Nadia Abu El-Haj]
All is not free in academia
by Matthew Mundy
Los Angeles City Beat
September 20, 2007

The flap over liberal law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky's deanship at UC Irvine may be resolved, but many questions still remain about the general health of academic freedom across the nation.

The Chemerinsky case is just one of a few recent high-profile examples involving politics, academic freedom, and the hiring, firing and tenure-granting decisions at universities. Others include the firing of Ward Churchill, a radical professor at the University of Colorado; the denial of tenure to DePaul University's Norman Finkelstein, a hard-hitting critic of Israel; and the current controversy brewing over the tenure approval of Barnard College's Nadia Abu El-Haj, who has criticized Israel's archaeological practices. Some say that these cases create a climate of fear on campuses, especially when discussing loaded issues about Israel and the Middle East as a whole.

"There's no doubt that there's a concerted right-wing attempt to intimidate professors who advocate critical views, especially on Middle East issues and on the Bush presidency," said Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University and distinguished visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara. "I think the high-profile cases deserve the attention they receive, but the real threat of academic freedom is to create this climate of uncertainty and intimidation in which people who don't have tenure or secure positions will be much more reluctant to engage in controversial activities … or express controversial views in their classes or in their scholarship. I think that's a tremendous loss to the kind of creative atmosphere that institutions of higher learning should do their best to establish."

Churchill was fired for academic misconduct, the investigation of which stemmed from a 2005 controversy touched off by an incendiary essay he wrote soon after the 9/11 attacks that compared some of the workers in the World Trade Centers to "little Eichmanns," referring to the infamous Nazi war criminal. He has sued the university, alleging the denial of his First Amendment rights and due process; the university has asked a Denver district judge to toss it out.

Finkelstein was denied tenure earlier this summer by the board of Chicago's DePaul University on a 4-3 vote. (This followed a 9-3 vote by the political science department recommending tenure and a 5-0 endorsement of the recommendation by the College Personnel Committee.) A brief firestorm ensued over both the political nature of the decision and allegations that Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard professor and Finkelstein's ideological foe, had influenced the decision when he actively campaigned against the granting of tenure. Finkelstein and the university eventually agreed to a private settlement.

Abu El-Haj, an assistant professor of anthropology of Palestinian descent who has won a number of awards and grants, is currently under intense scrutiny as she waits to hear if she will be awarded tenure. Barnard College has approved her tenure and is awaiting approval from its affiliate, Columbia University, which holds the final word. Condemnations of Abu El-Haj swirl around her book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, chosen by the Middle East Studies Association as one of 2002's best two English language books about the region, which some argue is scholarly lacking.

Some point to the attacks of 9/11, and the subsequent war on terror, as a watershed point for academic freedom on university campuses.

"There's certainly been a general attack against academic freedom in the wake of 9/11, particularly in Middle East studies," said Matthew Abraham, an assistant professor at DePaul University, who spoke in support of Finkelstein and Abu El-Haj. "The war on terrorism has brought with it a war on academic freedom … Scholars who are bringing attention to [U.S. and Israeli actions in the Middle East] are going to be attacked because they are uncovering aspects of our foreign policy that nobody wants to discuss openly."

These cases and others have occurred in a time when some organizations, including David Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom, Daniel Pipes' Campus Watch, and Lynne Cheney's American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), have increasingly denounced what they see as liberal bias on university campuses. Of these organizations, both Students for Academic Freedom and ACTA have introduced legislation seeking to mandate a balance of political views within the academic curricula.

"When I was a leftist, I wanted to hear the argument on the other side," said Horowitz, a conservative writer and activist, about his efforts to combat the "leftist bias" he sees on campuses. "It's like being a tennis player with nobody on the other side of the court. It's bad for their leftism."

Others disagree, arguing that politics should not be introduced into academic decisions.

"It's so incredible and unbelievable to consider the idea that you want to look at somebody's politics when you're making a hire or promoting someone," said John Curtis, a director at the American Association of University Professors. "There's no reason to ask what a professor's political views are, because what matters is what they do in the scholarly world and what they do in teaching."

While the legislative efforts to counteract perceived liberal biases have by and large failed, some worry that they have created a threatening atmosphere.

"Our big concern is that even when legislation doesn't pass, faculty starts self-censoring," said Craig Smith, a coordinator at Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition of organizations committed to fighting against these legislative efforts. "They feel that they can't push their students, and they can't say unconventional things and that they may get into trouble for that because more people are paying attention."

Amid all of this is the Chemerinsky case, which many argue benefited because conservatives, including Horowitz, stepped forward to express their support for the embattled legal scholar.

"This suggests that there is a red line that beyond which encroachments on academic freedom will not be effective or successful," said UC Santa Barbara's Falk. "What I fear most is the secondary effect of these efforts, which is to create an atmosphere of intimidation … that threatens the whole climate of learning within academic institutions."


U.N. Taps American Jewish Critic of Israel as Rights Expert
By Marc Perelman
Thu. Mar 27, 2008

As if relations between Israel and the United Nations had not deteriorated enough, a new cause for strain arose this week when a prominent American Jewish law professor, who accuses Israel of genocidal policies in the Palestinian territories, was named by the world body’s top human rights entity to monitor the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Richard Falk, an emeritus professor of international law at Princeton University, was appointed on March 26 by the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to become the next special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories. He will replace South Africa’s John Dugard, a staunch critic of Israel whose six-year term is about to end. On the same day, the council elected another departing special rapporteur — and nemesis of the Israeli government — Switzerland’s Jean Ziegler, to an advisory position.

Pro-Israel advocates have for years criticized the human rights apparatus of the U.N. for its perceived anti-Israel bias, and the latest nominations are likely to fuel their disenchantment with the U.N.’s recent vows to become more even-handed. That effort appeared to take a step forward with the creation in 2006 of the Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Human Rights Commission, but the new appointments are seen as a step in the other direction.

“Unfortunately it seems that right now, the council is not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” said Sybil Kessler, director of U.N. affairs for B’nai B’rith International. “Change on the margins feels ever more challenging when member states select and promote experts with obviously biased views toward Israel…. The struggle for change has just gotten that much harder, I am sad to say.”

Falk’s appointment was reached by a consensus of the Human Rights Council’s 47 members, despite efforts by Jewish groups to have Canada and the European Union publicly oppose his nomination. The E.U. remained silent, and Canada did not block the consensus, choosing instead to issue a statement dissociating itself from the choice. The United States, which is not a member of the council, also took the floor to criticize Falk’s published writings.

The terms of Falk’s position, which was created in 1993, are to investigate “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law” while excluding Palestinian actions. No such mandate exists to examine Palestinian violations.

Falk, who is also a visiting professor at the University of California, has an extensive written record on the Israel-Palestinian issue, most of it critical of Jerusalem’s policies over the past 40 years. A recent article that has particularly irked his pro-Israeli critics is titled “Slouching Towards a Palestinian Holocaust.”

In it, Falk writes that “it is especially painful for me, as an American Jew, to feel compelled to portray the ongoing and intensifying abuse of the Palestinian people by Israel through a reliance on such an inflammatory metaphor as ‘holocaust.’”

After describing the Nazi horrors, he asked: “Is it an irresponsible overstatement to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not. The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty.”

The Human Rights Council overwhelmingly elected Ziegler, a Swiss socialist and university professor, to its 18-member advisory committee. He garnered 40 out of 47 votes. As the U.N. expert on the right to food for the past seven years, Ziegler was a fierce critic of Israel and the United States, prompting several Jewish groups to call for his resignation.


Does anyone know why "the EU reamined silent."? Why didn't anyone vote against Falk's nomination??


'Bias and Hypocrisy' Displayed at UN Rights Council, Say Critics
By Patrick Goodenough International Editor
March 27, 2008

( - The United Nations' Human Rights Council has elected onto a panel of special advisors a left-wing Swiss sociologist with a record of sympathizing with the Castro and Mugabe regimes and criticizing the United States and Israel.

And in another move that drew fire, the U.N.'s top rights body also appointed an American academic strongly critical of Israel to a post dealing with Israel's conduct in the territories claimed by the Palestinians.

During its less than two years in existence, the Human Rights Council has itself been criticized -- by Western governments and two U.N. secretary-generals among others -- for focusing disproportionately on Israel, while paying relatively little attention to pressing rights issues elsewhere.

Meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, the council elected Swiss national Jean Ziegler as one of 18 members of an expert "advisory committee" that functions as the body's think tank.

Forty of the council's 47 members voted in favor of Ziegler, who for the past eight years has served as a U.N. "special rapporteur on the right to food." (The U.N. has around 20 such reporter-investigators, each focused on a particular country situation or on a theme such as racism or extreme poverty.)

Advisory committee members serve three-year terms and are eligible for re-election once. According to U.N. documents, requirements for the posts include "recognized competence and experience in the field of human rights; high moral standing; and independence and impartiality."

Among those who urged the Swiss government to rescind its nomination of Ziegler was U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a letter sent earlier this week, Ros-Lehtinen accused Ziegler of "unyielding support of many of the world's most vicious dictators," and noted that a 2005 comment comparing Israelis to concentration camp guards had brought a reprimand from then U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.

Others who called on the Swiss government to withdraw the nomination included a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Canadian lawmaker and human rights advocate professor Irwin Cotler, and former Cuban political prisoner Angel De Fana, who now heads a U.S.-based organization focusing on political prisoners in his homeland.

'US must demand reform'

In another decision on Wednesday, the council appointed Princeton international law scholar Richard Falk as the U.N.'s new "special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967." He reportedly was picked from more than 180 potential candidates.

Falk, a critic of Bush administration foreign policies who has written approvingly of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, provoked controversy last summer with an article that compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to Nazi atrocities against European Jews.

Israeli ambassador Itzhak Levanon, whose country is not a member of the council, told the body that a man who had accused Israel of "genocidal tendencies" could not possibly be considered impartial, a job requirement stipulated in reform documents adopted by the council last year.

Canadian envoy Marius Grinius dissociated his country from the decision, saying Canada doubted that Falk would meet the required standard of impartiality.

In a statement reacting to both developments, Ros-Lehtinen said the election of Ziegler and appointment of Falk "again demonstrate the bias and hypocrisy of the U.N.'s human rights organizations."

The Florida Republican called Ziegler "an avowed defender of dictators and apologist for Islamist extremist groups," pointing to his statements defending Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, as well as remarks interpreted as sympathetic towards Hizballah, the anti-U.S., anti-Israel radical Shiite group in Lebanon.

"Mr. Ziegler's consistent anti-Israel rhetoric adds yet another voice to the chorus of U.N. representatives who would rather denounce Israel than condemn Islamist extremism," she said.

Ros-Lehtinen also decried Falk's appointment, and said the council appeared to be "intent on marginalizing voices of reason and moderation."

"This sad occasion reinforces the need for the United States and other responsible nations to demand fundamental reform of the United Nations."

'Immense independence'

Ziegler previously has been criticized by Washington. When in 2003 the Human Rights Council's predecessor, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR), considered a motion to extend his "right to food" role, the U.S. alone voted against it, accusing him of irresponsible statements and of abusing his mandate.

U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based NGO, has been a longstanding critic of Ziegler, noting among other things his support for French author Roger Garaudy, a convert to Islam who has denied the Holocaust.

U.N. Watch monitored Wednesday's proceedings, and the group's executive director, Hillel Neuer, commented afterwards that "even within the benighted U.N. Human Rights council, today was a dark day for human rights."

Invited to respond to the allegations of partiality, Falk -- who is professor emeritus of international law and practice at Princeton -- said that during his long professional career he had done his best to be objective when dealing with relating international law to foreign policy and human rights disputes.

“This has produced some controversial assessments of sensitive issues, but I believe that their publication has helped give some voice to neglected views. I have often felt that the Palestinian side of the story is told in a manner that is biased and misleading.”

Falk stressed that he has never supported “violence against civilian targets, regardless of provocation.”

“I have expressed views on the future of Israel and Palestine that are motivated by beliefs in the conditions that will bring peace between the two peoples,” he said. “I do not believe that a one-sided and unbalanced endorsement of Israel’s approach to peace and security is in the interest of either the United States or Israel itself.”
Attempts to reach Ziegler for comment were unsuccessful. Ziegler has previously accused Neuer and U.N. Watch of mounting "a campaign of defamation" against him, and said allegations of anti-Semitism were ironic, given his past efforts to expose Swiss banks' financial cooperation with the Nazis.

Swiss foreign ministry spokesman Guillaume Scheurer was quoted by Swiss national radio Wednesday as saying Ziegler had "an excellent knowledge of all economic, social and cultural rights" and "immense independence."

In one of his last acts under his "right to food" mandate, Ziegler earlier this month delivered a report to the Human Rights Council on a visit he paid to Cuba last October. He said the U.S. "illegal blockade" of the island was the main obstacle to Cubans getting access to food.

As part of a broader process aimed at reforming the U.N., the Human Rights Council was established in 2006 to replace the widely discredited UNCHR, whose sessions frequently saw rights-abusing nations close ranks to block Western criticism.

Since then the council, whose current members include China, Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, has held seven regular and six special sessions, with a large proportion of its deliberations dedicated to Israel.

Last year, it controversially decided to end mandates for special rapporteurs on human rights situations in Cuba as well as Belarus.

This week, China, backed by its allies, succeeded in blocking efforts to have the council debate the recent clampdown on dissent in Tibet where around 140 people have been killed since March 10, according to Tibet's government-in-exile.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly last November, U.S. envoy Robert Hagen criticized the council for what he called a "relentless focus on Israel," the elimination of the mandates relating to Cuba and Belarus, and a "reluctance to address principal violators and violations of human rights."

The U.S. decided against standing for council membership in 2006 and again last year.


Thought that you might be interested in this article written by Falk... surprise, surprise ....he supports Obama!

"What to expect from the next American president in the Middle East."
by Richard Falk

March 5, 2008
Written in mid-February 2008

It now seems all but certain that John McCain will be the Republican candidate for president of the United States, and will be likely opposed by Barack Obama or possibly by Hilary Clinton. At first glance such a contest poses a clear choice, especially as McCain is being driven further and further to the right by the ultra-conservative and evangelical right-wing of the Republican Party. McCain identifies closely with George W. Bush on most foreign policy issues, above all on Iraq policy, and does not devote much political energy to such major domestic agenda items as jobs and health care.

McCain is still somewhat engaged in a battle for the Republican nomination with Mike Huckabee, who although trailing badly in the delegate count, has mounted a surprisingly strong challenge with the ardent backing of both religious and secular social conservatives (that is, all those strongly opposed to abortion as a permissible option for pregnant women, hostile to giving equal civic rights to homosexuals, especially the right to marry, as well as those who are want to seal the border with Mexico with armor and security fence, but also deporting resident illegal immigrants to their countries of origin, and those express in their life style family family and church-based faith).

After he gets the Republican nomination McCain will have to gain the support of these right-wing forces if he is to have a serious chance of winning in the November election, but this should be doable as such voters have no other place to go. On policies toward the Middle East McCain and Huckabee speak with one voice, and its reliance on military solutions to outstanding conflicts is indistinguishable from what we have been hearing these past seven plus years from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

It is on Iraq that the Democratic candidates are presenting the American people with the contrasting image of a future leader who is ready to break with the Bush approach to counter-terrorism starting with Iraq. Both Obama and Clinton favor phased withdrawal from Iraq over the period of a year or so, but leaving some American military presence behind, but no longer making these troops available for combat operations.

Obama has the far cleaner anti-war record on Iraq having been against the war from the outset, and persuasively challenging the thinking that could ever have supposed that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a useful counter-terrorist move, rather than one that was diversionary from the real challenges facing the United States and almost certain to make matters worse. Clinton voted back in 2003 to give Bush authority to use force against Iraq, and lent her support to the war in its early stages when it was popular with the American people and promoted ardently by Israel. She began criticizing the way in which the occupation was carried out a couple of years ago, and has now come to advocate an approach to withdrawal that seems superficially similar to that of Obama. She remains unwilling to admit she had been wrong when she favored the war, and voted to support it, and more importantly, her main foreign policy advisors are ‘liberal hawks’ who backed the Iraq War at the outset, and are generally disposed to use military force. Clinton now argues that on the basis of what she knew in 2003 made war the right move to make then, but given the changed circumstances of 2007 and the irreversible incompetence of the occupation, withdrawal seems right now.

I think Obama’s clarity on Iraq, plus advisors that are less enamored of military solutions and rather emphasize multilateralism, the United Nations, and international law, does make a difference both in the primary campaign and subsequently. Obama seems less likely to choose a military option when confronted with a hostile regime in the Islamic world.

He has strongly endorsed a creative approach to diplomacy, offering to meet with hostile leaders in the Middle East, including President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Clinton sharply criticized him for this, seeming to want to do diplomacy in the old way by viewing a meeting of an American president with a foreign leader as of enormous benefit to the latter, and as a sign of American weakness and Obama’s inexperience. Clinton proposing relying on power, status, and threat rather than on the ‘soft power’ options of discussion, mutuality, and accommodation.

Obama seems much more aware that uses of American military power to achieve ‘regime change’ rarely, if ever, produce success. Only Obama of the candidates on either side seems to have this understanding. That this principal lesson of America’s defeat in Vietnam remains unlearned by most influential Americans is sad but true, as is evident from the debate in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere about Iraq policy. The failure to heed this same lesson led to the Soviet defeat during the 1980s in Afghanistan, which in turn contributed to the implosion of the Soviet state. Unless this lesson is learned by American leaders the prospect of more Vietnams, more Iraqs remains high.

At this point, even McCain, and for that matter Bush, vaguely favor withdrawal from Iraq, but only if it is in the context of an elusive American ‘victory.’ To achieve such a victory anytime soon is so improbable as to be irrelevant. It presupposes the emergence of an Iraqi government that shows the capacity to maintain public order throughout the country. There is almost no possibility of this happening as long as American troops remain visible and active in Iraq, and remain in the country without a timetable for complete departure from the country.

McCain’s version of withdrawal seems also to contemplate retaining military bases and a possible re-intervention in the country if conditions deteriorate. It is an American military presence that could last, McCain himself cheerfully acknowledge, for as long as one hundred years! According to McCain anything less than this level of American commitment would produce an American foreign policy disaster in the region that was totally unacceptable. The disaster of defeat in Iraq according to McCain/Bush consists of intensifying the terrorist threat, encouraging Al Qaeda, empowering Iran, setting off a regional race to acquire nuclear weapons by several Middle Eastern states, encouraging political Islam, and seriously jeopardizing American energy interests throughout the region.

As McCain seems much less equipped than either Obama or Clinton to address the economic challenges facing America he will continue to press the case for treating national security as the overriding challenge for the next American president, and claim that only he has the needed experience and credibility to uphold national interests. This electoral strategy of McCain is not likely to meet with success except on the right. The Iraq policy, despite reduced casualties after Bush’s ‘surge,’ continues to be deeply unpopular with American voters. More than 58% of the citizenry favoring withdrawal regardless of consequences, with many thinking that the bad effects of persisting with the occupation of Iraq is more harmful to American national interests than would be a phased withdrawal to be completed within a year.

In this sense, whoever becomes the Democratic candidate, it would seem obvious that he or she should avoid getting drawn into a national security debate beyond pointing to the importance of responsibly terminating the Iraq War as soon as possible, and to steer the debate about qualifications to be president back to managing the economy and overcoming the political despair that now afflicts the American people. Stopping the war in Iraq would have multiple political benefits for America’s standing in the world, helping above all to regain its image as responsible global leaders. Such restored confidence would undoubtedly also benefit the sinking dollar, and immediately lift the economic burdens associated with the war effort in Iraq.

But aside from Iraq there are no significant foreign policy differences between the approaches taken by the three candidates so far as the Middle East is concerned.

McCain is the only likely contender to have explicitly embraced the Bush approach to the region, although his attitude toward Iran has not been clearly expressed to this point, and this is likely to be crucial. There are still rumors floating about that there will yet be during the final months of the Bush presidency a major air attack launched against Iran. There are reports now circulating of additional deployments of American aircraft carriers and minesweepers in the Persian Gulf. It is known that Vice President Cheney, along with some neoconservative advisors and Israeli officials, have been pressing hard behind the scenes to discount the mostly reassuring assessment of the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (a high-level report from U.S. intelligence community) that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. This pro-attack group seeks to revive a confrontational approach toward Iran that keeps the military option very much on the table.

It still seems unlikely that such an attack on Iran will occur because of its anticipated costs: skyrocketing oil prices, retaliatory missile strikes, blockage of the Straight of Hormuz, a further overstretching of the already overstretched American military, the likely hostile reaction of world public opinion, and considerable opposition within the United States.

If such attack occurs, and it cannot be ruled out despite its irrationality, the impact on the American presidential campaign would be decisive, pitting a Democrat who deplores and repudiates such a bellicose approach to conflict against a Republican who seems fully comfortable with the kind of militarist foreign policy associated with the Bush presidency, resorting to preventive wars being an essential element in the ‘war on terror’ and the accompanying struggle to keep America safe.

On several other issues aside from Iraq and Iran, continuity of American Middle East policy is likely regardless of who is the next occupant of the White House. Above all, the U.S. Government support for Israel will remain as unconditional as ever, which means little pressure on Tel Aviv to offer the Palestinians a fair solution on such issues as the future of Jerusalem, borders and territory, West Bank settlements, disposition of Palestinian refugees, water rights, and viable sovereignty.

Only a dramatic political change in Israel, which seems highly unlikely in the years ahead, will move its government to offer Palestine the kind of peace that is based on sovereign equality, including the sharing of Jerusalem. In the meantime, the conflict will ebb and flow as it has for decades, although there is an increasing possibility that a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza could produce a new resolve in the region and beyond to put sufficient pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territory. Collective tragedy in Gaza is already a daily reality, but it has so far been mainly ignored by world media and regional leaders.

Whoever is the next president, certain red lines will be respected: no criticism of Israel; no challenge to the size of the Pentagon defense budget; and no serious questions of the market-driven assumptions associated with the promotion of free trade and unregulated financial markets.

It is also to be expected that relations with Turkey will remain positive no matter who the next American president happens to be, assuming an absence of turmoil within Turkey. The U.S. Government will continue to support Turkey’s bid to become an EU member and will back Turkey’s efforts to deal with genuine PKK threats, even accepting cross-border attacks against PKK base areas in the northern mountains of Iraq as occurred in late 2007.

As with Bush, the new American president will use Turkey to demonstrate its capacity to deal positively with a government that is treated as Islamic in orientation. This official American perception of the current Ankara government is dangerously misleading as it indirectly accepts the polemical position of the extremist CHP opposition that the Edogan/Gul is somehow challenging secularism whereas has been made repeatedly clear, the AKP effort is to democratize secularism by extending its benefits to religiously observant Muslim women. This misunderstanding in Washington of what is at stake in Turkey could have detrimental results if the current crisis relating to the treatment of women wearing headscarves. It is of great importance that the new American leaders better grasp what is happening, if only to lend support to these efforts to deepen democracy in Turkey. It is not a matter of making the governing process more Islamic, but of making democracy in Turkey more compatible with democracy.

In conclusion, aside from the Iraq/Iran unresolved situations, there is an overwhelming likelihood that existing policies will be maintained in the Middle East unless something drastic happens that is not now anticipated. If thing go forward without some important new developments there will be some small changes made, probably by whomever becomes president.

For instance, some of the sharp edges of Bush’s diplomacy are likely to be softened. Even a McCain presidency will not push nearly as hard for democratic reforms in the region as did Bush, and all the candidates have indicated their intention to give high priority to achieving a reduced dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It may well be that oil supplies and prices may become the defining issue in the next several years, and it would seem to make little difference as to policy whether there is a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

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As far as counter-terrorism is concerned, there would also not be much difference. Even Obama has indicated that if ‘actionable intelligence’ discloses high value Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, the United States would attack on its own if the Pakistani government did not collaborate. Both Obama and Clinton insist that they will take various steps to cut risks of unintended nuclear encounters such as take weapons off hair-trigger alert, revive efforts to gain support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles, and improved monitoring of nuclear materials.

But on one issue there is a vast, potentially dramatic difference: Obama alone of the candidates has expressed a dedication to working for a world free of nuclear weapons altogether, explicitly heeding the call for their abolition issued by four American foreign policy heavyweights: Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn.

It is clear that a Democratic president would do more than a Republican to restore American global leadership and respect, and that any new American leader who broke with the Bush approach to Iraq would have a far easier time promoting this goal than would a Republican who stayed the Bush course.

Obama would have a big advantage over Clinton assuming that one of them will be elected. His position on Iraq appears principled and consistent, whereas hers seems driven by shifts in public opinion and the setbacks associated with a policy flawed at its inception. Also, Obama as a young and an African-American would send a powerful message to the world that the American political system is open to change, and is looking to the future.

Obama would be the first American president who has genuine roots in the non-Western world and talks in a manner that is inspiring to those enduring poverty and other forms of deprivation. Obama’s message and passion has already brought an excitement to the American political process that has been absent for a long time, possibly since the glory days of John F. Kennedy. In this sense, especially among the young, hope is being reborn in America, but it will not last unless Barack Obama is elected in November as the new American president.

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