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NLG URGES ISRAEL TO ALLOW UN HUMAN RIGHTS INSPECTOR ENTRY

Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 09:20 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, April 23, 2008

NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD URGES ISRAEL TO PERMIT RICHARD FALK TO ENTER ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

New U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Barred from Entry

New York. The National Lawyers Guild calls on Israel to permit Richard Falk, an eminent and widely-respected law professor and scholar, to enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories it seized forty years ago and has held illegally ever since. Professor Falk was recently appointed as the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Israel has barred entry to Professor Falk, claiming he cannot be fair because of his prior condemnation of persistent and pervasive human rights violations carried out by Israel in the Occupied Territories. In fact, Professor Falk made no claims any different from those made by John Dugard, the man he was to replace, in several reports on conditions in the Occupied Territories.
The National Lawyers Guild is familiar with the Israeli practice of avoiding criticisms of its practices. The Guild has sent several delegations to the Middle East to investigate conditions there. The Israeli government has refused to meet with the Guild's delegates because of their claimed hostility to the State of Israel. In fact, Guild delegations, like Professor Falk, are hostile only to violations of human rights and international law.

Over the years Israel has sought to deny admission to a host of academics, activists, and political figures, former President Jimmy Carter being the most recent. Others are subjected to long processing delays and humiliating body searches. A 1977 National Lawyers Guild Delegation to the Middle East saw four of its members singled out for strip searches. Many others had research and written materials confiscated either upon entry or leaving the country.

Professor Falk is not unlike many others, including Mr. Dugard, who have criticized the horrendous Israeli human rights record that has continued for more than forty years. It is this ongoing and escalating practice of human rights violations which Israel carries out with the blessing of the United States despite condemnation by the rest of the world that Israel must confront. It cannot do so, and should not be permitted to do so, by excluding its critics.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.