Wibisono’s Resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine

6 Jan


Commentary on the Resignation of Makarim Wibisono


(Prefatory Note: This post appeared on January 5th under a different title in the Electronic Intifada. It is published here in a slightly modified and extended form).


Makarim Wibisono announced his resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, to take effect on March 31, 2016. This is position I held for six years, completing my second term in June 2014.


The prominent Indonesian diplomat says that he could not fulfill his mandate because Israel has adamantly refused to give him access to the Palestinian people living under its military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.


His resignation reminds me in a strange way of Richard Goldstone’s retraction a few years ago of the main finding in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in the course of Operation Cast Lead, its massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008.

At the time I responded to media inquiries by saying that I was shocked, but not surprised. Shocked because the evidence was overwhelming and the other three distinguished members of the UN fact-finding commission stuck by the finding. Yet I was not surprised because I knew Goldstone – a former judge of the South African constitutional court – to be a man of strong ambition and weak character, a terrible mix for public figures who wander into controversial territory.


In Wibisono’s case I am surprised, but not shocked. Surprised because he should have known from the outset that he was faced with a dilemma between doing the job properly of reporting on Israel’s crimes and human rights abuses and gaining Israel’s cooperation in the course of gathering this evidence. Not shocked, indeed grateful, as it illuminates the difficulty confronting anyone charged with truthful reporting on the Palestinian ordeal under occupation, and by his principled resignation Wibisono doesn’t allow Israel to get away with neutering the position of special rapporteur.


It is worth recalling that when Wibisono was selected as my successor, several more qualified candidates were passed over. Although the selection guidelines stress expert knowledge of the subject matter of the mandate, Wibisono apparently gained the upper hand along with the acquiescence of Israel and the United States precisely because of his lack of any relevant background.


I can only hope that now the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will redeem its mistake by reviving the candidacies of Professor Christine Chinkin and Phyllis Bennis, both of whom possess the credentials, motivation and strength of character to become an effective special rapporteur.


The Palestinians deserve nothing less.




When I met with Makarim Wibisono in Geneva shortly after his appointment as Special Rapporteur was announced, he told me confidently that he had been assured that if he accepted the appointment the Israeli government would allow him entry, a reassurance that he repeated in his resignation announcement. On his side, he pledged objectivity and balance, and an absence of preconceptions.


I warned him then that even someone who leaned far to the Israeli side politically would find it impossible to avoid reaching the conclusion that Israel was guilty of severe violations of international humanitarian law and of human rights standards, and this kind of honesty was sure to anger the Israelis.


I also told him that he was making a big mistake if he thought he could please both sides, given the reality of prolonged denial of fundamental Palestinian rights. At the time he smiled, apparently feeling confident that his diplomatic skills would allow him to please the Israelis even while he was compiling reports detailing their criminality. He told me that he was seeking to do what I did but to do so more effectively by securing Israel’s cooperation, and thus short circuiting their objections. It was then my turn to smile.


It is correct that the mandate itself is vulnerable to criticism as it does not include an assessment of the responsibility of Palestinian administering authorities for violations of human rights, and only looks at Israeli violations. I tried to persuade the HRC unsuccessfully to have the mandate enlarged to encompass wrongdoing by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The arguments against doing so was that it had been difficult to get agreement to establish the mandate, and opening up the issue of its scope was risky, and also, that the overwhelming evidence of Palestinian victimization resulting from the occupation resulted from Israel’s policies and practices. Hence, it was argued by several delegations at the HRC that attention to the Palestinian violations would be diversionary, and give Israel a way to deflect criticism directed at the occupation.


Facing the heat


What I discovered during my six years as special rapporteur is that you can make a difference, but only if you are willing to put up with the heat.


You can make a difference in several ways. Above all, by giving foreign ministries around the world the most authoritative account available of the daily realities facing the Palestinian people. Also important is the ability to shift the discourse in more illuminating directions, instead of limiting discussion to ‘the occupation,’ address issues of de facto annexation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid, as well as give some support within the UN for such civil society initiatives as BDS and the Freedom Flotilla. By so doing you have to expect ultra-Zionist organizations and those managing the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States to react harshly, including by launching a continuous defamatory campaign that seeks by all means to discredit your voice and will mount inflammatory accusations of anti-Semitism and, in my case, of being a “self-hating Jew.”


What both shocked and surprised me was the willingness of both the UN Secretary General and US diplomatic representatives (Susan Rice, Samantha Power) at the UN to bend in Israel’s direction and join the chorus making these irresponsible denunciations focused on a demand for my resignation.


Although periodically tempted to resign, I am glad that I didn’t. Given the pro-Israel bias of the mainstream media in the United States and Europe, it is particularly important, however embattled the position, to preserve this source of truth telling, and not to give in to the pressures mounted.

My hope is that the Human Rights Council will learn from the Wibisono experience and appoint someone who can both stand the heat and report the realities for what they are. It is hampering the performance of a Special Rapporteur to be denied Israeli cooperation with official UN functions, which is itself a violation of Israel’s obligations as a member of the UN. At the same time, Israel’s behavior that flaunts international law is so manifest and reliable information easily available that I found it possible to compile reports that covered the main elements of the Palestinian ordeal. Of course, direct contact with people living under occupation would have added a dimension of validation and witnessing, as well as giving some tangible expression of UN concern for the abuses being committed under conditions of an untenably prolonged occupation with no end in sight.


Until the day that Palestinian self-determination arrives, the least that UN can do is to keep open this window of observation and appraisal. After all, it is the UN that undertook back in 1947 to find a solution to the Israel/Palestinian struggle that acknowledged the equal claims of both peoples. Although such an approach was colonialist and interventionist in 1947, it has plausibility in 2016 given the developments in the intervening years. The UN may not be guilty in relation to what went wrong, but it certainly has failed to discharge its responsibilities with regard to Palestinian fundamental rights. Until these rights are realized, the UN should give this remnant of the colonial era as much attention as possible.




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57 Responses to “Wibisono’s Resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine”

  1. Fred Skolnik January 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    As long as I’m already here …

    As I understand it, the mandate of the Rapportuer is to ascertain IF there have been crimes committed. Mr. Wibisono, in his own words, seems to have made the commission of Israeli crimes his assumption and starting point, even before he investigated anything, which I believe was true in your case as well, and that is no doubt why Israel considered him a persona non grata. As for Goldstone, no one was talking about his weak character when he was giving them what they wanted.

  2. Fred Skolnik January 6, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    In fact the more I look at what you have written, the more I am astounded that you don’t see the contradiction:

    “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of PALESTINIAN VICTIMS OF VIOLATIONS under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.

    And then:

    “On his [Wibisono’s] side, he pledged objectivity and balance, and AN ABSENCE OF PRECONCEPTIONS.”

    And then you:

    “a dilemma between DOING THE JOB PROPERLY OF REPORTING ON ISRAEL’S CRIMES AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES and gaining Israel’s cooperation in the course of gathering this evidence.”

    Is this a joke, Prof. Falk?

  3. Kata Fisher January 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    A Note:

    Terra Nullius

  4. Harry Shade January 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    Only a Zionist like Skolnik can see contradictions only, while not denying Israeli crimes.

  5. rehmat1 January 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    It seem, Dr. Falk, every person doesn’t has the guts to stand to the powerful Jewish Lobby as you did for six years.

    Had Dr. Makarim Wibisono read some of Israeli Hasbara reporting on him, he would had listened to you and declined the offer.

    Wibisono was demonized not only being a Muslim, David Horowitz’s FrontPage magazine even wrongfully projected Wibisono as past head of Jeddah-based Islamic Organization of Cooperation (IOC).

  6. wingsprd January 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    Thank you Richard for this clarification. It is hugely sad that the ideals of a United Nations organisation to promote peace, and civility between nations, to engender fairness in observances, to try to solve problems and to have all humans entitled to basic rights has been thwarted by refusal by some to
    see the reality. Thanks for ‘sticking’ it for six years. Where to now? Maybe your recommendations will eventuate. Let’s hope so.

  7. rex schade January 6, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for this version of global justice, seen 01.07.2016 vh Rex

    *Rex O. Schade*

    Højskolelærer, PD (Adult edu.) Master *of* Citizenship Education

    tidl. Ryslinge Højskole, 1974 – 2009

    Grundtvig Action EU prg. ‘TEACh’ 2004-07

    *current 2013-15-16:*

    *since 1994 member & now 2014 vice-chair**: *

    *AWE, Association for World Education*

    *AWE UN rep. to ECOSOC (Geneva)* present & rep. at *UN-NGO-65.DPI *conf.27-29.8.2014 in NYC

    Face book: ‘AWE – Educators Across Borders’


    m. of UNA DK , Øko-net, petition AWAZ, supports 350.org

  8. Rabbi Ira Youdovin January 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Israel’s refusal to allow Makarim Wibisono entry into the Occupied Territories is not based on his politics, but on the structure and mandate of the UN Human Rights Council which he represents. Prof. Falk mentions this in passing, but fails to give it the attention it deserves.

    The Council’s Special Rapporteur reports only alleged Israeli violations, turning a blind eye on those committed by Palestinians. As someone remarked: it’s like umpiring a football match by calling fouls on only one side. Prof. Falk notes that he at one time tried to persuade the HRC unsuccessfully to have the mandate enlarged to encompass wrongdoing by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas., but that the arguments against doing so were overwhelming.

    It’s instructive to examine those arguments (which are here presented verbatim from Prof. Falk’s post):

    1. It had been difficult to get agreement to establish the mandate, and opening up the issue of its scope was risky.

    2. The overwhelming evidence of Palestinian victimization resulting from the occupation resulted from Israel’s policies and practices.

    3. Attention to the Palestinian violations would be diversionary, and give Israel a way to deflect criticism directed at the occupation.

    I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this is a textbook definition of a Kangaroo Court, where guilt is determined in advance so that process is directed solely at finding supportive evidence while ignoring or suppressing evidence that challenges it. One practical example: Israel has been accused of violating international law by firing into or close proximity to schools and hospitals in Gaza. But the SR is bared by UNHRC mandate from reporting that Hamas is alleged to have routinely positioned artillery and rocket launchers in or in close proximity to schools and hospitals. It’s easy to find guilt when provocation is ignored. But it isn’t justice.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Gene Schulman January 7, 2016 at 1:29 am #

      What Rabbi Ira seems to misunderstand here is that the SR’s role is not that of judge – we are not in a court room – rather to investigate and report on violations of an occupying state against the people it is occupying. What can the Palestinians be possibly violating, when they are the occupied, and have every right to defend themselves under international law. Prof. Falk’s desire to report possible Palestinian violence is to be commended. But it is not a part of the SR’s mandate. The SR’s mandate is to report violations by the occupying state, and the burden is on the occupying state, as a member of the UN, to permit access to the SR so that his job can be accomplished. It is Israel that is in the wrong on this issue.

      • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 2:15 am #

        Neither an occupied people nor anyone else has the right to blow up innocent women and children in buses and restaurants, nor to fire rockets at civilian population centers, neither in international nor any other kind of law. The HRC mandate is to investigate whether crimes have been committed, not to assume that crimes have been committed. That is why Mr. Wibisono “explained” that he had no preconceptions, though it turned out that he did, by his own admission, stating that there were violations before he even began his investigation. He was therefore a biased investigator, like Prof. Falk, and therefore Israel justifiably refused to cooperate with him.

      • Gene Schulman January 7, 2016 at 3:07 am #

        The first sentence in this comment will get no argument from me, except to say that the occupied people have every right to protect themselves with whatever means come to hand. If only the occupiers had such a moral excuse for their violation of human rights against the occupied.

        How is the HCR mandate to be fulfilled if they are denied access to what they are supposed to determine? It is obvious that the occupying power has something to hide – like crimes against humanity?

      • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 3:23 am #

        If the first sentence gets no argument from you, then such violations by an occupied people are crimes and should be investigated, as Prof. Falk himself suggested to the HRC.

        The HRC wouldn’t be denied access if the Rapporteur didn’t announce that Israel is guilty before conducting his investigation.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin January 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

        Pursuant to Prof. Falk’s urging that blog posts avoid personal references, I limited my comments to the UNHRC’s mandate as stated by Prof. Falk. If he believes that he’s being misquoted, misunderstood, misconstrued or misrepresented, I assume he’ll respond In the spirit of blog exchanges. He is a distinguished legal scholar who occupied a named chair at a prestige school for more than four decades, who needs no help from Gene Schulman or anybody else.

        Regrettably, as Mr. Schulman has brought Prof. Falk’s name and record as SR for the UNHRC into the mix, I have no choice but to respond.

        As Mr. Schulman says, “the SR’s role is not that of a judge…[it is]…to report violations (ital. mine).” Report to whom? Obviously to the USHRC which commissioned the his/her work, and must evaluate whatever findings he/she submits before pronouncing judgment. If this is due process, as you suggest it is, Prof. Falk has exceeded his authority by publicizing his findings prior to the HRC’s formal decision, but also by calling for punitive measures against Israel.

        Mr. Schulman also writes: “What can the Palestinians be possibly violating, when they are the occupied, and have every right to defend themselves under international law.” That’s a mouthful, especially for someone with no legal training. What Mr. Schulman is saying is that international law allows a population living under occupation to do whatever it chooses to do. There are some who say that this is Prof. Falk’s position. But rather than attempting to speak for him, as Gene Schulman does, I’ll leave it to him to help us understand his position on this critical issue.

        Rabbi Ira Youdovin

      • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

        I’m even prepared to defend Mr. Schulman here. Since my “first sentence gets no argument” from him, I assume that he doesn’t consider blowing up Israeli women and children and firing rockets into civilian population centers an acceptable or legal way for an occupied population “to defend itself” under the rubric of “wharever means come to hand.”

      • Carlos January 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

        Thanks Gene for your lucid defence of Richard’s words. Anyone with an unbiased approach would agree with you.

    • rehmat1 January 7, 2016 at 6:43 am #

      Dear Rabbi – Have you forgotten that it was the United Nation that gave Foreign Jews 54% of Historic land where hardly any of their ancestors ever lived?

      In Richard Falk and Makarim Wibisono were denied cooperation by the Zionist regime because they were “biased” toward Israel – what’s your problem with Richard Goldstone, the South African Zionist Jewish judge?

      Nadia Hijab’s article titled ‘A Tale of Two Richards’ is worth reading to understand the hypocrisy of the so-called “western civilized world” when it accuses Islamic Iran for human rights violations against local and foreign agents bent on destablizing a democratically elected government – but when it comes to the Zionist-regime, they prefer to put a duct-tape on their big mouths…


      • Kata Fisher January 7, 2016 at 8:12 am #

        It is important to realize and acknowledge ancestral and personal sins, as well as personal and collective (past, present, future).

        Conversions to certain Faith and religious branching also entails full rights of that Faith and/or branching. When comes to Israeli, they also not carry the line of Faith – but also the line of an entire Nation and Hebrew language (natural/spiritual line).

        So regardless, there is people of Faith and/or religion and there is secular state of Israel. A secular state, in fact, has a legitimate right to insure that people of Faith and /or religion have their legitimate Faith and /or religious rights.

        It becomes difficult, however, when existing Indigenous population is removed. Removal of the Indigenous population can be in different forms. Two persistent forms in Holy Land have forced conversions and forced removal (the past, present, future sins of all involved – ancestral and personal sins, as well as personal and collective).

        When forced conversions and forced removal takes place right to the Ecclesiastical land may be irrevocable.

        With this, when in this point in time (today) Israelis shoot down area and let it set as destroyed land – this can be a civil (and Ecclesiastical) war (if unprovoked by religious hate crimes) it can be an Ecclesiastical and the civil war crime, as well as irrevocable Ecclesiastical land, legal Ecclesiastical state land.

        Those things are difficult to grasp. Things that are illegal are illegal: religious hate crimes. They carry the enormous guilt of blood.

        When comes to the Faith rights- they are anchored in enormous Ecclesiastical forces that bind legally.

        We know that Jewish people that want to offer religiously illegal sacrifices at the Temple areas are asked by Israeli soldiers to leave the area with their goats because it is illegal for them to do that. The base for iIllegal religious sacrifices is taken from the Scripture, I believe – if they would sacrifice illegally, they would automatically commit the civil hate crime. The Bible explains that if they sacrifice when they should not there will be sword and blood between peoples.

        Now, when comes to the Palestinian youth throwing stones on Israeli soldiers – this likewise is an illegal hate crime – it does this: it tempts soldiers to commit hate crime sacrifice. With that, Palestinian pubic or military servants should reroute their youth from their state of mind – by whatever they safely can.

        It is illegal to throw stones on pubic or military servants, especially if by any means they hold Civil and Ecclesiastical purpose.

        I know that this is very difficult to grasp, but it is in an objective light.

        I only took stone throwing and illegal sacrifice for an example to aid your claim in balance.

      • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

        Dear rehmet

        Jews got 54% of historic land where ALL of their ancestors ever lived. Arabs got 46% of the historic land where NONE of their ancestors ever lived. The Jews come from Judea. The Arabs come from Arabia.

      • rehmat1 January 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

        @Karta Fisher – Does your Halakah rant has anything to do with my comment?

      • Kata Fisher January 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm #

        Why should he be sacrifice among his brothers? – Because of the Sara’s sin? Some ancestral sins can be active if we let them – doing that what is unlawful in Church age. I certainly never know anything that may or may not be written down – but I learned.

        I had no idea what Halakah meant. I learned the term from you.

      • rehmat1 January 8, 2016 at 9:35 am #

        @Karta Fisher

        If you’re ignorant of Halakah or Halakhah (Jewish law) – that means you don’t anything about the OT and NT, which are based on Halakhah.

        Fisher, you don’t have to answer this, because as a professional hasbara agent, I know your usual answer, “But I’m an atheist.”

      • Kata Fisher January 8, 2016 at 9:53 am #

        Lol, You are full of yourself! I am Roman-Catholic.

        I had enough of nonsense; I am out of here.

        I may be back on April 1.

      • rehmat1 January 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

        @Kata Fisher – You told me that you’re Roman Catholic – but you seems to be very ignorant of your own Bible (NT) which has four books of Jewish Bible (OT). Furthermore, your Catholic Pope Francis is on record of saying that every Christian has a Jew inside.


      • Kata Fisher January 8, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

        I do not think so because it is not the same order of the NT Canon.

        NT Canon was written by in One Baptism of Pentecost: Apostolic Order. It is not part of Hebrew Canon, not Hellenistic-Jews Canon and not non-Hellenistic Jews Hebrew Canon.

        NT Canon is one Canon with Hellenistic-Jews Canon.

        Church Canon Law is not the same Law with Old Testament Law – it is Law According to the Gospel, and NT Canon is Gospels + Apostolic Order and Teaching (All Church-Charismatic writings).

        “Charismatic-Church” is a contemporarily term.

        I think you are mixing things up. It seems so to me.

      • rehmat1 January 9, 2016 at 11:59 am #

        @Karta you’re a habitual liar like Netanyahu.

        Catholic Bible (NT) was blessed by a Pagan roman King. It’s written by liars who never met or heard Jesus. Dr. Robert Funk, DDD, in 1991 claimed that more than 80% of quotes attributed to Jesus were as big lies as Bible’s G-d promised Palestine to Europe’s Khazarians.

      • Kata Fisher January 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

        You must be right and I must be a retard and retarding… I do not consider myself a liar..


        You do not understand Systematic Apologetics of Church-Charismatic.

      • Richard Falk January 9, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

        Kata: You are again straining the outer limits of relevance. Make some effort to show
        clearly how your comments relate to themes raised by blog posts.

      • Kata Fisher January 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

        A Note:

        About Relevant Definition: https://www.truthaboutdeception.com/lying-and-deception/confronting-a-partner/compulsive-lying/types-of-liars.html

        Why and how do we accomplish truth or lies? This is something that I think one should and could read. It is so relevant in all settings.

      • Kata Fisher January 9, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

        Professor Falk,

        Sometimes it would not be up to me to do interpret / determine relevance of of certan fact – or facts. That can be individual and/or corporate task.

        When comes accomplishing the fact of truth or fact of lie patterns – this is relevant – it is relevant in all settings (individual / collective).

        When so, why are such patterns?

        Sometimes it can be evident and sometimes it is not evident. It is difficult to pin-point the actual cause (and even effect) for a certain fact.

        I think this is just a further summery – but no explanation of specifics. I think you have seen different shifts of different patterns.

        Can they be traced chronologically / historically?

  9. M.L. January 7, 2016 at 5:33 am #

    Reblogged this on PAJU – Palestiniens et Juifs Unis and commented:
    Until the day that Palestinian self-determination arrives, the least that UN can do is to keep open this window of observation and appraisal. After all, it is the UN that undertook back in 1947 to find a solution to the Israel/Palestinian struggle that acknowledged the equal claims of both peoples. Although such an approach was colonialist and interventionist in 1947, it has plausibility in 2016 given the developments in the intervening years. The UN may not be guilty in relation to what went wrong, but it certainly has failed to discharge its responsibilities with regard to Palestinian fundamental rights. Until these rights are realized, the UN should give this remnant of the colonial era as much attention as possible.

  10. rehmat1 January 7, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    @Fred Skolnik

    I never thought you would be so dumb. The Judeans were either killed or made slaves by the Babylonian.

    Palestinians are NOT Arabs. They are descendants of Cannanites, Phoenicians, Hittites, Aramaeans and Ammonites. Arabs only entered the stage when Islam’s second Caliph received the keys of City of Jerusalem from Christian Patriarch Sofronius in a public ceremony in 638 CE.


    • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

      Of course they are Arabs. Ask them. Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel has been unbroken for at least 3,500 years. The Jewish population of the Land of Israel in the first century A.D., seven hundred years after the Babylonian conquest, is estimated at 2.5 million. Who do you think fought against the Romans? And who is really dumb?

      • rehmat1 January 8, 2016 at 9:39 am #

        @Fred Skolnik – based on your dumb theory – all Iranian must be Jewish, because Salman Farsi who converted to Islam in 615 CE, was a Persian Jew!!

        Shalom – and have nice dreams!

    • Fred Skolnik January 7, 2016 at 9:52 pm #

      And consider this, my misinformed friend: If the Palestinians are not Arabs, then no one is, because the Arabs conquered Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria in the same way that they conquered the Land of Israel, destroying the national identities of the people they found there in their rampage of rape, massacre and forced conversion, with very few exceptions, one of these exceptions being the Jews. Too bad!

  11. rehmat1 January 8, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    @Gene Schulman – I know Shoah org. as it has blogged several of my posts. But the Saudi ‘royal’ having Jewish family roots is listed on several other sites. In fact a Pakistani dude Mohammad Salaam, authored a booklet on this subject and lost his head for his antisemitic conspiracy theory.




    • Gene Schulman January 9, 2016 at 5:02 am #

      Thanks for these links, rehmat1. I had never heard of this subject before. True or not, it seems to have shooed Fred away.

      • Kata Fisher January 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

        the distress of the honeypot did – nothing else could have shooed Fred away

  12. Laurie Knightly January 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm #

    Associated Press January 24, 1993

    Israel’s harshest critic gets its highest honor.

    JERUSALEM – To his fans, Yeshayahu Leibowitz is the modern incarnation of an angry Old Testament prophet. To his critics, he is a crank who delights in insulting Israel’s most hallowed institutions.
    The 90 year old professor who says Israel should give up Arab land has been named to receive the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
    The awarding of Israel’s highest honor to its harshest critic has touched off an emotional debate that goes to the core of Israel’s complicated self-image as a democracy and a Jewish nationalist homeland.
    “I’m disgusted,” said former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. Angry calls flooded radio talk shows. Legislators and army officers protested. Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin asked a cabinet meeting if the award could be withdrawn.
    A three member committee appointed by the education minister, awards the Israel Prize each year to a dozen recipients. Some past winners have been Arab poet Emile Habibi – another controversial choice – and conductor Zubin Mehta. The honor includes a $7,500 prize.
    Education minister Shulamit Aloni, a leftist, told Rabin that she could not interfere with the committee’s choice.
    Leibowitz emerged as a voice of dissent in 1967, when he warned that Israel’s triumphs in the Six Day War would turn to ashes unless it quickly withdrew from the Arab territories it had just captured.
    “I wrote on the seventh day that this brilliant victory will prove to be a historical and political disaster for the state of Israel,” Leibowitz said recently.
    Against the euphoria of the time, his voice was a wilderness and might have gone unnoticed if Leibowitz had not been one of Israel’s finest and most eclectic minds.
    Born in Latvia and educated in Germany, he is a professor of biochemistry and neurophysiology and religion, and an editor of the Hebrew Encyclopedia.
    He also is an orthodox Jew who wears a black skullcap, prays daily in synagogue, and delights his secular audiences by his contempt for Israel’s religious establishment.
    Leibowitz argues that domination of 2 million Palestinians has corrupted Israel and given rise to a “Judeo-Nazi mentality in certain circles” – harsh words for a nation steeped in memories of the Holocaust.
    The elderly professor was asked sarcastically on a talk show if he believed that Israel would put Palestinians in concentration camps and kill them in gas chambers.
    “It is known to me that the State of Israel is keeping thousands of Arabs in concentration camps.” he replied, referring to camps for Palestinian prisoners.
    Leibowitz says soldiers should refuse to serve in occupied lands.
    “Our problem is not to liberate the Palestinians, our problem is to liberate Israel from this curse,” he said in an interview in his tiny, book-crammed study in Jerusalem.
    Leibowitz believes many share his views but ” lack the courage to say clearly what they mean.”
    Unexpected praise for the award came from the Palestinian daily An Nahar in Jerusalem.
    “This should be a lesson to the Arab regimes which adhere to the position that dissidents must be overpowered,” said an unsigned column.

    • Gene Schulman January 10, 2016 at 12:54 am #

      And in a similar vein:

      The Big Lie

      =By= Yves Engler

      Rafah, Palestine

      RThe big lie is a propaganda technique generally employed when telling the truth would be unfavorable to your side. It goes like this: never admit doing any wrong and instead always insist on a story that portrays your side as the good guys. What really happened is irrelevant. The key is repetition. Do it often enough and loudly enough until most people believe you.

      While the big lie is most often associated with authoritarian governments, its use is actually quite widespread. For example, the Montreal Gazette recently published a front page article claiming Jewish students at Concordia University were “feeling like the target of a hate campaign.” The reason cited, as far as this writer can tell, was simply that many students were standing in solidarity with Palestinians.

      At the end of November, the student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights organized BDS Week. Without citing a single incident of actual racism, the Gazette painted a picture of the discussion series as hateful. Reporter Karen Seidman simply quoted an individual decrying “a hostile environment on campus” and another who denounced “speakers slandering Israeli tactics and spewing hate.”

      In her article, Seidman also labeled a referendum held last year in which undergraduates voted to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as “contentious” and downplayed its significance by saying only “a tiny fraction” of the overall student body participated.

      So why is this a big lie?

      First, the side favored is portrayed as a victim of “hate” with no evidence presented except criticism of the Israeli state causing hurt feelings. Second, and most important, the article blissfully ignores any historical background that would present Palestinian sympathizers in a positive light or even provide context for what they are doing.

      It abjectly fails to even get any comment from any supporter of BDS. The reporter writes that she tried and failed to get a comment from the organizers, but it should surely not be beyond a reporter’s ability to get an alternative pro-BDS voice.

      And while portraying a rather modest week of solidarity events as hateful, the reporter also ignores how a well-funded Concordia institute has engaged in an effort to erase Palestinians from historical memory.

      In 2011, multibillionaire David Azrieli gave Concordia $5 million to set up the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies.

      The institute established the first minor degree program in Israel studies at a Canadian university.

      This wasn’t a disinterested, apolitical donation. Azrieli, an Israeli-Canadian real estate magnate who died last year, was a staunch defender of Israel. He did not hide his affiliation, happily asserting that “I am a Zionist and I love the country.”

      During the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, he was an officer in a largely Anglo-Saxon brigade of the Haganah, a Zionist military force. Led by Major Ben Dunkelman, a Canadian veteran of the Second World War, the Seventh Brigade played a leading role in the infamous Operation Hiram.

      Dozens of villages in the north of Palestine were depopulated and destroyed during that offensive. The operation, initiated in October 1948, included several massacres of Palestinian villagers.

      As many as 94 Palestinians were killed in the village of Saliha alone. A Jewish National Fund official, Yosef Nahmani, noted in his diary that between 50 and 60 peasants in Safsaf were killed and buried in a pit after the village’s inhabitants “had raised a white flag.”

      In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe notes that few brigade names appear in the oral testimonies that have been gathered about the Nakba: “However, Brigade Seven is mentioned again and again, together with such adjectives as ‘terrorists’ and ‘barbarous.’”

      Since opening at Concordia, the Azrieli Institute has proven a potent advocate for Israel on campus. In June, the institute hosted the Association for Israel Studies’ annual conference.

      After attending the conference, the right-wing Israeli academic Gerald Steinberg described Azrieli’s $5 million donation as part of a “counterattack” against pro-Palestinian activism at Concordia.

      The institute is largely designed to erase Palestinians from their historical connection to their homeland. Its website fails to even mention the word Palestine.

      In a December 2014 letter to the Montreal Gazette, Nakina Stratos noted: “Browsing through the website of the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies, I was not able to find the words ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian people.’ How can an institute that teaches about the history of Israel not mention Palestine on its website? This, to me, intersects with the far-right Israeli narrative, which is a total confiscation of Palestinian history, and an attempt to erase the concept of Palestine from the dictionary of the Middle East.”

      But rather than investigate how Palestinian students feel about a richly endowed university institute that erases their existence, the Gazette’s education reporter chose to focus on assertions of persecution by those who would do the erasing.

      The perpetrators of oppression and their supporters instead become victims. Those who stand up for the oppressed are portrayed as bullies.

      That is the big lie at work.

    • Kata Fisher January 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm #


      Do you know if Shireen Issawi is still in prison?

      • Richard Falk January 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

        I know your question was directed to Laurie, but I had followed Shireen Issawi’s
        case earlier, and as far as I know she remains in prison.

      • Kata Fisher January 10, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

        I have been thinking about her a lot lately.

        More and more I feel and believe that she needs to be released because there is a lot that is going on – someone could explain to her what is and may be going on.

  13. Fred Skolnik January 11, 2016 at 4:35 am #

    It is worth pausing to note, during this festival of Israel hatred, that Russia has now killed close to 1,000 civilians in its air strikes in the Middle East, according to estimates that are no less reliable than those adding up the Gaza casualties. Not a peep here. Not a single tear shed. No condemnations, no talk about war crimes, no HRC reports, no smug links and references, no cutting and pasting, no hours combing the Internet for incriminationg evidence.

    I have already had my say about the motives and level of sincerity of the Israel haters, so I will not repeat myself. I will only note that when you are irrational, as anyone is who magnifies the virtues or downplays the crimes of any country that is perceived as an enemy of Israel, America or the West in general, such as Russia, Iran, Saddam’s Iraq, Gaddafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria, sooner or later you are going to find yourself rationalizing atrocities and justifying outright murder.

    • Gene Schulman January 11, 2016 at 5:58 am #


      I would ask you just one question before you disappear. Just who do you think made all those enemies of Israel and America? And why do you think they are enemies? Could it be because the US, Israel and their NATO allies have been slaughtering them and making refugees out of them ever since Israel began its bloody ethnic cleansing campaign? Or because the US and Israel are dead set to maintain hegemonic control of the world and all its resources, to the point of bringing the world to the edge of nuclear war? It seems that the US and Israel don’t care how many people they kill, maim and displace, including their own citizenry, while they’re doing it.

      Ask yourself who is rationalizing atrocities and justifying murder.

      • Fred Skolnik January 11, 2016 at 7:50 am #

        Sorry, Gene, Prof. Falk has deleted my reply. It’s a shame. You might have learned something.

      • Fred Skolnik January 11, 2016 at 7:58 am #

        And to you Prof. Falk

        Given the level of invective brought to this site by vilifiers of Israel and frequently directed against defenders of Israel, you are again applying a double standard.

      • Richard Falk January 11, 2016 at 8:33 am #

        Mr. Skolnik:

        I try to be evenhanded in deciding which comments to block, and give a presumption of inclusion. This means
        that I find either invective or insulting language directed at the author of a comment that is disproportionate
        to the value of whatever substantive point is made. You continuously insult others with whom you disagree and
        consider critics of Israel, despite its patterns of behavior, as ‘vilifiers of Israel’ and complain about the
        ‘level of invective’ brought against its defenders without ever considering your own invective directed at those
        who do not accept your unconditional defense of policies and practices that practically the whole world condemns
        (including collective punishment, settlement activity, discriminatory application of law, etc.)

      • Fred Skolnik January 11, 2016 at 9:00 am #

        You fail to distinguish between criricism and vilification. “Practically the whole world” does not refer to Israel as Nazis, criminals, murderers, apartheidists and ethnic cleansers. “Practically the whole world” does not make insulting generalizations about Jewish genes, money, influence, power, history, morality, religion and character. As for personal insults, it is pretty much evenly balanced, though it has never occurred to me to label any of your admirers as a war criminal.

      • Kata Fisher January 11, 2016 at 9:17 am #


        This is what I understand:

        Israeli can, in fact,label was criminals world-wide as war criminals as war-criminals (even their admirers) – which, in fact, would be in their love-hate relationship with Israel, anyhow.

        What I believe, in in fact the best to get to the rational relationship between nations.

        However, Israeli have to turn to actual things that they are actually called, and clean up the blood-bath in their household, legitimately – but not always on their own. This is why, it was not created by Jews alone, contemporarily conditions – all this chaos in the Middle East – it stared with many satanic events, and Israeli should turn and no longer continue in them.

        It is the best for Israel to do all things that are legal and true by valid interpretation of International Law. Also, they have Faith Laws to wich they are bound.

    • Kata Fisher January 11, 2016 at 8:04 am #

      “outright murder”

      Listen what Ali Khamenei had to say about outright murder. However, you really, really, need to listen and understand it what he had to say.


      I do not believe that nations will be able to go on in their unrestricted war crimes any longer, thinking justified and no consequence to them. They will no longer be able to find for themselves illegal justification for their war crimes. Especially, for religious war crimes, there will be no justification and forgivness to the group of the mob who did it. They all will be held accountable and noted as war criminals, in fact. First not officially, and then officially there will be a list to them. All their evil-doing will be written down, constructively by the means of the Law.

      For all evil that was done, irrevocable consequence are upon them and are just to be more and more upon them – they can not even see what’s next to them (national and world-wide).

      Mass killing of the nations by the group of the mob has its end, too.

      They can try to attempt another foot on the ground war aproach, and imminently be given over to the devil among them. Thay are not paying attention. Some wars that they thought were legal to them are actually illegal by a valid interpretation of the Laws. Permanently illegal, now those wars are.

      From now on, damage control and reversal of evil doing can only be legitimate. Nations need to snap out of their evil patterns in satanic seals and irrevocable sins in Blasphemies. If they try to deceive someone into another illegitimate war – they will be given over to the devil.
      To restrict evil of their satanic heads, have international lawyers remind them of their criminal evil, in all consequences.

  14. QCPal January 17, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on QCpal.

  15. miyanji July 18, 2017 at 5:11 am #


    The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care, http://keepingtraditions.com/componentx.php?1617

    Kristopher Terrell


  1. UNHRC envoy on Palestine quits over Israel | Rehmat's World - January 6, 2016

    […] It is worth recalling that when Wibisono was selected as my successor, several more qualified candidates were passed over. Although the selection guidelines stress expert knowledge of the subject matter of the mandate, Wibisono apparently gained the upper hand along with the acquiescence of Israel and the United States precisely because of his lack of any relevant background. I can only hope that now the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) will redeem its mistake by reviving the candidacies of Professor Christine Chinkin and Phyllis Bennis, both of whom possess the credentials, motivation and strength of character to become an effective special rapporteur. The Palestinians deserve nothing less, Falk said. Read the rest here. […]

  2. Le dimissioni di Wibisono da Relatore Speciale dell’ONU sulla Palestina Occupata | Assopace Palestina - January 8, 2016

    […] https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/wibisonos-resignation-as-un-special-rapporteur-on-occup… […]


    […] https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/wibisonos-resignation-as-un-special-rapporteur-on-occup… […]

  4. Le dimissioni di Wibisono da Relatore Speciale dell’ONU sulla Palestina Occupata – Assopace Palestina - July 19, 2016

    […] https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/wibisonos-resignation-as-un-special-rapporteur-on-occup… […]

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