Jewish Ethnicity, Palestinian Solidarity, Human Identity

23 Jun



[Prefatory Note: the following interview with Abdo Emara, an Arab journalist was published in Arabic; it is here republished in slightly modified form. The changes made are either stylistic or clarifying. There are no substantive changes from my earlier responses. I think it worthwhile to share this text because the questions asked by Abdo Emara are often directed at me in the discussion period after talks I have given recently.]


Jewish Ethnicity, Palestinian Solidarity, Human Identity


  1. Many believe that all Jews are completely biased in favor of Israel. Since you are Jewish this raises some questions. Why have you supported the grievances of the Palestinians? And why does not Israel welcome you on its territory since you are a Jew?

It is a rather well kept secret that from the very outset of the Zionist movement there were many Jews, including some who were prominent in their countries who opposed or strongly criticized Zionist ideology, as well as the way Israel was established and subsequently developed. After 1948, and even more so, after 1967, Israeli supporters, strongly encouraged by Zionist leaders and Israeli diplomats, have increasingly claimed that the Israeli government speaks for all Jews regardless of whether or not they reside in Israel. If this claim of universal representation is denied or resisted that person will be identified by Zionists/Israelis either as an anti-Semite or as bad, a self-hating Jew, or some combination of the two. I have increasingly supported the grievances of the Palestinian people from two perspectives, in my capacity as an international law specialist and as a human being opposed to the oppression and suffering of others regardless of whether or not I share the ethnic and religious background of such victims of abuse. I have taken these positions without any feelings of hatred toward Jews or alienation from the Jewish people, or toward any people due to their ethnicity or brand of faith. My understanding of identity is much more bound up with common humanity and action in solidarity with victims of abuse than with worrying about whether or not they happen to be Jewish. I have drawn wisdom and insight from Jewish traditions, especially by heeding Old Testament biblical prophets, but as well from contact with the great texts of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time I am appalled by some passages in the OT that appear to counsel and even celebrate genocidal onslaughts against the ancient enemies of the Jewish people.


  1. How is the pretext of anti-Semitism used to silence critical voices in Israel and throughout the Western world? And what are the most influential institutions that try to silence and discredit academic voices that reject Israel’s repressive policies?

With the support of Israeli lobbying groups and ultra Zionist pressure groups and activists, there is a concerted campaign in Europe and North America to defame critics of Israel by calling them ‘anti-Semites.’ Especially since the Nazi genocide, to be called an anti-Semite whether or not there is any responsible basis for such accusations has become one of the most effective ways to discredit and distract. Even when accusations do not silence a critic, as in my case, they have detrimental and hurtful effects. Above all, they shift the conversation from the validity of the message to the credibility of the messenger. In the Israel/Palestine context this takes attention away from the ordeal experience by the Palestinian people on a daily basis. Thus, allegations of anti-Semitism function as both sword (to wound the messenger) and shield (to deflect and inhibit criticism and opposition).


  1. How do you interpret the Egyptian policies toward Gaza since the Sisi coup? How can these policies be changed? What is their legal status?

I interpret Egyptian policies toward Gaza since the Sisi coup of 2013 as primarily an expression of renewed collaboration with Israel with respect to Gaza as intensified by the Cairo view that Hamas is inspired by and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is enemy number one of the current Egyptian government. I am not familiar with the details of the Egyptian policy toward Gaza, although I know it imposes arbitrary and hurtful restrictions on entry and exit. Egyptian policies toward Gaza seem clearly to involve complicity with Israel’s worst abuses in Gaza, and entail potential criminal responsibility for Egyptian leaders and implementing officials. Israel seems clearly guilty of inflicting collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and for aiding and abetting the implementation of the unlawful blockade of Gaza that has been maintained by the state of Israel since 2007 with many cruel consequences for the Palestinians, including those needing to leave Gaza for lifesaving medical treatments.


  1. How do you evaluate Hamas’ new policy document?

I believe the Hamas document moves toward the adoption of a political approach to its relations with both Israel and Egypt. By a political approach I mean a willingness to establish long-term interim arrangements for peaceful coexistence with Israel and normalization with Egypt. Hamas expresses this willingness by indicating a readiness to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on territory occupied by Israel since the end of the 1967 War. Such a shift by Hamas does not acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel as a state nor does it involve a repudiation of the 1988 Hamas Charter, although it does abandon the anti-Semitic rhetoric and seems more disposed to pursue its goals diplomatically and politically rather than by reliance on armed struggle, without giving up in any way rights of resistance, including armed resistance.


5- Did it became impossible for Palestinians to obtain their legitimate rights throughout international organizations in the light of the latest UN refusal of UN ESCWA report your good-self drafted?

The reaction to our ESCWA report, “The Practices of Israel Toward the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid,” did reveal a lack of independence and objectivity within the UN when placed under severe geopolitical pressure by the United States Government. It seemed clear that when the UN Secretary General ordered ESCWA to remove our report from their website, he was succumbing to pressure exerted by the United States, whose ambassador to the UN denounced the report without giving reasons as soon as it was released, presumably without it ever being read, and demanded its repudiation. Of course, the outcome was mixed. On the positive side, Rima Khalaf, the highly respected head of ESCWA resigned on principle rather than follow the directives of the SG, and the firestorm generated by the release of the report resulted in the text being far more influential and widely read than it might otherwise have been if treated appropriately. On the negative side, was the strong evidence that the UN is often unable to act effectively in support of the Palestinian people and their long struggle for their basic rights. The UN is geopolitically neutralized as a political actor even when Israel acts in flagrant and persisting defiance of international law and its own Charter.


6-Talk about the Trump-sponsored Century Deal between Palestinians and Israelis is increasing now … what are your expectations for such a deal? Will include what is said to be a “resettlement” of the Palestinians in Gaza and Sinai ?


Nothing positive for the Palestinian people can emerge from the wave of speculation that Trump will soon broker the ultimate peace deal. Israel is content with managing the status quo while gradually increasing its territorial appropriations via settlements, wall, security claims, and various demographic manipulations. Palestine lacks credible leadership capable of representing the Palestinian people. This partly reflects the low credibility and poor record of the Palestinian Authority and partly the deep split between Hamas and Fatah. Palestinian unity and credible leadership is a precondition for the resumption of genuine diplomacy. Geopolitical pressure should not be confused with diplomacy, and will not produce a sustainable peace even if the PA is force fed a one-sided outcome favorable to Israel that is disguised as a solution.


7- How does Israel see the current Egyptian regime? and to what extent did it feel comfortable towards Mohamed Morsi?


Israel seems quite content with the current government in Egypt, and the policies that Cairo is pursuing at home and in the region. This contrasts with its thinly disguised dislike of and anxiety about the Morsi government, and worries that Morsi’s Egypt would increasingly challenge Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, and possibly alter the balance of force in the region in ways contrary to Israel’s interests.

8- Does Israel hate the existence of a democratic regimes in the Arab region, especially the neighboring countries? And why?


Israel opposes the emergence of democracy in the Middle East for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that Arab governments to the extent democratic are more likely to reflect in their policies, the pro-Palestinian sentiments of their citizenry. As well, Arab governments that adhere to democratic values are more likely to act in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Also, it is easier for Israel to work out pragmatic arrangements with authoritarian leaders who have little accountability to their own people and have demonstrated a cynical readiness to sacrifice the Palestinians for the sake of their own national strategic interests. This has become most evident in the kind of diplomacy pursued by the Gulf monarchies in recent years, dramatically evident during the three massive attacks on Gaza by Israel during the past decade that have devastated a totally vulnerable civilian population.

  1. Why do the far right think tanks- like Gatestone Institute and Middle East Forum which is known by its absolute support of Israel praise President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Why do these centers deeply praise him?

My prior responses make it clear that the Israeli policy community is pleased with Egypt governed by an authoritarian leader who adopts an agenda giving priority to the suppression of political Islam, taking the form in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian governance under Sisi is precisely what Israel would like to see emerge throughout the region, and if not, then the second option, is prolonged chaos of the sort that exists in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. As well, the reinforced sectarianism of Saudi Arabia is consistent with Israel’s view that Iran poses the most dangerous threat, not so much to its security, but to its agenda of regional influence.


  1. In your opinion, what is the most Arab country supporting the Palestinian issue?

I would say that none of the Arab countries is genuinely supportive of the Palestinian struggle at the present time. With a note of irony the most supportive countries in the region are non-Arab: Turkey and Iran, and their support is extremely limited. It is a sad commentary on the drift of regional politics that the Palestinians are without governmental support in the Arab world, a reality magnified by the fact that if the publics of these countries were in a position to make policy, the Palestinians would be strongly supported. In this regard, including in the West, Palestinian hopes for the future are increasingly tied to the interaction of their own resistance in combination with a growing solidarity movement in Europe and North America. The UN and traditional diplomacy, as practiced within the Oslo framework for more than 20 years have proved to be dead ends when it comes to protecting Palestinian rights.


10 Responses to “Jewish Ethnicity, Palestinian Solidarity, Human Identity”

  1. QCPal June 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on QCpal.

  2. Kata Fisher June 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    Professor Falk,

    I read this, and I just have a Note on two items:
    1) Hamas and their direction
    2) Tribal issues

    Hamas does not understand what they are doing. Israeli Constitution is accepted in Juridic Person. It is written in Juridic Person. Now the state was/ is not implemented in Juridic Person.

    They: Hamas do not understand ecclesiastical provisions of Israeli Constitution for people in Holy Land (including Hamas — as they currently call themselves). They are coming up with wrong and not effective things.

    And also, I think that Israeli with their coming up with wrong and not effective things — have forced people in Gaza to establish Hamas — as themselves, while Israeli were their helper/s. With Fatah is exactly the same case. All senseless tribalism of laypeople, while those who are in Juridic Person are ruined around and about by all of that.

    My head hurts, and I just have to laugh while nothing is funny, at all. There is really not much time left. Things have to be straighten out right now. Imminently.

    In order for Hamas to dismantle ecclesiastically illegal (or illegitimate) items/s: such “state” (for example) in Holy Land — Hamas has to completely shift its all efforts to the legally legitimate binding diplomacy. I do not specifically mean binding and non-binding terms of UN its Laws and Charters, Treaties, and so forth. It has to be legally legitimate binding diplomacy, first. Then other things can be sorted out at another appointed time.

    That is another thing that has to be sorted out (by Juridic Person/s — who both have all competencies and are also qualified to do that). However, legally legitimate binding diplomacy has to be in order for things in Holy Land to be brought to some civil order, lasting coexistence and Faith/Ecclesiastical Rights.

    Hamas/ are part of legally legitimate binding diplomacy in Juridic Person — but they have no activated competencies — or have means to access it. Because of that — all that is/are currently in Juridic Person will have to fill that gap for them — as long as they/Hamas are unable to move in it. Not just for Hamas, but others.

    Tribal alliancing and dis-alliancing has to stop. All of tribals org’s have to shift or have to be shifted to the legally legitimate binding diplomacy — that’s the only thing that will be trending in 21 century for everybody. A general question: Is it possible that this can be made clear/clarified?

    No one will achieve coherent and lasting coexistence with anybody as long as they do not understand legitimately binding — that what they must and must not do.

    Not-legitimate, illegally valid things will keep killing people without ceasing. It has to stop. It has to be made to stop.

    Further, it’s absolutely a shame that there is the ideological and tribal chaos of lay-people in Holy Land — that what has caused so much evil that allows not existing ancient exiles to coexist with different tribes — in this new and civilised dispensation of human history. Not only that it does not allow for that — but no one even wants to any longer to pilgrimage into the ancient land of peace and good will. In such conditions that lay-people have established for themselves — they keep actual exiles far from all of that.

  3. ray032 June 24, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Richard, Al-Jazeera has an interesting article on Gaza Today.
    Now that the Israeli government is cementing relations with the brutal Dictatorships of Egypt, and that Beacon of Democracy, Saudi Arabia, maybe Israel is behind the effort to subjugate Qatar and the latest demand Al-Jazeera be shut down?

    ‘Palestinians in Gaza reflect on 10 years of siege’
    Residents reflect on how life has changed since Israel blockaded the Strip and Hamas took control.

    Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have entered their 11th year under a suffocating siege imposed by Israel.

    The blockade dictates the day-to-day reality for people in Gaza, where Israel controls the borders, airspace, and waters.

    Gaza’s isolation has devastated its economy, impoverished much of the Strip’s two million people, and left them without adequate electricity, water and health services.

    June 2017 also marks the tenth year of Hamas’ rule over the Strip, after the group won elections in 2006 and pushed out its rival, Fatah, which refused to recognise the vote……..

    • Kata Fisher June 26, 2017 at 9:41 am #

      A Note:

      I had reflection, and I understand that subjugating Qatar and attempts to subjugate sovereign Arab nation of Qatar it is and will be a grave mistake for those who take part in it.

      Israeli need to reflect what they have done wrong — and where they had gone wrong when they started implementing their illegal ways of the establishment of Israel — and how they have brought about all illegal violations and destruction to the wellbeing of the exiles and nations — just by not following what is written out in the constitution of Israel.

      Now, do they really belive that to subjugate sovereign Arab nation of Qatar will solve their problems? I assure you that it will not. What will do for Israeli is this: deeper pit then what they have established for them selfs by now.

      They will try to attempt to subjugate and make ridicules, illegal, absolutely just obnoxious compliance terms for sovereign Arab nation of Qatar. They should really stop and think how much evil they have brought upon themselves with illegal diplomacy (in the region) and just wicked political ideology.

      The matter and fact is that they should start listening to the authentic Hebrew Prophets — what those peoples are telling them. Instead, they are listening to their obnoxious lay-people who think that they are or pose to be Hebrew Prophets. They are false prophets among Israel and of Israel.

      Subjugate sovereign Arab nation of Qatar will backfire upon all. Israeli and Hamas are in self-made consequences.

      That should definitely be upon them to sort out. I am sure that legitimate, legally binding diplomacy will help them in the process becoming co-existing friends.

      For lay-people is best to stay put in all concerning sovereign Arab nation of Qatar – they will bring on deep-pit consequences upon them selfs.

      I belive that mature folks need to go to Qatar and apologize for all misunderstanding and wickedness of the lay-people.

  4. Brewer June 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    Last year one of the most important books on Zionism, ever, was published in English by Pluto: What Is Modern Israel? by Yakov Rabkin, a professor of history at the University of Montreal. The central theme of the book is how Zionists have exploited Judaism and western traditions to offer Israel as a liberal democracy when it is actually a nationalist colonialists project hanging on by its paranoid fingernails.

    • Richard Falk June 27, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

      I agree. Professor Rabkin was a notable participant at the Cork University conference on Israel/Palestine,
      making an excellent contribution along similar lines.

  5. Laurie Knightly June 27, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    Richard, In view of your tenacious thinking, or so I have presumed, that a contributing/intellectual/principled comment section is possible, I need a bit of info before continuing – or not. Are paranormal perceptions considered as a valid part of the discussion? Even if/when coherent……

    • Richard Falk June 27, 2017 at 10:46 pm #

      Laurie: I fully understand, and to a large degree share, your frustrations and red lines. At the same time, I have
      followed as consistently as I could, the guideline that I would only block proposed comments that are personal attacks
      on me or others who contribute comments or are so off message as to be incomprehensible or driven by a commercial goal (e.g.
      product advertisement). I have blocked quite a few messages along the lines of ‘the paranormal,’ but you have no way of
      knowing this. You are such a valuable contributor!! Warm greetings from Geneva, Richard

  6. Kata Fisher June 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    It is going to be a lawsuit? Absolutely just paranormal!


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