Assessing the Israel Palestine Conflict on U.S.S. Liberty Day

17 Jun

I am posting the edited and slightly modified transcript of a talk given on the evening of June 8, 2012 at the University Temple Methodist Church in Seattle. The actual talk is available via YouTube. It is published here in response to several requests. Comments of course welcome.


Thank you so much. It’s intimidating for me to be in this sacred space to begin with, but I think I’ve never had the experience of three introductions. I’m not sure I can live up to one, but three is quite overwhelming. I also want to thank Rev. Lang for allowing us to meet here in this very imposing atmosphere.  And let me express gratitude to all of these groups that joined together to sponsor this event. They deserve our deep appreciation, because no issue confronting American society more needs the kind of open discussion that I hope we will have this evening than the realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict and how it is distorting the American role in the Middle East.

There is an important price that is more than the monetary price tag. There is a moral and a political price tag that has been associated with allowing such an oppressive structure as Israel maintains in relation to the Palestinian people to be subsidized and for the United States to be complicit through such a long period of time in the subjugation of a people deprived of its land and deprived of its rights.

I wanted to say at the outset that my approach to the Israel Palestine conflict does not proceed very much from my religious identity as a Jew or on the basis of my national identity as an American, but it is mostly an expression of my human identity. And I think if we want to live on this planet successfully we have to more and more think as humans not as Americans, not as Jews or Christians or Muslims. We have to retain the pride of those identities, but they have to be part of a human experience, and the more that we allow ourselves to be human, the more likely we are to take suffering seriously. And when we take suffering seriously, we become inevitably committed to the struggle for justice.

And I really think that’s what this whole set of issues, in the end, is about. Rev. Lang referred to the importance of courage and compassion, and I think that also is an essential part of what is involved here. I would say less courage, although the hostility to truth-seeking in this area sometimes requires at least stubbornness, if not courage, but what I really think it demands of all of us is responsibility, taking seriously our sense of freedom and opportunity as citizens to engage as much as we can in trying to solve a situation that has been so productive of violence and suffering and injustice.

I would contend that it is responsibility and compassion are what guides my understanding of these issues, and that compassion is something very fundamental in our historical space, I believe. Because living in a more and more crowded planet that is fragile and exquisitely complex, we need increasingly to be able to think, feel, and act as if the other is not an object but a subject. We have to find ways to have sympathy with the circumstances of the other, and if we allow ourselves to do that, the suffering of others does become intolerable. In a way I think what seeking the truth leads us to do is to bring us into contact, if we allow ourselves, with such suffering and therefore to recognize that it is intolerable to live passively in its presence.

We meet tonight June 8th on the 45th anniversary of the Israeli attack on the American espionage vessel the USS Liberty. In that attack 34 American naval personnel were killed and 170 wounded This incident happened a long time ago, but it illustrates for me the fundamental distortion of our sense of reality that has been fostered by a very disturbing relationship between our government and the government of Israel. Evidence has long confirmed that this attack on the USS Liberty was a deliberate attack by the Israeli government. This is well documented, including by a former CIA operative, Stephen Green among others. The reason for the Israeli attack was that this ship was listening to message traffic between Tel Aviv and the Israeli forces on the Egyptian border during the Six Day War. The Israeli leadership, particularly the military commander Moshe Dayan, at the time didn’t want the US to hear about Israeli plans to shift its forces so as to mount an attack on Syria and occupy the Golan Heights. The U.S. Government at that time opposed such an attack. It was very nervous about doing anything provocative in Syria, which was allied with Moscow, and could easily draw the Soviet Union into an open conflict with the West, and this was quite likely to escalate the situation in ways that were potentially extremely dangerous. So there was a clear Israeli strategic motive for attacking the U.S.S. Liberty.

I think it is really extraordinary that Israel, America’s supposed close ally, would actually carry out such an attack. The Liberty was well marked and in international waters, but what is more,  I think, and more revealing and most disturbing is that the American government would suppress the reality of what happened and engage in a cover up all these years,  a dynamic of misinformation originally insisted upon by Lyndon Johnson, the president at the time.

Even then, 45 years ago, the U.S. government was more prepared to allow this criminal sacrifice of its own people without a whimper of protest than to tell the American people the truth about what happened and why. It seems that even in 1967 Johnson was worried about a domestic Jewish backlash that would hurt his political standing if Israel were to be blamed for the attack.

What I really think is most important about this sorry story is the degree to which we need, as citizens and as human beings, to pursue the truth on our own. We cannot rely on our government, which is most unfortunate, to transmit the truth, even in such a situation where Americans serving as naval officers and seamen were the deliberate objects of lethal attack by the government of a foreign country. I think we should all think about what the saga of the Liberty tells us about our government, as well as about this unhealthy relationship with Israel.

The other anniversary that overlaps with what happened to the Liberty was the Six-Day War, the June war in 1967, which again was presented to all of us, including myself I must admit, as a war in which Israel had no choice but to defend itself against the prospect of imminent Arab aggression. It’s only now that we in the public are beginning to get a more accurate sense of the reality. There was an important article by Miko Peled the son of one of the leading Israeli generals at the time, who wrote, and somewhat surprisingly his piece was published in the Los Angeles Times, and many of you may have seen the article, in which he recounts on the basis of very reliable documentation that Israel did not perceive a threat in 1967 and that they understood that there was no danger at all that its Arab neighbors could attack them with any harmful effects on Israeli security. But what the Israeli leadership at the time did see was an attractive opportunity for expanded their territorial domain, and as well, they saw an excellent opportunity to destroy the military capabilities of their Arab neighbors. And so what was presented, again with the active complicity of our government, whose intelligence operative knew better, was a complete false conception. Put simply, a war of aggression was portrayed as a war of necessary self-defense, the overall claim being that Israel’s survival was at stake unless it struck first. To indulge such a fiction was to cast aside the most fundamental inhibition embedded in the UN Charter, namely, the absolute prohibition on a war of aggression, what the Nuremberg Judgment treated as Crimes Against the Peace.

This is very disturbing on a number of levels. To begin with, at the most fundamental level, it illustrates that even in relation to these most vital issues of war and peace, one cannot trust our own popularly elected government to tell its own citizens the truth. In situations where people are dying and being killed, one would have hoped that this kind of cover-up and dishonesty would be a form of treason that is regarded as a severe national crime against the people. But we tolerate, almost we legitimize, lying by the state for whatever strategic or domestic priorities it may have at a particular time. This experience also informs us that we have to depend on our own capacities to find the truth and pursue the truth without accepting public manipulations of a sensitive and controversial political reality.

In light of these preliminary remarks, I would now like to call our attention to three areas of falsehood or myth that explain in part the rationale for this unhealthy tight bonding between the United State Government and Israel. It seems almost unique in the history of international relations, particularly the degree to which the much smaller and weaker partner country is able to manipulate the superpower in such a manner as to distort its own interests and subvert its professed values. In this extreme situation, the superpower has actually relinquished its own capability to offer criticism or expose the truth, however justified such clarifications may be from the point of view of American national interests.

Can you appreciate how radical and unusual is such a posture of deference? That this government – no matter which party is in power – is intimidated or inhibited from expressing its own understanding of its own national interests because it doesn’t want to offend pro-Israeli media and domestic Jewish constituencies, agitate Congress, and antagonize certain sectors of public opinion. And nothing illustrates this intimidation more vividly, I think, than the way in which the Iran war is being promoted on the basis of contrived fears and implanted expectations. There has for several months been an insidious build-up toward a confrontation with Iran, threats that have been posed by Israel continuously and by the United States less vigorously have proceeded despite the widespread understanding that to carry out these threats would be disastrous – economically, politically in the region, and would likely have very adverse military repercussions.

And my point is not to make that substantive argument so much as to say our elected leaders are unwilling even to put the policy issue before the people as an issue for debate. In fact, as some of you who follow this question may have learned, all 16 American intelligence agencies are agreed that the overwhelming evidence points to Iran’s abandonment of a program to acquire nuclear weapons back in 2003. If you listen to our leaders or follow the media, you would never even know about this essential dimension of the situation, which should be itself shocking. You would never know that there was any ambiguity about what Iran is doing, which is what these various intelligence capabilities that we pay billions of dollars to possess are telling us about, and yet we refuse to listen or heed their assessment despite the reassurance that would undercut this dangerous drift toward a disastrous war.

I would have expected that at least President Obama would mention when talking about these issues that there substantial doubts exist was currently seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, the U.S. Governemt has joined with Israel in threatening Iran continuously, while imposing ever harsher sanctions, and we have taken such coercive measures without even daring to refer to the relevance of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Now why is this seeming oversight serious? It’s serious because it indirectly supports what I would call Israel’s incredible geopolitical hypocrisy, and makes clear that for Washington there is one set of rules for our friends and another for our adversaries. Such double entry bookkeeping deeply compromises the rule of law, because you can’t expect a system of law in which equals are treated so unequally to engender respect. Such a regime is not law at all, but power, a form of hard power, because it deals with an essential security issue.

What is I regard as deeply troubling beyond what I’ve already said is that there exists a perfectly attractive alternative to this kind of war diplomacy, and that is to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East that would include Israel. Nothing could be better actually for the genuine longer term security of Israel, among other things, than to get rid of these weapons and their threat. All of  the governments in the region would be welcome such an initiative that would denuclearize the region and avoid what almost any objective observer would view as a disastrous encounter, that is already generating acute tensions in the region and further destabilizing a situation that is already highly unstable.

But my main point here, which is part of my wider effort to convey an understanding of the Israel-Palestine conflict, is that because Israel is intent on this threat diplomacy directed at Iran, the U.S. leadership cannot even mention the fact that there exists an alternative to this military approach. Even a coercive sanctions approach is basically trying to impose a solution by force, where there is present a much more constructive way to proceed that is well known and quite obvious.

So there are two problems here that are both in my view fundamental. One problem is the inability or, let me express this more forthrightly, the political unwillingness of our elected leadership to criticize Israeli approaches to problems even when we know they are wrong. And you should be aware of what an extreme claim is being made: I’m saying that even when we know that Israel is taking a wrong course, we can’t propose an alternative, at least not in public, and our leaders are utterly unwilling to offer criticism of even the most ill-advised Israeli behavior.

The other point that I think is equally serious is that Israel and the United States, more than any other important governments in the world, have confined their understanding of security to a matter of choosing among military options. They see security through an outmoded optic that biases policy toward military approaches that have been proven to be, among other things, unsuccessful over and over again in recent decades.

One of the most important unlearned lessons of the post -colonial world is that the stronger military side usually over time loses a conflict. That was the main lesson of the Vietnam war, or should have been. The U.S. had complete military superiority- in the air, on sea, on land. Lyndon Johnson derisively referred to Vietnam as “a tenth-rate Asian power” that couldn’t hope to stand up to the might of the United States–  and yet as we all know they eventually won the war.  The Pentagon has stubbornly refused to learn this lesson, and so we keep reinventing technology and doctrines to say “Next time we can win.” And the most recent next times have been Iraq and Afghanistan, which only the most befuddled or corrupted observer would call victories.

In other words, our leadership and our media have great difficulty thinking outside the military box, and therefore they tend to ignore peaceful alternatives in conflict situations. Their political imagination is blinkered, in such a way as to incline the response to situations of conflict to select military instruments no matter how dysfunctional these may. This is a most disturbing situation if it is a generally accurate commentary on how our leadership approaches these issues of international peace and security.

Let me now consider directly some of the ideological infrastructure of this unconditionally pro-Israeli approach that has been adopted by our government. I think there are three main ‘myths’ that have been widely disseminated so as to constitute conventional wisdom, yet are essentially misleading. The first is that the Jewish people, having endured the Holocaust, have long been persecuted and that only when Jews act from strength can the Jewish people find security in a world that remains essentially anti-semitic. And besides that, in addition to that sense of permanent victimization, is the coupled belief that the only political language that the Arab world understands is the language of force. So it is this complementary set of ideas that shapes this first myth: when Jews are weak and passive, they have been mercilessly persecuted; but when they are strong and use their power aggressively, they are respected and their existed is treated as a valuable asset for others.

I think that such an outlook, admittedly in a somewhat  exaggerated form, is being expressed by Israel’s current leadership, particularly by Netanyahu and Lieberman. In a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, David Shulman, who is a widely known and admired Israeli peace activist, conveyed a similar understanding: “Like many Israelis, he (Netanyahu) inhabits a world where evil forces are just about to annihilate the Jews, who must strike back in daring and heroic ways to snatch their life from the jaws of death. I think that like many other Israelis, he is in love with such a world and would reinvent it even if there was no serious threat from outside.”

I believe that this sense of political paranoia, coupled with a stereotyping of the Arab adversary as disposed toward violence unless faced with greater violence, explains a lot about the mentality that has emerged in Israel. Almost everything is wrong with such a stance, including that it greatly undervalues the relevance of peaceful diplomacy, the sort of diplomacy that I just discussed with reference to Iran. Those who subscribe to this first myth become unduly distrustful of genuine efforts to achieve peace by compromise and normalization, and thinking that does move in a political zone that is not dominated by militarist analysis and understanding is discredited. So I think there are many things wrong with such an approach, and its prevalence helps explain this willingness by the United States over the years to subsidize such a world view that is excessively militarist and has made the relationship with Israel unnecessarily costly in a number of different ways.

Peter Beinart challenges this myth in his important recent book The Crisis of Zionism. Beinart is himself an ardent Zionist, but what he persuasively argues is we need a new American Jewish narrative, built around this basic truth: Jews are not history’s permanent victims. To perpetuate this identity as victim is a choice partly being made by the victim and does not fit the world situation that now confronts Israel. Jewish victimization not in any sense a matter of destiny or necessity, and to rely on such an identity in order to justify the victimization of the Palestinians is neither morally acceptable nor politically viable.

A second widely endorsed explanation of this special American relationship is that Israel is the only democracy in the region, which is what you hear sanctimoniously declaimed so often in the halls of Congress – [laughter from the audience] – although you don’t often hear this asserted greeted with such welcome laughter. There are several things wrong with such a generalization. At least since the Arab Spring of 2011, it’s no longer accurate to not recognize that Tunisia and possibly Egypt as at least have become fledgling democracies that are operating within a framework of respect for law and fundamental human rights. These countries have seriously problems, but they are definitely moving toward establishing democracies after engaging in largely peaceful revolutionary movements. Even before the Arab Spring Turkey had established a successful democratic governing system that was also economically extremely robust and pursuing a foreign policy that has resulted in the Turkish leader becoming by far the most respected political leader in the Middle East, and has led Turkey to be the most admired country outside of the Western world. It certainly no longer fits the reality, that Israel is the only democratic country in the region, even if one does not cast doubt upon Israel’s claim to be ‘democratic.’

And if you are more in touch with the circumstances of Israel, you would realize that Israel in many respects doesn’t deserve to be called a democratic county. Not only is it not the only democracy– it may be a democracy at all. There exist at least 26 separate laws in Israel that discriminate against the Palestinian minority living there, which is 1.5 million people or 20 percent of the total population. So it’s a very serious thing to claim, to paper over the reality of this discriminatory structure that has been present in Israel since its inception.  The Palestinian minority in Israel are at best second-class citizens and in many ways are living with increasing vulnerability and in an atmosphere where they’re not wanted, in a state that is proclaiming itself as dedicated to the purification, to the ethnic purification of the population, with the goal of making Israel as Jewish as possible in all its dimensions.

In addition to this pattern of discrimination, Israel’s democratic credentials are tarnished by its the consistent defiance of international law. It is one of the characteristics of a democratic society in the 21st century that it shows respect for international law and international institutions. Israel rejected without bothering to give its own version of the legal issues a nearly unanimous of the International Court of Justice in 2004 declaring that the separation wall built on Palestinian occupied territory was unlawful, should be dismantled, and Palestinians compensated. It’s very rare to have a 14-1 decision rendered by the International Court of Justice. The judges come from all over the world. This was a clear case when it comes to deciding the legal issues present, there was not room for responsible legal dissent. I am sure that you can guess which country the one dissenting judge came from, and of course, you would be right.

But what should have been embarrassing, again from the picture of this Israeli bias that has crept into all corners of our public life, is that the U.S. Government rejected the International Court of Justice’s opinion even before Israel did, seemingly eager to demonstrate that it was more pro-Israeli than Israel itself. And Washington did the same thing after the release of the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war of 2008-2009. Contrary to Israeli this was a very balanced report that identified with clarity those battlefield practices Israel relied upon that were inconsistent with international law. From my perspective the report was actually quite pro-Israeli. It overlooked some very important Palestinian issues, such as the fact that the civilian population of Gaza was locked into the combat zone during the war. This is very unusual. It meant that Palestinians were not permitted to become refugees, they were not allowed to leave the combat zone, which both cruel and harmful to the civilian population, as well as violative of Israel’s obligation to the people of Gaza in its continuing role as the occupying power.

Another example of the Israel disregard of international law involved the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, in May of 2010.  At that time Israeli naval commandos attacked a humanitarian ship that was trying to bring medical supplies to Gaza that were very much needed and was trying to challenge a blockade that was a form of collective punishment that is itself a war crime prohibited by Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. And so in a way this defiance of international law and the support that the U.S. has consistently given to such defiance is one further expression of the degree to which American foreign policy cannot fulfill its national ideals because of this readiness to exempt Israel from criticism, despite the fact that we have provided Israel with so much military and economic assistance, and should at least be able to voice our opinions to uphold national interests and core values.

The third of these myths that I wanted to bring to our attention is a kind of hard-power myth, that Israel is the most reliable and important strategic ally possessed by the United States in the Middle East, which is crucial because the region contains such a large percentage of the world’s proven energy reserves. In my view this is a complete misunderstanding of the best means to ensure positive relations with the oil-producing countries in the region. Such a goal could be far better realized if the U.S. were to pursue a balanced approach to the conflict and exerted pressure on Israel to solve the conflict in conformity with respect for the rights of the Palestinians under international law, and thereby help establish conditions needed for a sustainable peace.

In other words, this idea that Israel is so important as a strategic ally is another misinterpretation, it seems to me, of security in the 21st century, because it identifies conflates security with military superiority. There is no question that Israel is the strongest military power in the region, and that its power can be thought of as an addition to American military power. The misunderstanding arises from the belief that security can be achieved by reliance on military superiority. Such a belief was more or less true in the nineteenth century, and it was generally accurate before the anti-colonial movement succeeded, but it isn’t true in the world as it’s constituted today. This change helps us understand why military superiority has generally not produced favorable political outcomes in the major conflicts of the last 75 years. More than ever military capabilities can destroy unlimited amounts of physical structures and kill people, but it can rarely control the political outcome of long and deep conflicts. Military agency is not how history is moving in the 21st century, and as long as we try to ignore the populist movement of history by continuing to believe in the military foundations of security, we will find ourselves more and more mystified by political frustrations in actual conflict situations.

The United States has never been militarily stronger in its history relative to the rest of the world, from a military perspective, yet at the same time never more insecure. It’s this disjunction that our leaders and citizens have yet to comprehend, and therefore our country has been unable to act globally in a rational fashion, unable to uphold its own security. I would revert to the approach being taken to Iran’s supposed program to acquire nuclear weapons as emblematic of this utter failure to understand both the limits of military superiority and the nonviolent alternatives to it that are most often more effective. Both sides of this 21st century reality are important in my view, and neither is being acted upon in an appropriate manner in American foreign policy, and the consequences are most unfortunate.

Beyond these features of the global setting, the absurdly one-sided relationship with Israel has damaged greatly U.S. credibility as a trusted global leader. It has reinforced an image of this country as hypocritical, exploitative, overbearing, and a purveyor of double standards. Activists who were participating in the Arab Spring movements made clear their insistence on gaining distance from the United States. One of the few shared element across was that the Arab publics were not only were eager to get rid of their domestic tyrants, but they also were intent in not having any successor political arrangement restore American influence in their governing process. So the American regional global role was seen in a largely negative way. This was due in large part to the American complicity in the denial to the Palestinian of their fundamental rights.

So what I’m trying above all to express is that the relationship to Israel has reinforced an independent militarist turn in this country that derives from the existence of a permanent war economy that came into being during World War II and persisted during the long Cold War. This wartime atmosphere produced a militarist bureaucracy, what Eisenhower 50 years ago tried to warn the American people about, what he called the military-industrial complex. A government that has become bureaucratized in a way that is biased toward adopting military approaches to problem-solving cannot be reconciled over time with maintaining the inner spirit of democratic government. The militarist turn creates a constant emphasis on security threats and generates fear of and hatred toward enemies, real and imagined. This leads to perceived justifications for many encroachments upon freedoms at home. The post 9-11 period has been dramatically illustrative of the unfortunate domestic consequences of militarizing security.

What I’m trying to convey is that a dominant mentality has emerged out of this long process of militarization that is crippling the national political and moral imaginations. It disables the country from pursuing a rational and moral course that is compatible with the particular challenges of our new century. The relationship with Israel is an extreme version, as well as being a microcosm of a much broader problem that makes it so difficult for the country at this stage to find workable and humane solutions for problems at home and abroad.

I want to say, before bringing these remarks to an end, that there are several important developments in relation to the Palestinian conflict that should be noticed by people such as yourselves who care about these issues, but also to remind us that our understanding of this conflict is filtered through an extremely biased media and an extremely one-sided government set of responses. These atmospheric factors deprive us of the opportunity to think for ourselves about what’s happening in this conflict.

The developments that I wanted to mention briefly are illustrative of this. The first of these is the almost total disillusionment with international negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as at all relevant to a just resolution of the conflict. This mood of disillusionment is widespread, and for different reasons, is on both sides of the fence, Israel and Palestine. I want to point out is that time is not neutral as between the parties. The Israelis have used the failed negotiations ever since 1993, when the so-called Oslo framework was accepted, to gradually annex significant portions of the West Bank and to change the demographic character of West Jerusalem.

In other words, the Palestinians have lost and the Israelis have gained by the absence of progress during several decades of negotiations. Therefore, it has come to seem like a fool’s errand to continue to participate in such a game, at least from the Palestinian side. The most widely respected political leader, Marwan Barghouti, recently made a call from his prison cell to, what saying to his people, “give up the farce of the peace process” and negotiations and have recourse to massive nonviolent resistance. I find this sensible advice.

The second development that both follows from and was really anticipated prior to what Barghouti had to say, is to take proper note of the dramatic turn on the part of Palestinian activists, including its more radical elements, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, toward nonviolence. What I would emphasize consistent with my theme is that you would have to be a reader of online, marginal publication to have any awareness of this trend.  The media blackout should be shocking in view of the earlier discrediting of Palestinian resistance precisely because it was violent and had targeted those who were innocent.

It’s not only that for several years the Palestinians have essentially given up armed resistance, although not totally or with a principled rationale. Palestinian militia groups in Gaza have retaliated periodically when Israel has attacked or assassinated their leaders. These responses have been largely symbolic as the rockets and mortars used have been too inaccurate to cause much harm, although they do generate fear in the Israeli communities within range, and represent unacceptable tactics. The basic Palestinian political strategy is evidenced by how they have resisted for some years the construction of this unlawful separation wall. It has been exclusively by reliance on peaceful demonstrations that have been carried on courageously every week for seven years and have remained nonviolent despite enduring considerable Israeli violence that has produced death and injury. Palestinians and international solidarity groups, including some from Israel, have tried to break the blockade of Gaza by way of the Free Gaza Movement that is essentially a civil society initiative that seeks peacefully to challenge an unlawful regime of blockade that governments and the UN have not been able to do anything about except denounce. And Palestinian NGOs have initiated the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign, which is growing in strength and geographic reach and has had an increasing tangible effect on Israeli trade and investment.

And most, perhaps, impressive of all, Palestinians have recently challenged the use of imprisonment and administrative detention through a series of remarkable hunger strikes, which have gone almost completely unreported by the American media. We hear endlessly about Chinese human rights activists or about those that challenge the situation in Tibet, and we should hear about them—I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t – but these hunger strikes, currently there’s one Palestinian who’s a soccer star that’s been on a hunger strike for over 82 days, which is 16 days longer than Bobby Sands’ famous IRA hunger strike unto death back in 1981, and yet there is a complete blackout in the media

In stark contrast, the IRA hunger strike was covered on a daily basis. This anti-Palestinian media bias involves a double movement that has had a distorting effect on American public opinion: a politics of invisibility so far as Palestinian initiatives are concerned and Palestinian grievances are concerned, and there’s a politics of magnification as soon as the Palestinians engage in anything wrong. This style of reportage creates an unreal appreciation of what the circumstances, the existing circumstances are. And this damage is, I think, magnified further by the internal drift of Israeli politics, which has gone further and further in the direction of an expansionist, non-interest in a compromise, no feeling of pressure that there is any need to compromise with the Palestinians so as to reach an agreed solution. David Shulman, in this same essay that I quoted from before, said that what has happened in Israel is a take-over by the settler mini-state of the central institutions of the Israeli state system as a whole.

And this development should be regarded as quite alarming, because the whole settler movement has been premised from its outset on a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Article 49, Paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits transfer of population from an occupying country to the occupied country, an interpretation that is shared by virtually every government in the world.

So the whole settlement phenomenon is an affront to international law, and the fact that the Palestinian Authority has to be apologetic when they ask for a suspension or freeze of the settlement activity during direct negotiations suggests how distorted our expectations have become as to what is reasonable to expect. And for Netanyahu to be praised when a partial freeze was agreed to for a few months in the West Bank, which wasn’t observed in practice anyway, reinforces this sense that the United States Government is incapable of objective analysis and thought when it comes to addressing the conflict.

There is a further development that I think is important to realize and again has not received much commentary, and that is: American society, much more so than five years ago, I think would be ready to accept a balanced approach to the conflict. It’s the Beltway, that is official Washington, that is completely organized by AIPAC and by the right-wing evangelical movements, in such a way as to not only prevent a balanced approach, but to discourage a serious debate as to what might work equitably and effectively. It’s an extreme distortion that was I think dramatized for anyone who observed the wildly enthusiastic reception that Netanyahu received in the U.S. Congress a few months ago, a reception more favorable than would be accorded any leader of any other country in the world.

So what I’m really saying is that American society cannot find ways at the present time to translate its changed sentiments about the conflict, more desire for a more balanced approach, can’t translate this willingness into policy. There is this growing gap between what the government is doing and what the society would accept. And that is a challenge to all of us, I think, to exert pressure to close this gap.

Let me end with a couple of quotes and a reference to the challenge that we face in light of these circumstances. A famous, or celebrated, Jewish thinker and rabbi, Abraham Heschel, said “Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” And I think we as Americans have a particular responsibility. Our funds, taxpayer funds, are used to subsidize this unlawful and cruel occupation, this drift toward promiscuous Israeli and American militarism that is endangering the stability of the region. And there are opportunities to do things. We can certainly be more active in informing our representatives that the American people want a more balanced and truthful policy. We can do things to support the BDS movements in our communities, and I know there have been some initiatives here in Washington. We can certainly object to the sale of products that were made in the settlements and to corporations that profit from their dealings with occupied Palestine. We can also do our best to influence the media presentation of this conflict and oppose military assistance to Israel.

Israel has become a prosperous country with a high standard of living that should be taken into account in shaping U.S. policy. The continuation of lavish economic assistance despite the fiscal troubles here makes no sense, and considering that such funds are subsidizing Israeli militarism makes these contributions a real scandal, or should a policy that deserves to be treated as a real scandal.

Albert Einstein made many illuminating remarks on the human condition, and one of them fits with the tenor of my concluding sentiments: “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” I think that we need to do our best to avoid such deference to authority to overcome the weight of conventional thinking on these issues, to get around the distortions of government policy, and to do something to correct for the biased media filter that gives us such a selective presentation of the facts as the conflict unfolds. And if you ask what is truth is this situation, I think it is getting to understand the experience and the facts as accurately as possible with as little interference from biased sources as can be achieved.

I think we are all challenged to do our part. I feel that the Palestinian people have displayed great courage and steadfastness, and they do need courage, and have expressed that courage in a variety of ways, that I find inspirational. We who are on the outside do not need courage but we do need commitment, thereby to strengthen a compassionate attachment to their struggle, the only path to a just peace for both peoples. Thank you very much.

42 Responses to “Assessing the Israel Palestine Conflict on U.S.S. Liberty Day”

  1. monalisa June 17, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Dear Richard,
    thank you again for your continuous support for the Palestinians but also to shed light on reality for others too than Palestinians.

    Just yesterday I saw again (the third time) a documentation about Joan Baez.
    She is a nice singing revoluzzer – a pazifist. At least in the sixties and early seventies.

    I think USA (and Europe) is in great need of such people who are fearless and willing to go onto streets and sing about human rights and freedom for the suppressed.
    Governments – everywhere not only in USA – are afraid of people marching onto streets. Afraid of too great movements with too many people in open areas, in cities.

    In USA – and even in Europe – young people were very very much concerned in the sixties about Vietnam – for example.
    Such a movement, a very strong one, doesn’t exist nowadays.

    A movement for human rights, a movement against using up taxpayers’ money for wars while the US government is on the verge for a downfall. (Same goes partly too for EU.)

    The good development is that a great number of academia, mostly in USA, has a more and more bigger movement in the Internet. Dissecting lies of government and mainstream media.
    If movement of the Internet and movement onto streets would join I think the result would be great.

    However, as in the sixties and as already last year shown in California and New York, people should know the danger being beaten dangerously by police as well as being put into jail. (Especially regarding the newer “laws” in USA concerning detention of individuals!)


  2. Dieter Misgeld June 17, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I always value your analyses and reflections, Richard Falk, and have learned much from them. But this is close to the best text which you have written lately. Many thanks

    • Joseph Tillotson June 18, 2012 at 10:34 am #

      Outstanding in content and analysis. Too bad our MSM does not publish such articles for our compliant public to absorb. The Zionist project is eventually doomed because of its inherently evil agenda: ethnic cleansing, apartheid, racial superiority, militarism, reliance on a foreign power (I.e. the U.S.) and victimhood.

  3. Rabbi Ira Youdovin June 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Prof. Falk,

    As a familiar adage has it, everyone is entitled to his own beliefs, but not to his own facts. Let’s apply this to the address you delivered at the University Temple Methodist Church in Seattle.

    I won’t dwell on your contention that Israel and its American Jewish supporters control American foreign policy driving it in ways deleterious to American interests. There are 313 million Americans; fewer than six million are Jews. The old canards about Jews controlling global financial markets, the American media, etc., which are rooted in the anti-Semitic notion of a Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy, have long since been discredited. Moreover, if Jews dictate American policy, how does one explain the very public acrimony between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama, and why an overwhelming majority of American Jews will vote for the president’s re-election, when his GOP opponent is promising unequivocal support for the Jewish state?

    But as I said, you’re entitled to your opinion. However, when that opinion is supported by outright distortions of fact, something needs to be said.

    You write about the Six Day War:

    “[We now know] on the basis of very reliable documentation that Israel did not perceive a threat in 1967 and that they understood that there was no danger at all that its Arab neighbors could attack them with any harmful effects on Israeli security. But what the Israeli leadership at the time did see was an attractive opportunity for expanded their territorial domain…”

    This repeats the shopworn allegation that Israel initiated the war for the purpose of conquest, with the intention of seizing permanent possession of Arab land. He cites as “very reliable documentation” an op ed by an Israeli leftist, Miko Peled, which appeared in the June 6, 2012 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
    You urge your readers to read the article. I second that. For they will find that it says nothing to support your accusation. In fact, it says quite the opposite.

    Citing transcripts of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and the Israeli army’s general staff on June 2, 1967, four days before war broke out, Peled writes:

    “…the generals made it clear to Eshkol that the Egyptians would need 18 months to two years before they would be ready for a full-scale war, and therefore this was the time for a preemptive strike…. Nasser is advancing an ill-prepared army because he is counting on the Cabinet being hesitant. Your hesitation is working in his advantage.”

    To understand this episode, one must know its historical context, something both you and Peled deliberately omit. Egypt’s president Nasser had amassed troops on his border with Israel and ordered the United Nations’ Peacekeeping Force stationed there to leave. He had also blockaded the Straits of Tiran, interdicting traffic to Eilat, Israel’s vital southern port. And he repeatedly threatened to “drive the Jews into the sea.” Every sign pointed to an imminent attack. What the generals told the ever-hesitant Eshkol is that it was time for a preemptive strike, especially as intelligence indicated that Nasser had over-estimated the preparedness of his armed forces.

    You apparently would allow Israel to preempt an enemy invasion only if its very existence were at stake. Otherwise, it was to lay back and fight only on its own soil, risking the lives of its civilians. This is not only unreasonable. It is also contrary to both age-old Just War doctrine and international law. Indeed, blockading the Straits of Tiran is a casus belli under international law.

    Moreover—and this point is of critical importance—Israel’s strike on June 6, 1967 was directed only at Egypt and Syria (which has also amassed troops on its border with Israel.) Israel didn’t cross the Green Line until the third day of the war, after the Jordan, which had imposed its own Occupation on the West Bank since 1947, commenced artillery attacks. Had Jordan not made its unprovoked entry into the fray, there would have been no Israeli presence in either East Jerusalem or the West Bank.

    After the war, when Israel offered to return the West Bank in exchange for peace, the Arabs, represented by eight Arab heads of state meeting at the Arab League Summit in Khartoum ( August 28-September 1, 1967), responded with their infamous “Three Nos: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.” Even Benny Morris, one of Israel’s “new historians” who have been highly critical of Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians, wrote that at Khartoum, the Arab leaders “hammered out a defiant, rejectionist platform that was to bedevil all peace moves in the region for a decade.”

    Those are the facts, Professor. You can Google them.

    Another example of your distortions, this one easier to access because it doesn’t require delving into 45-year-old documents. You write about Iran:

    “…the Iran war is being promoted on the basis of contrived fears and implanted expectations. There has for several months been an insidious build-up toward a confrontation with Iran, threats that have been posed by Israel continuously and by the United States less vigorously…”

    “Contrived fears and implanted expectations…” Hmmm. How does this comport with the reality of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated public threats the annihilate Israel, and with Iran’s consistent refusal to allow United Nations teams to inspect its nuclear facilities?

    You note that:

    “…all 16 American intelligence agencies are agreed that the overwhelming evidence points to Iran’s abandonment of a program to acquire nuclear weapons back in 2003.”

    That’s not quite accurate. This past February, James Clapper, the United States’ Director of National Intelligence testified that:

    “[While Iran’s leadership is] keeping themselves in a position to [decide to make a nuclear weapon],” there is no strong evidence that Iran has decided to restart its nuclear weapons program.”

    Any sane person hopes that Iran has abandoned its program for developing nuclear weapons. But James Clapper’s testimony leaves the door wide open for a re-start at any time. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently reported that Iran continues to enrich uranium at a swift pace. According to the IAEA, it has already enriched 3, 345 kilos of uranium Iran to 3.5 percent. Were it were enriched further, it would provide enough uranium for at least two atomic bombs. Estimates are that if the Iranian leadership made the decision to produce an atomic weapon, it would take them 35 to 106 days to actually have the fissile material for a weapon.

    You also allege that:

    “[The American] government – no matter which party is in power – is intimidated or inhibited from expressing its own understanding of its own national interests because it doesn’t want to offend pro-Israeli media and domestic Jewish constituencies, agitate Congress, and antagonize certain sectors of public opinion.”

    There you go again, Professor, with the sick myth of omnipotent Jewish power propagated in vile anti-Semitic vehicles like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Moreover, the accusation doesn’t comport with readily accessible facts. Fear of an Iranian bomb is by no means limited to the United States and Israel.
    The Los Angeles Times recently reported that:

    “The public in many European and Middle Eastern countries supports stronger economic sanctions and even military action against Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions, according to a poll of opinion in 21 countries released Friday by the Pew Research Center.

    “Despite a deep weariness with the war in Afghanistan, pluralities in Germany, Italy, Spain, Britain, Poland and the Czech Republic would support military action against Iran, the poll found. In Germany, where there has been strong public pressure for an end to the Afghan war, 50% of respondents favor military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program, with 41% opposed.

    “Majorities in the Middle Eastern nations of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon also supported military action.”

    Are we to believe that the majorities in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are unduly influenced or intimidated by powerful Jewish communities in their midst?

    Finally, a word must be said about your allegation that debate over Iran is stifled by the American government:

    “…our elected leaders are unwilling even to put the policy issue before the people as an issue for debate. In fact, as some of you who follow this question may have learned, If you listen to our leaders or follow the media, you would never even know about this essential dimension of the situation, which should be itself shocking.”

    Professor, I appreciate that you travel a great deal. But don’t any of the places you stay get CNN, or allow internet access so that you can follow the New York Times, Washington Post, etc., as well as a myriad of blogs? Steal a peek into these, and you’ll discover a vigorous debate over what to do, and not to do, about Iran.

    As the immortal Casey Stengel once said, “you could look it up.”


    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • walker percy June 29, 2012 at 6:29 am #

      Dear Rabbi,
      Sorry, but we all know how to decode hasbara now. As soon as we read the words, “old canard” or “shopworn allegations” (I’m wondering why you didn’t refer to any “tropes”), we understand that what we are reading is not truth, but simply a series of canned responses that have been made available for the purpose of mis-information and mis-direction. Just by adopting a tone of righteous indignation and bringing up Protocols of the Elders of Zion or mentioning the arab desire to “drive the Jews into the sea” (how biblical!), we readers understand what is going on. But, all one has to do is to is read the comments section on blogs and newspaper sites to realize that the jig is up. The world is waking up, and no amount of patrolling the internet and inserting comments like yours will work anymore to neutralize negative feelings about Israel and those Jews and evangelical christians around the world who enable Israeli theft and murder.

      • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 7:24 am #

        Falk uses the absure term that Israel wants purification of Jews for its country.
        Israel is a democracy and has done everything in its power to bring peace and security to its citizens. If you want to look at real racist, aparthied countries, just look at Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan, etc. How many Jews live in these countries??? None!!! They are ethnically cleansed of Jews. How many Arabs live in Israel? 1.5 million. Facts speak louder than accusations.
        If you want to speak out against Racism you should criticize the Arabs aparthied policies against the Kurds, Coptics, Black Christians of Sudan, Berbers and Western Sahara.
        It seems that after 5 decades of terror and murder against Israel.
        The Palestinians might have realized that this campaign of terrorism and rejectionism has failed.

        Then Falk leaves out the fact the PA has a death penalty to any Arab that sells land to Jews.
        Infact right now there’s an Arab named Muhammad Abu Shahala who reportedly confessed under torture to the PA for selling his home in Hebron to a Jewish man. He has been sentenced to death after a hurried trial.

        The PA was established in May 1994. The first law it adopted defined selling land to Jews as a capital offense. Shortly thereafter scores of Arab land sellers to Jews began turning up dead.
        Leaders of the Jewish community of Hebron wrote a letter to international leaders this week asking them to intervene with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and demand that he cancel Shahala’s sentence. In it they wrote, “It is appalling to think that property sales should be defined as a ‘capital crime’ punishable by death.

        “The very fact that such a ‘law’ exists within the framework of the PA legal system points to a barbaric and perverse type of justice, reminiscent of practices implemented during the dark ages.”

        They went on to make the reasonable comparison between the PA’s law prohibiting land sales to Jews to Nazi Germany’s Nuremburg laws that constrained and finally outlawed trade between Jews and Germans. The letter concluded with the question, “Is the Palestinian Authority a reincarnation of the Third Reich?”

    • monalisa June 23, 2012 at 12:45 am #

      To Rabbi Ira Youdovin:

      It would be wise if you would look up too into physics before blowing into the same trumpets as political “manipulatiing” forces.

      Mainstream media as you mendioned above are somehow just repeating what their countries’ political leaders ‘order’ for “influencing the not well educated people in a countriy” who represent
      usually the majority in a country.

      Producing a nuclear bomb with an Uranium U-235 enrichment of 3.5 % is not possible.
      An enrichment between 2,5 % and 3,5 % of U-235 is just normal for power plants. And U-238 needs about 0,7% enrichment.
      Both are needed for power plants of different kinds.

      To enrich Unranium for a nuclear bomb the enrichment has to be at least 90% of U-235.

      And in this case you should also mention that Israel has between 400 and 500 nuclear warheads.
      While never any inspection was allowed from Israel’s side to control Israel’s Uranium enrichment/arsenal.
      And for warheads with DU material (= depleted Uranium) the waste material of power plants is used.

      Israel did neither sign nor ratify an Agreement of Non Proliferation.
      Iran did.
      As long as Israel hasn’t ratified a Non Proliferation Agreement it poses a real danger to its neighbors.

      And as shown when Israel bombed Lebanon some sorts of nuclear material had been used (look it up too – if you don’t know it yet!).


  4. Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Then Falk talks about Marwan Barghouti as some man of peace.
    Barghouti is a typical Palestinian mass murderer of Israeli civilians.
    Barghouti is a sadist who even murdered a monk in 01.
    Its good to know Palestinian fascists are people Falk looks up to.
    The following are some of the more heinous terror attacks for which Marwan Barghouti is responsible:
    Jun 12, 2001 – The murder of a Greek Orthodox monk on the road to Ma’ale Adumim.
    Jan 17, 2002 – The shooting attack during a bat mitzva celebration at a banquet hall in Hadera. Six Israelis were killed in this attack, 26 were injured.
    Jan 22, 2002 – The shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. Two Israelis were killed, 37 wounded.
    Feb 25, 2002 – The shooting attack in the Jerusalem residential neighborhood of Neve Ya’acov. One Israeli policewoman was killed, 9 Israelis were wounded.
    Feb 27, 2002 – The murder of an Israeli at a coffee factory in the Atarot industrial zone of Jerusalem.
    Feb 27, 2002 – The suicide attack perpetrated by Daryan Abu Aysha at the Maccabim checkpoint in which two policeman were injured.
    Mar 5, 2002 – The shooting spree at the Tel Aviv Seafood restaurant. Three Israelis were killed, 31 wounded.
    Mar 8, 2002 – A suicide terrorist was killed in Daheat el Barid as he was on his way to carry out an attack in Jerusalem.
    Mar 27, 2002 – The interception of an ambulance and the confiscation of an explosive belt which was being smuggled from Samaria into Barghouti’s terrorist infrastructure in Ramallah.
    Marwan Barghouti was also directly responsible for operating the terrorist cell of Raed Karmi in Tulkaram which carried out a series of deadly terrorist attacks.

    • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 7:33 am #

      Richard Falk, I don’t know where your silly world municipality is, but if you lived next door to people like the Pals that slit the throats of babies, blow up children on school buses and then pass out candy you might sing a different smarter tune.

      There is a difference between terrorism and defense of innocents.
      Israel targets terrorists, Israeli civilian deaths are the Palestinians goal.
      Big difference

      Hamas and the PLO derive their legitimacy by killing Israeli secretaries and high schoolers.

      The Palestinians have raised an entire generation to believe that the highest aspiration in life is to kill Jews. The Palestinians are engaged in an unremitting campaign of targetted murder of women and children. When the Palestinians massacre Israeli school children on buses, and babies in baby carriages, they celebrate. They have raised an entire generation to believe that the the highest cultural and religious value is the massacre of Jews. Through the Arabs hate, an entire generation has lost the capacity for humanity.

      • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 7:37 am #

        To the moderator operating this site, I hope you put my posts on.
        But i dont expect you do it.
        Its well known, Falk wants no opposition to his lies about Israel.
        You can say Falk is no different then the Arab dictators or the Ayatollahs who run Iran.
        All opposition must be suppressed.
        Mark my words, the last thing this site wants is my posts which rebuke the lies of Falk.

      • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

        Israel existed 15 centuries before Mohammad was born.

        Jerusalem has had a Jewish population majority since the late 1850s – that’s 130 years already, before ‘Palestinianism’ was invented:
        Jews were expelled from East-Jerusalem by the Jordanian occupation at 1948. They lived in East-Jerusalem for thousands of years. They returned to their homes after Jordan defeat at 1967.
        Falk is upset that the Arabs can no longer ethnic cleanse the Jews from their historic capitol.
        ISRAEL which is defending itself against Pan-Arabism, Arab imperialism and Arabization of the Middle East – that is the “problem you dont like.
        The real problem is global Arab/Moslem insistence to spread hate, violence, wars, terrorism, lies, false accusations against Jews and reducing Jews to subhumans or second class citizens – slaves or servants – without any human rights.
        When you have Palestinian leaders teaching their people, If their are 10 Jews and you kill 6 of them, how many Jews are Left?
        When you have these same wicked leaders telling their people that Jews are the sons of Pigs and Apes.
        When you have Palestinian Mufti’s teaching in Mosques that the highest goal for a Muslim is to kill the Jews and to think Falk supports these evil people.

      • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

        The Palestinians got it good with Richard Falk. The Pals know they can send terrorists to cut the throats of Israeli babies, blow up buses full of Israeli civilians, massacre Israeli kids at Disco’s, pizzeria’s and cafe’s. Even when the Palestinians celebrate these massacres of Israeli civilians and name streets after these Islamo fascist homicide bombers, Falk still cant condemn Palestinian Nazism. Hopefullly sain people can see the Pals for their animalistic acts of terror and acts of war, which a few Israeli bombs can then fix this problem for good, without holding anything back on what the world thinks.
        Falk would be happy if the Palestinians just exterminated the Jews.

      • Ken Kelso July 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

        Over the past 19 years, we’ve seen what the Palestinians have done with the autonomy generously granted to them by Israel. They’ve slaughtered Israeli grandmothers and toddlers, pregnant women and elderly rabbis. They’ve set off their nail-studded, rat poison-laced bombs in shopping malls, disco’s, pizzeria’s, cafe’s and university cafeterias. They’ve turned school buses into blazing infernos, invaded home and shot mothers and children in their beds. They’ve dragged 13-year-old boys to caves and stoned them to death. Those who don’t actually pull the triggers, detonate the bombs or do the stoning, celebrate the atrocities in the streets of Ramallah and Jenin, as they danced in those same streets when other Arabs crashed two planes into the World Trade Center. These sadists even built an exhibition celebrating the Sbarros massacre. When do you think the Arabs will realize, that murdering Israeli pizza-eaters, dance-club people, school kids, teenagers and sleeping five-year-olds is barbaric. Do these Arabs have any humanity. It is becoming increasingly obvious, that the followers of Muhammed are not human beings. Somewhere a “Palestinian” watches the BBC and sees a kibbutz, called Metzer, which is getting along with its nearby Arab villages. This cannot be permitted to continue, so two attacks are planned against the place in one day. The first is foiled but the second does the trick. The terrorist bursts into the bedroom where a mother is putting her seven and nine year old sons to sleep. First he shoots the boys in the head to make sure their mother dies in agony, then he finishes her off. But that’s still not cruel enough, so the Palestinians come up with a better plan. At 7:30 in the morning, Israeli school kids crowd the number 20 bus in Jerusalem. A Palestinian homicide bomber gets on the bus and sits exactly where the Israeli children are seated. A second later the homicide bomber blows himself up and 11 Israeli school children are butchered to pieces. CNN interviewed the father of the homicide bomber, who expained his pride and how he encouraged his son to kill the Jews. When CNN asked him, how he felt that he murdered Israeli school kids? He said how proud he was of his son’s actions.

  5. Ken Kelso July 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Olympics gives in to Palestinian terrorists.
    Falk silent as usual on Israeli human rights.

    IOC spurning of memory of murdered Israeli athletes should come as no surprise

    The IOC’s history makes clear that the organisation cannot be expected to take a morally acceptable stance. So let’s not be surprised that it won’t hold a minute’s silence for eleven murdered athletes
    Hadar Sela
    19 July 2012

    It is by now pretty clear that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no intention of changing its stance on the subject of the modest request for a minute’s silence to commemorate the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by Palestinian terrorists forty years ago at the Munich Olympics.

    In his letter of response to the request, IOC President Jacques Rogge wrote:

    “What happened in Munich in 1972 strengthened the determination of the Olympic Movement to contribute more than ever to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.”

    But of course the real message which Rogge and his committee are transmitting loud and clear to the young people they claim to educate is that the ‘Olympic spirit’ is craven in the face of political pressures and that the IOC considers a ‘peaceful and better world’ to be one in which terrorism is appeased and overlooked.

    That message, however, is neither new nor surprising.

    The background to Rogge’s current stance begins with the fact that just eight years after Munich, Yasser Arafat – under whose leadership the PLO created the Black September terrorist group which carried out the murders – attended the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow at the invitation of the Soviet government and with an apparent blind eye from the IOC.

    It continues with the Palestine Olympic Committee’s acceptance to the Olympic Council of Asia just 13 years after the terror attack and the IOC decision to accept Palestine as a full member in 1995, despite the fact that Arafat headed the Palestine Olympic Committee in its early days.

    Palestine’s first ever Olympic participant (at the 1996 Atlanta games) held a day job with Force 17 – Arafat’s elite security unit – which also engaged in terror attacks. Force 17 was founded and initially commanded by Ali Hassan Salameh, who was also chief of operations for Black September.

    One of Force 17’s more notable alumni is Imad Mughniyah – who later went on to join Hizballah.

    Today, the Palestine Olympic Committee is headed by Jibril Rajoub – himself no stranger to terrorism, having joined Fatah in his youth and been convicted of throwing a grenade at Israeli soldiers in 1970. Rajoub was released from prison in 1985 under the ‘Jibril deal’ prisoner exchange with the PFLP-GC.

    His repeated re-arrest for terrorist activities and his role as organiser in the first Intifada caused him to be deported to Lebanon in 1988. From there he moved to Tunis, where he was the aide and advisor of Khalil al Wazir – aka Abu Jihad – the commander of Black September in the early 70s.

    Following al Wazir’s assassination, Rajoub (aka Abu Rami) became one of Arafat’s right-hand men and was allegedly behind a 1992 plot to assassinate Ariel Sharon. With the signing of the Oslo Accords, Rajub returned to his native village near Hebron in 1994 and became head of the PA’s Preventative Security Force (which has been accused in numerous instances of torture of opponents of Arafat) until 2002.

    During ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ (following the terror attack on the Park Hotel), Hamas and other wanted terrorists were found sheltering in Rajoub’s headquarters in Bitouniya.

    In 2003 (whilst the PA’s terror war against Israeli civilians still raged) he was appointed to the post of Arafat’s national security advisor and raised to the rank of Major General. In 2009 Rajoub was elected to the Fatah Central Committee. As well as being president of the Palestine Olympic Committee, Rajoub also heads the Palestinian Football Federation.

    Although today Jibril Rajoub likes to present himself as a pro-peace ‘moderate’, that impression is frequently contradicted when he speaks to his own people.

    Shortly after his election to the Fatah Central Committee at the sixth Fatah Congress in August 2009, Jibril gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he stated that “We [Fatah] adhere to all options and first and foremost, the option of resistance and armed struggle”.

    In 2011 Rajoub represented the PA at a reception for Palestinian prisoners (many of them convicted terrorists) released under the terms of the Shalit deal, praising both the kidnappers of Gilad Shalit and the newly-released terrorists themselves.

    Neither does Rajoub steer clear of using his sports-related posts as leverage for his political agenda. In June 2012 he demanded that UEFA cancel Israel’s hosting of the 2013 European Under-21 Championship and he was active in campaigning on behalf of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Mahmoud Sarsak.

    As recently as May 2012, Rajoub volunteered to lead a campaign to have Israel expelled from all Olympic unions and committees and stated that he opposes any form of ‘normalisation’ with Israel, including in the field of sports.

    Jibril Rajoub’s weighty terrorist past and his support for terrorism in the present have presented no obstacle to his rise up the ladder of international sports, either as president of the Palestine Olympic Committee or in the world of football.

    For all its fine words and its glossy charter, the International Olympic Committee’s appeasement of terror and unwillingness to take a stand against political bullying is by now a long-established tradition.

    Its rapid embrace of those connected to the organisation which perpetrated the most horrific event in the history of the IOC is an indication that the organization cannot be expected to take a morally acceptable stance.

    So let’s not pretend to be surprised that for the IOC a minute’s silence to remember eleven murdered athletes is too much to ask.

  6. Ken Kelso July 24, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    How much do average Egyptians Hate Jews?

    This clip from Egyptian Television last week shows just how much the average Egyptian hates the Jews. The show is in the format of a ‘CANDID CAMERA’ type of show where a person is invited to the show and then they are tricked into thinking it is an Israeli show with Jewish interviewers and producers.

    Many of the people who come to this show end up getting physically and emotionally violent with the woman interviewer thinking she is Jewish.
    Several in this clip strike and beat the woman. They also slap around the supposed Jewish producer. It shows hate-inspired incitement against Jews which is all over the Arab world.

    If you thought the average Egyptian citizen was looking for peace this clip will leave you with the chills…

  7. dan October 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    There is no state of Israel in the land of Israel or even one Arab has no Arab homeland (and therefore you are Arabs). You invaded / Zlgtm / infiltration – to Israel in Israel sponsored by, encouraging and backing the occupying Ottoman and British occupation but you became due to the owner or sovereign.
    Open your world map, an Israeli Arab. You will find in the Arab state (22) is bigger than the continent of Europe and the territory of all the Muslim countries (56) covers about a third of the Earth. Unimaginable huge space. Resources of oil and unfathomable riches.
    So on the face of it, it’s just fine that the Jewish people will be in one small country of its own, without having to share it with another Muslim Arab, no?
    And let me tell you a few words on People “Palestinians. You are not with. You are a Muslim fiction one single goal – to conquer the Land of Israel.

    Let’s start with your name:
    Romans conquered Israel called it as act of occupation, Frobinika Palestine “- the name of the Philistines who were the Israeli coastal cities. The Philistines were the red-haired sailors who reached the shores of Israel _ from _ the _ A _ R _ and _ the _ D _ and disappeared from our region about 1,600 years before the birth of Muhammad.
    No Arabs from the Arabian Peninsula Us Philistines – not genetic, not religious, not cultural, historical or geographical. You Arabs and Philistines. Romans could equally call on Israel Frobinika Switzerland. Would that have made you Swiss?

    As to Israel, Haifa Samar ..
    Choose any historical documentation, all historical map, any historian accepted by the International Academy show us where to Palestine, when was ever in human history state or country called Palestine, when was ever in human history, “with” called Palestinian people, who are you , where you are and what your relationship area of the Land of Israel. could not find even one individual anywhere in the world, has not in Muslim and Arab researchers (including the Koran which the land of Israel called the land of Israel, the land of Israel) reinforce the you have presented.
    There is a British record from the British Mandate, Turkish documentation from the Ottoman period, a record of all the conquests were the Land of Israel – there is no mention Palestinian people and a Palestinian state.
    Well, let’s agree that if you find any documentation (not part of the Palestinian propaganda retroactive changes historical facts) – being and existing in Israel – we already have something to start with.
    You are a cluster of cases of streams and Phalangists from around the Muslim world, who hate each other almost. . . Almost like you hate us. It’s actually the only thing that unites you – hate Zionists. Is based on a miserable drive back with!
    In 1948 the number of Arabs in Israel is the same number of Jews living in Arab countries.
    Twentieth century was a century of migration and population exchange across the entire planet. All Jews from Arab lands emigrated to their homeland in Israel. All Arabs from Israel were supposed to have returned to the United Arab homeland

    .. Not only did not do that – you continued to infiltrate and penetrate into Israel every sophisticated form imaginable, and its policy of Israel’s feeble has allowed you.
    Today you actually have a Palestinian state is Jordan. But you want to imagine the three of Palestine – Jordan, “New Palestine” to be established in the Gaza Strip and the West, and of course Israeli Arabs identify themselves as Palestinians continue to live in Israel, and bring them more and more “brothers” Palestinians from around the world. Thus, in a decade or two will be a minority in their own country Jews and Israel will become Palestine. Not suitable for us.
    So that’s what eventually happens, even if our Left Illusions diffuser to fill the great hope in you: you will have to return to your homeland. It will happen or good or set.
    Over the years (with the Zionist settlement) you adopted yourself the Jewish ethos, that is – the sanctity of Jerusalem and the right of return to Zion. While you built a mosque in the center of the Jewish sanctuary (a common Muslim practice in our world), but your holy city is Mecca, not Jerusalem and the right of return you have only Arabic and mark your homelands.

    In conclusion, I refer you to tell me kindly and humorous. Called “The Innocents Abroad” and it was written by “the author named Samuel Longhorn (commonly known as Mark Twain) in 1867., He toured Israel throughout. He did not see here any Palestinians, not orchards green, no Arab villages, not cities bustling . anything., he saw and described neglected, swamps, cholera, malaria, sick. “Land of Tears”, as he called the Land of Israel. everything here in this paradise called Israel – Build Jewish genius.’s no wonder you and your brothers covet it!

    And if you’re sitting in your home connected to electricity and typing an answer on, it is that the Zionists arranged a state that allows you to live a completely different level than 99% of your sisters in Arab countries ..

  8. Gerald June 10, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.


  1. TRANSCEND MEDIA SERVICE » Assessing the Israel Palestine Conflict on U.S.S. Liberty Day - June 19, 2012

    […] Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).Go to Original – Join the BDS-BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT, SANCTIONS campaign to protest the Israeli barbaric siege of […]

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