Restoring Civil Discourse Relating to Palestine-Israel

22 Aug

To Blog visitors:


During the grim events of the past few weeks taking place in Gaza, and more generally in Israel/Palestine, I have not blocked comments even if they crossed the lines of personal insult and group vitriol that I feel justified in excluding from the discourse.


I have been particularly disturbed by the frequent long comments written by strong proponents of Israel’s behavior who constantly refer to me and otherswith such inflammatory and defamatory language as ‘Jew haters’ and the like.

Also expressions of ethnic hatred, or personal challenges that are written as it to demand me to denounce the behavior of Hamas are not acceptable, and will be blocked, although during travels I may not be a very efficient monitor. To point only to the alleged crimes of a political leadership that is bearing the brunt of a sustained attacks killing, and wounding thousands of innocent Gazans and terrorizing the rest is also not acceptable on this blog site. Go elsewhere if you wish to spew such incitement and hatred.


I hope most readers of the blog comments section are aware that I take these steps reluctantly as I think the subject-matter that elicits these comments deserves sensitive and diverse expressions of viewpoints, and I have strong bias toward free expression. I also appreciate that feelings and emotional commentary are an indispensable dimension of communication, and should not be excluded even from political discourse. At the same time, minimum standards of civility are needed to frame comments in a constructive spirit of dialogue, and thereby  avoid tendencies to hurl hurtful insults back and forth.


Perhaps, this recurring difficulty of maintaining civility is a symptom of an  irreconcilable conflict. I do not encounter anything comparable when addressing other issues.


33 Responses to “Restoring Civil Discourse Relating to Palestine-Israel”

  1. Gene Schulman August 22, 2014 at 1:38 am #


    I believe you have been overly fair in monitoring your blog from vitriol. Perhaps even too lax.

    Apropos of Hamas, your readers might appreciate this assessment:

  2. Fred Skolnik August 22, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    I have certainly advised defenders of Israel to go elsewhere and hope they will. They point only to what Hamas is doing because you and your admirers point only to what Israel is doing. A visitor from the moon reading only these latter comments and your own posts would not be aware that Hamas has fired 3,000 rockets at Israel’s civilian population, nor that it has embedded its military installations and carried out its attacks on Israel in residential areas, in and around hospitals, clinics, schools, playgrounds, mosques, private home and apartment buildings. The one-sidedness of the quite venomous anti-Israel attacks and the total exoneration of Hamas, coupled with the lack of interest shown in any concrete and immediate measures to stop the shooting and spare still more Palestinian lives (quiet in exchange for quiet) naturally leads Israel’s defenders to question the good faith of your admirers, who can’t resist throwing in gratuitous remarks about Jewish origins, Jewish history, the Jewish Bible, and even an occasional reference to their “venality” and “love of gold.”

    • Louisa August 22, 2014 at 2:15 am #

      What I find strange is that nobody ever sees evidence of these alleged 3000 rockets.. and the dome itself is under question – there is a great element of false-flag finger-pointing at Palestine in order to justify totally disproportionate attacks, illegal and immoral attacks, on Palestinian children and their families resulting in hundreds and thousands of deaths, thousands of maimings and amputations for life, orphans left with no families whatsoever, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians left destitute and homeless.. To try and justify THESE FACTS in ANY way, to me, seems morally bankrupt. It is genocide. Regardless of anything else anyone may say about anything else. Nothing can detract from that. Not to a thinking intelligent mind.

    • Fred Skolnik August 22, 2014 at 3:51 am #

      The fact that you are trying to develop some kind of fantasy about Hamas rockets, which they are happy to admit firing, and are attracted to crazy Iron Dome theories, puts you in the 9/11 truther category. Israel will not allow its population to be subjected to a barrage of thousands of rockets and makes every effort to avoid the civilian casualities that are the inevitable result of Hamas’s attacks from the heart of residential areas.

    • rehmat1 August 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

      Fred Skolnik – May I suggest you contact those three Israeli stooges in the US Congress to donate a few F-16s, as Israel has been receiving them as “Holy Gift” – may be then Hamas don’t have to shoot those 3,000 rockets with no guided mechanism to kill only three Israeli Jews.

    • ray032 August 28, 2014 at 2:46 am #

      Fred, maybe you should follow your own advice!
      “I have certainly advised defenders of Israel to go elsewhere and hope they will.”

  3. Louisa August 22, 2014 at 2:18 am #

    This video does need watching and assessing even if at first you think it is just ‘another conspiracy video’ – it asks a lot of extremely valid questions. I nearly didn’t watch it but in fact I found it very very educational and pertinent

  4. Louisa August 22, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    Following on from my previous comment there is also evidence of highly respected expert scientists in this field questioning the iron dome and what it is, including some actually employed by Israel previously. “…There is only one problem with Iron Dome: it appears to be ineffective and little more than a sophisticated public relations stunt. Theodore Postol is an MIT professor and a world-renowned expert on missile defense systems who in recent articles (1, 2) and interviews (1, 2) claimed that an analysis of videos showing presumed interceptions shows that Iron Dome intercepts no more than five percent of all incoming rockets. This figure is seventeen-fold lower than the official Israeli government claim that Iron Dome boasts an interception rate of 86%.

    Postol is not alone. Mordechay (Moti) Shefer is an Israeli aeronautics engineer with a Ph.D. from Stanford. He is an expert on missile defense systems and was instrumental in the development of the Python air-air missile and the Arrow anti-missile interceptor. In 1978, Israel’s Defense Minister awarded him the Israel Security Prize. In a recent radio interview, Shefer said that “no Iron Dome missile has ever collided with a single rocket” and that “the parts we see on the ground are from Iron Dome itself”. He referred to the entire Iron Dome operation as a “sound and light show”.

    To be fair, not all experts think the system is a complete failure. Richard M. Lloyd, Warhead Technology Consultant at Tesla Laboratory, calculated that Iron Dome’s success rate is 30%-40%, far higher than Postol’s figure but still less than half the official Israeli number…

    Now comes the interesting part: Shefer claims that those intercepted rockets don’t even exist! Iron Dome missiles are aimed not at real rockets but at computer-generated phantoms created by the Israeli military on Iron Dome’s radar system, and the explosions seen in the Negev skies are those of the Iron Dome missile blowing up alone. Shefer doesn’t deny that some rockets are being launched into Israel from Gaza but argues that the actual number of rockets fired and intercepted may be significantly lower than that reported by the Israeli government.

    If this is true—and no Israeli official has even attempted to provide a serious refutation thus far—then this would be an unprecedented conspiracy perpetrated by the Israeli government and military. The ends of this ploy are clear enough: to justify ruthless attacks on Gaza under the guise of defending the Israeli population, to scare Israelis into blind support for this and future wars, and to squeeze more money out of Congress…

    Israeli citizens would be well advised to wake up and ask themselves who their real enemy is. Next time they hear the wail of sirens and run to the nearest bomb shelter, they’d be wise to remember that the rockets they are fearing and fleeing may be no more than virtual dots on a computer screen, dots created by their government in order to scare them into blind patriotic conformity. And the explosion they’ll hear seconds later will be the sound of an Iron Dome missile destroying itself, much like Israeli society under its current war mania…”

    and more about rockets and the dome at 27 mins talks about rockets, no rockets

    • Gene Schulman August 22, 2014 at 4:54 am #

      I can’t attest to the veracity of your report on the Iron Dome, but I do accept your conclusion that “Israelis should wake up and ask themselves who their real enemy is.” I have been urging Americans to do the same. It is sad that so many of our liberties are being taken away from both populations in the name of security and self defense. Only the war mongers profit.

  5. carlod August 22, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    Theories about piddling rockets aside, I wish that troll Skolnik would go away. Nothing in my opinion, justifies the one-sided violence perpetrated (for decades and especially recently) on the Gazan population. Watch the hatred exhibited in interviews with settlers who claim to be god’s chosen. Strange god. It is all about land, greed, and as Noam Chomsky says – why should jews from Brooklyn have rights to Palestinian land and Palestinians no rights. Religion – a curse on humanity.

  6. Kata Fisher August 22, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I really hope that elderly women can tell us what was and is going on. I have noticed that there is so much compulsion betwixt right and wrong, and lack of women contributing to the discourse, and it almost it feels not right.

  7. Kata Fisher August 22, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    Kelso–or Livni? It is impossible for me to condemn something without understanding it by Spirit, first, and move by Spirit.
    You are asking for irrational things — things that are are not part of my will power…

    You write:

    “Israel needs to dedicate a day to get civilians who want to leave Gaza out of the war zone.”

    Are you insane?

    • Kata Fisher August 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      I have a reflecting about that what I was reflecting on:

      If Israel take’s spiritual authority and accountability for Gaza people, and in the case of the refugee situation what do they do?

      What do they need in order to intake all refugees effectively into the Holy Land?

      Existing housings / settlements of disputes—would this be possible?

      It is possible for allowing people from Gaza, all who are willing to be free from terror of Hamas to move into the safe areas of Holy Land. With that, refuges will be inside of the Holy Land and not pushed out to some distant places.

  8. Kata Fisher August 22, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Kelso: Let’s just brain-storm and see what is legitimately valid/confirmed to some degree? Also, let’s just rely on the move of the Spirit. Professor Falk is absolutely qualified to remove and/or edit irrelevant things.

    • Kata Fisher August 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

      Kelso, I understand that you are burdened with many things. I will pray for you. Let’s just move in God’s timing and things that are appointed.

      Right now, I just feel still.

      Please be kind to Professor Falk and stop adding additional burdens on to him that are not true toward him.

      • Ken Kelso August 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

        Kata, your missing the point.
        Hamas just executed 21 Palestinians Thursday and Friday with no trial
        Richard Falk will not answer the simple question?
        Does he support this or he condemns this?
        Hamas Executes 21 Arabs in Gaza
        By: Shalom Bear
        Published: August 22nd, 2014

      • Kata Fisher August 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

        Dear Kelso,

        I do not understand observation of journalism as given, in this instance. Can you interpret it for me? What is your interpretation?

        Instead, my attention was placed on this report:

        This is what I do understand:

        This small community of religious fellowship is broken off from Faith, and it needs to be restored by spiritually mature community of Faith.

        Kelso, did you ever feel that you were called to the missionary work–was anything like that in your mind? Last night, I was in the chapel, and I was in a sincere prayer.

        I want you to do this: you need to get quiet and start to listen, you must hear and hear (over and over /again and again), clearly, and without any doubt about things that are in your conscience/spirit. If there is any (even tiny) spiritual impression do not ignore that — you should not. Tune in Kelso, please.

      • oldguyincolorado August 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

        A good judge or moderator will recuse him/herself if he/she is an advocate for one side or the other. That is basic, first year law school “stuff” that I learned well over 50 years ago and I am certain he learned over 60 years ago. Prof. Falk seeks to act as a moderator. What the opponents of Prof. Falk fail to take into consideration is the fact that his blog is not intended to reflect and consider all sides of the issues at hand; it is intended for a targeted audience of like-minded people. Criticism, contrary views and inconvenient facts are not part of the concept that Prof. Falk has in mind. He seeks to control the outcome of any discussion should any contrary position raise its ugly head. His blog is not “moot court” (which is designed for good and sometimes heated advocacy); the result of any discussion is predetermined by him. At least that appears to be the case. He raises emotionally charged topics in an emotional way (he probably does not recognize his own emotion) but he seems not to like folks challenging his views; especially if they become emotional, too. That is probably why he will not answer your questions or mine.

        Prof. Falk is a university professor. He seeks the respect of one. Unfortunately, in this blog, he is outside of a classroom and he raises issues which are best the subject of a street fight and not the subject of classroom discussion. His positions are not “givens” by those who hold opposite views, but ones of great contention. If you can frame your contrary arguments in a non-emotional way, you might find that they will meet whatever “standard” he sets and be published; but be prepared for emotional responses by his “like minded” followers. Just remember that this is his blog and not yours (or mine).

      • Richard Falk August 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

        If this were the case why have so many comments by you and several other
        regular defenders of Israel been repeatedly accepted except when personally
        abusive and insulting or inciting ethnic hatred. I agree that this is not
        intended to be an open forum. Obviously I have strong views on many of these
        issues, and while respecting those who disagree, I have never claimed to be
        a detached ‘moot court’ judge, and feel entitled to set the tone on this
        blog site, and understand that some will be offended, and encourage them
        to initiate their own or find more congenial blogs.

      • Ken Kelso August 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

        Mr Falk, why can’t you just answer the question instead of avoiding the question.
        Hamas executed 21 Palestinians Thursday and Friday with no trial.
        Do you support or oppose this?

      • Oldguyincolorado August 26, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

        But you seem to pretend to be fair in this process. You continue in the manner you followed when you had the official duty to be fair and obviously weren’t Therein lays my complaint and why I and others respond to your one sided views. You influence the uninformed and we seek to balance your views. This must be done on the platform you chose otherwise the uninformed probably will never get to see what you are really doing Your saving grace is that our responses are published. Please do not think that by doing this it gives any additional weight to the arguments you make. All I seek is some balance which is singularly lacking in your articles and with many who speak on your blog – a lack of balance which you now admit is absent by design. Your uninformed should now appreciate and understand why I have referred to them as “lemmings”. If they only hear your melody they only hear what is a half truth. They need to compare with what the other side has to say and then make an independent judgment on the subject matter in your articles. On occasion you might be correct and on occasion you might be wrong. Just like Israel and just like the PA and Hamas. The “fairness” you like to project is an illusion since you now admit to being an advocat for one side only. Your response to me makes that clear. You use your past credentials improperly. As a professor you should know better than that. You creat disingenuous “truths” and mislead the uninformed. What a waste.
        As to any comment regarding racism , , all I have pointed out is the racism contained in the Charter of Hamas, the Quo’ran, the Constitution of Jordan, etc and invited you and others to read the documents and see it for themselves . You walk on very thin ice regarding this subject.

      • ray032 August 28, 2014 at 2:57 am #

        And Fred accuses me of racism and Jew hatred for quoting from the Jewish Torah.

      • ray032 August 28, 2014 at 2:54 am #

        Ken, Israel executes Palestinians in the West Bank every week, and any Gazan who even comes close to the fence on the Gaza side without trial.

  9. Ken Kelso August 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Kata Fisher, what i said was, if Hamas didn’t have civilians to use as human shields in Gaza, the Hamas regime would collapse.
    New IDF Report Details Hamas Use of Civilians
    See recently declassified report, which through intel maps, photo and video evidence proves Hamas’s illegal warfare once and for all.
    By Ari Yashar
    First Publish: 8/22/2014

  10. rehmat1 August 22, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    Dr. Falk – I’m sure you must have heard of American Zionist journalist Dorothy Thompson. When she slammed Adolph Hitler, the organized Jewry made a hero out of her. But when she spoke out for Palestinians, she was called anti-Semite.

  11. Fred Skolnik August 22, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Prof. Falk

    I see that you have removed another of Ken Kelso’s comments, which are no different in their attacks on Hamas than other comments in their attacks on Israel and use exactly the same technique of “referencing” the incrimination ecidence. Nor are his serial remarks different in style than the serial rematks of your admirers. I therefore conclude that you simpky do not wish to be reminded of what Hamas is doing in Gaza.

    On the other hand, I find rehmet’s contemptuous and antisemitic “Moshe Schulman” remark still standing. Do you really not understand where this is coming from?

  12. Gene Schulman August 23, 2014 at 2:25 am #

    Richard, if you think you’re having problems with civil discourse on your blog, read here what Common Dreams has to put up with:

    The trolls that appear on your blog are amateurs, and easily seen through. Not worth the time spent reading them, let alone responding.

  13. rehmat1 August 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Fred Skolnik – one of your brother Israeli troll once claimed to be honored when I called him “Moshe”. He said that “Moshe” means Moses and Israel’s greatest military genius Gen. Dayan’s first name was “Moshe”.

    On August 20, 2013, Yitzchak Pundak 100, was promoted to the rank of Major General by Israeli Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. Pundak had to wait 59 years for the promotion promised in 1954 by then-Chief of General Staff Gen. Moshe Dayan. In 1979, Dayan recalled Pundak from retirement and appointed him Governor of occupied Gaza Strip with a rank of Brigadier-General.

  14. Boycott Israel August 23, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

  15. Nabila Mango August 25, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Thank you so much for you courage, scholarship and integrity. When will America wake up ? When will Americans wake up and attempt to learn the truth ? When will Americans dare to ask the first question about Palestine ? I was one of the 750k uprooted in 1948 from Jaffa. Nabila Mango

    Sent from my iPad


    • Kata Fisher August 26, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

      Dear Nabila Mango,

      Did you ever ask yourself “why”?


  1. Palestine | News & Headlines – Aug 22, 2014 | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين - August 28, 2014

    […] Restoring Civil Discourse Relating to Palestine-Israel by prof. Em. R. Falk (@rfalk13) […]

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