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September 08, 1988 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-08

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Page 6 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988


The role of the University in world politics:


Richard Falk is a professor of international law at
Princeton University and author of the recently pub-
lished book, Revolutionaries and Functionaries: The
Jual Face of Terrorism. His scholarly interests include
-the role of political violence in the implementation of
foreign policy and the relevance of civil disobedience in
a nuclear age.
Dr. Falk spoke recently with Opinion staffer Sandra
Steingraber at a human rights tribunal in Toronto.
D: What is terrorism? Does it have a
,definitive feature?
F: My thesis is that terrorism should be understood
as the violence that fails to respect the innocent and re-
fuses to limit its choice of means and ends in accor-
dance to prevailing notions of international law and
The differentiating feature of terrorism is this failure
to restrict political violence to appropriate targets -
that is to those which are in some sense instruments of
an oppressive order or representative of a military es-
tablishment engaged in armed conflict.
D: How do we know who the innocent are?
F: Well, of course, we never know anything of that
sort in a definitive way, but I think that it is fairly
clear that civilians that are not connected with actual
combat operations in some way are innocent.
I also believe as a consequence of this view that re-
lying on nuclear weapons is a form of terrorism be-
cause the weapons are inherently indiscriminate and
cause an overwhelming amount of damage to civil-
ians... Also, economic policies that sustain govern-
ments in power that are failing to address the problems
of the very poor (are forms of terrorism).
D: With those kinds of structural policies
in place, it sounds like international law is
not a very powerful tool for c h e c k i n g
F: It is not an effective tool if it is viewed as a
framework for state-to-state relations. But if it is also
viewed as one of many instruments of social strug-
gle... then one of the foundations of that opposition is
to expose the illegality under international law of these

au for4
policies and to reclaim for the citizenry the right and
duty to see that international law is obeyed.
D: In bringing about this accountability,
what are the responsibilities of the citi-
zenry? What should we be doing?
F: Well, that of course is partly a tactical question
which has to do with the local conditions one faces. A
further element here is the whole relevance of the
Nuremberg tradition established after World War II.
Namely, that military and political leaders of the state
were criminally accountable as individuals for state
policies that violated international law - it was not an
excuse for them to claim they were just following state
An extension of the logic of Nuremberg is one
which says that individuals with the knowledge or be-
lief that their government is engaged in crimes of state
have an obligation to engage in non-violent forms of
resistance that seek to challenge the propriety and the
legitimacy of those policies.
D: Is this happening in the United States?
F: The efforts of nuclear resisters, opponents of
apartheid, opponents of intervention in Central Amer-
ica, and opponents of CIA recruiting have definitely
changed the climate within which these issues are be-
ing dealt with. That doesn't mean one altogether suc-
ceeds because the militarized state is extremely power-
ful and doesn't in any sense feel obliged to be respon-
sive to the wishes of the citizenry. So it is a political
struggle to try and promote these values associated
with peace, and justice and adherence to international
D: And civil disobedience, as formulated
by Thoreau, has been used in these capaci-
ties. Yet this was something developed in
an earlier century. How does it need to be
F: Thoreau believed that symbolic violation of legal
obligations was a way of taking one's conscience seri-
ously. By refusing to pay taxes that indirectly sup-
ported the institution of slavery and the war against
Mexico, he felt he was separating himself from the




policies of the government.
But now I think in light of the dangers of the nu-
clear age and in the face of a series of American inter-
ventions in Third World countries, the objective of
much resistance activity is not to separate oneself from
the policy but to change the policy. And to change the
policy not by symbolic protest alone but by trying to
expose the illegality and illegitimacy of the policy un-

der standards the state in fact accepted under solemn in-
ternational agreement...
The means direct action - because Congress has
shown it has not been able to effectively control state
power. Covert operations, the capability of the CIA is
institutionalized in government. No political party is
prepared to challenge that. No Congressional debate has
ever been carried out on whether it is legitimate to rely
on nuclear weapons as a basis of national security.
D: And direct action is more effective.
F: Direct action is a form of struggle that uses law
and morality as instruments of that struggle and tries to
reclaim the relationship between popular sovereignty
and legitimacy of political action. The people are the
source of legitimacy and they can judge the state rather
than be subjects of the state...
We have to learn once again in the last part of the
century how to be citizens rather than subjects. And
that if all we do is vote in elections and send letters to
Congressmen and look to Washington, we will indeed
live in a terrorist world and be manipulated by a state
that engages in systems of terrorism.

D: Can direct action legitimately include
F: It is very important in the industrialized world to
develop non-violent direct actions at this stage. To
have recourse to violence is to shift the terms of the
struggle into an arena where the state is at the maxi-
mum advantage because it is the most adept at violent
combat and would both be able to substantially dis-
credit a movement of opposition and also have pretext
for becoming more repressive.
In certain circumstances of acute oppression in the
Third World or elsewhere - let's say living in Chile
or South Africa - I certainly wouldn't pronounce
against the reliance on non-terroristic forms of vio-
lence. I would take an unconditional position about all
forms of terrorism because that does tend to contami-
nate the whole political process.
D: How do you see the role of the univer-
sity in the United States?
F: The university is a community which has a great
mandate to test new ideas and be a center of criticism
and challenge structures that are oppressive.
This means bringing a certain measure of political
concern back into the university. There has been an at-
tempt to create a very sharp chasm between knowledge
and action and to present the model academic as
"objective" and "neutral." I think to be engaged in a
positive way is a greater contribution to a vibrant
intellectual life than this pretext of detachment and in-
As the change in the wider society is likely to come
through the expression of new ferment by popular
forces, similarly the development of these perspectives
within the university is likely to come from the ac-
tions of students... There is a kind of vested interest
within the university in dealing with knowledge in a
rather antis.:ptic way, so that those who occupy the
commanding heights of university power feel that po-
litical activity is antithetical to real education.

Worldwide protests support the struggle:
Palestinian fight goes on

By Pam Nadasen
Parallel to tne intensified popular
resistance movement in the Israeli-
occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip,
demonstrations in the United States
and other parts of the world in soli-
darity with Palestinian human rights
have also intensified. Though resis-
tance to Israeli repression has been
continual since the 1967 occupation,
the "current" uprising began last
December. Since then, Palestinians
have adopted vigilant and effective
tactics. Most resistance takes the
'form of boycotts of Israeli goods,
the closing of shops, mass resigna-
tions, work strikes and mass identi-
fication card burnings.
As the Israeli military and gov-
ernment responds to these mass
demonstrations with social and eco-
nomic restrictions, increased military
presence in the territories and in-
creased brutality, the vigilance of the
Palestinian people becomes more
apparent as they counter the Israeli
brutality with stones, bottles and
Molotov cocktails.
The Israeli government, in addi-
tion to tear gas, rubber bullets and
flattening entire Palestinian villages,
has resorted to mass arrests and de-
tentions in order to quell this mass
movement. The "no trial" order has
made the "justice system" a closed
and institutionalized process. The
staggering number of detainees
which the Israeli authorities brought
in have forced the opening of in-
ternment camps, such as Ansar 3
which holds 3000 people, to keep
the overflow of detainees. (Guardian,
4-27-88, p.14) The prisoners are held
in poor conditions with lack of wa-
ter, open sewers, access to legal
counsel and are rarely charged with a
crime. These military, economic and
social crackdowns by the Israeli
government are part and parcel to the
Israeli policy to maintain its illegal
occupation of the West Bank and
Israeli authorities have attempted
to isolate the Palestinian people
from the rest of the world. They
have not only cut off outside aid to
the Palestinians, but have also sev-
ered international phone lines and cut

The extensive news coverage
(though not so extensive lately) has
sparked a string of demonstrations
and rallies on campuses and com-
munities across the United States.
Progressive organizations and indi-
,viduals in Berkeley last March suc-
ceeded in forcing the city council to
vote on a sister city proposal with a
refugee camp in Gaza. Unfortu-
nately, the proposal was blocked by
powerful conservative elements in
Berkeley. But advocates of the pro-
posal, far from seeing this as a de-
feat, are determined to raise the issue
as a city-wide referendum in Nov-
ember. (Guardian, 3-30-88, p.6)
Prime Minister Shamir's negative
reception at Beverly Hills Park and
the World Affairs Council in Cen-
tury City signified much of the sen-
timent toward repressive Israeli pol-
icy. Hundreds demonstrated against
the human rights abuses in the West
Bank and Gaza. Shamir's response to
the Palestinian demands has been
much like Botha's response to the
demands of Black South Africans:
increased violence and press restric-
But the attempt to speak out
against injustice, even outside Israeli
control, is not without repercus-
sions. Solidarity demonstrations in
Egypt, Jordan and Morocco have
been met with beatings and arrests.
(Guardian, 3-30-88, p.17)
In Madison, Wisconsin, 400
Arabs, progressive Jews and other
members of the community turned
out to commemorate Land Day last
April. Protestors received threatening
phone calls from counter-demonstra-
tors and police harassment. Though
the sacrifices and risks that activists
take in solidarity with the Pales-
tinian struggle are not nearly com-
parable to the sacrifices that the
Palestinians themselves must make,
they are sacrifices nonetheless.
Students at this university have
also been aggressive in showing
solidarity with the Palestinian peo-
ple. In addition to demonstrations
and rallies, there have been numer-
ous speakers and educational activi-
ties. Students on campus recently
built a shanty on the Diag protesting
the human rights abuses in the West

guilty party. The United States gives
Israel six billion dollars a year in
foreign aid, supplying one-half of
the Israeli defense budget and one-
third of the Gross National Product.
(Ghannam, Agenda, p.4) The illegal
occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza would not even be possible
without U.S. aid. Thus it is neither
adequate nor accurate to say that ac-
tivists are simply "anti-Israeli pol-
icy." The very policies that the Is-
racli government uses against the
Palestinians are being supported by
the United States. Realizing this,
activists are also vehement in in-
dicting our government for its role
in the Israeli oppression of the Pale-
stinian people.
Global opposition to Israeli pol-
icy is not limited to one sector of
the community. People of all colors
- Black, white, Arab, Jew, Asian
- have been vocal in condemning
the occupation, the military aggres-
sion and the social and economic
policies of Israel. Earlier this year,
several thousand Jews within Israel
protested the human rights viola-
tions in the territories. Protesting
Israeli policy is not synonymous
with condemning Jews. Thus, in the
same way that the anti-racist move-
ment on this campus does not
necessarily imply an anti-white
stand, opposing the policies of the
state of Israel does not imply that
one is anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic.
The only way for us to put an end
to the beatings, the harassment, and
the economic exploitation, is to
unite around this issue. On campus,
students involved in the Latin Am-
erican, Free South African, anti-ra-
cist, and anti-lesbian-and-gay bigotry
movements have already demon-
strated their support and solidarity
for those struggling around the
Palestinian issue. With enough en-
ergy and commitment we can end
U.S. support of the Israeli occupa-
tion and hopefully, Israeli control of
the economy of the territories.
A poster at an Ann Arbor dem-
onstration protesting the murder of
Jihad eloquently cap'ured the spirit
of the rebellion in the West Bank

RE :tar~h-


Continued from Page 5
rium. Posters said to please bring
canned food for the homeless. I
stopped at Barnes and Noble during
my five-minute jog to Rackham
and purchased a can of beans. I
dropped the beans in a big box at
the entrance to the auditorium as I
entered the room. I found a
comfortable seat alone, away from
people. I did not stay for the full
presentation of the pictures; I did
not need to. I just needed to verify
my understanding of the underclass
to determine if their was hope of
"re-humanizing" life for underclass
America. During this showing, a
Daily reporter did not question me.
During this showing, I questioned
myself and humbly asked:
"How do you feel?"
I went through a variety of emo-
tions - shame, guilt, horror, dis-
gust, helplessness, hopelessness,
and hate. My integrity had been
stripped from me. All the defense
mechanisms I had erected to
survive in a racist environment
were gone. American Pictures

article said "to call American Pic
tures a masterpiece would be les
than flattering."
I suppose in 1988 the green
poster with the provocative quest
tion will appear once more. Again,
I will make the journey to Rackhani
with my can of beans. If it were
not such a devastating experience;
if people were not starving, it
would almost seem funny - me
and my can of beans.
Many students who attend Big
Ten universities are totally ignorant
of how the other half (underclass)
lives. Acknowledging the under-
class, although depressing and em-
barrassing for all, is an issue that
needs to be brought to the forefront
of communities, societies, and na-
Assuming they want to, under-
class people like Charles Smith and
Linda will never attend a Big Ten
university. Students should know
and understand "why."
-Woolridge is aformer Daily
news staffer.

Students on campus

recently built a shanty on
the Diag protesting the
human rights abuses in the


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