Moral Low Ground


UN Official Richard Falk Under Fire for “Anti-Semitic,” “Anti-American” Boston Commentary– But He’s American. And Jewish.

Wise words... (Photo: UN)

Wise words… (Photo: UN)

A United Nations human rights official who linked belligerent US foreign policy and support for Israel to the Boston Marathon bombing has been attacked as an “anti-Semite” and “anti-American.”

The trouble is, that official, Richard Falk, is an American. He’s also a Jew.

Falk, a professor emeritus at Princeton, is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. He is no stranger to controversy or accusations of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. The 82-year-old was excoriated two years ago after he condemned Israeli settler colonization of the West Bank as “a form of ethnic cleansing.”

But this time, reactionary critics are howling holy hell like never before over Falks’ audacity to actually examine the root causes of anti-American terrorism. Pundits and papers– even some in the supposedly ‘liberal’ media– are calling for his termination.

“Anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism is his (Falk’s) Human Rights Council job description,” Fox News’ Anne Bayefsky railed. To Bayefsky, Falk’s opinions are “grotesque.”

“Anti-Semite-in-chief,” the New York Daily News screamed with vitriol usually found in the pages of its even more dumbed-down competitor, the opprobrious Post.

Again, Falk is Jewish. While tarring those who voice objection to Israel’s crimes against humanity as “anti-Semites” is a tried and true means of deflecting criticism– a “trick we always use,” in the words of former Israeli Education Minister Shulamit Aloni, a more precise pseudo-slander of Falk would be to call him a “self-hating Jew.” This disgusting behavior knows no bounds– even Holocaust survivors who dare speak out against Israeli crimes have been attacked in such language.

But I digress… back to Richard Falk.

Sadly, it’s not just the press and pundits who have declared jihad on Falk. The US government, supposedly the global champion of free speech, has joined in the chorus calling for his ouster.

“Outraged by Richard Falk’s highly offensive Boston comments,” Susan Rice, Washington’s embattled ambassador to the UN, tweeted on Tuesday. “Someone who spews such vitriol has no place at the UN. Past time for him to go.”

So, exactly what “grotesque,” “anti-Semitic,” “anti-American” “vitriol” did Falk “spew” to arouse such visceral, vengeful reactions from both right and left of center? Let’s take a look at some highlights from the personal blog post (re-posted by Jeremy Hammond in Foreign Policy Journal) that’s got everyone so riled up.

“The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world,” Falk writes. “In some respects the United States is fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks, and these may yet happen, especially if there is no disposition to rethink US relations to others in the world, starting with the Middle East.”

Falk asserts the need for “a far more balanced approach to the Palestine/Israel impasse,” but notes that “Obama has given up altogether” on this front, “succumbing to the Beltway ethos of Israel First.”

He also notes the “dangers and unacceptability of promiscuous wars” and the blowback caused by “drone attacks that have killed women and children attending weddings and funerals in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” “torture inflicted by American security forces acting under the authority of the government,” “the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib,” and Obama’s failure to “apply the law to the wrongdoers during the Bush presidency.”

“Should we not all be meditating on W.H. Auden’s haunting line: ‘Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return,'” Falk asks.

“Self-scrutiny and mid-course reflections on America’s global role is long overdue,” Falk writes. “Such a process is crucial both for the sake of the country’s own future security and also in consideration of the well being of others. Such adjustments will eventually come about either as a result of a voluntary process of self-reflection or through the force of unpleasant events… Until it does, America’s military prowess and the abiding confidence of its leaders in hard power diplomacy makes the United States a menace to the world and to itself.”

“The signature irony is that the more American decline is met by the politics of denial, the more rapid and steep will be the decline, and the more abrupt and risky will be the necessary shrinking of the global leadership role played by the United States,” Falk concludes “We should be asking ourselves at this moment, ‘how many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”

It is an unspeakable sin in this nation to acknowledge, or even ponder, the undeniable role US policies and actions play in stoking the sentiments that cause anti-American terrorism. But until we take a long, honest look in the mirror, we can expect nothing but more and bloodier Bostons. Richard Falk is right, and the rabid reaction to his wise words suggests that those screaming for his head know it.

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  1. Jeremy R. HammondApril 25, 2013 at 8:17 pmReply

    Well said. Your concluding paragraph nails it.

  2. William LeavenworthApril 27, 2013 at 7:37 pmReply

    He’s too close to the truth. Our government has become a lickspittle of atavistic tribal brutality, both in Israel and in Saudi Arabia.

    • Brett WilkinsApril 27, 2013 at 9:25 pmReplyAuthor

      “…a lickspittle of atavistic tribal brutality.” That’s the most original way I’ve ever seen that expressed.

  3. Erik SwendsenMay 1, 2013 at 9:50 amReply

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    Mahatma Gandhi

    • Brett WilkinsMay 1, 2013 at 9:57 amReplyAuthor

      Hopefully sometime in our lifetime…

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