Friday, December 31, 2010

The 2010 Takeaway: The Legitimacy War

Richard Falk
"It is up to all of us dedicated to peace and justice to do all we can to help the Palestinians prevail in the legitimacy war and bring their long ordeal to an end."

2010 was the year in which the implicit campaigns to delegitimize Israel came out of the closet. Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and current UN Rapporteur for Palestine, put it best in his essay, "The Palestinians are Winning the Legitimacy War: Will it Matter?" What had seemed to many to be efforts to bring about "peace" and "justice" to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have in fact been a drip, drip, drip accumulation of activity aimed at destroying Israel's image and ability to defend itself on the international stage. It is a war that the Palestinian movement and its adherents have been waging alongside a pretense at negotiating for peace. Now it is out in the open and the pro-Israel community has finally gotten the message. Here are Falk's most salient points:

"…there has been a notable change of emphasis in Palestinian strategy. The new strategy has been to initiate what might be described as a second war, “a legitimacy war” that is essentially based on the reliance on a variety of non-violent tactics of resistance. Armed resistance has not been renounced by the Palestinians, but it has been displaced by this emphasis on non-violent tactics.

“The essence of this legitimacy war is to cast doubt on several dimensions of Israeli legitimacy: its status as a moral and law abiding actor, as an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian people, and with respect to its willingness to respect the United Nations and abide by international law. Those that wage such a legitimacy war seek to seize the high moral ground in relation to the underlying conflict, and on this basis, gain support for a variety of coercive, but non-violent initiatives designed to put pressure on Israel, on governments throughout the world and on the United Nations to deny normal participatory rights to Israel as a member of international society.

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