Friday, June 08, 2012

Richard Falk - June 8, 2012 - Seattle Speech

This evening I was very lucky to hear Richard Falk's excellent speech entitled: "The Economic, Legal and Moral Cost of War: A Forum on Israel,Palestine and the United States. (Note: quotation marks below do NOT reflectupon exact words of Richard Falk.)

Falk's main part of his speech focused upon three key areas of myths related to the relationship between the U.S. and Israel:

1. Jews - have been and continue to be victims from blatant discrimination (anti-semitism) going back a long time to the Holocaust and continuing through the present facing antisemitism that continues to always affect them. The speaker indicated that while there had certainly be horrible things done to Jews that frequently this position in Israel was a useful tool, rather than a necessary reality. This also leads to the idea that the Arabs will only respect force.

2. Israel is the Only Democracy in the Middle East. Though there areproblems Egypt and Tunisia are developing democracies that are worth noting.20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinian and they have at least 36 major laws inIsrael which discriminate against them.

3. Israel is THE U.S.'s strategic ally in the Middle East. Israel hasmilitary superiority in the Middle East. U.S. attitudes tend to focus uponmilitary force as our key "security" issue and falsely emphasizethis. Military force tends to fail in the long-term at keeping strong positiveties between countries.

Falk talked about how the U.S. - Israeli relationship was unique in thatIsrael, the much weaker partner, had far stronger control over the U.S. relatedto Middle Eastern issues than the U.S. did over Israel. He talked of howPresident Johnson 45 years ago today covered up The U.S.S. Liberty attack fromthe Israelis ( - 34 U.S.troops were killed and 170 were injured) out of fear that it would hurtpolitical support by U.S. Jews. He said that Israel deliberately attacked theship wanting to stop the U.S. from monitoring conversations between Israelimilitary leadership and troops deliberating the (eventual) Israeli attack uponthe Golan Heights during the 1967 - 6 Day War.

He criticized the lack of honesty for political ends relating to thisincident which caused significant U.S. casualties. Falk also said thatPresident Johnson went along with the Israeli public version of the diredangers to Israel of the 6 Day War which he stated was known by both sides tobe a lie. He stated that both President Johnson and the Israelis knew that theArab military threat was minimal and that the goal of the war was to expandIsraeli possession of land (which obviously happened)!

Richard Falk spoke at length about how Iran was used as a political weaponby both the U.S. and Israel and of the danger that Israel would make a majorattack upon Iran. He spoke of how there already were "attacks" uponIran such as the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists that if doneagainst Israel or the U.S. would immediately start a war. He spoke of how atone point a few years ago 16 different U.S. security agencies all agreed thatIran wasn't trying to build nuclear weapons.

Falk spoke of the total lack of discussion of the fact that Israel has alarge stockpile of nuclear weapons and how a nuclear free Middle East would beby far the best alternative, but it is never discussed.

Falk spoke a fair amount about how political leadership and the media in theU.S. pushed a world vision which included a permanent war economy and was basedupon a continuing emphasis upon military superiority. He indicated that despiteall our efforts militarily, we always continue to have insecurities. He statedthat military victories and emphasis upon military superiority historicallydoes not lead to lasting peace and acceptance by other countries.

Falk also noted three recent trends related to U.S. - Israeli - Palestinianissues:

1. Disillusionment with the negotiations and peace process. He noted thatregardless of whether negotiations were going or not Israel continued to expandits settlements in the West Bank. Falk indicated that Palestinians saw littlevalue in negotiating with Israel.

2. Palestinians - including radical groups like Hamas - are increasinglymoving towards non-violent opposition including: hunger strikes, the Free GazaMovement and the BDS/Sanctions movement which is growing internationally. Henoted that the U.S. media - goes to great lengths to talk of hunger strikes inother countries - where it serves its political aims, while almost alwaysignoring Palestinian hunger strikes. He noted how in Ireland there had beendaily coverage for example during turmoil between Northern Ireland and GreatBritain. Concerning the Palestinians he stated the coverage of the Palestiniansnearly always focused upon "radical incidents" (the exceptions to themove towards non-violence).

3. While politicians the media remain stuck in a totally pro-Israel,anti-Palestinian world view, the U.S. public seems increasingly open to a muchmore balanced approach to the issues. In response to questions at the end Falkspoke of the need of people to work towards what seems impossible now.

He said that historians always needed to look back at major changes, andthat things like the Arab Spring and the fall of the Russian (communist)"empire" and many other similar things were not predicted before theyhappened.

He quoted Rabbi Abraham Heschel: (this was the quote) : "Few areguilty. All are responsible" - which seems significant to me. (see: for info on Heschel).

I would highly, highly, highlyrecommend Richard Falk!!!!!!!!

He is brilliant, caring, thoughtful etc. He has a blog at:



Todd Boyle said...

Video is at Thanks for your great reporting.

geo said...

Thanks! Great - Link for the speech itself!!!