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Toronto Star Gives Undue Platform to Notorious Hate-Monger Richard Falk

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posted by Mike Fegelman

Today, the Toronto Star gave an undue platform on its opinion pages to notorious anti-Israel hate-monger Richard Falk.

In a commentary dubbed “The hazards of criticizing Israel,” Falk claimed that the Israeli government “pioneered” efforts to label critics of Israel as anti-Semites. Importantly, there’s no truth to this unfounded allegation. As informed observers know, Israel is well known for welcoming and having vociferous criticisms of Israeli policy, whether in politics, on the column inches of its major newspapers, or in private life. Israel is world renowned for its vibrancy, free speech and its diversity of strong opinions and its healthy marketplace of ideas – even those that go beyond the mainstream and enter into the fringes.

Falk misleadingly claimed that he has “… been personally attacked as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘a self-loathing Jew’ following the release of a United Nations-sponsored study that I co-authored investigating whether the available evidence supported a finding that Israel was guilty of apartheid — as defined by the UN Convention on Apartheid — due to the manner by which it controlled the Palestinian population.” In truth, and as UN Watch has documented, U.N. chief Antonió Guterres rejected Falk’s report published by ECSWA, a Beirut-based agency of the world body— ECSWA—comprised entirely of 18 Arab states, which accused Israel of “apartheid”. Guterres said that Falk’s report was published without consultation with the U.N. secretariat and was removed from the ECSWA website. Following the uproar, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary for the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Rima Khalaf, resigned. Falk’s report was described by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, as “anti-Israel propaganda.”

Falk’s commentary in the Star today is an apparent rebuttal of a March 23 Rosie DiManno column which accused Falk of being an “Evangelist for anti-Semitism.” Why would the Star grant Falk, a notorious hate-monger, precious column inches to spew his noxious venom? Did Falk himself complain to the Star requesting equal space in light of DiManno’s commentary?

Who is Richard Falk? He’s a disgraced ex-UN official who is well known for his bias against Israel as documented by UN Watch:

  • Falk has praised 9/11 conspiracy theorists repeatedly
  • He suggested that the United States provoked terrorist attacks against it
  • The PLO tried to oust Falk over his support and glorification of the Hamas terrorist organization
  • Human Rights Watch expelled Falk for “ethical breaches”
  • The U.N. Rights Chief & former British PM David Cameron condemned Falk for publishing an antisemitic cartoon
  • The UK condemned Falk for endorsing the antisemitic book “The Wandering Who”
  • Falk accused Israel of planning a “Palestinian Holocaust”

Falk’s report accusing Israel of “apartheid” is baseless and without foundation. See HRC’s report on “10 Reasons Israel Is Not An ‘Apartheid’ State”.

Lastly, it’s important to note that Canada’s Ottawa Protocol affirms that: “Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic, and saying so is wrong. But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium – let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction – is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest.” That’s exactly what Falk has done.

The need to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from antisemitism prompted Natan Sharansky to create his 3D test to identify the “new anti-Semitism”. Sharansky is the Chairman of the Jewish Agency and a former Israeli politician, human rights activist and a refusnik who spent nine years in Soviet prisons. A world authority on antisemitism, Sharansky argued that “Whereas classical anti-Semitism is aimed at the Jewish people or the Jewish religion, ‘new anti-Semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state. Since this anti-Semitism can hide behind the veneer of legitimate criticism of Israel, it is more difficult to expose. Making the task even harder is that this hatred is advanced in the name of values most of us would consider unimpeachable, such as human rights.”

Sharansky’s 3D test includes:

1) The test of demonization. When the Jewish state is being demonized; when Israel’s actions are blown out of all sensible proportion; when comparisons are made between Israelis and Nazis and between Palestinian refugee camps and Auschwitz – this is anti- Semitism, not legitimate criticism of Israel.

2) The test of double standards. When criticism of Israel is applied selectively; when Israel is singled out by the United Nations for human rights abuses while the behavior of known and major abusers, such as China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, is ignored…

3) The test of delegitimization: when Israel’s fundamental right to exist is denied – alone among all peoples in the world – this too is anti-Semitism.

There’s an important line separating legitimate opinion that enhances the public discourse, from hateful rhetoric that interferes with constructive dialogue. The Star’s giving Richard Falk a platform to spew his lies and venom has only served to elevate Falk, malign Israel, and mislead Star readers. As a result, the Toronto Star’s reputation has been seriously tarnished.

Take Action Now: Send a letter to the editor to the Toronto Star condemning Falk as a hate-monger and combat his allegation that Israel is an “apartheid” state. Send letters to:  lettertoed@thestar.ca.

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