[Published 31 March 2013]
United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” - Professor Richard Falk - has taken the extraordinary action to ban posts on his blog page “Citizen Pilgrimage”.
This has happened to myself and at least one other person when we attempted to post comments in response to an article written by Professor Falk titled ” What was wrong with Obama’s speech in Jerusalem”
My detailed comment sought to point out what was right with President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem. It had been published as an article on many Internet pages around the world and reproduced on the web sites of scores of others without editorial amendment.
I presented a considered and reasoned analysis of what President Obama had said. It was not couched in inflammatory or defamatory terms. It considered aspects of President Obama’s speech not referred to in Professor Falk’s article and came to an entirely different conclusion to the views expressed by Professor Falk.
To my amazement Professor Falk’s response to my post was:
“My blog is no longer open for this sort of polemics on the Israel/Palestine conflict. There are many other more important venues to carry on these discussions.”
My reply to Professor Falk - pointing out his decision amounted to the banning of free speech and requesting he reconsider his decision - went unanswered.
I subsequently sought to post an entirely different response to another contributor’s comment - but it was also not published.
One person who sought to post a comment to Professor Falk’s article received the following response:
“Mr. Skolnik: My blog is no longer open for this sort of polemical responses that insult either me or others who submit comments. There are many other venues for this sort of debate.”
Stangely Professor Falk had no similar qualms in publishing the following comment from one of his readers:
“I have been following events in Israel and Cyprus closely, and stand by my assertions. I find it both fascinating and terrifying that Germany is the force behind the Cypriot haircut, in which unscrupulous jewish industrialists, all of whom hold Israeli passports, are having their bank accounts seized and money transferred to Germany. Who would have predicted this turn of events, but really, once you spot the pattern, it becomes impossible to deny this jaw-dropping turn of events, and its ominous implications.”
It is clear that there are many readers of Professor Falk’s blog who would be grossly offended by this Jew-hating language - yet it was published.
I do not seek to silence these Jew-haters airing their views on Professor Falk’s blog. Better the world should be aware such views exist and are exposed to critical comment.
My articles sometimes attract such vile and repulsive comments. Never would I seek to have them expunged. I prefer to respond to such comments or let my readers do so.
But why should a UN Rapporteur concerned with human rights seek to ban the views of others like myself and Mr Skolnik - if he allows such a vile post as this to appear as a comment on the same blog page?
Intrigued by the Professor’s totally unexpected and unexplained reaction to my post - I contacted other sites where his article had been published.
One was a virulently Jew-hating web site called “Shoah - The Palestinian Holocaust” It had no problem posting the identical response that I attempted to post on Professor Falk’s web page
Another was “Ramy Abdeljabbar’s Palestine and World News” - not what one would call a pro-Israel site. It published my response to Professor Falk’s article without indulging in the histrionics and petulance displayed by Professor Falk.
A third site was “Transcend Media Service” - which describes itself in the following terms:
“TRANSCEND International is an experiment in promoting peace by peaceful means throughout the world. Traditionally, institutes have been centered around a building where the people who work together meet on a regular basis. Since many people who share common interests in helping transform conflicts nonviolently and creatively are geographically scattered and cannot usually be physically together, our solution is to create an electronic network of members. This, in addition, diminishes our carbon footprints and contributes to attenuate the global warming crisis.”
Professor Falk is a member of the Transcend Network.
Transcend saw nothing objectionable in posting my response to Professor Falk’s article
Professor Falk needs to understand that attempts by him to ban freedom of expression and free speech on his web site demean himself and his position as a UN Special Rapporteur.
Those in authority at the UN who repeatedly express their support for the protection of human rights must be prepared to act against one of their own by denouncing Professor Falk’s actions in the strongest terms with a view to ending his crass attempt to deny the inalienable right of every human being to speak out and be heard.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and members of the UN Human Rights Council - are you listening or do you endorse Professor Falk’s outrageous conduct?