Richard Falk pulled no punches about the existence of “the Zionist project”, as he referred to Israel, when he addressed a Middle East Monitor audience at the University of London’s Senate House last night.
Falk is the UNHCR’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories and was here to speak about The Israeli Assault on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories although, last night, “Occupied Palestinian Territories” included Israel itself.
The pro-Palestinian lobby has adopted the view that too many governments and organisations are still behind Israel so now it is up to the ordinary citizen to take a stand.
Michael Mansfield QC told us that when he goes on the BBC he is “not allowed to say certain things about Israel”. On the Today programme he wanted to “put the flotilla episode in the overall context of the ongoing illegal occupation and settlements but was told to move on”.
Mansfield said it was “time to stop mincing our words” and to speak about “ethnic cleansing, Israeli apartheid and murder”.
As for Falk, he sees the current peace process as a “deceptive effort to impose an inadequate solution” on Israel and the Palestinians and it was now time “to invoke the legacy of the anti-Apartheid campaign.
He said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the last remnant of the colonial era and that the Palestinians have suffered oppression and ethnic dispossession from their historic place of residence making it impossible to ever implement proper justice.
He, therefore, saw only two possible outcomes:
1. “A unified democratic secular state that respects the rights of all people within its borders,” or
2. “An intensification of the exisiting apartheid situation.”
He said that the two state solution “presupposes the capacity to reverse the injustices over the years, which will only lead to civil war in Israel.”
He spoke of the cumulative effect of settlement building in breach of Article 49(6) of the Geneva Convention, the Judaisation and ethnic cleansing of east Jerusalem which makes the Palestinians feel insecure and the subjugating of the indigenous Palestinian population to separate roads and unequal access to water as being a form of apartheid.
Furthermore, as apartheid is now a crime against humanity then it follows that the occupation is “a continuing crime against humanity”.
He also spoke of Operation Cast Lead as inflicting on Gaza Israel’s high technology war machine against a defenceless population where only 13 Israelis died “mostly to friendly fire” against 1400 Palestinians who were “mostly civilians”.
He equated OCL to collective torture on a par with Abu Ghraib: “Torture horrifies us due to the vulnerability of the victims and the impossibility of retaliatory capability,” he said.
During the Q&A someone challenged Mansfield’s thesis on the illegality of the security wall (Mansfield had earlier read out paragraph 159 of the International Court of Justice’s opinion on the wall).
Falk countered that the wall was built in occupied Palestinian territory and, anyway, had “no security role”, “did nothing to stem penetration” and “was just an inconvenience to the Palestinians who have had their land divided”.
He said that if the Berlin Wall had been built one foot inside the west there would have been World War Three and that Israel has just taken land on the pretext of security.
During the talk someone shouted “This is nothing but anti-Semitic lies” before walking out and leaving Falk a bit open-mouthed.
If anyone was in any doubt about Falk’s, MEMO’s and the Muslim Council of Britain’s true thoughts on the peace process Daud Abdullah, Deputy Secretary General of the MCB, then presented Falk with an award: an inscribed miniature of a unified Israel, West Bank and Gaza.
Finally, in case the audience hadn’t heard enough hate and lies there were booklets on offer on a range of topics:
Isn’t it time for America to re-evaluate its “special relationship” with Israel?
The Cultural Genocide of Palestine.
Europe’s role in strengthening and protecting Universal Justice.
The Judaization of Jerusalem.
Israel’s Domestic Ticking Time Bomb.
Universal Jurisdiction Against Israeli Officials.
Palestinians in Israel’s ‘democracy’: The Judaization of the Galilee.
Israel’s discrimination against its Arab citizens.
Israeli Racism in theory and practice.