Friday, January 2, 2009

Richard Falk and the Left's Construction of Gaza

Richard Falk is a professor emeritus of international relations at Princeton and a hard-left anti-American and anti-Israel peace activist. I vaguely remember reading some of Falk's research during my graduate school training. What sticks out about him in my memory is that he was never a major thinker and his work was always at the margins of mainstream discourses driving important paradigmatic debates in the field.

In any case, I mention this as a preface to Falk's essay at Huffington Post, "
Understanding the Gaza Catastrophe":

For eighteen months the entire 1.5 million people of Gaza experienced a punishing blockade imposed by Israel, and a variety of traumatizing challenges to the normalcy of daily life. A flicker of hope emerged some six months ago when an Egyptian arranged truce produced an effective ceasefire that cut Israeli casualties to zero despite the cross-border periodic firing of homemade rockets that fell harmlessly on nearby Israeli territory, and undoubtedly caused anxiety in the border town of Sderot. During the ceasefire the Hamas leadership in Gaza repeatedly offered to extend the truce, even proposing a ten-year period and claimed a receptivity to a political solution based on acceptance of Israel's 1967 borders. Israel ignored these diplomatic initiatives, and failed to carry out its side of the ceasefire agreement that involved some easing of the blockade that had been restricting the entry to Gaza of food, medicine, and fuel to a trickle.

Israel also refused exit permits to students with foreign fellowship awards and to Gazan journalists and respected NGO representatives. At the same time, it made it increasingly difficult for journalists to enter, and I was myself expelled from Israel a couple of weeks ago when I tried to enter to carry out my UN job of monitoring respect for human rights in occupied Palestine, that is, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Gaza. Clearly, prior to the current crisis, Israel used its authority to prevent credible observers from giving accurate and truthful accounts of the dire humanitarian situation that had been already documented as producing severe declines in the physical condition and mental health of the Gazan population, especially noting malnutrition among children and the absence of treatment facilities for those suffering from a variety of diseases. The Israeli attacks were directed against a society already in grave condition after a blockade maintained during the prior 18 months.

As always in relation to the underlying conflict, some facts bearing on this latest crisis are murky and contested, although the American public in particular gets 99% of its information filtered through an exceedingly pro-Israeli media lens. Hamas is blamed for the breakdown of the truce by its supposed unwillingness to renew it, and by the alleged increased incidence of rocket attacks. But the reality is more clouded. There was no substantial rocket fire from Gaza during the ceasefire until Israel launched an attack last November 4th directed at what it claimed were Palestinian militants in Gaza, killing several Palestinians. It was at this point that rocket fire from Gaza intensified. Also, it was Hamas that on numerous public occasions called for extending the truce, with its calls never acknowledged, much less acted upon, by Israeli officialdom. Beyond this, attributing all the rockets to Hamas is not convincing either. A variety of independent militia groups operate in Gaza, some such as the Fatah-backed al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade are anti-Hamas, and may even be sending rockets to provoke or justify Israeli retaliation. It is well confirmed that when US-supported Fatah controlled Gaza's governing structure it was unable to stop rocket attacks despite a concerted effort to do so.
All of this is pure propaganda. I have no need to rebut the points any further, but the part about "no substantial rocket fire" would make Joseph Goebbels proud.

Readers should visit
Gateway Pundit to get a bit of "substantial" reality about what's really happening in the Middle East.

Hat Tip:


Norm said...

I was so pleased when Israeli officials stopped Falk in the middle of Ben Gurion airport, grabbed him by the seat of his pants and tossed him on an airplane home. The vile crap that comes out of him is perfect for the pages of the Huff Post. Their recents posts on Israel have been biased and reflects the left wing in America pushing and pushing its agenda:the break down of moral clarity.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Norm. I really don't like either. You're right about Huffington Post. They really are bad...

Laura Lee - Grace Explosion said...

Can somebody tell me why this author acts like Israel is Gaza's mother and it's Israel's responsibility to provide for Gaza?? Also, why do they act like Gaza has a right to open borders with Israel?? It all sounds ridiculous.

AmPowerBlog said...

It is ridiculous, Grace. The leftists like Falk truly make me sick to my stomach.

LFC said...

Richard Falk actually *is* an important figure in the fields of international law and international relations, whatever you think of his politics. Your statement that "he was never a major thinker and his work was always at the margins of mainstream discourses driving important paradigmatic debates in the field" is wrong. He has a strong cosmopolitan approach to normative IR theory which puts him smack in the middle of an important "paradigmatic debate in the field." To take one example, his piece on "The Grotian Moment," which I (to adopt your phrase) "vaguely recall" from grad school is quite good. He's written an enormous amount, and some parts of his output are bound to be better than other parts. But to say that Falk is not an important figure in the field is just plain wrong.

Kooj said...

Y'know, whatever anyone's viewpoint, I really want to know some truth. Politics in such turgid conflict leaves reasoned argument to the wind too often. Falk raises well-argued points - reading here that nobody really is properly contradicting him with anything apart from rhetoric doesn't bode very well and as a result so far I'll have to be with Falk! Especially after seeing this Rabbi protest here:
Ok, what y'all got to say now...?