Richard Falk: Unfit for office

By attempting to justify the Boston bombings, Falk has insulted the memory of the victims and given a free pass to murderers. This man is completely unfit to serve in public office

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Richard Falk: Unfit for office
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Jeremy Havardi
On 25 April 2013 08:50

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the horrific Boston bombings, like the attacks on 9/11, were blamed on America's foreign policy rather than the terrorists responsible for them. No matter how much we discover about jihadis and the growing radicalisation of Muslims, there is always an army of apologists ready to excuse their violence.

It will come as little surprise that the latest proponent of this maddeningly irrational attempt to blame the victim is Richard Falk, the UN's special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. In an article published on April 21st, Falk likens the Boston bombings to an act of “resistance in the post-colonial world” which has been generated by what he calls the “American global domination project”. He warns that America will face worse “blowbacks” if there is “no disposition to rethink US relations to others in the world, starting with the Middle East”.

He particularly has in mind America's recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, above all, her relationship with Israel. Instead of seeking a new policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he accuses Obama of succumbing to “the Beltway ethos of Israel First.” He goes on: “As long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy.”

Elsewhere he says that “America’s military prowess and the abiding confidence of its leaders in hard power diplomacy” represents “a menace to the world and to itself”. He ends by asking: “How many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?”

In essence, Falk argues that the slaughter of three innocents in Boston was a rational act of resistance, the response of Muslims (the real victims) to America's “unjust” wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and particularly its support for Israel. The terrorists will cease killing civilians, he implies, when America ceases to be an imperial power and resorts to using soft power in the pursuit of global justice.

This is pure intellectual and moral hogwash on many levels.

Firstly, it is an outrageous insult to the victims of Boston for Falk to liken the behaviour of their terrorist killers to a resistance movement. The term 'resistance' is usually reserved for the civil rights campaigns of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. But both these figures eschewed all acts of terror, preferring a campaign of non-violent civil disobedience.

Clearly, if Muslims in America dislike their country's foreign policies, they are free to say so, using all legitimate means of dissent. They are equally free to reject the killing of civilians at a sporting occasion. Indeed Falk insults all law-abiding Muslims when he declares that the murderous behaviour of extremists is somehow to be expected of them. Does he really think that outraged Muslims have no better outlet for their rage? That they can only behave like savages when confronted by foreign policies they dislike? This is reverse racism at its worst.

Secondly, Falk completely fails to understand the central motivations of the jihadist movement. The Islamists' main goal is not to address local grievances in Muslim countries or rectify specific injustices. They seek to build an Islamic caliphate across the Arab and Muslim world where all inhabitants are forced to live under the dictates of Sharia law, and where all traces of western influence are removed. The Islamist 'paradise' is a form of totalitarian clerical rule, shorn of democracy, gay rights, women's rights or religious freedom.

Their burning injustice is that so few states in the world today are sufficiently Islamic and that some are, at least nominally, pro-Western. The United States is under attack because it exports its values to the Muslim world and supports regimes that would otherwise fall to al Qaeda. The alternative is a return to isolationism which would be a disaster for the free world.

Above all, Islamists have been radicalised to believe that any western intervention in the Islamic world is automatically colonialist and that all Muslims killed by Americans are 'martyrs'. There is growing evidence that Tamerlan Tsarnaev imbibed such anti American views by watching material on the internet. He also created a YouTube channel in which he posted videos of armed Dagestani jihadists. Such material, with its vicious representation of westerners and its demonisation of the 'infidel', is creating a new generation of terrorists.

Thirdly, Falk's assertion that Israeli actions have caused this carnage is equally implausible. If the Tsarnaev brothers were primarily motivated by their opposition to Israel, what grievance were they expressing?

Was it the lack of a Palestinian state, itself the result of the Palestinians' own failure to accept a two state solution? If the views of jihadist leaders like Qutb, Maududi, al-Banna, Khomeini and Bin Laden are a reliable guide, their grievance would have been the very existence of a democratic and Jewish state within the Islamic world. It is what Israel is, not what it does, that so infuriates the jihadists. Thus the only way to satisfy these Islamists is to abandon Israel altogether, an option that the west (rightly) will not tolerate.

Falk's visceral hostility towards Israel leads him to indulge in wild conspiracy theories. He pictures the Jewish state, with its overseas lobbies, as a demonic force that bullies a 'compliant' American government into submission, much to her citizens' detriment.

Back in 2011, Falk posted a cartoon on his blog which showed a dog wearing a kippah with the word “USA” around its body. The dog was feasting on the bones of a skeleton while urinating on a symbol of justice, and was designed to reveal the alleged double standards of a 'Jewish controlled’ America that ignored Israeli actions and focused on Libya.

Such outrageous imagery, which so clearly builds on the classic motifs of anti-Semitism, was rightly condemned as reprehensible. But in his recent article, Falk is restating that belief in the most incendiary manner. His indulgence for conspiracy theories should not be remotely surprising, however. Falk has been condemned for endorsing the 9/11 truth movement which portrays the attacks as an inside job by the Bush administration.

By attempting to justify the Boston bombings, Falk has insulted the memory of the victims and given a free pass to murderers. This man is completely unfit to serve in public office. Yet it says so much about the UN that he remains in post today. 

Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton

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