A HANDFUL of pro-Israel activists converged on the State Library of Victoria on Monday night to protest against a lecture by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The talk by Richard Falk was hosted by the Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian National University (ANU), and drew a crowd of up to 40 people.
Falk was publicly rebuked by UN chief Ban Ki-moon in 2011 for suggesting the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by the US government. Earlier this year, he said the US and Tel Aviv were responsible for the Boston bombing. He has also been condemned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, for publishing a cartoon depicting a dog donning a skullcap, urinating on a statue of Justice while devouring a bloody human carcass.
Key communal activists David Schulberg and Rachel Mehrav disseminated leaflets to counter Falk’s “bigoted rhetoric”, Schulberg told The AJN.
“We are intending to counter the propaganda line that these pro-Palestinian activists keep pushing down on us,” he said, adding, “We need to appeal to our government to lobby the UN to fire Falk as the Human Rights Council’s special investigator of conditions in the Palestinian territories, a post he uses to groundlessly bludgeon the Jewish State.”
During his trip, Falk has spoken at ANU and twice at Melbourne University. He is scheduled to talk at the University of Sydney next week at an event sponsored by the Sydney Peace Foundation and the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine.
While Schulberg denounced Australia’s universities for charging taxpayers for the “running of these propaganda feasts”, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim noted, “The fact that Falk is speaking on campus at certain universities does not mean that he has the support of those universities as institutions.
“The best antidote to the views of the Richard Falks of this world is to expose them for what they are, not suppress them.”
A Swinburne University spokesperson told The AJN its sponsorship of Monday’s lecture “does not mean the university takes a position on the issues explored by such events”.
David Schulberg (centre) and Rachel Mehray discuss the Middle East with a member of the public at the State Library.