An evening with Richard Falk in Parallel Narrative Land

September 22, 2013 by Judy Singer
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It was a big night out for Sydney’s anti-Israel community, about 300 of whom turned out at Sydney University’s Footbridge Theatre on Thursday to hear Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories.


Professor Richard Falk

Professor Richard Falk

Prof Falk is an appointee of the United Nations Human Rights council, which has been criticised by UN Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon for focusing disproportionately on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Judy Singer, J-Wire’s Special Rapporteur on the Matzav in Sydney’s Inner West gives her take…

It was with considerable anxiety that I approached my first ever gig as commentator on International Humanitarian Law. After all,  I’ve only been subjected to the same daily email barrage from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the rest of you. And a decade of Op-Eds from the best and brightest of both camps hardly provides enough conclusive evidence to allow one to definitively lay the blame. Especially when one is up against an Emeritus Professor of International Law, Princeton and Harvard, yet.

Professor Richard alk and Professor Stuart Rees

Professor Richard alk and Professor Stuart Rees

What was I to do if Prof Falk hit me with some devastating new fact or advanced an opinion of such legal and moral authority that I would be forced,  there and then, to change sides and bat for the other team?

Fortunately I needn’t have worried. All I heard was the standard parallel narrative that we’ve all heard a thousand times before. I won’t bore you with the details as I’m sure you can all recite each point and counterpoint in your sleep, by numbers if necessary.  But if you really must know, try google. Besides, the whole thing was filmed by the ABC’s Big Idea crew, or as a certain element of the somewhat eccentric audience must surely have figured out, Mossad operatives (who control the ABC and most world governments), disguised as such.

Instead I focused on picking up some of the fine points of flying just below the anti-semitic radar, as practiced by two of the masters of the art, beginning with MC Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, of the self-appointed “Sydney Peace Foundation”. My methodology based on past experience with Prof Rees, was simply to count the number of times he used the word “Courageous” per minute. Do I need to deconstruct this for you? OK, it is shorthand for the exemplary courage required to  speak out against the terrifying if undocumented fate dealt out by the tentacles of the all-powerful Zio-Lobby pulling the strings of the Australian Government. I’m pleased to report that Prof Rees must be mellowing in retirement, as I only counted 3 repetitions!

Prof Falk has of course the homeboy advantage over Prof Rees of being Jewish but we don’t have the time for a detour into a debate about whether Jews can be antisemitic.  Just do it in your sleep.

The takehome message for the anti-Israel crowd was of the disproportionate power of the “Zionists” in executing their monolithic, albeit vaguely defined, “Zionist Project”.  I have not as yet been able to find the origins of this sinister “project”, but its very mention seemed to send a frisson of excitement through the crowd. It’s all about Power, though I experienced some confusion about the locus thereof. Mostly the US government was depicted as the puppet of the Israelis, but occasionally the Israelis were the puppets of the US. Must get clarification.

The audience was a rum lot, about 300 of us,  surprisingly only a very few whom were “Of Middle Eastern Appearance”, and even then hard to tell which variety of Semite, whether Palestinian or Mossadic. The Marrickville BDS Mob were out in force. Indeed former M’ville Councillor, Cathy Peters, wasted no time in stepping up to the plate at Question Time to complain about BDS supporters being characterized as “demons from hell” by a certain media organisation.  In a sign that Lazarus may be dreaming of having another go, she wanted to get an “outline of the sort of approaches at local government level” being used by the Global BDS movement.  A couple of individuals who attempted to propose a counter-narrative were given short-shrift by an audience not wanting to be interrupted in its passion. Unlike the respectful silence given to the identity who got up to make a statement in support of the notion that “The Jew was a racist homicidal maniac in a religion of hate, ethnic cleansing etc”. Probably sensible given the speaker was well over 6ft, looked like he was capable of anything, and to err on the side of prudence (as defined in those circles),  quite possibly a Mossad agent provocateur as well

None of this should be read as an endorsement of settlers or any other group who make claims based on the political authority of an Imaginary Friend in an invisible realm.

It worries me that the Israeli government doesn’t clamp down on what is an absolute PR disaster for supporters of Israel’s right to exist and screw up like any other normal ethnocracy.

Which is of course every nation in the world, including Australia, whether or not the dominant culture likes to admit it or not.

Not to mention that such seeming stupidity on the part of the Israeli government will inevitably be perceived in the upside down world of the conspiracy theorist as evidence of the diabolical cunning of the Jews. Not that I’m worried about conspiracy theorists, but as we know the meme can be very infectious given the right conditions.



31 Responses to “An evening with Richard Falk in Parallel Narrative Land”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Tangible realities considered, Jewish presence and continuity in the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, is essential if any agreements are to be reached between the palestinians and the Jewish State. Thus, David Singer’s argument is valid in as much as the inevitable outcome of any negotiations shall comply with all agreements and Resolutions which contain the proviso affording Jewish presence in the said space. That the projected guarantee is mostly predicated on Israel’s physical cpacity and determination to uphold the imposing provision is as relevant as any moral argument. This may not sit well with those who shall be compelled to accede to this postulate, but , in effect, political process cannot exclude operational realities. The whole world, subject to an exclusivist Islam, is aware that it needs to accommodate unwanted Islamic principles and practices predicated on essential dennial of other beliefs and practice. Islam is using political cum forceful means to implement those undesirables. So is Isreal using its capabilities of asserting by all available means its own existential principles. Unfortunatley these conflicts are here to stay for a future yet to be projected as worthy of a Messianic age. Meawhile we all dance to the same tune.
    Ben David and his lot may NOT have the…………….lot.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Just “in case” some may see the above argumentation a “bit” convoluted, here’s the short version: Like it or not, Israel has got the means of imposing its policies in the making of a Palestinian State. Israel is simply strong enough compared to its enemies and it uses its advantage in its immediate region as much as the Islamists use their numerical advantage to advance their policies around the world IRRESPECTIVE of what Israel does at and IN her homeland ( that includes Judea and Samaria !!!).
      All these shall be made much clearer once the “negotiations” now underway shall be finalised.
      Incidentally let’s not fool ourselves. The negotiations are ONE sided, and that means: EVERYTHING IS ACCEPTABLE ONLY IF ISRAEL AGREES WITH IT !!!! The palestinian side can only SUBMIT to Israel’s terms conditions !! And zeu ze !!!
      C’mon Ben David, say something as we don’t give a stuff anyway !!!

  2. David says:

    It would appear that multiple Davids have been commenting in this thread, which has caused some consternation to fellow posters. On behalf of all the other Davids who have made a contribution here (except for Ben David), I extend my contempt to those sops who have been apologising for and justifying the divisive methods of Richard Falk.

    Falk may be clever but he is indubitably a self-denying Jew, who speaks badly about Israel with every breath.

  3. Ben David says:

    I agree with Mr Stillman. Falk has his faults, but to dismiss every view he holds is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    His position for example on status of Israel’s WB settlements is correct. In fact, it is barely controvercial anymore and reflects the consens of opinion of many jurists including the ICJ.

    I read the link that Mr Singer provided of his discussion with Mr Falk regarding the relevance of the 1920 mandate that Mr Singer often relies upon. There is nothing in Mr Falk’s legal reasoning that can be faulted. On the other hand it is untenable to suggest as Mr Singer often does that a 90 year old treaty can be deployed to deprive the Palestinians of their inherent right of self determination in the land of their birth when they were never even a party to that treaty. Whatever your view of the Palestinians, no court would ever endorse such an outcome. From what i can tell, Mr Singer disputes this because he does not seem to think Palestinians have equal rights to self determination as Jews. This, I’m afraid, has at its core a troubling supremacist world view that is diametrically opposed to principles of equity on which Int law is based.

    Falk has made some silly statements on issues outside his area of expertise but on Int law he is highly regarded and holds one of the most prestigious professorships in the world. He should not be dismissed lightly.

    • David says:

      Ben David

      Would you care to inform us which one one of the most prestigious professorships in the world is held by Professor Falk? I personally know of none – nor has my research been able to find that position.

      You obviously are privy to information of which I am unaware. Please provide the details.

      There is everything in Professor Falk’s legal reasoning that can be faulted.

      He does not accept that the Mandate for Palestine is binding in international law and its provisions are still applicable today in relation to Jews being entitled to live in the West Bank by virtue of article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

      A 90 year old treaty is indeed still the defining legal document in this ongoing Jewish-Arab conflict – preserved by an article in the 67 years old UN Charter.

      It is an inconvenient truth that needs to be faced up to and addressed – as was unsuccessfully attempted by the Peel Commission in 1937, the United Nations in 1947 and by Israel and the PLO in 2000/1, 2008 and is currently being attempted right now at this very moment.

      Until the PLO accepts the Mandate’s binding effect in international law – any prospects of an additional Arab state in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan – is a pipe dream.

      Whilst people like Falk deny the Mandate has any binding legal effect – the PLO will be emboldened to maintain their rejectionist stance – like those of previous Palestinian Arab leaders prior to the PLO being formed in 1964 – who have never been prepared to accept that Jews have the legal right to their own State in their ancient homeland.

      • Ben David says:


        Here is a link to Richard Falk’s page on the Pinceton website which required no great skill to locate.

        Like many other legal experts he does not accept your Art80/Mandate point because it is without any legal merit. We’ve had this discussion many times before and you have never been able to justify it yourself – although have again commented on it below.

        • David says:

          Ben David

          Sorry but the information you disclosed indicates Falk is an emeritus professor and therefore no longer holds that position within Princeton Uni.

          For your information an “emeritus” professor is defined as:

          “: one retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held”

          Falk retired from the Princeton faculty in 2001. He does not even have an office at the Uni.

          Your claim that Falk “holds one of the most prestigious professorships in the world” is therefore deceptive and misleading – as is so much of what you post.

          Perhaps you might like to tell us your name – so we can check your legal credentials.

          • Ben David says:


            The professorship I was referring to was his position as Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus, a status that is, as you point out, held following retirement.

            Are you suggesting that he is not academically qualified or experienced enough to opine on Int law and, if so, please explain why ?

        • David says:

          Ben David

          Professor Falk holds no current position – only an emeritus title.

          You attempted to deceive and mislead – as is your habit.

          I suppose this just come naturally to anyone who uses two pseudonyms when posting on the Internet and who also changes quoted remarks.

  4. larry stillman says:

    I was at the Melbourne event. In fact, Linda was giving many people time for questions and did not ignore David Singer. There were many questions and his hand was not the first to go up. When David asked his question, it was not a question, but a long and convoluted statement from which it was not possible to make easy sense other than a disputed sense of the use of Judea and Samaria v West Bank or occupied territories. He was in fact requested to ask a question rather than continue making a statement. Falk did what he could to answer the question. I am sure any tape of the session would show this.

    Nor would Linda Briskman appreciate being patronizingly labelled as a ‘nice Jewish girl’, particularly since she is well into adulthood.

    Ms Singer’s report does not deal with any of the substantive issues that Falk dealt with at least in Melbourne) namely, the violations of human rights on the West Bank. I suspect he dealt with much the same in Sydney. I’d say 90% of his talk in Melbourne was not about Israel in fact, but about the effect of the military regime. From the few remarks he made pertaining to Israel, I think it is clear he is of the view that a negotiated settlement is the only solution, but it is one in which the rights of Palestinians and Israelis have be to be equal. For all his faults (and Falk has them), he was magnanimous on this point.

    • David says:


      Sorry to disappoint you but I – David Singer – was not present at either Falk lecture in Melbourne or Sydney.

      Could you please withdraw your comments and apologise for attributing any statements or questions to me.

      You might also be interested to know that Falk sees no hope for the two state solution and considers the allocation of sovereignty of the West Bank between Jordan and Israel as the best of the bad options available to resolve the Jewish- Arab conflict.

      • Ben David says:


        You should have added that Richard Falk did not agree with your proposal.

        Some honesty please.

        • David says:

          Ben David

          Not sure what you are suggesting – but I meant what I said – Falk agrees that the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank between Israel and Jordan is the best of the bad options now available.

          • Ben David says:


            You are suggesting that he agrees with your idea when he plainly doesnt.

            In fact, this is what he said: “I think the Jordanian option is one answer, but not one I endorse.”

      • David says:

        Ben David

        You once again choose to deceive and mislead.

        You only quote what Professor Falk said at the outset of our exchange.

        After continuing our discussion this is what Professor Falk said:

        “Given the paucity of decent alternatives, if the legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people
        genuinely accepted such a solution without it being imposed, it might be better than nothing, and the best among bad options.”

        Quite frankly I find your modus operandi completely discredits anything you post.

        Dissembling as you do is offensive.

        You might be a lawyer – as you have claimed. If so – I would expect far greater intellectual honesty in your posts.

        Hope you are man enough to apologise for casting doubts on my integrity.

  5. Judy says:

    I’m positioning myself as a centrist who like 99.99999 (recurring) percent of the world is never going to immerse themselves in the minutiae of each issue, or devote themselves to lifetime of scholarship on behalf of Israel, and that’s just the Jews. After 20 years of following the debate, I have established that there is no ultimate killer argument that will tip the scales. Perceptions rule.

    Whatever the thinking behind the settlements is, for the 99.9999% the settlements are inexplicable if not outright distasteful. It’s terrible PR. Simple as that.

    • David says:


      The settlements are explicable since the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home in the West Bank is legally mandated by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

      Jews had lived there prior to 1948 – when they were driven out in the 1948 War – and only returned after Jordan was defeated in the Six Day War in 1967.

      How you can find Jews living in the heart of their ancient biblical, historic and legally sanctioned homeland “distasteful” is beyond me.

      If you want to argue that politically it is an impediment to resolving the Jewish – Arab conflict – then that is another issue. We can have a discussion on that.

      But don’t feel ashamed because Jews are legally living in Judea – the biblical and geographic name used for the West Bank until 1950 when Jordan changed its name.

      You should be more concerned that the PLO will not countenance one Jew living there as a condition for the two-state solution to come to fruition.. Unless they change their tune – the negotiations will fall down on that one issue. 500000 Jews are not going to be kicked out of their homes to satisfy the Jew-hating demands of the PLO.

      Judenrein – as demanded by the PLO – is what I call inexplicable and distasteful.

  6. Paul Winter says:

    Sad, very sad, that an item that starts out as a logorrhoeic metareport on a Jew-hatefest ends up with confused drivel. With a bit of maturity and concern for Jewish interests, it could have been a worthwhile report.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Paul, my dear friend, once again, you took the words out my mouth !!!
      I will only add that pseudo Victorian or even Georgian prose with a wiff of autumnal romanticism can only confuse ( to be elegant ) prosaic expectations of political reporting.
      Also, while David answered “Judy” ( it could be any Judy but, since we are at the “perception” level, it looks more like the Judy of the Punch association ) perceptevly impeccably, it is worth mentioning once again that those who posess no intellectual perception ( see Judy again ) can only be expected to offer emotional dribble.
      As about Larry, I am still waiting for explicit concrete arguments to replace ideological activism cum sarcastic musing deprived of substance. It proves, time and again, that a Jew can only hate his condition as an intellectually debilitating ailment. No offence, simply frustrated that Larry is yet to convince me that he could be right in the strict case of Israel being what he implies it could be.

  7. David says:

    I had the dubious pleasure of attending Falk’s public lecture in Melbourne last Monday, which although free, only attracted about 70 people. I must admit that the weather was not very conducive.

    I took the opportunity to ask a question and was rather bemused by the chair-woman Professor Linda Briskman, Professor of Human Rights at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research, who desperately sought a question from somebody else in the audience besides me. I had been protesting earlier and was instantly recognisable. Linda is a nice Jewish girl without doubt, but I would venture to suggest that she doesn’t have her heart in the right place.

    I introduced myself as a pro-Israel activist and proceeded to inform Falk about the 1920 San Remo Agreement followed up by the 1922 League of Nation’s unanimous endorsement of the Palestine mandate for a Jewish homeland in all the territory west of the Jordan i.e. Judea and Samaria.

    In his lecture, which was supposed to be about human rights but he had concentrated on hitting out at Israel politically, Falk had tried to allude to the reference to Judea and Samaria as only having a biblical connection.

    Falk muttered something about the Israel’s attorney-general having come out with a strong statement about the West bank. I checked this out afterwards and found out that Israel’s Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had made a firm statement about criminal enforcement of planning and construction violations in Judea and Samaria.

    I didn’t get the chance though to respond to Falk’s devious answer. Weinstein still refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria. These terms have become interchangeable but as pro-Israel advocates we shouldn’t buy into the language that the ‘other side’ has chosen to use. We should use the terminology that is ours and not get railroaded by anti-Israel snipers.

    • David says:


      If you want to know Professor Falk’s views on the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter – please read my article in JWire published in August 2012 at the following link:

      When you read it – you will understand why the Professor gave you a devious answer.

      • Ben David says:


        In your exchange with Mr Falk on this link, your last proposition was that “the respective claims of both parties to self determination should be based on what happened between at least 1917-2012 and what happened to the territory once called Palestine during that period”.

        I know why you always take 1917 as a starting point but, as Mr Falk had already explained to you, this starting point is not appropriate because Arabs living for generations west of the Jordan were never represented nor consulted on the agreements in question. For the same reason that I cannot sell your home without your consent, it is a fundamental principle that treaties cannot bind non-consenting parties. It is also fundamental that treaties that violate or come violate peremptory Int law norms (whether these norms emerge later or exist at the time) are unenforceable (art 53 and 63 of Vienna Convention). Thus, the 1920 mandate cannot possibly defeat emerging Palestinian rights to self determination. Lastly, you know that treaties can become inapplicable because of a fundamental change of circumstances (the good old rebus sic stantibus rule). The 1920 mandate became redundant by the time partition was accepted by the international community and following the collapse of the wildly optimistic one state solution put forward back then.

        Mr Falk takes the position that the agreements were a fraud. That may or may not be true but by applying some basic legal principles, it is clear that the 1920 mandate is now simply an historical footnote.

        • David says:

          @Ben David, if you want to go back a few thousand years you will see that the true living indigenous ancestors of Palestine are the Jews. The Palestinians only established a national identity for themselves in 1964 when Arafat was aided by the KGB in establishing the PLO.

          The Mandate for Palestine, approved by the League of Nations in September 1922, included a note that relocated the Jewish national home. “Palestine” no longer included “the territory known as Trans-Jordan,” east of the Jordan River.

          Article 6 of the Mandate assured to Jews the right of “close settlement” between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, the remaining one-third of the land that would thereafter comprise Palestine. In today’s language that includes the State of Israel, the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria), and Gaza. This has never been rescinded.

          The Jews have made concessions all along the way as they were desperate to establish their national homeland on whatever land space they could. The Palestinians have forced the Jews to compromise every step of the way as they never wanted the Jews to be living amongst them in large numbers.

          • Ben David says:


            Those are ideological, not legal responses to points i have made.

            There is no basis in international law for irredentist claims, especially when there was a 2500 year old gap between the last period of alleged exclusive possession. If Germany’s far less antiquated claims to Alsace-Lorraine, areas of Poland, Lithuania, Austria and the Czech Sudetenland can fail, the claims by right wing settlers to the WB on the same basis are utterly hopeless. In any event, there is no legal precedent or respected independent academic authority to support such a claim.

            The right of self determination doesn’t depend on when a group asserts a national identity or what the group calls itself. The Arabs asserted rights to the land the minute the first Yishuv arrived in the late 19th Century. They were there for generations before. You are, I think, parroting certain views of the late Julius Stone on the criteria for rights to SD. His position on this has been rejected by academic writers and is completely out of step with the opinion of the international community and the UN and the ICJ which all recognize Palestinian’s right to SD in the WB.

            If you are right, the whole of Africa could have been retained by old colonial powers as many of the inhabitants only later organised themselves into political movements and asserted any unified national identity. Such a claim is plainly absurd.

            In any event, even if your start date of 1964 is correct (its not) settlements after that date would infringe palestinian rights to SD.

            The mandate, which has been superseded by a multitude of other legal instruments and by 90 years of history cannot be read as defeating the Palestinian’s right to SD. This right is an extant peremptory norm that overrides conflicting non peremptory provisions including any asserted claims based on the 1920 Mandate.

          • David says:

            Ben David

            I David Singer did not post the response from David to which you replied – but that David was spot on.

            You keep beating out the same tired old rhythm that you continue to fail to substantiate.

            The right of Jews to settle in the West Bank and Gaza has been conferred in international law pursuant to the provisions of article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

            Until article 80 is repealed – the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in the West Bank and Gaza by close settlement on state lands and waste lands not required for public purposes is preserved and is to be encouraged in international law subject to the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities living there not being prejudiced.

            Discussing other parts of the world is one big red herring.

            The Mandate is alive today as it was in 1922 by virtue of article 80 of the UN Charter.

            The Vienna Convention on Treaties is another red herring. To suggest it can somehow apply to or negate the provisions of the UN Charter is unsustainable. Do you have any authority to support your latest contention?

            If your claim that the Mandate and article 80 have been superseded by a multitude of other legal instruments and by 90 years of history is to have any veracity – then it is incumbent on you to specify in precise detail those legal instruments and events and circumstances on which you rely and any legal authorities who support your claims.

  8. David says:

    In case anybody has missed this opportunity.
    To keep the heat on Falk please go to and fill out the form there to petition the UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay to sack Richard Falk.

  9. Philip says:

    I think you are courageous Judy for having the tolerance to go along and listen to this fundamentalist viewpoint. I personally gave up 13 years ago, but I admire others who still try to find some common ground.

    • ben eleijah says:

      It would be useful if there was even a semblance of coverage of the substance of Falk’s talk and a factual rebuttal of his claims. What did Falk say and how is it untrue?

  10. David says:


    Congrats on your coverage of this meeting of 300 Jew haters.

    Must admit however that I was concerned by your following statement:
    “None of this should be read as an endorsement of settlers or any other group who make claims based on the political authority of an Imaginary Friend in an invisible realm.
    It worries me that the Israeli government doesn’t clamp down on what is an absolute PR disaster for supporters of Israel’s right to exist and screw up like any other normal ethnocracy.”

    Could you please amplify what you specifically had in mind when making this statement?

    Left unanswered and unspecified – I imagined it would be the kind of vacuous statement one normally hears from Professor Falk.

    • ben eleijah says:

      Another standard hasbara smear. The “jew-haters” includes Israel Shahak, Tanya Reinhart, Uri Aveneri, Uri Davies, Jeff Halper, Illan Pappe, Akiva Eldar, Danny Rubenstien et al. Incdentally all Israeli citizens to boot. The anti-Semitism line has lost all credibility and effect from over-use.

      • David says:

        Ben Elijah

        I would call these people “self-hating Jews”. Not all Jews believe in the idea of a Jewish State in its ancient biblical, historic and legally sanctioned homeland. It is a minority view and they are entitled to their view. But in expressing that view they are offering support to those who want to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth and the wishes of the majority of Jews reduced to despair and helplessness once again.

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