Report on a public seminar by Professor Richard Falk
Professor Richard Falk, the UNHCR’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, spoke on the issue of The Israeli Assault on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories on Wednesday 1st December. The joint MEMO and Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) event at the prestigious Senate House in central London was packed; even with the snow and chaotic public transport over 250 guests came together to hear Professor Falk speak on Israeli human rights abuses, his experiences and recommendations for peace and justice in the region.
The event was chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, a long-time supporter for justice for the Palestinians. Joining them on the panel were Sarah Colborne from PSC and Dr Daud Abdullah from MEMO. Mr. Mansfield talked about universal jurisdiction and the pro-Israel lobby’s attempt to hold Britain to ransom to protect its war criminals from being prosecuted. He also mentioned the media bias that exists when Israel is the focus of attention, highlighting specifically the flotilla incident and Operation Cast Lead. He stated emphatically that it is high time we stopped “mincing our words” and speak out about the “ethnic cleansing, Israeli apartheid and murder”.
Professor Falk spoke about his findings over the past few years about the blatant discrimination and oppression Palestinians face every day, including the torture and persecution inflicted upon them by the occupying state of Israel. According to Prof. Falk, the two-state solution is no longer an option and will only create more friction and bloodshed in the region; in his opinion, there can be only two possible outcomes:
- a “unified democratic secular state that respects the rights of all people within its borders”; or
- the exact opposite, and we will witness “an intensification of the existing apartheid situation”.
Among the throngs of supporters of Palestine were a handful of pro-Zionists, some of whom sought to disrupt the professor mid-lecture; others tried to monopolise the Question and Answer session at the end. Professor Falk, as always, answered with eloquence and grace.
Dr Daud Abdullah concluded the event by sharing something he had heard from Professor Falk earlier: “Do not be imprisoned by your fear of failure; do not allow your sense of fear to imprison your political ambitions.”
Dr Abdullah presented Professor Falk with an award for his great service and contribution to human rights and his support for justice for the Palestinian people. The audience showed its appreciation with a standing ovation.
Full video of the event will be available in the coming few days.