Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Richard Falk

"Mr. Falk endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.

Mr. Falk’s comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms. I have registered a strong protest with the UN on behalf of the United States. The United States has in the past been critical of Mr. Falk’s one-sided and politicized approach to his work for the UN, including his failure to condemn deliberate human rights abuses by Hamas, but these blog comments are in another category altogether.

In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN."


According to the Telegraph:

Richard Falk, a retired professor from Princeton University, wrote on his blog that there had been an "apparent cover up" by American authorities. He added that most media were "unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events" on 9/11, despite it containing "gaps and contradictions". And he described David Ray Griffin, a conspiracy theorist highly regarded in the so-called "9/11 truth" movement, as a "scholar of high integrity" whose book on the subject was "authoritative".
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, described the comments as "preposterous" and "an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack." But Mr Ban said that it was not for him to decide whether Prof Falk, who serves the organisation as a special investigator into human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories, should be fired by the UN. Vijay Nambiar, Mr Ban's chief of staff, said this was up to the human rights council, a 47-nation body based in Geneva, Switzerland, that was created by the UN in 2006.

And AFP:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the comments by Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, as "an affront" to the victims of the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

Falk's ridiculous statement, which he somehow believes addresses the Tucson massacre, is still available at his website. (Read here.)

UPDATE: How dumb was Falk's commentary?  Here's an excerpt:

We don’t require WikiLeaks to remind us not to trust governments, even our own, and others that seem in most respects to be democratic and law-abiding. And we also by now should know that governments (ab)use their authority to treat awkward knowledge as a matter of state secrets, and criminalize those who are brave enough to believe that the citizenry needs to know the crimes that their government is committing with their trust and their tax dollars.

The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin(and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing.

This brings me to the Arizona shootings...

UPDATE 2:  I knew that Tikkun magazine was pretty bad, but this?  In their January 18, 2011 edition they published a column by Falk in which he promotes the myth of Khazar origin.  That canard, which is popular among those who seek to deligitimize Israel, claims that either all modern Jews or only Ashkenazi Jews descend not from ancient Israel and Judah but from a Central Asian Turkic nation called Khazaria.  DNA has largely debunked this theory, but it lives on in the minds of those who need it for reasons of political ideology or religious bigotry. Israeli professor Shlomo Sand has taken this myth farther than its previous exponents to assert that the Diaspora itself never occurred.  In turn, Sand supporters like Richard Falk take this implausible theory to be proof positive.  The editor at Tikkun writes that he published Falk's promotion of this anti-Semitic myth because

"Although Falk's perspective differs important ways from some of us at Tikkun on the nature of Jewish identity, particularly to the extent that it depends on Shlomo Sand's research which many of us question, some agree with him, and others, not being Jewish, don't have strong opinions on the topic but agree with his general critique of ethno-nationalism."

Falk asserts in his Tikkun column that Sand has somehow proved "the absence of a Jewish ethnos", i.e. that Jews don't exist as an ethnic group. Falk doesn't explain how he proved this, but never mind.  Based on the fact that the Jews aren't really Jews, Falk argues, there is no need for a Jewish state.  That takes care of that.

Falk's column condemns by name only one form of what he calls "ethno-nationalism", that of Jews.  He condemns other forms of nationalism only in the abstract.  Michael Lerner of Tikkun rationalizes his statement of agreement with Falk by characterizing his anti-nationalism as a "general critique". Lerner thus completely whitewashes the column's monomaniacal focus on the real object of Falk's hate.  Falk's critique is all too clearly specific.  He is anti-nationalist in theory, but anti-Israel in practice.

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