Who is Richard Falk?

I learned about Richard Falk from an article in the National Post, A Disgrace to McGill, written by Hillel Neuer of UNwatch.org.

Richard Anderson Falk is an 80-year-old American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 books. Professor Falk is also a speaker, activist on world affairs, and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.

Prof. Falk was outed in the National Post by Hillel Neuer, as a one-sided supporter of Palestine in the UN and an unconscious anti-semite, (he claimed he did not realize that a certain cartoon he included in his blog was anti-semitic). Based on his writings, he can be characterized as a supporter of Khomeini, and of 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Neuer’s piece in the National Post appeared prior to Prof. Falk’s speaking engagement at McGill University. Curious about the discussion, I decided to attend the meeting. His topic was the legality and legitimacy of drone attacks that have been carried out by the US on foreign territory. Here is an account of my experience and observations at the Prof. Falk event at McGill University.

I suppose, due to the controversial nature of the event, McGill had several guards on duty, and when I arrived, a few minutes after the talk had started, I was barred from entering by the guard on the basis of the room being full. I explained that I was “press”, so he consulted with the organizer and she let me in. I set up my camera and two professors asked me if I had permission to videotape. They seemed nervous. This is curious, if not hypocritical, considering one of the reasons McGill has for allowing him to speak is “freedom of speech”.

What I found most interesting were the questions at the end, and the conversations that I had after the event with participants and with Prof. Falk. I had the last question and was especially pleased with my question and his answer. His talk was about the conventions of law. He also quoted Thucydides, saying “The strong do what they want and the weak do what they can”, implying of course that the US should not be taking advantage of its strengths to use all means necessary to protect its citizens. He also posited that there is no apparent danger to the US from a person like Alawiki. And he was against this because  “drones are used on hearsay evidence and they set a dangerous precedent”. He also acknowledged that Al Qaeda is a  non-territorial adversary but seemed to fault the US for being a supra-territorial force, mentioning US military outposts all over the world as a negative, and faulted the US for interfering in Yemen’s  sovereignty.

Having just read Deborah Lipstatd’s book, The Eichmann Trial, which exposes the behavior of Eichmann, the person who was in charge of carrying out Hitlers’ orders for the “final solution” and personally supervised the deportations of hundreds of thousands of Jews to their death, I posed the following question.

“In 1961, Eichmann, the CEO who carried out the Nazi deportations of Jews to the  Auschwitz death camps, was tried in Jerusalem, and in Deborah Lipstatd’s book we get a full reading of Eichmann’s behavior during the war, during the trial, and the reverberations after the trial. If intelligence sources knew about Eichmann’s behavior during the war, would they have been justified in using a drone attack? And he answered, simply “Yes”. And that closed the meeting.

As I was wrapping up the camera, a young man came up to me and said he appreciated my question. When I tried to get his co-ordinates, he declined, saying he was in the Canadian military, and also a student.

After the meeting a visiting professor asked him about his 9/11 conspiracy book. He denied that he was a “conspiracy theorist” saying that he was legitimately expressing the view “that more explanations are required”. When I asked him, explanations of what, he pointed to the way the towers collapsed. The issue of whether the towers collapsed because of the explosion and fire from the burning planes or were  exploded by the Americans. This theory that the towers were actually exploded by the Americans has become a fertile ground for those who do not accept the official scientific explanations from the builders etc. Jonathon Kay is a good resource for understanding conspiracy theorists.

In conclusion, my assessment is that Richard Falk is an 80 year old American academic, a product of his time and place, his Ivy league, secular, leftist, and quietly anti-semitic, American education. From his ivory tower analyses, it often seems that he has been fortunate to escape the tragedy of war that many other peoples have endured which makes them see the world through a more pragmatic lens.

And here I discovered a wonderful animation video which exposes the realities of targeted killings by Israel and the US.

Rochel Steinmetz, Zichrona l’ivracha, the blessing of her memory

Many of you know Rabbi Chaim Stenimetz and the great work that he does through the videos that we have been posting in collaboration with AskAbigail Productions. He is always witty and wise and speaks to the issues of the moment.

This last week, his mother, Rochel Steinmetz, passed away without warning. I visited him with the rest of the community according to Jewish mourning practices of comforting the mourner. He shared with all of us her story. Rochel Steinmetz, was born a Hungarian Jew. A survivor of the Holocaust, she and two of her sisters survived the death march from Auschwitz. Rochel Steinmetz, survived and lived to immigrate to the US and marry an American college graduate in Chicago. She and her husband moved to Monsey, a suburban New York community that was then starting a Jewish community. Rochel gave birth to three children and was one month away from giving birth to her fourth child, (Rabbi Steinmetz), when she lost her husband in a car crash. She did not give up. She went on to raise her four children, in the same house and the same community, as a single mother; with courage, perseverance and optimism. She devoted herself to the task with grace and courage. Aside from Rabbi Steinmetz’s memorable stories of his mother’s patience and wisdom, a member of the community came out of the woodwork to acknowledge her spirit in a eulogy.

When she passed away, last week, at the age of 83, she had 18 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. She is remembered for her resilience, optimism, and faith, which carried her through many challenges in life. Her memory survives as a beacon of courage for all of us.


Rabbi Steinmetz wrote this at the time of unveiling the gravestone for his mother in Jerusalem. It is a moving and deep meditation on the process of mourning. (published in the Washington Post)





Tatiana de Rosnay, Author of Sarah’s Key, in Montreal

Last week I had the opportunity to see Tatiana De Rosnay speak at the Jewish Public Library about her newest book, Rose. The room was full as the audience eagerly anticipated her talk. Many in attendance are fans of Tatiana’s previous book Sarah’s Key, and have also seen the movie, which tells the story of a family in France during the Holocaust. Tatiana de Rosnay, born in Paris, is not Jewish but researched the story that she depicts. She shared that two survivors of the val d’hiv round up became her dear friends. One of them said to her, “How did you know that that’s exactly how I felt?”

The book focuses on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. In 1942, French police in Paris, rounded up 13,152 Jewish emigres and refugees and their French-born children and grandchildren, who were then shipped to Auschwitz where most of them perished). Sarah’s Key focuses on a young girl during and after the war. The book vividly illustrates the willingness of French soldiers and the French government in helping the Nazis in their mission to eliminate the Jews. Only recently have the French come to grips with this shameful episode of the French government’s collaboration with the Nazi extermination of Jews during WW II. The book also tells the story of a farmer’s family and their efforts to help Jews by hiding them from the authorities.

The talk by the author, Tatiana de Rosnay, is part of a series of events planned this month at the Jewish Public Library as part of Jewish Book Month which occurs every year. This month features authors such as Aubrey Davis (In a Nutshell: The Worlds of Maurice Sendak), Deborah Lipstadt (The Eichmann Trial), Kim Echlin (The Disappeared), Rebecca Margolis (Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, 1905-1945) and others. Check out the Jewish Book Month Events Calendar.


11/11/11 Canada Remembrance Day

Earlier this week I was out with my nephew, who is visiting from Israel. He saw a group of Veterans selling poppies and pinning them to people’s lapels. He asked me what the meaning of the poppies is. I was saddened that he had to ask me since he had grown up in Montreal as well. The poppy is a reminder, a symbol that represents the brave commitment of many soldiers who suffered and died for their country. Israel also practices this powerful convention of remembering the fallen. I have been in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Day devoted to remembering our fallen soldiers. At 11 am, a loud siren is heard and everyone in the whole country, on foot or in a vehicle, stops in their tracks and pays tribute.

This article by Kevin Myers also spoke to me, and is worth adding here. It was originally published in April 2007 but is still as relevant as ever.

Salute to a brave and modest nation – Kevin Myers, ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ LONDON

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.. It seems that Canada ‘s historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac , Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well. Lest we forget.

Please pass this on to any of your friends or relatives who served in the Canadian Forces or anyone who is proud to be Canadian; it is a wonderful tribute to those who choose to serve their country and the world in our quiet Canadian way.

Highlights of the CIJR conference Combatting the Delegitimation of Israel

I am, as we speak, reviewing the footage from the recent conference, Combatting the Delegitimation of Israel, which my company videotaped. The morning was devoted to exposing the issues. Efraim Karsh pointed out the attempt to deny Jewish claims to the land of Israel, from its inception by the Arab states, Egypt, Trans Jordan and Syria, who were eager to divide the the current land of Israel and divide the spoils among themselves in 1948. Asaf Ramirowsky analyzed the history of the “refugee problem” and UNRWA, pointing out that UNRWA, the recipient of Billions of dollars has a life of its own, and has no interest in resolving the refugee issue.

Other enemies of Israel are holocaust deniers and leftist internationalists, both Jews and non-Jews who deem the creation of the nation state of Israel to be a “mistake”. Sally Zerker pointed out the anti-semitism seminal to the God of the leftists, Karl Marx. Barbara Kay analyzed the leftist intelligentsia in Israel that also sides with the leftist ideological camp.

Richard Landes, pointed out the “psy-ops” and “memes” that are part of the delegitimation war against Israel. Israel is being painted as the “Nazi Goliath” dominating the Palestinian David, because she dares to defend herself and her people with all means necessary. Mordechai Nissan, was the standard bearer for Jewish pride, as he pointed out the remarkable history of the Jews, a people, most loyal to each other, and yet also most aware, and concerned for others.

Catherine Chatterley and Charles Small ably described how the virus of anti-semitism has reignited in the West in respectable academic circles. Charles Small pointed out the danger of anti-semitism as it has a genocidal intent as regards Jews and Israel.

And here is Catherine Chatterley speaking about the resurgence of anti-semitism in our midst.

Prof. Krantz ended the conference with a resolution and a call to all of us, Jews, non-Jews, individuals, and institutions, to do everything in our power to expose and counter this situation in defence of Jews, and the Jewish State of Israel.

A Combatting the Delegitimation of Israel highlights video has been posted and CIJR will be posting the full conference talks on their website and is also planning to create a DVD for educational purposes.

Featured image from http://cifwatch.com