Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For the Anniversary of Richard Falk's "Trusting Khomeini"

On February 16, 1979*, Richard Falk published Trusting Khomeini, an op-ed in the New York Times. This was two weeks after the Ayatollah's hero's return to Iran. The money quote from that article which is cited in many places to illustrate aspects of Falk's critical faculty is:

"To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling [about his plans for a pluralistic society within an Islamic framework] seems almost beyond belief. His political style is to express his real views defiantly and without apology, regardless of consequences. He has little incentive suddenly to become devious for the sake of American public opinion. Thus the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false."

More quotation and analysis is available in Richard Bostom's piece The 'Trusting Khomeini' Syndrome, Redux? in which he wonders if some Western commentators are falling into a similar trap for trusting Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's promises of moderation. Unfortunately Falk's entire Times article is no longer available online.


Falk revealed himself as something of a 9/11 Truther on his blog recently. All of which is to say that he has some problems with credulity and credibility for someone mandated to be unbiased in his reportage. Here is how Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, put it: "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." The UN's Ban Ki-Moon didn't like it either.


So, pardon me for burying the lede, but what I wanted to get to is Falk, who didn't resign as UN Special 'Raconteur' on Palestine, and his new libel about Israel in a report to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. As reported by the Jerusalem Post, Falk has no trouble branding Israel as an Apartheid state, an ethnic cleanser, a colonial usurper. In the past he was also very comfortable claiming that Palestine was a "Holocaust in the making." Here is how finessed it in an interview given after becoming the UN's investigator:


HC: In 2007 you described the Israeli policies towards Palestine as a "holocaust-in-the-making". Given the tightening of the siege on Gaza, which has now lasted over 1000 days, Operation Cast Lead etc. would you now say that the situation has developed into a full blown holocaust?

RF: This is a delicate issue of language. Genocide is a word with a great emotional resonance, and special historic associations for the people of Israel. I wrote these words before I was appointed as Special Rapporteur, and although I would not retract them, I have refrained from using the word genocide since accepting the UN job. There is an ambiguity in the word genocide: it has legal, moral, and political connotations. It would be difficult to establish a genocidal intent on Israel's part, given the way in which the ICJ approached the issue in the Bosnia Case. At the same time, I lament the continuation of the siege of Gaza, consider it a crime against humanity, and feel that the UN and many states are complicit to varying degrees.

Clearly this is a man with a particular problem with Israel. Even the PA has trouble with him, consider him an Hamas partisan and asked him to quit his UN position. Luckily there are only three more years left on his six-year term.

*I'm posting this one day early to give you time to plan your celebration.

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