Gaza Interview- Truthout

24 Jul


[Prefatory note: This is an interview with a knowledgeable Greek journalist covering a range of issues associated with the Gaza ordeal]


“Blood on American Hands”: Richard Falk on Palestine

Monday, 21 July 2014 13:03

By CJ Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview


A man holds the body of a child during a burial for a family of seven people killed yesterday in an Israeli attack in the Shajaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, July 21, 2014. As the bloody conflict entered its 14th day amid diplomatic pressure for a cease-fire, the Palestinian death toll reached 500, and thousands of people streamed toward Gaza City from the north Monday. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

For over 20 years, Israel and the United States have been working to separate Gaza from the West Bank, in violation of the Oslo Accords they had just signed declaring them to be an indivisible territorial unity. The latest carnage in Gaza is part of an ongoing Israeli imperial policy which, as Noam Chomsky wrote to me just a couple of days ago, seeks “to take over what’s of value ‘in the land of Israel,’ reduce the population to marginal existence (with the usual neocolonial exception: an enclave for the rich and Westernized sectors in Ramallah), and if they leave, so much the better.” But, as Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, former UN special rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, and author of the forthcoming book Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, which will be published in October by Just World Books, underscores in this exclusive interview, Israel always claims that its attacks against Palestinians are provoked by the Palestinians themselves.

  1. J. Polychroniou: Professor Falk, here we go again: Israel, one of the world’s mightiest military powers, has launched yet another ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on the rather bogus proposition that Hamas provoked Israel to attack Gaza. What is Israel’s real purpose in attacking Gaza this time around?

Richard Falk: I believe that Israel periodically “mows the grass” in Gaza as one right-wing Israeli advisor to Sharon distastefully expressed the goal of Israel policy toward Gaza several years ago. There were factors present in the context of this Israeli attack that help explain why now. The main two factors in my view were the unwelcome establishment of an interim “unity government” on June 2 by the leadership of Fatah and Hamas, which undermined the Israeli approach of keeping the governing authorities in the West Bank and Gaza as divided as possible. The second element was Israel’s strong incentive to weaken Hamas in the West Bank so that Israel could justify its moves in April to end direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and move ever closer to incorporating the West Bank, or most of it into Israel, and fulfill the expansionist Zionist dream to move beyond the 1967 borders.

The June 12 kidnapping incident involving the three teenage settler children from the Gush Etzion settlement near Jerusalem provided the Netanyahu government with the pretext it needed to mount an anti-Hamas campaign that started as a supposed hunt for the perpetrators, detaining up to 500 suspected of a Hamas connection and generally imposing a variety of oppressive measures, including house demolition, lockdowns of Palestinian towns, and random violence that led to six Palestinian deaths. As has been shown, the incident was manipulated in a most cynical fashion by the government pretending to search for the kidnapped youth, while knowing that they were already dead, using public anxiety and anger to incite the Israeli citizenry to justify the oppressive tactics of the government and to create an atmosphere of vigilante vengeance.

Having denied any involvement in the kidnapping incident, it is hardly surprising that in retaliation for Israel’s provocations that Hamas in retaliation began firing rockets at Israeli towns. Israel used its formidable propaganda machine to tell the world that its third major military assault on defenseless Gaza in the last five years (2008-09, 2012, 2014) was a defensive response to unprovoked rocket attacks. With mock innocence, Netanyahu told the world that Israel needed to act to protect its citizens from the rockets, without any mention, of course, of the prior anti-Hamas rampage that included ugly Israeli racist slurs directed at the Palestinians and revenge attacks on Palestinian children.

Why did the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo fail?

The ceasefire failed for several reasons. Hamas was excluded from the process leading up to the proposed ceasefire, and was informed only by the public media. Beyond this, the previously announced Hamas conditions for agreeing to a ceasefire were ignored: release of Palestinians who had been part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange three years ago (in which a single captured IDF soldier was released in exchange for the agreed Israeli release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners) and were rearrested in recent weeks as part of the crackdown on Hamas; lifting the blockade and opening the crossings; cease interference with the unity government; restore the 2012 ceasefire. Also, Sisi’s Egypt is hardly a suitable or trustworthy intermediary from Hamas’ perspective. Not far in the background is the brutal repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and related hostility to Hamas, which is regarded by the Sisi government as an offshoot.

Would Israel have launched an attack if the new Egyptian government was not also bent on seeing Hamas destroyed?

This is a very speculative issue. Israel did initiate a major attack on Gaza in November 2012 while Mohamed Morsi was president despite his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and did then accept a ceasefire arranged under Cairo’s diplomatic auspices. Having General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt is certainly a favorable development from Israel’s perspective. Sisi has substantially destroyed the extensive tunnel network on which Hamas depended to receive needed supplies as well as to collect tax revenues required to administer Gaza. Egypt in recent months has been cooperating with Israel and the United States, including in relation to control of the passage through the Rafah crossing to Egypt, which is the only escape route available to the people of Gaza, including those needing medical attention only available in Cairo. I believe that the Israeli attack occurred at this time principally for reasons of Israeli state policy, and would have taken place without regard to the attitudes of the leadership in Cairo.

With 1.8 million people trapped in an overcrowded war zone, it should be obvious that the Israeli jets’ attacks constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Yet, once again, Israel is allowed to get away with murder because it enjoys US diplomatic backing as well as US military and financial support. As such, doesn’t this make the United States just as complicit in crimes against humanity as Israel itself?

I do agree that the United States for the reasons you give is definitely complicit in relation to the criminal nature of the Israeli attack. Whether this kind of complicity involves legal culpability, as well as moral and political complicity is an open question. The United States is not, so far as is known, directly involved in planning and carrying out this “aggression” against Gaza and “collective punishment” against its people. Giving military assistance or providing military equipment to a foreign government does not by itself constitute a sufficient connection with the attack as to satisfy legal tests of complicity.

What is clear is that the continuing and unconditional diplomatic support given by the US to Israel, including shielding Israel from formal censure at the UN, and the failure to discourage war crimes being committed, results in much blood on American hands. Activist opponents of this American policy are now more committed to calling upon churches and universities to divest from corporations doing business with the settlements or facilitating Israeli militarism, and there are increasing national and international calls for an arms embargo on Israel, which would be of mainly symbolic force, given Israel’s robust arms industry, which is supplying weapons to many countries, with the grotesque selling point that they have been “field-tested,” that is, used, in Gaza.

Hamas has been faced with a similar situation before, yet, every time it gets into a military confrontation with Israel, it seems to be emerging stronger than before. Should we expect things to be any different this time around?

It is difficult at this point to say. What the encounter did reveal was that Hamas and other militias in Gaza have a considerable supply of longer-range missiles able to strike any city in Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It also seems that Israel’s reliance on air attacks and naval shelling was not able to curtail the numbers of rockets being fired. True, despite firing more than 1,000 rockets, no Israeli has yet been killed by a Palestinian rocket (apparently the only Israeli so far killed died from a mortar shell fired from Gaza while he was rushing to a shelter, an option Gazans do not have) [as of interview conducted on July 19]. At the same time, the psychological and political effects of being unable to stop the launch of rockets has damaged Israeli prestige, and may push it to pursue more ambitious goals than destroying tunnels into Israel from Gaza, the stated objective of Operation Protective Edge, the code name Israel has given for its military operation. The high proportion of civilians among the Palestinian casualties (75 to 80 percent) also suggests that Hamas has become more sophisticated in protecting its militants from Israeli firepower as compared to the results of the two earlier attacks.

Of course, to the extent that Israel is politically weaker, Hamas emerges stronger, withstanding the mighty Israeli military onslaught, demonstrating resilience under the most difficult circumstance, and mounting stubborn resistance that frustrates Israel’s announced war goals.

Has Israel become a “fundamentalist” state, betraying all dreams and aspirations that led to its original founding?

I think Israel has definitely moved gradually in the direction of a maximalist understanding of the Zionist project, which is now quite clearly intended to exercise permanent sovereign control over “Judea and Samaria,” what the world knows as “the West Bank.” The new president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, due to take over very soon from Shimon Peres, belongs to the right wing of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He is an undisguised advocate of an enlarged Israel that claims the whole of biblical Palestine and repudiates all diplomacy associated with establishing peace on the basis of a Palestinian state, in effect, a one-state approach with Palestinians as permanent minority. Additionally, the Israel of today has moved far to the right; many Israelis have developed a consumerist mentality, and the conflict with Palestine, except during crises as at present, has posed serious threats in recent years to the stability and serenity of the country. Also, due to high fertility rates and the importance of the settler movement, religious Judaism has been playing a larger role, and injects a certain measure of religious extremism and ethnic intolerance into Israeli political and social life.

The two-state solution, long proposed by supporters of the Palestinian cause, including the late Edward Said, seems to be a dead end – at least in my own eyes. Do you agree with this assessment, and, if so, what is the alternative for securing lasting peace among Israelis and Palestinians?

To clarify Edward Said’s position: He did favor for a time in the late 1980s, as did the PLO, the two-state solution, but in the last years of his life he strongly endorsed a single, secular bi-national state as the only workable arrangement allowing the two peoples to live together in peace and dignity. Said rejected the idea of an ethnic state for either people, and believed that Zionist claims to have a Jewish state in historic Palestine would never result in a just and sustainable peace that acknowledged Palestinian rights under international law, including the right of return and equality for the Palestinian minority living in Israel.

I share Said’s latter assessment, and believe that the scale and resolve of the settlers is such as to make their removal politically impossible. For this reason, I have opposed the sort of direct negotiations that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, pushed so hard a year ago as creating false expectations and artificial pressures. The political preconditions for two states with equal sovereign rights living side by side definitely do not presently exist, and may never have existed. To negotiate with that awareness of futility is to play Israel’s game of endless talks, while the building cranes in the settlements continue their unlawful work at an accelerated pace. Time has never been kind to the Palestinians. Their territorial prospects have been continuously diminished and have now reached the point of a virtual zero. Recall that the UN partition plan in 1947 seemed unfair to the Palestinians when it offered them only 45 percent of Palestine, which then was reduced to 22 percent by the outcome of the 1948 war, and related expulsion of the Palestinians, and still further by “the facts on the ground” (settlements, wall, settler only roads) steadily created since 1967.

The best hope of the Palestine national movement at this time is to proceed via a unity government, also engaging the refugee and exile community of 7 million, by working together with the global solidarity movement that is growing rapidly. In other words Palestinian prospects in the future will depend on the continued mobilization of global civil society to support nonviolent coercive action on a worldwide scale. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign has been growing at a rapid rate recently, with analogies to the anti-apartheid struggle that toppled a racist regime in South Africa against all odds and expectations becoming more relevant. This shift in Palestinian tactics in the direction of what I have called “waging a legitimacy war” seems reinforced in its plausibility by the growing global outrage in response to Israel tactics, especially in callous disregard of Palestinian civilian innocence.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.



C.J. Polychroniou is a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and a columnist for a Greek daily national newspaper. His main research interests are in European economic integration, globalization, the political economy of the United States and the deconstruction of neoliberalism’s politico-economic project. He has taught for many years at universities in the United States and Europe and is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project. He has published several books and his articles have appeared in a variety of journals and magazines. Many of his publications have been translated into several foreign languages, including Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Levy Economics Institute or those of its board members.


21 Responses to “Gaza Interview- Truthout”

  1. Gene Schulman July 24, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Bravo, Richard. We’ve been waiting for you to come out with your views on this latest aggression by Israel against Gaza. You don’t disappoint. Of course, the situation seems to have worsened since the date of this interview, and the only good thing that has come out of it is that the world has recognized who the true villain is, and is rising up in protest. Even in Israel itself.

    • Richard Falk July 24, 2014 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks, Gene. I would say ‘most of the world.’ The polls suggest that Americans shockingly continue
      to buy into the Israeli narrative, of course with media help & the ridiculous posturing of Congress.
      There is in the U.S. a real surge of energy critical of Israel and the American role, especially among
      the young.

  2. Sue Thompson July 24, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Excellent article, Richard. Thank you for your insight, intelligence along with your passion & heart to speak out about this on
    going conflict!

  3. nickcayman July 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Reblogged this on Nick Robson's Blog.

  4. ray032 July 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    When the British Parliament rescinded the Balfour Declaration in 1938, the 2 state solution was abandoned in favour of a 1 state solution, with proportional representation between Arabs, the majority, and the Jewish minority.

    Zionist activity has just about eliminated any possibility of a 2 state solution, with only a single state option left.

    That will be difficult since Jews will never accept Arabs as being equal with Jews and having equal Democratic rights and privileges within Israel.

    The way of peace they know not; and there is no Judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goes therein shall not know Peace.
    Therefore is Judgment far from us, neither does Justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
    We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.
    We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for Judgment, but there is none; for Salvation, but it is far off from us.

    For our transgressions are multiplied before you, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;
    In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
    And Judgment is turned away backward, and Justice stands afar off: for Truth is fallen in the street, and Equity cannot enter.
    Yea, Truth fails; and he that departs from evil makes himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no Judgment.
    Isaiah 59

    • oldguyincolorado July 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

      Ray032 – ever read the Quo’ran? Since you like to quote Scripture, the Quo’ran (which for Muslims is the word of Allah) says : 1. Christians and Jews are second class citizens (take a look at the Shuria “Repentance”); 2. Jesus was never crucified; 3. Jesus was not the son of G-D; 4. Jesus was not resurrected; 5. Muslims can not be friends of either Christians or Jews; 6. the entire world must become Muslim or die; 7. on Judgement Day everyone (except for good Muslims who get saved) burns in eternal fire; 8. Jesus was a Muslim; 9. your Bible does not tell the full story from G-D; etc. Good Muslims who heed the word of Allah take this all to heart and do so literally.
      In 1938 the Arab League demanded that the Balfour Declaration be rescinded. Please give me a citation so I can verify that the British actually did rescind the Declaration. I would be interested in reading it. It would be a moot point anyway since the Jew had relied on it for @20 years and it was too late for the Brits to change their minds. The Brits only had a mandate and the UN provided for a Jewish part of Palestine which came into existence in 1948. Five Arab armies tried to crush the Jews and drive them into the sea. That did not happen.
      Abbas says he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state; will not negotiate any land swaps which is an item called for in the accords; wants the full Right of Return (but no Jew will have any right to return to any Arab land that they were forced to leave), etc. This approach by Abbas is a non-starter. Everyone knows that.
      This article by Prof. Falk ignores the fact that the folks in Gaza elected Hamas (their Charter says to kill all Jews); the PA was thrown out of Gaza by Hamas – effectively splitting the Arab part of Palestine into two warring factions with no one part having the exclusive right to negotiate with Israel; that one part has attacked Israel which has responded. Perhaps the folks in Gaza regret electing Hamas. It is up to them to change their government. They are probably afraid to do that, but they, and not Israel voted them in.
      Professor Falk seems to believe that since not enough Jews have been killed by the Hamas rockets that Israel should just wait until enough are before she responds. So how many should that be? Perhaps Prof. Falk can give us a number and tell us if it should include anyone near and dear to him, or just be any Jew.
      As to the suffering of Gazans: some of the photos we are being shown are of Syrian kids hurt or killed by other Arabs. Some western journalists report that Hamas is shooting off rockets near hotels, hospitals, keeping rockets in UN schools, etc. Hamas has made the population of Gaza a shield behind which it can shoot at Israel. Hezbollah did a similar thing, too. Israel wont let that tactic work a second time.
      Is Israel always wrong? No, but sometimes. Are the Arabs always right? No, but they are not saints. So much for Scripture.

      • ray032 July 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

        Oldguyincolorado in the 14 months I hitchhiked through the US in ’75-’76 looking for the Spirit of ’76 I was in your area, but we have divergent views on history.

        First of all, I have no problem with the name Allah. I live in Quebec and God is named Dieu. There is only one God/G_d/ above all peoples, Nations and Tongues, and all humans are supposed to be acting and behaving in God’s image. You did not answer my reply to you in another article about choosing lines out of a Book.

        I believe this one line; [2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah/God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

        As to your points, this is how I see they are either or in reality:
        1. To Israeli Jews, ‘Christians and Muslims are second class citizens’
        2.3.4. applies to the Jews as much as you project on Muslims.
        6.7. is exactly what Christians believe.

        WE agreed in the last article there is much more than is written in the Bible, both Jewish & Christian parts, and the Quran.

        At the time of trial of this world is when the true lovers of God and others will shine, and those who honour God with their lips, but not with their hearts, whether they be Jewish, Christian or Muslim will be exposed as the frauds they are.

        This is from the 1939 British White paper rescinding the Balfour Declaration:

        Section I. “The Constitution”

        It has been urged that the expression “a national home for the Jewish people” offered a prospect that Palestine might in due course become a Jewish State or Commonwealth. His Majesty’s Government do not wish to contest the view, which was expressed by the Royal Commission, that the Zionist leaders at the time of the issue of the Balfour Declaration recognised that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the Declaration. But, with the Royal Commission, His Majesty’s Government believe that the framers of the Mandate in which the Balfour Declaration was embodied could not have intended that Palestine should be converted into a Jewish State against the will of the Arab population of the country. That Palestine was not to be converted into a Jewish State might be held to be implied in the passage from the Command Paper of 1922 which reads as follows…………………..

        oldguy, I often sign my personal letters with ‘Peace,’ but I have no problem saying Shalom!

      • ray032 July 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

        When the 1939 What Paper was passed in the British House of Commons, even then they did not anticipate the Imperial Mantle would be taken from them and given to the USA. They no longer had the power to impose it unilaterally.

      • Genocide in Gaza July 24, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

        ‘Shalom’ does not mean ‘peace’ in Hebrew. It means ‘security’. According to Gilard Atzmon, an Israeli:

        {In Hebrew, the word ‘Shalom’ doesn’t mean peace, harmony or reconciliation. It means ‘security for the Jews.’ In other words, Israel does not have a proper word for peace or reconciliation. Hence it is not surprising that Israel is not a partner in peace. It can’t even contemplate the concept.}

        In Arabic also means ‘security’ and is coming from سلم (salima) meaning “to be safe and sound, secure, safe

      • ray032 July 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

        To my my mind and feeling, ‘to be safe and sound, secure, safe’ = Peace

  5. Zak July 24, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    Professor Falk, I wanted to mention that as far as I understood, the US was convicted of unlawful use of force against Nicaragua because of it’s material support of the contras. This suggests that it’s not ambiguous at all that US support for Israel crimes is a crime itself. The only thing that comes to mind is that since Palestine is not a member of the UN, the criminality of attack may not be regarded in the same way, legally. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Also, I promised to hit you up again on another topic when you brought it up next. The points you make about the 1 state/2 state options, though becoming more popular among activists and commentators, seem to be irrelevant to me. I ask for your opinion on my following comments because of your extensive experience in international political affairs via your work with the UN, and the connections you’ve undoubtedly made with the indigenous population (their goals, motives and thoughts are obviously more important than what I or any other foreigner think).

    Although there may be things that make the 2 state solution seem untenable at present – settlements, US monopoly on so-called “peace talks” – from what I’ve seen, the only real political option is the 2 state solution. As I’m sure you’re aware, every year there is a vote at the UNGA on the question of Palestine and every year it’s the entire world endorsing the 2 state solution – pre-June 1967 borders (which includes East Jerusalem and settlements) and a “just resolution” to the refugee question. These are the basic tenants of the 2 state solution, or “final status” issues referred to in the US “peace” talks. The only states to oppose this on the international stage are the US, Israel, a few pacific islands nobody’s every heard of and sometimes Australia and/or Canada. The Arab League, Islamic Conference and NAM countries lend full support to this 2 state solution, as do Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and (officially) the PA/PLO/Fatah regime.

    All relevant international legal positions also support the 2 state solution – all UNSC resolutions, the ICJ ruling of 2004, and international humanitarian and refugee laws as interpreted by all major international human rights regimes – and in that context it seems as though the 2 state solution is right around the corner. All it will take is an implementation of international law (and in the case of US material support to Israel in carrying out violations of international law, certain domestic US laws like the Leahy Law which prevent the transfer of funds to states that are known to be consistent violators of human rights). In the other case, the 1 state solution, or a shift in activism to simply push for human rights for Palestinians, has very little political traction.

    This would do nothing to secure better living conditions for Palestinians as Israel will be happy to continue annexing land/resources and building settlements as activists take decades to shift international political opinions towards upholding Palestinian rights under a single Israeli regime. All the while, Israel’s hasbara points like “why is everyone talking about Israel when this regime does that, that country does this, etc.” will begin to have more legitimacy. There are dozens of countries with abysmal human rights records in terms of their domestic population and 1 of the major things that sets the Israel-Palestine conflict apart is foreign occupation and the applicability of humanitarian, refugee, belligerent occupation and UN laws. Shifting discussion to domestic rights weakens the biggest cards the Palestinians have to play – something you brought up in another recent piece.

    There are no Security Council resolutions (as far as I know) referring to any Palestinian rights other than self-determination and refugees. To shift the global political and legal consensus towards domestic rights is a large task that has no political support (that I’ve seen). As the 2 state solution and international law are the only items for which there is near-unanimous political and diplomatic support, it seems like pushing for a 1 state solution or domestic Palestinian rights within this context is a step backwards. Can any principled person who is genuinely concerned with the fate and living standards of the Palestinians, their suffering and brutalization, truly accept a tactic that might mean another 100 years of misery for the victims? In an impassioned response to this question, Norman Finkelstein explains that he cannot support proposals like a 1 state solution which are likely to result in the deaths of his friends when there are more feasible, realistic possibilities around. Again, I bring this issue up to you because of your work with the UN and the undoubtedly many people you have met and know in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What are your thoughts about this?

    Withdrawal from the settlements is not an issue, as demonstrated by various Israeli commentators who openly ridiculed the “absurd theater” of anguish displayed when settlements were abandoned in Gaza (Baruch Kimmerling), as they did when the Sinai was abandoned (“National Trauma 1982”). There have even been comments by Israeli officials about how easy it would be to entice the majority of settlers to leave as a large amount of them are there because of state subsidies and other preferential standards of living. Of the settlers that remain, they are free to live under the authority of any newly formed Palestinian government and their laws/decisions. As voluntary withdrawals began and the settler communities began to understand that the IDF would no longer be there to protect them with impunity, perhaps a change of attitudes would follow. In any case, they would be free to remain on Palestinian land under Palestinian rules, including land/wealth distribution programs that might further entice the illegal settlers to withdraw to Israel. The system of roads, checkpoints and the wall would simply be appropriated by the new Palestinian government (or dismantled by Israel) and would be integrated into the infrastructure of a contiguous West Bank. It’s simply not an issue as far as I can tell. Maybe I’m wrong, but I haven’t seen anything serious to the contrary.

    This conversation between Norman Finkelstein and Philip Weiss takes some of the points i mentioned into further detail, especially the difference between political realities and ideological ideas of right and wrong. I can’t go into any specifics, but Finkelstein is about to drop a new book co-authored by Mouin Rabbani and in that book he covers, extensively, the South African apartheid situation, in terms of the foreign boycott campaigns and activism, the state sanctions, the legal precedents and constructs that were relevant, as well as the connection of all these things to the indigenous struggle. I mention this because as the South African example continues to be cited, there are serious errors being made by people in terms of understanding what role the foreign boycott and activism actually played in bringing down the apartheid regime. I would ask you to consider reading this book, or contacting Finkelstein to discuss these matters before making up your mind on the 1 state/2 state proposals. You are one of the most highly respected figures in terms of this issue and you may well have a relationship with Finkelstein, but if you don’t, I’m certain if you approached him on this topic he would be ecstatic to discuss it with you.

    • Richard Falk July 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

      Zak: Thanks for this extremely useful comment, which I will try to respond to as soon as I am able. My immediate sense
      is that the US role in Nicaragua was much more hands on and direct engagement that its relationship to Israel, at least
      on the surface. I am quite sure that there is much beneath the surface, but it is doubtful that Israel, given its arrogance,
      would cede any of its authority over issues of ‘security’ even to Washington, but as I say, I must study and reflect upon
      what you have written. Your comment exemplifies the best possible use of the comments sections.

      • Zak August 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

        I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Please don’t feel any obligation to address me specifically, as I do keep up with your writings across various platforms, and seeing some of the points I mentioned addressed in your future posts would more than suffice – whether to challenge the way I see things, or to lend legitimacy to them.

        I felt it important to bring this framework to the minds of people, now increasingly, engaged in the 1/2 state ideas, because I myself began with the outlook that the only “just” solution is a single, democratic state for everyone in the area. My thought process has evolved to accept that since the likelihood of that happening is outweighed by the reality of continued occupation and permanent annexation, it may not be “just” at all to propose an improbable solution, for it is no solution at all.

        Again, thank you for your time, and in this moment of emergency where the lives of children are being endangered on such a grand scale and mobilization is desperately needed across all available platforms, please do not dilute your focus worrying about responding to me. Do what you do sir.

  6. jamesbradfordpate July 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on James’ Ramblings and commented:
    Controversial author, but very informative interview.

  7. Genocide in Gaza July 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    The genocide in Gaza is part of a greater goal, stealing Palestinian’s natural resources in addition to land grab. Shahriari-Parsa writes:

    Israel started the process of stealing Palestinian natural gas since 2009. It was merely a means as part of Israel’s overall goal of appropriating Palestinian natural gas, both through territorial control and the failed attempt to defeat Hamas.
    It is very clear what it is: a war driven by the hankering yet callous lust of the imperialist capital of a colonial state to expand its appropriation of Palestinian natural resources and profit at the severe expense of the Palestinian people.
    While Palestine must receive the full support of people around the world in its struggle for national liberation, Israel must be unequivocally condemned for its indefensible war crimes and occupation of Palestine. It is clear that Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is a misnomer, as it should be renamed to something along the lines of Operation Capital-driven Genocide. The truth is, Israel’s brutality will continue and Palestine will never be free until the Zionist apparatuses of colonialism and occupation are dismantled once and for all.

  8. kevinclements2012 July 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Kevin's Peace Musings and commented:
    This is an informative interview on the situation in Gaza from my old friend Richard Falk.

  9. Kata Fisher July 24, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    It is becoming ridicules…but it perhaps will lead somewhere?

    You people are cycling on old issues. Go on and do sliding back in same old, same old?

    Understand this:

    Who will give religiously obnoxious Holy Land Landmarks, and be done with it.

    Put Holy Land Landmarks on the negotiating table for all of them, and be done with it.

    Who accept is – will accept it that does not it will have to put up with it. There is no other way; it is not what lay people want anymore. It is what they will put up with it -or not?

    These who won’t discern their texts and approach are in their own curses and sorrows.

    There are people that have to be grafted in because they were misled and spiritually excommunicated. I do not know about you, but next 4 generation will be grafted in or the curses will continue worldwide just because of messed up landmarks in Holy Land.

    They put up with things anyway –why not to put up right with things. Arabs can put up with the Landmarks and Israelites can put up with the Arabs in the Land; nothing really does change. Jordanians ware against the Jews — that is what it is, right?

    Tell me that it is not going to be just as it is if the world-strategic-change does not take place in Holy Land, first. That is the point of start — you can believe it or you may not.

  10. Fred Skolnik July 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

    You are repeating yourself, Professor Falk, and since you are determined to stick to the script and ignore whatever contradicts its fallacies, no matter how many times these fallacies are exposed, there is little point in going over them again. Your misconceived notion about the significance of Rivlin’s election to the presidency has been pointed out to you, but you sail right past it. Your misreading of Israel’s intentions concerning the West Bank has been pointed out to you, but you sail right past that too. What you do acknowledge, however, maybe unwittingly, is that Hamas began its massive and indiscriminate rocket attack against Israel’s civilian population before Israel started firing back. You of course do not condemn the Hamas attack or label it a war crime, which it is by any definition. What you do instead is rationalize or “contextualize” the war crime by going back a few steps and putting the blame on Israel, specifically on Israel’s response to the murder of the three teenagers, a response that you find “cynical” since Israel already knew they had been murdered.

    In the real world, Professor Falk, when it becomes known that kidnap victims have been murdered, the police do not stop looking for the murderers. I’m sure you understand that. And when the identity of the murderers is known, the first thing the police do is to round up all known criminals who are associated with the murderers, and in this case the known criminals are active members of Hamas residing in the West Bank. If you really think that the bombardment of a civilian population is the proper or necessary response to Israel’s police measures in the West Bank, that is fine, but until now your way of thinking has led to nothing but disaster for the Palestinian people. It is in fact the thinking of Hamas.

    I am going to take Rabbi Youdovin’s good advice and drop out of this forum permanently and I would urge others to do so as well. That will leave you with the audience you deserve.

    • Kata Fisher July 24, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

      Dear Fred,

      You are wrong.

      It is a shame that the death of three teens was terribly mishandled on Israel’s part – but they have irrational and criminal government. It is time that Israel state is accused of war-crimes—that which they deserve as state of Israel with their criminal-led government.

      In the real world, three kidnaped and murdered victims do not lead to war-crimes over the local population, as we have seen.

      How do you think mothers of the killed boys feel about genocidal-massacre of Palestinian children that had nothing to do with individual psychopaths who decided to kill their teens — just yanking them from the street?

      Did anyone asked those moters if this killing has destroyed their peace even more, adding on to their grief. Can criminals in Israel be rational, at all? – no they can not.

    • Richard Falk July 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

      With all due respect, and I do mean this sarcastically, the election of Rivlin is more significant
      than you suggest, just as you would be attentive to a PA ceremonial leader who vowed to establish a
      single Palestine on a bi-national basis. Rivlin’s election coupled with the continuing expansion of
      settlements and their political influence cannot be overlooked in the present setting of failed peace
      talks and the like. It also complements the Netanyahu ambivalence toward the establishment of a Palestinian
      state, which he expressed in a recent speech in Hebrew at an Israeli university.
      I agree to a certain extent with your comment on the Israel enforcement operation on the WB after the
      June 12th incident, but I would think that you would agree that its dragnet quality and the accompanying
      official incitements that led to revenge crimes would be a provocation from the perspective of Hamas.
      These actions are occurring in a tinder box. Israeli leaders are intelligent and sensitive, and know
      what to expect, when to provoke, when to seek calm.
      You often criticize me for being dogmatic and biased, but I feel you are guilty of the attitudes that you
      find objectionable in my writing, and I wonder if it would not be worthwhile to try to understand one another
      with more sympathy.


  1. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Gaza Interview - July 28, 2014

    […] Go to Original – […]

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