The Undisclosed Second Paradox in Michael Walzer’s The Paradox of Liberation

20 Jun


There is little doubt that several of Michael Walzer’s contributions to political theory will long remain influential (Revolution of the Saints (1965); Just and Unjust Wars (1977); Spheres of Justice (1983)). Although his work lacks the cumulative weight of a major philosophic presence, the ideas and issues Walzer has been exploring in the last several decades with great conceptual coherence and originality. His work exhibits a consistent practical relevance to the realities of the unfolding world around us. His writing is lucid, well informed, and is mainstream enough to be non-threatening. Walzer’s worldview is congruent with widely shared ethical presuppositions prevalent among liberals in Western society. Added to this, Walzer’s writings are tinged with a socialist nostalgic edge that imparts a now harmless progressive resonance. This is somewhat soothing for all those suffering varying degrees of guilty conscience as we go on as before, enjoying life in non-sustainable consumptive Western societies.


Aside from John Rawls, Jacques Derrida, Jürgens Habermas who enjoy preeminence, only Michel Foucault, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Rorty, and Amartya Sen have had a comparable contemporary influence to that of Walzer by way of philosophic commentary on major public issues. Apart from Walzer’s strong scholarly emphasis on Judaic Studies and ideological support for Israel, it is Rorty who seems closest to Walzer in ethos, philosophic stance, and intellectual style. As I read this latest extended essay by Walzer I kept thinking of the lines from Auden’s great poem “In Memory of W. B. Yeats”:

                        “Time with that with this strange excuse

                        Pardoned Kipling and his views

                        And will pardon Paul Claudell

                        Pardon him for writing well”

The point being that despite often finding Walzer’s views suspect, I never find his writing dull or his ideas without force and relevance, and that maybe in the end what flourishes through time is more style than substance.


Walzer has been a strong and consistent advocate of Israel and outspoken adherent of moderate Zionism throughout his career. Sometimes his eloquent partisanship has been hidden below the surface of his theorizing, giving his undisclosed messages the status of a sub-text, adored by the faithful and repudiated by the critical. Among critics this Walzer tendency to hide his political commitments beneath his theoretical generalization, creates an impression of a rather sneaky lack of forthrightness. For instance, his influential Just and Unjust Wars can be read (without any acknowledgement from Walzer) as a show of strong support for Israel’s approach to Palestinian armed resistance that is expressed in the abstract language of the ethics of counter-terrorism. Walzer’s tendency to be not straight forward about his ideological agenda is intriguingly relevant to his latest book, The Paradox of Liberation, which sets forth a bold and challenging general thesis—that the distinct secular movements that produced national liberation in Algeria, India, and Israel a few generations ago have each most unexpectedly and progressively yielded their identities to intense religious counter-revolutions. These counter-revolutions have each sought to restore tradition and religious observance in public spaces, including the governing process. This religious turn against the secular came as an unwelcome surprise to the founding generation of national liberation leaders whose successors find themselves pushed aside by more socially conservative elites.


These secularizing movements were rooted initially in the opposite belief that only by breaking with societal traditions can liberation be achieved for a national people that is being oppressed or acutely denied its true destiny. As Walzer summarizes: “The old ways must be repudiated and overcome totally. But the old ways are cherished by many of the men and women whose ways they are. That is the paradox of liberation.” (19) In the Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions (Yale University Press, 2015). Walzer is preoccupied by this paradox, and devotes himself to its explication. He contends that the paradox arises from the tension between the mobilization of a people around the negation of that which the majority society affirms (that is, religious values) and while this negation seems useful (even to many of the religiously oriented) during the struggle against alien oppression, it will itself be negated a generation or so after liberation, a phenomenon of negating the negation that can also be understood as the return of the repressed in the form of religious resurgence. The secularists enjoyed a temporary ascendancy because they were active resisters to oppressive circumstances rather than as was the case with religiously oriented leaderships, which tended to be passive and even deferential to the status quo.


This pattern of secularist victory giving way to religion is reproduced in a nationally distinctive form in each of these specific historical circumstances by the seemingly inexplicable rise and potency of religious zeal. In each of Walzer’s three cases, the political moment of successful liberation by secularists was soon to be superseded to varying degrees by the religious moment, an entirely unexpected sequel. The liberators whether led by Ben Bella, Jawaharlal Nehru, or David Ben Gurion were modernizers who strongly believed that religion was being and should be superseded by science and rationality. This meant that religion was largely a spent force with respect to cultural identity and public policy, and should in the future be confined in its role to state ritual occasions and private devotional practice. Walzer argument explains the central misunderstanding of these secular leaders, and expresses his own hope that the religious resurgence should not be viewed as the end of the national narrative. Also, Walzer would not welcome the Algerian phase three sequel to the religious challenge by way of bloody civil war, followed by military autocracy and renewed societal passivity.


What makes the book challenging is its main prescriptive argument that runs as follows. The secular nationalists made a crucial initial mistake, according to Walzer, by basing their movement on the negation of religion rather than byseeking its incorporation. If their secularist goal was sustainable liberation, which it certainly was, then the adoption of an either/or orientation toward religion and its practice was wrong from the start. Instead the attitude of the secular liberators toward religion should have one of constructive engagement, and not negation. What this means in the context of each movement is not spelled out by Walzer. The stress is placed on a recommended (re)incorporation of religious values into the reigning secular ideology combined with sensitivity to traditional values and practices. Walzer is fully aware that his proposed approach becomes problematic as soon as it is pursued unconditionally. As he recognizes, the traditions in each of these nations denies equality to women, often in cruel and unacceptable ways. Walzer does not want secularists to give up their commitment to gender equality for the sake of reconciliation with religiously oriented sectors of society. What he encourages is a sympathetic awareness of traditional attitudes toward gender while seeking to overcome their embedded biases. As is often the case, Walzer is more persuasive in diagnosis than prescription, delineating the problems far better than finding credible solutions.


One difficulty with the framework we are offered in the book is the failure to consider the discrediting relevance of the corruption and incompetence of the liberators, which amounted to a betrayal of their promises to lead a new and happy society of free people. Whether through corruption or the failure to deliver a better life to a large portion of the population, a post-liberation mood of disillusionment takes hold in different patterns, but they share in common the search for an alternative orientation.


In other words the excitement of liberation is hard to sustain during the state-building rigors of governance, and also in most cases, the personalities suitable for liberation are not well adapted to handle the routines and typical challenges of post-liberation existence. Israel, in particular, was an outlier from these perspectives, as its claims of liberation were at all stages shadowed by doubts as a result of fears, threats, uncertainties, and opposition to its underlying legitimacy claim from within its ethnic ranks and more so from those it sought to subdue by either displacement or subjugation. The anti-colonial liberations of India and Algeria never faced such basic challenges to its core identity.


There is for me a closely related yet more fundamental problem with the misleading comparisons relied upon by Walzer to develop his argument. India and Algeria were genuine liberation movements waged by indigenous nations to rid from the entire territorial space of their respective countries a deeply resented, exploitative, and domineering foreign presence. To place Israel in such a category is to foster several deep misunderstandings—there is the master presupposition that the Zionist movement is being properly treated as a case of ‘national liberation’ even if the Jewish nation was not engaged in reclaiming control over its residential territorial space. Jews were scattered in enclaves around the world when the Zionist movement was launched and most of its leaders relied on biblical claims to Palestine to ground its territorial claims. Although the early debate about whether a homeland in Uganda would fulfill Zionist goals illuminates the distinctiveness of the Zionist quest. Beyond this Zionists became legally dependent upon British colonialist support to carry forward their efforts to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine with the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Zionism cannot be meaningfully regarded as a revolt against alien rulership, although in its last pre-state stage it did try to expel Britain from Palestine so as to compel an abandonment of its mandatory administration. Unlike standard anti-colonial movements, Zionism is more correctly perceived as an activist effort to overcome the realities of diaspora Judaism confronted by the persecution, discrimination, and assimilation in an array of national settings.


Given this background, it seems dubious, indeed polemical, to treat Israel’s establishment as an instance of ‘liberation,’ a terminology that obscures the centrality of the ‘dispossession’ experienced by the majority indigenous Palestinian Arab population in the course of Israel’s acquisition of statehood. In passing, Walzer does somewhat acknowledge some of these differences that distinguish Israel from India and Algeria, but regards them as inconsequential contextual issues that do not raise for him any serious doubts about the basic reasonableness of regarding Israel as coming into being as a result of national liberation led by the Zionist movement. Walzer’s focus is rather upon whether Israel fits the pattern of a secularist phase one giving way to a religious phase two, leaving us with a big question mark as to whether there will be a phase three, and if so, whether it will reflect Walzer’s hopes for a belated constructive engagement with religion rather than an Alegerian style relapse into civil strife and autocracy. Although Walzer expresses his personal wish for the Palestinians to have their own sovereign state (53) at some point, this wish is never contextualized or concretized by reference to criteria of equality between the two peoples. The Palestinian national liberation movement is discussed by Walzer as correlative to his main thesis. Walzer notes that even prior to achieving Palestinian statehood, the PLO’s secular leadership has been increasingly challenged and even discredited by a rising Islamist alternative. (53-55)


This reference to the Palestinian national movement is an interesting aside in relation to Walzer’s essential set of contentions relating to the paradox he is depicting, but it fails to engage the issue I find central, which is whether Israel’s establishment can qualify as an instance of national liberation. To be sure Zionism generated an extraordinary international movement that overcame many formidable obstacles that stood in its way, and none more formidable than an indigenous Palestinian Arab majority population that did its best to prevent Zionists from reaching their goal of statehood on behalf of the Jewish people. Although Walzer notes that the early secularist Zionist leaders stressed a commitment to equality when articulating their ideas about the preferred relationship between Jews and non-Jews in the Israeli state. In my view, it is questionable in the extreme whether this idealistic goal ever represented the actual intentions of Zionist leaders. It should be evident to all that such egalitarianism was never expressive of Israeli policies and practices on the ground from even before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.


More problematic still, was the dispossession and displacement from the land of most of the indigenous Arab population that had been living in Palestine for many generations. Surely this Palestinian experience is profoundly different in character and consequence from the repudiation of exploitative rule of a country by a foreign, usually European, elite and its native collaborators. Again Walzer’s sub-text, whether consciously intended or not, seems to be the retroactive legitimation of Israel’s claim to be an example of national liberation of the sort achieved by Algeria and India, and hence to be situated in the highest echelon of 20th century state-building undertakings. As many of us realize this ‘liberation’ was for Palestinians a catastrophe, known by its Arabic word nakba.


Overall, this is a peculiar book, developing a general view of religious counter-revolutions against secular movements of national liberation, but due to the inclusion of Israel as a principal case despite not seeming to fit, there is an implicit polemical motivation that involves whitewashing the criminality of Israel’s emergence. Acknowledging such criminality is not meant to be a covert argument for delegitimizing the present state of Israel that has now been in existence for more than 67 years, and is a member state of the United Nations. My critique of Walzer, in other words, is not meant to lay the groundwork for a second Palestinian dispossession, this time directed toward Jews. I side with Edward Said in a commitment to fair future for both peoples based on their shared rights under international law and on diplomacy to negotiate compromises where rights overlap. I do agree with Said that such a jointly conceived future cannot be undertaken without a prior Israeli acknowledgement of the recent past as epitomized by the nakba, and such rituals of redress must include a formal apology to the Palestinian people for the suffering they have for so long endured.


In the end, the paradox that Walzer dwells upon is less consequential than the paradox he ignores: namely, that what is being represented as ‘national liberation’ of the Jewish people by Zionist ideologues is more objectively presented as the ‘national oppression’ of the Palestinian people. This oppression is experienced in different sets of circumstances: as a subjugated minority; as an occupied people; as a nation of refugees and exiles; as a community of resistance aspiring to Palestinian ‘national liberation’; as communities victimized by state terrorism. This second paradox is that what is portrayed as ‘liberation’ for one people serves at the same time as pretext and rationale for the ‘oppression’ of another people. In my view, the second paradox raised life or death questions for both peoples to a far greater extent than does the first paradox that seems to control Walzer’s own Zionist imagination.


Michael Ignatieff, whose political orientation resembles that of Michael Walzer, in the course of a mostly laudatory review of The Paradox of Liberation confirms my suspicion that the undisclosed intent of this book is to connect Israel’s fate with that of such exemplary liberation movements as those that took place in India and Algeria. Consider Igantieff’s revealing language innocently proclaiming this reading: “While Israel remains the central focus of The Paradox of Liberation, Walzer has made a major contribution to the question of what’s happening there simply by arguing that Israel may not be so special after all: the same kinds of problems may be occurring in other states created by national liberation movements. He compares what happened to Ben-Gurion’s vision with what befell Jawaharlal Nehru’s in India and Ahmed Ben Bella’s in Algeria.” [Michael Ignatieff, “The Religious Spector Haunting Revolution,” NY Review of Books, 19 June 2015] In a stunning instance of ‘benign neglect’ Ignatieff never once even mentions the relevance of Palestinian dispossession in his lengthy

assessment of Walzer’s version of Israel’s ‘national liberation’ story. Instead, he makes the opposite point, suggesting that Walzer in an indirect way diminishes Israel by his implicit denial of Israeli exceptionalism. As the language quoted above seems to suggest, Israel is upgraded by its similarities with (rather than differences from) other liberation narratives.


In closing, it is plausible, even morally, to argue that the Zionist cause was in keeping with a variety of attempts over the course of the last century by many nations and peoples to possess a state of their own that is defined by ethnic or religious boundaries that transcend in psycho-political relevance geographic boundaries, which incidentally have yet to be authoritatively drawn to delineate Israel’s territorial scope. Yet what is not plausible is to lump together the Israeli experience with that of India and Algeria just because the founding generation of leaders shared a secular ideology that was later subjected to a religious challenge once the state was established. For India and Algeria their respective anti-colonial struggles each possessed its originality, but without raising doubts about the delineation of the scope of territorial sovereignty and without needing to coercing the native population to submit or leave. This became integral to Zionism in the course of the struggle between opposed nationalisms, with expulsion necessary to ensure Jewish dominance over the development and governance of the country.


If Jewish biblical claims to territorial sovereignty are dismissed, as surely should be a major premise of secular thinking, then the Zionist project needs to be conceived of as essentially one of colonizing a foreign country. The presence of a deeply rooted Jewish minority, less than 5% when the Zionist movement got started in the late 19th century, does not make Palestine any less of a foreign country from the perspective of Jews who settled in Palestine in a spirit of missionizing zeal. As Walzer himself makes clear, Zionists were self-consciously opposed to the Judaism they had experienced in the diaspora that was premised on passivity and deference to the rulers of their country of residence and religiously expressed by the message of patience, the religious duty to wait for the Messiah, the only religiously acceptable experience of liberation. The founders of Zionism, and its current leaders, were determined to reconstitute Jewish life on the basis of assertiveness and even aggressiveness, overcoming the alleged diasporic legacy of passivity, and this feature of their movement has been transformative for even religious Jews. From this perspective, the historic triumphal event was undoubtedly Israel’s victory in the 1967 War, which became inspirational for diasporic Jewish communities identified more strongly than ever with the state of Israel, and questioned their own traditional postures of passivity.


My contention is that Walzer’s paradox dissolves as soon as the claim to categorize Zionism as a mode of ‘national liberation’ is deconstructed, while the second paradox remains to be explained. This second paradox dwells on the moral and political interplay of what transpires when the liberation of the self is organically linked to the dispossession of the other. In a postscript (134-146) Walzer explains why America does not belong with his three cases, which is because America’s original founding never truly embraced secularism. What he might have also said, but doesn’t, is that what the founding of America and Israel have most in common is the dispossession of the native populations, and it is this foundational fact that shapes the state-building experiences of both countries more than either has been willing to acknowledge. In this sense, we might invite Walzer to write a sequel on this second more consequential paradox, but realizing that such an invitation is certain to be refused. Its acceptance would implicitly repudiate the ideological benefits and normative authority of the first paradox that treats the establishment of Israel as if it is entitled to be regarded as one of the illustrious examples of 20th century anti-colonial struggles.


94 Responses to “The Undisclosed Second Paradox in Michael Walzer’s The Paradox of Liberation”

  1. Gene Schulman June 20, 2015 at 4:45 am #

    Bravo Richard, for this excellent review of Walzer’s book. It echoes my own letter to the NYR objecting to both Walzer’s and Ignatieff’s comparing Israel to Indian and Algerian liberation movements. Reading this makes our recent lunch together in Geneva all the more worthwhile. Thanks.


  2. Fred Skolnik June 20, 2015 at 5:04 am #

    Prof. Falk

    There are a number of blind spots in your understanding of how secular Zionists view the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. Nowhere is this more apparent than when you write, “If Jewish biblical claims to territorial sovereignty are dismissed, as [they] surely should be [as] a major premise of secular thinking, then the Zionist project needs to be conceived of as essentially one of colonizing a foreign country.” The “biblical claims” of secular Zionists are not religious, they are historical. The Bible is not seen as constituting a mandate or fiat but as expressing the realities of Jewish national, social and cultural life in the Land of Israel. The Bible was produced by Jews who lived in the Land of Israel and knew every tree and rock there. The Romans conquered a sovereign Jewish nation at a time when the Jewish population of the Land of Israel stood at close to 2.5 million. According to Cassius Dio (LXIX, 14:1), 580,000 Jews were killed and 985 villages razed to the ground in the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 132-35 C.E. It is this historical connection to the Land of Israel that Israel’s Proclamation of Independence affirms: “In the Land of Israel the Jewish people came into being. In this Land was shaped their spiritual, religious and national character. Here they lived in sovereign independence. Here they created a culture of national and universal import and gave the world the eternal Book of Books.”

    Certainly Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel under the Ottoman Turks and the British was not a colonial enterprise. The Jews did not conquer, rule, exploit, displace or “dispossess” the Arab population. Jews bought land from private landowners. Whether or not someone wishes to call Zionism a national liberation movement is really an academic question. What is undeniable is that the Jews as a national entity made a claim to sovereignty in one small corner of the Middle East and that the same Powers and family of nations that affirmed Arab claims to nationhood throughout the Middle East affirmed the Jewish claim as well. As for the rest, you are going over the same ground for the hundredth time and I have replied often enough so I will not repeat myself, other than to say that to speak of “the criminality of Israel’s emergence” under the given circumstances is utterly shameless.

    • Fred Skolnik June 20, 2015 at 9:26 am #

      Prof. Falk

      Are you seriously going remove my reply to a comment implying that I am ignorant?

      • Richard Falk June 20, 2015 at 11:07 am #

        There is no such implication. I am trying to eliminate purely personal attacks from the comments section.
        I try to give there is the benefit of the doubt if there is some serious substantive point included,
        but your responses to Gene are often pure insults. You are more civil with me usually, but the intention
        is the same, to discredit rather than to inform.

      • Fred Skolnik June 20, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

        When you make demonstrably false statements about the conflict, I certainly aim to discredit them, as I did above, replying substantively and certainly informatively. A response of “hogwash” is anything but informative and the implication that anyone who regards the Bible as something more than superstitious nonsense is ignorant is certainly insulting.

  3. Gene Schulman June 20, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Well, Fred, Richard is certainly being even handed. I see he removed my comment too. So I’ll just bow out and leave the discussion in your hands. I wouldn’t want my analysis of your position to be thought of as insulting. It wasn’t meant to be, rather a statement of my opinion on bible thumpers and hasbarists.

    • Fred Skolnik June 20, 2015 at 1:47 pm #


  4. Jerry "Peacemaker" June 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    Without having read any of Michael Walzer’s books, it seems he’s created or reported a version of historical events absent any scholarly counter-arguments from the Palestinian perspective, such as Mr. Said mentioned. Does Mr. Walzer make any effort in the book to intellectually construct an acceptable-by-all solution to the Israel-Palestine situation, was his intention only to create a false image of Israel as in the same category as India and Algeria, and/or does the author include in the book profoundly-moving, practical and hope-inspiring ideas which would have a real chance, if pursued and implemented, of guaranteeing genuine peace and a bright future for both Israelis and Palestinians?

    If the author doesn’t attempt to build and offer superior ideas/solutions for resolution of the differences – which must be the case, otherwise his name would be known around the world – what exactly were his motivations?

  5. Carlos June 21, 2015 at 3:27 am #

    It is another attempt to airbrush the Palestinians from history. Nothing like the liberation movements of India, Algeria or indeed any other country. Like the early colonials in Australia, claiming the land was empty, ‘terra nullius’ Israel has occupied and
    spreads its land grab,in another immoral and
    illegal way as did the early colonials.

  6. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 9:28 am #


    Perhaps you should give up on this. You can’t win. This is Prof. Falk’s blog. He sets the rules and controls the delete button to enforce them. Sounds despotic, but in fact, it’s not as unacceptable as may appear. Prof. Falk invests time and money in the blog. You don’t. And neither do I. Although it’s formatted to appear as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, he long ago clarified his real intent by posting that all who disagree with his premise that Israel is totally, or at least mostly, responsible for its conflict with the Palestinians are not welcome. Seen in this light, the blog is best understood not as a forum for free exchange, but as a sponsor’s vehicle for propagating his views, much as Sheldon Adelson does with his newspaper, Yisrael Ha Yom. Just as Adelson is not obligated to publish contrary views in his newspaper, neither is Prof. Falk obligated to post contrary views on his blog. In other words, Prof. Falk is absolutely correct in directing dissenters to other blogs that are available to us. Or we can start our own.

    One might ask why an individual who is interested in propagating his views resists correspondence with dissenters, who are the ones he needs to win over? This, too, stems from a misconception. Prof. Falk appears less concerned with gaining new supporters than with firming up his base. Each Israel/Palestine-related thread begins with the professor’s harsh critique of something Israel said or did (or of someone who did or said something favorable to Israel.) The Blog Faithful then line up to thank or praise him, and/or add their own harsh critique. There’s something Orwellean about the process. Dissent breaks the rhythm. But, as is evident, the number of participants continues to declive.

    I appreciate your concern that outright falsehoods about Israel should be corrected. Jewish history assuredly advises vigilance. But in this instance, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it, especially now, when it’s become clear that Prof. Falk’s objective is not to end Israel’s occupation of territory occupied in 1967, but to eliminate the State of Israel in its entirety. As more people understand this, the circle of his influence will continue to shrink.



    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      @ Rabbi Ira,

      Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

        Mr, Schulman,

        You are a gift from On High! I post a comment saying that members of the Blog Faithful are incapable of providing serious answers to serious questions, and you prove me right.

        But for the sake of conversation, why not stretch yourself and tell me what precisely is it about my comment that you find amusing. If you check back to the previous thread, you’ll find that Prof. Falk’s preferred mode of communication is dialogue. Why not try your hand at it?

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        Your distortions of the truth are not worthy of reply. They only make me laugh. As do Fred’s.

    • Fred Skolnik June 23, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

      You are of course right, Ira. Schulman pretty mych sums up the level of discourse among the worshipful admirers. I’m surprised that he thought of his reply on his own, without referencing Counterpunch.

      We now have the HRC Report before us, which will undoubtedly be the subject of the next blog, twisted to make it worse than it is, since it doesn’t precisely give the haters what they were looking for, reluctantly acknowledging that there are two sides to the story and that the Commission was unequipped to reach real conclusions, despite the fact that it received a mandate from the Human Rights Council that was already an indictment, cooked up by the criminal members who dominate it and have nothing better to do than spend most of their time talking about Israel in the world of Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria, Serbia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Somalia, Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba and Azerbaizhan, all of whom get a free pass.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm #


        I wouldn’t come down so hard on the UNHRC report. You’re correct: both sides will see in it what they want to see. But it might also represent an important turn in the way the UN goes about its business.

        A UNHRC report on Israel/Palestine that made so much as an attempt at being even-handed was impossible during Prof. Falk’s tenure as SR. When someone asked Prof. Falk how he could serve as SR when the UN’s own rules demanded impartiality, he replied that “there’s only one side to this story.” Justice fails when the judge has his thumb on the scales.

        The UNHRC’s turn has been developing over a period of time. Impatience in high UN echelons with its one-sidedness surfaced in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, aware that the UNHRC’s report would tainted by anti-Israel bias, appointed a four-member panel, headed by Geoffrey Palmer, to investigate the incident and issue a report of its own. The Palmer report found that Israel’s army used excessive force while the flotilla was still in international waters, and concluded that the degree of force used against the Mavi Marmara was “excessive and unreasonable” and that the way Israel treated detained crew members violated international human rights law. At the same time, it ruled that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza was legal, and that there were “serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers. Prof. Falk condemned the Palmer Report, and, and in a most uncolleagueal manner, questioned the members’ credentials.

        And when the Secretary General reported human rights violations on both sides during Operation Protective Shield, Prof. Falk joined a group of Palestinian leaders in a letter demanding the SG’s resignation. Earlier, the SG had rebuked Prof. Falk for not conducting himself by the high standards pf UN traditions.

        Prof. Falk’s departure opens the door to continuing this process. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. But this could very well be an important step forward to restoring the UN to its role as peace-maker and peace-keeper.



        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Richard Falk June 23, 2015 at 10:36 pm #


        With all due respect, the Goldstone Report submitted in the midst of my period as SR, was more ‘balanced’ in your
        sense of the word, than is the present COI report, and yet was ferociously condemned at the highest levels as a blood
        libel against the Jewish people. And as I have argued many times before, when the reality is imbalanced in my sense
        then the assessment should reflect this. During reports on the oppressive character of apartheid in South Africa it
        would have distorted the fundamental reality to have balanced the oppressive tactics of the regime against the resistance
        tactics of the victim African community. For your information, I am a friend of Geoffrey Palmer, and we were in friendly contact
        during my recent visit to New Zealand. Best, Richard

      • Fred Skolnik June 23, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

        But course the relation of an occupying power to an occupied country has absolutely nothing to do with the relation of an apartheid regime to its disenfranchised citizens. The proper analogy is to the Allied occupation of Germany after WWII, where violent resistance by the Nazi “victims,” including the brutal murder of innocent Allied civilians, would certainly not have been rationalized as a justifiable response to the Allied presence.

      • Gene Schulman June 24, 2015 at 2:32 am #

        Well, Fred. Here is a rather different assessment of the HRC report (yes, yes, Counterpunch again). Ha, ha, ha!

        BTW: Comparing Allied occupation of Germany after WWII to with the occupation of Israel in Gaza and the west bank is rather comparing apples to oranges. Wouldn’t you agree? Reasonable people would.

      • Fred Skolnik June 24, 2015 at 2:37 am #

        No, I wouldn’t agree, Gene, nor would reasonable people. You start a war, you lose a war, you get your territory occupied. That’s what happened to the Germans and that’s what happened to the Arabs.

      • Fred Skolnik June 24, 2015 at 2:48 am #

        The blockade of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt was an act of war, not to mention the movement of 100,000 Egyptian soldiers and 1,000 tanks toward Israel’s border.

        The shelling of Jewish Jerusalem by Jordan on the night of June 5 was an act of war.

        The shelling of Jewish settlements in Galilee by Syria in the months preceding June 1967 was an act of war.

  7. Laurie Knightly June 23, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    As there is no comparison in the what the Brits and French attempted in India and Algeria, one gets adrift in Walzer’s platitudinous justifications for removing the indigenous population of Palestine and replacing them with Jews from anywhere. It is an insult to sensibility when marauders declare ‘independence’ from their victim’s which was not the history in India/Algeria. Only one of the 37 signers of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel was born in Palestine. Israel is the lesser of the blameworthy , however, and its imperialistically motivated sponsors have from the beginning been the agents/purveyors of the injustice. They could have stopped it then – and could do so now. Delegitimize Israel? What is the legitimacy? It even violates their own theology.

    This also accounts for the common religious predisposition against secular liberation. A negation of religion in many countries demands a yielding of identity which seems untrustworthy – and probably is often correct in judgment. There is some interesting history from the 1920’s concerning both dynastic and liberal nationalism. Constantine Zurayak and Abdul Rahman al-Bazzaz attempted to unify the Arab World under socialism – retaining a ‘religious spirit’ and eliminating ‘sectarian fanaticism.’ They failed as has other nations, tribal groups, and/or ideologies. Secularism resonates as a more subtle takeover by heretofore colonialism – now under the guise of democracy and freedom.

    Also, it might do well to reference the recent AAUP and CCR statements/censure regarding Steven Salaita. It seems that ‘standards of civility’ are somewhat ambiguous. I was in total opposition to Salaita and told him so in person that he did not meet my specs as an effective/prudent communicator for teaching in a university. It’s naive to consider tweets as private and personal. This put me in complete opposition to Prof Falk [not the first time] and I feel absolutely free to do so whenever I can frame a rational position which addresses the subject. Seems reasonable………

    • Fred Skolnik June 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

      If you believe that a conquest like the Arab conquest, which was a rampage of rape, massacre and forced conversion, accords sovereign rights, then you shouldn’t object to anything the Jews may or may not have done. The Arabs came from Arabia. The Jews came from Judea, including the European Jews. The indigenous population that the Arabs found in the Land of Israel were Jews, among others. The Middle East did not belong to them. They took it, they lost it, and then it was given back to them by the Great Powers, just as part of the Land of Israel was given back to the Jews.

      • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

        Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Twist the history around as much as you want. It’s always told from the victor’s side, but that doesn’t make it true.

        Thanks, Laurie, for your fine essay. But I think you’re a bit rough on Salita, tweets or no.

    • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

      Ms. Knightly:

      You write: “:Delegitimize Israel? What is the legitimacy? It even violates their own theology.”

      A bold statement, but might you please tell me how Israel violates Jewish theology. Citing chapter and verse would be helpful That’s the way scholars and other informed parties support their conclusions, and you apparently regard yourself as being well-versed in Jewish theology.

      Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  8. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Gene Schulman writes:

    “Your distortions of the truth are not worthy of reply. They only make me laugh. As do Fred’s.”

    C’mon Gene. Please, please, pulleeze tell me what these “distortions of truth might be”. OK, tell me just one…the ONE that makes you laugh the hardest.

    But enough of this. This blog should be a venue for grown-ups who eschew the transparent evasions teenagers employ when they’re trapped in their own bravado and have nothing to say.

    As the boxer Joe Louis said about an opponent who had a habit of throwing sneak punches and then backing way, “he can run but he can’t hide.”

    You’re outted, Gene. Live with it!


    • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

      The true homeland is a mental, spiritual ideal, and has nothing to do with property rights. He quotes one of the “earliest voices of the Enlightenment to emerge from eighteenth-century European Jewry”, Moses Mendelssohn: “The Talmud forbids us to even think of a return (to Palestine) by force (i.e., to attempt to effect Redemption through human effort). Without the miracles and signs mentioned in the Scripture, we must not take the smallest step in the direction of forcing a return and a restoration of our nation. The Song of Songs expresses this prohibition” …….. “That you stir not up, nor awake my love, Till it please.”

      I’m on Laurie’s (Ms Knightly) side……..

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm #


        This appears to be a response worth considering. I’d like to but can’t unless you tell me who you’re quoting.


      • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

        Shlomo Sand, The invention of the Land of Israel. See my review at Amazon.

  9. Laurie Knightly June 23, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    One can read a concise reference on Ancient Jewish History 1250 – 1050 BCE, the Jewish Virtual Library – Israelite Conquest of Canaan. After the slaughter and domination of the inhabitants, God expels them for worshiping Baal etc. Also – there is nothing more cruel existent in print than the Old Testament. It’s little wonder that clerics forbade it from translation/access under order of death. Also – Jewish Religion/Jewish History, Israel Shahak is an important document. The Arabs and Jews of yore had much in common as do the 3 Semitic religions.

    Gene, on Salaita – he wrote Israel’s Dead Soul in 2011. This and other scathing criticisms of Israel existed long before his position at U of I was rescinded. It was the crude tweets that did him in. Gilad, as well, is on his own regarding the blog; a currently employed professor is not . Plus we try to caution youth against reckless use of cyber space and the importance of effective communication. A professor should set an example in this regard. I told Salaita that if he’s too angry to do this, he needs a different profession. I would say, however, that it’s gratifying to see the AAUP and CCR take a stand against the tremendous pressure/threats that colleges get from the Israel/Judaic Lobby etc. I thought they would wiggle out of a direct response/opinion. They did not.

    • Gene Schulman June 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

      All well and good. But he was appointed, and the recension was due only to the pressure of the Lobby and others of their ilk. We don’t know what or how he would have taught if the appointment held. His bias was his own and may not have been inflicted on his students.

    • Fred Skolnik June 23, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

      Somehow I doubt very much, Miss Knightly, if you would think to cite the Iliad or the Aeneid to draw conclusions about the character of the Greeks or Italians. It is good to know that you find biblical historiography so convincing after reading the Jewish Virtual Library and I hope you will also read the Jewish Virtual Library on the Arab-Israel conflict in order to get your facts straight and come back to us with your findings. In any case, if both sides are barbaric, why favor one over the other?

      Shlomo Sand quoting Moses Mendelssohn on the Talmud as an argument against Zionism. I think the ha ha ha makes more sense.

      • rehmat1 June 24, 2015 at 2:27 am #

        History shows that substitutes for halachic Judaism have a shelf life of four generations or less. Reform Judaism’s founder Moses Mendelssohn had nine grandchildren; eight of them were baptized as Christians. Zionist founder Theodore Herzl’s children were not only not Zionists, they were not Jews. How many of the grandchildren of the great Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz married under a chupah? How many of his great-grandchildren know what a chupah is?

    • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 24, 2015 at 8:14 am #

      Ms. Knightly,

      Thank you for identifying your source.

      I have little to add to what Fred Skolnik wrote other than to emphasize that the Jewish People have been around for four thousand years and written millions upon millions of words of theology, history, etc. To draw a huge and absolute conclusion on the basis of a few sentences in a Readers’ Digest-size on-line article about a single period in Jewish history is frivolous, or worse. Indeed, the whole enterprise of defining what Jews believe without having the slightest familiarity with the subject is both dishonest and arrogant.

      This is not to say that traditional texts are irrelevant to contemporary issues. To the contrary. It would be entirely proper for you to ask me—ask…a word that’s rarely heard on this blog of definitive opinions— why it is that ultra-religious Jews, i.e. those who claim to be closest to Torah, commit atrocities on the West Bank…just as it would be proper for me (or you) to ask a Muslim who claims that Islam is a religion of peace, why it appears to be the inspiration for terrorism committed in its name.

      Btw, you still haven’t responded to my request for evidence to support your allegation that Israel is preparing to impose rabbinical authority on an area stretching from Mauretania to India. It’s a serious allegation. I’d like to look into it.


      Rabbi Ira Youdovin

  10. Kata Fisher June 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    I will make an exception to write down a good will note:

    There is the difference between ecclesiastical property and public/general opinion (including how one can apply and handle it). Legitimately or illegitimately (in ecclesiastical or civil way).

    If you are an only civil person/general opinion (not public-ecclesiastical) – why do you deal with the ecclesiastical property – are you at all legitimate/qualified to handle Faith and religious issues? You are not Civil and Ecclesiastical person at the same time, or would you be? Is this a standard-rule statement? If not – why not?

  11. rehmat1 June 24, 2015 at 2:23 am #

    Michael Walzer has been projected “philosopher” because he has always been an official parrot of the Organized Jewry. His comparison of European Jewish terrorism with India’s independence struggle against the British occupation is based on shear ignorance of Indo-Pak history.

    Both Mahatma Gandhi and Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah were against the creation of Israel in British occupied Palestine. Gandhi, despite his sympathize for European Jewry and his secret love for a German Jewish bodybuilder in Cape Town – he wrote to Dr. Weizmann, leader of World Zionist movement in 1938, that Jews should stay in Germany and conduct non-violent protests to gain their rights as equal citizens.

    India after its independence in 1947 – refused to recognize Israel till late1960s. Pakistan, on the other hand, refuses to recognize Israel even to this day.

    One must know that at the time of partition of British occupied Indian sub-continent, the population of British settlers was less than 500,000 among 250 million Indians.

    • Fred Skolnik June 24, 2015 at 8:55 am #


      Those who took Gandhi’s advice and remained (140,000) or fled to countries later controlled by Germany (60,000) were murdered by the Nazis. Those who didn’t take his advice and escaped the Nazi sphere of influence (350,000) survived.

      You still haven’t told us how you came to be an advocate of a conquering Arab nation that raped and massacred your ancestors.

      • Gene Schulman June 24, 2015 at 9:41 am #

        So, a conquering Arab nation killed our ancestors? How long ago? They were not my ancestors, and probably not rehmat’s. Even so, what does that have to do with what the current state of Israel is doing to present day Palestinians? C’mon Fred, get real. You’re burning out.

  12. Beau Oolayforos June 24, 2015 at 4:18 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    Thanks for your latest food for thought, including its daunting reading list in contemporary philosophy. At least we all share the hope that whatever ‘Phase 3’ Palestine/Israel might experience will be a truly liberating one for all of its citizens.
    Much of it seems to turn on the relationship of church to state. ‘Constructive engagement’, or careful separation? I pray for the latter – did not some of us, in our callow youth, breathe a sigh of relief that religious wars were a relic of history?

  13. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 24, 2015 at 6:53 am #


    Thanks for identifying your citation. It gives us a chance to “talk”.

    I read your review on Amazon. You write very well.

    You say that in the matter of Jewish theology, you stand with Laurie Knightly. I agree. And you’re both wrong!

    I won’t dwell on Shlomo Sand other than to say that his theories have gained very little traction in Israel or anywhere. As one reviewer put it: “Sand goes to great lengths to incriminate a reading of Jewish identity that few take seriously. Namely, he thinks that Jews feel connected to one another, first and foremost, because they see themselves as an ethnically homogenous group that can trace their blood ancestry to ancient Judea. This is absurd. It goes without saying that anyone who looks at the cultural diversity of Jews around the world today — from Spain to Uzbekistan, from India to Asia — would not base his or her identity on a common blood lineage that harks back to the Bible.”

    In other words, Sand sets up a straw man and then proceeds to knock it down. This is a common tactic on this blog. For example, Prof. Falk erroneously proclaims that Zionism’s primary objective has been to extend Jewish sovereignty over all of biblical Israel as prescribed in Jewish theology. I’ve repeatedly invited him to provide supportive evidence, but he hasn’t. Indeed, he finally admitted that he has no evidence, but that supportive evidence is unnecessary. That’s a helluva assertion coming from someone who’s spent his life doing academic research! Meanwhile, you, Prof. Falk, Laurie Knightly and others on this blog continue to hammer Israel as if Prof. Falk’s accusation had validity; which it doesn’t.

    Regarding Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), the quote you cite is authentic but decontextualized (another favorite pastime on this blog). Note the dates of his birth and death. He lived in Germany during the Enlightenment, when it appeared that Jews would be welcomed as full members of German society after centuries of exile and persecution. Toward that end, he endeavored to prepare his community to live as German Jews, much as Protestants lived as German Protestants and Catholics as German Catholics. Any thoughts of returning to Israel threatened to undermine this objective. But these hopes for central and western Europe, they never arose in the east, died in the counter-revolutions on the 19th century. A century after Mendelssohn’s death, a Viennese Jewish journalist named Theodor Herzl witnessed the scourge of anti-Semitism at the trial of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, (correctly!) concluded that European Jewry was headed for catastrophe,and created the Zionist movement. It’s very like that had Mendelssohn been Herzl’s contemporary, Shlomo Sand what not have a reference to cite.

    Btw, the same caution regarding decontextualization applies to Mendellsohn’s quote from the Talmud. All theology is empirical. If you’re interested, I can illustrate this in another post.



    • Gene Schulman June 24, 2015 at 7:38 am #

      Thanks for the compliment, Ira. I would write much more, but realize It would be a waste of time. Either I am writing to the converted, and they don’t need my wisdom; or I am writing to the faithful, who won’t pay attention to reason.

      As for Moses Mendelssohn, I would recommend to you Amos Elon’s magisterial “The Pity of it All”. It should be noted that Elon left Israel for Italy because he could no longer take the racism in that country. RIP to a great Israeli journalist/thinker.

      You love this blog because it gives you an opportunity to air your prejudices by attacking a great truth-teller (Falk) who upsets your false narrative of Zionism. You should be grateful he even tolerates you (and Fred) here.

      Theology is empirical? Gimme a break! It is a field that shouldn’t even exist in modern thought. (I’m an atheist, remember?)

      As for Sand, his view of history is up for discussion, but I can’t help but agree with it.

      So, your flattery does not invite me to further ‘talk’.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 24, 2015 at 7:54 am #

        Gene Schulman writes (addressed to me):

        “You love this blog because it gives you an opportunity to air your prejudices by attacking a great truth-teller (Falk) who upsets your false narrative of Zionism.”


        Would you favor me and the other readers with a brief rendition of what you think is my “narrative of Zionism”? No need to go into what you think is false and why (although you’re free to do so.) Just a reality check into whether you have even a vague idea of what you’re condemning.



    • Fred Skolnik June 24, 2015 at 7:55 am #

      Now it’s my turn to caution you, Ira. There is no point in trying to engage in a sincere and intelligent discussion with Mr. Schulman. His understanding of Jewish history derives entirely from a half-dozen or so polemical works that attack Israel and/or the Jews (Atzmon, Sand, Pappe, etc.). Sooner or later, coming up against what is beyond his range of knowledge, he will beat a hasty retreat behind his main line of defense: hasbara, troll, bah, hogwash, ha ha ha.

  14. Kata Fisher June 24, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    Another note in God will:

    We say if anything is to be separated – let God do separating!

    Is there a Bible in US court? What Bible is in (US) court? This would be irrelevant?

    I know that in my court is Bible that is written down by the Church in Rome, and these are the Laws that are both Civil in Application and are eccalistical:

    The US as a state (and land) is in satanic seals and blasphemy of God’s Spirit that are in the lines (generational) and many forms of personal sins.

    People enjoy life and have illegitimate children.

    I would talk about legitimate children because “satanic seals and blasphemy of God’s Spirit” are the difficult and not softer concept to the public opinion. They are observable, but we can choose to define them to be “whatever.”

    We can decide on the Civil-Eccalistical application, basted on historical instances. Alternatively, we do not have to do that.

    But, in fact, I can say this: any US court is subject to be cursed by the Church Charismatic under prophetic anointing – just as Church of England (Protestant rebellion) was cursed by Church Charismatic in the past.

    This, in fact, has nothing to do with religious hate, but it has to do with the way we handle the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    I will talk about religious hate concerning illegitimate children. The Law of the Church, in fact, only applies and protects actual / baptised, in communion, confirmed in Faith Church “Person” members but also eccalistical people (public or civil). Church can apply it to all humanity but does not have to.

    What is illegitimate children in the Church and to the Church – and the world? This would be both relevant and not relevant.

    The US as a state treats her children, according to the Old Testament instruction on treatment and behaviour toward illegitimate children (in corporate). But now, in fact, we would have Church age. In this point in time, there are also international laws that are applied to illegitimate children (because they are not under the Law, in fact, and in fact they are not under the Church Law). Still, the Church Law will indicate importance and application of international law and not an expired (in/ to the Church Age part of Old Testament Law).

    Church Charismatic under prophetic anointing can, in fact, curse (but also have nothing to do with any US court and/or people) – so that they only will produce death in their corporate undertaking.

    There is real and actual separation when come to the Church and a state. Private associations can differ and are not limited to an Eccalistical person only (Church Ambassador).

    One can go about this and write in-depth Church Doctrine on this – but Church Charismatic in prophetic anointing does not need it because it would be useless for us. We simply do not need it.

    That what is accursed and given over to Satan is accursed and given over to Satan. The Church has no forgiveness for it. We can not say that something is under forgiveness and grace when just it is not.

    Church will confirm when something is under forgiveness and grace: We will see Baptism in God’s Spirit by free fall, and solid confirmation of Faith – that- in fact, would be actual sing to us that someone is the Church-actual when we can confirm that one speaks in another language that can be interpreted by natural mind (primarily). Eventually, after generation and generations there is someone that will be forgiven (individually).

    But we also say, “see yours at your works” or “Bella Ciao” – just as that Italian song goes in protest to Nazism (church-charismatic disorder).

    Again, private associations can differ based on public / eccalistical person position in the Church. Heretical Laws that are Civil-Eccalistical Laws in nature are under jugment because they are not applicable to Church, nor can be applied to the Church members (Person) member.

    One can not apply something satanic to the (Person) member.

    A note: this is my fast (just as scan assessment of the land) – but I myself would not dwell on it (as Catholic Church) since I know and very well understand that female dirt can be – and to much of it will make people in the land to be insane.

    We Catholics do not validate craze and haze.

    • Kata Fisher June 24, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      Important correction:

      It reads “Another note in God will:”

      It should read (as intended by me) as follows:

      “Another note in good will”

  15. Kata Fisher June 24, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    I have to say something, and it is a personal note: I really like and admire Laurie, and I believe that she prophesies and is in a timely move. However, her insight is limited (as is mine) and I do believe that she should stay here and not feel rebuked by me in any shape and form. I just write as I am moved – and I hardly have ever personal dislikes or disrespect – but mine experience, insight and perspective is different.

    It is nothing special because there are many women that ware or are just as ordained as I am (and sometimes that ordination is just in generational line – but it is not fully expressed).

    I am also very capable of dislikes and disrespect, and sometimes in very conscience way. Meaning, my conscience is solid in it and to it.

    I just thought I offer an explanation because I was just moved, and I wrote things that I did. Often when I read something that I wrote – I myself get taught by it.

    Also, I do not make any friends – and I do not try to say this to make Laurie my friend.

  16. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 25, 2015 at 9:52 am #


    With all due respect, I don’t understand why the Goldstone Report is more “balanced”—in my sense of the word—than is the present COI report. But no matter. One cannot assess a six-year tenure on the basis of a single report, especially one you didn’t write.

    During your six years as Special Rapporteur for the UNHRC, you consistently turned a blind eye on Palestinian violations. Not just now and again, but invariably. That’s like a football referee officiating a match but calling penalties on only one side, a patently unfair situation that would not be tolerated by the league or the fans. You claim that you received these instructions from the Commission, and that your request for greater latitude in reporting violations on both sides was turned down. Forgive me, this claim is hard to swallow. For one thing, Judge Goldstone insisted on the same latitude as a condition for his accepting the appointment, and received it. That would appear to be the honorable thing to do. And for another, you implement the same radical one-sidedness in your blog postings, where UNHRC rules don’t apply.

    The analogy you make with reporting on South African apartheid is overdrawn to the point of irrelevance. I’ve never asked you to whitewash Israeli violations so as to create a false image of Israeli virtue. But you’ve done precisely that, albneit from the opposite direction in demonizing Israel while falsely depicting Hamas as being completely without culpability. Indeed, you’ve become the Chief Apologist for Hamas, explaining away the patently genocidal affirmations in their charter and in public statements of their leaders. This is not what one expects from a Rapporteur. The Occupation is ugly and worse. But there is no incentive for Israel to end it when the territory it evacuates will become a launching pad for rockets and artillery—as happened in Gaza—while the UNHRC and its SR remain silent.

    The consequences for the Palestinians have been catastrophic. You’ve given a green light to the rejectionist wing of their body politic to the detriment of Palestinians who are willing, even eager, to build a new state and life for themselves in the context of the two-state solution. This puts you in the same league as the Israeli settlers who also want to scuttle a negotiated resolution to the conflict, choosing to slug it out to the end in a zero-sum conflict while innocent people die.

    Whatever its flaws, and there are many, the new report by Mary McGowan Davis and Doudou Dienne allows that both sides may have violated international law. It doesn’t judge who was right and who was wrong. It expressed facts, not a one-sided narrative. That’s something not seen in anything from the UNHRC for at least the past six years.

    That’s good news. I pray that in the future, you will come to see it that way.


    • Gene Schulman June 25, 2015 at 11:13 am #

      I hope Richard doesn’t dignify you with a reply to this slander. I certainly wouldn’t. I can’t imagine anyone who can think “come to see it this way”.

      The correct acronym is UNHCR.

      • Gene Schulman June 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

        Before everyone gets all over me, mea culpa on the acronym. Ira is correct. UNHRC!

      • Richard Falk June 26, 2015 at 7:18 am #

        Gene: I valued, and agreed, with your advice, but didn’t follow it, displaying
        a weakness for self-punishment..richard

    • Richard Falk June 26, 2015 at 3:06 am #


      Gene is probably giving me good advice. It does seem futile to engage with your highly personalized attacks on my character and professionalism.
      What I find most disconcerting is that you repeat the same misleadingly devastating criticisms utterly disregarding my earlier responses that have
      tried to explain my approach. I believe strongly in dialogue, but dialogue is only useful if both sides listen to the other, and I am really convinced
      that you are unwilling or unable to listen to what I have been saying.

      You keep repeating these attacks on my failure to adopt a posture of balance while ignoring my several attempts to say that balance is inappropriate
      where disparities of circumstances exist, and these are dramatic in relation to Israel/Palestine–first of all, roles of occupier and occupied, in relation
      to military capabilities; as evidenced by relative casualty figures. There is much more than could be said on these issues. I am not trying to ‘demonize’ Israel
      but it is overwhelmingly responsible for the violence associated with Gaza. Again, if you read my prior posts and comments, you know very well that I have been
      critical of the Hamas Covenant, but I am also convinced that since 2006 Hamas has tried to pursue its goals via a political strategy that includes, up to the
      present, a variety of efforts to establish a long-term internationally supervised ceasefire on the border between Israel and Gaza.

      My questions to you, then, are two-fold: –why have you made such repeated efforts to personalize these attacks?
      –why do ignore my prior explanations? at least if you took them into account the conversation could forward rather
      than revolving on its own axis.

      And again, if you feel that my views are hopelessly at odds with what you believe, why are you not spending your time and energy in settings that are more congenial,
      especially as you have told me many times I am an enemy of peace, and hurtful to the prospects of the Palestinians, let alone to the wellbeing of the Israelis?


    • Richard Falk June 26, 2015 at 6:06 am #


      In further response: The following excerpts from an essay by Uri Avnery, best known Israeli peace activist,
      former Knesset member and fighter in the Israeli 1948 War, reflecting on the UN Gaza Report. It makes points
      similar to mine but in a somewhat different form:

      “The investigation committee bent over backwards to be “balanced”, and accused both the Israeli army and Hamas in almost equal terms. That, in itself, is problematic.

      This was not a war between equals. On one side, the State of Israel, with one of the mightiest armies in the world. On the other side, a stateless population of 1.8 million people, led by a guerrilla organization devoid of any modern arms.

      Any equating of such two entities is by definition contrived. Even if both sides committed grievous war crimes, they are not the same. Each must be judged on its own (de)merits.

      The convenient way out [for Israel] is to proclaim that all UN officials are by nature anti-Semites and Israel-haters, so that answering their questions is counterproductive.

      We are moral. We are right. By nature. We can’t help it. Those who accuse us must be anti-Semites. Simple logic.”


      I feel you use this logic of balance to hide the realities of imbalance, and the defense of labeling those who criticize
      as ‘anti-Semites’ or Israel-haters to avoid the hard work of justification or rectification of errors. When you & Fred
      bond in relation to those who are critics that just reinforces these impressions. I try to listen to what you have to say,
      and hope that you might try to do the same.

      • Fred Skolnik June 26, 2015 at 8:06 am #

        Prof. Falk

        It is both illogical and absurd to apportion guilt in a military clash on the basis of the relative strength of the opposing armies rather than on the basis of the circumstances of the clash. Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel’s civilian population and Israel attempted to destroy the rocket launchers and their support systems. In this, Israel acted as any other country in the world would have acted and took greater precautions to avoid civilian causalities than any other army would in a situation where Hamas had embedded its entire military apparatus in residential neighborhoods and its command center in a hospital. As for the Human Rights Council I will not reproduce the list of the criminal countries to which it has given a free pass while going after Israel. Maybe you would like to explain this instead of ignoring it. And maybe that is why Israel distrusts the HRC. As for Israel hatred, I have characterized it very precisely in the form that it appears on your site: “I call someone an antisemite who uses the language of antisemites, which includes disparaging generalizations about Jewish history, origins, morality, faith, character, money and even genetic makeup, among other things, and find that you habitually encourage and praise such debased people.” Are you really blind to the way Jews and Israel are characterized on your site?

        Everything that you and your admirers write is addressed substantively by your critics, and believe me, the fictions are so blatant that it is not “hard work” at all. It is you who do not address your critics, simply sliding around what is unanswerable or claiming that you are being insulted. You are certainly not listening or responding to anything that challenges your views and will therefore continue to call the Palestinians an indigenous population and the Land of Israel their ancient homeland, insist that Jewish settlers “displaced” Palestinians and throw around terms like genocide and apartheid until hell freezes over.

        Here are some of Israel’s findings with regard to Operation Protective Edge, findings that are far more credible than any HRC report can be and which the Report acknowledges are the product of a system that examines itself:

        • Hamas’s strategy was to deliberately draw the hostilities into the urban terrain, and to use built-up areas and the presence of the civilian population for tactical advantage and political gain.

        • Much of what may have appeared to external parties to be indiscriminate harm to civilians or purely civilian objects was in fact legitimate attacks against military targets that were actually part of the military operations of terrorist organizations.

        • Israel located and destroyed 32 cross-border assault tunnels, including 14 that penetrated Israel.

        • Some 2,125 Palestinians were killed. Forty-four percent were combatants, 36% were civilians. In 20% of the cases, the IDF and intelligence services are working to determine whether they were combatants or civilians.

        • Had Hamas accepted the initial Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on July 15, a week after the conflict began, 90% of the casualties would have been avoided.

        • Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza launched 4,500 rockets and mortar shells at Israel during the conflict, of which 4,000 were deliberately directed at Israeli civilian targets.

        • Some 550 rockets and mortar shells were identified as having been fired from within or near “sensitive sites” in Gaza such as schools, UN facilities, hospitals and mosques.

        • Hamas waged an official campaign pressuring civilians to disregard Israel’s warnings to flee an impending attack, and often used physical coercion to keep them from leaving.

        • As of February 2015, 38% of Israeli children in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip were diagnosed as suffering from full or partial symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

        • Israel has a highly regulated process for choosing and approving targets, which requires input from intelligence sources, operational planners and lawyers before an attack is approved, and this is designed to ensure compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict.
        • The IDF made extensive efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid to the civilian population inside the Gaza Strip during the conflict, as well as before and after. This included providing medical equipment to wounded (including combatants); facilitating the transfer of food, clothes and medicine; facilitating the repair of power lines, water supply and other infrastructure.

        • Israel is committed to investigating alleged misconduct and holding wrongdoers accountable through criminal prosecutions or disciplinary action, as may be appropriate in each case, and it takes extensive steps to ensure that investigations are as effective as possible.

      • Fred Skolnik June 26, 2015 at 9:40 am #

        And here is some “hard work” for you, Prof. Falk, unless you prefer to run away from this too. Suppose that the United States had fired thousands of missiles at Russia, let us say because Russia arrested 100 Americans in Crimea, accusing them of anti-Russian activity, and that none of these missiles caused much damage, either being intercepted or falling into the sea, and that Russia fired back, aiming to destroy the missile launchers (which the Americans had emplaced in residential neighborhoods in American cities), first warning civilians that attacks were imminent, and that as a result of these attacks, 2,000 Americans were killed (half of them soldiers) – please tell me, Prof. Falk, that you would not whip up a blog post jusifying Russia’s response.

  17. Beau Oolayforos June 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    An historical note which was news to me, but maybe not to anyone else –

    “Beginning in 1830, she [France] had built up a great colony in Algeria,
    or, to speak more correctly, had extended France into Algeria, for Algeria
    was not a colony in the ordinary sense of the word. It was divided into
    departments like France, was represented in the French Chamber of
    Deputies, and persons born in Algeria enjoyed all the full rights of
    French citizens.” (S.B. Fay, ‘Origins of the World War’, p 157)

    • Fred Skolnik June 25, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

      The French conquered Algeria from the Ottoman Turks in the same way that the Arabs conquered Algeria from the Byzantines. If the analogy is to Israel, the difference is that the French had no historical connection to Algeria, just as the Arabs had no historical connection to Algeria, and that the Jews were not the colonial power in the Land of Israel, the Turks and British were.

  18. Kata Fisher June 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    A note:

    This is what I understand:

    Mecca is eccalistical pilgrimage and citizenship for Arab nation.
    We not only have to respect natural territories, but also spiritual territories.

    Jerusalem is not Mecca for Arabs.

    Holy Land Belongs to all Jewish tribes (in all nations and all religions and / or faiths). However, Holy Land is under the Spiritual authority of Old Testament. We can’t have priest-king order applied to Holy Land. This would create sword, destruction and death upon all of us during the Church Age.

    It can be applied outside the Holy Land that hold “only partial, and in fact only spiritual authority” in Holy Land (for the faith minority/majority) that is in Holy Land – without actual “spiritual-natural claim” to the Holy Land Territory.

    However, all religious property (as natural, in substance) would be protected from religious hate crimes and destruction. Building and development of Islamic (religious needs and undertaking) can not be hindered by Israeli inside Holy Land or outside Holy Land (as custodians of the entire Holy Land (in spiritual and natural) / Israel and as Hebrew-Jewish nation). Israeli also have to alow Arabs as a nation their natural faith needs and spiritual self-determination needs – while they are they are on territory that is under natural and Spiritual Authority of the Hebrew prophets and /or Church Charismatic.

    There are territorial rights and there are Faith Rights, and we all know that. It is very bad to mix all up. However, people should and have to integrate according to their self-determinations (spiritual and natural).

    Migration and immigration would also fall under Faith Rights.

    • rehmat1 June 26, 2015 at 8:13 am #

      Jerusalem is part of Islamic faith. It’s the city from where the Prophet Muhammad traveled to Heavens to meet his Lord. The city was built by non-Jews over 3,500 years ago. Later, it’s occupied by tribes of Israelites with whom the great majority of 12.7 million world Jewry has nothing to do with.

      Same goes with the so-called Wailing Wall, which has nothing to do the destroyed Temple of Solomon. The “Wall” is the remaining foundation of an old Roman fortress.

      American archaeologist and author, Professor Dr. Ernest L. Martin (1932-2002) had conducted archaeology work in East jerusalem. In his controversial book ‘The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot’, published in 1999 – Dr. Martin claimed that Muslim sacred places, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of Rock are not built on top of the Temple Mount ruins.

      • Kata Fisher June 26, 2015 at 10:22 am #

        Saudi Arabia is part of Arab citizenship.

        I never read Holy Quran, and I never read what was written down in Holy Quran about prophet Muhammed.

        Prophet Muhamed went to Jerusalem for spiritual revival. What is the historical context of his pilgrimage?

        He received heavenly country when he was there. (According to that what you said – I understand that much).

        Arab nation (Muslims) in this point in time neither seek Jerusalem for their spiritual revival nor are they receiving heavenly country while in Holy Land.

        Scripturally, what has to happen?

        Origin of Arab people in Holy Land is from Saudi Arabia territory (just as prophet Muhamed was?) I do not know – but I can assume that it was because Arabs (Palestinian/Jordanians claim that they are descendants of Prophet Muhammed), and , in essence, are Palestinians. (I do not know why Palestinians/Jordanians call them self Palestinians according to some vague name for the territory that was given just by anyone).

        I believe that we really have to sort out territory issues and how all these things were named and re-named. Arabs in Holy Land very well can be Saudi people according to their generational natural rights and spiritual/Faith rights.

        Evangelicals have a good share of heretics among them. They are so much deceived that they do not have even budge of their conscience that they are gravely wrong and doomed, all together.

        I know, in Fact that there is temple standing in Holy Land, and that is the Third Temple in Jerusalem. Nothing else can or will be built until they clarify all historical evidence when comes to the position of the Temple that was destroyed.

        What if Dame of the Rock is just a small part to the actual Temple that has to be built? We do not know that. We do not know the future. We do not know if the Faiths of the Books will look at their Scriptures and really understand what is what (all of the Scriptures) as well as their works and discern them in a valid Scriptural order).

        Faith Leaders do not study their Scriptures corporately, at all. They will never figure out anything when comes to the point in time.

        However, they seek some kind of point in time – this, in fact, is solid insanity. It was always like that that they were in a diversity of ideas, and they were insane – and now in this point in time they are stuck with the diversity of Books and order of the Books.

      • Kata Fisher June 26, 2015 at 10:23 am #

        A correction:

        Dome of the Rock

      • Kata Fisher June 26, 2015 at 10:48 am #


        Can you explain this:

        “Later, it’s occupied by tribes of Israelites with whom the great majority of 12.7 million world Jewry has nothing to do with.”

        What “tribes of Israelites”? that “world Jewry has nothing to do with?”

        I just now got attentioned by that what you said.

      • Richard Falk June 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

        Please, Kata, try to keep your comments focused, and do not write serial comments that dominate
        the space. I realize that you have a special way of thinking…

      • Kata Fisher June 26, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

        Professor Falk:

        Palestinian/Jordanian Kings are Saudis – what about lines of Palestinian/Jordanian People, as well?

        I never did see this before.

        I also did not see “why are Arabs in corporate turned against Palestinians in Holy Land / desendence (mainly) of Prophet Muhammed.”

        Saudi (born) Kings of (now Jordan) just declared parts of Jerusalem their Capital – what about Arab people, in Holy Land as their citizens Jordanian/Saudi citizens?

        There can not be the Priest-King order in Holy Land (only outside Holy Land) Jordanian/Saudi did that.

        Ali Hosseini Khamenei (in the order of priest-prophet) is a more legitimate custodian for Dome of the Rock within Holy Land then any of the Arab King is.

        Arab Kings have their own blood on their hands and blood of Arab people; I believe – just because what they did with Priest-King order in Holy Land.

        The origin and types of natural and spiritual territories in Holy Land have to be sorted out.

        Jordanians are not Jordanians – they are the province of Saudi and Saudis are Arabs in Jordan and Holy Land. Palestinians are Saudi- Arabia Israeli, in essence. (This is more authentic what I see it is).

        People should apply some generational identity to themselves (including to their natural and spiritual territories).

  19. rehmat1 June 26, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    Fred Skolnik – You’re a ‘shining’ example of an ignorant Zionist Jew. If the “conquering Arab armies have raped your Jewish ancestors in Spain” – why Jewish scholar Dr. Bernard Lewis called Muslim Spain; “Golden Age” of Jews?

    According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, 170,000 Jews were killed or forced to convert to Catholicism under the Spanish Inquisition. American journalist and author Rose Wilder Lane wrote in ‘Islam and the Discovery of Freedom‘ that between 3-5 million of Spanish Muslims were either killed, expelled or converted to Catholicism during the same period.

    “For almost eight hundred years (under Muslim rule), human energy in Spain had produced such an abundance of food, comforts and luxuries as the world had never before imagined. After Granada fell, human energy continued to operate in Spain and through Spain upon the New World and Europe, for two more generations. The third generation no longer knew that men are free, and energy weakened in Spain. The fifth generation could not get support the government, and their children died of starvation. Spain had practically ceased to exist,” Wrote Ms Lane.

    • Fred Skolnik June 26, 2015 at 8:19 am #

      If you think Arab rule is good, you are welcome to live under it. Among those who don’t think it’s good are Israeli Arabs, who categorically refuse to be part of an exchange of territory (Wadi Ara, for example) that would place them under Palestinian sovereignty.

  20. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 28, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    Prof. Falk writes:

    “My questions to you (Ira), then, are two-fold: why have you made such repeated efforts to personalize these attacks?–why do ignore my prior explanations? at least if you took them into account the conversation could forward rather than revolving on its own axis.
    “And again, if you feel that my views are hopelessly at odds with what you believe, why are you not spending your time and energy in settings that are more congenial, especially as you have told me many times I am an enemy of peace, and hurtful to the prospects of the Palestinians, let alone to the wellbeing of the Israelis?”

    I’ll try to answer these questions as best I can in the spirit of dialogue.

    The reason our exchange takes the form of a repeating loop is that your posts on Israel/Palestine repeat the same accusations over an over again. Were this a private conversation between the two of us, it would have ended in futility long ago. I’m not going to persuade you; you’re not going to persuade me. Full stop.

    In fact, I began posting commentaries in the hope that we could have a fruitful exchange. I have long advocated for an independent, secure and potentially prosperous Palestine living in peaceful coexistence with Israel. At the time, you were saying that you wanted essentially the same thing. As time passed, it became apparent that what you really wanted is to dismantle Israel, a desire you made crystal clear in your post on the Presbyterians’ pro-BDS resolution. As there is no commonality in our positions, you are correct that private conversation is pointless.

    So why do I and others continue to post our dissent? Because the internet is not a private conversation. Anybody on the planet with internet access can “listen” in. On any given day, some number of people are reading your calls for the dissolution of Israel for the first time. This is certainly the reason you created the blog, and formatted it as an open forum instead of a password controlled cat room for those who already support you. We who post in dissent want these new participants to read other views. As I recently commented, this is your blog. You maintain it and pay for it. You are entitled to run it in any way you chose. But so long as it’s advertised as an open channel, your dissenters are entitled to use it.

    You chastise me for ignoring you prior explanations. With all due respect, may I point out that I do carefully read and respond to your views. That I don’t accept most of them doesn’t mean I haven’t considered them. For that matter, does the fact that you accept an equally miniscule number of my views indicate that you ignore them?

    Moreover, you tend to ignore or reject my attempts to fully understand what you’re saying, which responds to your oft-repeated complaint that your critics misstate your views. For example, you advocate a “bi-national secular state governed by international time.” This is not a new suggestion. The concept of bi-nationalism has been around since the inception of the British Mandate. It has never gained traction of either side, as Jews and Palestinians intensified their separate drives for national liberation. Moreover, common sense suggests that two parties whose mutual distrust precludes their agreeing on terms for divorce are unlikely candidates for a sustainable marriage. But as I posted, you are certainly aware of this history but might have reasons to believe it might work. So I posted my interest in hearing them. You replied that you didn’t have time at the moment to go into details. That was nearly two months ago. In that time, you have had the time to write more than a few lengthy posts. But my request goes unanswered. There are other examples I could cite.

    I need also to question your claim to being critical of the Hamas Covenant. What you posted was a suggestion that Hamas revise its Covenant because it expressed affirmations the group had rejected. I responded that your post sounded like a memo from the group’s media advisor suggesting that they work on their image, not their substance, and suggested that you question Hamas leaders as to whether they had abandoned the genocidal aspirations expressed in the Covenant. This hasn’t happened. Meanwhile, you’ve tried to dismiss the Covenant as “vague aspirations” (anybody taking to time to read it will understand that its affirmations are anything but vague); and when Hamas leader Kahled Meshaal delivered a speech of imaginable cruelty (“lets kill the Jews slowly do that they can watch one another die”), you assured readers he was speaking in the heat of the moment and really didn’t mean what he said. To my knowledge, there has been no modification from Meshaal.

    As regards my “personalizing” my “attacks”: Most of my criticism is not directed at Private Citizen Pilgrim Richard Falk”, but at the UN Human Rights Commission and the individual who recently completed a six-year term as Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Territories. The UNHRC is a publicly funded institution. Its SR’s are public figures whose expenses are covered by public funds. They cannot and should not be shielded from public criticism.

    At the heart of my criticism is the SR’s policy of never reporting Palestinian violations. You responded that the policy sort to restore some balance in a situation of profound inequality in the raw power of the combatants. The issue of assigning blame in cases of asymmetrical warfare is relatively new. Most battles these days are not between national armies. And empowered individual or group, effectively armed and motivated, can wreak enormous damage. Most of the questions you say are settled are still being discussed. The relative strength of Israel and Hamas must be considered, as Uri Avnery insists, but in the context of the full picture which is larger than raw numbers, as Fred Skolnik points out.

    However, no system of ethics I know would condone systematically eliminating instances of violence on one side of the conflict. Contextualizing them, yes. But systemic elimination creates a deliberately false picture deliberately portrayed as reality. This is my problem with UNHRC and its now-retired SR.

    It is you, Richard, who takes this perfectly valid criticism as a personal attack, often taking umbrage instead of responding.. I appreciate that separating the office from the office holder is difficult. But I do insist that it is improper for you to reject criticism as being personally insulting.

    In conclusion, I will understand should you choose not to respond. You had your say. I had mine. But if you do respond, I assuredly will consider your remarks with full attention.



    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Richard Falk June 29, 2015 at 1:56 am #


      I appreciate the effort that you have devoted to this detailed response and earlier ones, but as you note, we
      are not getting anywhere, and the nature of the dialogue is disconcerting to other regular commentators, and has
      found no support from any communicating readers. I confess my failure to find ways to engage in constructive conversation
      with you. Against this background, I have decided that comments from you and Fred will not longer be welcome at the website.
      You have told me that I am either speaking to the choir or being harmful to Palestinian peace prospects, and so it should
      not be a loss from your perspective. I am sorry about this outcome.


  21. Laurie Knightly June 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    I’d like to recommend a few readings to emphasize once more the motives behind the insulting comments directed at both Richard and his equally demeaned discussants.

    1. Hasbara and Control of Narrative as an Element of Strategy by Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. [USFS Ret.] A sample:
    “In some countries, like the US, Israel can rely on a ‘fifth column’ of activist sympathizers to amplify messages, to rebut and discredit statements that contradict its arguments, facts, and fabrications, and to impugn the moral standing of those who make such statements.”

    2. Reform Zionism of Youdovin. ARZA: A plan to lead the world towards a state of perfection with Israel as a model. States that this is a religious rather than a political ideology. A light unto nations……. Lucky us! And where is this Palestine of which they so condescendingly speak? Gaza perhaps? Jordan? Iraq?

    3, Charismatic Church. This deals with a special group that hears voices, speaks in tongues etc. These voices whether in unintelligible oral sounds or disparate written sentences have no relevance except to their own ‘anointed’ ingroup. It sounds/reads similar to a bipolar person in the manic phase.

    What both group share in common is their limitless arrogance and insistence of some sort of both divine and intellectual consecration. I couldn’t be more pleased than to gain the disapproval of both these camps. And, Richard, if you continue to subject yourself and the rest of us to this senseless spiteful battering, you have only yourself to blame.

    • Kata Fisher June 28, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

      Note to Laure:

      You are hindering good-will exchange between Rabbi and Professor Falk for whom I personally have a great respect.

      I do not know why do you consider me as a threat to you (or this setting) in any shape or form.

      You may consider reading all Eccalistical property that we can find in Vatican State. (This is bizarre advise, one may guess).

      You are a civil person, mainly. You should consider mainly civil (only) and your personal interest.

      This is the Law of the Church Charismatic Roman- Catholic:

      I certainly do not feel like writing Apologetic Church Letter to you.

      We are not “charismatic-church” that hears ‘voices’! – that you will, in fact, find in (US-charismatic- Church) within “pagan-charismatics” practices/abuses of Church Order in their lawless disorder (and perversion) – by which they demonise people.

      Where I come from priest are Charismatic Roman Catholics, and they are celibate (they are not defiled with females), so to speak – and would not transfer satanic spirits/spirit of witchcraft to their congregation.

      They (priest) would perform an exorcism on their congregation, and would then baptize people in God’s Spirit by free fall. ) Lay people do not take any part of the ministry) but will, in fact, ask individuals if they hear directly from God. Then, if anyone hears directly from God they would tell the priest – and they would get a “spiritual director.”

      I do not claim that I do or can hear from God. Perhaps I do and perhaps I do not.

      Here in The US we can get lawyers (for our own protection from the wicked, while in attempt to communicate to the priesthood and the Church and/or world) – because the charismatic church disorder is satanic, in nature.

      I hope that this is more balanced and helpful then uninformed claim.

      • Laurie Knightly June 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

        Fortunately, ‘civil’ action has not only revealed atrocities committed by priests defiled by women but also little boys. I will speak on whatever is relevant and do not seek your permission.

      • Kata Fisher June 29, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

        Laurie – your reference is to ‘satanic church’ when you say:

        “Fortunately, ‘civil’ action has not only revealed atrocities committed by priests defiled by women but also little boys.”

        As you claim – you do have freedom to think / believe/ and do in addition to this what you wrote down:

        “I will speak on whatever is relevant and do not seek your permission.”

        You do not need my permission to give references to individual /corporate ‘satanic church (es)’ – just as they deserve to be addressed.

        pastor and or / (as you said) “priests defiled by women” would be illegitimate Church marriage (illicit) relations.

        Legitimate Church marriage (between priest/pastor and a woman) is based on legitimate Church Order and legitimate Church Sacrament-as ritual. I should note that.

        Legitimate and actual Church Ordinations are optional. I should note that.

        I hope this is helpful.

    • Fred Skolnik June 28, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

      Shorter note to Laurie:

      There is nothing more natural than to rebut baseless arguments or to discredit morally debased people who traffic in disparaging generalizations about Jewish history, origins, morality, faith, character, money and even genetic makeup.

      There is also nothing more admirable in a people or country than the ideal of achieving perfection. I don’t know of anyone who has or who claims he has.

      Barbaric terrorists are worthy of contempt. No one speaks condescendingly of “Palestine.” The Arabs set themselves up as Israel’s declared enemy and Israel has responded accordingly.

  22. zak June 28, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Professor Falk, thank you for this article. I have to disagree on a personal level, I’ve found pretty much everything from Walzer to be practically worthless. In fact, I find his stuff pretty harmful, like most others cloaked in a fake “liberal” or “moderate” face while they present radically militaristic and extremists positions.

    A critical example, of course, is his treatment of Israel, the ’67 war in particular. Liberal or moderate infers some sort of difference or preference for the rule of law and Walzer rejects this outright in his views and discussions about “just wars”, like so many others that wish to justify their crimes or the crimes of their favoured groups/states. Since the UN was formed, there has been zero ambiguity about what constitutes a “just war”. It’s not complicated, confusing or up for debate. A “just war” is a war sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Any other war is an act of aggression and wholly illegal.

    This is the law. This is the supreme law of the planet, international law, binding on all UN member states and hundreds of pages of false dicussion on this topic to make excuses and create loopholes doesn’t change that one bit. Before international law was established, we could debate and discuss, but that time has been over for about 3/4 of a century. In this context, Walzer’s work is completely useless in the real world. It might be useful for an academic exercise in what the law ought to be, or for activists and professionals who seek to change the law, but in practical terms, in the real world, it has no merit. At least for me.

    Professor Falk, you are one of the most forgiving, understanding and inviting people I’ve ever encountered, so I’m not surprised by your comments and I appreciate your explanations and thoughts on everything. I would not identify as a “liberal” on most things, I’m way too far to the left for that, so I can appreciate that my personal opinion might not be the best standard, but I’m also aware of what a true liberal is, and what positions would follow. Those who reject the law for interpretations that satisfy their ideological goals simply cannot be considered liberal, it just doesn’t fly.

    A liberal might not like the law, but will respect it and move towards changing the law, but they will not outright reject the law, as Walzer and many other so-called liberals do. Also, because much of their apologetics and attempts at justifying crimes have to do with opposing, rejecting or wildly reinterpreting established human rights law/standards, it really boils down to reactionary views being presented by apparent liberals, making them seem like “moderate” positions. I considered this very dangerous as it is almost indistinguishable from outright propaganda.

    I think the way you broke down Walzer’s (false) explanation for a reversion to religious or traditional rule presents the same point. It’s not terribly complicated. In the Middle East, secular governments were smashed by the US and western Europe, independence and self-rule being demonized as “radical nationalism” or “communist”. As these regimes fell, floundered or trapped themselves into situations that were unacceptable to their populations, it’s unsurprising that eventually people looked to other solutions and landed on religiously-oriented traditions and groups.

    The same can be seen in Europe with a reversion to fascism and extreme racism gaining more and more traction as the neoliberal experiments have begun to self-implode. It simply has nothing to do with religion or racism, it’s about the people looking for answers and solutions from other places, because the prevailing order has failed them in various ways. Israel is a totally different case as well, as the founders of the zionist movement and the pre-state period were dominated by secular leaders/groups. What we see in Israel is not a reversion to religion but probably more to fascism (I don’t see much difference between fascism and marxist-leninist thought/rule, and it could be argued that this accurately describes the 1920-40 zionist movement in Palestine).

    I think you correctly point out that Walzer begins from a point of ignoring important context, and so the subsequent discussion/analysis is inherently flawed. And that’s my point, it’s just propaganda, because I don’t give Walzer the benefit of the doubt, that his intentions are liberal or that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. By falsely framing the subject to begin with, It’s either a rhetorical exercise, or if presented seriously, an overt attempt at propaganda. Walzer is not unaware of the points I’ve made here regarding his work, he’s been confronted publicly by others in the past on this. There is no other conclusion that makes sense to me, he is a willing propagandist. Most other prominent figures who reflexively support illegal interventions that serve the interests of their groups or favoured states are the same.

    To make an uncontroversial comparison, say we were to look at Obama, and his comments about the nauture and causes of “terrorism” emminating from, or connected to the Middle East, and how he basically (like every other western official) rejects the idea that these people have legitimate grievances against the US, western European nations and Middle East governments. Well, US intelligence agencies and military figures disagree. Their analysis is pretty clear and much of it is publicly available. Those “terrorists” attack because they have legitimate grievances and they see violence as their only viable option (for various reasons like the absence of democratic avenues, foreign interventions, destruction or ineffectiveness of other tactics, etc.).

    The president knows this, he recieves regular intelligence updates. So we know he knows what we do. Yet he comes on TV, in public, and claims that their motives are something else (religious interpretation, propaganda, reactionary tendencies, illogical and unfounded hate for “the west”, etc.). We know from this picture that what he says is pure propaganda and when he seeks to separate “legitimate” Muslims from terrorists, it’s all just a play to demonize the enemy. ISIS is no more brutal or evil than many of the governments now fighting them (in fact, I would argue pretty confidently that ISIS is far less brutal and evil), but an attempt must be made by those states to separate themselves, to distinguish their actions from ISIS. Most of the discourse on the topic comes out of this false framework (regular people feel compelled to support military action against ISIS because of beheading videos, for example, but are then shocked when you suggest similar action against the US for it’s drone strikes, torture, economic strangulation, etc.) and can therefore be dismissed pretty easily as hollow propaganda.

    I see Walzer’s work as pretty much the same thing. Completely worthless.

    • Fred Skolnik June 28, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

      In the “real world,” countries that are attacked defend themselves. Real human beings do not allow themselves to be murdered while the Security Council is working up draft resolutions. Sorry about that, Zak. By your own definition, the Arab acts of war in 1967 were illegal acts of aggression. These included the closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt, the bombardment of Jewish Jerusalem by Jordan and the shelling of Jewish settlements in Galilee by Syria. You also claim that Israel’s response was illegal. UN Resolution 242 did not condemn either side, so the question of legality never came up and was rightly deemed irrelevant, as is your “personal” take on the Six-Day War and all such excursions into polemics.

      • Richard Falk June 29, 2015 at 1:59 am #


        I have written Ira the following message, and the same reasoning applies to you as I suggest. I am sorry that we reached this point of no return:


        I appreciate the effort that you have devoted to this detailed response and earlier ones, but as you note, we
        are not getting anywhere, and the nature of the dialogue is disconcerting to other regular commentators, and has
        found no support from any communicating readers. I confess my failure to find ways to engage in constructive conversation
        with you. Against this background, I have decided that comments from you and Fred will not longer be welcome at the website.
        You have told me that I am either speaking to the choir or being harmful to Palestinian peace prospects, and so it should
        not be a loss from your perspective. I am sorry about this outcome.”

      • Gene Schulman June 29, 2015 at 2:21 am #

        Still not publishing my comments. Glad you’ve decided to drop Ira and Fred. They have indeed been disconcerting.

      • zak June 29, 2015 at 6:20 am #

        Not a single country, not even the US, accepted Israel’s argument that it was self-defence in 1967. And for a very simple reason, Israel carried out a preemptive attack (Egypt and Syria did not carry out any acts of aggression first, as you know full well, Israel argued that the mobilization of Egyptian troops within Egyptian territory warranted an Israeli response) and this is not accepted in international law as an act of self-defence.

        I’m not sure why you brought up 242 but you know, as everyone else knows, that 242 contains binding orders for Israel to withdraw. To stay on point, the UNSC never authorized the Israeli attack meaning it was an act of aggressiom according to the law, not a “just war” as propagandists like Walzer contend.

        As for the relevant topic, Walzer’s comparison of the pre-48 zionist movement in Palestine with other national liberation or anti-colonial movements, I can’t really speak on the specifics as I haven’t approached the material, only what Professor Falk has to say. I just wanted to point out that Walzer is unreliable in terms of being a credible source, does not express a liberal or moderate view usually, and most certainly avoids the law whenever it suits him. His track record makes him a reactionary extremist who champions illegal interventions when they are in the interests of his ideological goals. And all of this is regarded as a moderate or liberal position. It’s not.

        As I mentioned, Professor Falk is unusually decent and therefore has engaged in this discussion with you and someone else about “balance” when there’s no need for it. It’s not debatable. Israel is the Occupying Power in the OPT, as the UN has made clear for half a century, and as the ICJ confirmed a decade ago. As such, Israel holds complete responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of the population of the OPT (I’m not talking about the illegal settlers who are committing war crimes by their very presence in occupied territory). Complete responsibility. As usual, the latest UN report ignores its own sources of law when formulating its conclusions (Israel holds 100% responsibility as the occupying power, Israel has NO RIGHT to self-defence in the OPT as confirmed by the ICJ, and Palestinians have every right to use armed force in their struggle, including indescriminate rocket attacks which are categorized as “reprisals” and were confirmed as legal by the ICJ when it ruled on the use of indescriminate weapons under extreme circumstances) becaue we know they use the ICRC, Geneva Conventions and ICJ as references, but wilfully ignore the law contained in those sources.

        Balance, in this case means recognizing the law and applying it accurately and equally.

        Israel is not allowed to launch military attacks on occupied territory (Geneva Conventions do not allow for this).

        Israel cannot invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and claim self-defence in regards to the OPT (because, as the ICJ made clear, it is the Occupying Power, so the self-defence provision of the UN Charter does not apply). Israel is the Occupying Power, not the recognized national liberation movement that has the right to use force according to the law.

        The rockets satisfy the conditions of reprisals and are therefore legal.

        Even if the rockets do not meet the standards for reprisals, the ICJ refused to outlaw the use of indescriminate weaponry under extreme circumstances, like when survival is at stake. Gaza uncontroversially meets this condition.

        Human rights regimes and UN investigations usually also condemn the rockets because they are launched indescriminately (the last two points refer to the nature of the rockets being inherently indescriminate weapons) yet their own data (if you ever read the reports or analysis on them) demonstrates evidence that groups like Hamas and Hezbollah actually do use targeting procedures and that these procedures are effective. Israeli sources have also confirmed in the past that Hamas has the ability to target these rockets and regularly does. Also, relevant with this point is the fact that these reports usually mildly criticize Palestinians (not Hezbollah) for having military personnel or centres among civilian areas, yet make no mention of Israeli military installations within Israeli civilian centres and Arab villages near the border – where rockets are concentrated. In other words, the data of these reports contradict the conclusions on the ability and intent of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to target military positions.

        Hamas claims it carries out trials before executions and this is simply ignored and called a war crime (while Israeli claims about security or targets are repeated and believed in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, double standards anyone?).

        Balanced means acknowledging the law here, applying it equally across the board and the latest UN report, most human rights regimes and nearly all so-called moderate or reasonable commentators and figures, ignore these facts. It’s not new, it’s not shocking, it’s standard. Even people I respect highly like Uri Avnery and Gideon Levy feel obliged to mention Hamas “war crimes” in order to be balanced. The law, and what it requires for balance, disagrees. The occupier and occupied are not treated equally, in the real world, the law recognizes their relationship for what it is.

      • Fred Skolnik June 29, 2015 at 7:00 am #

        Sorry, Zak. What I wrote is very clear: the Arab acts of war in 1967 were illegal acts of aggression. These included the closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt, the bombardment of Jewish Jerusalem by Jordan and the shelling of Jewish settlements in Galilee by Syria. Your determination that Syria did not shell Jewish settlements in the months preceding the war is incorrect. I was here. I witnessed it. Where were you? In Sheboygan?

        A Security Council resolution is a negotiated political document. In the case of Resolution 242, the word “the” before “territories” was intentionally and explicitly removed in the final draft to allow the sides to negotiate permanent borders to replace the armistice lines. The Resolution also called for “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” (at a time when the Arabs were declaring “no peace, no negotiations, no recognition”) and requested “the Secretary General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution.” It did not envisage a one-sided implementation of the Resolution. You are misrepresenting the meaning and intentions of the Resolution.

        As for the rest you are engaging in meaningless double-talk. No legal doctrine or convention on earth sanctions indiscriminate attacks on a civilian population nor denies a country the right to defend itself against such attacks.

      • Gene Schulman June 29, 2015 at 7:13 am #

        Why bother trying to argue with these lunkheads, Zak? You can’t win. They are trained to ignore facts and argue mythology. Take the advice I gave Richard; best to ignore them. When they realize no one is listening, maybe they’ll go away.

      • Fred Skolnik June 29, 2015 at 7:14 am #

        Prof. Falk

        I will gladly comply with your wishes in future posts. As your Zak is replying to my comments, I will finish up by pointing to his misrepresentation of the conflict, unless you yourself step in and affirm that the Arabs were indeed guilty of the acts of war that I have enumerated and that Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks aimed at its civilian population as well as apprising him of the meaning and intentions of Resolution 242.

      • Kata Fisher June 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm #


        Can you explaining Jewish (people) Constituency in Holy Land – those (generational) people who have lived in Holy Land before and after Arab conquest and during different mandates (British, for example). What does the law (in present) say about Jewish people that existed in Holy Land 300 years ago (for example), and what has law said in the past about Jewish people? 300 years ago is approximate-appropriate history also to outlook to UN established / I-Law-Laws.

        What do laws (religious/civil) say about Jewish people existence/ self-determination in Holy Land )individual /corporately)?

        Also, what does self-determination mean in exact terms based on international law (and law that were in the past)? Do they correlate, at all or do any of the UN Laws (with all Laws that are written / applied in the-the Pass) support each other or correlate.

        In essence, the Law addition and replacements would only be provision for the protection of existing needs and addition to the future needs (legitimatly). The Laws also can be written (illegally) to annul specific provisions for specific needs (present /future). This is according to what I understand / is in my perspective – I see that much.

        While I am acknowledging UN Laws as valid (in need of update/ratifications) – I am also keeping in mind that UN and the Laws were established in a specifical context: post Fascist / actual Antisemitic period. (From my perspective/ I keep in mind that one does not take charismatic-chaos out (at all) and outside of Europe / the World and church-counterfit disorder to the third and fourth generation – if ever. These things are generational occurrences – and are passed on in blood lines/not only are to works limited).

        There are such things as illegal laws. The legal substance to the Laws is subject to examination. In fact, one would have to be carefully advised about the Faith Issues and Faith self-determinations. There is difference between Faith self-determinations and religious self-determinations. Both would be protected by UN Laws? If so – how then?

        What would be a legal base/substance for Faith self-determination based on legal (legitimate UN Law)? What is religious self-determinations?

        I will assume that all UN Laws (in essence) are legitimate Laws (based on all chronological and its historical context/base of its claim to legitimacy to be written down).

        We can assume: The global community needed global governance and/or global dominance. (With are observable?) I would not claim that is so – I have limited insight, I can assume here.

        Again, you will be in the problem of legitimacy essence to the Laws and legitimate application of the Laws.

        In essence, natural laws can be annulled based on the legitimacy (in origin and/or its application). Spiritual Laws can not be annulled due to the origin – Spiritual Laws in their application is optional to the applying individual/corporate group/setting (to their good or evil).

        What does entail a legal self-determination? Based on International Laws. (I would not know – I personally only study Canon Church-Laws – that which is not debatable based on its origin in essence).

        If you have answers for my questions – I would like to know, and would sincerely appreciate understanding what they are.

      • Gene Schulman June 29, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

        Kata, why don’t you take more time to study Laurie’s excellent essay (below) and less time studying Canon Church-Laws, which, contrary to your belief, are very debatable.

      • Kata Fisher June 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

        Hi Gene,

        I hope you have a wonderful day.

        I did read what Laurie wrote, and I was amazed – I was thinking on simular things (at the same time).

        I feel that it is not complete (based on some historical timelines that were given and actual / all possible historical timelines that can be given).

        This is what I understand:

        Canon Church-Law is debatable only under specific conditions. Also, it is not civil, and it is not individual responsibility. This also means that it can not be debated outside its actual position (the way Church under direction and Guidance of God’s Spirit has instituted it) and in the exactly the same origin in which it was written/given.

        Debates to the Church Law can only be under Guidance of God’s Spirit.

        Origin/institution of the Church Law is not individual in undertaking, and it is not only civil, in essence. It is based on Teaching Office, but also additional Church Orders that accompany Teaching Office (within the Church). Church Laws are Laws of Church Faith – and are guide to the Church ( special or general norms). Just in short.

        Civil only debate is not applicable to the Church Law, legitimately. One has to be in Church-specific Order. (Position of the Church as office: Th ePriest/The Prophet/The King (in Order). Judicial Person that is not natural person. It is Perpetual Person.

  23. Gene Schulman June 29, 2015 at 2:24 am #

    Have changed back to my other email address, which seems to work again. Will never fathom the logic of these programs!

    • Laurie Knightly June 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      Gene, re to Kata. Ask and ye shall receive. Happy now?

  24. Laurie Knightly June 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    The problem with a discussion about law is that states/nations can declare emergency regulations and it’s all suspended. The US enacted the Authorization For Use of Military Force, since 9/11, which gave free rein/executive power to attack anything/anywhere perceived as a threat. Also – change the wording so that ‘torture’ becomes ‘enhanced interrogation’ an assassination is a ‘signature strike’ etc. An ‘enemy combatant’ could be someone supplying humanitarian aid to a perceived enemy or, according to Israel, a male between 15 and 65 years of age – give or take some years. Maybe Hamas uses a similar converse criteria – except could include females.

    Israel has hundreds of laws for ‘legally sanctioned’ seizure of land and housing in Palestine. If they decide to blow up/seize your house they designate it public property. They voided the antiquities law regarding anything established during the Ottoman Era. All that period is being destroyed. This type of loss is lamented in Iraq but is OK in Israel/Palestine. They established a committee to Hebraicise the land – not only sacred/historical sites but every geographical feature from birds to animals, streams, springs, mountains, valleys, and ruins. Arab designations had to be removed and substituted with Jewish names including cemeteries and it extends into the Occupied Territories. In 1978, the Israeli Supreme Court validated all land acquisition – including retroactively. There is every reason to believe that all of this is permanent. Not only is Palestine wiped off the map but deleted from the earth.

    Because the 4th Geneva Convention states that land can’t be confiscated for settlements, they ‘requisition’ it for ‘security purposes’. The OT’s are under Military Law. Moshe Dayan is quoted as saying, “Without them, [the settlers] the Israeli Defense Forces would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population.” The acquisition, colonization, and expansion of Palestine only requires declaring null and void the rights of the indigenous population. Staying in a perpetual state of emergency gains time to ‘requisition. more land and expel more inhabitants.

    Palestine was a Class A Mandate and considered a ‘sacred trust of civilization’ – so designated by the League of Nations Covenant and recognized to be in a position for early independence along with Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. The rule of law has little meaning to those who own/control the war machinery and can thereby circumvent justice.

  25. Kata Fisher June 30, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    A note:

    I just read this article, and it was interesting to read this.

    • Gene Schulman June 30, 2015 at 8:49 am #

      Holy moly, Kata. Consider the source. This guy was educated in the same school Fred and Ira matriculated from – Hasbara U.

      Please be more discerning in your posts.

      • Kata Fisher June 30, 2015 at 9:24 am #

        Thanks, Gene,

        I also do know that journalist interpretation can vary based on different ideologies and/or child/adult conditioning. What I was concerned about was this: what was that video-link that he (as a journalist) has quoted?

        Is the application legitimate?

        Was that, in fact, a reference to the “natural citizenship”? (but also to other things that are illegal (based on Faith rights), and also based on natural laws.

        When someone gives reference to their / (his or hers) “natural citizenship” (individually or corporately)? I believe that should, and it deserves to be taken seriously by all.

        I was thinking about that before – and I noted that. Perhaps, Arabs in Holy Land (Egyptians and Saudis) seek things that are not visible to them (their natural citizenship) and do not have a valid direction in their approach.

        Do they need help? How can they be helped, and directed in a valid (based on logic – if logic is applicable) and at the same time legitimate way? After all, we should be compassionate toward just any way?

        I do not know about that.

      • Gene Schulman June 30, 2015 at 9:41 am #

        Sorry Kata, some times I have no idea what you are talking about. This is one of those times.

      • Kata Fisher June 30, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

        Dear Gene,

        I am sorry that I am difficult to follow at times. You can look at this in another way:

        I have heard in the past Muslim people say that Islam is Faith of Peace – what does that mean?

        Contemporary youth has no idea what does that mean.

        I would be amazed if someone can explain Islam as Faith of Peace to contemporary youth.

        Maybe Ali Hosseini Khamenei could explain.

        I do belive (based on Church Apostolic writings) that Holy Quran is a prophesy in the Church Age that is not discerned. It is not discerned/undiscerned prophesy. It has to be discerned at some point in the Age of the Church. It was not given in the exactly same order as all other Prophetic Scripture prior to the Church Age and After Apostolic Age.

        Apostolic was at Patmos, Greece when he wrote things down (John).

        Prophet Muhammed did not write down Holy Quran – things were written down for him. There is a problem with the order that prophesy was received and was passed down.

        Islam is Faith of Peace – what does that mean?

  26. Jim Cohen December 7, 2015 at 3:39 am #

    This whole blog is a gold mine – thank you so much. Have you written anything on Walzer’s version of “just war theory”?

    • Richard Falk December 7, 2015 at 7:15 am #

      Yes, shortly after its publication, I wrote a review in The Nation magazine, predicting
      that it would be required reading at American military academies, which indeed happened.


  1. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » The Undisclosed Second Paradox in Michael Walzer’s ‘The Paradox of Liberation’ - June 22, 2015

    […] Go to Original – […]

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