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.