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Written by Student Rights on 6 December 2013 at 3pm

Richard Falk's invitation to UEA highlights need for balance

Earlier this week Professor Richard Falk was invited to speak at the University of East Anglia (UEA) as a guest of Dr Rupert Read, a philosophy lecturer at the university.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights, Professor Falk has faced serious censure for his provocative comments and online postings on a number of occasions.

As recently as April this year Falk was criticised by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for potentially undermining the credibility of the UN following remarks which blamed the US and Israel for provoking the Boston Marathon bomb attacks.

In an article written just after the attack, Professor Falk declared that:

The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks”.

And

...as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy”.

These comments were strongly condemned by the UK Foreign Office, which wrote:

We believe this article is resonant of the longstanding anti-Semitic practice of blaming Jews (through the State of Israel by proxy) for all that is wrong in the world. This is unacceptable”.

Professor Falk had previously been criticised by the UK government in 2011, when Prime Minister David Cameron instructed the UK Permanent Representative to the UN to raise concerns regarding Professor Falk in 2011 after he published a vile cartoon  on his blog.

This depicted a dog labelled ‘USA’ wearing a Kippah urinating upon a woman depicting Justice whilst chewing on bloody human bones and was described as “a clear example of hateful speech” by the US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council.

The following year the British Foreign Office expressed concern over Professor Falk’s endorsement of a provocative book by Gilad Atzmon which likened the Jewish people to Nazis.

Despite this Professor Falk was still provided an unchallenged platform at UEA on Tuesday, just another example of the way in which individuals with inflammatory views are able to spread them without question on campus.

Here at Student Rights we would not call for Falk to be prevented from speaking, but feel that if universities are to be a place where those with controversial views are challenged, then giving them unopposed platforms is a poor way to do this. 

As such, we hope that if Falk is invited to a UK campus in future it is on a balanced platform alongside someone who will bring him to account.