On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel/Palestine

18 Nov


            I could not begin to count the number of times friends, and adversaries, have give me the following general line of advice: your views on Israel/Palestine would gain a much wider hearing if they showed more sympathy for Israel’s position and concerns, that is, if they were more ‘balanced.’ Especially on this set of issues, I have always found such advice wildly off the mark for two main reasons. 

            First, if the concern is balance, I am not the place to begin, but the absurd pro-Israeli balance that pervades the response to the conflict in Washington, in the Congress, at the White House and State Department, among Beltway think tanks, as well as in the mainstream media. There is a serious problem of balance, or I would say distortion, that undermines diplomatic credibility. Such a toxic imbalance here in the United States makes the American claim to mediate the conflict and provide neutral auspices futile, if not ridiculous, or at best a reliance on geopolitical ‘justice’ in place of legal justice (based on rights). When the Goldstone Report is rejected before it has been read or the World Court’s near unanimous Advisory Opinion (14-1) condemning as unlawful the separation wall constructed in occupied Palestinian territory is repudiated without offering a serious critical argument, it is clear that bias controls reason, making the resulting imbalance a willing partner in crime. 

            But what of the imbalance that sides with the evidence, with the law, with the ‘facts on the ground’ to arrive at its findings and conclusions? What of the continuous expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the denial of Palestinian refugee rights of return, of the apartheid legal structure of occupation, of discrimination against the Palestinian minority living as Israeli citizens, of the appropriation of scarce Palestinian water reserves, of the abuse of prisoners and children, of the long siege imposed on the people of Gaza as a sustained collective punishment? What of the continuous defiance of international law by Israeli reliance on excessive and disproportionate uses of force in the name of security? In light of this record, is not such imbalance, particularly in the inflamed American atmosphere, the only possible way for truth to speak to power?  Or stated more strongly, is not a circumstance of imbalance written into the fabric of the conflict, and exhibited in the daily suffering and thralldom of the Palestinian people whether living under occupation, in refugee camps in neighboring countries, in exile, and as a subjugated minority?


           Finally, the idea of balance and symmetry should also ‘see’ the structures of life that describe the contrasting conditions of the two peoples: Israelis living in conditions of near normalcy, Palestinians enduring for an incredible period that stretches over six decades a variety of daily hardships and abuses that is cumulatively experiences as acute human insecurity. To be structurally blindfolded and blind is to adopt a common, yet deforming, appearance of ‘balance’ that perpetuates an unjust ‘imbalance’ between oppressor and oppressed.

             In relation to self-determination for Palestinians and Israelis I favor a stance of ‘constructive imbalance,’ which I believe is the only truthful manner of depicting this reality. Truth and accuracy is my litmus test of objectivity, and as such, knowingly defies that sinister god who encourages the substitution of balance for truth! 

9 Responses to “On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel/Palestine”

  1. John November 18, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Hi Richard,

    Keep up the spirit, i am really enjoying the blogs you’re sharing with the world.


  2. Tim Haughton November 18, 2011 at 7:04 am #

    Such are the powers of the doctrinal systems. The most prevalent messages are assumed to represent a spectrum of opinions gathered around the median. This inevitably leads to the perception of a false spectrum, with clearly defined markers as to the limits of acceptable thought.

    It is sadly a symptom of the complacent western mindset that we are so utterly dependent on the “official narrative”, as it is laid out by our presidents and our prime ministers, our generals and our journalists (for the most part).

    Iran is also a current example. For 30 years, our leaders, our guardians and their faithful stenographers in the corporate media have been telling use that Iran is x (where 0 < x < 7) years away from a nuclear bomb. And we still listen.

    The US is still the honest broker of the Israel Palestine conflict, in spite of the US-Israel alliance being virtually isolated in its rejection of the two state solution.

    And we still question nuclear technology at the drop of a hat after a serious incident in Japan with minimal casualties, but after hundreds of deaths this year alone in extreme weather events, we aren't permitted to seriously tackle climate change.

  3. freshteh661resh November 18, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    The irony is that from the very first day of beginning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict the whole story and narration has been twisted and wrapped in bias and imbalance, so who ever is swimming against that wave is called anti-Semite or biased else. The injustice that has been done to Palestinians all these over 60 years is not comparable to any event in history, but it will finish someday in future.
    Thank you Professor for your article

  4. Pamela Olson November 18, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    It’s pretty simple: If someone says the sky is blue, and someone else says it’s red, “balance” in the US is to say, “Well, it’s reddish-purple, and I’m balanced because I acknowledge that there may be some purpleness, but anyone who says it’s blue must be biased.”

    That’s not balance. It’s falsehood masquerading as balance.

    Very Orwellian.

  5. Taline Voskeritchian November 20, 2011 at 6:14 am #


    Your post reminds me of a conversation I had some years ago with Mahmoud Darwish, about how little Americans know of his poetry. I wondered why he had had so few appearances and readings in the US. His answer was quick and clear, and indignant. He said that every time any institution would invite him to read or discuss his poetry and poetics, the insitution would also insist on having an Israeli writer–for the sake of “balance,” of course. And every time Darwish refused, arguing that either they take him alone or not at all. Of course, they did not almost all the time because the institution wanted to create the frame, the limits of meaning. If he spoke and read alone, it would shatter the myth of balance–which is not even a myth but a sham!

    Thanks for your posts!

    Taline Voskeritchian

    • Richard Falk November 20, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      Thanks, Taline, for this lovely relevant remembrance of one of my favorite poets who I had dinner with in Paris not too long before he
      died. with my greetings, Richard


  1. On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel/Palestine ~ by Prof. Em. Richard Falk | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين - November 18, 2011

    […] Source and much more at the weblog of Prof. Em. Richard Falk Sharing=Caring!Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Apartheid, Lobby, Occupation, Palestine, palestinians, UN, US, Zionism East Jerusalem, gaza, israel, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian people, Palestinian territories, United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, west bank Disguised IOF soldiers kidnap freed captive […]

  2. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel/Palestine - November 21, 2011

    […] Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).Go to Original – richardfalk.com Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of […]

  3. On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel/Palestine - December 13, 2011

    […] By Richard Falk […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: