A former UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories and professor of international law underlined the role of Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in preventing the Palestinian issue from sliding into oblivion.
“I believe one of the lasting legacies of Imam Khomeini was to give authoritative priority to the Palestinian struggle and to the importance of Quds to the entire Islamic community,” Richard A. Falk said in an interview with Tasnim News Agency.
“There can be no rest until these goals of Palestinian liberation and empowerment are achieved,” he noted.
Richard Anderson Falk is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on "the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”.
The following is the full text of Interview:
Tasnim: As you know, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan each year, Muslims and anti-Israeli activists hold worldwide demonstrations to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemn the Israeli regime’s continued inhumane acts against the defenseless people. In your opinion, why is the Quds Day important to the Palestinians and other oppressed nations?
Prof. Falk: This international display of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for rights, justice, and sovereign independence has never been more vital. It demonstrates to the world leaders that the people have not forgotten the ordeal of the Palestinian people at a time when Israel is moving ever closer to attempting to impose a one-state solution intending to end any remaining pretense that there is a search for a just peace based on a negotiated agreement between the parties. It is also important to remind the Palestinian community of resistance that it being remembered, appreciated, and supported by individuals and groups from around the world, and to show that people of conscience believe that the Palestinian struggle is worth waging and can be won.
Tasnim: The day is also seen as the legacy of the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini, who officially declared the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan as International Quds Day back in 1979. What do you think about Imam Khomeini’s initiative and his role in preventing the Palestinian issue from sliding into oblivion?
Prof. Falk: I believe one of the lasting legacies of Imam Khomeini was to give authoritative priority to the Palestinian struggle and to the importance of Quds to the entire Islamic community. There can be no rest until these goals of Palestinian liberation and empowerment are achieved. Imam Khomeini was not sectarian in his outlook, stressing that the political community of Muslims, the Ummah was the more important as a basis of social cohesion than were even sovereign states, essentially a European idea that artificially broke apart more natural patterns of identity. It continues to be important for religious and political leaders throughout the Muslim world, and indeed everywhere, to show that on this day of observance they remain committed to a just and sustainable peace that can only be achieved if Palestinian rights are fully realized.
Tasnim: The Israeli military forces attack Palestinians in occupied territories almost on a daily basis. Recently, Muslim worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East al-Quds, attacked by Israeli forces, were left suffocating and injured after tear gas grenades and rubber bullets were fired. Why has the international community, particularly the Western mainstream media, made a muted response to the Tel Aviv regime’s human rights violations against Palestinians so far?
Prof. Falk: There is no doubt that Israeli military and police forces use excessive force in cruel ways on a daily basis to impose their will on a hostile Palestinian population that is understandably angered by an oppressive occupation that has gone on for 50 years with no end in sight. This situation seems immune from effective international scrutiny and criticism because of the high priority given by the US Government to the extension of unconditional support to Israel, including always to endorse Tel Aviv’s explanations for their behavior no matter how unconvincing and defiant. By and large, the mainstream Western media goes along with this extreme reluctance to call attention to Israeli practices and policies that violate basic norms of international law and international morality. Even the shocking abuse of Muslim worshippers at al-Quds was hardly noticed in the West, and treated as if it were nothing particularly notable, or worth devoting significant attention by way of commentary. This partly reflects Israel’s ability to exert influence over the way the media covers Israel-Palestine relations and partly an expression of soft Islamophobia that downplays abusive behavior when Muslims are being victimized. During the early months of the Trump presidency, US efforts to bash the UN because it supposedly devotes too much attention to criticizing Israel is an effort to minimize the role of the UN with respect to Israel and the Palestinian people. My own recent experience as co-author of a UN report considering allegations that Israel is imposing apartheid structures on the Palestinians is illustrative of these attempts to weaken the authority and relevance of the UN.
Tasnim: What do you think about the Zionist-led war on Islam and what is the role of Quds Day in the struggle for Palestine?
Prof. Falk: Quds Day is an important reminder to all of us that there are two sides in this struggle over the future of Palestine and that the fate of the Palestinian people is far from being a lost cause. With the obvious failure of diplomacy to produce a sustainable peace in Palestine and the continually expanding encroachment by Israel in the West Bank and Quds, it is becomes crucial not only to express solidarity but to take active steps to increase the pressure mounted by international civil society on Israel, demanding compliance with international law, respect for Islamic sacred sites, and an acceptance of a peace process that is committed to respect the long denied, yet inalienable and undeniable Palestinian right of self-determination. Quds Day allows each of us to recommit to the Palestinian struggle, the last major item on the unfinished agenda of decolonization and the greatest moral scandal of our time.