Reader Rupa Shah passes along an article by Uri Yablonka from Maariv which has this to say about the appointment of Israel critic, Professor Richard Falk to be Occupied Territories rapporteur for the world body’s Human Rights Council:
It is not every day that the Foreign Ministry decides to ban a senior United Nations emissary from entering Israel, especially when the person involved is a Jewish academic. But in the case of Prof. Richard Falk from the United States, Israel made an exception. This was because in the past Falk voiced support for suicide attacks and compared Israel’s activity with that of the Nazis.
Whenever you read such a bald-faced statement as this it’s a good idea to treat it with more than a grain of salt. In fact, a truckload would be best in this particular case. Of course, Falk has never supported suicide attacks. There is no evidence to support such a contention and it is a deliberate distortion of his record. But in their desperate need to smear the name of their perceived enemies Israel gets out the big guns and attempts to mow them down. And why use a .22 caliber when a howitzer shell would do? That seems to be the prevailing attitude.
Other critics of Falk who are slightly less mendacious like Israeli UN ambassador Levanon spoke in opposition to Falk’s appointment saying:
“He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of ‘struggle’.
Even here you’ll note that there is no reference to which mission and no direct attribution of the accusation to Falk himself. Did Falk say this? Or did he sign a document which said this? I strongly doubt it. But the onus should be on the party who makes the claim to authenticate it and Israel has not done so.
In fact, Falk has made strong statements condemning violence on both sides of the conflict. Thanks to reader Agape in the comment thread below who pointed out this reference to a Falk article about terrorism in The Nation:
The point here is not in any way to excuse Palestinian suicide bombers and other violence against civilians, but to suggest that when a struggle over territory and statehood is being waged it can and should be resolved at the earliest possible point by negotiation and diplomacy, and that the violence on both sides tends toward the morally and legally impermissible.
At the very least Ambassador Levanon is a sloppy propagandist. At worst, he’s a liar.
Has Falk made strong criticisms of Israel? Yes. Have those criticisms been any stronger than those of a good number of Israelis themselves? Not really. So why is Israel getting its knickers in a knot over someone like Falk? Because he has an international reputation and following. Because the attack on him allows Israel to carry forward the narrative of Israeli victimization at the hands of the UN. Knowing it will be called on yet again to defend the indefensible (the Occupation), Israel turns the tables on the accuser in order to deflect the attack.
In truth, Israel is afraid of Falk. Similarly it refused entry to Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate because it was afraid of the international following he had and the powerful impact his criticism would have in the world community.
The Yablonka article was translated from Hebrew. I’m trying to get the original to confirm the accuracy of the translation. But I have no reason to doubt its accuracy.