Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope

by Richard Falk

Richard Falk writes that he has sought to be a “truthful observer.” He has succeeded admirably, and gone well beyond.Noam Chomsky

Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope

The distinguished legal scholar Richard Falk recently completed his term as term as UN Special Rapporteur on occupied Palestine. Now, with Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, he powerfully illuminates the transformation of the Palestinians’ struggle over recent years into a struggle for legitimacy, similar to that pursued by all the anti-colonial movements of the twentieth century. This shift, he writes in the Introduction, “is… reinforced by disillusionment with both Palestinian armed resistance and conventional international diplomacy, most recently dramatized by the collapse of direct negotiations on April 29, 2014… Such disillusionment also coincides with the spreading awareness that the so-called ‘two-state consensus’ has reached a dead end.

This volume, like Richard Falk himself, is equal parts brilliance and compassion. What began as blog posts blends into a distillation of a lifetime of thinking about and working on Palestine and Israel. This book has no peer.Lisa Hajjar, Law and Society Program Chair, University of California—Santa Barbara
This is the voice of reasoned outrage. The blogosphere and legal scholarship are combined in an extraordinarily moving, detailed, and perceptive account of what Richard Falk calls the ‘legitimacy struggle’ of the Palestinian people. Anyone who cares about human solidarity and wants to understand what is happening now in Gaza must read this book.Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics

Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope is appearing at a crucial turning point in Palestinian history. In it, Falk notes the many parallels the Palestinian national movement shares with other, earlier anti-colonial efforts, many of which eventually achieved victory. He discerns numerous signs of hope that the Palestinian people can harness the growing international attention and solidarity their struggle has achieved and break free of the apartheid and occupation that they have long endured.

Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope follows eleven other path-breaking works on the intersection of law, rights, and society authored by Falk. Just World Books also published his companion volume, Chaos and Counterrevolution, that presents his essays from the same tumultuous period on other current affairs affecting the Middle East, including Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Turkey.

Map 1: West Bank Fragmented by Israeli Settlements and Barrier, 2014
Map 2: Distribution of Registered Palestinian Refugees


1. Resolving the Conflict
On the Peace Process
The Palestinian Legitimacy Struggle versus “Lawfare”
The Palestinian Statehood Bid
UNESCO Membership and Palestinian Self-Determination
Khaled Mashaal and Prospects for a Sustainable Israel–Palestine Peace
On Political Preconditions for Real Peace Talks
Whose “Two-State” Solution? Endgame or Intermission?
Reviving the Israel–Palestine Negotiations: The Indyk Appointment
The Palestinian National Movement Advances

2. Gaza
Stop Operation Cast Lead 2: The Moral Shock and Awe of Global Silence
The Latest Gaza Catastrophe: Will They Ever Learn?
The Gaza Ceasefire: An Early Assessment

3. Prison Resistance
Saving Khader Adnan’s Life Saves Our Own Soul
Saving Khader Adnan’s Life and Legacy
Hana Shalabi: A Brave Act of Palestinian Nonviolence
Hana Shalabi’s Hunger Strike Has Ended, But Not Her Punishment
Is the Massive Palestinian Hunger Strike the Beginning of the Palestinian Spring?
Media Missing in Action
Palestinian Hunger Strikes: Fighting Ingrained Duplicity
Reflecting on the Great Palestinian Hunger Strikes of 2012
Beyond the Politics of Invisibility: Remembering Not to Forget Palestinian Hunger Strikers
U.S. Military Suicides and Palestinian Hunger Strikers

4. Global Solidarity: Initiatives and Obstacles
Israel’s Violence against Separation Wall Protests: Along the Path of State Terrorism
The Legal Flaws of the Palmer Commission Flotilla Report
A Shameless Secretary-General versus Freedom Flotilla 2
The Pros and Cons of Solidarity with the Palestinian Struggle
Divestment at the University of California, Santa Barbara

5. The United States, the United Nations, and International Law
Discrimination in Occupied Palestine: Validating the Obvious Is Necessary
The U.S. Stands Alone with Israel at the UN Security Council: How (Dis)Honest Is the “Honest Broker”?
Obama’s AIPAC Speech: A Further Betrayal of the Palestinian People
Reflections on Mahmoud Abbas’s Statehood Speech
An American Awakening?
Goldstone’s Folly: Disappointing and Perverse
On (Im)Balance and Credibility in America: Israel–Palestine
What Was Wrong with Obama’s Jerusalem Speech
Northern Ireland and the Israel–Palestine “Peace Process”

6. The Larger Picture
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the Arab League Headquarters in Cairo
Israel’s Politics of Deflection
Israel’s Politics of Fragmentation
The Emergent Palestinian Imaginary

7. Fragments of the Whole

The Politics of Language and the Israel–Palestine Discourse
Observing the Nakba: 2012
What Is New in the Israel–Palestine Conflict
For What? A Pledge to the Palestinian People
2014: International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Nelson Mandela’s Inspiration

A Concluding Note

Richard Falk, the former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, wields the sharpest of word-swords in the legitimacy struggle that shapes today’s search for justice for Palestinians. In this extraordinary collection, he once again provides us with the tools to forge a path through the thicket of lies, propaganda and cruelty that mask the real basis for achieving Palestinian rights: international law, human rights, and equality for all. Global civil society has joined Palestinians to embrace that path; Falk’s groundbreaking work challenges governments to do so as well.
–Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope is the writing of a great mind with a brave heart and a moral compass.
–Marwan Bishara, senior political analyst for Al Jazeera
This book is a gem of brilliant clarity. In his years as Special Rapporteur on Palestine for the UN Human Rights Council, Richard Falk in his bi-annual reports consistently provided “a truthful witness to the unspeakable ordeal of the prolonged and harsh Israeli occupation.” This collection of his blogs will bring his painstaking research to a wider readership, drawn by the combination of moving reports, simple style and deep insight.
Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hopegives us Professor Falk’s coherent thoughts about how he has seen Palestinians evolve in tactics and aspirations as door after door closed to them, and they understood that neither international law or diplomacy, or the United Nations, or the Arab world, or their own military capacity, was going to bring them relief from the Occupation. “Legitimacy struggle” is Falk’s phrase to describe today’s “Palestinian grand strategy of resistance and liberation” – non-violent and based on morality as well as international law and international human rights standards. The author’s own courage, affinities with those suffering injustice, and his unflinching moral standards shine through every chapter and make this a book that inspires as well as informs.
–Victoria Brittain, Author of Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror
Professor Falk’s mandate as the UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur on Occupied Palestine has given him a front row seat in observing the tragic reality of the lives of the Palestinian people over recent years. This book comprising blogs that he issued over this period provides important and timely commentary into the multiple facets of the situation, as they arose. His often unconventional thoughts are expressed in a frank and fearless, frequently controversial manner. But what shines through is his belief in the ‘legitimacy struggle’ of the Palestinians and in the importance of non-traditional ways of seeking their objectives, notably in the actions from below, those of ordinary people. It is an important read for those who believe in the solidarity of global civil society and their wielding of soft power as instruments for social change.
–Christine Chinkin, Member of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Gaza, 2009
Richard Falk writes that he has sought to be a “truthful observer.” He has succeeded admirably, and gone well beyond. The essays collected here are perceptive and informative, rich in insight and understanding, inspired by just sympathy for the oppressed and their legitimate struggles, above all by the determination of Palestinians to resist the dismal fate projected for them by criminal Israeli policies conducted with unremitting US support. It is an impressive record of Falk’s remarkable contributions during the difficult and fateful years of his dedicated and courageous service as UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine.
–Noam Chomsky, Political theorist, media critic, and linguistics scholar
This book reflects an extraordinary lifetime of scholarship, political engagement, and intellectual brilliance. Richard Falk’s blend of universal principle, forensic critique of power, and sensitive appreciation of the challenges faced by Palestinians makes him uniquely placed to advance a liberation strategy for Palestine. He does so here with his typical grace, intelligence and commitment. Always at the forefront of struggles for justice from Vietnam to Palestine, Palestine, the Legitimacy of Hope sets out a radical solution that is courageous, gentle, and full of humanity.
–Karma Nabulsi, University Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University
Professor Falk has an unbroken record of speaking forthrightly about Justice and in particular on Palestine. Both as a scholar and practitioner he has gathered an impressive understanding and detailed knowledge of the mechanisms of control and the exercise of power by the strong against the weak. He has used his high academic standing to seek justice and insist on the exercise of rights. He provides an important model for the engaged academic who is willing to suffer the harsh consequences of taking an unpopular position in his defense of principles he believes in.

In a world permeated and controlled by cynical powers pitting the strong against the weak, Falk’s erudition and voice is an important one that gives hope by paving the way for a new kind of struggle for Justice.
–Raja Shehadeh, Founder of Al-Haq, and author of Occupation Diaries

Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope is available in Hardcover ($34.99), Paperback ($23.99), and Ebook ($9.99)


238 pages, 6″ X 9″
Published October 2014
ISBN 9781935982487