Richard Falk’s Imagination Gone Wild

April Kaza wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.


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John Felstiner, an emeritus professor of English at Stanford, posed a more provocative question. Prefacing his comments by noting that he was neither enamored of Netanyahu’s policies nor of Israel’s settlements, he challenged Falk’s presentation of the issues: “I fear we were hearing perhaps half the truth historically . . . why was so much omitted?”

In response, Falk reiterated his focus on the imagined over the actual:

I provided an interpretation based on my understanding of how to see the essential issues. . . . Of course I left out some of the complexities that do exist, but I would stand behind my view that the essential character of the conflict represents the systematic and progressive denial of Palestinian rights, the expansion of Israel, [and] the unconditional way in which the U.S. has handled the conflict. . . . I can understand that people can have a different reading of the issues.

A few other audiences members challenged Falk’s assertions, including a woman who, in the course of a lengthy exchange, asked:

Why would the UNWRA [the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] call a Palestinian refugee someone who was in that area from 1946-1948 if they were indigenous? I don’t think the majority were indigenous; I think they were immigrants also.

This was met with mocking laughter from several students and positive references from Falk to “the Nakba”—the Arabic term meaning “catastrophe” used by Israel’s opponents to describe its founding in 1948—and to the “right of return . . . on the part of [Palestinian] refugees.”

An elderly gentleman in the audience who described himself as a Christian member of J-Street—a left-leaning organization that claims to be “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” but is in fact notoriously anti-Israel—asserted that “there has been a shift in Christendom in America,” suggesting, despite polls consistently showing otherwise, that Israel may not be able to rely on the support of Christian Zionists much longer. While Falk was skeptical about the accuracy of this claim, he fondly recalled that the founder of J-Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, was his thesis advisee at Princeton. Falk’s legacy of Israel-bashing seems secure.

Falk’s lecture rehashed the familiar tropes used to demonize Israel: accusations of apartheid, colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and military and political aggression. Unfortunately, his advocacy of “imagination” and “interpretation” over “facts” is all too common in the fields of international law and Middle East studies.

Yet his pessimism about the prospects for what he called “real change” in the Middle East, thanks to continued American support for Israel, offered an unintentional ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy presentation.

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  • http://vnnforum.com DeShawn

    The only thing fro mideast peace to become a reality is the elimination of Israel and exiling all Zionist jews in America so taht they can't get us into war. We wouldn't be having all these problems with the Arabs if it weren't for the damn jews and their talmudic plan to take over the world, exterminate the white race, and continue to oppress the black man. The jews are the parasites of the human race.

    • Zionista

      to bad little shawny – we Jews and a STRONG Israel are here to stay – get used to it. Never again means just that.

    • stern

      Thanks DeShawn. A beautifully pithy way to show the true agenda of Falk and his ilk. They speak in polite language, but it takes someone of your brilliant wit to cut through the garbage and present the reality of what they want. Heck, if I didn't know better, I might even think you were one of them. But obviously, your purpose here is to demonstrate the true nature of anti-Semitic thought. By taking it to the extreme, you demonstrate just how hateful it is. I thank you.

    • UCSPanther

      I wager you will ally with the Islamic fundamentalists to attack Jews, and I wager they will turn on you when the going gets tough.

      You Neo-Nazi scum are all the same: Vile, racist, hypocritical, but yet all gas and no action.

    • Samuel

      This is a joke, right? A black white supremacist? I've read some of the threads on the website to which you link. You do realize that these people call for the extermination of not just Jews but blacks as well, right? Could you really be that stupid?

      • Jacob Grossman

        I wonder if this is DeShawn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHFUH_frhBw

        Anyway, we, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel will be alive and thriving long after your Nazi corpse is rotting in the ground, DeShawn. Am Yisrael chai!

    • SpiritOf1683

      And the only thing for peace in the world is for the elimination of the workshy DeShawn antisemites.

    • Snorbk

      Get back in your box boy

  • Citizen of America

    I stand with Israel.

  • DeShawn

    I hate dem joos because my pecker is so tiny. Sieg Heil!!

    • guest

      So now the secret's out as to why DeFormed is a self hating troll – a case of "small in the junk department" ha-ha

  • Marty

    falk has no sense of reality and is delusional. He also lacks imagination. If he had any, falk would mention how the Israeli arab community is the only one in the region that has a thriving middle class. Its members freely practice their own faiths, send their children of both genders to college, regularly elect christian and muslim politicians to the Israeli parliament, and sit on the country's Supreme Court. Where else in the islamic world do religious minorities have those opportunities? Certainly not in the same places where churches are being burned, forced conversions to islam occur, and apostates from islam are murdered.

    • FriendofGaryCooper

      Thanks, Marty. Your post is very good, as usual. As for DeShawn, he'll wind up as a member of Obama's secret youth police; just like the Hitler youth of the 1930's.

  • Snorbk

    My 1st thought when I saw the title was, this will be good.
    A classic case of the irrational attempting to apply logic, Falk is a walking, breathing oxymoron!