Preparing the Path to a Just Peace for Palestine/Israel

14 Jun



After several past failures to reconcile Fatah and Hamas under the single Palestinian umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, a unity government was formed and its ministers sworn in on June 2nd in Ramallah. This supposedly interim government of ‘technocrats’ without party affiliations will be presided over by the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Rami Hamdallah.. Hamas was reported unhappy until with the composition of the government, withholding its approval until the last minute, but in the end went along. Additional to the diplomatic and long-term benefits of Palestinian unity, the people of Gaza could stand to gain in the short-term, especially if Egypt can now be persuaded to open its border for the passage of fuel and other necessities. Cairo’s aversion to Hamas’ Brotherhood past would be diluted in view of the PA, not Hamas, having become the legitimated governing authority for all Palestinians, including those living in Gaza. The urgent needs of the Gazans may help explain why the two Palestinian factions finally set aside the bitterness of the past, at least for now.

It is too soon to assess the wider implications of this political move that angers the Israeli government and has been greeted with hostile caution in Washington and Europe. For the first time since Hamas won the Gaza elections in 2006, and forcibly displacing a corrupt and abusive Fatah from its governing role a year later, the Palestinians are represented by a leadership that is inclusive of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The governmental machinery is presently presided over by Mahmoud Abbas who is Chair of the PLO and the President of the Palestinian Authority, which has promised elections of a new leadership within six months. Many Palestinians hope that the stage is now set to reduce the ‘leadership deficit’ that has hampered diplomacy at least since the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004. Arafat in the years leading up to his death lost the respect of many Palestinians, partly because he seemed too ready to please Washington in his search for a solution and partly because he lost his grip on corrupting elements within his own entourage. Unfortunately, the only Palestinian that has both the stature and a political appeal that stretches from one end of the spectrum of political opinion to the other is Marwan Barghouti, and he is serving a long-term prison sentence in an Israeli jail.


Israel’s Response


For the moment Palestinian diplomatic unity has been achieved, and seems to be unnerving Israel. Its highest officials and main media have not questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu truculent insistence that Israel will never negotiate with any Palestinian government that is “backed by Hamas,” and threatens a variety of hostile reactions ranging from accelerating the expansion of settlements to withholding customs transfer payments that the PA needs to meet its big public sector employment payroll of 150,000. Perversely, disavowing as illegitimate any Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas endows the organization with a ‘make or break’ political influence, or put differently, gives Israel a foolproof pretext for doing whatever it wants in occupied Palestine without encountering much adverse reaction. Such an unconditional posture confirms for me Israel’s disinterest in a diplomatic approach to real peace, and serves as an excuse for going forward with settlement expansion, ethnic consolidation of East Jerusalem, and continuing the punitive blockade and isolation of Gaza. This pattern was already present a few years ago when Al Jazeera published a series of documents associated with secret negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority in which the PA offered major concessions, and Israel reacted with disinterest and the absence of any counter-offers. [See Clayton Swisher, ed., The Palestine Papers: The End of the Road (Chatham, UK, 2011)]


The Israeli rejection of this move toward Palestinian reconciliation is rationalized by the contention that Hamas was and remains a terrorist organization, and is unacceptable as a political actor because it refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and renounce violence as a tactic of struggle. The United States and the EU share this assessment as a formal matter, but in a slightly more nuanced way although it continues to view Hamas as a terrorist organization, and hence an illegitimate interlocutor. Yet, to the openly declared disgust of Tel Aviv, the White House has announced that it will for the present continue to work with the PA, including keeping the aid flowing. It announced that it intends to closely monitor the role of Hamas in the unity government as the aid to the PA (worth $440 million this year) has been conditioned by the U.S. Congress on the absence of ‘undue influence’ on the part of Hamas. What constitutes undue influence is obviously in the eye of the beholder. Israel can be counted on do its part, exerting pressure via its lobbying allies on Israel’s many Congressional friends in Washington, to show that Hamas is indeed influencing PA policies at this point despite the absence of any Hamas officials in the formal leadership of the new PA government announced in Ramallah. If Israeli lobbying succeeds it could trigger a break in the flow of aid, and cause fiscal troubles for the PA, but maybe with political side benefits by providing Palestinians with badly needed increased room for diplomatic maneuver free from an overall subservience to the partisan wishes of Washington.


Whether this will happen is uncertain. There is sure to be a pushback in the United States by Republicans always eager to score points against the Obama presidency by claiming that Israel is not being supported in the manner that such a key ally deserves. As well, playing the anti-terrorist card still seems to be effective in agitating the American public. Even if Congress does force Obama’s hand, the effects are uncertain. For one thing, the Arab League has pledged $100 million per month to the PA to offset any shortfall arising from a suspension of aid, and several Arab governments have expressed their willingness to provide Ramallah with the equivalent of any funds withheld by Israel and the United States. If such a pledge is fulfilled, no sure thing given Arab past failures to deliver on similar pledges, it means that if aid is cut to the PA, the main effect will be political rather than economic. In this event, Tel Aviv and Washington would likely lose influence, while Cairo, Riyadh, and possibly Tehran seem poised to gain leverage not only with the Palestinians but throughout the Middle East.



Tentative Assessment


It is only possible at this stage to reach tentative conclusions. The move to unity comes after utter failure of the direct negotiations that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed so hard to get started last year. For most observers, especially in light of the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, there seems no longer any credible prospect of a two-state solution in a form acceptable to the people of Palestine or with the possibility of creating a viable and fully sovereign Palestinian state. Beyond this, Palestine has started to act more and more as a state, a status dramatically affirmed by Pope Francis in his recent visit to the holy land. In this regard, it should be appreciated that Israel broke off negotiating with Palestine prior to the formation of the unity government, and not because of Hamas. The break occurred because the governing authority in Ramallah decided to sign 15 international conventions as a state party, a seemingly responsible step for Palestine to take if it wanted to be perceived as a state. Such an effort by the PA to confirm Palestine as a state without the endorsement of Israel and Washington is a direct result of the disillusionment by the PA with the ridiculous inter-governmental diplomacy that is still being championed by the U.S. Government as the only path to peace. The Palestinians have been living without rights under Israeli occupation for more than four and a half decades, and many Palestinian families have been languishing in refugee camps in and around Palestine ever since 1948. Besides this, the deferral of a resolution of Palestinian claims is not a neutral reality. It helps Israel expand, while diminishing Palestinian expectations in relation to their own territorial and national destiny.


I believe the bottom line importance of the unity government is the Palestinian realization that no solution to the overall conflict is even conceivable without the participation of Hamas. Beyond this, allowing Hamas to become an active part of the political equation strikes a body blow against Israel’s strategy of keeping the Palestinians as divided and subdued as possible. Hamas has taken a series of important steps to be accepted as a political actor, and thereby overcome its reputation as a terrorist organization associated with its earlier embrace of indiscriminate political violence, especially extensive suicide bombing directed at civilian targets within Israel. After entering and winning Gaza elections in 2006, Hamas went on to exercise effective governing authority in the Gaza Strip since 2007. It has been governing under extremely difficult circumstances arising from Israeli blockade and hostility. It has managed to negotiate and comply with ceasefire agreements via Egypt. Most relevantly, by way of statements of and interviews with its leaders indicating a readiness to enter into long-term co-existence agreements with Israel for up to 50 years if Israel withdraws to the 1967 ‘green line’ borders and ends its blockade of Gaza. The firing of rockets that can be directly attributed to Hamas in this period are almost always launched in a retaliatory mode after an unlawful Israeli violent provocation; most of the rockets launched are primitive in design and capability, and have caused little damage on the Israeli side of the border and often seem to be the work of extremist militias in Gaza that act independently and in violation of Hamas. Despite the low number of Israeli casualties, the threats posed by these rockets should not be minimized as they do induce fear in Israeli communities with their range. It should be recognized, also, that Hamas is known to possess more sophisticated rockets that could cause serious casualties and damage, yet has refrained from using them except in the course of defending Gaza in response to the massive attack launched by Israel in November 2012.


This profile of Hamas in recent years appears to represent a dramatic departure from its earlier positions calling for the destruction of the Israeli state in its entirety. It is fair to ask whether this more moderate line can be trusted, which cannot be fully known until it is tested by a positive engagement by Israel and the United States. So far Israel has made no reciprocal gestures even to the extent of taking some cautious note of these changes in Hamas’ approach. Israel has continued to repeat its demands that Hamas unilaterally renounce political violence, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and indicate its acceptance of all past agreements with the Palestinian Authority. Even if Hamas were to take these steps it seems highly doubtful that Israel would alter its defiant position, continue to claim that such acts could not be trusted until further evidence of good faith are available, including amending the Hamas Charter. Doubts about Hamas’ trustworthiness seem a typically misleading distraction put forward by Tel Aviv. As whatever Hamas were to do, or even the PA, Israel would be sure to make its future security depend on its military capabilities, and place no reliance whatsoever on whether Palestinian political actors were true to their word. In the abstract, it does seem unreasonable to expect the Hamas to make these unilateral commitments demanded by Israel so long as the unlawful collective punishment of the people of Gaza in the form of the blockade continues.

At this point Hamas could and probably should do more to establish the bona fides of its abandonment of terror as a mode of armed struggle and its readiness to have peaceful relations with Israel for long periods of time. It could and should revise the Hamas Charter of 1987 by removing those passages that suggest that the Jews as a people are evil and provide jihadists with suitable targets that deserve to be stuck dead. It could also draft a new charter taking account of intervening developments and its current thinking on how best to wage the Palestinian liberation struggle. It may also be time for Hamas to make explicit a qualified commitment to a nonviolent path in pursuit of a just peace. In circumstances of prolonged occupation and state terrorism, Hamas is entitled to claim rights of resistance, although their precise contours are not clearly established by international law. Hamas is certainly entitled to act in self-defense within the constraints of international humanitarian law, and hence can condition any tactical renunciation of armed struggle by reserving these rights.


The one side of the Israeli rigidity that is rooted in psychological plausibility is the reality of fear, and Hamas if it wants to make progress toward a sustainable and just peace, would be well advised to do its best to recognize this obstacle. Ari Shavit starts his important, although not entirely persuasive book, in a revealing way: “For as long as I can remember, I remember fear. Existential fear…I always felt that beyond the well-to-do houses and upper-middle-class lawns of my hometown lay a dark ocean. One day, I dreaded, that dark ocean would rise and drown us all. A mythological tsunami would strike our shores and sweep my Israel away.” (My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013), ix.


I am not intending to suggest that such feelings in any way mitigate the injustices imposed on the Palestinian people for almost a century. I am saying that these feelings among Israeli are real and widespread among the Jewish population living in Israel, and that the process of inducing more Israelis to seek a genuine peace depend on sensitivity by Hamas to this reality. Such a call does not mean at all that Israel should not have done more in this period, especially to allay the strong suspicion that the excessive demands of the Israeli government issued in the name of security and the invocation of fear and loathing, whether toward Hamas or Iran, is not being manipulated by a cynical leadership in Tel Aviv with not the slightest interest in peace and accommodation on reasonable terms, but is primarily seeking to proceed toward the control of virtually the whole of historic Palestine and the exploitation of all its resources. In other words Israeli ‘fears’ are at once authentic and offer a useful dilatory tactic. I would also emphasize the relevance of the situation on the ground: Israel as a prosperous powerhouse and fully sovereign state as contrasted to Hamas, which is the governing authority of the tiny, blockaded, and totally vulnerable Gaza Strip whose impoverished population has been deliberately kept by Israel at a subsistence level and continuously subjected to Israeli state terror at least since 1967.


A salient issue in this context is whether it is reasonable and desirable to insist that Hamas adopt a new covenant as a precondition to its acceptance as a legitimate political actor. On the one side, as mentioned above, Israel if so motivated, could explore accommodation options without taking additional security risks because of its total military dominance, and thus without either trusting Hamas or making a renunciation of the 1987 Hamas Charter a precondition. On the other side, the fact that Hamas would be willing to amend its Charter or adopt a new one that would provide some tangible indication that it no longer is calling for the killing of Jews (Article 7) and the insistence that a sacred and violent struggle is mandated by Islam to persist until every inch of Palestine falls under Muslim rule (Articles 13 & 14). If the public declarations by Hamas leaders in the last several years are to be taken seriously, then Hamas owes it to itself and those acting in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to clarify its current political vision of peace and justice. Such clarification is consistent with reaffirming the responsibility of Israel and the Zionist movement for past injustices and the accompanying denial of fundamental and inalienable rights to the Palestinian people, above all, the right of self-determination.


From the positions set forth here, it seems clear that at this point the officialIsraeli leadership is not inclined to seek a diplomatic outcome to the struggle that includes addressing legitimate Palestinian grievances. For this reason alone, it is fair to conclude that the 1993 Oslo framing of diplomacy, as most recently exhibited in the Kerry negotiations, is a snare and delusion so far as Palestinians are concerned. It not only freezes the status quo, it shifts the realities on the ground in the direction of Israeli expansionism via annexation, and moves toward the final stage of Zionist thinking, incorporating Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) into an Israeli version of the one-state solution. These moves, in effect, normalize the apartheid structure of relations between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents, and shed the pretense of agreeing to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Against such a background, the incentive to change the Hamas Charter it should be understood is not to appease the Israeli government, but to manifest its own altered vision and strategy and to exert some influence upon the Israeli citizenry and world public opinion. It needs to be appreciated that whatever Hamas were to do to please Israel, it would make no essential difference. What is relevant to the present stage of the Palestinian national movement is to mobilize nonviolent militant resistance and solidarity support. It is on this symbolic battlefield of legitimacy that Palestinian hopes now rest.

29 Responses to “Preparing the Path to a Just Peace for Palestine/Israel”

  1. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 15, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    Prof. Falk,

    I have time to write only a few brief sentences, but I want to be among the first responders and say congratulations and thanks for a courageous and potentially “tipping point” analysis.

    More later.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  2. Gene Schulman June 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Just registering for further comments. Too long to read now.

  3. Björn Lindgren June 16, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    Dear Richard Falk,

    I fully agree with the analysis you put forward in “Preparing the Path to a Just Peace for Palestine/Israel”.

    I also note that you don’t mention any hopeful signs from within “Tel Aviv”. Only a right-wing Israeli politician (high ranking military?) could have the political credibility to take the path you suggest, and not risking being accused of being a traitor. Yitzhak Rabin had the record necessary to strike a deal with Arafat, but was nevertheless gunned down.

    Add to this, the problems amassing in Israel: unemployment, economy, inequity, poverty, racism, and a brutalized army, and it’s clear that “Tel Aviv” needs a firm push from peaceful Jewish peoples in the US and elsewhere.

    Many thanks, indeed, Richard for your constructive work.

    Best regards,
    Björn Lindgren

  4. Gene Schulman June 16, 2014 at 4:32 am #

    I agree with the above comment by Björn Lindgren, but am not quite as sanguine as he about the possibilities of a push from the Jewish peoples. I believe that, no matter how unjust the situation may be, the Jewish peoples are so brainwashed by the Lobby, they will never stand against anything Israel may do to take full control of all Palestine. Every justification for Israeli actions has been bred into the bones of the Jewish people, including those pretending to seek a just peace. I see this from correspondence with many Jewish acquaintances around the world: Israel is always right and must defend itself against Arab aggression regardless of its own sins. Hamas can change its charter, offer peace on whatever terms Israel asks, but nothing will deter Israel from its original Zionist goal to control all of Palestine and assert it’s power throughout the ME. The only thing that would change this is that if the US were to decide to withdraw its support, both financial and moral, for Israel. I do not see this happening. Israel is too valuable to the US for its own needs in the ME.

    • Björn Lindgren June 16, 2014 at 5:29 am #

      Hi Gene,

      Well,I am, in fact, not very hopeful about very much. And this holds true especially about the Palestine/Israel conflict. But this doesn’t deny the value of trying to see new openings and possible solutions of the conflict.

      Both in the the US, and in Sweden (where I live), the Jewish communities are varied and changing, Young people are ashamed of what the Israeli government is up to, don’t identify with Jewish Israel, and have been decent to help to disclose the atrocities and history of the Nakba, and further till today.

      Yes, if the US would decide to withdraw its economical and military support to Israel, that would be effective and welcome. But like in Israel, the US governments and leaders are deeply entangeled in the blowback effects of their geopolitical chess games, and what counts for a possible Israeli peace policy also counts for a possible US peace policy: Where to find the leader or the political entity launching it?

      Not structurally so self-contradictory as an Israeli and US change of mind and policy, could be a massive Palestinian nonviolent civildisobedience campaign in Israel/Palestine and internationally. There are reasons to believe that such a long-term resistance would gain much international support and sympathy.

      Cheers, Björn

      • Gene Schulman June 16, 2014 at 6:08 am #

        Well, yes Björn. I have noticed a lack of support for Israeli policies among the younger set (even in Israel). But they are still in the minority, in both senses of the word, and have very little influence. There may be hope in them as the older of us die off and the Holocaust has less hold on the Jewish populace.

        I wonder, also, if the reported trend toward anti-Semitism in Sweden might not be an influence on this group.

      • Björn Lindgren June 16, 2014 at 8:23 am #

        Hi Gene,

        Thanks for you comment and question.

        Not only young Swedish Jews are ashamed of “Tel Aviv”. Among Swedish Jews living i Israel, many has kept their Swedish passports. They simply don’t trust the state of Israel as a safe place, no matter if you’re Jewish or not. Some has already returned to Sweden.

        A former journalist colleague, Göran Rosenberg, has written an excellent history of Israel, “Det förlorade landet” (“The Lost Land”). A truly a tragic and confusing read. In the end of the book, he looks at the prospects of Israel’s future, and mentions that year 70, the Israelis, then, had a choice: either be one among many peoples within the Roman empire, or vanish. They choosed the latter, and ended up at the Masada cliff.

        Without stretching the parallell too far, the question is if Israel will be a normal state having neighbors? That is, being a part of a Middle East community or Union. Or not?

        The anti-Semitism in Sweden is somewhat paradoxical. Never before has Swedes been so accepting and tolerant towards immigrants and minorities as now. On the other hand, racist opinions are on the rise, and part of the public discourse, mainly presented by Sverigedemokraterna (Swedish Democrats, SD), which have Nazi roots. Like other racists, they’d like to say “race”, but say “culture,” mainly attacking Muslims. But behind this tactic, we could surely sense anti-Semistism.

        If the Israeli government runs amok and ethnical cleanse the Palestinians, it is easy to imagine anti-semitism manifesting itself fully again.

        However, in Sweden, there is also another kind of antisemitism among young suburban Muslims, who hate Jews because of the Palestine/Israel conflict. Often frustrated, marginalized, poorly educated young men, with one foot in the Middle East and the other in the suburb. I don’t think they have any impact on the political scene.

        Cheers, Björn

    • rehmat1 June 16, 2014 at 5:44 am #

      Gene Schulman – The wish came true. The newly elected president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, supports “one Jewish state” not only over historic Palestine but beyond: Eretz Yisrael.

      • Gene Schulman June 16, 2014 at 6:17 am #

        Good news, indeed. Though the office has no influence, may he use the bully pulpit to spread his ideas among the populace. Will wonders never cease.

  5. rehmat1 June 16, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Netanyahu’s whining against the Fatah-Hamas unity government is part of Israel Hasbara. In fact, the US-Israel-EU have many good reason to be happy about bringing two Islamic Resistance groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad under Shimon Peres’ “Palestinian Gandhi”, Mahmoud Abbas whose mandate as PA president expired in January 2009.

    Mahoud Abbas, being a “double agent”, has been assigned the job to neutralize the armed resistance against Israeli occupation by isolating it from Hizbullah, Iran, Syria and other pro-Palestinian organizations.

    Netanyahu is in full gears to discredit the unity government by blaming Hamas for the three Jewish teenagers who have gone missing right under the noses of Israel’s occupation forces in Gush Etzion.

  6. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 16, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Prof. Falk,

    At the outset , I want to reiterate my appreciation for what I earlier described as your courageous and potentially “tipping point” post.

    I don’t claim a comprehensive knowledge of everything you’ve written or said during your long career, but I find several highly significant new ideas in this one. You propose that Hamas “could and should” revise its charter to delete genocidal commitments, and also introduce a commitment to pursue its objectives through non-violent means. You’re correct in saying the Israeli/Palestinian peace is impossible without Hamas. In other words, Hamas does has power! You now add a crucial nuance: with power comes responsibility. If Hamas is to have a constructive role in resolving the conflict, it must position itself to be a responsible negotiating partner. This, you note insightfully, is not to appease the Israelis “but to manifest Hamas’ own altered vision and strategy and to exert some influence upon the Israeli citizenry and world public opinion.”

    This insight reflects another important new element in your approach. You’ve expanded the field of factors informing your assessment, which until now has been rooted almost entirely in legal precedents, to include human considerations, primarily fear. For Israelis, making concessions entails taking risks. Until and unless Hamas makes it clear that it does not intend to use newly acquired territory as a close-in launching pad for rockets aimed at Israel’s industrial/commercial heartland, major cities and international airport, Israel will resist making those concessions, understandably and justifiably. And the Palestinians’ situation will not improve.

    N.B. Israel, for its part, must take into consideration the impact nearly five decades of occupation has had on the Palestinians. Perhaps the most significant aspect of your proposal is that it opens the potential for changing the present course of the conflict from a zero sum game into a cooperative endeavor undertaken by two longstanding enemies in pursuit of their collective and separate benefit.

    Obviously, there are a plethora of things that could go wrong along the way. Some undoubtedly will. Each side will need to demonstrate its good intentions in actions on the ground, where the margin for error is very small. But as the old adage has it, progress comes when the unthinkable is pondered and the unmentionable is discussed. Prof. Falk, you’ve crossed an important line.

    I probably should stop here, but I must respond to your own pessimism and the pessimism expressed in responses already received.

    In your writing, you tend to portray Israelis and Palestinians as politically monolithic populations. You know infinitely more about the Palestinians than I do. But I know something about the Israelis.

    The notion that Israelis are united in seeking to subordinate or expel the Palestinians through expansionism, harsh treatment, etc. is simply wrong. The spectrum of views runs a bell shaped curve from a willingness to concede everything, including Israel as it has existed since 1948, to a resistance to conceding anything, as well as an appetite for maximum territorial expansion and ethnic cleansing. Perhaps the central factor shaping Israel’s attitude toward Hamas is fear. Not fear of being driven into the sea, as was the case before the 1967 War, but fear of returning to the time of rampant terrorism when parents putting their children on a school bus weren’t sure that they would ever see them again. (n.b. I’m sure than Palestinian parents have similar fears, which Israel must address.)

    Israel’s position is not that it will never negotiate with Hamas. It’s that it will not negotiate unless and until Hamas renounces terrorism and recognizes Israel. There’s a huge difference between Israel’s actual position and how its distorted by its enemies. A similar scenario was played out in the early 1990’s when Israel began negotiating with the PLO once Yasir Arafat modified his rhetoric.

    Opinion polls invariably show that a majority of Israelis favor an equitably drawn two-state solution. A recent poll taken by a West Bank based institute reveals rapidly declining support for West Bank settlements. Israelis worry about their state losing its democratic character by continuing to rule over a large West Bank population denied its basic human rights.

    Not long ago, Israel had a large and vibrant peace lobby willing to make huge concessions as the price for peace. In 1999, Ehud Barak defeated Bibi Netanyahu running on a platform of achieving peace within a year. Ariel Sharon was re-elected prime minister after withdrawing from Gaza. His successor, Ehud Olmert, made an unprecedented offer to President Abbas.

    The Israeli peace movement has faded because making offers in exchange for peace achieved nothing. Fatah was, at best, ambivalent. But the “800 pound gorilla” in the room was Hamas, which despite unofficial statements from some of its leaders, stuck to its covenant, indicating that the hardline rejectionists were still in control.

    But it could easily be revitalized. The Israeli electorate is very responsive to currents among the Palestinians. A clear demonstration that Hamas has indeed changed will impact positively on the voters. Netanyahu may continue to resist. But after his farcical performance during the now collapsed round of negotiations, opposition parties are emboldened and even members of his own government are calling for change.

    The pathway to peace is long, hard and filled with potholes, But the first step is always the hardest one. To predict failure at the outset can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • Gene Schulman June 16, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      Nice of Rabbi Youdovin to pay such complements to Prof. Falk. But his long winded response is mere window dressing. He say that changes in attitudes must be made, but puts the onus for that change all on Hamas, and implies that Israel is willing to make peace if only Hamas would recognize Israel. Hamas already has recognized Israel many times over and offered long term truce. It just won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state! Nor should it. Certainly, Israel wants peace, but only on its own terms. Those terms are the ouster of the Palestinian Arabs. All the rest is hot air.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 16, 2014 at 10:08 am #


        Your meanspiritedness is overwhelmihg.

        For the record:

        1. I repeated several times that Israel would have to make reciprocal gestures.

        2. I never said or implied that Hamas must recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state, which might be difficult for Hamas at this time. Recognition should be of Israel as it currently exists, with the borders of the new state of Palestine determined through bi-lateral negotiations. To my mind—and I am neither a lawyer nor a diplomat—what should be required FROM BOTH THE PALESTINIANS AND ISRAEL—is a clause in the signed agreement that it satisfies all claims.. This is common verbiage in negotiated agreements.

        3. Regarding your fantasy about Israel seeking to oust the Palestinians: you can bloviate all you want but the checkable facts are that the Palestinian population of both Israel and the occupied territories has increased markedly since 1948 and 1967. if the Israelis’ goal is ethnic cleansing, they’re doing a pretty poor job of it.

        The “hot air”, my dyspeptic pen pal, is entirely yours.

        Now that I’ve dressed you down, you can appeal to Prof. Falk to ban me from the blog!


      • Gene Schulman June 16, 2014 at 10:56 am #

        Just the facts, Sir, just the facts. I certainly hope Prof. Falk doesn’t ban you. You would be greatly missed.

  7. Kata Fisher June 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Again, Livni requires some division of spiritual and natural reality/laws in his perception, and with that one see a break down in the base of his– lack of that clarity base to be far from his explanation. He is more bent toward extreme assumptions, while inter-mixing some valid facts with propaganda; he lacks humor.

    He refers that to somewhat ‘humorously radical’ freedom of ideas/the press. Awww…why to feel like Samson whose troubles kicked off in Gaza…

    Livni is clearly hostile toward the work of Professor Falk, and is also going on without a clear conscience about that.

    • Dan Livni June 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      For their to be peace, Kata Fisher, Gene Schulman, Richard Falk, Hamas and Fatah must recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

      Kata Fisher, Gene Schulman, Richard Falk, Hamas and Fatah must also recognize all of Jerusalem as the eternal capitol of Israel as Australia has.

      • Kata Fisher June 16, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

        Livni: who are you to tell us what will doom the peace? Who do you serve – what’s in the air to wrestle with/against?

        Muslims are Jews (ancient). Have you not had ear to hear that there was a scientific research that confirmed that?

        Holy Land is already a Jewish state: Palestinian-Israel with hosting of their immigrants that are mainly converts to different branches of Judaism, and have a valid rights to enter the areas of Holy Land based on International Law, but have no right to war crimes and genocide in the Holy Land.

        You lack perception like most of the world – if God and those who are under prophetic anointing can’t teach you, perhaps science will indicate what dullness can’t perceive.

        Dullness: it’s in the air! Why? Seared conscience, too much killing and agreements with those works of darkness and death-spiritual! It’s culture of death…let’s just say that.

      • Richard Falk June 16, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

        Dan Livni: I have told you and all comment writers several times that I will not permit comments
        that contain personal insults and exhibit ethnic hatred, and I do not favor serial comments. If you wish to engage in such aggressive polemics please do so at some other site.

      • Gene Schulman June 17, 2014 at 8:20 am #

        I can’t attest to the veracity of this report:, but there does seem to be a consistent pattern.

        Thank you for pulling down those objectionable comments by Dan Livni. I would just ask him one question: Why do you harp on these so-called kidnappings, but never mention the established murder of two innocent teen-aged Palestinian boys shot in the back by IDF soldiers?

  8. Kata Fisher June 17, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    I just came across this article, and I do wonder if someone understand this — what was said and argued in that setting. I know that it is a bit of the point when comes to the Israel/Palestine issue, still a great deal of concern when comes to the issues on the Middle East and religious conflicts.

    I would appreciate if someone can evaluate and explain the whole report/video-recording without any bias, within his or her personal limits.

    A note:
    I had heard about Brigit before as a friend tried to feed me Brigits ideas/books just years before–she really liked Brigit’s teaching. I really did not like it, but have understood that Brigit was talking about Islam/radical Isalm . Likewise, about Palestinian involvement in Lebanon conflict.

    Brigit seems to be an angry girl. I do wonder if Brigit is convinced by her own perspective/experience altogether so that she cannot budge beyond that.

    Regardless, I have a feeling that Palestinians have a cursing Lebanon’s migrant (Brigit) upon their deeds. If their deeds? Was Lebanon conflict a planted one, just as many others were?
    I do really wonder what took place in Lebanon.

    • Gene Schulman June 18, 2014 at 12:58 am #

      Easy one, Kata. The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing neocon think tank, and employs people like Gaffney and Brigitt Gabrial to stir up the masses with propaganda much like those hasbara commenters (Skolnik, Livni) on this blog who try to stir up enmity among people who follow Richard’s common sense essays. These people are out and out racists.

      • Kata Fisher June 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm #


        I was thinking on this for a while.

        It is definitely a spirit of racism and separatism that has exhausted US history, and now it is not local to US as a force, but rather has moved on toward different nations/areas outside US, globally. While other lands have also struggled with this type of force, it was not as strong in power as coming from US.

        US as a diminishing globaleader should be concerned about that based on the capacity of their leadership in their own land.

        The main reason behind that issue is the origin of that force that had its roots in ancient Rome and Grece, so Greco-Roman, in essence: racism and separatism, which is deeply set law of the sin.

        There was a time that I have studied writings of Paul Apostle – from early winter of 2005 to about spring of 2007 – that was a cornerstone by which I was spiritually sustained and convinced on things that I was observing at that time and years after. I understood Greco-Roman issues at Church in Corinth — so in manifest in these modern times.

        US as a country is dealing with a self-destructive force of racism and separatism that is sealed in the law of sin.

        When I look at Brigit, I understand that she is involved in things that are outside her appointed area and spiritual authority. She is a lay people, and she should just stay put, minding her own business. However, she cannot because she is doing her own thing; and is excommunicated spiritually.

        She should limit herself to private fellowship, instead of public influence. She is an Isrilite-Christian, and she is rebellious just because she is moving in her own will-power.

        However, I know, in fact, that Brgit is convinced that she is blessed, doing the will of God. That is the pride of will that is so common for US-Chritianity, and immigrants that just join in that irresistible evil, and are outside any effort to seek truth that is objective.

        It seems to me that The Heritage Foundation almost acts as a cult.

  9. Zak June 18, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    As I mentioned on twitter, I have the utmost respect for your work, what you have done, what you continue to do, and the consistent positions you adopt, but I am thoroughly confused about your comments here regarding Hamas. You say they must change their charter and renounce certain aspects of their past in order to shore up trust and legitimize their position as a political actor. I ask how is this demand made to Hamas, and Hamas only, and what it has to do with reality?

    Hamas, as pointed out by former US president Carter, has a long history of sticking to it’s agreements, treaties and truces. That alone – not Carter’s comments or feelings, but the openly available documented record confirming his conclusions – is enough to dispel any propaganda about whether Hamas can be “trusted”. If there are any actors here that warrant doubts in terms of their proclamations, promises or agreements, it would be Israel, the US, the PLO/PA.Fatah regime and many of the regional states in the area. Hamas has proven to be the most trustworthy actor in this pack. Any talk of focusing on “trusting” them or their agreements is based in propaganda and most certainly not fact.

    The next problem is the preconditions and requirements imposed on Hamas. Why would Hamas be expected to renounce anything (even terrorism) when the other actors in this issue are not expected to do the same? The US, even though clearly driving this matter, the so-called “peace process” as a means to strengthen it’s Israeli ally and it’s own perceived military and economic interests, is not required to renounce it’s anti-gay laws, it’s ethnically and sociopolitically discriminatory domestic practices, to renege on it’s commitment to illegal settler activity and material funding/support of war crimes, it’s illegal assassinations, torture, state-sanctioned murder, or illegal announcements to wipe countries like Iran off the map, in order to be considered a legitimate political actor.

    The multitude of politicians in the Israeli Knesset are not required to change their party’s goals, declarations and promises of colonizing Palestine, carrying out war crimes or other abuses of human rights, in order to be taken seriously as political actors. Netanyahu is not expected to accept the international consensus on this issue, the 2 state solution (borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees), in order to be regarded as a legitimate political actor. The PA is not required to end it’s Vichy-style collaboration with the occupiers in order to be taken seriously in it’s political endeavors. Saudi Arabia is not required to halt it’s funding of religious extremists or change it’s numerous discriminatory laws in order to be taken seriously as in interlocutor, representative or negotiator.

    These demands are only being made of Hamas. Why? If it were advice you were offering, in terms of pointing out strategic benefits or mistakes, that I could understand. But claiming that this type of action – action not required by any of the other relevant actors – is mandatory in order for the party’s political existence and participation to be legitimate, is just not serious. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on why you put so much responsibility on such a weak and marginalized wing of the Palestinian resistance, government and population.

    • Richard Falk June 18, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      Thanks for this very thoughtful and challenging comment that I appreciate greatly
      and am substantially persuaded by. I did try to convey the sense that the language of
      the Hamas Charter is sufficiently threatening as to seem inconsistent with its recent
      calls for peace, and thus to enhance the credibility of these calls, it would be useful
      to come forth with a second Charter. It was meant as a pragmatic step in the domain of
      opinion and public relations, which are important in legitimacy struggles for the high
      moral ground. Israel’s behavior and increasing embrace of a one-state option that denies
      Palestinians any political rights ever is far more threatening as an actuality. I need
      to think more about how to address these differing realities in a more balanced and
      fair minded manner, but your comment in the best possible spirit makes me appreciate
      the shortcomings of my post as formulated.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 18, 2014 at 9:32 am #

        Prof. Falk,

        Your post is fine as is. On the one hand, you urge Hamas to revise its Charter so that it accurately expresses the organization’s current views. At the same time, you reiterate in unambiguous language your case against Israel. You haven’t yielded anything, nor asked Hamas to yield.

        The immediate goal should be creating a psychological and political environment open to Hamas’ participation. Your approach represents a significant move in this direction. This is important not only to Hamas. It is essential to bringing a just resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which is likely impossible without Hamas’ participation. Playing an endless zero-sum blame game, as Zak urges, helps no-one, and especially not the Palestinians.

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Kata Fisher June 18, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

        I have a reflection:

        I understand that the revision of the Charter is so crucial for justice and peace in the areas of Holy Land.

        This is why: the Charter itself has taken eccalistical property outside eccalistical order / eccalistical authority – so that the Carter itself acts as a stronghold over the Hamas as an organization, people of Gaza, and also the people in the region of the Holy Land.

        In order to break off that stronghold that Charter has created due to impropriate handling of eccalistical property/order — that stronghold has to be annulled.

        Further, International community has to be committed to the validity of International Law and effects of International Law upon them in order to be a global leader in this new millennium.

        Hamas should be concerned about their role in global leadership because there is a tremendous spiritual accountability that is upon them as offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

        They should seriously by all maturity and sincere spirit consider updating their intentions of the Charter based on International Law, and by that setting an example of repentance and obedience for all other in the region.

        We do not order anyone to do anything because it would be very rude, but it is done by sincere understanding of some things that may be overlooked by others, as we all are under specific limitations either personal or not.

      • Zak June 26, 2014 at 8:41 am #

        And professor, this is why I respect you so much. I agree completely that the behaviour you propose for Hamas would definitely be strategically important and pragmatic steps.

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  10. QCPal July 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Pr Falk, I agree that should Hamas modify its charter to limit violence to self-defense the “burden of proof” for diplomatic peace would be on #APARTHEID #Israel …And NAZionist would lose yet another scarecrow in their shopping for FEAR to maintain their fascist regime in place as is … Zionism wihtout direct enemy is nothing more than ethnocentric racist fascist militaristic regime doomed to be “obliterated from the pages of time” along with the IIIrd Reich, Frano’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s USSR ..

    I wish the West would research more non-violenet Palestinian ACTIONS like in Budrus,m Bi’Lin and all o er Palestine like demonstrated by Julia Bacha commendable film initiatiive …

    One day we will see the birth of a new secular and TRULY democratic country for Jews, Muslims, Christians maybe called Palestine-Israel with Right of Return and then Zionism will be a 20th Century historical monstrosity studied alongside the Shoah …

    Peace ! Shalom ! Salaam !


  1. Preparing the Path to a Just Peace for Palestine/I$raHell |  SHOAH - June 14, 2014

    […] by Richard Falk […]

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