Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: Dangerous Ideas

Jul 30, 2012 | Jeremy Jones

The Last Word: Dangerous Ideas
UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk

Jeremy Jones

It would be comforting to imagine that individuals who seek to cause harm to other individuals would be regarded as “dangerous.”

It would be comforting to imagine that responsible, ethical people would do what they could to protect the intended victims of such “dangerous” people.

It would be comforting if the media and organised groups within civil society would respectively cast a spotlight on dangerous individuals and create a social environment which was unfriendly to those who intimidate, bully and constitute threats to others.

Sadly, it is often easier to find counter-examples rather than exemplars of decent, let alone admirable, behaviour.

In Burgas in Bulgaria, Israeli tourists and a Muslim Bulgarian bus-driver had their lives seized from them in July, as a direct consequence of the idea that it is legitimate to murder individuals due to their nationality, ethnicity or religion.

Dangerous, evil ideas led to an act which should have been adjudged unambiguously immoral, yet ambiguity was promoted by some “quality” media outlets, in the form of reporting and editorialising of this as having a context of war between states.

To suggest that a terrorist is justified or murders of holidaymakers can be rationalised this way is an idea almost as dangerous as the ideology which drives the murderers.

In Toulouse in France, in March, a callous killer took the lives of three children and a teacher, purely because they were Jewish.

Those of us who care about the moral fabric of society were initially heartened to hear and read voluminous commentary attacking the murderers and the prejudices which provided a grim logic to racist killers.

However, when it was revealed that the racist was not a White Supremacist but a member of France’s Arab/Muslim minority, the unity of integrity crumbled, with pathetic apologia drowning out principled stances against all murder-justifying ideologies.

It is a dangerous idea that a person occupying a position of moral authority should not be subject to social censure when they display contempt for basic moral values. However, it is an idea which if not often openly articulated certainly has currency.

In Europe, basic rights to carry out religious practices which are premised on community building and compassion are under threat due to a combination of political cynicism, ignorance, moral confusion and feelings of (self-arrogated) cultural superiority. Those who express the idea that this is unproblematic are in no danger, although they present danger to the rights of others.

It would have been comforting to think that Richard Falk, one of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteurs, would have been turfed out of any responsible body for his past promotions of bigotry, but he is still there and has now stated his view that there is a malevolent international cabal called “the organised Jewish community”.

On his own blog, where he posted this, he provided a platform for someone to comment that “with the global economy teetering on the verge of toppling over like the inverse pyramid in the Star of David” the Book of Revelations was being revealed and Armageddon is around the corner and then added how much he appreciated such “illuminating and spiritually relevant comments.”
As Hillel Neuer of UN Watch pointed out, this came at a time Mr. Falk is providing an endorsement for a book denounced not only by mainstream figures but even high-profile anti-Zionist activists for its attacks on Israel, Jews and Judaism.

History shows that antisemitism is a dangerous idea, if not the single most dangerous idea of the past century, yet it is one which is tolerated, when not actually promoted, in far too many places and by far too many people.

In Sydney this September, the fourth annual “Festival of Dangerous Ideas” will be convened, with one session devoted to the defamation of both Israeli society and of the concept that the Jewish people, like other peoples, are entitled to self-determination.

Shamefully, rather than being a deconstruction of or expression of revulsion at this group defamation, the session amounts to a promotion of this “dangerous idea.”

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