Richard Falk is a conspiracy theorist who traffics in antisemitism.
Falk has repeatedly accused the US government for being complicit in the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. He wrote the preface for a 9/11 conspiracy book, “The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11”
He claimed the Boston Marathon bombing was a natural ‘resistance’ to ‘the American global domination project’ and that we should be grateful there haven’t been worse ‘blowbacks’.
Falk provided a public endorsement of Gilad Atzmon’s antisemitic book, “The Wandering Who”, a book which suggests that “Hitler might have been right after all” and contains sustained ethnic and racial attacks against Jews and ‘Jewishness’.
Unfortunately, Falk is also a former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine. Despite being repeatedly condemned for bias by world leaders, Falk pushed out a report though an obscure UN agency last week that once again attacked Israel. The UN distanced itself from his report.
Oh, and he’s written a book, which he’s trying to sell. That’s why Falk is in England, speaking at universities, trying to promote his book.
Jewish students and pro-Israel groups expressed concern ahead of a planned talk by Falk at the London School of Economics on Monday 20 March. The university ignored those concerns and his talk went on anyway.
However, his talk on Monday turned nasty. Pro-Israel audience members were ejected from the room when they tried to protest.
One audience member who wasn’t removed was Gilad Aztmon, the author of the antisemitic book mentioned above. Atzmon told people in the meeting to read books by Holocaust denier David Irving. He also justified the Holocaust by claiming Jews were “expelled from Germany for misbehaving”.
LSE has announced an investigation into the incident.
Following Falk’s night at LSE, Falk’s planned talk at the University of East London was cancelled on a technicality. Middlesex University followed suit and also cancelled.
Free speech is important, but cranks like Falk attract open antisemites like Atzmon. Universities and students’ unions need to work harder to keep racism off of campuses.
The Union of Jewish Students released the following statement:
“In the last few days, UJS has been working with and supporting Jewish students at LSE and Middlesex University to raise concerns to their respective universities and students’ unions regarding the presence of Richard Falk on their campuses. Falk is known to have a past record of using antisemitic rhetoric.
UJS wholeheartedly believes in freedom of speech being upheld but not at the expense of students’ welfare or safety. This principle was violated at Monday’s event at LSE where students were subject to antisemitic abuse from members of the audience who were supporting Falk’s positions, specifically Gilad Atzmon, whose antisemitic record precedes itself. Despite the J-Soc raising valid concerns about the risk posed by Falk prior to the event and the need for LSE to mitigate against them, the university failed in their duty of care to Jewish students and we are extremely disappointed that very little was done to prevent the escalation that occurred. We have been supporting Jewish students at LSE in recent days to ensure the university is taking the appropriate action following the escalation that took place.
In recent days a letter from the Minister for Universities to Universities UK reminded institutions of their responsibility in protecting free speech across campuses, but in no way should this impinge on students’ right to engage and challenge without fear of discrimination or prejudice. UJS is reassured by the strong response from LSE and Middlesex Students’ Unions and the support they have given to Jewish students. We will continue to work with universities and students’ unions to ensure that Jewish students are able to freely, fully and safely engage in all areas of campus life.”