American Academy of Diplomacy

, a prestigious association of former ambassadors and senior-level diplomats, has awarded its 2008

Arthur Ross Award

for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis to Nation writer

Mohamad Bazzi

, who shared this year’s award with New York Times reporter

Dexter Filkins.

Bazzi was honored for “his keen insight and analysis,” which “helps lead us to a critical understanding of the deeper currents of attitude, belief, and action in the Middle East.”


In an unprecedented step, the Israeli government detained

Richard Falk

, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, when he arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on December 14 on official UN business, expelling him after a twenty-hour detention.

Falk, an international law expert (and Nation editorial board member), has for years been a courageous voice calling for an end to the Israeli occupation. No doubt the Israeli government was enraged by his recently released official statement, titled “Silence Is Not an Option,” in which he condemned “the cruelty and unlawfulness of the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel” as “a policy of collective punishment” that “constitutes a continuing flagrant and massive violation of international humanitarian law” and a “Crime Against Humanity.” Falk called on the UN to implement its “responsibility to protect” doctrine, for an investigation by the

International Criminal Court

and for the potential indictment of Israeli civilian and military leaders.

In response to Israeli government accusations that Falk was biased in favor of Palestinians, that his mandate was inherently imbalanced and that he was “legitimizing Hamas terrorism and drawing shameful comparisons to the Holocaust,” Falk told The Nation, “My denial of entry is part of a broader pattern designed to obscure the realities of the occupation by keeping qualified observers from getting out and getting in. Israel has been playing a mind game with respect to me and others, shifting attention as much as possible to the observer and away from what is observed…. I have consistently condemned Hamas’s use of rockets against civilian targets; I never compared the crimes against humanity in Gaza to the Nazi atrocities; I never asserted that the holocaust waiting to happen in Gaza was comparable or similar to the Nazi Holocaust, but only that reliance on collective punishment on such a scale had a disturbing resemblance to Nazi practices.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights,

Navi Pillay

, condemned Falk’s expulsion as “deeply regrettable” and said, “It is the responsibility of states to cooperate with the independent UN experts.”   ROANE CAREY