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February 10, 2011

With UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk on the UN, Israel-Palestine and 9/11 Scholarship

Dr. Anthony J. Hall

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Powerful interests in Israel and the United States are intent on pulling strings to have Professor Richard Falk fired half way through his six-year term as the UN's Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.

Professor Falk earned the ire of his critics for his forthright reporting on the human rights catastrophe facing those Palestinians most subject to Israel’s repressions.

He recently reported, for instance, that the Palestinian refugees corralled together in the walled enclave of Gaza are “locked within the world's largest open-air prison, and victimized by one of the cruelest forms of belligerent occupation in the history of warfare.”[i]

Professor Falk has contributed to publications authored and edited by Professor David Ray Griffin, a colleague whose enormous scholarly achievements in investigating the 9/11 file the UN’s Special Rapporteur readily endorses.

As Falk sees it, Griffin has exposed a web of official deceit and cover up that speaks of “a profound crisis of political legitimacy for the most powerful sovereign state in the history of the world.”[ii]

Although the Special Rapporteur has restrained himself from going beyond a call for an “authoritative” investigation of the 9/11 debacle, UN Watch has reached beyond Prof. Falk’s actual words in its zeal to smear its nemesis. UN Watch, whose chief mouthpiece is Hillel Neuer, is closely affiliated with the Zionist-directed American Jewish Committee founded in 1906.

UN Watch described Falk as a “conspiracy theorist” holding the view that “the 9/11 terrorist attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government and not Al Qaeda.”[iii] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, have joined with UN Watch in condemning Falk for daring to point out the obvious disparity between the evidence and the official account of what happened on 9/11.[iv]

Professor Falk speaks expansively in this exchange about the failures of the UN to enforce international law except when it comes to expressions of various kinds of “victors’ justice.”

He sees, nevertheless, a continuing role for the organization as a platform of validation in what he refers to as “legitimacy wars.” While the UN can’t enforce its own laws and legal findings it can serve as a venue to inform and persuade public opinion so that people will take necessary actions to address serious abuses of human rights.

As an example he points to recent developments in Tunisia and Egypt, describing the oppressiveness of governments in these polities as closely connected to neoliberal forms of globalization.

I found Professor Falk’s analysis especially compelling when he pointed to the corrosive effects of the resort to character assassination as an expedient of the powerful to divert attention away from, for instance, Israel’s assault on the Indigenous peoples of occupied Palestine or the unanswered questions that continue to permeate the 9/11 debacle.

When it comes to these matters, Professor Falk asserted, we are treated more as subjects than as citizens because we are expected to obey and keep our mouths shut. Citizens on the other hand have a responsibility to question their governors and to act on the basis of what their knowledge and conscience demand of them.

We both agreed that the unwillingness of too many academics to enter into the scholarship of politically-fraught topics like 9/11 and the Israel-Palestine conflict is having especially unfortunate effects on teaching and learning at our institutions of higher learning.

Professor Falk pointed out that there is nothing to prevent academics and journalists from stepping in to do the hard work of investigation when citizens are deprived of basic truths because of the failures of institutions like the UN and the US government.

Prof Anthony J. Hall is Professor of Globalization Studies, University of Lethbridge, Canada.

UN, Israel-Palestine, 9/11 Scholarship: A Discussion with Professor Richard Falk

Part One

Part Two

Part 3


[i] Richard Falk, “Ben Ali of Tunisia was Model US Client, Aljazeera, 25 Jan., 2011 at

[ii] Richard Falk’s Forward to David ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Northampton Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2004), vii, See also Falk’s chapter in 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (Northampton Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2006)

[iii] UN Watch Press Release, 28 Jan. 2011 at


Stuart Littlewood, “US Ambassador’s Bid to Get Richard Falk Sacked Opens Up a Can of Worms, Intifada: Voice of Palestine, 30 January, 2011 at

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