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.

Women of the world: stunning beauty, stunning peril

Buddha Bar, Secret Love. Women the World – Mujeres del Mundo

I recently received this video, which features stunning pictures of women in their native environments from all over the world. The video was compiled by Luis J. Briseno in loving memory of his mother and it reminded me of a radio program I recently heard. The program which aired on Radio Netherlands Worldwide, The State We are In (TSWI), detailed the dynamics of trafficking young women in the Netherlands.

Underage, vulnerable, and naive young women in the Netherlands are systematically seduced and entrapped into prostitution by gangs of men, who are all engaged in this deception, and work in concert to entrap and enslave  their victims.The police call this phenomenon “loverboys”. It is shocking to hear one of the victims and one of the mothers of a victim share their experiences.

Anita de Wit (right) and her daughter Angelique

Anita de Wit (right) and her daughter Angelique - Photo: RNW

My loverboy
“Eline recounts how a nice first date turned out to be a dark introduction into the world of ‘Loverboys‘ – young men who pose as potential boyfriends, then morph into violent pimps. She tells Jonathan about being both their victim – and their accomplice.”

The mother who never gave up
Anita’s teenage daughter, Angelique, fell prey to ‘Loverboys’ not just once, but three times. But Anita never gave up hope that her daughter would one day return to her. Angelique was forced to work as a prostitute in Amsterdam’s Red Light District for two years, but she did eventually return home. And now Anita is the driving force behind a foundation dedicated to stopping ‘Loverboys’. The Stop Loverboys Now Foundation.

I was a social worker in New York City, for many years, but I never heard of anything like this before. My heart grieves for the evil in this world. The only hope for it is education; information; and prayer for the victims and the perpetrators that they find their way back to the path of justice away from this extremely harmful and destructive practice. For that reason, I share it with you. If you have children, you must know about this. Please share in the interest of your communities worldwide.

Featured image: McKay Savage

Bullying and Genocide

After writing about my recent experience of a first hand incidence of bullying in one of our Montreal schools I recalled the first time I had heard about the connection between bullying and genocide. In the summer of 2009, I had covered a conference ‘Mieux connaître pour mieux être l’humanité’. A five day training program for teachers wanting to teach about the complex subject of genocide that was offered by ICESG in Ottawa.

What about Barbara Colorosa? Most of us know about her for her books on educating children but did you know that this mother, teacher and former nun was asked to speak at a university in Rwanda on bullying (“Extraordinary Evil: A Short History of Genocide”, is her latest book)

She explains that as there are are three actors in any bullying episode, the bully, the target and the bystanders, there are also generally the same three actors in the phenomenon of “genocide”: one, the the organizers and their followers ie. the ringleaders and their active joiner/participants; two, the targets, (victims) and three the bystanders.

I found her description of the “bystanders” most interesting. She explains that among the bystanders there are also three categories: one, the “henchmen”, i.e. the active supporters, two, the passive supporters, people who are afraid to step in, and three, those who oppose the genocidal action, i.e. people who actually do step in to defend the victims and oppose the bully.

Since the Holocaust, the World War II Nazi genocide of Jews, Gypsies, and anyone who opposed the Nazi authorities, there have been many studies on both bullying and genocide. The bullying studies have described how easy it is for even one person to stand up to the bully and prevent harm by influencing bystanders to oppose the bully. When there is noone to stand up, the bully gets away with it and the bystanders become collaborators.

Interestingly, Barabara Colorosa who dissected three genocides, the Armenian, Rwandan and Nazi genocides, those in each country who did step in to oppose the genocidal actors were often outsiders. Colorosa shares a story about an elderly Rwandan woman who was an outsider (she had never converted to the dominant religion of Christianity) who saved Tutsi babies who were brought to her by their mothers. She was able to not go along with the ideology that demonized even Tutsi babies. A perpetrator said to her “Is that a Tutsi baby?” and she said “No, that’s a baby and I am a mother.”

There are two threads here that I found fascinating: One, most of us are not aware of the planning and execution that goes into genocidal activities by governments and those in authority. (Often it seems as though these “genocides” happen and the “world” is helpless but actually great planning and effort over long periods of time goes into the execution of each genocide reported here. These acts don’t just happen as we are lead to believe via media reporting.

Two, is the participation of ordinary individuals and citizens like you and me. We too have our roles to play. Especially in the twenty-first century global village.

What are your thoughts on this very complex and difficult subject?

We Have a Dream: UnWatch.org Response to Durban 3 “UN Human Rights Conference” 9/2011

UNWatch.org is an NGO that observes and comments on UN issues. I believe, it was born as a response to the Unesco Conference against Racism that took place in Durban South Africa in 2001.(Wikipedia) World Conference against Racism exposes the way the Durban conference was aimed at delegitimizing and maligning Israel as a human right violator, without focusing on the human rights violations of any other country.

The United Nations has made the democratic State of Israel the target of incessant condemnation while neglecting its mandate in challenging the oppressive regimes around the world. This brief video explains it very well using facts and numbers.

Understanding UN Bias Against Israel — Invite to Durban 3 Protest, NYC, Sept 21

In 2009, when the Second Durban Conference was convened in Geneva, UNwatch organized its first alternative and parallel Human Rights Conference, featuring the  victims of human rights abuses as speakers  They did the same thing this year, September 2011 in NYC where Durban III was getting ready to memorialize Durban I and the conference was livestreamed over the internet.

Here is a list of the speakers who were present at the recent September 2011 parallel conference:


North Korean Defector 

And this was the Statement hammered out by the Participants

“On September 21-22, 2011 as world leaders gathered at United Nations Headquarters to open the 66th Session of the General Assembly, and to commemorate the 2001 Durban conference on racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, an international coalition of NGOs will hold a parallel summit to place urgent situations of discrimination and persecution on the international agenda, promote human rights and democracy, and give a voice to the voiceless.

A Statement was issued by the conference:
Declaration of Dissidents for Universal Human Rights
United Nations, New York, September 22, 2011

We, former prisoners of conscience, dissidents, victims of torture, persecution, and repression, fighters for freedom, democracy and the dignity of all human beings, gathered here at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, on 22 September 2011, do hereby declare:

Seventy years ago this week, in the face of Nazi tyranny, nations gathered in London to proclaim the Four Freedoms of the Atlantic Charter that are the birthright of all human beings and the hallmarks of democratic society: Freedom of speech, and of belief, freedom from fear, and from want. These four freedoms form the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Two decades ago, the Soviet Union, the other great tyranny of the twentieth century, collapsed amidst the cry for freedom that first resonated through its satellite states. Today, across the Middle East, we are witnessing that same cry echoing from Cairo to Tripoli to Damascus, as old regimes are swept aside or cling to power through ever more brutal means.

Inspired by the courage and idealism shown by ordinary women and men fighting for basic freedoms across the world; enraged by the continuing evils perpetrated by authoritarian states, including genocide, torture, state-sanctioned violence, rape and starvation as an instrument of political repression, the imprisonment of thousands of men and women of conscience, the silencing of dissenting voices, the xenophobic persecution of minorities, the denial of freedom of thought, belief and worship; we, survivors of repression in our own countries of origin, recognize that human beings can be trampled, but their spirit can never be crushed.

At this decisive moment in the struggle for universal human rights, we celebrate the defeat of Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi and of other brutal regimes in the surrounding region.

To the remaining tyrants and dictators around the globe, who have systematically violated the rights of their peoples, we give notice: Your time has passed. No more will the world suffer your specious arguments to justify policies and practices of abuse and repression in the name of claimed exceptions to the universality of basic human rights.  Belonging to diverse faiths and cultures, and originating from all regions of the world, we, the authors of this Declaration, unequivocally reject such dishonest apologetics, which suit the interests of the despots, and not the interests, or ideas, of their peoples.

We assert that the writ of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly, continues to run through all societies, and for all times.  The talk of tyrants is refuted by the cries of prisoners—who, from the dungeons of Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Tibet, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere—demand justice and freedom on the basis of these universal laws and eternal truths.

Therefore, in renewing the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call on the United Nations to make the dream of the four freedoms a reality.  We urge the United Nations General Assembly to pursue a new agenda for human rights, and call for the Member States to:

Remove tyrannical governments from special positions of power in the United Nations human rights system. Welcoming the United Nations suspension this year of the Gaddafi regime from the Human Rights Council, and the successful campaigns to prevent the election of Iran and Syria to that body, we call on the United Nations to continue on the path of reform, including by:

o   Suspending China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia from the UN Human Rights Council;

o   Removing Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women; and

o   Expelling Saudi Arabia from the Executive Board of UN Women.

Adopt the annexed resolutions on compelling situations of human rights that have hitherto been neglected or ignored at the United Nations;

Champion the cause of civil society by speaking out against the persecution of human rights defenders and dissidents, and for the freedom of non-governmental organizations to advocate for an end to repressive laws and practices;

Guarantee the freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly, being the lifeblood of democracy;

Condemn the ongoing censorship, harassment and imprisonment of Internet fighters for freedom and democracy;

Demand equality, tolerance and freedom for minorities everywhere;

Defend women who are victims of state-sanctioned subjugation; and

Protect children from ideologies of hatred and intolerance that promote contempt for fundamental human rights.

Signed on this 22nd day of September, 2011, at the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, for the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution.