FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Richard Falk, Israel and the New York Times

by ELLEN CANTAROW

As Israel nails shut the coffin that is Gaza under a siege that has lasted nearly three years, steadily intensifying so that malnutrition rates rival those of sub-Saharan Africa, sewage runs raw in the streets and pollutes the ocean, homes are still being bulldozed to super-add collective punishment upon collective punishment; men, women and children are still being sniped at and killed; children are deafened by continuing sonic booms, the vast majority of them suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and many of that majority have no ambition other than becoming “martyrs,”  Israel in mid-December denied entry to Richard Falk, UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on the occupied territories.

It is Dr. Falk’s responsibility to report to the UN on conditions in the occupied territories. Israel is blocking him from carrying out this job. In an article that reads as if it rolled off the computers in Israel’s Government Press Office (no quotes by anyone friendly to Falk’s point of view, for instance), The New York Times, tells us Dr. Falk “has long been criticized in Israel for what many Israelis say [emphasis mine] are unfair and unpalatable views.” The blind attribution is typical.

Unlike European Union ministers who recently condemned Israel’s acts in Gaza and the West Bank only to turn around and approve upgrading the EU’s relations with Israel, Falk will not compromise. He not only describes Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, but calls for immediate protective action “to offset the persisting and wide-ranging violations of the fundamental human right to life.” He also calls for an International Criminal Court investigation to “determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”

Perhaps it’s his clarity of focus and refusal to back down that constitute his sins in Israel’s eyes? (The usual hasbarah about anti-Semitism, etc., is to be discounted, though being Jewish Falk may fall into the category, “self-hating Jew.”)  Many others, Jewish and not Jewish (including Israeli Jews  never quoted by The New York Times) have charged Israel with violations of international law and war crimes in Gaza. As Falk himself noted in his statement about Gaza to the UN (see “Gaza: Silence is not an Option” at The Heathlander and other Internet sites), the Secretary General of the UN, the President of the General Assembly, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all condemned Israel for its monstrous siege. “Karen AbyZayd,” stated Falk, “who heads the UN relief effort in Gaza, offered first-hand confirmation of the desperate urgency and unacceptable conditions facing the civilian population of Gaza. Although many leaders have commented on the cruelty and unlawfulness of the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel, such a flurry of denunciations by normally cautious UN officials has not occurred on a global level since the heyday of South African apartheid.” Other denunciations have been made by B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that in June, 2006 called Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s electrical power plant “a war crime” (“Aiming attacks at civilian objects is forbidden under International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime. The power plant bombed by Israel is a purely civilian object and bombing it did nothing to impede the ability of Palestinian organizations to fire rockets into Israeli territory.”) Last month, Switzerland accused Israel of violating international law by destroying Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and Ramallah. This denunciation, writes a reporter for The First Post, is “arguably the strongest condemnation of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians to come from any western European country since Charles de Gaulle famously attacked the ‘oppression, repression and expulsions’ of Palestinians by Israel over 40 years ago.”. (November 17, 2008.)

Christopher Hedges writes that Falk told him Israel’s siege has unleashed “an unfolding humanitarian catastrophe that each day poses the entire 1.5 million [population] Gazans to an unspeakable ordeal, to a struggle to survive . . . This is an increasingly precarious condition. A recent study reports that 46 per cent of all Gazan children suffer from acute anemia. There are reports that the sonic booms associated with Israeli overflights have caused widespread deafness, especially among children. Gazan children need thousands of hearing aids. Malnutrition is extremely high in a number of different dimensions and affects 75 per cent of Gazans. There are widespread mental disorders…  Over 50 per cent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live.”

Gaza committed the ultimate sin. Its residents refused to be good little natives; it launched the first Intifada. It became legendary, together with Jenin in the West Bank, for its refusal to submit to Israel’s occupation. Gaza was also a region that, unlike the West Bank, was negligible in terms of fertile land and water resources. So Gaza must first be quarantined (Darryl Li has compared Gaza after Israel’s “pull-out” to an animal pen where – before the siege, at any rate – food and supplies were thrown in, Israel having divested itself of any responsibility for the population.) Israel’s aim was that Egypt take responsibility for Gaza, which has not happened. Gaza’s resistance has continued firing rockets into Israel. But Gaza’s final and unpardonable sin was, in a completely fair election, to elect a party that displeased Israel and the US. Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra infamy helped the reprisal along by engineering civil war between Hamas and Fatah (see Vanity Fair, April, 2008.)

Now, finally, Gaza is buckling. While the world watches, a people is being destroyed. The definitive essay is Sara Roy’s in this month’s London Review of Books. She details an excruciating decline in all means of life – food, fuel, medicine, water-purifiers, etc. Roy doesn’t say it, and neither does Falk, but Israel’s siege fulfills at least three points in Article 2 of the Convention on Genocide (killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.) Roy’s depressing conclusion is that if Gaza falls, the West Bank will follow.

ELLEN CANTAROW has written about the occupied West Bank and Israel for U.S. publications since 1979. She is also a Boston-based pianist, singer and teacher. She can be reached at ecantarow@comast.net


 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ellen Cantarow, a Boston-based journalist, first wrote from Israel and the West Bank in 1979. Her work has been published in Le Monde diplomatique, the Village Voice, Grand Street, Tom Dispatch and Mother Jones, among other publications, and was anthologized by the South End Press. More recently, her writing has appeared at CounterPunch, ZNet, and Alternet.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail