On Qatar and Gulf Geopolitics

3 Sep

Prefatory Note: The post below in the slightly modified text of an interview by the Tunisian journalist Awatef Ben Ali on behalf of the Qatar newspaper, Al Sharq, August 26, 2018.)

 

 

 

Q 1: From the perspective of international law, is the blockade on the State of Qatar and the 13 demands of the countries of the blockade legal and respecting international sovereignty?

 

A: The 13 demands of the Gulf Coalition plus Egypt, as well as the blockade of Qatar, are unlawful, violating Qatari sovereignty by using diplomatic and economic coercion to interfere with activities that are within the discretion of a sovereign state. It is a regional geopolitical tactic that tries to leverage superior power in ways that induce weaker and smaller states to sacrifice their rights under international law. The allegations of support for terrorism are without any factual foundation and are not supported by any credible evidence, and can be leveled at Qatar’s accusers with more justification than the allegation being made against Qatar. Not only are the 13 demands violations of international law, they are also disruptive of proper and customary diplomatic protocol, an assessment reinforced by Qatar membership in good standing of the GCC and its repeated calls for a negotiated end to the crisis.

 

 

Q 2: The State of Qatar resorted to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to prove the attacks on the rights of its citizens? How do you view these advocates as a legal perspective?

 

A: Recourse to the ICJ is appropriate in situations in which an international legal dispute exists, and cannot be resolved by normal diplomacy. Since the outset of the crisis in 2017 Qatar has repeatedly expressed its willingness to accept third party mediation of the dispute, and to do its part to reach a mutually acceptable political compromise. In contrast, the Coalition merely reiterated its demands and showed no willingness to end the crisis by peaceful negotiation. Qatar has every right to make use of its legal remedies under international law, and if it has a treaty right to resolve disputes with other Gulf states by recourse to the ICJ then this is a constructive step that represents a constructive approach to bring the crisis to a peaceful end in accordance with international law and in the interests of justice. Individuals harmed by this unlawful series of coercive steps should receive relief commensurate to the harm experienced, as well as being relieved of any burdens imposed by the Coalition’s policies.

 

 

Q 3: Qataris were deprived of Hajj. How does the law and the international community view this Saudi abuse?

 

A: As far as I know there is no international legal obligation that compels Saudi Arabia to allow Qataris to enter their country to complete the Hajj. There may be religious commitments and diplomatic traditions that have long been accepted by Saudi Arabia in upholding in good faith its role as custodian of the most holy of Muslim sacred sites. Such diplomatic traditions, as exhibited by patterns of practice over the course of many years, have created expectations that such entry to Saudi Arabia for such a religious purpose will be facilitated. Whether a regional or international legal duty should be established should be considered and discussed. It would seem reasonable to impose such a legal obligation for entry and security on Saudi Arabia because Muslims are obligated by their religion to do the Hajj at least once in their life, and this religious undertaking should not be obstructed by political interference. The translation of such a religious duty into a legal right is something that deserves careful consideration, perhaps in the context of expanding the right of religious freedom that is a legally protected international human right that may require more direct protection in view of these recent interferences with Muslim entry to carry out the Hajj.

 

 

Q 4: The Gulf crisis has reached a stage of stagnation. How do you see the efforts of the Gulf, American and European mediation?

 

A: As mentioned earlier, Qatar is ready to submit the crisis to mediation or any reasonable third party procedure, while the Gulf Coalition is adamant in its refusal.  As your question suggests there are plenty of willing mediators or third parties from the region and from Europe or the United States. The UN Charter underscores the duty of states to seek a peaceful solution of disputes that threaten international peace and security. Given the turmoil in the Middle East, the Gulf Crisis creates one additional flashpoint that could erupt at any time in dangerous and unpredictable ways. The idea of mediation is a means to give both sides a way of resolving the crisis without either side having to acknowledge defeat or endure some kind of diplomatic humiliation. It seem mandatory, in the spirit of the peaceful settlement of dispute, for the leaders of the Gulf Coalition to accept offers of mediation with a sense of urgency, and not prolong this regionally detrimental crisis that also causes harm to many individuals forced to sever their ties with Qatar, or have their relations with other Gulf countries disrupted in ways that result in unfair, arbitrary, and often heavy burdens.

 

Q 5: The State of Qatar plays a pivotal strategic role as a regional negotiator through its strong relationship with a number of major countries and its support to a number of countries, most recently Turkey. How do you evaluate this role?

 

A: An irony of the crisis is that Qatar has in recent years played a consistently moderating role in relation to several regional conflicts, and has engaged in relations beyond the Arab World that have produced economic, security, and diplomatic benefits for the region. Indeed, Qatar has used its wealth and influence in largely imaginative ways to establish mutually beneficial regional and international relationships. In this regard Qatar can be viewed as a small country that has played a diplomatic role beyond its size and capabilities, and could serve as a model of how to be effective as a sovereign state through reliance on the instrumentalities of ‘soft power.’

 

 

Q 6: How do you see the problematic developments between Saudi Arabia and Canada? And how do you to evaluate Saudi foreign policy. (The siege of Qatar, the war of Yemen, the Canadian crisis)?

 

A: Saudi Arabia behavior toward Canada expresses the same effort to bully foreign governments by threats and intimidating moves whenever its leadership feels that its policies have been criticized or its motives challenged. Canada’s criticism of Saudi behavior is quite appropriate given the international character of human rights standards, especially where, as here, legitimate Canadian interests are at stake.  The Saudi response to Canada is consistent with their belligerent behavior with respect to Qatar, as well as their outrageous tactics of warfare in Yemen, which include repeated bombing of civilian sites and interferences with the delivery of food and medicine in a country where there exists a strong internationally verified likelihood of mass starvation and where the population is suffering from a series of dire health challenges. The Saudi Arabian attack upon and intervention in Qatar is a moral and legal scandal that as with Syria displays the inability of either the United Nations or geopolitical actors to protect the peace and security of small countries that become targets of aggressive warfare.

 

 

Q 7: How do you see the role of Abu Dhabi and its quest to dominate the Gulf region?

 

A: I am not an expert on the behavior of the UAE in the region, but from recent appearances, their behavior resembles and reinforces the hegemonic ambitions of Saudi Arabia, and threatens to cause wider regional warfare by its support of policies of confrontation with Iran. It is important for peace, security, and sustainability that this kind of hegemonic diplomacy by UAE should be abandoned. Among other concerns, the region is very vulnerable to the hazards of global warming, and these aggressive moves cause political preoccupations that divert energies and resources from challenges that are present and need to be addressed before it is too late.

 

Q 8: How would ‘the Deal of the century’ affect Saudi Arabia and the UAE. How do you interpret this deal and its impact on the Palestinian cause and the Arab world?

 

A: Of course, in one respect it is premature to comment on ‘the deal’ as its contents have not been formally disclosed, and are the subject of rather divergent lines of interpretation.

 

It is a serious political mistake to attribute great importance to Trump’s uninformed boast to make ‘the deal of the century.’ All indications is that this is a deal that will never achieve the status of a serious conflict-ending proposal that is balanced and takes the rights of both peoples into account. From all indications, what Trump/Kushner have in mind seems to presuppose the surrender of Palestinian politicalrights, including the right of self-determination and the right of return, receiving in return ‘a bowl of porridge.’ Such a deal is and should be a non-starter in the post-colonial age, and will be rejected by every important Palestinian voice, including those living in foreign countries or in refugee camps in the region. It will be a costly diplomatic mistake for Saudi Arabia and the UAE to be seen as encouraging such a flawed approach to the Palestinian national struggle, an approach that would almost certainly include considering Jerusalem to be under the exclusive sovereign control of Israel. Trump has already indicated that moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem has removed the issue from any future peace negotiations. Israel has revealed and confirmed itself as an apartheid state by recently passing the Nation-State Law of the Jewish People denying equal rights to non-Jews as a matter of law. If Saudi Arabia and the UAE side with the Trump diplomacy that seeks to achieve a final betrayal of Palestinian rights, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history as well as antagonizing Arabs, Muslims, and partisans of human rights and justice throughout the world. Instead of the deal of the century that is a formula for the declaration of an Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat, the governments of the region should be demanding a peaceful solution based on dismantling apartheid structures, ending the blockade of Gaza, and acknowledging the rights of the Palestinian people.  From all appearances this will not be remembered as ‘the deal of the century’ but cast aside as ‘the most fraudulent bargain ever put forward in the century.’

 

 

Q: What is your international low opinion about the latest news published by New York Times describing the electronic spying operations of Israel and Emirites, including the targeting of the Emir of Doha and a lot of political leaders?

 

 

These spyware developments are serious but hardly new in what they seek to achieve. Throughout the history of international relations governments pay money and use a changing variety of methods to gain access to the secrets and private communications of their adversaries. What makes this issue surface as in these recent allegations of the use of spyware against private communications of the leaders of Qatar, including the Emir and his family, is the growing sophistication of the technology and its ability to penetrate what had previously considered to be secure channels of communication, evidently including surveillance of cell phone conversations. Another striking feature of the present atmosphere is the role of private sector profit motives either reinforcing or challenging broader foreign policy positions. For instance, the UAE has no formal relations with Israel, but it happily purchases spyware from an Israeli company, NSO, exhibiting a relationship that could not exist without the knowledge and likely the approval of the Government of Israel.

 

From the perspective of international law, espionage has always had a double reality. On the one side, it is an unlawful form of interference with the sovereignty of a foreign country, which the target government criminalizes with punishments inflicted at its discretion, while the government responsible for the espionage glorifies its agents, or falsely denies their dirty deeds. On the other side, its practice is so common, and taken for granted, that it is difficult to regard allegations of espionage or surveillance as other than propaganda, with the government complaining, pretending to be outraged while itself relying on similar mechanisms to carry out espionage for its own security or to advance its policies.

 

The only sensible approach at this time is to ask whether the spyware being developed so radically alters the privacy of leaders and the security of states as supporting an argument to negotiate a new treaty of prohibition, similar to the prohibition of certain weapons of warfare such as biological and chemical weapons. This is the issue that should be discussed and debated to discover whether there is a

practical way to regulate and implement any prohibition of unacceptably intrusive espionage that can be agreed upon. A novel feature of digital spyware is that can penetrate deeply into the most secret recesses of foreign societies without requiring any physicalintrusion, and therefor it is spyware without spies, and resembles drones on the rather frightening frontiers of warfare where the human presence is eliminated, and the battlefield populated by machines capable of causing devastation of the most severe character.

 

As the Edward Snowden disclosures demonstrated a few years ago, governments are also using this technology to establish elaborate surveillance networks directed at their own citizenry, undermining trust and freedom in democratic societies. Thus the issues raised by the new types of spyware extend beyond espionage as practiced in international relation, and touch upon the nature of constitutional democracy in the 21stcentury.

 

These are important issues for our time that need to be faced as openly as possible, but without a misleading exhibition of legalism and moralism, which thinly veils propaganda designed to blame others for behavior that is common to all international participants.

 

 

 

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49 Responses to “On Qatar and Gulf Geopolitics”

  1. Gene Schulman September 3, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    By a weird coincidence, your interview on Qatar appears on the same day this exposure of Israel meddling and spying on American Jews appears in the Monde Diplomatique:

    https://mondediplo.com/2018/09/02israel-lobby (reprinted at Counterpunch)

    One wonders if there could be any connection? Could there be some conspiracy between Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel underway to punish Qatar/Aljazeera for their independence?

    • Richard Falk September 3, 2018 at 10:30 am #

      Yes, I there is a convergence of interests leading to forms of cooperation
      that are being kept as secret as possible. I do have the information that would
      allow me to call it a conspiracy. But there is a definite pushback against the
      relative openness of Qatar.

  2. Carlos September 3, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

    Once again I am so impressed, Richard, with your ability to garner facts and to organise a powerful, logical exposition. One small typo you may not have noticed is ‘low’ instead of ‘law’. Thank you for the explication sadly neglected in Australian media, predominantly owned by Murdoch, which explains a lot. Greetings.

  3. Beau Oolayforos September 5, 2018 at 12:38 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    We have again to thank you for the clarity, the eloquence…and for reminding us once again, as with the UAE-Israel rapprochement, how strong are the ties of money and power, compared to the often weak and hypocritical window-dressing known as religion. Comparing the skylines of Dubai and Gaza, it’s hard not to think that the Palestinians have already been abandoned, finally betrayed.

    The GCC accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism reminds me of Trump blaming his Family-Separations-at-the-Border policy on the Democrats…similar mentalities, parallel propaganda…

  4. Mike 71 September 9, 2018 at 2:14 am #

    The blockade of Qatar, like that of Gaza, is a legitimate alternative to warfare under International Law, specifically the 1928 Kellog-Briand Pact. Its purposes of limiting importation of weapons, suppressing terrorism, including incendiary kites and balloons, border riots and other hostile actions are equally legitimate. ICJ decisions are merely advisory, not binding, on those not parties to the Court, while diplomacy is the proper means of reaching compromise. Qataris are deprived of Hajj, because Saudis, Israelis, and others are entitled to limit access to holy places to protect them from vandalism and destruction by hostile “Fifth Columnists.” Years ago, the Saudi holy site in Mecca was partially destroyed by terrorists and subjected to foreign instigated riots. Saudi concern for protection of holy sites is entirely legitimate.

    If Qataris are willing to submit to third party mediation, including from Europe, the U.S., Russian Federation, or others, why not the Palestinians (Hamas), Lebanese (Hezbollah), Syrians, and Iranians? Mediation. could establish a positive paradigm for the region, not solely for the Qataris. Why the “double standard?”

    Saudi behavior toward Canada differs from Turkish behavior toward the U.S. (holding an American Pastor hostage to extort the extradition of a Turkish Imam, contrary to U.S. Extradition Laws), and Palestinian. behavior toward Israel (holding the bodies of two IDF soldiers from the 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” and two civilians who wandered into Gaza). No Canadians are being held hostage in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis are engaged in a “defensive war of necessity” to counter the firing of Iranian rockets into Saudi territory from Yemen, just as the Israelis are engaged in a similar “defensive war of necessity” with Hamas, which fires rockets into Israeli territory. Human rights standards should be applied across the board, not selectively. Again, another “double standard.”

    As noted, the content of the “Deal of the Century” can only be speculated until its release. The “Deal of the Century” could just as easily be rejected by the Israelis, as by the Palestinians. But as Mahmoud Abbas has rejected it unseen, he has excluded himself and Fatah from considering any solution to the conflict. Meanwhile, Hamas, through Egyptian mediation, is seeking a five to ten year “Hudna (Truce).” Assuming the mediation fails, the most likely outcome, the Hamas initiative will still drive a permanent wedge between the two feuding Palestinian entities. Saudis and Emiratis, seeing no likely resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, will turn their attention to far more immediate concerns, specifically conflict with Iran, and as their interests converge with those of Israel, form an “alliance of convenience,” like that of the U.S. and the Soviet Union during World War II.

    The U.N. Resolution providing for a so-called “Right of Return” is merely advisory, just as the Resolution providing for two-states, “one Arab and one Jewish (UNSCR 181),” is merely advisory. No comparable “Right of Return” exists for Jews expelled from Algiers, Aleppo, Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, or elsewhere in the Arab world, where they and their ancestors had lived for centuries. Thus, there is no “mutuality of obligation” to form an enforceable contract. If UNGAR 181 is not binding on the Palestinians, neither is it binding on the Israelis, who may retain lands captured in “defensive wars of necessity.” Under International Law, Israel as the victorious belligerent of the defensive 1967 “Six Day War,” may retain captured land, until possession is modified by treaty. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_possidetis
    (Latin: As you possess, you may continue to possess)

    If no other means of defending Israelis’ rights to self-determination and territorial integrity are available (UNSCR 242, 338), those rights must be defended through “the inherent right to individual or collective self-defense,” as recognized under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In rejecting a negotiated compromise, Mahmoud Abbas has excluded himself from any solution to the conflict and forfeited all of the “West Bank (Judea and Samaria), with the possible exception of “Area A”, provided the Palestinians under the Oslo Agreement 25 years ago.

    The U.S. is cutting funding for the Palestinian Authority, as Abbas refuses to end “Pay for Slay,” the P.A. subsidies for the families of dead or incarcerated terrorists, now over $400 million per year. These subsidies are unavailable to Palestinians who die or are injured from non-terrorist events. The U.S. funding cuts are required under the “Taylor Force Act,” named for an American veteran murdered by a terrorist while visiting Israel. Likewise, the U.S. is cutting all funds for UNRWA, a corrupt agency which does nothing to resettle refugees, providing for refugee status to be inheritable through generations, unlike the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which actually reduces the number of refugees by resettling them in new homelands. Refugee status is not inheritable for those under jurisdiction of the UNHCR. Israel deducts the funds paid for “Pay for Slay” from tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinians. Likewise, as a disincentive for terrorism, Israel has resumed “House Demolitions” as a reasonable countermeasure to “Pay for Slay.” Those who murder Israeli Jews, for money out of economic desperation, may be awarded a P.A. family subsidy, but they will also risk making their families homeless. Unless the Palestinians are prepared to recognize the rights of the Jewish people to self determination, territorial integrity and sovereignty, Israelis are under no obligation to respect their rights. Palestinian “rejectionism” may result in “Greater Israel” becoming the “single state solution,” while Palestinians must live under the boot heels of the IDF. As Thucydides phrased it in the “Melian Debate,” “The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”

    Electronic surveillance for intelligence gathering as well as other defense functions is a legitimate defense measure, as much for the Emiratis, as it is for the Israelis. The Peoples’ Republic of China uses far more extensive measures to control Uyghur terrorism in Xinjiang Province, which should be similarly adopted by the IDF.
    See: http://www.economist.com/does-china-digital-police-state-have-echos-in-the-west/ and http://www.theatlantic.cominternational/archive/2018/08/china-surveillence-technology/

    • Richard Falk September 10, 2018 at 7:31 am #

      I find this comment to be very poorly reasoned and highly tendentious.

      • Gene Schulman September 11, 2018 at 12:25 am #

        Thank you, Richard, for this comment confirming my own similar opinion of this comment. As I was reading it, I was formulating all my objections to the writer’s arguments in my head, groaning all the while of the necessity of typing them out. Then I read your comment, and decided it was not worth the effort . It is just plain wrong, and like others who occasionally comment here, would not be moved by argument. Even his quotation of Thucydides is fanciful. Just because it comes from a Greek classical thinker does not make it right. It only has become popular because of its use as the title of a book on recent Greek history almost has frightening as the Palestinian situation, by Yanis Varoufakis, which relates his battle with European establishment, ‘the troika’, only barely less evil than Israel. They’re not using guns yet to impose their will,

      • Richard Falk September 11, 2018 at 8:12 am #

        By the way, the Thucydides quote if read properly in the context of his analysis of the decline of Athens, is
        not an endorsement of real politic, but the reverse. It is introduced to establish the point that moral decline
        is a prelude to political decline, and eventual fall. Many ‘realists’ have quoted Thucydides in this opportunistic
        way, often suggesting that have only read the Melian Dialogue in isolation from the overall historical assessment.
        I spent months twenty years ago studying Thucydides in preparation for doing some lectures in Sweden.

      • Gene Schulman September 11, 2018 at 9:26 am #

        Yes. That’s why, in an interview with Noam Chomsky, and in his latest book, ‘Adults in the Room’, Varoufakis said he had added the question mark at the end of the quote.

      • Fred Skolnik September 11, 2018 at 2:29 pm #

        Calling something “poorly reasoned” does not make it so and Mike’s remarks are no more tendentious than yours. A blockade in time of war is legal and Hamas has been engaging in acts of war against Israel since before the blockade was instituted. Returning fire in a built-up area is also legal with the proviso that every effort be made to avoid civilian casualties, which as you know is exactly what Israel did. If it hadn’t there would have been 100,000 dead in Operation Protective Edge and not the estimated 1000 civilians forced to remain in areas under fire. Firing at armed terrorists instigating a Great March whose declared aim was to overrun Israel’s border and murder as many Israelis as possible, with 80% of the Palestinians killed being members of the terrorist groups by their own count, is neither an atrocity nor a crime against humanity as you are wildly claiming. It seems to me that you are not quite ready to declare unequivocally that the Palestinians are justified in attacking Israeli civilians (because “they have no choics,” etc., etc.) and are therefore engaging in a great deal of tortured rhetoric in order to somehow gloss over the terrorist acts that provoke Israel’s responses. This may be comforting to Israel haters but it is not doing the Palestinians the least bit of good. Whoever sincerely cares about their future would be working day and night to get them back to the negotiating table, where the parameters of a settlement are known to everyone and not in the least bit unreasonable.

      • Richard Falk September 11, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

        I disagree, and think your selectivity with the facts and a series of partisan interpretations makes ‘a lawyer’s argument’
        that distorts reality, and reverses role of victim and oppressor. If ANY other country in the world treated the border demonstrations
        in the lethal manner Israel has chosen to do, it would be subjected to international sanctions or at least calls for such sanctions.

    • Fred Skolnik September 11, 2018 at 10:11 pm #

      I am not selecting anything and I am not interpreting anything. NO country on earth would be expected to allow thousands of rockets to be fired at its population centers or a mob of 40,000 rioters to overrun its border with the declared aim of murdering civilians.

      Kindly tell us what your response would be if the United States fired 4,500 rockets at Russian population centers from the middle of American cities and the Russians responded by attacking the launching sites.

      • Richard Falk September 12, 2018 at 2:48 am #

        Your language and example confirm my rejection of such an assessment of Palestinian behavior
        and endorsement of Israeli policies and practices.

      • Fred Skolnik September 12, 2018 at 5:05 am #

        Hamas didn’t fire thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers?

        But the question is rhetorical. We all know what your response would be, no matter how many American casualties there were: “What do you expect?” and “Can you blame them?”

      • Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 12:28 am #

        Running away again? Can’t handle it?

        Hamas didn’t fire thousands of rockets at Israeli population centers?

        Kindly tell us what your response would be if the United States fired 4,500 rockets at Russian population centers from the middle of American cities and the Russians responded by attacking the launching sites with the inevitable civilian casualties.

        I realize that the Israel haters won’t catch on. But everyone else sees right through you.

      • Richard Falk September 13, 2018 at 5:44 am #

        You continue to rely on mean-spirited taunts and rhetorical arguments,
        which is hardly an invitation for genuine dialogue.

  5. Mike 71 September 13, 2018 at 4:31 am #

    Your rejection of Fred’s assessment of Palestinian terrorism is no different than Hitler’s mis-assessment and rejection of the Soviet Union’s right to self-defense during World War II. Article 51 of the United Nations Charter currently recognizes an “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense,” thus Israel’s response to Palestinian aggression, particularly that of Hamas, is entirely legitimate. Your mis-assessment puts you firmly in congruence with the positions of Hitler’s Third Reich.

    What has your mis-assessment of Hamas’ asserted right to “Lebensraum (living space)” at the expense of a neighboring nation done for them? In three failed Hamas “wars of aggression,” Israel legitimately retaliated, delivering thorough and well justified responses to that aggression. During the “Great Patriotic War (The USSR withdrew from World War I reaching a “separate peace (capitulation)” with its adversaries),” the Soviet Union responded similarly to Hitler’s aggression and asserted quest for “Lebensraum.”

    As a consequence, three futile Hamas “wars of aggression” have successively devastated Gaza’s infrastructure, impoverished its population and killed thousands. Hamas’ leadership has no more regard for the residents of Gaza, than Hitler did for those of Germany, who saw their worlds and quality of life collapse around them. In the past few weeks, prior to the latest “cease-fire,” the IDF came within hours of invading the Gaza Strip. That invasion and “re-occupation” of Gaza would have killed tens of thousands, destroyed much of what infrastructure remains and made many more homeless. We must realize, as a practical matter, that the invasion of Gaza is inevitable; it may not come in the next few weeks, or even the next few years, but Hamas’ aggression will eventually induce it.

    The current IDF is considerably more formidable than that which prevailed in the 1967 “Six Day War.” It has capabilities and technologies that previous IDF Commanders would have envied. Israel manufactures its own assault rifles, which it sells abroad, manufactures an excellent tank and will soon have highly accurate surface to surface missiles. In opposition, Hamas has only inaccurate homemade rockets and incendiary kites and balloons. The outcome of the next Hamas initiated war will be significantly one sided!

    In the interim, aging “dotard (Kim Jong-un’s term),” Mahmoud Abbas quietly spends his remaining days doing nothing to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state and willingly suffers the reduction of the Palestinian Authority’s tax and foreign aid revenue as a consequence of maintaining his “Pay for Slay” terrorism subsidy program. Unless Abbas either dies first, or others seize power for a corrective course of action, the fiscal collapse of the Palestinian Authority is inevitable. Abbas’ threat to dissolve the P.A. would be a disaster and deny Palestinians the fiction of having a state; it would abrogate its claim to statehood and representation in the U.N.

    As Albert Einstein noted: “Insanity consists of repeating the same failed actions, while expecting a different result.” That sums up the inanity of the current Palestinian leadership!

    • Richard Falk September 13, 2018 at 5:41 am #

      There is no basis for conversation when ‘facts’ are construed so absurdly one-sidedly,
      as the basis for then interpreting the legal rights of Israel. This is accentuated in my
      view in circumstances where the Palestinians, especially the Gazans, are held cruelly captive
      over such a prolonged period. To call Israel a victim of Hamas’ three ‘wars of aggression’ is such
      a stunning distortion of reality that no response is relevant as you merely repeat your contentions.

      • Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 6:22 am #

        You don’t seem capable of acknowledging that the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets at Israel’s civilian population is both an act of war and a war crime. If you think ir’s justified and that this is a legitimate way to wage war, say so. If not, condemn it.

        You also don’t seem capable of recognizing that Israel’s commitment to the safety of its population is absolute. For us there is no such thing as “only” five Israelis murdered.

        Surely you understand that it is Hamas that is holding the Gazans “cruelly captive.” Before the terrorist organizations stepped up their barbaric acts, up to 40,000 Gazans were working in Israel every day and there was no blockade.

        You are not facing these issues but avoiding them by seeking to “characterize” our arguments instead, no matter how politely they are phrased.

      • Richard Falk September 13, 2018 at 6:57 am #

        Because you decontextualize Hamas behavior to make Israel seem the victim and
        acting in a defensive mode when you should know that Israel is the oppressor and
        acting in a provocative manner with respect to a helpless and vulnerable Gazan
        population that has been cruelly blockaded for more than a decade. To dismiss Hamas
        as ‘a terrorist actor’ is at the root of this distorting process when you should know that they tried hard to negotiate a long-term ceasefire as soon as they came to power in
        Gaza.

      • Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 7:36 am #

        Hamas’s behavior is a function of its Charter, which spells out precisely what its aims are. Israel is certainly acting in a defensive mode. Even you should understand that it wants nothing more than quiet on its border. The occupation is oppressive precisely because of the terrorist acts initiated by Hamas. You seem to be labeling as provocative any response to terrorism, such as the arrest of Hamas members in the West Bank after the murder of the three Israeli teenagers, which “provoked” the massive rocket fire by Hamas that led to Operation Protective Edge. And are you seriously labeling as provocative a blockade that was instituted to prevent the importation of war materials?

        Hamas’s intentions regarding the Hudna business is something that Israel’s intelligence services evaluate. There has been an unspoken Hudna of this kind with Hizbollah, which it has exploited to build up an arsenal of nearly 150,000 rockets which brings all of Northern Israel under an intolerable threat. Given Hamas’s ultimate aims, it is not hard to imagine how Israeli Intelligence views its intentions.

        Israel is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict on reasonable terms, which I have outlined more than once. The Palestinians are not. Israel’s war is not against the Palestinian people but against the terrorist organizations. It is dishonest to represent it otherwise, regardless of how much the civilian population suffers. If you care about the Palestinians you should be working day and night to get Hamas to relinquish its dreams and methods.

      • Richard Falk September 13, 2018 at 8:44 am #

        Hamas’ behavior, good and bad, is not a function of their Charter. They have long since moved on
        and sought a future based on political success and existential compromise, which is denied by Israel that insists on keeping the terrorist label
        pinned on their identity as a way of relieving Israel of any accountability for their excesses. The incident with the three teenagers
        was not as black and white as you present it. You deny the Palestinians any right of resistance despite the
        startling fact of a Jewish state being imposed on a non-Jewish majority society, which was obscured by the
        massive dispossession of Palestinians at the time of the NAKBA..and ignores the historical context of dying colonialism.
        I am not denying the reality of an Israeli and Zionist counter-narrative, but to refuse any consideration of
        the Palestinian narrative is what makes dialogue so frustrating.

      • Mike 71 September 13, 2018 at 9:57 am #

        The Hamas objective is explicitly set forth in its Covenant, which is available online, and although it issued a new document making little mention of that objective, nothing has changed. Factual reality, not solely Israeli declarations, has insisted on keeping the terrorist label on Hamas. Where has Hamas sought compromise, other than its very recent offer to consider an Egyptian suggestion to mediate a long term truce with Israel?

        The murder of the three teens, admittedly funded by Hamas, according to one of its operatives in Turkey, cannot be considered “neither black, nor white,” as you phrase it, any more than Mahmoud Abbas’ “Pay for Slay” cannot be considered “neither black nor white.” As a lawyer, you must be aware that solicitation to commit murder, as well as contract murders are felonies, punishable by life imprisonment, if not death. What, if any, jurisdictions were you licensed to practice in, or was your profession is strictly academic? No wonder the legal profession has such an extremely unsavory reputation!

        The original NAKBA was the consequence of a failed Arab “war of aggression” against Israel, followed by successive self-imposed NAKBAs. There were no serious Arab/Palestinian offers to renegotiate borders, either in 1948, 1967, or since. The Palestinian objective was, and still remains, drive the Jews into the sea. In an “Orwellian Inversion (War is Peace, Poverty is Plenty, etc),” your objective is to impose a 20% minority “Arab/Palestinian Supremacist Apartheid Regime” on a 75% majority Jewish nation. How does that differ from the former “Apartheid South Africa,” in which a 10% minority “White Supremacist Apartheid Regime” ruled a 90% majority Black African majority? Read George Orwell’s “1984” for the answer to those questions.

        The “Apartheid” canard is belied by the fact that there are no separate toilets, water-fountains, schools, or public transport, based on race or religion in Israel. In contrast, Mahmoud Abbas has frequently, explicitly and publicly stated that no Jews would be allowed to live in the proposed Palestinian state, which would unquestionably make it an “Apartheid” state!

      • Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 9:19 am #

        The Palestinian or, more correctly, Arab narrative from the beginning has precluded the existence of the State of Israel, laying claim to every square inch of Mandatory Palestine. The Jewish narrative has embraced a compromise consisting of Jewish and Arab states existing side by side. The Jewish claim is based on the historical connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The Arab claim is based on conquest, as enunciated by Azzam Pasha in 1947. Both claims were judged to be legitimate and that is why a compromise was proposed.

        No terrorist act is ever black and white in your eyes because you can always invent a “provocation,” the ultimate provocation being Israel’s very existence.

        The resistance that you are talking about consists largely of murdering Israeli civilians. Once again, if you think the murder of civilians is a legitimate way to resist an occupation, say so. If not, condemn it. Murder cannot be contextualized. Every murderer has his reasons.

      • Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 10:48 am #

        And what exactly do you mean by “the reality of an Israeli and Zionist counter-narrative”? Do you mean that it is true or that it exists? You seem to make a habit out of using ambiguity as a rhetorical device to avoid stating anything explicitly that interferes with your argument, as in the case of acknowledging Arab terrorism or “terrorism,” as you like to put it. And declaring that Hamas has moved beyond its Charter is a bad joke, as it acts today in precisely the same way that it has been acting from the outset, with dozens of terrorist cells in the West Bank planning the murder of Israeli civilians and being continually broken up by Israel’s security forces. “Existential compromise”? Have you ever heard them talk when people like yourself aren’t around? You are making assumptions that are not borne out by any palpable evidence.

  6. Gene Schulman September 13, 2018 at 9:03 am #

    Dear friend Richard,
    ,
    Why, oh why, do you continue to exchange words with such Zionist propagandists as these two twisted liars, who cannot even keep their narratives on the same track. They are here only to bait you like a bear, yet you continue to attempt to reason with them. One cannot reason with the irrational.

    I can see them sitting in a dark candle-lit room, kippas on their heads, shuffling their papers back and forth trying to decide on the most insulting one to slip through the slot in the door to their bot messengers to be posted on your blog comment section.

    You once promised you would block such inane commentary. They are an insult to your readers AND to the intelligence of their own compatriots. They are trying only to chase your readers away and, unfortunately, they have somewhat succeeded as there seems to be fewer contributions to your comments section of late. But, try as they might, they won’t chase this one away. I’m here to stay, and willing to answer insult with insult.

  7. Fred Skolnik September 13, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    The image of Jews with skullcaps plotting in dark rooms is so repulsive that even you should be offended by it, Prof. Falk. But of course this comment pops up instantly while you continue to “moderate” mine: “The Palestinian or, more correctly, Arab narrative …”

    • Richard Falk September 13, 2018 at 12:55 pm #

      It may not be my style but your mean spirited and insulting language invite retaliation.

      • Gene Schulman September 13, 2018 at 11:29 pm #

        I used that analogical description purposely to show how stereotypical these hasbarists make themselves look. They fit the image that every anti-Semite has of the self identifying superior Jew. The Palestinian narrative is never considered by them, Yes, it is repulsive, but far less so than the treatment doled out to the subjugated population.

      • Fred Skolnik September 14, 2018 at 7:14 am #

        Nice try, Gene. Dig yourself a hole and then try to dig yourself out of it with some disingenuous double-talk. As I pointed out to Prof. Falk (censored of course), this is as bad as his “Jewish dog” cartoon. But of course the cartoon was no doubt drawn to show how the rotten Jews “fit the stereotype.” Is that what you think?

  8. Carlos September 14, 2018 at 1:33 am #

    I agree with Gene. Why respond to these obviously apologists for Israel Richard? I have in my mind the picture of the invalid Palestinian in his wheelchair, waving his Palestinian flag
    He had no legs, and would not, as the many other Palestinians in the March of Return, attempted to cross the border defining Israel’s line. They, understandably, were protesting a decades long occupation, from which they have no rights to their homes. Even Netanyahu has called Israel for jews only. How is that not apartheid? And the invalid Palestinian was cruelly cut down by the IDF.

    • Fred Skolnik September 14, 2018 at 7:22 am #

      Why don’t you look around for pictures of German invalids killed in World War II. When you participate in a riot whose declared aim is overrun the border and murder Israelis and there are hundreds if not thousands of armed terroritss in your ranks, people are going to get killed, innocent or not.

  9. Fred Skolnik September 15, 2018 at 10:16 am #

    I’m sure you know how to rationalize censoring me but all you are doing is sanctioning a remark as despicable as anything that has appeared on your blogsite. And still supporting the BDS movement while continuing to enjoy the benefits of Israeli technology and medical research. You have the integrity of a flea.

    • Gene Schulman September 16, 2018 at 12:25 am #

      I am beginning to feel I am wrong about censoring hasbara comments such as are found on this stream. Perhaps they should be allowed to stand, if only to expose how rotten and cruel Israeli policy is, and how ignorant and nasty its defenders can be.

      As for enjoying that wonderful Israeli technology and medical research, it has all been paid for by the American taxpayer. The medical research is carried out on Palestinian guînea pigs against their will. The technology is geared toward weaponry and surveillance, something of which the world could do with much less.

      • Richard Falk September 16, 2018 at 3:29 am #

        Gene:

        Your comment captures part of the reason I have blocked so few messages recently. Trusting
        most of the readers of the blog to be disgusted by the tone and evasion of Israel’s most
        stubborn and insensitive supporters. I have continued to block the most offensive comments
        from Fred and actually from some who are truly anti-Semitic hate mongers.

      • Fred Skolnik September 16, 2018 at 4:12 am #

        Medical research on Palestinian guinea pigs is just a little crazy. Are you now trying to create an analogy with Nazi experiments to go with your Jews in skullcaps in dark places? Where exactly is this nonsense coming from? As for the rest, check out your computer, your mobile phone, voice mail, email, ebooks, Facebook, antiviruses, and the Internet for the weaponry hidden in the Israeli components that you use every day. This will help you:

        Posted by Jesus Is Coming Soon on Friday, July 25, 2014

        I don’t suppose we’ll be hearing from you again. A boycott is a bocott after all.

        Prof. Falk, there is nothing evasive or insensitive about the substantive remarks I am making. You are presenting a distorted and one-sided picture of the conflict and I am correcting it with ascertainable facts that you refuse to address in any substantive way, preferring instead to “characterize” my remarks or myself or insisting that things are not what they seem without showing any evidence that they aren’t. Did it ever occur to you that a great many readers are “disgusted” by the wild, irresponsible, offensive and slanderous remarks you habitually make about the State of Israel?

      • Richard Falk September 16, 2018 at 6:07 am #

        I am uncertain as to whether to interpret your recent comments as merely delusional
        as they so often seem better understood as expressive of your mean-spirited polemical sensibility, embellished
        by ugly insults and self-serving claims of mastery of the facts. In either event, such a
        discourse is not deserving of response, at least on this blog.

      • Gene Schulman September 16, 2018 at 7:16 am #

        Where there is smoke there is fire:

        http://www.awdnews.com/index/leaked-documents-israeli-doctors-conducted-medical-experiments-300-missing-palestinian-children/

        There are many more such stories on the internet and in books. All one has to do is use those wonderful Israeli (?) developed hi tech devices mentioned to find them.

        Boycott? Haven’t noticed. As long as such hasbara appears at this site, I will be here to counter it.

      • Gene Schulman September 16, 2018 at 7:28 am #

        PS

        That is, Professor Falk permitting.

        Btw: ‘T is not I who brought up any comparison to Nazis. I wonder if our hasbarist isn’t a bit paranoid, or has a guilty conscience?

      • Fred Skolnik September 16, 2018 at 2:44 pm #

        PPS

        ‘Tis you who made the crazy claim that Israel is conducting medical experiments on Palestinians. No analogy meant? Just nonsense?

  10. Fred Skolnik September 16, 2018 at 6:26 am #

    I am replying in kind using language that is no more extreme or offensive than yours, not to mention Mr. Schulman’s, so you are again being blind or hypocritical and of course avoiding all issues that you can’t handle.

    Here is the link for the boycotters, which has somehow been garbled above. Anyone with an ounce of integrity will study it very closely and act accordingly (or click just the “Friday, July 25, 2014” section above).

    http://www.tribeuk.com/sites/default/files/Tribe%20Spark%20So%20you%20want%20to%20boycott%20Israel.pdf

    And for the record, re “sensitivity,” you can be sure that I have had more human contact with Arabs in a month than you will have had in an entire lifetime, so please don’t get overly self-righteous.

  11. Fred Skolnik September 16, 2018 at 9:46 am #

    Here are a few of my delusional, mean-spirited, self-serving remarks:

    A blockade in time of war is legal and Hamas has been engaging in acts of war against Israel since before the blockade was instituted.

    Returning fire in a built-up area is also legal with the proviso that every effort be made to avoid civilian casualties, which as you know is exactly what Israel did.

    Firing at armed terrorists instigating a Great March whose declared aim was to overrun Israel’s border and murder as many Israelis as possible, with 80% of the Palestinians killed being members of the terrorist groups by their own count, is neither an atrocity nor a crime against humanity.

    NO country on earth would be expected to allow thousands of rockets to be fired at its population centers or a mob of 40,000 rioters to overrun its border with the declared aim of murdering civilians.

    The indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets at Israel’s civilian population is both an act of war and a war crime.

    Israel’s commitment to the safety of its population is absolute. For us there is no such thing as “only” five Israelis murdered.

    It is Hamas that is holding the Gazans “cruelly captive.” Before the terrorist organizations stepped up their barbaric acts, up to 40,000 Gazans were working in Israel every day and there was no blockade.

    Hamas’s behavior is a function of its Charter, which spells out precisely what its aims are. Israel is certainly acting in a defensive mode. Even you should understand that it wants nothing more than quiet on its border. The occupation is oppressive precisely because of the terrorist acts initiated by Hamas.

    Israel is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict on reasonable terms, which I have outlined more than once. The Palestinians are not. Israel’s war is not against the Palestinian people but against the terrorist organizations. It is dishonest to represent it otherwise, regardless of how much the civilian population suffers.

    The Jewish claim is based on the historical connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. The Arab claim is based on conquest, as enunciated by Azzam Pasha in 1947. Both claims were judged to be legitimate and that is why a compromise was proposed.

    The image of Jews with skullcaps plotting in dark rooms is so repulsive that even you should be offended by it, Prof. Falk.

    Medical research on Palestinian guinea pigs is just a little crazy. Are you now trying to create an analogy with Nazi experiments to go with your Jews in skullcaps in dark places? Where exactly is this nonsense coming from?

    I realize that you find it extremely frustrating to be challenged with what is unanswerable, but you are losing it completely now, Prof, Falk. I apologize if I have reduced you to figuratively foaming at the mouth.

    • Richard Falk September 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm #

      This is the clarity of cheap propaganda that engages no issue worth disputing due to its dogmatism. To assert
      without qualification the legality of the blockade of Gaza is to distort the reality beyond recognition. From the
      perspective of international society and the UN Gaza remains ‘occupied territory’ despite the 2005 disengagement,
      and it is legally dubious, to say the least, to blockade territory that is supposed to be administered in accord
      with the Geneva Conventions & Protocols.

      As for the claims for the land, the contemporary view of law and morality, enjoying political consensus, is that historical
      connections do not count, and past conquest does not matters. It is the political will of the resident majority population
      that is the sole basis of a legitimate claim.

      And for your dismissive insults, I will let others judge which of us is more deserving of such derision.

      • Fred Skolnik September 16, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

        The Land of Israel was partitioned in such a way that the Jewish state would have a Jewish majority. The Arab claim was not based on any Arab majority but on conquest, as the Arabs themselves stated.

        Calling Gaza “occupied” is a fiction meant to give Hamas carte blanche to engage in terorism. You yourself have claimed time and again that Hamas it the legitimate governing body in Gaza bt virtue of its parliamentary majority in the the Palestinian elections. It is therefore bears responsibility for what is done there. The UN Palmer Report affirmed the legitimacy of the blockade, as would any sane person given Hamas’s importation of war materials used to attack Israeli civilians in violation of international law.

        Do you really think that citing Hamas’s massive bombardent of Israel’s population centers is chieap propaganda? Do you really think that citing Hamas’s instructions to the Gaza rioters to carry arms and kidnap and kill Israelis is cheap propaganda? When you use such phrases, it is a sure sign that you have run out of arguments.

      • Gene Schulman September 16, 2018 at 10:49 pm #

        Richard,

        Of my last two comments, you only printed one, the first being still waiting moderation. It was the more important one because because it cited an example of Israel practicing medical research on ‘Palestinian guinea pigs’.

        I repeat them here:

        Gene Schulman
        September 16, 2018 at 7:16 am #
        Where there is smoke there is fire:

        http://www.awdnews.com/index/leaked-documents-israeli-doctors-conducted-medical-experiments-300-missing-palestinian-children/

        http://www.awdnews.com/index/leaked-documents-israeli-doctors-conducted-medical-experiments-300-missing-palestinian-children/

        There are many more such stories on the internet and in books. All one has to do is use those wonderful Israeli (?) developed hi tech devices mentioned to find them.

        Boycott? Haven’t noticed. As long as such hasbara appears at this site, I will be here to counter it.

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Gene Schulman
        September 16, 2018 at 7:28 am #
        PS

        That is, Professor Falk permitting.

        Btw: ‘T is not I who brought up any comparison to Nazis. I wonder if our hasbarist isn’t a bit paranoid, or has a guilty conscience?

      • Mike 71 September 16, 2018 at 11:20 pm #

        The legality of the naval blockade of Gaza is beyond dispute; it was addressed by the U.N.’s “Palmer Commission” in 2010, based on the San Remo Manual on Naval Warfare. There, the “Palmer Commission” found the imposition of the Naval blockade consistent with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Had the U.N. found otherwise, it would not have validated the blockade as a reasonable response to Hamas’ aggression. Apparently for Prof. Falk, only those determinations of the U.N which favor his twisted positions, have any validity. Whether Gaza is “occupied,” in addition to being legally blockaded is a matter of factual determination. There are currently no IDF troops or Israeli civilians in Gaza, the remainder having been removed in 2005. Thus, there is no “occupation” of Gaza.

        If neither “historical connections,” nor “past conquest” matter, but rather the political will of the majority of the population (Majority Rule), then Israel’s claims to self-determination, political sovereignty and territorial integrity are valid! As Israel, being a Jewish majority nation-state member of the U.N. since 1949, it is entitled to assert its right to national self-defense and invoke its “inherent right to individual or collective self-defense,” as recognized under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Israel rightly asserted that right in 1948-49, 1967, 1973, 2008-09, 2012 and 2014, among other times. Just as are the citizens of South Africa, the U.S., the Russian Federation, China, France, Japan and others, the citizens of Israel are likewise entitled to majority rule!

        However, in an “Orwellian Inversion (war is peace, poverty is plenty, etc),” Prof. Falk seeks to impose a 20% minority “Arab Supremacist Apartheid Regime” on a 75% majority Jewish nation. How that differs from the former “Apartheid South Africa,” once ruled by a 10% minority “White Supremacist Apartheid Regime,” over a 90% Black African majority, he refuses to explain.

        As for “cheap propaganda,” Prof. Falk takes his straight from the master:

        “The lie can be maintained for only such time as the state can shield the people from
        the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally
        important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the
        mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy
        of the state.”

        — Paul Joseph Goebbels,
        Propaganda Minister, Third Reich

  12. Fred Skolnik September 17, 2018 at 2:57 am #

    As I always say, it isn’t the language, it’s what’s unanswerable that makes you press the delete button, As for arbitrarily censoring my last reply to Mr. Schulman (“PPS …”), do you really prefer to see his slanderous remark with its allusion to Naxi medical experiments go unanswered?

  13. Fred Skolnik September 17, 2018 at 5:39 am #

    Re medical experiments, Gene, why don’t you show us the “leaked documents” concerning your 300 missing Palestinian children. You’ll buy anything, won’t you. These libels have been published in the Arab press for years.

    https://unitedwithisrael.org/pa-falsely-claims-that-israel-conducts-medical-experiments-on-palestinian-prisoners/
    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=21847
    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3565291,00.html
    https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-17-year-old-terrorist/

    • Gene Schulman September 17, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

      Ach! The hasbarists are working overtime, continuing to twist facts, insult the blogger and his guests. One wonders where they get the stamina to keep repeating all the b.s. they want to convey.

      In this student’s mind Israel stands guilty as accused. And there has been no reference to Nazis in anything that has been written. It is the imagination of the hasbarist that has conjured up that accusation. Innuendo is not an argument and will not be answered.

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