Norman Finkelstein slams the BDS movement calling it ‘a cult’

Activism
on 359 Comments

Discuss.

Update, 2/15/12: The interview with Norman Finklestein has been taken off YouTube. Frank Barat, who interviews him in the video, posted on Facebook:

Final comment on removal of Finkelstein BDS video.

Norman Finkelstein contacted me (a common friend was also involved in discussion) and asked me to delete video from youtube account because “video did some harm” (his words). I agreed to do so because I think that, at the end of the day, video ended up creating a fuss/controversy but not much else and my intention was never to divert some people minds from what is really important: daily solidarity with the Palestinian People.

I’ll repost it if I find another copy.

Update: An excerpt has been posted here.

It’s been reposted on Vimeo:

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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359 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    February 14, 2012, 3:37 pm

    He doesn’t like silliness or nonsense. Says the “law” is the only weapon. The law says nothing about the Palestinian minority in Israel. Every country, he says, has a persecuted minority. No allies if that is what you seek. seek allies, not ultimate justice. Not to mention that “return” plus “equal rights” means “there is no Israel”. He believes this (BDS’s) program, is a non-starter.

    So far, he’s right. Better to reach ONLY for end the occupation. Better to reach for allies on a ground (law) on which, perhaps, allies can be acquired.

    He is saying that international law does not support ONE STATE and that BDS should merely seek LAWFUL objectives (removal of settlements). He seems to say that BDS (I think he calls it “solidarity movement”, but maybe he has in mind two distinct movements). Perhaps he sees BDS as seeking (via return of the 1948 exiles) to destroy Israel or to create one state.

    • Justice Please
      February 15, 2012, 6:34 am

      pabelmont,

      “international law does not support ONE STATE”

      Well, international law does support the self-determination of peoples. So it comes down to the question, what “people” was on the ground in Palestine in 1948? If you define the “people” as “all Arabs, Christians, Jews, Spaghetti-believers who lived there at the moment”, then international law sure supports One State.

      What international law does definitively not know, is the notion of “foreign Jews have a right to the land”. Because only some of those Jews were and are the descendants of people who once lived there.

      • GalenSword
        February 15, 2012, 11:27 am

        Nuremberg Tribunal decisions and judgments provide a significant body of case law that identifies a whole range of activities for which states and their officials may be liable.

      • Daniel Rich
        February 15, 2012, 5:22 pm

        @ GalenSword,

        A bit of a side note. The Nuremberg tribunal is [in my opinion] a stellar example of ‘ex post facto law.’ Did you ever wonder why indiscriminate bombing of cities was not included in it? How does A-bombing Japanese cities not constitute to a ‘crime against humanity?’ Winners write history. Losers can be found [mostly] in the footnotes.

      • Justice Please
        February 16, 2012, 4:05 am

        Daniel,

        it was indeed ex post facto. That would have been permissable if the rules would have also covered the winners’ crimes, and, maybe even more importantly, would be enforced today.

        One of the Nuremberg judges who is still alive, commented that under the precedent set in Nuremberg, Bush junior would hang.

        But as it stands, only Germans got punished and it was therefore little more than the lynchings of Hussein or Gaddafi.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 8:17 am

        it was indeed ex post facto.

        You are certainly correct that the Allied crimes you mentioned should not have gone unpunished. However the crimes in question were contained in pre-existing prohibitions of customary law. They were given new names and denominations, but were not applied ex-post facto.

        There was pre-existing state practice for the establishment of special tribunals or trials in the regular courts for murder and other war crimes. For example, after the US Civil War Champ Ferguson and Henry Wirz had been tried and hanged
        *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champ_Ferguson#Trial_and_hanging .
        *http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/wirz/wirz.htm

        The Hague Conventions had been adopted and labeled at the time as a codification of the laws and customs of war. It was an existing practice under international law to demand the prosecution of individuals, including government officials, who wage wars in violation of international treaties or violated the laws and customs of warfare. See for example the public arraignment of the German Emperor and others, for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties. in Articles 227-228 of the Treaty of Versailles, Penalties.
        *http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Articles_227_-_230

        The Allies had issued a number of public declarations and warnings to the Axis Powers. See for example “Allied declarations condemning German atrocities in occupied territories; proposal for the creation of a United Nations commission for the investigation of war crimes,” pp. 45-71 in the Foreign relations of the Untied States diplomatic papers, 1942. link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu
        The papers contain the negotiations leading to:
        The Allied Declaration on the German Government’s determination to exterminate the Jewish people
        *http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1942v01&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=68
        *http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1943v01&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=413

        The Allied Declarations Condemning German Atrocities In Occupied Territories
        *http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1941v01&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=445

  2. tombishop
    February 14, 2012, 3:45 pm

    Was the struggle against South African apartheid and the U.S. civil rights movement based on “what the public is ready to accept”? What happened to truth…and justice…and because it is right?

    • Charon
      February 15, 2012, 5:35 pm

      The Revisionist Zionism definition of justice and right is the polar opposite of what the literal definition is. And the Israeli version of truth is often a half-truth, exaggeration, or a down-right fabricated lie. Maybe that was also true in South Africa, I was too young to remember it.

      Side note, since you mention the civil rights movement. I was recently reading up on it in light of some things Ron Paul has said. Now I wasn’t alive back then. I only have history books, people who were around like my parents, and documentaries/films. In my own lifetime I know that some events passed off as history are in fact pretty far-fetched and exaggerated propaganda. I know people like my parents are gullible. And I know this is very controversial subject matter. There is no doubt that minorities and women were subject to discrimination, especially in certain regions of the US. I would also say that in some cases those attitudes remain and people find ways around discrimination laws (salary is one of them).

      Now technically, we all have equal rights constitutionally in the US. That didn’t stop areas from being bigoted and racist policies and segregation, etc. And there might not be ‘whites only’ schools superficially, but there are schools were virtually everybody is white. The important thing was that attitudes changed, and maybe the legislation had something to do with that. BUT, and here is the big controversial but. This is yet something that is arguably unnecessary because constitutionally we have equal rights. Why pass a legislation instead of enforcing our existing constitution? Which brings me to my controversial point. Has the civil rights act benefit more women and African Americans/minorities than the people who have abused it? When I look at it from a revisionist angle, it’s like the Patriot Act. Something passed under the guise of meaning well but worded in a vague way open to interpretation and abuse. And both have been abused.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 7:06 pm

        Has the civil rights act benefit more women and African Americans/minorities than the people who have abused it?

        yes, undoubtedly. the civil rights movement benefited women and african americans, but it primarily benefited the whole country. plus we had marshall thurgood serving on the supreme court from 1967 until 1991.

        the 60’s were a watershed in this country. peoples minds changed. not all of them but enough of them it won’t ever go back to the way it was. on the west coast where i am from it was a combination of the civil rights movement, the vietnam war, the black panther party and the hippie movement (very receptive youth to the idea and embrace of equality) which was pervasive..all happening at the same time. the civil rights movement took on a different form out here on the west coast , different than the south and other parts of the country. i was more impacted by social changes surrounding Angela Davis, George Jackson, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver. this was going on simultaneously..it was forward and mindblowing. earth moving in terms of comprehending the injustice. but being raised in the west coast the level of discrimination going on in the south i was personally unfamiliar with.

  3. Dan Crowther
    February 14, 2012, 3:57 pm

    This guy named Daniel Crowther, a brilliant, handsome young man (at least according to his mother) wrote about this on MW months ago —

    link to mondoweiss.net

    “Advocating one state, without the two- state international consensus in Finkelstein’s view, is potentially damaging and could lead to these advocates becoming “a cult.” He used the language of Gandhi, saying that “politics is not about changing public opinion, or bringing enlightenment to the benighted masses, it is about trying to get people to act on what they already know is wrong.” Because two states is what has been accepted, by the UNGA, the ICJ, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Quartet, and basically every other international organization– as well as civilian populations throughout the world, including a plurality in the U.S.– this is what the general Palestinian solidarity movement should strive for.”

    • Cliff
      February 14, 2012, 5:53 pm

      Chomsky said that people were against the 2SS when it was possible. Then when it was impossible (NOW), they suddenly became supporters of peace and the 2SS.

      The 2SS is dead.

      The US government is never going to compel Israel to end the settlement project. The Palestinian ‘leadership’ can’t either.

      All the people who call themselves supporters of the Palestinian cause, while wasting time w/ worthless ACADEMIC distractions like Norman Finkelstein’s latest bowel movement, are not helping at all.

      The people who are involved in Palestinian solidarity and promoting BDS are OBVIOUSLY more active than all the critics of BDS. In fact, while the critics may be involved in some activism – there is no denying that the proponents of BDS also happen to be people like Ali Abunimah who work day and night for the cause.

      You just don’t get that BDS is a symbol as well as a tactic. It is supposed to inspire people. It’s not supposed to be the ONLY thing you do.

      Chomsky and Finkelstein both STRAW MAN the tactic.

      Hostage wasted a whole lot of time, looking up a bunch of stuff (that was besides the point) to defend Chomsky’s patronizing/condescending and insulting characterization of BDS as ‘breaking windows’ (while ignoring the argument I made, which was – take these insulting characterizations in context to his comments that he’d move to Israel after the US as a second home, and blah blah blah).

      Finkelstein and him can continue to straw man BDS. I am more inclined to trust Ilan Pappe – who is an Israeli, has lived in Israel longer than either of them (since neither of them are Israelis and neither live there; although Chomsky spent some time on a kibbutz or something).

      His speech in 2009 was perfect and explained what BDS was (at its best).

      • Dan Crowther
        February 14, 2012, 7:16 pm

        Awesome post Cliff…..

      • Dan Crowther
        February 14, 2012, 8:03 pm

        “all im saying is uphold the law”
        – N.F.
        —————————–

        Finkelstein does know that he and his fellow citizens can be murdered on the say so of the president, right? No charge, trial – just “off with his head”!

        What makes him think a government like this will “uphold the law” for “unpeople” like Palestinians?

      • Fredblogs
        February 14, 2012, 8:41 pm

        Only if they choose to go lead a terrorist organization and put themselves in positions where they can’t be safely arrested. We don’t actually have a “kill list”. We have a “capture or kill” list. They only get to kill you if they can’t capture you safely.

      • Dan Crowther
        February 14, 2012, 9:38 pm

        fredblogs–

        i take it you mean anwar al awlaki — aside from unverified government accusations, there is zero evidence that he was a leader of a terrorist organization….

        as for awlaki being where he couldnt be ‘safely arrested’ — this is just absurd.
        the government never had any intention to arrest this man.
        his father along with the ACLU sued the obama administration to cease in their efforts to kill his son, and also to have the administration offer evidence as to his guilt. “state secrets” in regards to the evidence, and the court said awlaki (the son) would have to show up in court himself in order to receive any due process – sort of weird that the court would basically tell the father, “call your son” no?

        why have the father call his son? I think we can all do that math on that one.

        As for the existence of kill lists etc. how would you know? that’s sort of the whole point, we do know that the execution of awlaki was decided on by a unnamed group of officials, who is to say what else these people might be up to?

        Your probably right though, why worry? – it’s not like any state leader would abuse the power to indefinitely detain citizens or order their execution without charge or trial. These are precisely the powers now vested to the executive, Obama not only codified the previously “horrible” excesses of the bush administration, he made it a fan favorite – as is clearly shown in that recent WAPO poll – liberals love them some drones now!

        You should read the NDAA – it’s a real doozey.

        my general point stands — finkelstein thinks somehow a lawless country like the US will stand by the law in regards to palestine…..good luck

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2012, 11:45 pm

        What makes him think a government like this will “uphold the law” for “unpeople” like Palestinians?

        The United States isn’t the only country that can apply economic and penal sanctions against Israelis.

        *Israeli cos likely to bid in new Cypriot gas tenders link to globes.co.il

        *Report: Israel Considering Placing IAF Aircraft in Cyprus link to israelnationalnews.com

        By a note verbale dated 19 July 2010, sent to all permanent missions, the Secretary-General drew the attention of all the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Fourth Geneva Convention) to operative paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 64/92. The Secretary-General requested, in view of his reporting obligations under resolution 64/92, information regarding any steps the High Contracting Parties had taken or envisaged taking concerning the implementation of that resolution.
        . . .
        On 10 August 2010, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cyprus replied
        to the note verbale. In its reply Cyprus recalled its adherence to the Geneva
        Conventions and noted provisions of its domestic legal framework that governed criminal liability and jurisdiction arising from grave breaches thereof. Cyprus also noted that such provisions provided that breaches of article 147 of the Convention might result in criminal prosecutions, indictments, trials and punishment, irrespective of where the offence was committed. — link to un.org

      • Dan Crowther
        February 15, 2012, 8:48 am

        Im sorry Hostage,

        was that supposed to make me change my mind about Finkelstein and his claims that the US (and its euro lackey’s) will adopt the law in regards to Palestine?

        So, we went through the US’s recent record of lawlessness – how about the Europeans?

        Greece and Italy are ruled by a unelected financial junta. In fact, the Troika has de- facto rule over all of western Europe (excluding of course Germany and Britain)… France itself is under serious pressure, and may end up going the way of the PIIGS — you think that during the worst financial crisis in generations, with anti-democratic forces taking hold all over “the west” there is going to be institutional sign off on a I/P peace deal, one that will of course have to go through the US???

        To make these claims in the face of this reality, and the reality of the severe counter revolution (sponsored by these same powers) taking place across the ME, Europe and elsewhere is……

        Laughable.

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 9:00 am

        Exactly, Dan. The law is a tool of the elites.
        International law justified the zionist takeover of Palestine. That ain’t right

      • dahoit
        February 15, 2012, 12:14 pm

        Ditto;The law is what the powerful say it is ,despite some writings by irrelevant 18th century naive white men unaware of the evil our masters of disaster face in our premodern world at this end of history moment.
        Aint the UN now involved in regime change despite it’s alleged charter’s provisions?
        Law is now meaningless among our master race.

      • Dex
        February 15, 2012, 2:27 pm

        Just to add to your point Seafoid, here is a very interesting quote from Int’l Relations theorist, Hedley Bull, the father of Rationalism:

        “…the institutions and mechanisms that sustain international order, even when they are working properly…violate ordinary notions of justice…Consider, for example, international law. It is not merely that international law sanctifies the status quo without providing for a legislative process whereby the law can be altered by consent and thus causes the pressures for change to consolidate behind demands that the law should be violated in the name of justice. It is also that when the law is violated, and a new situation is brought about by the triumph not necessarily of justice but of force, international law accepts this new situation as legitimate… international law condemns aggression, but once aggression has been successful it ceases to be condemned.”

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 7:49 pm

        Im sorry Hostage, was that supposed to make me change my mind about Finkelstein and his claims that the US (and its euro lackey’s) will adopt the law in regards to Palestine?

        Yes, the states that voted for Palestinian membership in UNESCO included Austria, France, and Spain who are each European lackeys. They were all aware that UNESCO’s members have a standing invitation to become a State party to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and that the Rome Statute is open to membership by all States. The members of the EU are also members of the International Criminal Court too. Those states would automatically be off limits to any Israeli officials if the ICC Pre-trial Chamber issues an arrest warrant. Israeli government officials have been publicly announcing tenders for thousands of units in illegal settlements for so long that they’ve forgotten that is a grave breach and a war crime under the terms of the Rome Statute.

        The thing that troubles me is when activists who run around talking a good game about Israel’s violations of international law and the need for equal rights and remedies, buy-in to Ali Abunimah’s propaganda. He knows perfectly well that the ICC would have criminal jurisdiction over any Israeli crime committed on the whole of the occupied Palestinian territory, not just the Bantustans. Yet he still has the gall to write Op-Eds opposing the UN statehood bid. link to aljazeera.com

        I’m sorry too, his real agenda is pretty obvious and it has nothing to do with stopping the violence or protecting the rights of the people living under occupation.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 12:54 am

        here is a very interesting quote from Int’l Relations theorist, Hedley Bull, the father of Rationalism:

        That comment is somewhat out of date. The UN was not setup to serve as a world government, but one of its tasks was to promote the progressive codification of international law. It facilitated the establishment of an international criminal court in 2002. It does have a legislative body that can amend its portion of the international criminal code and determine its own jurisdiction “whereby the law can be altered by consent”. Unlike the UN none of the members has a veto.

      • Shingo
        February 17, 2012, 8:26 am

        Hostage,

        When NF says that a 1ss is a violation of international law, what law is he referring to?

        Is he referring to UNGAR181?
        Is he referring to UNGAR242?

        Becasue as I see it, there is no Palestinian state, and Israel has yet to declare it’s final borders, so how does a single binational state violate international law?

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 9:51 am

        Hostage, When NF says that a 1ss is a violation of international law, what law is he referring to?

        Provide a link or cite and I’ll look and see. I’ve never heard NF frame it that way. Right at the moment, international law happens to call for a two state solution because the parties concerned – Egypt, Jordan, the PLO, and Israel – accepted 242 as the framework for a series of related international agreements. That framework is reflected in the Mitchell report findings and the Quartet Road Map for the 2ss. The terms of reference contained in those agreements have been endorsed by the UN Security Council and ICJ. So that decision is binding on all of the member states (but not non-members or non-state actors).

        The Road Map and 242 could be abandoned in a heartbeat if the Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt agree that Israel has violated the terms of reference contained in their respective agreements and demand a 1ss instead. That wouldn’t be against international law, but it will probably never happen because it would seriously undermine the idea that Israel is an occupying power. You see, it wouldn’t necessarily be against international law if Israel said okay to the 1ss and still refused to give the residents of the PA territory citizenship and the right to vote in Israel’s national elections. After all, even the US nationals of American Samoa don’t have citizenship yet. It would be incorrect to assume that, just because the 2ss is supposedly dead, Israel will have no other options short of granting the Palestinians citizenship. Alan Baker and Alan Dershowitz haven’t been trained to think like that.

        Becasue as I see it, there is no Palestinian state

        The UNESCO vote disposed of any doubts on that score within the UN organization. Palestine is an occupied state, just like Iraq under Bremmer or Afghanistan under NATO.

      • jamiesw
        February 14, 2012, 8:53 pm

        “Chomsky said that people were against the 2SS when it was possible. Then when it was impossible (NOW), they suddenly became supporters of peace and the 2SS”

        No, he said that people were against the 1SS when it was possible, and only started supporting it once it was impossible.

        Norman Finkelstein is an explicit supporter of BDS. He said that repeatedly in the video above. He agrees with BDS as a tactic (or rather, as one of a range of useful tactics), but he thinks that to succeed it must be attached to a goal that can reach a broad public.

        It’s not just that you have failed to convincingly rebut Finkelstein and Chomsky on this issue; you have failed even to avoid fundamentally misrepresenting both of the people you are attacking.

      • Newclench
        February 14, 2012, 9:47 pm

        Yep.

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:08 pm

        No, he said that people were against the 1SS when it was possible, and only started supporting it once it was impossible.

        That is NOT the quote I’m referring to. In the quote I mentioned (but did not cite, because I don’t remember what speech/debate/interview it arose from), Chomsky talks about how everyone was against a 2SS when it was possible and now pay lip service to it now, in the present, when it’s impossible.

        This makes sense since he has said similar things about the Vietnam War protest movement. He says that the protest movement got into full swing very late – and by that time, the situation had already gotten pretty horrible. That the ‘business community’ had decided when to end the war or that the war had ended after most of the strategic goals were achieved.

        The point of both statements was to put whatever idealism existed in support for these movements/solutions in historical context.

        What makes more sense – a 2SS being possible 40 years ago, logistically? Or a One-State 30 years ago amidst the wars w/ the neighboring Arab States and the Jordanian occupation? LOL give me a break, whoever you are.

        It’s not just that you have failed to convincingly rebut Finkelstein and Chomsky on this issue; you have failed even to avoid fundamentally misrepresenting both of the people you are attacking.

        I’m not misrepresenting anyone.

        In another thread where Chomsky’s statements about BDS were brought up, I cited video interviews w/ young Jewish anti-Zionist activists and an Israeli Zionist (who expressed the same crazy fears of Iran wiping Israel off the map/that Chomsky’s views are hurting Israel by association w/ antisemites/etc. etc. other b.s).

        I cited a radio interview where Chomsky compared BDS to breaking windows in the 70s and that BDS was a ‘feel good’ tactic unless it was more focused (which is one of the straw-man characterizations of the tactic).

        Hostage began to filibuster the discussion and side-step the issue.

        First – BDS is not primarily ‘feel good’ in it’s achievements. You can talk to BDS activists and I’m sure they will tell you how difficult it is to go up against these companies. It’s not a walk in the park.

        Second – There are certainly symbolic victories but that is not the same as ‘feel good’ – which is a nasty way to describe the situation and as I said, condescending.

        Finkelstein is NOT ‘explicitly’ supportive of BDS. He is particular about what parts of it he supports and in what context.

        This damn interview shows that he wants us to accept the legitimacy of Israel’s pre-67′ borders (AS IF THEY THEMSELVES THINK ITS LEGITIMATE? No, that’s why they continue to colonize Palestinian land. Israel has no definitive borders.) if we also want to hold Israel accountable to IHL.

        I don’t give a damn about rebutting Chomsky on BDS or the failure of the 2ss.

        The 2ss is dead because of American/Israeli intransigence and the corrupt peace process and the continued settlement expansion.

        Chomsky’s statements on BDS do not matter. The people who are working day and night on this issue and use BDS – as it was always meant to be used, as a tactic – are far past the point in caring decisively, what Chomsky/Finkelstein thinks.

        They aren’t going to suddenly change.

        I mentioned Ilan Pappe.

        I posted his speech in 2009 to a student anti-war conference in the other thread I mentioned earlier in this post.

        I explained clearly in that thread where I stood – at the same place as Ilan Pappe. His characterization of the BDS and his hopes for what it could be and how it should be communicated to other activists and to the laymen, is perfect.

        I don’t care if you think otherwise or if you want to defend Chomsky – who puts on one face for an Israeli Zionist (that of a fatherly tone) and then a wholly different one to anti-Zionist Jews (saying Israel is not HIS State but at the same time, there are worse States than Israel vis a vis atrocities).

        Etc. etc.

        Both of these men are already thought of in passing. Finkelstein left the Gaza Freedom March because they wouldn’t agree to his exact specifications.

        I won’t say this for Chomsky, because I think even w/ his academic disagreements over tactics – he still lends his support. If I’m not mistaken he supported the GFM.

        But Finkelstein will throw a hissy fit and leave. No one should waste another minute on the guy if he thinks his persona is bigger than the battles that take place moment to moment.

        You should support these events out of solidarity to the people you’re supposedly defending.

        Anything else is as useful as arguing on the internet (and yes, that means here @MW too).

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:20 pm

        Here is what I’m getting at BTW w/ regards to the Chomsky quote (which I can’t find still):

        In 1975 Palestinian nationalism crystallised and appeared on the agenda, and the PLO, turned to a two state settlement, the huge overwhelming international consensus at that time for a two state settlement in the form that everyone knows. From 1967 to 1975 it was possible to advocate for it directly and it was anathema, hated, denounced, because it was threatening. It was threatening because it could be fulfilled and that would harm policy formation. So if it was noticed at all, it was denounced, vilified. From 1975 on you could still maintain this position but you have to face reality, it is going to have to be achieved in stages. There is only one proposal that I have ever heard, other than let’s all live in peace together, the one proposal that I know is, begin with the international consensus, the two states settlement. It will reduce the level of violence, the cycle of violence, it will open up possibilities for a closer interaction, which already to some extent takes place, even in today’s circumstances, commercial, cultural and other forms of interaction. That could lead to erosion of boundaries. That could move on to closer integration, and maybe something like the old concept of bi-national state.

        link to en.cubadebate.cu

      • Danaa
        February 14, 2012, 10:40 pm

        jamiesw – so, when do you think people like Finkelstein will accept that which stares at them in the face: Israel will not agree to 2ss, has rejected it time and again, and has no intention of letting the palestinians have anything other than a couple of disconnected Batustans.

        People like Finkelstein, and probably Chomsky and most of J Street are there to help pull the wool over the world’s eyes for as long as possible. It is, admittedly getting harder, when news get out that the number odf settlers reached 750,000. Very soon, a fourth of israel’s Jewish population will live in the territories. day and night homes are demolished, property of Palestinians are confiscated, children thrown into jail, demonstrations brutally suppressed.

        I submit to you that Finkelstein does not know Israelis as I do and as Ilan Pappe and Avnery do. The Jewish Americans and Canadians see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. They take the actions they think might help stave the worst but they help very little on the broader scale. The activists and liberal zionists speak to others like themselves in Israel, and so get a very skewed vision of what the people there talk about and think about when international ears are perked somewhere else.

        Inside Israel everyone knows what it’s really all about and what is about to happen next. They just didn’t figure out yet how to get away with what the plan is, and are still seeking a way to do just that. Abunimah and the Palestinians know all too well what fate has been prepared for them. I suggest you and Finkelstein listen, because everything you know and believe in will pale next to what you will be expected to defend next.

        Personally, I wish BDS went into a maximalist mode already and committed to boycotting anything one can that comes from Israel and every single Jewish institution, speaker, university president, politician and synagog that supports and defends the indefensible. And yes, I know for a fact that such a movement will have the intended effect on the israeli psyche though it is a bit of shock treatment. But sometimes it’s the only thing that can help snap the insane back into reality. I honestly can’t think of much else that would allay the looming disaster.

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2012, 11:55 pm

        Hostage began to filibuster the discussion and side-step the issue.

        No you started offer your opinion and analysis to what Chomsky had actually said in a video where he was asked and answered some specific questions by a group of students. He actually commended their BDS agenda and said they were going about it the right way.

        We get it, you don’t like Chomsky. BTW, even if he had been condescending, that doesn’t prove that everything he said was wrong or somehow incorrect.

      • jamiesw
        February 15, 2012, 4:48 am

        Please. If you quote someone, do it accurately and be prepared to back it up with a checkable source. Otherwise there is no reason for anyone to believe you (not necessarily because you’re deliberately making things up – you could just be honestly mistaken).

        Chomsky doesn’t think the two-state solution is impossible. On the contrary, he thinks it is the only possible decent solution, and that’s what he advocates for.

      • jamiesw
        February 15, 2012, 5:15 am

        “when do you think people like Finkelstein will accept that which stares at them in the face: Israel will not agree to 2ss”

        Let’s pause for a moment. Do you think Finkelstein, who has spent decades documenting Israel’s rejectionism, has somehow missed or forgotten that it refuses to accept a two-state settlement? Is that plausible?

        Finkelstein knows full well that Israel rejects a two-state settlement. The question he’s trying to answer is: how best can we pressure it to accept it?

        Note, incidentally, that while Israel rejects a two-state settlement, it even more vehemently rejects a one-state solution.

        Finkelstein argues that a two-state settlement is currently politically nonviable, but that it is not practically nonviable. He goes through this is some detail in the forthcoming book and his talks – the settler problem, for example, is in fact practically resolvable. What’s lacking at the moment is the political will – but that’s precisely what a successful activist movement could change.

        “People like Finkelstein, and probably Chomsky and most of J Street are there to help pull the wool over the world’s eyes for as long as possible.”

        Get a grip. It is impossible to have a reasonable conversation with you through the walls of your bunker.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 8:25 am

        No you started offer your opinion and analysis to what Chomsky had actually said in a video where he was asked and answered some specific questions by a group of students. He actually commended their BDS agenda and said they were going about it the right way.

        We get it, you don’t like Chomsky. BTW, even if he had been condescending, that doesn’t prove that everything he said was wrong or somehow incorrect.

        Now you’re just lying, Hostage.

        First of all, these were not regular students. Regular in the sense that, Chomsky was framing his answers in a certain way to cater to a certain audience.

        As I said – everyone here can go look this video up on YT and see for themselves! – Chomsky presented himself differently toward both groups on the issue of Jewish identity.

        For the Jewish anti-Zionist students – something Hostage KEEPS leaving out in spite of the fact that the female student explicitly mentions that she is a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network – he says to them, “Israel is not my State, is it yours?”

        He then talks about how other States in the region are worse and you open yourself up to hypocrisy if you get entangled in the issue of Israel’s ‘right to exist.’

        So don’t condescend me with your constant 1/2 step formula of condescension and filibustering of historical facts that I don’t even question. I question the editorialization on your part.

        We get it, you don’t like Chomsky. BTW, even if he had been condescending, that doesn’t prove that everything he said was wrong or somehow incorrect.

        No, I get it – you and David Green, and in the past Max Ajl(sp) and Keith and a whole host of others are knee-jerk defenders of Chomsky.

        That is the correct perspective.

        None of your comments in this back and forth between us, between these two separate threads, have addressed the fact that while Chomsky’s general advice was TRUE (how many times must I say that/how many times must you spam it in your comments) it was based on a straw-man.

        That he is one of the most inspiring figures on the Left and has a well-known record of speaking truth to power (which he characterizes as, ‘power knows the truth already, so we have to do x, y and z instead’) I found his complete misrepresentation of BDS as ‘breaking windows’ and ‘feel good’ to be out of character.

        When I reconsider those comments with him having said in 2005 that he would live in Israel as a second choice to the US (as well as when Allison Weir asked rhetorically in an interview with him, why he had move to Israel in the 50s even though he was opposed to Jewish State and even though he was cognizant of the refugee situation) and blah blah blah – then yes, his comments regarding BDS are indeed insulting, patronizing and based on a straw-man.

        You keep straw-manning my arguments as well. You say, ‘Well, his advice was right and BDS and Ali Abunimah are not above criticism. ”

        Great, well what I am saying is that your filibuster was correct, but besides the point – just like Chomsky’s patronizing ‘advice’.

        He says BDS in SA came after a phase of education to the uninvolved masses presumably. That’s fine, but why can’t BDS do both at the same time? I see a lot of supporters of BDS mention that – that you can do both, education and activism.

        Stop wasting cyberspace, Hostage, with your nonsensical blah blah.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 9:01 am

        Bump, read this comment.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:32 am

        “But sometimes it’s the only thing that can help snap the insane back into reality. I honestly can’t think of much else that would allay the looming disaster.” Insightful.

      • rensanceman
        February 15, 2012, 2:12 pm

        I have been an admirer of Finklestine for bravely dispelling the ugly truths that the hasbara has managed to stifle for so long. For someone familiar with iconoclasm, it is somewhat surprising to listen to him lecturing the young questioner (with lots of dismissive interruptions) about the need to work within the parameters of public acceptance of Palestinian friendly measures ( e.g. Right of return) as the public’s understanding of the matter has been shaped by MSM. We need him and Chomsky to be the truth tellers more than we may need their proposed solutions as the ultimate resolution will be a function of future events (I.e. BDS, U.N. actions, Congressional sentiment, wars, et al).

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 2:30 pm

        Cliff,

        Re: “He says BDS in SA came after a phase of education to the uninvolved masses presumably. That’s fine, but why can’t BDS do both at the same time? I see a lot of supporters of BDS mention that – that you can do both, education and activism.”

        I don’t remember the American public generally caring at all about apartheid S Africa during the BDS campaign against it, and I don’t remember them seeking information about S Africa. Do you? I do remember US politicians speaking out against apartheid, and the usual liberal agencies doing so, and, especially, black Americans who viewed the campaign against S African apartheid as an extension, legacy of the American Civil Rights Movment (and in my opinion, rightly so). None of the general public, nor any congress person spoke out in favor of the S African regime of the time–it would have been the end of their political career–again, if memory serves. So, in sum, in America, at least, the unopposed political capital supporting BDS against apartheid S Africa came entirely from the analogy to Jim Crow America, which was no longer PC, of course. The uninvolved America masses remained uninvolved throughout, in the main. To me, this suggests that activism is more important than education in the matter of tactics, if one insists on prioritizing the two; but obviously, the two are symbiotic.

        Yet, blacks make up 13% of the US population, and they carry weight disproportionate due to the accepted slavery sins of the past, while Palestinians are what % of the US population (I think Arabs as a whole are now about 3%)? And neither the Palestinians in particular, nor the Arab-Americans in general have any weight as historical Americans founding this nation, while Jewish Americans do. This suggests to me that education of the American masses as to ME history is very much at least as important as activism. The third factor’tactic, not present much in the struggle to free blacks in S Africa, is, essentially, to educate Americans effectively that Palestinians are actually real humans like all of us, not invented. And the biblical God’s people too.
        Good luck with all that.

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 2:47 pm

        Also, Cliff, another very important aspect of the difference in tactics re BDS apartheid S Africa back in the day, and BDS apartheid Israel today is that American support of S Africa back in the day cost America virtually nothing (while gaining moral symmetry in view of US Civil Rights history), while American support of Likud Israel today has literally cost us immensely, in terms of our good image in the world, our blood, and treasure (while having no moral symmetry with US highest values).

      • Daniel Rich
        February 15, 2012, 5:39 pm

        @ Danaa,

        Perhaps Mel Brooks’ comments on his ‘The Producers’ show performed in Israel will amplify why his verbal record of insanity is mainstay in the drowning of Judaism as we speak.

      • Keith
        February 15, 2012, 6:18 pm

        CLIFF- “Chomsky talks about how everyone was against a 2SS when it was possible and now pay lip service to it now, in the present, when it’s impossible.”

        Jamiesw is quite right. You are fundamentally misrepresenting Noam Chomsky. You provide a quote and a link. Your quote is selectively misleading. Chomsky clearly states that he initially advocated for a one state (bi-national) solution in opposition to a Jewish state. Between 1948 and 1967, the creation of Israel rendered bi-nationalism moot. Between 1967 and 1975, a bi-national position became tenable once again. In 1975, the PLO adopted the two state settlement as the official position and the international consensus crystallized around it. In your selective quote, the “it” Chomsky refers to is the bi-national settlement, not the two state settlement. Surely you must have been aware of this. Below I have attached a more complete quote obtained from the link you provided.

        “It’s now about 70 years that we have been advocating for what in the recent reincarnation is called the One State settlement. One State settlement, notice, not solution. A one state settlement, used to be called the bi-national settlement and if you think about it, yes, it’ll have to be a bi-national settlement. So that’s what I was doing when I was a young activist in the 1940s, opposed to a Jewish state. That’s continued without a break. And it’s kind of hard to miss. Since the late 1960s, a series of books, huge number of articles, constant talks all the time, thousands of them, interviews, all the same. Trying to work for a bi-national settlement, in opposition to a Jewish state.

        So in the pre-1948 period, this was straightforward, we do not want a Jewish state, let’s have a bi-national state. From 1948 to 1967 you could not sensibly pick that position, you were talking to yourself. 1967 it opened up again. There was an opportunity in 1967 to move towards some kind of a federal system which could then proceed further to closer integration, maybe become a true bi-national secular state.

        In 1975 Palestinian nationalism crystallised and appeared on the agenda, and the PLO, turned to a two state settlement, the huge overwhelming international consensus at that time for a two state settlement in the form that everyone knows. From 1967 to 1975 it was possible to advocate for it directly and it was anathema, hated, denounced, because it was threatening. It was threatening because it could be fulfilled and that would harm policy formation. So if it was noticed at all, it was denounced, vilified. From 1975 on you could still maintain this position but you have to face reality, it is going to have to be achieved in stages. There is only one proposal that I have ever heard, other than let’s all live in peace together, the one proposal that I know is, begin with the international consensus, the two states settlement. It will reduce the level of violence, the cycle of violence, it will open up possibilities for a closer interaction, which already to some extent takes place, even in today’s circumstances, commercial, cultural and other forms of interaction. That could lead to erosion of boundaries. That could move on to closer integration, and maybe something like the old concept of bi-national state.
        Now, I call it a settlement because I don’t think this is the end of the road” (Noam Chomsky) link to en.cubadebate.cu

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 8:20 pm

        No, I get it – you and David Green, and in the past Max Ajl(sp) and Keith and a whole host of others are knee-jerk defenders of Chomsky.

        I actually sided with Jeff Blankfort and ridiculed Max Ajl:
        I think Max Ajl details these influences quite ably on his website,

        I replied: “There’s an old Latin proverb that explained “to each his own is beautiful”. I’d rather not waste my time on simplistic Marxist totalizing theories that pretend to explain the whole of social reality.”
        link to mondoweiss.net
        Like Blankfort, I’ve also been puzzled by activists, including Finkelstein, who downplay the role of Zionism in the motivations of the neocons who started the Iraq war:
        This is an important moment because it epitomizes the refusal of intelligent, prominent liberal American Jews to acknowledge the role of the Israel lobby (let alone dime out their crazy cousins, the neocons).

        To which I replied: “Yes, there are several examples that come to mind of intelligent Jews with a Marxist background who are happy to condemn the neocons for being evil greedy “capitalists”, yet make the bizarre excuse that Zionists like Richard Perle and Eliot Abrams have long since abandoned their Jewish roots.”
        link to mondoweiss.net

        I think your caricatures of Chomsky’s actual positions are similarly incorrect. But, by all means, don’t let the facts get in your way.

      • Pixel
        February 15, 2012, 11:01 pm

        “and what is about to happen next.”

        Danaa, are we talking full-on ethnic cleansing?

      • Pixel
        February 15, 2012, 11:15 pm

        Daniel, I’m not following.

      • Cliff
        February 16, 2012, 2:35 am

        You are absolutely wrong, Keith.

        First of all, the issue is not whether Chomsky advocated for a bi-national State or not – which is well-known and not something I disputed in my original comment.

        The it that Chomsky is referring to is the first step towards a possible bi-national solution, i.e., the Two-State Solution.

        1967 it opened up again. There was an opportunity in 1967 to move towards some kind of a federal system which could then proceed further to closer integration, maybe become a true bi-national secular state.

        Chomsky has repeatedly said that you start with the 2SS and move on from there.

        He even said it in the original quote I posted – surely YOU must have seen it?

        [...] begin with the international consensus, the two states settlement. It will reduce the level of violence, the cycle of violence, it will open up possibilities for a closer interaction, which already to some extent takes place, even in today’s circumstances, commercial, cultural and other forms of interaction. That could lead to erosion of boundaries. That could move on to closer integration, and maybe something like the old concept of bi-national state.

        This isn’t interpreting ancient hieroglyphics.

        In the other thread you called me a liar or dishonest because I incorrectly said Chomsky would move to Israel as a home (if unable to live in the US) – in 2010, rather than in 2005. He said it in 2005. I thought it was 2010, since it was the date of the interview and I had been relying on memory.

        To say I was dishonest is slander. I posted the damn video and obviously people could check themselves. So if I was trying to be dishonest I did bad job of it.

        I also linked the above interview with Chomsky. I had no intention of misleading so you slander me again.

        And anyways, I was right!

      • Cliff
        February 16, 2012, 2:47 am

        Hostage,

        I did not caricature Chomsky.

        I said his characterizations of BDS was incorrect and insulting. You then explained why Chomsky’s advice was sound.

        I agree, that taken in and of itself, Chomsky’s advice was wise and uncontroversial.

        That’s not the issue. The issue is whether the advice was warranted under the circumstances and within the context I keep talking about.

        That is the issue. That it is so difficult for you to grasp my intention is now just dishonest on your part. We’ve been through several exchanges and two different threads.

        1. The ‘feel good’ characterization.

        You replied by posting some article where Ali Abunimah says a particular BDS victory was a symbolic one. Or something along those lines.

        My reply was that there is an OBVIOUS difference in TONE when you describe something as symbolic as opposed to ‘feel good’.

        I then explained that the Gaza flotillas must have been symbolic. They can’t logistically supply enough aide. Israel will stop them. The purpose of the flotillas is to get attention. Something I support.

        I supported the notion that Chomsky was being condescending by putting the original ‘feel good’ comment in context w/ OTHER comments he has made. So it’s not just the one comment but others that made me come to that conclusion.

        So, there is the ‘breaking windows’ comment. There is the difference in how he speaks w/ the 2 Jewish anti-Zionists and then with the Israeli Zionist. He goes on to say, questioning Israel’s right to exist opens you up to hypocrisy because of the other atrocity-committing States in the region (which he says are worse).

        ETC ETC

        I didn’t caricature him. YOU caricatured ME! Just like Keith, just like jamesomething, et. al.

        In spite of whatever comments you made in the past alongside Jeffrey (someone who would not disagree with me on my very tepid comments in this exchange of ours) – it is obvious that you are the one who responded knee-jerkly.

        I provided the links to the interviews in question. You side-stepped the issue entirely by straw-manning and talking about how Chomsky’s advice was correct.

        Those are the facts, but they’ve gotten in your way.

      • Cliff
        February 16, 2012, 2:58 am

        The following paragraph in the article only reinforces my original comments BTW.

        So if anyone is interested, go read it. Chomsky is responding to a question asked by Alice Walker.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 4:19 am

        You side-stepped the issue

        That Chomsky offered sound advice, but someone got insulted by his bluntness. Big whoop. Look, symbolic victories can be accurately described as “feel good”, but ineffective accomplishments in many cases. Why are you still flooding the comment threads about that?

        Unlike the South African BDS movement, the Palestinian BDS movement is pursuing zero formal sanctions against Israel, while defying its legal authorities in staging flotillas or similar demonstrations. So yes, you could say it resembles the anti-establishment or anti-war demonstrators who occasionally broke windows in some respects.

        I support the demonstrations and flotillas too, but that doesn’t mean that I think they are the best way to address the problem.

      • Danaa
        February 16, 2012, 6:41 pm

        Pixel: “Danaa, are we talking full-on ethnic cleansing?”.

        Short answer, yes.

        Longer answer: That is what Israelis want to do, and this is what they are trying to figure out just how, and when. By “Israelis” I mean the majority of the population, and much of its political and military leadership (the limited readership of +972, Haaretz and the few thousands human rights activists excepted, of course). I said several times before, if one were to listen to the tone, substance and not-so-hidden meanings of conversations among the average israeli – in Hebrew, not English – that’s what one would hear. But one has to know how to pay attention, and in so doing accept the consequences of knowing.

        By “how” I mean – ways that would minimize repercussions. The suffering of palestinians is entirely immaterial in this equation, though most would rather it be minimized – for pragmatic reasons, if nothing else. Sounds harsh? it all happened before and many times over throughout the world. It’s part of the colonialist experience, as I learnt from reading heroic tales of the conquistadors.

        See also my comment on the Hadad post.

        I guess what I keep trying to convey are my own impressions based on what I really hear, and most importantly, what I don’t hear. In Israel people speak in code. which is not necessarily apparent to those who grew up outside, even if they were relatively young when they got there (say, teenagers). Larry Derfner and Bradley Burston don’t get it, except in snippets, which they proceed to dismiss as mere “ill wind”. Gorenbery doesn’t get it because he hob-nobs with the well spoken and deeply thinking. Bernard Avishai half suspects but is very good at hiding what he knows from himself (smart that way). Very few American Jews get it because they don’t want to know, even vaguely.

        There are many kinds of disturbing knowledge, and this is one of them. For me, what I know is in people’s hearts – or rather – what isn’t there – is not vague at all. For which knowledge there is a price to pay.

        Daniel – I don’t get it either. Please amplify?

        The good news is that things may not happen as I fear, if enough people pay attention. Israelis are very much capable of being shamed into good behavior. They are no different than anyone else, in that regard.

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2012, 9:41 pm

        Hostage wasted a whole lot of time, looking up a bunch of stuff (that was besides the point) to defend Chomsky’s patronizing/condescending and insulting characterization of BDS as ‘breaking windows’ (while ignoring the argument I made, which was – take these insulting characterizations in context to his comments that he’d move to Israel after the US as a second home, and blah blah blah).

        *The last time I checked, Prof Chomsky wasn’t being represented by Prof. Finkelstein. I would disagree with Finkelstein’s assessment about the obligations of the Israeli and Palestinian governments under the terms of the minority rights declarations they’ve each made in accordance with the terms of resolution 181(II). The responsible UN subsidiary organs are on record that there is a continuing legal obligation that flows from 181(II) and 194(III). I’ve outlined that situation on many occasions and it definitely falls under the category of enforcing existing international law, e.g. link to mondoweiss.net

        The recognition of both the new states that emerged from the former Yugoslavia and EU accession are routinely conditioned upon the acceptance of minority rights agreements as a matter of international law. So Israel and Palestine are not being singled out. See for example the report on “Minority Rights in Albania”, by the Albanian Helsinki Committee, September 1999.

        *One of the joys of being retired is the ability to waste time however I like. Here is some more blah, blah , blah for you. I’ve commented in the past that the right of return is an individual right. It is nonsense to conduct negotiations without defining the scope of the problem as a preliminary matter. That can only be done by consulting the wishes of the individual refugees who are actually registered with UNRWA. No one else’s opinion matters.

        972 Magazine recently ran an article which said that polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research indicated 90 percent of the refugees preferred compensation in lieu of the right of return to Israel. Abbas’s comments during the March 2009 meeting reflected that there would be a firm requirement for Israeli compensation of the refugees in any event and that the refugees in the Diaspora would be allowed to vote inthe national plebiscite on the final settlement. Ali Abunimah took issue with the poll because “the question offered a choice between return and compensation as if refugees are entitled to only one or the other.”

        In reality, opting to exercise the “right of return” will undoubtedly work against an individual’s “right to compensation”. Resolution 181(II) allowed the states to expropriate property from the members of ethnic and religious minority groups. It gave the Supreme Courts of the respective states the discretion to decide upon the amount of compensation in such cases. Resolution 194(III) did not alter that situation.

        The existing Israeli Supreme Court precedents beginning with CApp 41/49 Simshon Palestine Portland Cement Factory LTD. v. Attorney-General (1950) have cited Hans Kelsen’s article, “Theorie generale du droit international public, problemes choisis”, in vol. 49 of the Recueil des Cours of the Hague Academy of International Law:

        “In so far as concerns debts due to individuals who become, as a result of territorial changes, citizens of the successor State, here there can arise no question of a legal succession based upon principles of general international law itself. The relations between the State and its citizens are in the exclusive jurisdiction of the State in question which can therefore, acting in full accord with international law, decide quite freely whether it will take upon itself debts such as these” (p. 329).

        *I’ve also pointed out that the Palestinians living in Israel do not want to be incorporated in the new Palestinian State and that they are currently represented in the UN system by the government of the State of Israel, not by the PLO. Membership of the State of Palestine in the UN does not alter that situation. Omar Barghouti, and Ali Abunimah incorrectly claim that Palestinian UN membership would amount to an abandonment of the movement for obtaining equal rights for the Palestinians living in Israel.

        The 2SS is dead.
        The Baltic States, East Timor, and Namibia were also graveyard dead. Try to remember that none of us here are prophets.

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:32 pm

        No Hostage.

        The 2ss is dead and none of those other countries had the Israel Lobby, Christian Zionism, the geopolitics of the ME, etc. etc. to contend with.

        Who gives a shit about East Timor in America, Hostage? Which is not to say that it does not matter in and of itself or that the suffering was no significant. East Timor does not resonate like Israel-Palestine.

        You are comparing apples and bazookas and then saying ‘we aren’t prophets’ – nope, we sure aren’t but some people ‘get it’ (like Ilan Pappe or Jeff Halper when he says Palestinians are becoming a ‘warehoused’ people).

        Ali Abunimah is correct about the poll’s dishonest question.

        If they want the RoR, then they want it. If it’s between the RoR and something else, then the context is not the same.

        I think compensation is fine BTW. I don’t think Israel will do either though.

        And the rest of your blah blah was for what exactly?

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        February 14, 2012, 10:49 pm

        Hostage,

        I know it is foolish to wade into the ring with you, but:

        Resolution 181(II) allowed the states to expropriate property from the members of ethnic and religious minority groups.

        What does this mean? That the UN provides for the expropriation of a refugee’s property willy-nilly? Please explain. -N49.

      • Danaa
        February 14, 2012, 11:02 pm

        Hostage: “The Baltic States, East Timor, and Namibia were also graveyard dead. Try to remember that none of us here are prophets.”.

        Sorry but this is where we must part ways. Israeli really is different not just from the countries you listed but from any other one. Palestine will not be like South Sudan or Bosnia because israel is neither Sudan nor Serbia, and as much as the one-staters wish, it is also not Ireland or South Africa. There is no model for Palestine becuase there is no model for Israel. There is a poison in that land that burns the soul. I know because I too am scratched and will probably never heal completely. If I could I probably wouldn’t be here on MW (there are so many other problems I’d be delighted to get my teeth into on any given day). That I say this is not a result of deficiency in law or history or scholarship on my part (though all be true, alas). It’s more like a side-effect of deprivation in the capacity for grace. May be the same condition that afflicted Moses and every other prophet. Consider yourself lucky to have escaped such afflictions.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 12:35 am

        Ali Abunimah is correct about the poll’s dishonest question.

        I include Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti among the good guys, but they are not elected officials, and their agendas have never been officially adopted by the only Palestinian poll that actually counts.

        Who gives a shit about East Timor in America, Hostage?
        Nobody really, but it still managed to emerge as a separate state after Indonesia had annexed it and signed a treaty with Australia to exploit the oil reserves of “the Indonesian Province of East Timor”.

        but some people ‘get it’ (like Ilan Pappe or Jeff Halper when he says Palestinians are becoming a ‘warehoused’ people).

        Chomsky and Pappe recently collaborated on a book together. So far as I know, neither Pappe nor Halper have jumped to the end of their chains and snarled dickish things about Chomsky yet.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 1:01 am

        What does this mean? That the UN provides for the expropriation of a refugee’s property willy-nilly? Please explain.

        The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, stipulates: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

        The UN resolution contained a minority protection plan that spelled-out certain constitutional rights, including equality under the law. It contained a similar stipulation which allowed the new States to exercise eminent domain:

        No expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State (by a Jew in the Arab State) shall be allowed except for public purposes. In all cases of expropriation full compensation as fixed by the Supreme Court shall be paid previous to dispossession.

        During the hearings on Israel’s UN membership the representative of Lebanon pointed out that Israel was in violation of that provision and Israel made declarations and undertakings to implement resolution 181(II) and 194(III). I’m just pointing out that when Ali Abunimah says that refugees are entitled to both return and compensation, that international law doesn’t govern adjudication of claims between a successor State and its own citizens. So ex-pat refugees could be compensated under a different, international framework.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 1:21 am

        Sorry but this is where we must part ways.

        I doubt it. If you check the archives, you’ll see that I think that the threat of penal sanctions combined with BDS, and loss of open US support is the only thing that could make Israel change its policies. The real prospect of an imposed 2ss and the sudden realization that both sides would have to abandon parts of their prospective homelands is the only thing that will ever motivate them to seriously consider a 1ss with equal rights. The grassroots approach alone will probably never work.

      • dimadok
        February 15, 2012, 4:56 am

        @Danaa. So you are comparing yourself to Moses now?

      • Shingo
        February 15, 2012, 5:48 am

        Nobody really, but it still managed to emerge as a separate state after Indonesia had annexed it and signed a treaty with Australia to exploit the oil reserves of “the Indonesian Province of East Timor”.

        Very true, but it was able to emerge because:

        1. East Timor was allowed to have a referrendum on havign indeoendence from Indonesia
        2. Australia sent in peace keeping troops to enforce the outcome of the referrendum
        3. None of the above would have been possible had the US not green lighted it one way or another

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 7:37 am

        Danaa, could you paraphrase that for me:

        It’s more like a side-effect of deprivation in the capacity for grace.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 8:39 am

        Pappe collaborates with Chomsky because he recognizes that their disagreements are inconsequential.

        I’ve said that too. Chomsky can straw-man BDS (and you can defend him eternally with your time-wasting filibuster of historical facts that no one is disputing), and it won’t affect the movement because activists are already in full-swing. They are leading the way because they are the ones on the ground.

        Pappe – like me – RESPECTS Chomsky. Whatever disagreements they have, would not undermine the integrity or purpose of the book.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 8:52 am

        Hostage, you once again mischaracterized and LIE about my original comment.

        I didn’t simply say ‘who gives a shit about East Timor’ – I said:

        Who gives a shit about East Timor in America, Hostage? Which is not to say that it does not matter in and of itself or that the suffering was no significant. East Timor does not resonate like Israel-Palestine.

        None of those other conflicts are of the same nature as the Israel-Palestine conflict.

        The support of both major political parties in the US. The support of Christian evangelicalism – which could be said to be the natural progression of the New Right that the Santa Fe document, which outlined Reagan era foreign policy toward Latin America, stated should function as a counter to Christian liberation theology (the latter being perceived by our Elites at the time, as having been hijacked by the Soviet Union). The inclusion of Jewish identity in mainstream intelligentsia acting as a gatekeeper on the issue (with occasional gatecrashing, by truth tellers like Sarah Schulman recently). And the Lobby. And all the rest.

        We have no Indonesia segment of our society that is comparable. Same for the other groups involved in those other conflicts.

        Your comparison was a total joke.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        February 15, 2012, 9:36 am

        @ Hostage: No expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State (by a Jew in the Arab State) shall be allowed except for public purposes.

        Rather wide berth the phrase “for public purposes” is it not? Is taking land from one (private) person and giving it to another (private) person solely on the basis of religion / ethnicity a legitimate exercise of state power? Is the UN giving sanction to this sort action? Do you approve?

        For example: Suppose Quebec Nationalists get all uppity (again) and drive Westmount Jews into Ontario and upstate Vermont. Quebec government seizes jewish property and hands it over to “pur laine” Quebecers. Quebec government then offers to send a cheque in compensation. Hostage: Are you hip with that? -N49.

      • dahoit
        February 15, 2012, 12:27 pm

        which Moses are you talking about,Edwin,Robert or that mythological guy from the OT?You do know some look at that prophet as just another racist in a long line of racists stretching to this day,and possibly being beneath one’s comparison.Having never met him,I couldn’t really give you a factual evaluation.

      • Danaa
        February 15, 2012, 2:01 pm

        LeaNder. A bit obscure, I agree. Sometimes, when writing in hurry, bits of truth slip out, but not always clarity.

        The context: lately I’ve been wrestling with the concept of grace, which some say is what’s missing from the OT (yes, I know those some are generations of Christians, especially of the protestant variety). In my wrestles (and tussles) I am probably guilty of teasing out meanings that are not there. But so far I have not come up with a better word for something that transcends both wrath and bravura without descending into stupefying navel gazing – that later being something that all too many people of the Jewish variety substitute for humility.

        In the israeli context: leaving a place does not always mean arriving at another. Sometimes it just means staying in limbo. Since growing up Israeli compromises the soul, it is not always possible to recover all the missing bits, even knowing what they are.

        It’s not unlike the state of the freed slave. Freedom is something one has to process from the inside out, and, as Haiti demonstrates, it can take not one or two or three, but tens of generations. Unfortunately by the time freedom becomes immediate, so much damage has been done, that freedom becomes something that’s beside the point. Haiti to me is what collective damage to the soul looks like.

        Dimadok, dahoit, Moses – that who could see the promised Israel but not step over threshold. The only question is what the promised land is. That is something everyone has to answer for themselves. I suspect you two have throughly different answers to that.

        As for me – from obscurity to grandiosity (or the other way around) – what’s a little step between friends?

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 3:12 pm

        dimadok, so that’s what you got from Danaa’s comment? What a dim dok you are, judging by your comment. Do you think Emily Dickinson really thought a frigate was just like a book?

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 9:00 pm

        Is taking land from one (private) person and giving it to another (private) person solely on the basis of religion / ethnicity a legitimate exercise of state power? Is the UN giving sanction to this sort action? Do you approve?

        No I don’t approve and neither did the UN. That’s why the PCC was directed to establish registries of Palestinian property that had been confiscated. In 1947, expropriation for public purposes did not include economic development or redistribution schemes. The US Supreme Court caused a firestorm of controversy with its decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005), which is an instance of something like that. link to en.wikipedia.org

        You’d have no trouble finding examples of Israeli officials shreying about Bedouin citizens encroaching on “state lands” that they’ve inhabited long before Israel came into existence. For example, FM Liebermann sent “Green patrols” and crop dusters with defoliants out to destroy Bedouin crops when he was the National Infrastructures Minister. link to haaretz.com

        In any event, the UN plan required the new states to treat Bedouins or other minorities as citizens with equal rights to enjoy quiet possession of their lands. They also should have an equal right to the use of any state land or use of state facilities located on lands expropriated for “public purposes”.

      • LeaNder
        February 16, 2012, 8:32 am

        Dana, for whatever reason I understood it intuitively today.

        But you are right, I struggled with the diverse layers of grace, as e.g. mercy, goodwill, benevolence.

        Grace exists in both the Catholic and the Protestant traditions, but I think the difference is, that from a Protestant perspective it isn’t something you have to obey whatever commandments or mitzvahs for, God pours it over you, so to speak, simply for believing in him. At least according to the Protestant theologian Anders Nygren. (1890-1978 – decades ago I was fascinated by his Eros and Agape, no idea what it’s title is translated as in English, although I once knew. The juxtaposition of the Greek Eros and the Christian Agape from the Protestant perspective stands for the “pollution” of the Christian doctrine of the early fathers of the church by Greek philosophy)

        Thanks for taking the time.

      • LeaNder
        February 16, 2012, 8:44 am

        English title is Agape and Eros, the German and French use the Greek concept first thus: Eros and Agape. Maybe they were afraid people would immediately associate something quite different with Eros.

      • LeaNder
        February 17, 2012, 4:29 am

        distressingly embarrassing, but I make the mitzvot go away above, which don’t belong into Nygren’s argument in the first place.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 8:56 am

        Some great points Cliff. Although Finkelstein has sacrificed a great deal for his stance. Lost jobs, not able to get in Israel. The amazing thing and it shows what the Palestinians, BDS etc are up against. Finkelstein says focus on the ICC’s decisions, focus on the law. And he loses jobs, is harassed, targeted by Israel and the I lobby, not allowed into Israel. And he has a totally reasonable argument.

        I do sense from the above interview more like a lecture by Finkelstein that he is very worried about the two state solution being a solution. Israel continues to do as they please with total disregard for the Palestinians, for the law, for the national security of the US and really for their own national security. Digging their own hole.

        Ever notice how Finkelstein never ever brings up how Israel’s continual expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and illegal housing in E Jerusalem is now being brought up as a very serious national security for the US. Most of us are aware that this has been a US national security issue for a very long time but now big shots and intelligence officers are saying it out loud. Even in the 9/11 commisions report. Finkelstein never ever brings this up

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 3:17 pm

        Kathleen, yes. No matter what anyone says, Israel keeps dispossessing the natives. Eating the pizza at the dinner table while pretending to distribute it to the others at the table. Does any American actually think the World does not notice this?

    • American
      February 14, 2012, 8:44 pm

      “politics is not about changing public opinion, or bringing enlightenment to the benighted masses, it is about trying to get people to act on what they already know is wrong.” Because two states is what has been accepted, by the UNGA, the ICJ, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Quartet, and basically every other international organization– as well as civilian populations throughout the world, including a plurality in the U.S.– this is what the general Palestinian solidarity movement should strive for.”

      Norman is right in thoery but not in reality. The thing he leaves out how we are, or who is, going to force people to do what they know is right and how we are going to force the law to apply the law.

      Since 1948 the UN has tried to force Israel to live up to and go by the legal requirments of it’s creation in Res 181. by condemning one violation after another for 63 years.
      What has happened in these 63 years? Nothing but getting worse and worse.

      For 63 years the US has prevented 2 states, the world powers have done nothing, the Arabs haven’t done anything…all any of them have done is babble speak and toss Palestine a few coins while watching Palestines and Palestine disappear.

      F*** ‘em. Use whatever you can, BDS and anything else you can think up to throw at it. The people who ‘supposedly” know what is right aren’t going to do what is right until someone makes them by starting a big enough fight or causing a big enough stink they can’t ignore.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 9:24 pm

        Norman is right in thoery but not in reality. The thing he leaves out how we are, or who is, going to force people to do what they know is right and how we are going to force the law to apply the law.

        my first reaction to this was ‘israel will never allow two states. norm himself said you can’t have a palestinian state without east jerusalem and israel is cutting it off right now. you can’t have two states unless you can have a palestinian state’. it’s got nothing to do with the solidarity movement rejecting two states, it’s got to do with the solidarity movement facing the reality of what already exists. what exists is one apartheid government with two different people and two systems of rule. so then the goal becomes striving for equal rights. that’s not cultish, that’s realistic.

        i would support two states if israel would start by defining those borders. it won’t.

      • thetumta
        February 14, 2012, 10:11 pm

        What your still pursing is the luxury of past misconceptions of morality, that right and wrong is still possible in this situation? Your ignoring the fact that the power of superior force is always in charge. Israel has always exercised this maxim and now they have to answer for it. Norman is panicked and I’m disappointed.

        Likud is taking him and us way beyond anywhere we should go for some time. Why Americans are in this position on this issue is insane, we already did this in October, 1973. The Nixon/Carter disaster is about to go south. There won’t be a repeat of 73 hopefully, unless we’re totally betrayed by Obama .

        Israel is not an American responsibility, never has been. Just one more issue of the one percent and corrupt Demo-Republican politics. The Israelis had their chance with Arafat and the Saudi initiative, but they elected Likud instead and now they have to pay the price. The question is “Are we going with them?”
        Hej!

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 3:54 am

        i would support two states if israel would start by defining those borders. it won’t.

        Israel did that when it signed the Armistice Agreements as a provisional measure under Article 40, Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The ICJ cited Security Council resolution 62 and the other relevant resolutions in determining the legal status of the territory. I’ve noted elsewhere that Israel admitted the status of the territory is unchallengeable in the absence of a new round of negotiations and mutual consent. Palestine is not under any obligation to accept any changes. link to mondoweiss.net

        The international community adopted a consensus definition of the crime of aggression which included any military occupation that violates the UN Charter – and it has long-since applied it to the on-going occupation of the Arab territories captured by Israel in 1967. See for example UN General Assembly resolution 39/146 link to un.org The ICC Assembly of State Parties adopted the consensus definition into the recent amendments to the Rome Statute. So Norman is actually correct. There is an enforceable consensus solution under existing Security Council resolutions 62 & 73 and international law.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:28 am

        “i would support two states if israel would start by defining those borders. it won’t.” You cannot have Israel defining those borders if you are talking about following international law as Finkelstein keeps hammering on. Those borders are all ready defined and internationally recognized.

        Norman harps on let them organize there and we should organize here. But Norman seems to have difficulty working with others…really does seem to have a problem. Within any group there is no way one will get everything one things is right.

        And if one (Norman) is not willing to work with in a group that you partially agree with : Finkelstein: 19:oo ” I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics. I support the BDS.” then what alternative does he provide or suggest? This is NF’s weak area. If he is not willing to work within BDS to strengthen the areas that he agrees with “tactics” and change the areas he disagrees with, define the goals etc. Then again WHAT DOES HE PROVIDE AS AN ALTERNATIVE?

        That comparison to his Maoist group when he was a young whipper snapper is kind of pathetic.

        ” Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
        — Mao Zedong [19][20]”

        HOW MANY PEOPLE DID MAO HAVE KILLED
        “Along with land reform, during which significant numbers of landlords and well-to-do peasants were beaten to death at mass meetings organized by the Communist Party as land was taken from them and given to poorer peasants,[34] there was also the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries,[35] which involved public executions targeting mainly former Kuomintang officials, businessmen accused of “disturbing” the market, former employees of Western companies and intellectuals whose loyalty was suspect.[36] The U.S. State department in 1976 estimated that there may have been a million killed in the land reform, 800,000 killed in the counterrevolutionary campaign.[37]

        Mao himself claimed that a total of 700,000 people were executed during the years 1949–53.[38] However, because there was a policy to select “at least one landlord, and usually several, in virtually every village for public execution”,[39] the number of deaths range between 2 million[39][40] and 5 million.[41][42] In addition, at least 1.5 million people,[43] perhaps as many as 4 to 6 million,[44] were sent to “reform through labour” camps where many perished.[44] Mao played a personal role in organizing the mass repressions and established a system of execution quotas,[45] which were often exceeded.[35] He defended these killings as necessary for the securing of power.[46]”

        Not sure I would be proud of that. And comparing BDS to his Mao group makes no sense at all.

        NF and I are close to the same age. When he was in his Mao group I as well as millions of others were committed to the non violence strategies of Gandhi and then MLK followed in Gandhi’s footsteps. Mao’s strategies were never very attractive to me.

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 3:25 pm

        Annie, did not Israel accept the original borders (55% of partition land, if memory serves) as a PRECONDITION to being legitimized as a “nation among nations” ? Problem is, Israel has never honored that precondition. Doesn’t this raise the question of Israel’s legitimacy? If memory serves, Israel accepted this precondition imposed by the UN, and it also accepted, as a post-condition of UN acceptance as a “nation among nations” that the natives be allowed to return ASAP. Neither condition has been met. Does this not call into question the legitimacy of Israel as a state like any other, where we have not even got to the issue of Israeli settlements from the war of ’67 to now?

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Israel did that when it signed the Armistice Agreements as a provisional measure under Article 40, Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

        hostage, i meant defining borders they would presently accept. referencing something defined 40 years ago, if they won’t agree to it today, is not what i meant.

        i already said i would support 2 states and explained why here. it would not be my first choice, but that’s kind of irrelevant.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 3:45 pm

        did not Israel accept the original borders (55% of partition land, if memory serves) as a PRECONDITION to being legitimized as a “nation among nations” ?

        citizen, i’m not sure why you are asking me. i think so. i guess i am not understanding what difference it makes if israel doesn’t respect that and no one representing the UN or anyone else will take any action to enforce that.

        i guess that is what i find the most baffling about all of this. what good are laws if no one is willing to stand up to israel. they just thumb their nose at everyone and we protect whatever they do.

        to me, that’s why it makes sense to mobilize because someday we will reach a tipping pt, and we’ll be ready. hopefully they will be ready to but no one can predict the future. i think structurally it will be easier to enforce equal rights rather than separating israel from the west bank, but that’s just a hunch.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 11:24 pm

        then what alternative does he provide or suggest? This is NF’s weak area.

        *In 2005 the BDS movement mobilized because the PLO and the UN hadn’t enforced the ICJ advisory opinion.

        *In 2009 the PA filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court and accepted its jurisdiction over any crimes, including the construction of the Wall, settlements, and Cast Lead, that had been committed on its territory since July 2002.

        *Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold; the Israel Lobby, and the Christian Zionist organizations sprang into action and sent communications that said Palestine was not a State – despite written recognition from 69 other countries – and that it could not legally grant jurisdiction to the Court. They said that the fact it wasn’t a member state of the UN or any of it’s specialized agencies cast serious doubt on its statehood.

        *The ICC Prosecutor opened a public debate and opposing views were provided by the League of Arab States, Prof John Quigley, Prof Alain Pellet and group of other distinguished scholars, and Prof Michael Kearney of Al Haq. None of the many other legal scholars who are normally associated with the BDS movement participated. See Summary of submissions on whether the declaration lodged by the Palestinian National Authority meets statutory requirements link to goo.gl

        *So now that the State of Palestine has been admitted to a UN specialized agency, Norm is naturally wondering why the BDS movement is still missing in action and hostile to moblizing efforts to enforce the ICJ advisory opinion in the ICC?

      • Pixel
        February 15, 2012, 11:27 pm

        “Norman is panicked”

        I believe that he’s panicked about Israel existing at all.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 1:17 am

        hostage, i meant defining borders they would presently accept. referencing something defined 40 years ago, if they won’t agree to it today, is not what i meant.

        Israel doesn’t have to accept them. I’ve noted elsewhere the Credentials Committee of the UN and the General Assembly started calling them borders several years ago and formally put the government of Israel on notice that their credentials did not apply to the area beyond those borders. The International Court agreed and said the Palestinians were entitled to the their territory and their own State.

        If you put the question of the current extent of the ICC’s jurisdiction to the Pre-Trial Chamber, the answer would be all of Palestine beyond the Green Line. Israel is not included because it’s not a member state. The crimes committed by Israelis on the territory of Palestine are a completely different matter because of the Article 12(3) Declaration supplied by the Government of Palestine in 2009. Those crimes can result in arrest warrants and prosecutions without the State of Israel’s consent. Norman is pointing out that international consensus.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 1:56 am

        Norman is right in thoery but not in reality. The thing he leaves out how we are, or who is, going to force people to do what they know is right and how we are going to force the law to apply the law.

        I’m always fascinated when people say that applying international criminal law hasn’t worked, when it has never been tried.

        The mere threat caused Israeli Generals and Tzipi Livni to run hime and hide under the bed, while their minions ran around shreying about the dangers of universal jurisdiction. For the first time ever, the General Assembly ordered the Secretary General to conduct a symbolic poll to see what members states are willing to do in order to implement the penal sanctions contained in the Geneva Conventions against Israel.

        F*** ‘em. Use whatever you can,
        I agree.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 3:49 pm

        i’m forever hopeful and willing to adapt hostage. someday some entity will step up to the plate, otherwise we roll it on to our grandchildren.

      • American
        February 15, 2012, 8:23 pm

        I’m always fascinated when people say that applying international criminal law hasn’t worked, when it has never been tried”…Hostage

        That’s what I’m saying….no one has ever tried or I should say succeeded. It’s been “prevented.”
        International law is the venue for Israel to be dealt with..I’ve always said that.
        But how and who will put Israel in the dock? And then enforce the legal remedies?

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 1:36 am

        But how and who will put Israel in the dock? And then enforce the legal remedies?

        Prior to the UNESCO vote, there had been a “knock down drag-out” battle going on to prevent the ICC Prosecutor from opening an investigation based upon the Palestinians complaint. The last straw man standing in the way was the Palestine wasn’t eligible to become a member of the ICC and deposit an accession with the Secretary General because it wasn’t officially recognized as a State by the UN or any of its agencies. It was argued that for the same reason it could not make a declaration as a non-member State either. The UNESCO vote eliminated that objection.

        I expected the hundreds of Palestinian civil society organizations that mobilized the BDS movement in the first place to inundate the Prosecutor’s office with demands for prosecutions, and reports of additional crimes in accordance with Article 15 of the Statute. But the silence has been deafening. These people originally mobilized in 2005 because the ICJ advisory opinion had not been enforced. Now it looks like they are opposed to enforcing those same judgments.

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 8:23 am

        Norman is panicked and I’m disappointed.

        Why should he panic? What he says absolutely contradicts this. For me his main message is: The time is right, but be careful to remain unassailable for Israel’s propaganda. It will diminish the support you can theoretically win over.

        I am completely unwilling to basically assume that whoever happens to be Jewish can’t be trusted on the issue, since ultimately he must have some kind of self-interest on the issue.

        The multitude of Palestinian groups that support the BDS call have to deal with his challenge and show that BDS is indeed supported by a broad Palestinian movement. Pat Lang once told me in a private conversation the people most easy to recruit for special interests are idealists, which probably is true. I have to admit that listening to NF this was on my mind. And while I castigated RW for his basic distrust, I can’t say I am completely free of it. No one is. And yes, it feels occasionally here on MW the strong wish for the destruction of Israel surfaces, which goes way beyond support for the Palestinians.

      • Dan Crowther
        February 15, 2012, 12:10 pm

        What I find troubling about Finkelstein’s arguments is actually what he doesnt say.

        He says “the public” and “the consensus” and talks of how the “clever” and “disingenuous” BDS folks will be “caught in a lie” regarding their true aims toward Israel and this will backfire etc.

        What he is obviously saying is: We Jews will leave you. We will shout you down, and discredit the movement – and we can do this because “we”control what the public thinks, and what the consensus is. And If I, Norman Finkelstein will leave, so won’t the rest of the jews. This is a terrorist’s argument…..

      • Dan Crowther
        February 15, 2012, 2:28 pm

        EVERYONE CLICK THE LINK — GRRRREAT CARTOON OF FINKELSTEIN’S ARGUMENT!!

        link to deliberation.info

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 3:38 pm

        LeaNder,

        I am completely unwilling to basically assume that whoever happens to be German can’t be trusted on the issue, since ultimately he/she must have some kind of self-interest on the issue, however that self-interest came to be. Do the Palestinian people have anything at all in common with the German people? If so, what would those interests be?

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 3:54 pm

        it feels occasionally here on MW the strong wish for the destruction of Israel surfaces, which goes way beyond support for the Palestinians.

        this is not reflective of the vast majority of grassroots activists in the movement or a general theme we have running in the comment section.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 12:07 am

        What I find troubling about Finkelstein’s arguments is actually what he doesnt say.

        I find what BDS activist don’t say very troubling. They claimed in 2005 that they were mobilizing because no one was enforcing the ICJ advisory opinion. The leadership started writing Op-eds and books claiming the two state solution was already dead and only use the ICJ opinion as a straw man. Can you point to any BDS movement participants in these efforts to get the ICC to enforce international law and stop the violations mentioned by the ICJ? link to goo.gl

        Don’t you find that a little odd? After all that is a debate about legal rights and remedies for the victims of Israeli oppression and apartheid.

  4. atime forpeace
    February 14, 2012, 4:02 pm

    Norman has his way of confronting “the fascist state of Israel” and the BDS movement has another, there really is no need for Norman to try to belittle the attemps of the BDS’rs since the purpose of the entire confrontation with “the fascist state of Israel” is to get them to change their evil ways.

    the more fronts that can be opened against Israel the better chance of getting them to mend their evil ways.

    • Queue
      February 15, 2012, 2:40 am

      Finkelstein is ignoring another important provision of “the law”: Displaced Palestinians are entitled to a ‘right of return’. That in itself is enough to undermine the Jewish character of Israel.

      No other state claims a right to maintain an ethnoreligious majority population other than Israel.

      • Shingo
        February 15, 2012, 5:52 am

        It’s not that Finkelstein is ignoring it. He himself has said that the right of return cannot be bargained away, but he’s now become more pragmatic. Like he said, the thing he thinks about most is how do you sell the idea.

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 8:36 am

        No other state claims a right to maintain an ethnoreligious majority population other than Israel.

        There is a reason for this, don’t underestimate it.

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 3:47 pm

        leaNder, re your summation of Israel’s right to maintain an ethnoreligious majority in Israel–is that at any and all costs, and , are you speaking from your personal experience? And do you ever speak for the personal experience of Palestinians? Is Germany ready to cut off part of its land and give it to Israel to make amends? If not, why not? I think its so cute how you push your German responsibility onto the Palestinians–and more, feel righteous about it. With you as a proponent of Palestinians’ cause, do they needs enemies? Just saying. So, don’t you at least think Germany should give more to Israel than it does? And, how long should it be self-obligated?

      • American
        February 15, 2012, 4:43 pm

        LeaNder says:
        February 15, 2012 at 8:36 am
        No other state claims a right to maintain an ethnoreligious majority population other than Israel.

        There is a reason for this, don’t underestimate it.”>>>>>>

        What’s the reason, besides the claim of anti semitism?
        The claim of anti semitism has frankly, outlived the reality.
        But Israel and Israel firsters could provoke something they could ‘call’ anti semitism. Although we all know that’s a zio smoke screen and not why people are opposing Israel behavior and the US Israel firsters.
        In fact it would be ideal to leave anti semitism out of all discussions of Israel since realistically it no longer applies as a reason for the necessity of a Jewish state.
        It detracts from the real world issues and facts about what Israel and US-Israel are actually doing today….and most of all Why.

      • LeaNder
        February 17, 2012, 11:53 am

        What’s the reason, besides the claim of anti semitism?

        American, sorry really late. First I don’t support the claim that criticism of Israel equals antisemitism; but I wouldn’t support the position that antisemitism has completely disappeared either. Paradoxically/ironically Israel’s existence seems to guarantee that.

        The claim of anti semitism has frankly, outlived the reality.

        I prefer not to be so sure about that. My present studies–a closer look on the core early 20th century German so-called self-hating Jews–occasionally leads into the most confusing hall-full-of-mirrors. Looking at these stories has the advantage that you definitively know what happened after.

        But Israel and Israel firsters could provoke something they could ‘call’ anti semitism. Although we all know that’s a zio smoke screen and not why people are opposing Israel behavior and the US Israel firsters.

        Absolutely, no doubt. We have empirical evidence that Israel’s actions provoke antisemitism, but we also have a relatively stable basic layer of antisemitism. I think it would be speculative how much momentum it could gain again, but it shows it’s not completely gone. It feels a much too rich and well-established myth; all it needs is little “anchors” in reality for the sheeple. Israel is a good one.

        I am opposed to the Israel/the neo-conservative present core ideology, the necessity of a clash between East and West, lately focussing Iran. I can see that the core center of activities in this respect has shifted towards Israel. …

        But beyond that, including the hope that America will rise to the challenge, I am largely skeptic. To give you one example I wasn’t a fan of the diverse Islamist groups in Algeria, but I do not know enough about these parts of the world.

        In fact it would be ideal to leave antisemitism out of all discussions of Israel since realistically it no longer applies as a reason for the necessity of a Jewish state.

        Israel and the hawkish pro-Israel mindset would challenge that view. It’s pretty easy too, since we can never have a completely reliable and undeniable future prognosis. So we are in fact all reading tea-leaves. Israel only reads them differently, surely partly out of it’s own interests. After all it is it’s core foundation myth, but then, see above.

      • Citizen
        February 17, 2012, 1:59 pm

        LeaNder, U are correct, the charge of “anti-semitism” continues to cloud up things, and yes, nobody can refute such charge since it is soft enough to stick for anyone who is irrational, and especially, intent on charging Israel, Jews, remain forever vulnerable to the Goy born with the disease of “anti-semitism.”

        Like the charge of white racism in USA, it will never go away. One day, will this same glue attach to Islamophobia? And will Dick n Jane ever be free of their racism, their ethnic status in the world of power politics–even if, as is happening, they have less power every day?

      • American
        February 17, 2012, 3:06 pm

        Lea,

        Anti semitism and what it “really” is and what causes it seems to always be a evolving and expanding story.
        I have never been able to find anything that shows anti semitism is different from “prejudice” except the term applies strictly to prejudice against Jews.

        When you say…”but we also have a relatively stable basic layer of antisemitism. I think it would be speculative how much momentum it could gain again, but it shows it’s not completely gone. It feels a much too rich and well-established myth; all it needs is little “anchors” in reality for the sheeple. Israel is a good one.”

        Let’s look at that basic layer of anti semitism with facts.
        In the US in 2010 there were 900 acts (FBI Source),… confrontations, defacement’s of property… against Jews.
        There were 2,570 acts against American Blacks, almost 3 times as many.
        Considering the US population of 350 million people, 900 becomes a very minuscule number of anti semites.

        Prejudice will always be a failing of human nature. It will never be entirely gone. All that can be done is preventing people from ‘acting’ illegally on their prejudices.

        All I can say about this worry….”Israel and the hawkish pro-Israel mindset would challenge that view. It’s pretty easy too, since we can never have a completely reliable and undeniable future prognosis.”

        Is… most informed people see that zionist, Israel-firsters and Israel exaggerate the prevalence of anti semitism and promote the view of non Jewish innate anti semitism because it serves their purpose.
        There is nothing people can do about what Israel or zionist do to others and promote to Jews except publicly oppose and expose their propaganda and activities and this is why anti semitism is elevated to hysterics, to prevent people from doing this.
        If some Jews want to worry about their future prognosis, instead of comparing reality to what they believe or are told, well then, they will just have to worry. The world can’t reasonably do any more than it has done for Jews and anti semitism and it has gone to unreasonable lengths for Israel because of the anti semitism reason for it’s creation.
        We can’t “preempt” all others or their human or political rights on the basis of Jewish fear of some future improbability or even possibility.
        If the world set out to ‘totally’ eleminate all ‘possible future happenings” to anyone in the world there would be no world left.

      • LeaNder
        February 18, 2012, 9:57 am

        Is… most informed people see that zionist, Israel-firsters and Israel exaggerate the prevalence of anti semitism and promote the view of non Jewish innate anti semitism because it serves their purpose.

        American, I agree this seems to be part of the mix. This publication admittedly highly irritated me, since it was advertised as the latest study and not as what it is a fictionalized account. Ben-Itto consciously or not seems in fact to be feeding the myth. I also think research will slowly change our understanding of the topic, but there is a huge politicized resistance to a more rational approach, it feels. The more urgent danger scenario lies in the focus on Arab antisemitism accompanied by the denial of legitimate Arab critique of Zionism.

        I also witnessed what felt like hysterical tales to prove the necessity of Israel’s existence, e.g. by a young Jewish Canadian woman, who confronted with pro-Palestinian protest at a university speech by Netanjahu, experienced “deep fear of death”. Suddenly she understood the people in German camps, she wrote. Luckily there was Israel, she added, who would always take her in.

        The expert list on which I read this tale seemed to react emphatically compassionate, a women responded that she and her husband had not put there family name on their house, not trusting the neighborhood. What can I say?

        The first story feels like an insult to the victims of the Nazis to me, the second I have to accept I guess as part of a real trauma created by my countries history, which I simply can’t deny. Why should I deny it has always haunted me?

        I have to run.

      • MHughes976
        February 18, 2012, 12:32 pm

        If you mistrust someone in the light of some evidence there is reason for your attitude, but it should be evidence related to their behaviour. If it is unrelated to their behaviour it is prejudice in the pure sense, judging before the facts appear. If you declare that because of past events you see no end to your mistrust of someone you give that other person reason to mistrust you in return, since (s)he can never be sure how you will react to anything, whether you will ever give credit where due.

      • Citizen
        February 18, 2012, 1:48 pm

        LeaNder, RE: “… a women responded that she and her husband had not put there family name on their house, not trusting the neighborhood. What can I say?”

        Kirk Douglas, icon of the American Silver Screen & a positive household name for generations–I’m sure you know who he is–has stated in his dotage that he has never trusted a single Gentile in his whole life.

        Between his vicarious trauma and yours, his haunting and yours, what’s an average American or Palestinian, for example, suppose to do with the combined borrowed traumatic neurosis you each have internalized–towards a peaceful future?

        PS, Kirk Douglas’s innate bias against all Gentiles is discussed to a certain extent here, in case you don’t remember or missed it: link to mondoweiss.net

  5. Mndwss
    February 14, 2012, 4:10 pm

    You have to follow the law when you fight against lawbreakers. Because many countries mistreat minorities. Like: India

    Israel like Apartheid South Afrika mistreat/ed the majority. (11 millon palestinians).

    You must not protest. That will never help.

    The law will help…

    Just wait a few decades…

    The law will help…

    Or millenniums, and then you can come back.

    And mistreat the majority.

    • Liambrown
      February 14, 2012, 5:04 pm

      Mndwss, Norman isn’t saying don’t protest. He quite clearly stated that he does support BDS and the Israeli Apartheid Week and the Flotilla etc. He just doesn’t support the jump straight to a one-state from the current situation. As for the endless references of everybody on this page and the Solidarity Movement to South Africa, the BDS movement was actually in line with opinion when it started as an international movement in the late 70s and early 80s. South Africa in the late 50s was held in the same regard as Israeli is today but it wasn’t until the 80s that public opinion allowed BDS to be successful. So people here should stop pretending that BDS against South Africa was fighting some sort of huge war against the tide of public opinion.

      Much like Norman, I am pretty fed up of listening to all the nonsense that goes on within the Solidarity Movement. I have good friends suffering in Bethlehem who desperate want an end to the conflict. We have a chance to end the conflict now. So why not take it? Why not? Well, some people are far too obsessed with being armchair generals and gurus and winning arguments on the internet. It’s infuriating.

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 5:45 pm

        Oh you have a friend in Bethlehem, huh?

        And ‘we’ can end the conflict NOW? How? Tell us all, since it was apparently so clear and yet ‘we’ ignored it!

        Norman’s comments are going to bring a lot of trolls out of the woodwork claiming to be supporters of Palestinian rights and the struggle.

        What a load of bull.

      • jamiesw
        February 14, 2012, 9:02 pm

        Interesting. I’ve seen a lot of this people saying in response to this video that Norman is a “concern troll”, or that he is a fraud, or that he is “irrelevant”, etc. etc. This comment is a good example of that. What I’ve yet to see is a serious attempt to understand his argument and then subject it to considered appraisal.

        A lot of people have been pissed off with Norman’s description of BDS as a cult. But the hysterical response to criticism described above is, of course, precisely characteristic of members of a cult in defence of their idol.

      • Newclench
        February 14, 2012, 9:52 pm

        Liam isn’t trolling, and you saying so with an ad-hominem attack (as opposed to a rebuttal) is just another example of the purist bullying so rampant on this site.
        That said, Liam, no idea why you think there’s a chance to end the conflict now. It’s kind of a mess no matter which solution you ultimately support….

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 10:25 pm

        I’ve seen a lot of this people saying in response to this video that Norman is a “concern troll”, or that he is a fraud, or that he is “irrelevant”

        could you check your computer history and link to some of those comments. i would be interested in reading them.

      • jamiesw
        February 15, 2012, 4:50 am

        Just search ‘finkelstein’ on twitter, or while you’re on this page, use the scroll wheel on your mouse.

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 4:01 pm

        jamiesw, back in the day, did anyone ever call the BDS movement against apartheid S Africa “a cult?” Just asking. I don’t remember so, and I was alive and kicking back then.

      • kapok
        February 14, 2012, 6:18 pm

        “… but it wasn’t until the 80s that public opinion allowed BDS to be successful.”

        not without the help of these guys:
        link to assatashakur.org

      • Citizen
        February 15, 2012, 4:18 pm

        kapok, I don’t know what most influenced America’s support against apartheid S Africa, but, though you show Cuba was a big influence in bringing the plight of blacks in apartheid S Africa to the light of the American masses, I think this was nothing in America, where I think the black American influence was, as a practical matter, everything– in terms of American regime full support of BDS against apartheid S Africa–US support directly came from the power of the black community in the (mostly guilty white) US congress. It, BDS against apartheid S Africa (US support of as a derivative of US black history and affirmative action on the grand scale) was something not available to Palestinians–they never came over on slave boats to USA.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 2:23 am

        We have a chance to end the conflict now. So why not take it? Why not? Well, some people are far too obsessed with being armchair generals and gurus and winning arguments on the internet. It’s infuriating.

        I agree. Nationality is self-constructed from a shared sense of history and a sense of belonging together. How many states do the Germanic people have, and who would be harmed if the Palestinians had three or four?

        Colonial peoples always split into factions because they are subjected to a deliberate strategy of divide and rule. But that doesn’t quite explain the current situation with the Palestinians. There are people who would shed the last drop of blood in Gaza before they would ever accept the idea of its membership in the UN (a 3ss). But it has more territory and a much larger population than many existing UN member states. The population there has been exposed to trials and tribulations that have not been shared with “Palestinians” living in Israel, Jordan, & etc. Why should they, or the people living under occupation in the West Bank care so much about achieving a 1ss vs 2ss – or submit the decision to others living in relative safety somewhere else?

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 8:44 am

        or submit the decision to others living in relative safety somewhere else?

        that line of thought was on my mind too.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:49 am

        “As for the endless references of everybody on this page and the Solidarity Movement to South Africa, the BDS movement was actually in line with opinion when it started as an international movement in the late 70s and early 80s. South Africa in the late 50s was held in the same regard as Israeli is today but it wasn’t until the 80s that public opinion allowed BDS to be successful.”

        Such a great point. Follow that non violent stance from Gandhian influence from India to South Africa to Civil rights movement to anti war movement and on and on. NON VIOLENCE. Sounds like NF was studying Mao’s strategy when millions of us were studying and following Gandhi’s methods.

        His effort to draw parallels between the “cult” he felt he was in way back when to what is going on in the BDS movement seems like a stretch

  6. spartacus
    February 14, 2012, 4:11 pm

    This is great. While I disagree with many things Finklestein says, I can’t help but feel relief that someone finally said what I think many of us involved in Palestinian solidarity have been thinking for awhile. I think we lack reflective dialogue in the movement that would allow us to be more effective and efficient. I also agree that while the tactics are great, the goals are not only ambiguous but hypocritical — if we pledge allegiance to the same international law that gives the refugees the right to return, then we cannot disavow Israel’s right to exist. If we take the route that international law is merely an imperialist tool used against the global south primarily, then we must also relinquish the very laws that support the goals of the movement. We can’t pick and choose, or else we’re no different than the Zionists who do the same without hesitation. I realize what I’m saying may be taken as ‘ridiculous’ or ‘idiotic’ or even ‘treasonous’ by my solidarity compatriots, but we need to have these discussions and allow for and accept dissent or else, again, we’re no different than that which we fight against.

    Lots of things to think about and sift through. Still doing so in my own mind.

    • seafoid
      February 14, 2012, 4:52 pm

      Finkelstein is entitled to his opinions but I think he’s wrong on BDS. The only thing that will move Israel into the endgame is the power of money. BDS is a big step forward in that direction.

      International law is a sham in the case of the Palestinians. They lost their country to a crowd of outsiders who should have been given a state in Europe. International law sanctified it. It’s all about force majeure and look at what that has meant for the development of Israel. If international law meant anything Gaza wouldn’t exist as a refugee camp of over 1 million people with no rights.

      • jamiesw
        February 14, 2012, 9:13 pm

        “The only thing that will move Israel into the endgame is the power of money. BDS is a big step forward in that direction.”

        This isn’t a debate about BDS as a tactic, which Finkelstein said he supports. It’s a debate about the goals to which the tactic (and other tactics) should be directed. Finkelstein argues that for any tactic, including BDS, to be successful, it has to be able to speak to and mobilise a broad public. He doesn’t think that calling for an end to Israel can do that, whereas calling for a two-state settlement based on international law can.

        His point about international law isn’t that it is always enforced or that it represents ultimate justice. He would have to be completely ignorant to believe either of those things (anyone who knows anything about history knows that the enforcement of international law is highly selective and skewed by power, for example), and he isn’t that. Rather, his point about international law is that that is the language that can appeal to a broad public. That is the language that large numbers of people in the US can mobilise behind. If you go to a your average US liberal and say to them, ‘look, what Israel is doing is against international law, it has been condemned by the entire international community, it has been condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, surely we have to stop this’, they will find it very difficult to reject that. And if you say: ‘the entire international community, the International Court of Justice, the Arab League, the PLO, etc.’ all support a two-state settlement – Israel just needs to accept it’, they’ll find it very difficult to reject that, too. But if you go up to them and say, ‘we need to abolish Israel’ or to end it as a Jewish state, you’ll lose them, because that’s not where public opinion is at, and it’s not even NEAR where public opinion is at.

        That’s the argument: it’s not against BDS, it’s a strategic argument against directing advocacy towards a goal that alienates the people whose support we need if we’re going to get anywhere.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 10:28 pm

        Finkelstein argues that for any tactic, including BDS, to be successful, it has to be able to speak to and mobilise a broad public. He doesn’t think that calling for an end to Israel can do that, whereas calling for a two-state settlement based on international law can.

        that is assuming a ‘broad public’ can move israel. i disagree. also, most people are not asking for an end to israel. they are asking for equal rights within the framework of israel not allowing for two states. how that can be blamed on the solidarity movement is a little far fetched. i’ve been on the threads for a long long time, people don’t ask for an end to israel.

        also, there’s nothing more radical about ending israel then ending palestine. no one is asking for the ethnic cleasning of jews from israel. that is something norm is presupposing. he doesn’t really understand the solidarity movement other than describing us as all over the map or whatever terminology he used. we are up against a strong billion dollar superpower funded state, so placing the blame on a lack of 2ss on the opposition being cultish or bent on a demand for one state is not reality based.

      • jamiesw
        February 15, 2012, 4:57 am

        Nowhere does Norman “presuppose” that people are calling for ethnic cleansing. Nor does he “blame” the failure to achieve a two-state settlement thus far on BDS. Nor does he make base his argument on one solution being more or less “radical” than another solution.

        What do you mean by “equal rights” outside the framework of a 2SS? Surely that means an end to Israel as a specifically Jewish state?

        You say that a broad public can’t move Israel. If that is the case then what on earth are we all doing here? If Israel is invulnerable to international public pressure, then what is the point of any tactic? I think what Norman has in mind is the mobilisation of Americans (and Europeans etc.) to change the policies of their own countries, which will in turn place pressure on Israel which, combined with Palestinian activism, is the best chance we have of pressuring it to end the occupation. But to do that, the solidarity movement has to adopt a goal that a broad public can rally around. Which part of that do you disagree with, exactly?

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 9:06 am

        how that can be blamed on the solidarity movement is a little far fetched.

        Propaganda is never fair but it may well always exploit a weakness in the other side’s argument.

        Annie, I always defended the “we” against RW’s generalizations (e.g. the right/left posse), but there is definitively occasionally a strong urge for revenge. The problem is that revenge is already something that drives the whole dilemma. I am assuming that the people on the ground would prefer to have breathing space–e.g. their land behind the fence back, their houses in East Jerusalem guaranteed, safeguards against demolition etc–instead of revenge, if they were given a chance to decide. Although I can see it will be really difficult to get the revenge impulse completely out of the context; it should nevertheless be tried.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:52 am

        Now I get the point that NF is making that by demanding that 6 million Palestinians have the right of return (which is never going to happen) BDS is essentially asking for the end of Israel according to him.

        But what I am wondering is if anyone in the BDS movement has heard anyone say that they would like to see an end to Israel based on the internationally recognized borders?

    • Cliff
      February 14, 2012, 5:43 pm

      Your comment is absurd spartacus.

      People can do the things that Norman has recommended and still use BDS as a tactic. BDS is a tool – as Ilan Pappe has said

      I don’t understand why it has to be either one or the other.

      What does Israel’s ‘right to exist’ (you know, in the 80s – Chomsky was more critical of this concept; in his debate w/ Richard Perle he explained how the concept was unique to Israel and more or less absurd) have to do w/ anything?

      Palestinians are not recent immigrants. Whereas, Israel’s ‘right to exist’ means that it exists such as it is – a racist ethno-religious State that persecutes the Palestinians in the OT (because there is no Palestinian autonomy in any meaningful sense). And Israeli Arabs are discriminated against in Israel proper.

      Norman is getting senile.

      • jamiesw
        February 14, 2012, 9:17 pm

        Before accusing others of senility, try to get it through your skull that no-one is criticising BDS as a tactic (or as a “tool” – no great insight of Ilan Pappe’s, that) per se. What Finkelstein is criticising, rather, are the goals to which the BDS movement is directing itself. This really isn’t complicated.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 10:36 pm

        the goal of equal rights really isn’t complicated either. that’s actually a position most people can get behind.

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:40 pm

        This really isn’t complicated.

        I never said or implied it was.

        And either you didn’t get Ilan Pappe’s message (because it didn’t penetrate YOUR thick skull) or you didn’t watch the speech on YT.

        The point of Pappe’s message is that a sense of URGENCY should INFORM our activism.

        I don’t give a shit and have no time for people who want to have worthless academic debates about section 2, article blah blah of the BDS charter’s blah blah.

        None of that matters. The proponents of BDS and the original call could be perfectly specific and it would not cause some miraculous sea change.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 3:21 am

        What does Israel’s ‘right to exist . . . have to do w/ anything?

        It has all of the rights and duties that other states have under international law. While an NGO BDS movement can meddle in the internal affairs of a state, the ability of officials of other states to interfere in essentially domestic matters is very limited.

        For example, when Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti say that they want equal rights for Palestinian living in Israel, does that include the right to be represented in the UN by the government of Israel like the other citizens? The citizens of Israel are really not part of the Palestinian polity that the PLO officially represents.

        When Abunimah and Barghouti complain that the PA and Hamas or the PLO have no “mandate” from the Palestinian people, how do they expect them to obtain one? The Palestinians living in Israel can’t communicate with members of enemy entities. The PLO/PA have included groups like Hamas since 2007 that Israel considers enemy terrorist entities. Every State has the right to prohibit its citizens from communicating with enemies or terrorists.

        The UN Palestine Conciliation Commission has several mandates to maintain databases for personal property claims stemming from the wars and construction of the wall. The UNRWA has been registering Palestine refugees since it came into existence. How is it possible for the parties to conduct negotiations for 20 years if no one knows how many refugees want to return to their country of origin, or how many simply want compensation? The press has reported that Palestinian polling shows 90 percent of the refugees just want want compensation. One or two spokesmen for the BDS Movement have challenged those findings, but they haven’t published their own survey.

        What is the BDS movement’s motive for discussing the return of 6 million refugees, if most of them may not be interested?

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:53 am

        NF has never said “right to exist”. He has said “Israel exists” I believe he should always add based on the internationally recognized 67 border

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 7:05 pm

      “then we cannot disavow Israel’s right to exist.” Finkelstein did not say Israel has the right to exist. He said “Israel is a state..that is the law” Israel based on the 67 border

    • Inanna
      February 14, 2012, 8:23 pm

      You are confused. No state has a right to exist. They simply do or do not, and are recognised or not by other states.

      In my view the whole one or two state argument is useless and will divide the solidarity movement. What we should be focusing on is rights, not states.

      • Fredblogs
        February 14, 2012, 8:45 pm

        Rights exist in a framework of laws. Whether 1s or 2s has an enormous impact on the framework of laws. Right now Gaza is its own pseudo-state and the people there get to vote in Palestinian elections, not Israeli elections.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        February 14, 2012, 11:46 pm

        @ Fred: Rights exist in a framework of laws.

        No, rights superseed laws. -N49.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 4:22 am

        @ Fred: Rights exist in a framework of laws. No, rights superseed laws. -N49.

        Under the existing framework of international law, only a State has the necessary legal standing to pursue claims based upon human rights and humanitarians rights. Before the UNESCO vote, Palestinians had not been represented by an internationally recognized State since the dissolution of the union with Jordan in 1988.

        The problem is that the leaders of the BDS movement won’t touch the offer of UN recognition of Palestinian statehood (and locus standi wrt human rights and humanitarian rights) with a barge pole – and Norman knows that. So if the movement isn’t about obtaining those equal human rights, what is its agenda?

      • jamiesw
        February 14, 2012, 9:21 pm

        “What we should be focusing on is rights, not states”

        OK, but if you use the language of “rights”, people will say, what do you mean by ‘rights’? One obvious answer – and, to a liberal mainstream audience, the most persuasive answer in this context – is to refer to the rights laid out under international law. But if you do that, then you have to accept that Israel has rights too. Under international law, the Green Line is Israel legal border. If you say you want a movement grounded in international legal rights, you can’t just talk about all the rights that Palestinians have under international law while ignoring the rights Israel has.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 10:38 pm

        jamie, we’re talking about individual rights, not state rights.

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:42 pm

        OK, but if you use the language of “rights”, people will say, what do you mean by ‘rights’?

        Let those people be confused. You seem confused. So I think you’re one of ‘those’ people.

        I think you should stick to talking about talking.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 4:40 am

        jamie, we’re talking about individual rights, not state rights.

        It’s Catch-22. Only States have the necessary legal standing to pursue legal remedies based upon human and humanitarian rights conventions under international law. Since the leaders of the BDS movement don’t want to enforce the existing consensus on that point, or accept the current international consensus on recognition of Palestine’s statehood, what is their real agenda? Ali Abunimah has it all wrong. A Bantustan can be a “victim state” with legal standing to pursue a remedy for the crime of apartheid. On the other hand, individual rights (without a remedy) is all you get in most cases if you happen to be stateless.

      • jamiesw
        February 15, 2012, 5:03 am

        Individual rights as determined by what?

        It is possible to talk about rights without grounding them in international law. What Finkelstein thinks, though, is that to throw international law away is to discard the most effective weapon we have. Now, if calls for a 1SS or full return for refugees were realistic, then it might be worth throwing away the weapon of international law and consensus in the interests of securing a more just solution. But if they are not, then to throw them away would be a disaster. That’s a judgement call, but I think Finkelstein’s answer is the most plausible.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:56 am

        If BDS would focus on the International laws concerning the I/P issue both states are supported. And as NF states you can defend that stance nationally and internationally

    • jamiesw
      February 14, 2012, 9:05 pm

      This is a good example of a healthy response to criticism. And, after reading down through this thread, it was quite a relief to read. Cheers

    • Annie Robbins
      February 14, 2012, 10:45 pm

      sparticus, what group in the palestinian solidarity movement have you been aligning yourself with. you’ve only made two comments here and one of them expressed this:

      Can relocation really be considered a viable option for these people who believe that it is their religious duty to colonize these lands and are willing to fight and die for their so-called divine right? How do you relocate hundreds of thousands of settlers to “Israel proper” ? And how is the problem dealt with in the context of the one-state solution?

      These settlements are really one of the biggest obstacles to peace and justice in the region – primarily because justice isn’t really achievable with displacing another group of people again. The settlers are there illegally, for sure, and a great impediment to Palestinian statehood, but can we justly uproot them as they have uprooted countless others? It’s that age old issue of doing one wrong to right another. Forced displacement/relocation of any group of people is not right.

      do you mean you are pro two states and pro letting the settlers remain?

  7. Liambrown
    February 14, 2012, 4:35 pm

    I think Finkelstein has it spot on here. Enforce the law, don’t be hypocrites.

  8. FreddyV
    February 14, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Firstly, I’m commenting on pabelmont’s comments. I haven’t had chance to see the vid at 30 mins long. Tomorrow.

    I agree with Finkelstein’s views on the law. it distills the argument. I also think one state will potentially take the situation back to the early 1900’s.

    I also think BDS is the only available tool. The law is ineffective all the time the US carries a veto in the UN Security Council.

  9. seafoid
    February 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

    Israel is beyond international law and is going to do something awful because nobody has ever shouted stop to it. It’s going to attack Iran and might well attempt to expel the Palestinians at the same time. And international law won’t stop it. International law didn’t save Iraq or Afghanistan from the neo imperialists.

    Long term there isn’t going to be a Jewish state in the Middle East. Unless Israel negotiates now. The backlash when it eventually comes will be awful and nobody is going to help Israel.

    • Inanna
      February 14, 2012, 8:26 pm

      That’s the problem with international law. It’s only as good as its enforced.

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 2:35 pm

        When one country with 5% of global population consumes 25% of the world’s annual input of raw materials (which itself is 40% higher than the capacity of the world to sustain itself long term) and this is accepted as right, international law is a joke.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 12:42 am

        When one country with 5% of global population consumes 25% of the world’s annual input of raw materials (which itself is 40% higher than the capacity of the world to sustain itself long term) and this is accepted as right, international law is a joke.

        International law is simply the collection of agreed upon rules that states have adopted to govern their mutual relations. If you think there should be laws about that fine, but there already are existing ones against illegal settlements, murder, and the like, that could be enforced. The BDS movement supposedly mobilized in 2005 because the ICJ advisory opinion wasn’t being enforced. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but nowadays the BDS movement leadership is mobilizing to prevent that from happening.

    • Fredblogs
      February 14, 2012, 8:47 pm

      Long term we’re all dust. The question isn’t “will Israel end” it’s “will it end in years or in centuries”.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2012, 10:46 pm

        israel can transform, it doesn’t have to end.

      • Chaos4700
        February 14, 2012, 11:35 pm

        Can Israel transform? It’s been sixty plus years. Have we seen any real difference from 1947?

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Annie

        You have to go right back to the very first days of Zionism to the Jezreel valley and the original Homa umigdal or tower and stockade.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        It had to be built in one day. It had to be able to protect itself for as long as backup needed to arrive and it had to be within sight of another such structure.
        And that is the very DNA of Zionism. There was never any question of TALKING to the neighbours. You take over their land, you build your fort and you expect them to hate you.
        You overlay it all with lashings of victimisation and stories of antisemitism and you turn all paranoid.

        Transformation would require therapy. It would mean abandoning the whole Zionist worldview. The history. Everything.

  10. Shmuel
    February 14, 2012, 5:09 pm

    What an odd combination of world-weariness and starry-eyed optimism. Need to sleep on it and re-watch before attempting a proper comment.

  11. lareineblanche
    February 14, 2012, 5:20 pm

    He’s right, and he’s wrong. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I can understand his arguments.

    He’s right to say that activists should follow their arguments to their logical conclusions, which too often doesn’t happen – sometimes they are more concerned with expressing their belonging to a particular community than they are with engaging with and grappling with the actual arguments.
    He’s wrong to discourage activists, implying that their idealistic, pie-in-the-sky principles will never be understood by the larger public and will therefore never have a real impact. In this case, we could scrap just about every social justice movement which ever existed at its conception, as it was always those who continued against all odds to educate the public with direct actions who eventually paved the way for the rights and ideas which others took for granted when those ideas eventually became mainstream and acceptable in polite company.

    1) Those who refuse to acknowledge the argument that :
    – Right of Return and equal rights under a more secular regime would signal the “destruction” of Israel –
    are being willfully ignorant – for those whose conception of Israel is basically the Zionist conception of a majority of Jews over a given geographical area, a non-Jewish majority and equal rights WOULD signal the end of the state of Israel AS THEY CONCEIVE OF IT. To ignore this is to misunderstand their argument, and it is being dishonest. The question is : are there different ways of conceiving of the state of Israel, other than the Zionist one, and if so what are they? Could the demise of the current conception of the state of Israel in fact be a good thing? To not engage in this conversation is to gloss over the fact that it isn’t only what Israel DOES which is objectionable, but more importantly what Israel IS. If you ignore this question, you are dodging a vital and central issue.
    Briefly, bring your arguments to their logical conclusion, wherever that may lead. If that means the “destruction of the Zionist conception of Israel”, then just say it instead of beating around the bush.

    2) Finkelstein is correct that it is too easy for activists to become intellectual solipsists by exclusively engaging with other sympathetic activists with the same objectives and views – this can create a kind of echo chamber in which opinions are only continually reinforced, and not challenged from the outside. The fact is, that most people know little of the history of Israel/Palestine, are in thrall to deeply irrational fairy tales, and the easiest way in which to garner sympathy is through the evocation of the legal paradigm, international law, etc.

    3) Finkelstein is wrong to think that the only path to justice and transformation is through the law. We shouldn’t become slaves to the law, as if it were the sole and unique yardstick by which to judge actions. Briefly, “legal” does not necessarily equal “just”. After all, there are a myriad of ways for any talented lawyer to justify all sorts of spurious activities provided he/she is talented enough, and the fact that an act is legal is not a guarantee that it is the wisest, or the best course of action. There are other ways of changing the rules, including direct action, and “grass roots”, citizen-led efforts, and these shouldn’t be demeaned.

  12. iamuglow
    February 14, 2012, 5:40 pm

    I admire Finkelstein immensly and its great to hear his opinions in this video, but I would take issue with a lot what he says here.

    Briefly cause its Valentine Day…

    he says the solution is the law….except on ROR cause that would be the end of Israel.

    When he says destroy Israel, he avoids using the language Jewish majority/state…Yes if there was an official 1 state and if all the people on the land that Israel controls today had equal rights, Israelis would lose their priviliged position over the native Palestenians. Would that mean that Israel has been destroyed?

    At the end he belittles BDS…what have they accomplished? How do they measure their success, which begs the question what has demanding Israel follow the law accomplished? What has the 2ss accomplished?

    The occupation goes on. More refugees. More settlements. More brutalization of the Palestenians…Israel immune to the UN, US politicians vowing allegiance to Israel 4 eva….by every measure Finkelsteins way has utterly failed.

    The speaking with authority about what the ‘movement’ should do to suceed is not a researched one. Is it really in the interest of the Palestenians to think small…2ss..cause thats all you are going to get?

    Wouldnt you Isreal be more likely to agree to a viable 2ss if faced with the growing acceptance of 1ss or full ROR? This notion that there can only be progress if Palestenian supporters have a single, limited, reasonable, center position is not how things work. I’d rather work back from a “fringe” idea of equal rights in 1s and get something resembling justice than to start with 2ss and wind up with some disconnected areas inside greater Israel. That seems like it would basic negotiation.

  13. Boycott Israel on Campus
    February 14, 2012, 5:40 pm

    Norman can say anything he likes.

    The fact is that there is not one single campus group actually pushing one single divestment or boycott resolution in any audible or visible way — on any campus in North America.

    This tells you all you need to know about how much Palestinian life is valued on U.S. campuses.

    Too bad. Get ready for the final genocide against Palestine– with your bags of popcorn and boxes of Kleenex. That is all the “BDS” movement is good for– a nice cry at a conference, then another year of dead silence.

  14. David Green
    February 14, 2012, 5:56 pm

    The cult that Finkelstein refers to is not that of the tactic of BDS, but the strategy of BDS regarding a one-state solution. The distinction is important, and Finkelstein is no fool. I think the title of this post, through omission, distorts the content and tone of Finkelstein’s remarks.

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 8:05 pm

      “I think the title of this post, through omission, distorts the content and tone of Finkelstein’s remarks.” I agree.

      Although he does say that the BDS folks are in a “ghetto, a cult”

      He says the solidarity movement “means are correct”

      I think Finkelstien fears that the two state solution is dying. “do we want to build a movement or create a cult” He says so many times I lost count. I think he sees the BDS movement taking off and is clearly troubled by it.

      He is and has been focused on the International law and that makes sense. But as he said “the Israeli’s will never give them anything” Finkelstein “unless you have the force to extract” Where is that force? Ok he keeps saying that it is the mobilization of the Palestinian people. So what is his recommendation for organizing when Israel puts Palestinian organizers in prison.

      He goes on to talk about “inflating the issues” It is tough to believe that “he always” hears that people in the solidarity movement demand the return of “6 million Palestinians” He ALWAYS hears this. Just do not believe this. Seems like a bit of inflating going on there. Always? Really Norm? Always?

      I think this is the strongest part of the interview:
      Finkelstein: 19:oo ” I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics. I support the BDS. But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter. It will not reach the public. Because the moment you go out there Israel will start to say what about us? They will not recognition our right. And in fact that is correct. You can’t answer the Israeli’s on that. Because they are making a statement that is factually correct. It’s not an accident. An unwitting omission that BDS does not mention Israel. You know that and I know that. It’s not like they are like oh we forgot to mention it. They won’t mention it because they know it will split the movement. Cause there is large segment of the movement, component of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”

      Finkelstein quickly changes that claim that there is “large segment of the movement” to a “component of the movement”

      How many people have heard anyone in the BDS movement saying they want to eliminate Israel. Do like that he says Israel exists, and not the “right to exist” Surprised that he does not add recognize Israel based on the 67 border.

      My sense is that Finkelstein is fearful that BDS is growing. He tries hard to be dismissive. But BDS is growing and he does not like it. I think he is truly afraid for Israel. I agree that BDS should recognize Israel based on the 67 border.

      OK so if Finkelstein organizes marches rallies here in the states focused on the International law having to do with this situation. He basically ends saying that if things were done fairly Israel would cease to exist.

      • Kathleen
        February 14, 2012, 8:13 pm

        Something that both sides especially the Palestinians say “we can live with it”

        Would be something if Obama ever took on Finkelstein as an adviser. The I lobby and Israel would go ape shit. I think the guy is fair even though he does his own inflating in places. But just as he claims that a “component of the BDS movement” that want Israel to cease to exist (have never heard or seen that written anywhere). But clearly he feels that is implied by the demands. Israel and the I lobby want a greater Israel and are never going to as he said ‘will never give them (the Palestinians) anything”

    • Annie Robbins
      February 14, 2012, 11:30 pm

      The cult that Finkelstein refers to is not that of the tactic of BDS, but the strategy of BDS regarding a one-state solution.

      the bds movement does not have a strategy for a one state solution. they have a strategy for equal rights. if israel agreed to a palestinian state, one that afforded them the same rights in that state as israel affords themselves, the bds movement would probably fold.

      also, norm, making the claim 6 million palestinians would virtually abandon that state and all move into israel proper is nuts.

      israel wants palestinians to fold on their one card upfront, why should palestinians fold on their right of return before israel even proposes borders they would agree with? when israel comes to the table with proposals for borders, what they will do with the settlers in the WB (agree to pull them out?) proposals giving up control over resources that do not belong to them, and a whole slew of things then..when the final cards are on the table, that is the time to discuss palestinians final card. it just so happens the final card of palestinians is their only card. that’s how imbalanced this is. so, given the fact israel cannot be budged, the realistic thing to do is face the reality, face the music that is playing , not the fantasy. two states is just as much a fantasy as equal rights at this juncture, so who is norm to call equal rights a cult OR to claim the bds movement has a strategy for one state? they have a strategy for israel to fold on their hardline expansion policy that is strangling palestine and strangling the two state solution and strangling israel, but how they fold is up to israel. they could fold by agreeing to borders. this is israel’s call, they are designing their own destruction, no one else is doing that, not the bds movement.

      the guy, frank, in the video wasn’t lying when he said they were not asking for the end of israel, he meant it. i mean it too. israel should shit or get off the pot. who’s the cult? zionism is the cult.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 9:58 am

        great points

      • iamuglow
        February 15, 2012, 12:29 pm

        “who’s the cult? zionism is the cult.”

        awesome.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 15, 2012, 12:51 pm

        thanks, one more point..this idea:this is israel’s call, they are designing their own destruction, this is not a radical idea only shared by cult members. here’s roger cohen today in the nyt (an article i discovered btw on the twitter feed of the nyt’s new jerusalem bureau chief)

        link to nytimes.com

        Beinart notes (well-meaning Israeli diplomats who would “rebrand” Israel take note): “Israel does not have a public relations problem; it has a policy problem. You can’t sell occupation in a postcolonial age.” That occupation, prolonged in perpetuity, would mean, as President Barack Obama has put it, that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled.”

        so what does that mean “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled.”??? it means there will be no israel if it keeps up like this. israel is holding the cards, israel has the power so under the circumstances (THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES) it is perfectly legitimate that activists look at the end game, palestinian rights. for in the end they are telling the truth. they are agnostic on one or two states. that’s not code for destroy israel, it is code for GIVE US OUR RIGHTS.

        and that’s messaging. israel’s message has been shoved down our collective throats for centuries with the best PR firms money can buy, and they can afford it too. it isn’t working, what will work is changing the policy.

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 12:52 pm

        I’m sure it makes you feel good to say Zionism is the cult. As NF says, BDS cultists love to talk to themselves.

        Guess what. Zionism did what the BDS movement will not do. It moderated to reach out to the people it needed to get things done. Zionism got the Jews a state.

        The BDS movement is more interested in leftist political posturing.

        I guess your worship of NF is not enough to listen to him when he disagrees with you.

      • tree
        February 15, 2012, 4:31 pm

        I’m sure it makes you feel good to say Zionism is the cult.

        How incredibly un-self-aware coming from the man who just said this in the thread:

        “This thread shows most people here are members of a cult. LOL.”

        It obviously made you feel good to claim most here are cultists. You might want to ponder the “glass house” proverb.

        I guess your worship of NF is not enough to listen to him when he disagrees with you.

        Its not that people are not listening to him. They are disagreeing with him. To an unbiased observer, that would indicate that there is no “worship” of Finkelstein, since “cultish” worshipers don’t disagree with their object of worship. But calling people NF worshipers made you feel good also, didn’t it?

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 4:55 pm

        “It obviously made you feel good to claim most here are cultists. You might want to ponder the “glass house” proverb.”

        It’s OK, the more you don’t get it, the more I win. My movement achieved something. Yours has nothing.

      • iamuglow
        February 15, 2012, 5:12 pm

        I very much agree.

        “this is israel’s call, they are designing their own destruction, this is not a radical idea only shared by cult members”

        The Israelis painted themselves into this corner where to do the right/legal thing is in their minds, destruction.

        Its like the ROR. If the refugees had been given their rights 60 years ago there wouldnt be 6 million Palestenians who were now going to ‘destroy’ Israel by living there and not being Jewish.

        If the settlements weren’t built, EJ annexed and 750K Israeli moved to land outside of the green line there wouldnt be any need for negotiations on land swaps….

        If they didnt start a nearly 40 year occupation there wouldnt be people calling on them to give equal rights to the peoples who lived under their control.

        They have designed this, but they don’t want to be held accountable. They want to paint themselves as the victims ‘oh how could we ever allow the refugees back’ …’oh how could we ever give up our external capital’ or ‘oh how could we ever leave these heavily populated settlements in the WB’

        ‘If you’re asking for any of these things, which are legally and morally owe to the Palestenians you must want to destroy Israel, the only homeland of the Jewish people.’ Et cetera, et cetera, yadda, yadda. forever and ever.

    • lysias
      February 15, 2012, 12:57 pm

      If one state is a cult, then Tony Judt was a cultist. If anybody was not a cultist, Tony Judt was not one.

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 1:50 pm

        If Israeli Jews don’t want one state they have to pull back to the 1967 lines. They don’t want to give up YESHA so they effectively live in one state- Erez Israel- where only they as Jews have rights. If they don’t want this what’s stopping them giving it up ?

  15. Cliff
    February 14, 2012, 6:08 pm

    Finkelstein says:

    ‘Don’t pretend to enforce the law, if you do not ALSO consider the parts of what the ICJ has said pertaining to the pre-67 borders’ – i.e., Israel’s ‘legal borders’.

    Does Finkelstein believe that Israel was created ‘legally’?

    What I don’t get is that there is no difference in the Zionist strategy from however many decades ago.

    They can keep colonizing the land (as we type) – and academics like Finkelstein can chastise some activists for promoting 1S. Who gives a shit? Are we going to physically stop the colonization in the immediate future? NO!

    And it is not because some activists and proponents of BDS are hazy on 1s or 2s.

    They have no political clout in the mainstream. They are working from the ground UP.

    Meanwhile – corrupt politicians, religious fanatics, ‘liberal’ Zionists, PEP intellectuals, etc. etc. etc. i.e., the mainstream Western intelligentsia and the political Elite create new realities on the ground (everywhere; not just I-P).

    We’re always playing catch up.

    Ron Suskind:

    link to pressthink.org

    The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 8:19 pm

      thank you for quoting that. I could not remember where I heard or read it. Back in the build up to the invasion of Iraq. And it is the truth. Because they are pushing hard for Iran. Who do you think that aide was? Or official…sounds like a Feith, Bolton, Libby, Hadley? Wish Susskind would have put the finger on who said that

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:29 pm

        Yes.

        The entire point is that the elites create new realities, while we’re busy documenting the old ones.

        If you don’t DO SOMETHING about it, (and in some/maybe most cases you are, but it’s never enough – relatively speaking, not to imply activists aren’t doing enough in and of itself) – it’s all academic. Useful in a debate w/ a hasbarat/Liberal Zionist/supposed supporter of the Palestinian struggle but anti-BDS and pro-‘right to exist’-intellectual-fraud, but no substance unless it’s ‘weaponized’.

        They create new realities. We’re busy playing catch up.

        And Norman Finkelstein wants us to talk about the law and blah blah as if we don’t do that already?

        He’s a perfect example of the kind of time-waster this issue does not need.

        Just like those who nit-pick over BDS’s stance on 1s/2s, or antisemitism in the Left (anti-Israel! so mean!)/etc. etc.

        I don’t care (as a non-Jew). Let that be an issue for the pro-identity politics/exceptionalists (Israeli/Americans/Jews who keep relating solidarity to this conflict w/ uniquely Jewish support for other liberation movements – as if those did not coincide simultaneously with a lack of concern or an antagonism towards the Palestinian struggle).

  16. tokyobk
    February 14, 2012, 6:28 pm

    The full right of return means the end of Israel, period. End of its flag, end of Hebrew, end of sovereignty in every way that is possible for Israel and Israelis.

    It means what Omar Barghouti says is his goal; to see two states, Palestine next to Palestine.

    More importantly, Finkelstein is saying. Everybody knows this so stop pretending because it only plays into the hands of your opponent, alienates you from international rights allies who want to apply the law, and reveals deceptiveness.

    • Robert
      February 15, 2012, 12:06 pm

      “The full right of return means the end of Israel, period. End of its flag, end of Hebrew, end of sovereignty in every way that is possible for Israel and Israelis.”

      Why? A binational state would have two flags, Israeli and Palestinian. End of Hebrew? You would un-Hebrew 5.5 million Jews, 44% of the new population? How?? You wouldnt. Hebrew would go on. Jewish life would go on.

      End of Sovereignty? You’re showing a real lack of faith in Jewish power and ingenuity that Jews would not have any power in a bi-national state.

  17. yourstruly
    February 14, 2012, 6:43 pm

    wait a second, wasn’t it the palestinian people who initiated and called for an international bds? as for legality, until the civil war wasn’t slavery legal, until the civil rights movement wasn’t apartheid legal in the u.s. of a., and, before bds, same goes for apartheid, south african style? as for pie-in-the-sky principles, what’s pie-in-the-sky about smashing the u.s.-israel special relationship by way of exposing israel-firsters for the traitors that they are? especially when there’s already a track record (1991, under president george h. w. bush) proving that such an approach does shift public opinion against the zionist entity. what’s more and even worse is that with the world on the verge of the israel-u.s. axis of evil bringing about wwiii, what’s to be accomplished by depending upon international law to bring about a just resolution of the i/p conflict? norman finklestein may have given up on the power of a people united to change the world, but i doubt very much that the palestinians have or ever will.

    • wondering jew
      February 14, 2012, 8:43 pm

      yourstruly- “with the world on the verge of the israel-u.s. axis of evil bringing about wwiii,” I oppose the war against Iran, precisely because the consequences seem too unpredictable, to support such a war. I think those who minimize those consequences, are not to be trusted. But using the terminology “bringing about WWIII” seems to me to be the opposite extreme. How many people died in World War II, How many died in WWI, How many in the war between Iran and Iraq. How many in the Korean War or the War in Vietnam or in Iraq or in Afghanistan or in the war between Muslims and Hindus that resulted in the partition of 1947. I think calling the war WWIII is rhetorical and as farfetched as the minimal consequences proferred by those supporting the war.

      • Chaos4700
        February 17, 2012, 9:29 am

        I forgot, you think this war should “merely” be limited to setting bombs in Iranian streets.

        link to mondoweiss.net

  18. W.Jones
    February 14, 2012, 6:47 pm

    They could have the 2 ethnic-states and also right of return if they draw the borders based on where people live so that each state has the ethnic majority.

  19. Bill in Maryland
    February 14, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Finkelstein is super bright, has spent 30 years immersed in these issues, and is (understandably) impatient for a solution. He is obviously ambivalent about the BDS movement and goes to great lengths to belittle it as a “cult” and for their intellectual “dishonesty” by omitting mention of Israel in the BDS charter. But I think BDS has it just right, leaving the future of “Israel” a little in doubt and thereby forcing its defenders to think hard about what aspects of “Israel” are worth fighting for in the court of world opinion and what aspects can be shed (e.g. is an ethnocracy really necessary for Jewish survival?) during the evolution of the emergent I/P.

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 8:21 pm

      “and goes to great lengths to belittle it as a “cult” he sure does that.

      Who is aware of anyone including Finkelstein organizing marches, etc focused on the International law having to do with the I/P issue.? I would show up

  20. ahadhaadam
    February 14, 2012, 7:08 pm

    Finkelstein reminds me now of the Israeli left: they are perfectly willing to talk about the 1967 borders, the law and the two state solution for another 50 years while Palestinians are languishing in ever shrinking bantustans behind barbed wire and walls. They speak as if this situation is new and not something that has been going on for 45 years while Israel has been doing everything possible to prevent a two state solution.

    He ignores the fact that the international consensus and the international verdict is also 45 years old and that hasn’t changed anything on the ground.

    It just seems that some people get attached to a certain view and have built a career around it (such as Uri Avnery) that they can’t seem to adjust their views to the reality of the situation, which makes them detached and obsolete.

    Unfortunately, these good and well meaning people are doing more harm than benefit the Palestinians because they too help them push in a direction which at best will lead them to live in Bantustans and are providing the left leg to legitimizing Israel’s Apartheid (“while the negotiations continue…”).

    And Bantustans are the best case scenario! More likely is that while the Palestinian plight remains in limbo for the foreseeable future, they risk a Final Solution – the completion of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine under the fog of war, which is very much written into the Zionist blueprint.

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 8:25 pm

      “He ignores the fact that the international consensus and the international verdict is also 45 years old and that hasn’t changed anything on the ground. ”
      yeah clearly Finkelstein is frustrated.
      One can only imagine how frustrated Palestinians ” languishing in ever shrinking bantustans behind barbed wire and walls” are.

    • Pixel
      February 16, 2012, 12:10 am

      Couldn’t say it better myself. Thanks!

  21. patm
    February 14, 2012, 7:17 pm

    It means what Omar Barghouti says is his goal; to see two states, Palestine next to Palestine.

    Give us a reference for this statement, tokyobk.

    • tokyobk
      February 15, 2012, 3:20 am

      I have the policy, especially on the Internet and especially on this topic not to believe anything unless I see or hear it myself and perhaps you do too.

      but I don’t have time to find the exact talk where he said it (I think an interview with Amy Goodman) but he definitely said it and by the way the first item of his platform is end of occupation of “all Arab lands.” You don’t think he thinks Tel Aviv is Jewish land, right?

      And that is what bothers me that Barghouti is sugar coating Arab nationalism for a Western audience. Not that he does it, but that so far he has not been challenged by his critics or other supporters of BDS who come from a rights perspective.

      It is no problem for him, born in Qatar and raised in Egypt to become a Palestinian simply by moving there but Jews have only conferred not natural rights, again he said it on one of the YouTube videos, even Jews expulsed from “Arab” lands.

      Barghouti is open to Jewish support and I have never seen him say anything that even hints at anti semitism but without a doubt he believes that a Jewish state in itself disrupts the normal and rightful order of the ME.

      Maybe no one here cares, and maybe BDS will continue to grow (pressure on Israel that leads to negotiation is a good thing) but Arab Land vs Jewish Land will only lead to war and misery.

      • patm
        February 15, 2012, 8:11 am

        Maybe no one here cares, and maybe BDS will continue to grow (pressure on Israel that leads to negotiation is a good thing) but Arab Land vs Jewish Land will only lead to war and misery.

        Agreed, Tokyobk, pressure on Israel that leads to negotiation is a good thing. Maybe BDS will provide this, maybe in time the US gov’t. Perhaps you yourself could help by supporting the Israeli peace movement. Perhaps you do this already?

      • tokyobk
        February 15, 2012, 12:36 pm

        I support any genuine peace effort. I believe two states is the best solution in the short term (100 years). I would like to see a world filled with states that protected their minority populations and without an ethnic or religious basis for citizenship. I would like the Palestinians to live in peace with free travel across a unified and self governed Palestine.

        And I would like Jews to be able to live wherever they want in the Middle East including lands from which they were expelled or are currently banned.

        BDS is a legitimate tactic, but I don’t support all of their aims and I agree with NF that they are not being honest about their goals. Their leadership claims universality but only has a problem with one ethnic/religious state.

    • Kathleen
      February 15, 2012, 10:00 am

      Link? Proof? Not…

      • tokyobk
        February 15, 2012, 12:30 pm

        Hi Kathleen,

        I share your skepticism when someone on the internet tells me they saw or heard something. However, OB did say he wants to see Palestine next to Palestine on one of the available youtube videos. If you google the phrase and his name you will see others discussing it. I will find it when I have more time and post the link for you. And again, he uses the term “Arab land” all the time which tells me enough. As would any reference to “Jewish land” by a pro-Israeli, or even Judea and Sumeria etc…

  22. ahadhaadam
    February 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

    Also, regarding “what the public would accept”: which public is Finkelstein talking about? Israeli Jews? Well perhaps we should have asked the Boers what they think about equal rights for blacks before we forged ahead with sanctions…

  23. dimadok
    February 14, 2012, 7:33 pm

    Honest and strong wording. Good one, Mr. Finkelstein.

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 9:07 pm

      Dimadok “honest and strong wording.”

      Glad you agree with Finkelstein here

      Finkelstein : “All I want to do is enforce the law” ” law is clear… The settlements are ILLEGAL That is correct. East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory. That is correct. The West Bank and Gaza are occupied Palestinian territory. That is correct. But it’s also correct that Israel is a state. That is also the law”

      Too bad he does not say Israel is recognized as a state based on the 67 border

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 6:30 am

        Too bad he does not say Israel is recognized as a state based on the 67 border

        That is exactly what he is saying every time that he mentions the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion; the unanimous findings of all the Justices with respect to the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to all of the Palestinian Occupied Territories, of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza; and the existing international consensus.

        The Court affirmed the General Assembly’s determinations in the resolution which requested the advisory opinion titled “Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory” it found that the construction of the wall was illegal because it was “in departure from the Armistice Line of 1949 (Green Line) and which has involved the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian land and resources, the disruption of the lives of thousands of protected civilians and the de facto annexation of large areas of territory, and underlining the unanimous opposition by the international community to the construction of that wall”.link to unispal.un.org

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 10:01 am

        I know that is what he means. Think he should say it. Just as he demands that the BDS movement state that they recognize that Israel is a state…Israel exists. Based on the 67 border

  24. Chaos4700
    February 14, 2012, 7:56 pm

    Is this the part where the Zionists now run to the other side of the boat, from “you guys are all lock-step” and “you guys hero worship people like Norman Finkelstein without thinking for yourselves!” to “Finkelstein threw us a scrap! Clamp our jaws on it and call everyone who opposes Israel a cultist!”

    I’d worry about Zionists ships capsizing except that I know they can easily counterbalance the titanic momentum that “moral flexibility” inflicts by daily opening fire with all guns on Gazan fishermen and refugee camps.

    • Chaos4700
      February 14, 2012, 11:36 pm

      Oooooooooh look. Right above my post. Do I have perfect timing or what?

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 10:02 am

        Hostage

  25. HarryLaw
    February 14, 2012, 7:58 pm

    Professor Finkelstein is right a one state solution has not been put forward by any political party in Israel or Palestine, or by any UN organisation or other manifestation of world opinion, so in some senses some members of BDS and only some are, to some extent going out on a limb in calling for a one state solution at this point in time, In some senses it is like a group calling for the end of capitalism, now that may or may not be a bad thing, all I know is that if anybody stood as an “end capitalism” candidate in most countries of the world they would be politically thrashed and probably be called a crank. I personally want to see some form of justice within International Law for the Palestinians, I don’t care what form it takes all I know is that there are many legal options which have not yet been tried including the ICC, I support the BDS because ordinary individuals can do something to increase the financial pressure on Israel even if in only a small way, If the South Africa experience is any guide the BDS movement has only just started.

  26. mudder
    February 14, 2012, 8:09 pm

    Interestingly, at lunch break today I read from Finkelstein’s This Time We Went Too Far:

    Whereas diehard apologists for Israel such as Walzer, Dershowitz, and Peretz climbed aboard the Zionist ship while in their youths, the generation of youthful Jewish public intellectuals now making their names on the Internet has been jumping off it. “I pity them their hatred of their inheritance,” Peretz hissed. “They are pip-squeaks.”
    Here are the pip-squeaks in their own words….
    Adam Horowitz (age 35; blogger for Mondoweiss) posted on Day 4 in response to Benny Morris’s op-ed in the New York Times, “It is clear he can only see the reactions, but not the cause. He lists the responses to Israel and to Israel’s ongoing Jewish colonization of historic Palestine, without mentioning the elephant in the room, that the walls closing in on Israel are all self-made.”
    ..
    The generational metamorphosis regarding Israel was most evident on college campuses. “A shift toward more visible pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel sentiment has been profound on some campuses,” Inside Higher Ed reported, “prompted, in part, by the winter war in Gaza.”…tudents at University of Rochester, University of Massachusetts, New York University, Columbia University, Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, and Hampshire College held petition drives, protests, and sit-ins demanding financial support for Palestinian students and divestment from arms companies and companies doing business with the illegal Jewish settlements. Hampshire College students successfully pressured the college’s trustees to divest from American corporations that directly profit from the occupation.

    He wrote that in support and without irony.

    Peter Beinart tweeted today

    Norman Finklestein (rightly) critiques BDS movement for wanting 1 state. Not too late to get him for the AIPAC conf!

    It’s important that we can distinguish between Finkelstein and Beinart.

    • Kathleen
      February 14, 2012, 9:08 pm

      “not too late to get him for the Aipac conf” funny

      • Cliff
        February 14, 2012, 10:57 pm

        funny but true.

        see: dimadok/newclench/phony liberals who until just now were lurkers on the website, supporting Norman.

      • Chaos4700
        February 15, 2012, 9:03 am

        It’s like those awful seagulls from”Finding Nemo” who spend just about the whole scene flocking around and shrieking “Mine!”

    • Annie Robbins
      February 14, 2012, 10:54 pm

      i was thinking today after listening to this interview how ironic it would be if the same people who drove norm out of the classroom were to turn around and realize he was one of there greatest assets.

      • Kathleen
        February 14, 2012, 11:20 pm

        that would be ironic

    • mudder
      February 14, 2012, 11:37 pm

      Norman is a great asset–he truly is concerned with the plight of the Palestinians. I think Beinart’s focus is solely on liberal American Jewry, who rightly worry of their gangster cousin far away bringing dishonor on the family.

  27. Kathleen
    February 14, 2012, 8:25 pm

    “He ignores the fact that the international consensus and the international verdict is also 45 years old and that hasn’t changed anything on the ground. ”
    yeah clearly Finkelstein is frustrated.
    One can only imagine how frustrated Palestinians ” languishing in ever shrinking bantustans behind barbed wire and walls” are.

  28. HarryLaw
    February 14, 2012, 9:20 pm

    Interestingly Professor Finkelstein mentioned that he had just been speaking in Northern Ireland and that the majority of people there seem to be content with the settlement there. The consensus opinion for the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom with no discrimination was widespread and included large numbers of Catholics and Protestants who agreed that NI’s’constitutional position as an integral part of the UK should not change except through the will of a majority, through a referendum. It was only a small minority who advocated that that majority should be coerced into a united Ireland against their will, it could not be done in any case. I campaigned for 25 years for a realistic solution one that was possible, ie that because for the forseeable future NI would remain part of the UK, that being the case residents of NI should be given the opportunity to vote for or against the parties that govern them or aspire to govern them at Westminster Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem, and be given an opportunity to vote on ordinary class issues instead of the local provincial sectarian parties who could never bridge the sectarian divide, it is only just recently that a Province wide Labour Party forum has allowed to be set up by the Labour Party hierarchy with a view to contesting elections in every constituency in NI so there is a long way to go.

  29. kma
    February 14, 2012, 9:41 pm

    I got no problem with cults. too-much-intellectualism is definitely one!
    good thing some folks have no time to read all day, because no one would be in the streets. and they are……….. (let’s go).

  30. Phan Nguyen
    February 14, 2012, 10:44 pm

    This is nothing new for Finkelstein. He been making such comments for at least two years:

    First of all, people are getting a little too cult-like about BDS. You always know a movement is growing insular when it starts using these in-group abbreviations (‘BDS’). In my day it was ‘DOP’—‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’. You have these little abbreviations to show that you’re part of the ‘in-group’ and you’re cool and you know what’s going on.

    Finkelstein has demonstrated his credentials as a scholar and academic. He has never been able to do the same as a grassroots organizer or strategist. BDS aside, I have long been wary of Finkelstein’s proclamations for the “proper” way for activists to approach the conflict, as I have been wary of any academic who proposes a strategy but who doesn’t demonstrate it by organizing on the ground level.

    • ahadhaadam
      February 14, 2012, 11:49 pm

      Exactly. The equality approach (one state) is the pragmatic solution while the “two states” is neither two states nor a solution – it is just a smokescreen that legitimizes the Apartheid “while (the endless) negotiations continue…”

      Also, every one state supporter has been at one point a two-state solution supporter. It took two decades of “negotiations” for quite a lot of people to realize that there is never going to be a viable Palestinian state and it is what leads pragmatic people to change their approach and offer a practical road map to forced democracy through sanctions.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 5:25 am

        Exactly. The equality approach (one state) is the pragmatic solution while the “two states” is neither two states nor a solution – it is just a smokescreen that legitimizes the Apartheid “while (the endless) negotiations continue…”

        The Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid was the first UN treaty that called for the establishment of an international criminal tribunal. The wasn’t one during the era of South African Apartheid, so the UN adopted a sanctions regime of collective non-recognition which included recognizing or assisting in the policy of apartheid in the Bantustans.

        The UN has acknowledged Palestine’s 1988 Algiers Declaration, adopted the Roadmap, and it was finally admitted as a full member state of one of the UN specialized agencies, UNESCO. So, unlike the Bantustans, it can be considered a victim state and deposit accessions to the Vienna Convention and Rome Statute. Then it can demand that the responsible Israeli officials be investigated and prosecuted for the crime of apartheid.

    • mudder
      February 15, 2012, 12:02 am

      I’m not so sure that Finkelstein has no credence as a grass roots organizer. He sure can sure pack the auditoriums on college campuses.

      Like good cop & bad cop, the 1SS and 2SS may be incompatible, yet we should not necessarily see their respective proponents as being adversarial. A war can be fought on two fronts.

      • Pixel
        February 16, 2012, 12:17 am

        “He sure can sure pack the auditoriums on college campuses.”

        I doubt that he will anymore, at least not with the same audiences.

  31. Kathleen
    February 14, 2012, 11:16 pm

    I think this is the strongest part of the interview:
    Finkelstein: 19:oo ” I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics. I support the BDS. But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter. It will not reach the public. Because the moment you go out there Israel will start to say what about us? They will not recognition our right. And in fact that is correct. You can’t answer the Israeli’s on that. Because they are making a statement that is factually correct. It’s not an accident. An unwitting omission that BDS does not mention Israel. You know that and I know that. It’s not like they are like oh we forgot to mention it. They won’t mention it because they know it will split the movement. Cause there is large segment of the movement, component of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”

    Finkelstein quickly changes that claim that there is “large segment of the movement” to a “component of the movement”

    How many people have heard anyone in the BDS movement saying they want to eliminate Israel. Do like that he says Israel exists, and not the “right to exist” Surprised that he does not add recognize Israel based on the 67 border.

    I am just wondering how much he is inflaming this idea that a “component of the movement” do not want Israel to exist?

  32. Kathleen
    February 14, 2012, 11:19 pm

    I believe Finkelstein got into a match of some kind with Medea Benjaman about tactics. What I want to know from Finkelstein is why he has not tried to organize marches, rallies, lobbying efforts to focus on the International law points that he so articulately points out. He could make a mission statement…I agree generally with most of what he has to say. I would come to a rally organized by him

  33. Keith
    February 14, 2012, 11:35 pm

    First of all, let me say how surprised I was to learn that Norman was a one time Maoist. A MAOIST, for cry sakes. Aaargh!

    Next, while watching the video I predicted that his earnest straight talk concerning realpolitik would be misconstrued and probably vilified. He is expressing an opinion concerning effective tactics which should be rationally discussed, not attacked. I think he makes some good points which the interviewer did not effectively rebut. That, in itself, is a problem. One would think that at this stage of the game the solidarity/BDS folks would have their talking points down pat. If you can’t deal with a sympathetic ally like Finkelstein, the Zionist Hasbara machine will eat you alive.

    While I support BDS, I confess that I am somewhat vague as to the ARTICULATED goals and objectives. Based upon what Finkelstein said, I get the sense that there is a certain vagueness regarding the state of Israel designed to accommodate various anti-Zionist perspectives. I would tend to agree that this is a mistake. In other words, as Finkelstein says, if you are a one-stater, then Israel is not illegally occupying the West Bank insofar as the West Bank is part of a united Palestine. The goal then becomes the civil rights of the Palestinians in Eretz Israel. While this may be a morally defensible position, there is no legal or international support according to Finkelstein. On the other hand, to claim that the occupation is “illegal” implies that there is a distinct Palestinian state which is occupied, hence, an Israeli state with recognized borders.

    As a practical matter, we should note that the non-viability of a two state solution is a judgment call which is not ours to make. The non-viability of a two state solution will be what prevents Israel from implementing a two state solution. The big stumbling block to a two state solution is the Zionist ideology which virtually precludes this. Implementation of a two state solution would probably require Israel to break free of Zionism with all that this would entail, and all of the problem and opportunities that would open up. The first problem could possibly be civil war. At this stage of the game, it is difficult to see how all of these contradictions can be resolved.

    I would hope that it would be at least somewhat obvious that our pontifications concerning one state versus two states are largely irrelevant, the issue properly determined by the Palestinians and, past injustices notwithstanding, by the Israelis. Needless to say, I think we all support the right of the victim Palestinians for redress to the extent possible. Yet, we need to be mindful of their immediate needs and concerns, rather than on some theoretically pure solution which satisfies us. The first priority seems to me to end the current and ongoing abuse of the Palestinians by Israel. The Gaza blockade, the bypass roads, the check points, the assassinations, the general abuse and discrimination, etc. I think that BDS should focus on this. Certain issues need to be dealt with now. Others need to be deferred in accordance with the desires of the Palestinian people.

    • Keith
      February 15, 2012, 3:31 pm

      Some additional thoughts regarding my comment at 11:35 pm on 2/14/12. Let us begin by noting that realistically the purpose of BDS is to call attention to the situation and communicate the facts in the hope that this will create public pressure on Israel (and the US) to cease its ongoing abuse of the Palestinians. As such, the BDS message is critically important. Ours is a righteous position and we need to aggressively communicate that. For starters, Israel, with US support, has illegally acquired and occupied territory by force and needs to withdraw from these occupied territories as specified in applicable UN resolutions. Period.

      As to the BDS position on the state of Israel, this is a golden opportunity to highlight the abnormality of the situation. Recognize Israel’s right to exist? Which Israel are we talking about? An expansionist, warmongering Jewish state which seeks to expand as much as possible, even so far as from the Nile to the Euphrates? Which ethnically cleanses the native inhabitants to make way for Jews from abroad enticed to immigrate with generous subsidies? No, we cannot recognize an expansionist, borderless state. Normal states have borders which delineate them and constrain them. Borders beyond which they acknowledge as being the territory of others which will be dealt with according to international law, not through violent aggression. But Israel acknowledges no official borders, the “green line” merely an armistice line, not an official border. Israel is the only UN member state without official borders, the 1949 armistice line a de facto substitute, its admission the result primarily of US pressure. How can anyone expect the Palestinians to recognize the borders of a state which refuses to establish official borders?

      When anyone asks for recognition of Israel, the response should be to ask for a map of Israel with the official borders which Israel accepts as defining the state of Israel, and which they will not forcefully extend. In the mean time, Israel needs to withdraw from the occupied territories and end the blockade of Gaza before negotiations can resume. An occupied people cannot be expected to negotiate with an occupying power while the occupation continues. Of course, I cannot imagine US/Israel agreeing to this without substantial outside pressure. I don’t know if a two state solution is even possible. If not, the facts on the ground will manifest themselves in due course. In any event, the leadership on this needs to come from the Palestinian people, our role to support them. They are the ones bearing the consequences of US supported Israeli aggression.

  34. Red
    February 14, 2012, 11:53 pm

    This is video is unsurprising – a split with Finkelstein has always been on the cards because his still retains a liberal Zionist position. It has been clear for the last two/three years that the split was becoming more imminent – particularly since the March for Gaza in Cairo in 2009 when a number of Palestinian civil society leaders challenged sent a letter to the campaign and Finkelstein was not happy about what they had to say and pulled out. It was clear when Finkelstein withdraw from the march, he became very disaffected by the leadership of BDS campaign – which is why I would argue he is using the terms “cult” and disparaging the movement leaders, solidarity activists who are involved in the campaign and achievements.

    Interestingly enough Finkelstein claims later in the video (around 19 mins in) that he actually supports BDS – but it is clearly he doesn’t. Not only does he state specifically at around 30 mins that he thinks its a waste of time and refuses to be part of it, he also makes it clear he doesn’t support the campaign calling the campaign a cult and disparaging not only the leaders of the movement but all the thousands upon thousands of activists around the world who support it.

    What is interesting is that he claims that he will not be “anyone’s fool” but he clearly thinks that the thousands and thousands of activists around the world who support BDS are indeed dupes and fools. His comments make it clear that while supports some of the tactics but he doesn’t support the campaign politically.

    Finkelstein’s political criticisms (as opposed to his pejorative and ad hominem attack) in this video basically mirror exactly the arguments put forward by both Leftwing and Rightwing Zionists. For example, he repeats the Zionist hasbara argument that BDS singles out Israel and ignores other human rights abuses. As Ben White noted in his excellent article he wrote recently which explains BDS: “Well, yes, it does: the Palestinians have not been dispossessed or occupied by Guatemala. Those making the point would not dream of accusing Tibetan activists of ‘singling out’ China, or tell campaigners against child slavery to go focus on something else. In fact, this objection implies that Palestinians as a people are uniquely prohibited from resisting their oppression and seeking allies in their struggle”.

    What Finkelstein doesn’t get about BDS is that it is not only a tactical campaign but it is also a symbolic and educative campaign. Ben White, notes this also in his article, saying that there are four main reasons why BDS is necessary: (1) the reality of Israel’s ongoing occupation and apartheid policies; (2) Israeli impunity and the failure of the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violation of international law; (3) its educative component, which raise awareness about facts on the ground; and (4) it empowers people to take action.

    The problem with Finkelstein’s analysis is that it lacks a dialectical understanding of how to build a social movement – Finkelstein completely ignores the fact that things can change and develop, instead he thinks things are set in stone from 20 years ago which is not the case.

    In relation to his final comments about how the solidarity movement should operate he is correct to say that the solidarity movement in each country needs to make its own judgement on how to conduct the solidarity struggle. However, it needs to be pointed out that the BDS campaign doesn’t tell anyone in the solidarity movement how they should act. BDS is just one tactic among many available to the solidarity movement, it has specific goals and tactics. People can choose to join it or not.

    If folks in the solidarity movement don’t want to support the BDS campaign they don’t have too and they can continue to carry out Palestine solidarity work as they see fit – no one is stopping them.

    However, many of us decided to join the BDS campaign because we actually think it is the best tactic and it can make a difference. It is a campaign we have freely chosen to join, which already has established tactics so I think its perfectly reasonable that say that when one joins an established campaign with established tactics, then we should be expect to be asked to abide political parameters that have been set out for the campaign. It doesn’t mean we can’t contribute and come up with different ideas and ways of carrying out those tactics.

  35. Red
    February 14, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Maath Musleh from Palestine Youth Voice in Ramallah have posted the following response to the Finkelstein interview. I think they make a lot of valid points.

    In Response to Norman Finkelstein Interview
    February 15, 2012
    link to palestineyouthvoice.wordpress.com

    Imperial College London conducted an interview with Norman Finkelstein on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. I used to listen to Mr. Finkelstein in admiration. It could be because he had a pro-Palestinian stands. But I think most importantly is because he gave facts as is, straight forward. Nonetheless, I believe he tripped when he started advocating for a certain political solution.

    In a lecture in University of London last year, he gave a lecture advocating for a 2-states solution, claiming it has a Palestinian consensus. I have no clue how did he decide that. Nonetheless, in the Q & A I asked him a clear question: since there is no consensus on a 2-state solution or a 1 state solution, isn’t it just fair to advocate for what holds a consensus; namely, the right of return? He didn’t answer my question, and went on talking about a 1state and 2states solutions. He has marginalized the right of return in his lecture.

    In his interview in February 9, Mr. Finkelstein have continued marginalizing the right of return. He said: “If you are serious about building a mass movement, you cannot go beyond what the public is ready to accept.” Which public does he mean? The Palestinian public? Well we are not ready to accept a solution that undermines our rights. The international community? well they accepted the massacre in Gaza, on flotilla, hundreds of thousands of arrests, oppression, dozens of massacres in the past 64 years. Not doing anything about it is accepting it. Also, they are not part of the conflict. They do not get a vote in this. It does not affect every aspect of their lives. It’s our dreams, hopes, lives on stake here. Or is it the Israeli public? The Israeli public that accepted Gaza massacre, dozens of massacre in the past years, displacement of Palestinians, building of settlements, and many more oppression.

    Mr. Finkelstein criticized BDS movement of being picky about the law. He says that the law is clear. “It is also correct that Israel is a state,” he said. “If you want to use the law as a weapon to reach the public opinion you cannot be selective about the law.” UN Resolution 273 (III) admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations recalls “its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948” as the basis of accepting Israel as a state. The membership of the State of Israel in the UN is dependent on their respect to resolution 194 and the right of return. UN Resolution 194 (III) article 11 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes…should be permitted to do so”. This is also part of the law that you wish to be selective about. He criticizes the BDS movement of being selective about the law for calling for the implementation of a UN resolution! Unfortunately, he joined the new trend of using the expression of “a just resolution for the refugee question based on resolution 194″. This is a deceiving expression. The just resolution is to implement resolution 194. There is already an international consensus, expressed in resolution 194, on how should the refugee question be solved.

    Norman says: “There is nothing anywhere in the international consensus for resolving the conflict that says anything about the minority inside Israel, the Palestinian Arab minority.” This statement is completely false. More than 18 percent of the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are refugees. Thus, they are encompassed in UN resolution 194. Also, the United Nations recognised the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people and granted it an observer membership in resolutions 3236 and 3237. The PLO recognises the Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship as Palestinians. Thus, they are part of every resolution or agreement that the PLO signs or accepts. Nonetheless, if Mahmoud Abbas manages to replace the PLO’s representation by the suggested State of Palestine in his UNBid, then those Palestinians will be excluded. But not yet!

    Norman Finkelstein argues if it is reasonable to implement the right of return on the basis of what is more convenient for the Zionist movement, not on the basis of implementing the law. It is okay to talk about laws that does not threat the existence of the state of Israel. I have not heard a bigger fuss on the existence of a political system or state as there is on the existence of the State of Israel. The Soviet Union disappeared and it is alright. Yugoslavia was dismantled and life is seen much better. The state of East Germany and West Germany merged into a one country. Mainly, the communist state of East Germany does not exist any more, so this makes life perfect! When a political system becomes more important than a human right, then our humanity is doomed.

    On a last note, I must agree with Norman that if the BDS should focus on mobilising their people if they are a Palestinian organisation. Nonetheless, it is just the fact that BDS is not really a Palestinian organisation. It is mainly led by international activists. And we still need a pure Palestinian movement to mobilise the Palestinian public. Norman is right, Palestinians should not be telling the International community what to do to support us. But we would appreciate it if no one tell us what solution should we accept. We want our full rights. That is not a crime, that is not being illogical. It is simply being determined.

    • Red
      February 15, 2012, 2:09 am

      Opps, I should have said, while I am in agreement with the majority of Maath’s article, I do disagree with the last paragraph, where Maath argues that BDS is not a Palestinian organisation. I think Maath makes two mistakes here – firstly BDS is not an organisation, its a specific tactic use by people involved in a specific campaign. Secondly, while it is true the movement is premised predominately on international solidarity, it does not mean it is not Palestinian led.

    • tree
      February 15, 2012, 4:52 am

      When a political system becomes more important than a human right, then our humanity is doomed.

      Amen.

    • Hostage
      February 15, 2012, 5:08 am

      UN Resolution 273 (III) admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations recalls “its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11 December 1948” as the basis of accepting Israel as a state.

      No, in Israel’s case, the rights mentioned in those resolutions are under the guarantee of the UN and its members. They constitute a Charter obligation of all the member states. So acceptance was a basis for admitting Israel as a member. If Israel’s membership were ever revoked, it would simply become a non-member State.

      The PLO recognises the Palestinians holding Israeli citizenship as Palestinians.

      Yes but it does not represent them in the UN organization. The PLO represents Palestinian refugees, but Israel is the sole representative of its own citizens within the UN organization. Conversely, the Credentials Committee has never accepted Israel’s credentials as valid for the Occupied Palestinian territories.

      Pending Palestine’s full membership, the General Assembly Credentials Committee allows representatives of the permanent observer mission of “Palestine” to participate in the business of the UN without presenting credentials from either the “PLO” or “PNA”. The UN reports and resolutions about that also mention “their State, Palestine”. They describe the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 as “their territory” and say that “the credentials of the delegation of Israel do not cover that territory”, which has recently been formally admitted to UNESCO as a full member state. See A/58/L.48, 15 December 2003; General Assembly resolution, A/RES/58/292, 17 May 2004 and the discussion of those resolutions on page 192 of John Quigley, “The Statehood of Palestine”. The verbatim record of the General Assembly discussion of the resolution indictes the words “pre-1967 borders” had replaced the words “Armistice Line of 1949”. link to un.org

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 10:05 am

        Amazing how Israel is more than willing to go along with those resolutions yet continue to add more territory through stealing but continues to be in violation of more US resolutions than any other state

        link to foreignpolicyjournal.com

    • Shingo
      February 15, 2012, 6:37 am

      What an outstanding response from Maath Musleh.

      While I hugely admire Fink, I think he’s become jaded and stuck in a rut, much like Chomsky. The fact that Musleh, and otehrs here, have been able to point out so many contradictions in Finks responses suggests he has grown weary and that his anger is clouding his judgement.

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 9:35 am

        I think Fink is stuck because he knows the Jews need a place of their own while they have totally destroyed the possibility of the Palestinians having the same. Anyone who spells this out to the “wider Judaism” will be outcast but it’s a fact. They have defecated in their own sanctuary .

        The other thing is this Arab Spring thing has totally changed the dynamics since the unpeople are now making their point. This has huge ramifications for anyone who understands internally that Jewish rights trump all others.

        there was a very interesting piece about the Bedouin of the Sinai in today’s Guardian

        link to guardian.co.uk

        “A cross-border attack last August in which eight Israelis were killed was carried out by Bedouin militants from the Sinai, Israel’s military concluded last month, having initially blamed a Palestinian militant group in Gaza, several of whose members had been killed in retaliatory attacks.

        In response, Israel is rapidly constructing a fence – 5 metres (16ft) above ground, 1.5 metres below, reinforced with razor wire – along its border with the Sinai peninsula. It has also relaxed its insistence on Egypt demilitarising the peninsula under the terms of the 1979 peace treaty between the two and has boosted its own military presence along the border.”

        Israel has Hezbollah in the north and now the Bedouin in the south and is running an apartheid system in between . Never so regionally isolated.

      • Hostage
        February 15, 2012, 10:46 pm

        I think Fink is stuck because he knows the Jews need a place of their own while they have totally destroyed the possibility of the Palestinians having the same.

        No, I think he’s tired of wasting his time with people who won’t define their goals or admit their true agendas. There are four likely possibilities: a) more of the same apartheid, b) a 2ss, c) a 1ss, d) war.

        The US and Israel have already voted. They are going to give us more of the same apartheid. When the Palestinian leadership tried to change the status quo by publishing a plan for statehood, filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court, and joining the UN, the leaders of the BDS movement rejected the idea and offered a number of patently absurd excuses, chief among which were the farfetched ideas that:
        *The Chairman of the PLO and the PLO Executive, who approved the PA plan, were acting without the permission of the PLO (which declared the State of Palestine in the first place and tried to join the UN and its agencies back in 1989). The BDS movement (which has no legal mandate) claimed the PA and PLO needed a fresh mandate from the voters before they could demand an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian State.
        *That becoming a UN member state would harm the bang-up job the PLO has been doing for the last 40 years representing all of the Palestinians living in refugee camps.

        So that’s another vote for more of the same. The leaders of the BDS movement know that the ICJ advised that the Palestinian people are entitled to all of their territory and their State and that the settlements are illegal. Therefore, the claim that UN recognition of the State of Palestine is tantamount to recognition of a Bantustan is simply propaganda. The UN has declared the settlement blocks to be illegal – and as a consequence – they would automatically fall within the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction. The Government of Palestine has already granted the Court jurisdiction over any crimes committed on the territory of Palestine after July of 2002. See Declaration of the Palestinian National Authority recognizing the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,  executed for the Government of Palestine by Ali Khashan, Minister of Justice, January 21, 2009. link to uclalawforum.com

        Here is what one of the Jewish ICJ Justices said about the international consensus on the illegal wall and settlements back in 2004:

        This is not difficult – from Security Council resolution 242 (1967) through to Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), the key underlying requirements have remained the same – that Israel is entitled to exist, to be recognized, and to security, and that the Palestinian people are entitled to their territory, to exercise self-determination, and to have their own State.

        The Court also noted that Palestinians had been displaced in violation of Article 49(6) of the Geneva Convention. Those individuals have a guaranteed right to repatriation. With that ruling in hand, their State government can now pursue a remedy through the International Criminal Court on their behalf.

        So why is the BDS movement condemning the move, instead of endorsing the UN bid and demanding action on the criminal complaint the government of Palestine that was lodged with the International Criminal Court in 2009? Bear in mind that the leadership claims in the articles below that it had to mobilize in 2005, because the PLO and the international community didn’t enforce the ICJ opinion.
        *A Formal Funeral for the Two-State Solution
        How the PA’s Statehood Bid Sidelines Palestinians
        link to foreignaffairs.com
        Recognising Palestine?
        The efforts of the Palestinian Authority to push for statehood are nothing more than an elaborate farce
        *http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/04/2011413152522296883.html
        How Palestinian Authority’s UN “statehood” bid endangers Palestinian rights
        *http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/how-palestinian-authoritys-un-statehood-bid-endangers-palestinian-rights

        Fink is pissed because its obvious that folks, like Ali Abunimah, are actively undermining the individual rights of Palestinians who’ve voted in favor of the PLO demand for their own state in the occupied territories for the last 40 years. His actions are manifestly at odds with the claim of some in the BDS movement that we doen’t take sides in the 1ss v 2ss debate.

      • American
        February 15, 2012, 11:36 pm

        THANK YOU HOSTAGE..

        “the leaders of the BDS movement rejected the idea and offered a number of patently absurd excuses, chief among which were the farfetched ideas that:

        I was not aware the BDS did that.
        Who the hell ‘are’ the leaders of the BDS?
        There are obviously some foxes(or stupids) in the hen house.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 16, 2012, 12:24 am

        ““A cross-border attack last August in which eight Israelis were killed was carried out by Bedouin militants from the Sinai, Israel’s military concluded last month, having initially blamed a Palestinian militant group in Gaza”

        and they put gaza thru hell during ramadan, whoops

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 3:15 am

        I was not aware the BDS did that.
        Who the hell ‘are’ the leaders of the BDS?
        There are obviously some foxes(or stupids) in the hen house.

        Omar Barghouti wrote an article right here at Mondoweiss which contained factual errors about the contents of the UN application. It was never updated or corrected even after some of the errors were acknowledged by Barghouti in the comments section. He claimed the PLO was too invaluable to be replaced by the State of Palestine: “While our inalienable rights cannot be voided or extinguished by this or any other “diplomatic” maneuver, our ability to struggle for these rights in international forums will be severely damaged if the PLO is replaced by this imaginary “State of Palestine” at the UN.” link to mondoweiss.net

        Abbas, the Chairman of the PLO, hand carried the application for membership in the UN. Omar Barghouti wrote a series of articles which claimed the plan for ending the occupation and establishing the state was not approved by the PLO and that the PA did not have have the PLO’s permission to go to the UN for recognition. In fact it had been approved by the PLO Executive and posted on the PLO UN Mission website for over two years.

        Ali Abunimah and/or Omar Barghouti contributed these gems:
        Palestinian analysts continue to debate, oppose PA “statehood” bid
        *http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/palestinian-analysts-continue-debate-oppose-pa-statehood-bid
        *A Formal Funeral for the Two-State Solution
        How the PA’s Statehood Bid Sidelines Palestinians
        link to foreignaffairs.com
        Recognising Palestine?
        The efforts of the Palestinian Authority to push for statehood are nothing more than an elaborate farce
        *link to aljazeera.com
        How Palestinian Authority’s UN “statehood” bid endangers Palestinian rights
        *link to electronicintifada.net

        I frankly don’t hear a word these guys say anymore after the first insincere reference to international law or rights and remedies.

      • seafoid
        February 16, 2012, 1:54 pm

        Isn’t it appalling Annie? They murdered how many Palestinians for nothing.
        Gaza is Israel’s gimp.

        On the plus side I think now Sinai is off limits for Israeli tourists so the self imposed Israeli siege is stronger.

        The ultimate Israeli nightmare would be a Hezbollah type situation on the southern border. Given Israel does NOTHING for the neighbours anything is possible.

      • W.Jones
        February 15, 2012, 10:13 am

        How about when he says that if you talk about Palestinian Israelis’ rights you open yourself up to the charge of hypocrisy because there’s discrimination in other countries too? This is a comment heard in accusations against Palestinian activists when they discuss the issue of Palestine in general.

        The answer can be similar- our country is sending billions of dollars there, more than to any other country, so we have a special responsibility.

      • seafoid
        February 15, 2012, 11:08 am

        The answer is that Israel has committed itself in treaties it has signed to the basic principles of human rights and it doesn’t matter what goes on in DRC . That is the logic of the gutter.

  36. dimadok
    February 15, 2012, 5:07 am

    Are you willing to fight by yourself and send your children to die for it?

    • Chaos4700
      February 15, 2012, 9:04 am

      That’s ironic coming from an Israeli who doesn’t mind killing other people’s children for what he wants.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 11:50 am

        Good point but look above dimadok supports what Finkelstein said in the clip

        “dimadok says:
        February 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm

        Honest and strong wording. Good one, Mr. Finkelstein.
        Reply

        Kathleen says:
        February 14, 2012 at 9:07 pm

        Dimadok “honest and strong wording.”

        Glad you agree with Finkelstein here

        Finkelstein : “All I want to do is enforce the law” ” law is clear… The settlements are ILLEGAL That is correct. East Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian territory. That is correct. The West Bank and Gaza are occupied Palestinian territory. That is correct. But it’s also correct that Israel is a state. That is also the law”

        Too bad he does not say Israel is recognized as a state based on the 67 border

        Dimadok “HONEST AND STRONG WORDING” Supporting that the settlements are ILLEGAL as well as the housing in E Jerusalem

  37. Shingo
    February 15, 2012, 6:50 am

    I must say there have been some outstanding and impassioned comments here. I think this has highlighted the fact that while Finkelstrin has been made an invaluable contribution to the debate and paid a huge price for it, we must avoid the trap of hilding him up as a guru.

    He makes some very important and unpleasant observations here, but he’s also wrong on some important issues. BDS is not his to dismiss. The Plestinians came up with the idea and he has no right to tell them it’s a waste of time.

  38. Lexikon
    February 15, 2012, 8:03 am

    One has to admire NF’s assertiveness.

    The question is, in the end, all about possibility. The settlement of today is the basis of future demands. This is History.

  39. sajepress
    February 15, 2012, 8:04 am

    I think if Finkelstein is heard properly he is saying he is tired and frustrated with the lack of results. I agree with him. I too support the BDS but I also know it will never get anywhere. The Palestinians remain as divided as ever. It is also true if you want a one state solution, simply recognize Israel. That act alone will confound the hell out of Israel.

    • ToivoS
      February 16, 2012, 11:24 pm

      Saj says: It is also true if you want a one state solution, simply recognize Israel.

      Actually the PLO tried that in 1988; it didn’t work. Any other good ideas?

  40. Kathleen
    February 15, 2012, 10:06 am

    Keep pushing

  41. mirnamiranda
    February 15, 2012, 10:31 am

    To assume that BDS is outside the boundaries of the “law” as it stands today is a grand and marvelous truth. But more important is the reason why this “illegal” (according to Finkelstein) movement is necessary are the reasons behind it. If we go back to the beginning of this argument we find that it was a “lawless” act or rather “many lawless acts” that helped form the fascist and Zionist Apartheid state of Israel as it exists today…With the help of outlaws like the U.S., Britain and many others..Israel exists behind the facade of “democracy,” the Jewish faith,” and “legitimacy for crime” (by God’s own choosing), “violation of all international laws and conventions enabled by”Mafia” politics of powerful allies,” and “self-imposed delusions of grandeur as the “only real or superior humans” living in Palestine.” It is CLEAR to me and should be to the rest of you that power flies in the face of “legitimacy” as in adhering to the law! Why, Israel would NOT exist today if it had played by the “rules” or the “laws” as we know them. The Zionist movement started as a “cult” of power-hungry fascist leaders determined to rise above all governments…at all costs and they DID! Maybe Finkelstein hit on something USEFUL to the resistance and the freedom movement. Maybe…just maybe…the “law” or “legitimacy” only exists when we break out of the norm and insist on our own form of “lunacy” for all the right reasons even if it resembles a “cult.” Maybe…just maybe, the movement will not succeed as long as we continue to play by the rules while the powerful laugh at our “silly” efforts!
    Come on, Finkelstein, join us outside the box and help lead the movement within the new rules of “legitimacy” that speaks the language of the powerful…”illegitimacy and lawlessness!” A “cult” is only as good as its “results” and right now the only real bug under Israel’s skin is the BDS movement. It is working or it wouldn’t be an issue!

  42. FreddyV
    February 15, 2012, 10:57 am

    Is it just me, or is this the most depressing thread that’s ever appeared here?

    Notice the lack of Witty and eee? They don’t need to waste their time. There’s plenty of opinions and no real accord.

    I understand Finkelstein’s view. He does appear at his wits end and has taken a position that distills the conflict down to basic principals of law.

    Personally, I see two hopes. 2SS as per Finkelstein, or 1SS if by some miracle Zionism falls and America doesn’t use it’s veto. At this point, I don’t see talking about a 1SS doing anything but reinforcing Zionist siege mentality and giving the Israel apologists a platform. We’ll be arguing for the next 100 years against their bullshit IMHO.

    • seafoid
      February 15, 2012, 11:13 am

      We’ll be arguing for the next 100 years against their bullshit IMHO.

      I spoke to my Israeli colleague today. The ultra orthodox population is already at the stage where Israel can’t afford it . Israel doesn’t have 100 years.
      The next 20 years are going to be chaotic for Israel even without any change vis a vis the palestinians. It is not a stable country.

      • Danaa
        February 15, 2012, 5:17 pm

        Agree with Seafoid – and thanks for pointing that out.

        the demographics picture within israel is irrevocable. In fact, sometimes when I wonder what is the best punishment god could deliver to Ashkenazi arrogance for the sins of the founders and followers, I come up with the prescription that’s taking place already.

        Nothing makes the seculars of israel angrier than the encroachment of the Orthodox. No amount of threats from the neighborhood, or risk to the money flow from the US comes near to the existential threat they face from fellow Jews, whom they despise.

        This is very difficult to explain to non-Israelis and American jews – from liberals to neocons fail to process the magnitude of the dilemma facing the state. The demographic “threat” has never been from the palestinians – Israelis are immune to that kind of “danger” – by the force of their arrogance.

        I once told a story here about my late brother in israel (peace be upon him), who leaned a bit to the right in his politics (only a bit!), but then said – in many iterations over the years – that he’d rather have Arafat on his worst hair (or keffiyah) day move next door to him, than a Haredi family – or even just an orthodox Mizrahi one. He’d then add that he’d personally lay carpets for Arafat’s favorite guards and join Fatah himself if that’s what it took to keep the dossim as far away from his children as possible (my brother leaned to slight exageration here and there. Not unlike favorite sister). Sorry for any insensitivity – delicate speech is not an israeli specialty. But the sentiments behind the indelicacies are true enough.

        In less than 10 years, we’ll be arguing about an entirely different situation, IMO.

      • Pixel
        February 16, 2012, 12:28 am

        Agree with Seafoid and Danaa.

      • seafoid
        February 16, 2012, 8:30 am

        link to haaretz.com

        “Up to now, the Lithuanian wing of United Torah Judaism, Degel Hatorah – as represented by MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni, and by various municipal council officials – has sat on the fence regarding the Ponevez Yeshiva war. Rabbi Elyashiv’s illness portends the rise of Bnei Brak’s ascendance in the Lithuanian world, to the detriment of Jerusalem. Some believe that the differences between Bnei Brak rabbis, who appear to be more receptive to the needs of their followers, and the more dogmatic Jerusalem rabbis will definitely give rise to a culture war. Others reject this apocalyptic forecast, and insist that the differences between the four contenders are mostly nuances and matters of style. None of these four will preach to Haredi men about the need to get jobs or enlist in the IDF.
        Attorney Dov Halbertal, who is close to Rabbi Elyashiv, believes the identity of the successor is not really important. “No new Haredi ideological trend will arise,” he says, “unless there is some sort of revolt. Anybody who thinks the way will now be paved for the introduction of a new educational program for Haredim is mistaken. The common denominator linking all these [four] rabbis is absolute defense of the yeshiva world, in all its branches, against army service, and against changes in attitudes toward women.”

        Israel needs welfare reform but the haredi kids are already malnourished .
        It is a car crash.
        The haredi work everywhere else. But they can’t work in the jobs that pay the money to feed 6 kids.

        the 2 biggest freeloading groups are the haredi and the settlers and both have the political clout to crush all logic.

    • Kathleen
      February 15, 2012, 11:40 am

      Witty and eee have not been around for awhile. MW went through a restructuring awhile back. Kicked some folks off I believe.
      Reasons why
      link to mondoweiss.net

  43. hophmi
    February 15, 2012, 11:02 am

    This thread shows most people here are members of a cult. LOL.

    Even Norman Finkelstein had to grow up at some point. The question is why BDS cultists continue to attempt to disingenuously argue that their movement is not about destroying Israel, when everybody knows it is.

    • ahadhaadam
      February 15, 2012, 11:35 am

      That depends on how you define “destroying Israel”. If by that you mean destroying the exclusionary Apartheid State, then yes, I’d say most of us are very much for it.

      And if by destroying you mean abolishing, then you’re right on!

      • Newclench
        February 15, 2012, 11:58 am

        ahadhaadam, I have always heard this view from others on the left. One of the nice things about MW is how this view gets a fair hearing where we all see it.
        The BDS cult is in favor of ‘ending’ Israel while at the same time using rights based language so as to avoid having to say ‘we want to end Israel.’ That in itself doesn’t mean BDS isn’t sometimes a useful tactic, but such thinking taints the entire movement with a kind of unwholesome, fanatic gleam in the eye. It’s off-putting, self-defeating, and a real gift to the pro-occupation right wingers, who easily bounce off it to solidify their own supporters.

      • lysias
        February 15, 2012, 12:59 pm

        Was it unwholesome and fanatic to want the end of apartheid in South Africa?

      • iamuglow
        February 15, 2012, 5:24 pm

        ‘taints the entire movement’

        Please…you used the same argument for why Palestine should be kept out of the OWS protest. I don’t know who you think you’re fooling with this ‘I make these suggestions because I have the best interests of Palestenians in mind’

        Yourself maybe?

    • Kathleen
      February 15, 2012, 11:41 am

      That was a stupid remark when a real discussion is going on. So unnecessary.

      • patm
        February 15, 2012, 12:20 pm

        ahadhaadam’s comment profile reads: “Israeli ex-Zionist, calling to expose and abolish Israeli Apartheid, to be replaced by one state of its citizens.”

        He’s living the nightmare, Kathleen. hophmi isn’t and neither are you and I. The words abolish and destroy have equal meaning to him, I would imagine.

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 1:17 pm

        my response was to Hophmi’s comment. Should have pointed that out

    • FreddyV
      February 15, 2012, 11:44 am

      Hophmi:

      This isn’t a loaded question at all and I’m not looking to bait anyone into anything, but out of interest, do you think Finkelstein has a point? Would you accept an Israel based on 78% of the land, move the settlers out of Palestine and acknowledge RoR in the form of compensation if that gave Israel peace?

      • Kathleen
        February 15, 2012, 1:22 pm

        Will Hophmi answer these questions?

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 2:06 pm

        I answered affirmatively. As I have before. It is irksome to repeat once again that that position is the basic position of most liberal Zionists.

      • Robert Werdine
        February 15, 2012, 2:58 pm

        “Would you accept an Israel based on 78% of the land, move the settlers out of Palestine and acknowledge RoR in the form of compensation if that gave Israel peace?”

        If I were an Israeli, I would. Since I am an American, I would urge them to do so. If the Palestinian leadership and the people, accepted a compensated resettlement inside the territories or elsewhere of their choosing, plus further compensation, and agreed to end the conflict, what would there be left to argue over? Any Israeli rejection of this Palestinian acceptance would be criminal.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 3:17 pm

        The Israelis already rejected FAR LESS, Robert Werdine (phony Arab/Muslim sockpuppet).

        The Palestine papers proved that.

        Hence, the Israeli rejection of the plan proposed here would be superfluous. Plus, they’d never agree to it anyway.

        link to aljazeera.com

        link to csmonitor.com

        And here, commentary from Walt:

        link to walt.foreignpolicy.com

        [...] Second, the above caveat notwithstanding, the documents put to death the idea that Israel has no Palestinian “partner for peace.” On the contrary, they reveal a PA leadership that is desperate for peace — sometimes to the point of being craven — and getting no help at all from the Israelis and precious little from the United States. They keep offering various concessions and trying different formulas, and get bupkus in return. Indeed, even when they might think they’ve obtained something of value — such as Condi Rice’s pledge that the 1967 borders will be the baseline for negotiations and territorial swaps — they find that the next set of U.S. negotiators take it away with scarcely a backward glance.

        In this sense, the documents also expose the bipartisan and binational strategy that Israel and the United States have followed under both Bush and Obama: to keep putting pressure on the Palestinians to cut a one-sided deal. And if you thought George Mitchell was acting like an evenhanded mediator, think again: He keeps leaning on the Palestinians to get back to the table, to accept a less-than-complete settlement freeze, etc., yet there’s no hint of any pressure on the Israeli side.

    • Hostage
      February 15, 2012, 11:55 pm

      Yeah Hophmi Norman grew up. But he still wants to enforce international law and get Israel out of East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. That would still make your head explode, so why don’t you just keep quiet?

      • Cliff
        February 16, 2012, 3:04 am

        Norman wanted to take the interview down because he acknowledged it had done ‘some harm’.

        What do YOU mean he ‘grew up’ Hostage? Are you partially agreeing with the troll?

        I think Norman realizes how his message is being co-opted.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 4:32 am

        What do YOU mean he ‘grew up’ Hostage? Are you partially agreeing with the troll?

        I was referring to the fact that Finkelstein is no longer a Maoist. Judging from the rest of Hophmi’s comments, I doubt that’s what he had in mind.

  44. hophmi
    February 15, 2012, 11:57 am

    I think Finkelstein’s advice is universal. Political movements tend to be self-congratulatory and self-deluding. They inflate their own influence, and believe their own hype. That makes it difficult for them to reach the public. His advice is as relevant to my community as it is to yours.

    • Kathleen
      February 15, 2012, 1:24 pm

      You mean like the Gandhian movement, the civil rights movement, the anti apartheid in South Africa movement? Or just the BDS movement?

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 3:17 pm

        All three eschewed violence and/or brought out demonstrators in the tens of thousands. The BDS does not condemn terrorism and Palestinian civil society cannot claim to represent the will of the people.

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 3:25 pm

        Cite where BDS does not condemn terrorism. Substantiate your argument.

        Wait, you can’t. You’re full of *#&$ as usual.

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 4:56 pm

        “Cite where BDS does not condemn terrorism. Substantiate your argument.”

        Are you kidding? It’s been part of the movement’s philosophy not to judge the tactics of the people on the ground. I know that, why the heck don’t you?

      • Cliff
        February 15, 2012, 5:01 pm

        No. I don’t know that.

        So cite the examples.

      • Newclench
        February 15, 2012, 7:00 pm

        Hophmi reflects what I heard back in 2001 at an ISM training in the West Bank. That said Hophmi, shame on your for talking about what people don’t say. That’s a weasel game. BDS folks are pretty clear that they think ‘armed resistance’ isn’t a useful avenue for action, and in that sense they are nonviolent and de facto opposed to the armed struggle strategy. So what if they don’t let themselves get dragged into denouncing other Palestinians? You’d think Israel would vastly prefer BDS to terrorism, maybe recognize the shift towards a nonviolent strategy as a step forward.

      • hophmi
        February 16, 2012, 4:12 pm

        Yeah, armed resistance isn’t useful. BS. CONDEMN TERRORISM. If you can’t condemn something like the Sbarro bombing in unequivocal terms, you have no right to call yourself a human rights activist.

    • patm
      February 15, 2012, 1:39 pm

      FreddyV asked you a question, hophmi. Are you going to answer?

      “Would you accept an Israel based on 78% of the land, move the settlers out of Palestine and acknowledge RoR in the form of compensation if that gave Israel peace?”

  45. Kathleen
    February 15, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I think Finkelsteins main points were clearly right on. Focus on the law that applies both to Palestine and Israel.

    But he does go overboard trying to link his young experience with a Maoist group to what is happening within the BDS movement. Then he goes onto say that “there is large segment of the movement, component of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.”

    He changes that “large segment” to “component of the movement” Which is it and who is this “component of the movement” that wants to eliminate Israel? Seems inflammatory unless he can be specific

  46. hophmi
    February 15, 2012, 1:48 pm

    Oh, OK. Answer is yes.

    • FreddyV
      February 15, 2012, 4:40 pm

      Thanks hophmi.

      My question wasn’t loaded and at first I was a little worried about the defensiveness of your comments, but you actually answered my rather utopic question straight and well.

      Yes, we know that it isn’t this straightforward. I’m not pretending it is, but it demonstrates Fink’s straightforward approach.

      I’ve been reading and studying the I/P conflict and Christian Zionism for 2 years and I’m pissed off with it all. No wonder Finkelstein is exasperated.

      I’ve just made more headway with you on some kind of consensus in a few hours (with a little prodding from others) than I’ve ever made with any Zionist. How hard can this all be?

      • hophmi
        February 15, 2012, 4:58 pm

        “I’ve just made more headway with you on some kind of consensus in a few hours (with a little prodding from others) than I’ve ever made with any Zionist. How hard can this all be?

        You’re talking to wrong kind of Zionists. Many Zionists would accept a two-state solution with your parameters. The only questions are details; most of us would like to see land swaps so that there is less need to move people around.

        My belief is that once a deal is hammered out, many will follow it.

      • FreddyV
        February 15, 2012, 5:23 pm

        Yes!

        I am talking to the right kind of Zionist!

        Fink has touched on this. Most settlers are economic. They get cheap housing. Few are ideologists. They’re nutters who do the whole ‘River to the sea’ thing.

        Advise the IDF’s withdrawal and see how many stick around with a land full of ‘crazy Arabs’.

        Land swaps are fine, that’s business between Israel and Palestine. They’re far more aware of their respective situations than we are.

        The deal you mention needs hammering out. I agree. The question is more about who is going to bring the metaphorical hammer.

  47. seafoid
    February 15, 2012, 1:56 pm

    It doesn’t matter what the Fink thinks anyway. Israel is run by clowns and they are going to drive the country to its logical conclusion. The problem in Israel is that it is not a functioning nation – it is a collection of interest groups and a balancing act and the psychopaths always have the upper hand. The settlements are a vital part of keeping intact a whole system which is ultra dysfunctional. They have a huge Haredi population who average 4 kids and marry young and have no money so they NEED the free housing in the territories. It’s all fine now but if it were a colony of insects or a shoal of fish in nature it would be identified by scientists as headed for extinction. Output is so much bigger than input.

    • Pixel
      February 16, 2012, 12:35 am

      Seafoid,

      I always appreciate your comments.

      • seafoid
        February 16, 2012, 3:11 pm

        Pixel

        We are all learning so much here . Thanks for the compliment !

  48. David Samel
    February 15, 2012, 3:22 pm

    What a terribly disappointing interview. While Finkelstein deserves enormous respect for the courageous things he has done very well, he is most unimpressive here. Several points, in no particular order (other than disorganized rambling):

    1) Finkelstein, while accusing BDS proponents of being disingenuous in refusing to acknowledge their ultimate aim is to destroy Israel, is clearly being disingenuous himself. He talks about Israel’s right to exist as a state, and the need for Palestinians to recognize same, but sidesteps the critical issue of Israel as a Jewish State. There surely is no international legal consensus on recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. Yet Israel as a Jewish State is precisely what Finkelstein is defending. Either Finkelstein refuses to recognize that there is an inherent contradiction between a Jewish State and a state of equal rights, or he is stating his preference for a Jewish State over the principle of equality. Neither of these positions is defensible, and he doesn’t choose one and defend it.

    2) NF does not talk about the feasibility of the two-state solution. I suppose he might do so elsewhere. I believe his prescription for emptying enough of the settlements in order to make Palestine a geographically viable state is giving settlers a deadline to return within the green line after which they will not be protected by IDF. That’s Chomsky’s solution anyway, and it makes no sense to me. Of the 6 or 7 hundred thousand settlers, even if there are genuinely fair land swaps, there will be tens of thousands of well-armed fanatical settlers who will refuse to cede what God has promised the Jewish people. They will not only refuse to budge but refuse to accept the jurisdiction of a Palestinian government over them. It seems to me that if these settlers are deemed citizens of Palestine, armed conflict between that government and these fanatics would be inevitable, and of course Israel could not sit on the sidelines. Israel’s illegal settlement of hundreds of thousands of Jewish citizens has made the reality of Palestine impossible.

    Then there is Israel’s dependence on West Bank water. It will surely insist on keeping access to what should be a Palestinian resource. Even the notion of mutually agreed upon swaps of land has the fatal flaw of requiring Israel’s agreement. All Israel has to do is refuse reasonable plans, propose unreasonable ones, blame Palestinians for refusing these unreasonable plans, and the occupation continues for many more years. There is a reason that the two-state solution, so overwhelmingly backed by the “international consensus,” not only has not been achieved despite this formidable backing, but seems farther away than ever. Israel has unilaterally taken steps to make it more and more difficult, and have probably made it impossible.

    3) Finkelstein sounds curiously like his nemesis Dershowitz when he claims that misplaced concern for discrimination against Israel’s minority citizens would raise troubling questions about minorities in other countries, such as India. Let’s put aside the difference that the Indian Government does not, overtly at least, enforce, favor, or sanction the caste system, while the Israeli Government surely grants special rights and privileges to its Jewish citizens. If Finkelstein is so concerned with India’s downtrodden, why doesn’t he take up their cause rather than defending Israel’s blatant ethno-religious preferences that he finds more tolerable than India’s. If he realizes that this Dershowitzian “what about other countries” argument is bullshit, but fears that it will resonate in the larger community, why not oppose the tide and painstakingly try to convince people otherwise? For that matter, if he’s worried about floating ideas that won’t fly, thereby leaving oneself open to counter-attack, why does he repeatedly compare Israel to Nazis? Does he think that will get traction?

    4) Finkelstein buys into the “destroy” Israel language, actually using that word several times. One-staters want a peaceful transformation of Israel from a country that favors one ethno-religious group to one that guarantees full equality for all. The use of words like “destruction,” with the implication of violence and killing, to describe this process is dishonest. As many others have pointed out, South Africa was not “destroyed” when apartheid was abandoned. Yes indeed, Israel might cease to exist as a Jewish State that offers some citizens superior rights based on ethnic privilege. Not only that, Israel offers these privileges to Diaspora Jews like Finkelstein and myself. Isn’t it unseemly for him to defend that system, even if he would never avail himself of the undeserved opportunity to supplant Palestinians on their home turf? Opposition to this system cannot fairly be categorized as “destruction.”

    5) Finkesltein revels in the near-unanimous “two state consensus”, but that consensus was achieved decades ago, and the reality not only hasn’t been achieved, but is further away than ever. BDS proponents are trying something different. Even if he thinks their efforts are not likely to be fruitful, and that they are better spent in other pursuits, why does he disparage them as a cult? They are trying a similar tactic to one that was at least partially responsible for the end of apartheid. Finkelstein’s comparison of BDS to his own youthful flirtation with Maoism isn’t simply insulting, it’s just plain stupid.

    6) Finkelstein worries that the international community simply will not accept the end of Israel, but refuses to talk about the end of Israel as a Jewish State. But if full equality of all citizens inconsistent with the Jewish State, isn’t that a problem with the concept of a state defined by an ethno-religious privilege, rather than a problem with the concept of equality? Does he really think the world will not be receptive to a focus on equality that almost all countries at least subscribe to, even if some might be less than genuine? Does he really want to label those who lobby for equality a cult? The cult of equality? What’s next? The cult of freedom, justice and fairness?

    7) Finkelstein’s analogy of having to accept red lights as well as green lights is strained. There is no contradiction in demanding what Palestinians are entitled to as a matter of international law, and demanding what they are entitled to under moral and ethical precepts. There is no consensus of international law recognizing the Jewish nature of Israel, and advocating for truly equal citizenship violates no legal principles, even if equality would spell the end of the Jewish State as we know it. I’m not certain, but I doubt if there was any international consensus on the legality of apartheid, especially in the early years. Did that make opposition to apartheid somehow a flaunting of principles of international law? Of course not. Even if opposition to apartheid was based totally on moral rather than legal considerations, it was principled and worthy of respect.

    8) Assuming Finkelstein is correct that BDS proponents are overly optimistic about their achievements, is that really such a big deal? He should advise them to tone down unrealistic expectations, but instead he’s throwing out the baby with the bath water.

    9) The situation has changed drastically since Norman started advocating for the two-state solution. It has changed drastically over the past 15-20 years. Shouldn’t Israel face consequences for refusing to adopt the international consensus, and in fact making it more difficult to the point of impossibility to obtain?

    10) I can completely understand Finkelstein’s greater concern for the 4 million Palestinians living under a foreign military dictatorship than for the 1.4 million or so citizens who are “merely” discriminated against in ways we in the US would find intolerable, but he should ask himself whether demands for equality under the law regardless of ethno-religious heritage can ever be considered extreme, or quixotic, or counterproductive. Why should it be so hard to convince people that discrimination against citizens based on ethnicity is morally indefensible in the 21st century. He doesn’t even try to demonstrate that concern for simple equality among citizens somehow retards progress toward ending the occupation and the more dire circumstances faced by more people. Finally, I thought Norman treated this earnest interviewer with arrogance. Frank asked excellent questions, and if anything, can only be faulted for not being combative enough. Finkelstein dismissed him with the obnoxious attitude that he was once young and foolish too, but has now grown up. Yuck.

    • Donald
      February 15, 2012, 4:52 pm

      Yeah, Norman was disappointing here. He might be right on the pragmatics–I don’t pretend to know anymore what the pragmatic solution is these days, but I suppose he’s right that by international law there’s a consensus in favor of a two state solution along the 67 lines. But he could have made that case without stooping to using the term “destruction of Israel”. He knows perfectly well that a phrase like that has connotations of genocide–that’s the emotional wallop it possesses. So if any Palestinian wants the right of return, by Finkelstein’s logic they “want the destruction of Israel”. Well, that’s not exactly fair to Palestinians–portraying their natural desire to return to their homeland as some destructive impulse.

      • eljay
        February 15, 2012, 6:33 pm

        >> David Samel @ February 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

        Very well said. Thank you. :-)

      • Pixel
        February 16, 2012, 12:40 am

        Best comment, yet.

    • Danaa
      February 15, 2012, 4:59 pm

      David, you the best…..

      I take lessons….give me a discount?

      • David Samel
        February 15, 2012, 6:09 pm

        Danaa you don’t need lessons – I love your writing and usually, not always, agree – and I don’t give no stinkin’ discounts to nobody for nothin’

    • LeaNder
      February 15, 2012, 6:00 pm

      Absolutely brilliant, David, strictly this should move up and ideally result in a debate between you and Norman.

      The Israeli Nathan Szneider wrote in 2003 in a German left daily: Israel can’t be both democratic and Jewish. But I think there is a huge resistance to give up the ethnic membership principle for a state based on liberal territorial principles and the core reason may well be fear.

      As I have to admit, I would find it very, very surprising if Israel hadn’t created by now future fractions that would be pleased if the barricades, walls and fences came down so they can take their fight to the cities. Do you think these fears are completely irrational?

      Last but not least:
      why not oppose the tide and painstakingly try to convince people otherwise?

      Everything surrounding Israel is put under a taboo. This is what the vast majority know, they know you better don’t discuss this outside the framing of the media. Thus Israel will always have a strategic advantage, in addition to more media power. She knows, she will be heard, easy to shape responses on central topics.

      Try to talk with the average man in the street on the topic, find out if they find your arguments as convincing as we do. I not seldom get a blank stare. Most people don’t know more than the usual hasbara.

      • LeaNder
        February 15, 2012, 6:23 pm

        I like Pat Lang’s little comments on the US media scene. These are the powers that shape US perception. On the larger scale of things it doesn’t count that your arguments are much better than theirs. ‘You are not on the airs but these cool-aid circles.

        I fear, if there will be another war the US majority will again stand patriotically united in support. What are the exact forces beside Israel that drive this development? Could this happen without the support of major non-Jewish powers? And are these powers bothered by the fate of Palestinians, I doubt.

        Oh and I should add, not long ago, he wondered if we should watch out for false flag incidents? Trigger events. Perception-management.

      • David Samel
        February 15, 2012, 6:26 pm

        thanks LeaNder – not sure what you mean about your fears being irrational. I didn’t quite understand your fears.

        Everything surrounding Israel is put under a taboo. You’re absolutely right, but I was talking to Finkelstein, who doesn’t shrink from anything. Why is he suddenly reluctant to raise issues he doesn’t think will fly. Has that ever stopped him? It seems to me that his litmus test is if he agrees with it, and apparently he doesn’t. Still, for a man who bucks the tide on so many issues, he shouldn’t counsel against others doing so.

        I haven’t really talked with the average man in the street. The closest I came was when I attended an Abunimah lecture at Columbia and asked a security guard what he thought of Ali’s speech, since he was the only one there out of duty rather than interest. He was very impressed. I have discussed these issues with numerous friends, at least half of which are Jewish, most of whom I consider bright and progressive, and with very few exceptions, they think I’m somewhat of a fringe lunatic.

      • LeaNder
        February 16, 2012, 9:03 am

        most of whom I consider bright and progressive, and with very few exceptions, they think I’m somewhat of a fringe lunatic.

        See, exactly what I mean. I am with you, reasonableness can be absolutely boring.

        not sure what you mean about your fears being irrational.

        Not my fears David, Israeli and Jewish fears. Put provocatively, leaving the bigger ideological and political constellations at the time out for a while:

        Shouldn’t a group that manages to take over another people’s land beware one day events could be reversed? That is whatever was conquered could be lost again?

        I’ve seen rhetorical traces of this idea …. no wonder.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2012, 9:42 pm

        Why is he suddenly reluctant to raise issues he doesn’t think will fly. Has that ever stopped him?

        I don’t think he is shying away from expressing his opinion, he complained that others are doing that in several instances during the interview. At many points he was not expressing his own views, just playing the devil’s advocate and presenting the standard objections that are raised by the public in Israel and other countries and saying that represents the current consensus we have to deal with.

        For example, Zionists always do object that they will never agree to the return of millions of refugees, because it would destroy the Jewish character of their society. I’m an anti-Zionist, so I’ve always responded that the justification for a Jewish state in Palestine is no more compelling to me than the justification for a German one in the Sudetenland. Neither Chomsky nor Finkelstein accept Israel as The Jewish State, but Israelis and many in the rest of the world do. We’ve got a statute on the books here in the US that requires Hamas to accept that.

        Some people in the BDS movement are reluctant to be honest and admit that they want to abolish the Zionist regime in Israel. It certainly isn’t necessary to resolve the refugee problem before the military occupation and closure of the West Bank and Gaza can be brought to an end and a State in Palestine can be acknowledged and allowed to join the international community on an equal footing. But some people have taken an all or nothing approach to solving their pet problems and resist any interim steps toward a final settlement. There’s an old Gallager joke that pointed out that “They called our ancestors settlers, because of all the things they were willing to settle for.” Many refugees might be willing to move to the West Bank or Gaza, instead of Israel, if we don’t prevent them from freely making that decision. People who want to solve the problems faced by Israeli Palestinians beat around the bush when a Zionist says equal rights and a just settlement will destroy the Jewish character of their state. That’s what Finkelstein was getting angry about at one point:

        “You think you’re fooling anybody? You think you’re so clever?… You shouldn’t reach a broad public because you’re dishonest… At least be honest what you want — ‘we want to abolish Israel and this is our strategy for doing it’.”

        The South African BDS movement did that. They labeled apartheid as racism and a crime. The leadership openly admitted that apartheid could not be the basis of any decent society and that it had to be abolished. If you tried to resurrect the defunct UN resolution which equated Zionism with racism or a crime, a proverbial “hockey match” would breakout, because there’s no public consensus for that position. The UN actually is addressing discriminatory legislation in Israel and equal rights for Palestinian Israelis, but it isn’t the most urgent priority. Finkelstein is a political scientist and he was describing that situation and getting exasperated because a settlement of some of these problems is readily available by simply applying existing international law and measures that are supported by a broad consensus.

        The video is still available at link to vimeo.com

    • American
      February 15, 2012, 7:56 pm

      “Finkelstein worries that the international community simply will not accept the end of Israel, but refuses to talk about the end of Israel as a Jewish State.”>>>>>

      Er….what international community is Norman talking about? This one?
      Not to be crude, but the US super power, who also has some negative approval, disappearing would be the story of the century, the disappearing of Israel might be the story of the week as far as the universe outside the ME is concerned.
      17% of the sampled world likes Israel, 56% doesn’t, the other 27% don’t care one way or another.
      I don’t see the world caring that much if Israel stays or goes, or is Jewish or not, or is one state or two states, or the world putting up a fight to hang on to Israel as the bellicose trouble maker they see it as now.
      This Univ. of Maryland -Kennedy Center World Public Opinion Poll was done before the ’08 Gaza assault. I don’t know if one has been done since. I will look.

      link to worldpublicopinion.org

      Israel and Iran Share Most Negative Ratings in Global Poll
      March 22, 2007
      Full Report (PDF)
      Questionnaire/Methodology (PDF)

      Published on 6 March 2007

      A majority of people polled for the BBC World Service across 27 countries believe Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world with almost as many saying the same about North Korea and the United States.

      Respondents were asked to rate 12 countries — Britain, Canada, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, North Korea, Russia, the USA, Venezuela — and the European Union, as having a positive or negative influence.

      Canada, Japan, the European Union, and France were judged most positively. Britain, China, and India received more positive than negative evaluations while Russia was viewed slightly more negatively than positively. Opinions about Venezuela were evenly divided.

      (Details of the evaluations of the United States were released separately by the BBC on 23 January and are available here).

      The BBC has been tracking opinions about countries’ influence in the world over three years (2005 – 2007). Nineteen of the 27 countries have been tracked over the entire period. During that time most ratings have remained relatively stable. There has been improvement in ratings of India, a slight decline in views about Britain and a significant fall in positive evaluations of the United States. Russia, China, and France also lost ground over the period, mainly between 2005 and 2006.

      “It appears that people around the world tend to look negatively on countries whose profile is marked by the use or pursuit of military power,” said Steven Kull, director of PIPA. This includes Israel and the US, who have recently used military force, and North Korea and Iran, who are perceived as trying to develop nuclear weapons.”

      “Countries that relate to the world primarily through soft power, like Japan, France, and the EU in general, tend to be viewed positively,” he added.

      GlobeScan president Doug Miller said: “India is the only country that has significantly improved its global stature in the past year, and is now even with China. Britain, while slipping a bit since 2005, appears to be avoiding the steep decline that its war partner, the US, is suffering. And it is fascinating that Chavez’s Venezuela seems to be appealing to as many people as it is displeasing.”

      The poll was conducted for the BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated the fieldwork between November 2006 and January 2007. Each country’s rating is based on half-samples.

      Global views of:
      Israel, Iran, North Korea, United States, Japan, European Union, France, China, Britain, India, Russia, Venezuela

      Israel

      Israel is viewed quite negatively in the world.
      On average, 56 percent have a mainly negative view of the country, and just 17 percent have a positive view, the least positive rating for any country evaluated. In 23 countries the most common view is negative, with only two leaning towards a positive view and two divided.

      Unsurprisingly, the most negative views of Israel are found in the predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, with very large majorities in Lebanon (85%), Egypt (78%), Turkey (76%), and the UAE (73%) having negative views.

      Large majorities also have negative views in Europe, including Germany (77%), Greece (68%) and France (66%). Indonesia (71%), Australia (68%) and South Korea (62%) are the most negative countries in the Asia/Pacific region. Brazilians (72%) are the most negative in Latin America.

      The two countries that tend to view Israel positively do so in modest numbers. Forty-five percent of Nigerians and 41 percent of Americans have positive views of Israel’s influence in the world, while nearly one-third in each country has negative views. The Kenyan and Indian populations have divided views of Israel.

      Because this is the first time the survey has included Israel among the countries rated, there is no evidence that its current ratings are better or worse than before.”

    • Thomson Rutherford
      February 16, 2012, 12:13 am

      David, thank you for this great review of the Finkelstein interview.

    • thankgodimatheist
      February 16, 2012, 7:18 am

      David Samel nails it.

    • Bill in Maryland
      February 16, 2012, 8:32 am

      Excellent analysis- thanks so much David Samel.

    • lareineblanche
      February 16, 2012, 11:01 am

      David, I e-mailed this comment to him, with some comments of my own, as I think it expresses well what many people wanted to say. I hope you don’t mind…

    • lareineblanche
      February 16, 2012, 1:01 pm

      In the interest of avoiding misrepresenting NF’s views on the matter and having an open discussion, I’ll post Finkelstein’s response to David Samel’s comments here point by point and slightly edited, I don’t think he’d mind (I passed on Samel’s comments to him unsolicited) :

      1) I never said Israel has a “right to exist as a state.” I said that under international law Israel is a state, like every other member State of the United Nations, with rights as well as obligations. I have also repeatedly argued in print and in every lecture I give that there is no legal, moral, historical or prudential basis for recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and in fact repeatedly stated that Palestinians should, in my opinion, reject such a demand, because, in the hands of someone like Lieberman, such a recognition would become a justification for ethnic cleansing. I also fully recognize that there is an inherent contradiction between a Jewish State and a state of equal rights. In fact most Israeli liberals recognize such a contradiction, which is why historically they have avoided writing a constitution.
      2) In every talk I give, I go through the settlements issue very carefully, using maps prepared by the Palestinian negotiators during meetings with Israel in 2008. There’s no point in going through all this here. You can listen to any of the lecture posted on my web site. But I do think it is irresponsible to hurl claims born of immaculate ignorance.
      3) The terms for settling the conflict have been set forth in multiple forums, ranging from the U.N. General Assembly to the International Court of Justice to the positions of human rights organizations. The status of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel never comes up for an obvious reason. Were China to start speaking about the second-class citizens in Israel, Israel will say, rightly, what about the second-class (and worse) status of Tibetans in China,and down the line for every other member State of the U.N. Even Canada would be taken to task by the Quebecois. It is for this reason that the status of the Palestinians in Israel will almost certainly not be part of a final settlement–no state in the international community will endorse it. I would also add that this issue has never been part of the Palestinian political agenda. Look at Arafat’s declaration of statehood and accompanying political document in November 1988. Of course, he mentions the refugees, which have always been part of the international agenda, but not a word about the Palestinian Arabs in Israel. Why has this demand suddenly been tacked on? Is it to make a settlement impossible?
      4) I already addressed this point.
      5) I have spoken on this point a thousand times, so pointless to go over it again.
      6) Already addressed.
      7) The very same lop-sided majority in the international community that repeatedly condemned Apartheid and refused to recognize the independence of the Bantustans has also recognized Israel as a state and called for a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border.
      8) Personally, I support BDS, so again I haven’t a clue who he is addressing.
      9) Of course the situation has changed in terms of public awareness of Israeli injustices and crimes, but the consensus has hardened over the years in terms of supporting a two-state settlement.
      10) Answered already.

  49. The Hasbara Buster
    February 15, 2012, 3:35 pm

    You can’t unscramble an egg and you can’t have a 2ss. Settlements like Ariel can’t be undone and a Palestinian state consisting of three or four cantons cut off from each other is simply a crazy idea. To Finkelstein’s credit, he, as well as Chomsky, has always adhered to the “realistic” approach that a 2ss is what you can fight for. However, the fact that most Israelis claim they would be comfortable with such a solution collides with the reality that no one has ever produced a workable blueprint of how the proposed Palestinian state could come into being. All of the Israeli generous offers and landmark proposals have come with enough caveats to render them irrelevant.

    I also don’t understand where Finkelstein gets the idea that BDSers want to destroy Israel. A 1ss would not destroy the polity currently called Israel, but expand it to accommodate the new geopolitical and demographic reality of two peoples increasingly intermingled within a single natural region west of the Jordan river.

    • FreddyV
      February 15, 2012, 4:21 pm

      The Hasbara Buster says:
      February 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      You can’t unscramble an egg and you can’t have a 2ss. Settlements like Ariel can’t be undone and a Palestinian state consisting of three or four cantons cut off from each other is simply a crazy idea.

      750,000 settlers. 700,000 displaced Palestinians in ’47-’48 and ’67.

      Complete disengagement based in 1967 borders including East Jerusalem. The Palestinians would grab that deal like it was Christmas and Israel would have the sale of the century. Simple!

    • notatall
      February 16, 2012, 7:05 am

      The Hasbara Buster: “A 1ss would not destroy the polity currently called Israel, but expand it to accommodate the new geopolitical and demographic reality of two peoples increasingly intermingled within a single natural region west of the Jordan river.”

      Reminder: The whole of Palestine has been under a single state since 1967. The problem is that it is not democratic.

  50. friendofpalestine
    February 15, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Adam H,
    You say that the video was pulled because it was distracting people from our real task of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
    Actually, not in my case.
    I was so shocked by NF’s contempt for those working for BDS, and his totally erroneous remark that you could count the number of BDS successes on the fingers of two hands, that it has spurred me on to prove him wrong. The goal for our little organisation in Marin, called 14 Friends of Palestine, is now to have at least eleven BDS successes in this small county of California. That includes the thumbs too.
    Wish us luck!

  51. ritzl
    February 15, 2012, 4:52 pm

    At the risk of being a sort of Luddite on this, and from the perspective of one of the masses that are needed to make BDS succeed as the leverage Palestinians need to change the current condition, the debate over goals seems to be academic, divisive, and somewhat ego driven.

    If BDS is to succeed (i.e. provide a potentially changing power that doesn’t exist at the moment) it has to be seen as a blunt tool. All this debate about specific, stated goals is completely academic. BDS succeeds by offering an avenue to help the Palestinians, independent of whether one agrees with NF, AA, NC, or OB. It succeeds at the mass level because of the singular motivation: “I want this madness to stop and I will not buy Israeli (yes Israeli, not just Occupation goods) until it does. Simple.

    Madness means whatever the Palestinian leadership says it means. Stop means whatever point in a progression of outcomes, as determined and pursued by Palestinian political leadership (voicing the desires of the Palestinian people through elections), is sufficient to meet “my” definition of what is a just outcome.

    I don’t totally agree with NF. I don’t totally agree with OB. I don’t totally agree with anyone that puts up what the goals of BDS “should be” outside of Palestinian leadership. And Palestinian leadership probably won’t be collectively specific about goals as they are working through a difficult problem using BDS as but one tool.

    Should I not buy Israeli goods because one person or the other says something I don’t agree with? Absolutely not. NF and OB aren’t managing the Palestinian desires and outcomes. These “goals” arguments are fragmenting. My support for BDS goes to whatever outcome the Palestinian leadership decides is the best it can do, again, as expressed through elections.

    That raises three critical motivational points. Can BDS make a difference? Can a corrupt (demonstrably corruptible) Palestinian leadership be counted on to do what’s right for the Palestinian people given my/other’s support of BDS as a tool at their disposal? And, can ego take a back seat to communal effectiveness?

    Yes, don’t know, and hopefully, in that order.

    The Palestinian rapprochement seems to be targeting 2ss at the moment for the “practical” reasons NF describes. But it also has to be done to supply a single-point, TBD (and in all likelihood, shifting), objective for the application of growing BDS power.

    The generic question raised by these discussions seems to be, “Is anyone willing to let the Palestinians lead on this?” If the answer to that is yes, then who cares what NF or OB think on this. I don’t. Give Palestinians the power of BDS and let them make of it what they will. For as long as their egregious situation exists, and up until They say it doesn’t.

    • Hostage
      February 16, 2012, 2:03 am

      I want this madness to stop

      Immediately after Operation Cast Lead the Justice Minister and Foreign Minister of Palestine filed a criminal complain with the International Court and said this madness must stop. The Prosecutor’s office received 300+ communications from the public reporting serious crimes committed in Palestine from other groups. So far as I can tell, the unelected BDS leadership said a) there is no State of Palestine; b) these Palestinian government officials don’t represent anyone; and c) all of this is a waste of time and a farce.

  52. friendofpalestine
    February 15, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Quite apart from his sheer nastiness, Norman Finkelstein didn’t seem to be able to see the difference between, “Destroy the Apartheid regime of Israel” and “destroy Israel”. He only has to look at South Africa to see that they are not the same. BDS was instrumental in destroying the Apartheid Regime in South Africa, but South Africa is still there! So are all the people – the white ones, black ones, and brown ones. And we must always remember that the BDS movement against South Africa started with just two humble employees at Polaroid, and from their original protest sprung the entire BDS movement. Just two people – less than the fingers on one hand! (And not even counting the thumbs.)

  53. LanceThruster
    February 15, 2012, 5:32 pm

    I think Dr. Finkelstein’s greatest legacy is encouraging people to think for themselves when armed with the facts. Considering this, I am more than happy to disagree with him in this regard.

  54. tombishop
    February 15, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Dr. Finkelstein is exposing the dead end of liberal Zionism. In the end, he supports a theocratic Jewish state. Theocracy is a medieval concept which is compatible with authoritarian government, not democracy. Maybe he is closer to Alan Dershowitz than to a genuine democratic solution which gives equality to all regardless of religion, origin or ethnicity.

  55. Binyamin in Orangeburg
    February 15, 2012, 8:38 pm

    Christopher Hitchens was once a militant supporter of Palestinian rights, before he flipped.

    Dare I say it? Norman is sounding a little like Hitchens or, may Yaweh forbid it, Benny Morris.

    I agree with the previous poster who alludes to the “destroy Israel” trope NF uses. Yes there is a wing of the Palestinian national movement that would like to replace Jewish apartheid with Moslem apartheid. Why is that relevant to whether the Jewish apartheid has a “right to exist”? No doubt there are some Palestinian exterminationists (just as there are more than a couple of Zionists who believe genocide is permissible to secure the Jewish state). Unless you believe that the Palestinian national movement is just a cover for an ethnic cleansing of Israel’s Jews, why use that language?

    Isn’t that the core claim of the Dershowitz’s of the world? The Palis must be caged up until they “recognize Israel’s right to exist”?

    • Chaos4700
      February 15, 2012, 9:22 pm

      Thanks for joining the community of commenters here. We’ve lost some valuable voices recently, but you seem like you’re up to the task if your first couple of comments are any testament to both your heart and your mind.

  56. Binyamin in Orangeburg
    February 15, 2012, 8:43 pm

    I want to add that I too, was a teenage Maoist. Indeed Norman and I worked together on a Maoist newspaper back in the day. I agree with his conclusions regarding the usefulness of that approach to politics. I haven’t spoken with him in years, but I always admired his intellectual courage. With a Phd in Politics from Princeton, he could have chosen a nice, sedate academic career. What he chose instead was anything but sedate.

    • Kathleen
      February 15, 2012, 10:14 pm

      “I was a teenage Maoist” sounds like the name of a rap band or a movie

      Comparing his Maoist group when he was a young whipper snapper to the BDS movement is kind of pathetic.

      ” Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
      — Mao Zedong [19][20]”

      HOW MANY PEOPLE DID MAO HAVE KILLED
      “Along with land reform, during which significant numbers of landlords and well-to-do peasants were beaten to death at mass meetings organized by the Communist Party as land was taken from them and given to poorer peasants,[34] there was also the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries,[35] which involved public executions targeting mainly former Kuomintang officials, businessmen accused of “disturbing” the market, former employees of Western companies and intellectuals whose loyalty was suspect.[36] The U.S. State department in 1976 estimated that there may have been a million killed in the land reform, 800,000 killed in the counterrevolutionary campaign.[37]

      Mao himself claimed that a total of 700,000 people were executed during the years 1949–53.[38] However, because there was a policy to select “at least one landlord, and usually several, in virtually every village for public execution”,[39] the number of deaths range between 2 million[39][40] and 5 million.[41][42] In addition, at least 1.5 million people,[43] perhaps as many as 4 to 6 million,[44] were sent to “reform through labour” camps where many perished.[44] Mao played a personal role in organizing the mass repressions and established a system of execution quotas,[45] which were often exceeded.[35] He defended these killings as necessary for the securing of power.[46]”

      Not sure I would be proud of that. And comparing BDS to his Mao group makes no sense at all.

      NF and I are close to the same age. When he was in his Mao group I as well as millions of others were committed to the non violence strategies of Gandhi and then MLK involved with civil rights, then anti war in Vietnam, then anti apartheid. Millions of us tried like hell to follow in Gandhis, MLK, Mandela’s lead
      . Mao’s strategies were not non violent and sure not attractive to me. Comparing BDS to his Maoist group was silly

  57. Kathleen
    February 15, 2012, 10:16 pm

    wonder why NF wanted the you tube video pulled. Nice of Frank Barat to be so accomadating

  58. Pixel
    February 15, 2012, 10:45 pm

    Just saw the excerpts.

    This is really sad.

    NF comes across as much like a lunatic as Dershowitz.

    It’s also like Goldstone. One day, he’s there and the next he’s lost all credibility.

    This is really, really sad.

    • Pixel
      February 16, 2012, 1:02 am

      Wrote this first, then went back and read all the comments.

  59. tombishop
    February 15, 2012, 11:19 pm

    Dr. Finkelstein’s attempt to withdraw this video from You Tube shows the deep conflict going on within liberal Zionism. This conflict has existed since the establishment of Israel.

    In December 4, 1948, Albert Einstein and 25 leading intellectuals of his day wrote a letter to the New York Times protesting the visit of Menachen Begin to New York to promote his Freedom Party in the newly established state of Israel. The Freedom Party was the predecessor of the Likud which now controls Israeli society. In the letter, fresh from the experiences of World War II, they compare Begin’s party to the Fascist parties of Europe. It is a powerful condemnation of the terrorism such as Dier Yassin which were part of the establishment of Israel.

    The letter is at link to globalwebpost.com

    However, within the letter is the contradiction of liberal Zionism. Surrounded by a forceful condemnation of fascist tactics employed by the Freedom Party, the signatories to the letter say this:

    “The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.”

    For all their outrage at the tactics of the New Freedom party, the signatories of the letter deny the nakba. What else can, “They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity.” mean? Who is the “Jewish defense activity” directed at?

    So Finkelstein and liberal Zionists have a choice. Either they are in support of an ethnically cleansed theocratic state of Israel or they are for a state which honors separation of church and state where all are equal regardless of religion, origin or ethnicity.

  60. pianoteacher
    February 15, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Just a suggestion – I could be way off – but
    Could there be some very clever reverse psychology going on here? Norman Finkelstein is so very rude to the interviewer, both about the silly people who are doing BDS, and the ineffectiveness of it all, that I am wondering if it is his way of firing us all up to go forth and work even harder on BDS – just to prove him wrong. That was certainly my first reaction.
    In which case, this interview is great at motivating us all to get involved with BDS.
    Could he be that clever? His insults were so very over-the-top.

    • hophmi
      February 16, 2012, 4:14 pm

      Pianoteacher, rudely insulting people has been Finkelstein’s MO for a long time. It’s his personality that has gotten him fired from job after job, not the Zionists. Maybe now that Finkelstein was rude to one of your own, you’ll admit that there is no plot to remove pro-Palestinian professors from academic institutions. There are plenty, but they are not as strident and shrill as Finkelstein is.

    • Robert Werdine
      February 17, 2012, 9:37 pm

      A strange thing happened to me today. About a week ago I taped a documentary on the Military channel about the Doolittle raid, and sat down this afternoon to watch it. What I got instead was a documentary from Link tv on Norman Finklestein–someone had changed the channel I was taping, obviously. The documentary traced his long, lonely struggle to reveal The Truth about “the Holocaust industry.” At one university somewhere, a young girl who was trembling and crying, gently, almost pleadingly, asked him if he realized how hurtful comparing Jews to Nazis was to some Jews.

      Now, he might have calmly explained to the girl, who was crying and obviously very distressed, his point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and why, and reassuring her that he could understand her feelings, and then, maybe explaining to her his (in my opinion, ridiculous and insulting) view of how he sees past Jewish suffering used as a warrant for certain objectionable actions committed against Palestinians in the past and present.

      But no. Finklestein assailed his timid, trembling questioner with all the belligerence of a brawler sailing into a fistfight. He brutally mocked what he called the girl’s “crocidile tears” and then exhaled a blast furnace of self-rightuous thundering about his Holocaust survivor parents and how Jews use the Holocaust to oppress Palestinians–his usual shtick to browbeat anyone who challenges his hysterical–and sometimes shockingly ad-hominum–assertions and attacks.

      The young girl continued to weep all through the lively professor’s three-minute aria of brutal and remorseless self-justification. When the number expired, he briefly left the podium and smiled to the camera–proud of his handiwork, no doubt, and of having throttled a timid young girl into intimidation. Served her right, I guess.

      • Shingo
        February 17, 2012, 11:47 pm

        Now, he might have calmly explained to the girl, who was crying and obviously very distressed, his point of view on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and why, and reassuring her that he could understand her feelings, and then, maybe explaining to her his (in my opinion, ridiculous and insulting) view of how he sees past Jewish suffering used as a warrant for certain objectionable actions committed against Palestinians in the past and present.

        Spare us your sentimental BS Werdine, that clip has been on Youtube for years now. NF was completely justified in the repsonse he gave to that girl. In her defense, she’s obviously she’s been brought up as so many Jewish are and inhereited teh truama of her parents etc. She asked the stupud question as to whehter he’d considered that Jews might be offended and hurt by his statements, obliviosu to the fact that NF is the child of Holocaust survivors. Who wouldn;t be insulted by some deluded kid trying to pull the emtional blackmail card on him, given that he’s probabyl had to explain this position 100’s fo times. As he said in that clip, he used to cowed and intimidated by this stunt but he’s gotten over it.

        The young girl continued to weep all through the lively professor’s three-minute aria of brutal and remorseless self-justification.

        What reason would NF have had to be remorseful. This poor girl has prbably grown accustomed to pullign this stunt every time the subject comes up as a eay to shut down the debate. When the members of JVP interrupted Bibbi’s GA speech and were attacked, there were members in the audience who cried and put their hands over their ears – clearly a sign that they are completely incapable of comming to terms with dissent within the tribe.

        The trgedy is that this says more about the truma that is inflicted on Jewish children as they are beought up to believe they are living in perrenial danger and in a society that hates them. If you really want to be outraged, take a look at the documentary “Defamation”. Students from ISrael are taken to Poland on an excursion to visit the death camps, all the while chaperoned by handlers who have brainwahsed them into believing that every satrnger thy come into contact with is an anti Semite who wants to kill them. There’s one particularly disturbign scene were two fo the girls (who obivously don’t speak Polish) are sked whre they are from by 3 elderly Polish men. The girls immediately assume that the men are calling them aminals, dogs and pigs. When the doco maker points out to one of the girls later that this is not what the men said at all, she is shocked and surprised.

  61. American
    February 16, 2012, 12:28 am

    Well I think we have confused the Norman BDS, with Chomsky thrown in, issue enough now.
    Can we just forget Fink and Chomie and recongize a few basics?

    International law and enforcement of those laws is the way to deal with Israel that has and would have real world weight and consquences to Israel.
    The problem is the US standing in the way of Israel being subjected to the law.

    BDS alone cannot stop Israel. It can raise awareness and get more organizations and people involved in actively opposing Israel’s occupation in a way that can generate enough heat be transfered into political pressure.
    BDS should be about ending the Israel occupation and settlements in Palestine, period. BDS doesn’t have the right to make choices or political decisions or decide on one or two states for Palestine—–that is up to Palestines.

    • Hostage
      February 16, 2012, 3:43 am

      The problem is the US standing in the way of Israel being subjected to the law.

      That was true enough, before the Vienna Formula was adopted to get around the objections from permanent members of the Security Council and before the ICC was deliberately created outside the UN framework to get around those same objections. The US can no longer prevent the ICC from considering petitions from Palestine like any other state or prevent Interpol and ICC member states from issuing arrest warrants at the request of the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber.

  62. nonzionistjew
    February 16, 2012, 11:38 am

    AIPAC is the only obsticle I can see here.

  63. Binyamin in Orangeburg
    February 16, 2012, 12:01 pm

    Norman, if you are reading this, I have the following question: What business is it of ours (Americans) what the Palestinian people decide is a proper means of redressing their subjugation?

    It is for the Palestinians to decide one-state or two. I well remember back in our Maoist days the ultra-left nudnicks who accused the Vietnamese of selling out at the Paris Peace Talks for making concessions that allowed the South Vietnamese regime to gain a temporary legitimacy. Don’t you think it’s a bit gaulling for us to be telling the Palestinians how to effect their freedom?

    I see the whole one state/two state debate here as inappropriate. We have a responsibility as Americans to stop our country’s support for a nation that subjugates 4 million Palestinians. We have a responsibility, right now, to stop the war against Iran that is about to unfold. Our country’s moral sanction, not to mention weaponry, make the subjugation and the wars possible. Isn’t what BDS is doing effectuating our responsibility to oppose what is being done in our name?

  64. Citizen
    February 16, 2012, 12:02 pm

    Re Finklestein on the BDS movement:

    BDS heating up: buying Brit & USA politicians is cheaper than making Israeli tanks (even with poor US taxpayers paying much of the bill): link to gilad.co.uk

  65. Shmuel
    February 16, 2012, 4:57 pm

    A few comments before the thread dies:

    1. Finkelstein treats the goals of BDS as if they were a peace plan. They are not. When he mocks and criticises those goals as not really being “rights-based” he means a rights-based peace plan, but that is not what BDS means by rights-based. BDS asserts Palestinian rights – on the basis of universal principles (not limited to international law). There is thus nothing inconsistent or dishonest in not articulating support for parts of international law that do not pertain to Palestinian rights. Any future peace plan (whether 1 or 2 or more states) is likely to infringe upon those rights in some way, but that does not mean that they should not be asserted in the absence of mutual compromise, or as a prelude to negotiating such a compromise.

    2. Finkelstein argues pragmatism and political maturity, yet clings to a 2-state plan based on full withdrawal to ’67 borders (including Jerusalem), and the removal of all settlers. His position on Palestinian ROR is unclear from the interview. He thus rejects both the pragmatism behind the founding of the BDS movement (in light of an endless, sterile “peace process”), and the pragmatism of the 2-staters who argue that the settlement blocs (including the Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem) will have to remain Israeli, and Palestinians will have to renounce the ROR. At least the latter try to take the political and ideological dynamics of the stronger side into account.

    3. BDS is very small and its victories thus far have been insignificant. Finkelstein is right. But why does he begrudge a small movement a little hype and cheer-leading? It’s part of the game. How many movements go around saying “We’re very small and insignificant and probably won’t accomplish much, but would you like to join us anyway, or maybe give us some money?” If what he wanted to say was ‘careful you don’t lose touch with reality and start believing your own hype’, he might have had a point, but that’s not what he said. So part of his assessment of the movement as an unrealistic “cult” seems to have been based on the fact that he thinks we all take the hype seriously.

    4. I find it ironic that Finkelstein criticises BDS for including the rights of Palestinian Israelis in its goals, and for excluding the rights of Jewish Israelis.

    • Hostage
      February 17, 2012, 12:47 am

      Finkelstein treats the goals of BDS as if they were a peace plan. They are not.

      Actually, it was the interviewer who asked Finkelstein about his book with Rabbani and asked him how he would resolve the conflict? Finkelstein responded by telling him that if you wanted to design a mass movement to do that you can’t go beyond what the public is ready to accept. If you are saying that isn’t the goal of BDS, then you are saying the same thing he did and talking past one another a bit.

      • Shmuel
        February 17, 2012, 2:41 am

        No, I’m not saying the same thing. He is criticising BDS for being hypocritical within the context of what it is trying to accomplish, not for failing to propose a rights-based solution. I think he completely misconstrues the goals of the movement and the motivation behind them.

        Of course you can assert Palestinian rights without taking a position on the future of Israel. If and when the Israelis are willing to negotiate seriously, compromise and renunciation will be discussed. The only context in which it would make sense to discuss the rights of both sides – and the limits (legal, political, pragmatic, etc.) that may be imposed on those rights – would be a comprehensive proposal for a solution, like the one he and Rabbani make in their new book, or like the ones that Abunimah and Barghouti have addressed, beyond BDS. Could their personal visions be incompatible with BDS? Possibly, but that is not what Finkelsetin says. Should BDS be applied to a comprehensive solution (including Jewish Israeli rights) rather than merely asserting Palestinian rights? Possibly, but that’s not what Finkelstein says.

        Barghouti has said that he is often asked about the ramifications of the goals of BDS for the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state (and as David Samel explains on the follow-up thread, that is in effect what Finkelstein is talking about). His answer is that BDS is not about Israeli needs, desires or rights. It is about the Palestinians, who have been denied their rights for so long, and continue to be denied their rights.

        If Finkelstein believes that a peaceful solution is possible – by combining BDS means and PNA goals – more power to him. The leaders of BDS have opted to focus on rights rather than solutions (not as a means to a solution) because they believe that there are no feasible solutions at present. That is hardly a failure to be “pragmatic”, but a different assessment of reality – one which I, personally, find far more sober and convincing than Finkelstein’s.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 4:14 am

        He is criticising BDS for being hypocritical within the context of what it is trying to accomplish, not for failing to propose a rights-based solution. I think he completely misconstrues the goals of the movement and the motivation behind them.

        It’s not just what Abunimah and Barghouti have discussed beyond BDS. There is no public political consensus in the US or EU for the solutions proposed in Part II of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) document on the Durban Review Conference, Geneva, 20 – 24 April 2009. link to bdsmovement.net

        And yeah, after reading about regime change there, I noticed there was no clear proposal for its successor, just the usual boilerplate about the exercise of the inalienable rights of Palestinians. That’s not going to be any comfort to the Jewish public. There’s lots of talk about holding Israelis criminally responsible for their actions, but no mention of equal treatment for Palestinians who’ve committed serious crimes. I also wonder why we don’t discuss those proposals during events like PennBDS and simply say ‘we want to abolish Israel and this is our strategy for doing it’?

        I still think you guys are blaming the messenger. He was telling Frank Barat about the objections that he hears to the BDS movement at all of his lectures. He was not expressing his own views, he was talking about the Israeli public perception of BDS, so of course he sounded like Dershowitz – and of course you’re never going to sell them on the goodness of the idea of regime change.

      • LeaNder
        February 17, 2012, 5:04 am

        He was not expressing his own views, he was talking about the Israeli public perception of BDS, so of course he sounded like Dershowitz – and of course you’re never going to sell them on the goodness of the idea of regime change.

        perfect exchange between Shmuel and Hostage. I would expand Hostage’s argument. I don’t think you will be able to sell “regime change” the equivalent of “destruction of the Jewish state” on the non-Jewish side either. …

        I find it hard to believe, as some seem to do here, that Norman Finkelstein was won over completely to Richard Witty’s, the Dersh’s position, thus I am firmly on Hostage’s side. Whatever people experience as harshness (frankness?)–hardly anything new with him, is it?–it may be driven by a fear the window of opportunity, the chance could be squandered.

        Phil probably is right that the young are leading this movement, but the slightly more disillusioned elders may have a point too occasionally.

      • Shmuel
        February 17, 2012, 5:22 am

        LeaNder,

        I have the utmost respect for Finkelstein, and although I reject his specific criticism in this interview (but tend to accept at least some of Hostage’s criticism) and especially his tone, I accept the fact that criticism is necessary – of Finkelstein as of BDS. It is important both to be constructive and to avoid excessive orthodoxy.

      • LeaNder
        February 17, 2012, 6:00 am

        Shmuel, I realized, I should have made this more clear: Both your responses are important. I find all your points, but especially 3–admittedly–excellent actually, even close to what I myself suspect NF’s core critique could be. Maybe I have to listen to the interview again more carefully, although I would like to know much more about the larger context. How, when and why was the event arranged. What earlier statements and positions triggered it. What were the intentions of the interviewer, are there earlier public exchanges and irritations concerning the topic discussed?

        I obviously don’t support his tone, but then I would like to know why it was there to start with. Understand?

      • Citizen
        February 17, 2012, 6:40 am

        RE: How to resolve the conflict? “Finkelstein responded by telling him that if you wanted to design a mass movement to do that you can’t go beyond what the public is ready to accept.”
        What is the Israeli public willing to accept? Has there been anything remotely as substantive as the resistance of some churches and the white resistance to apartheid in old S Africa?

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        And, as to what world opinion will accept, with the exception of the USA, is there much backing for BDS?

        I agree with whoever commented earlier, that the Israeli regime acts more and more like the old Mafia of Capone’s days. What may be Israel’s technical “tax problem?”

  66. Polly
    February 16, 2012, 8:23 pm

    I sincerely hope he lives to regret saying all this because it’s OBVIOUS he is boiling with resentment throughout this video. In particular, the superciliousness is unbearable.
    His main point, about directing more energy toward enforcing the law is, taken all by itself not a bad one. But he spends 98 percent of this interview belittling a movement that is borne out of wanting to right wrongs and he knows damn well the limitations and fragility of a movement like BDS. Suddenly he’s willing to give ISRAEL the benefit of the doubt while holding a youthful movement to unreasonably high standards.
    This is pure Dershowitz!
    He’s ends up shitting all over BDS the same way one could EASILY shit on the Occupy movement – young, idealistic, misdirected youths with a bit of knowledge and too much time on their hands right?
    One bombastic overreaction (I hope) certainly doesn’t undo 30 years of fighting the good fight but this was depressing as hell nonetheless.

    • Pixel
      February 16, 2012, 10:30 pm

      Nice comment, Polly.

    • Hostage
      February 17, 2012, 2:49 am

      I sincerely hope he lives to regret saying all this because it’s OBVIOUS he is boiling with resentment throughout this video.

      The guy who actually won the Presidency of Palestine with 60 percent of the popular vote explained that he wants recognition from the UN so that he can make the case for Palestine a legal matter, not just an on-going political debate. link to nytimes.com

      The leader of the opposing political faction agreed with that strategy in the face of strong opposition from one of his largest financial supporters, Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini. See Hamas Leader, Meshaal, Praises Abbas’ UN Bid for Statehood. link to richardsilverstein.com

      My opinion is that none of the leaders of the BDS movement have ever been elected and that the UN bid is the will of the Palestinian people until proven otherwise.

      Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti do not support the efforts to obtain recognition of Palestinian statehood from the UN so that Palestinians can pursue their own criminal complaints without having to depend on the good offices of the useless UN Human Rights Council and a bunch of impotent NGOs. Do you hope that they live to regret saying all of that?

      The operators of this website have written a book about the Goldstone report. They have also published articles from Omar Barghouti warning about the dangers of the Palestinian Statehood bid in the UN. Any State can refer information available from public sources relevant to the commission of a crime on its own territory to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC for investigation. That means Palestine can include the entire Goldstone report in its own complaint without bothering with the UN Security Council. You won’t read about that anywhere but in my off-topic comments here.

      To the best of my knowledge, there haven’t been any articles here which explained that the Palestine Authority referred the situation in Gaza to the International Criminal Court for action in January 2009 – long before anyone had heard of Judge Goldstone. That complaint remains under seal, but the results of the Arab League’s own independent investigation are publicly available. The Arab League report was also handed over to the ICC Prosecutor before the Goldstone report was ever finalized.

      Notwithstanding their prompt actions, there have been plenty of articles discrediting the efforts of the Palestinian Authority and the Arab League and accusing them of collaborating with the Israelis. Omar Barghouti has written articles elsewhere calling for the PA to be be disbanded, and responsibility for the territory handed back to the jackals in the IDF simply because the PA delayed a symbolic vote in the Human Rights Council on the Goldstone report. link to counterpunch.org

      The statements that we hear from the leaders of the BDS movement echo the sentiments of former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold when he claimed that the PA had no right to file a criminal case against Israel:
      *There has never been a State of Palestine. It is a sham, a farce, and a waste of time.
      *There is really only one existing entity in actual practice that has the right to transfer jurisdiction over the West Bank and Gaza to the ICC – Israel.

      The BDS movement was founded to end Israeli legal impunity in 2005. It’s manifesto enumerated a list of historical wrongs and complained about the passage of time without a remedy. In the case of the ICJ Advisory Opinion the passage of a single year was sufficient to demand mobilization. That was seven years ago, and its time for the BDS movement to admit that there has been nothing but record growth in the settlements and increased acts of violence committed by the settlers and the IDF since it came into existence. Its time to mobilize support for Palestine to join the ICC and pursue criminal claims against the Israeli officials responsible for the settlements.

      • Shmuel
        February 17, 2012, 3:09 am

        Hostage,

        Your criticism of BDS in general and Abunimah and Barghouti in particular are to the point and worth thinking about – particularly in the context of the UN bid, and more general failure to use the tools of international law available to the Palestinians. BDS and Solidarity need to be criticised and questioned by supporters of Palestinian rights, and if this interview with NF sets that in motion, it will have done something very important. I think the problem lies with NF’s specific arguments and the tone (mockery and dismissal) with which they are delivered. I don’t think his position (as expressed in this interview) coincides with yours at all.

        On another note, I have also read your defences of the PNA with great interest – especially since I tend to agree with NF’s assessment of the Authority.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 4:26 am

        I think the problem lies with NF’s specific arguments and the tone (mockery and dismissal) with which they are delivered. I don’t think his position (as expressed in this interview) coincides with yours at all.

        I agree he was being sarcastic and that he was obviously upset. He is certainly more familiar with the positions and political in-fighting among other activists than I am.

        I disagree completely with the idea that international law says nothing about minority rights in Palestine or Israel and have commented ad nauseum on that at MW. I don’t expect that the international community will make that a priority. The best way to bring attention to the problem is to present the findings of fact from the 2004 ICJ opinion to the ICC and ask that the responsible Israel officials be prosecuted for the crime of apartheid. Regardless of the outcome, that would focus the attention of Israelis on making some much needed changes at home.

      • Danaa
        February 17, 2012, 4:28 am

        Hostage: “Its time to mobilize support for Palestine to join the ICC and pursue criminal claims against the Israeli officials responsible for the settlements”.

        No disagreement there – and more power to those who try this avenue. . Unfortunately, the minute the PA tried to do that Israel will move into high gear to divert and disable such a move, including cutting off reimbursements to the PA, arresting its leaders and putting the squeeze on every way they can – and they can do a lot becuase, well, they are the occupiers. The world will stand by – as always – impotent, just as it does now when power to Gaza was cut, Hamas members of parliament are arrested and a determined Palestinian prisoner is about to die from hunger.

        Respect for the law is nice, when all the parties have it – or at least some of it. Israel does not care and will do its utmost – through its all-powerful lobby – to make sure the US administration is boxed in, the EU is neutered, and other countries threatened into silence. What exactly did happen on the Security Council to prevent a majority? whatever happened there will happen that much more if palestine proceeds along the lines you advocate (which again, I have nothing but best wishes for).

        The threats that have been issued to the PA are the reason the scenario you describe hasn’t happened yet. Certainly not because they did not want to pursue this course of action. Unfortunately, Palestinians do not have freedom of movement or decision and their person and property is forfeit, by definition. They are a conquered and subjugated people that Israel intends to first cow, then get rid of, the only uncertainty being the means employed in the “getting rid”. Besides, since Israel is, little by little turning into a mafia-like state, their respect for law, especially international law, is much as Al Capone’s was. A nuisance to be swatted or subverted. I believe that in any court of law, it takes two (at least) to tango. In the absence of respect for law or international opinion, all anyone can do is to “get” Israel on “technicalities”, as was done with the Chicago mob.

        And that is one reason BDS is the one and only means to put pressure on israel. This is something we all can do, as individuals and as groups. Certainly nothing else has, or will work because israel intends to keep the West bank for itself – its only problem being what to do about the natives. Given that is the country’s goal – as it has been for over 40 years, and is one supported by most of its people (forget those funky polls – devils be in details – ie, the code) – there is no way of bringing them back from the cold place to which they are heading.

        Problem the way I see it is that BDS is too mild in its censure, though I can understand why. We need to realize that almost all of Israel is complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians, whether actively or passively. It is therefore high time to move BDS to a higher gear and boycott as much of Israel proper as possible, not just settlement supported products. That means clamping down on business transactions for those who can, avoiding technical and educational exchanges for some, demonstrating in front of every sporting event where israelis participate for others, practicing cultural and academic boycotts whenever possible – as individuals – and members of institutions, and generally just avoiding contact, other than activism on behalf of the Palestinians and negotiations where relevant. This is what worked for South Africa, and is the only thing that will work to bring israelis to their senses.

        Having recommended this, I do unfortunately believe that it is already too late for the “bringing to senses” part. meaning we’ll probably all get front row seats to watch the calamity that will transpire. But it must never be said we didn’t try hard enough. You try it your way Hostage, I’ll try mine, and – who knows? not all prophesies come true.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 4:48 am

        And that is one reason BDS is the one and only means to put pressure on israel.

        Well you might have had me up to that point, but the ICC is not a political organ of the UN. Settlements are a violation of Article 8 of its Statute and the responsible Israel officials announce new settlements with great fanfare. So, there’s really no need to resort to technicalities to obtain an arrest warrant.

        I don’t imagine that the EU would refuse to arrest the unlovable bunch that’s running things in Israel at the moment. At a minimum, the ICC could put the fear of God into officials when they are making travel plans to any of the 120 member states and cause them to waste even more of their rapidly diminishing political capital.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 17, 2012, 11:52 am

        Besides, since Israel is, little by little turning into a mafia-like state, their respect for law, especially international law, is much as Al Capone’s was. A nuisance to be swatted or subverted. I believe that in any court of law, it takes two (at least) to tango. In the absence of respect for law or international opinion, all anyone can do is to “get” Israel on “technicalities”, as was done with the Chicago mob.

        just read something that counters this notion, it’s worth reading(sorry for the reapeat, i just posted the link downthread)

        the law is congealed class power. In the international sphere, this is also imperialist class power, inasmuch as there is a chain of imperialist states and sub-imperialism whose ruling classes exploit a sequence of dominated formations. The juridical forms of equality between subjects of the law, and of enfranchisement through representation, are just the legal forms that this domination takes. I ask you to be positively disposed toward this thesis for now anyway, because it helps explain a set of concrete facts that are present in Finkelstein’s case but nonetheless somewhat mystified. It explains, for example, the fact that the international legal consensus to which Finkelstein refers has never been efficacious in stopping Israel’s expansion for a second. It explains why, contrary to all appearances, Israel is not remotely ‘lost’ when it comes to the law, and never has been. It explains why Israel does not simply reject the terrain of the law, but rather insists on forcefully prosecuting its case and remaining a member of the relevant bodies. It explains why the law can be made to ex post facto recognise, accept and protect a state of affairs that some years previously was considered legally dubious at best.

        Or, perhaps more urgently, it explains why the legal consensus to which Finkelstein refers was actually built on a series of ambiguities. UN Resolution 242, in which the US and European powers were important negotiating parties, deliberately adopted a certain terminological inexactitude as regards what constituted occupied territory; as regards how and when occupation should end (negotiations and secure frontiers first, then withdrawal, is the usual formulation – which basically means that occupation can proceed indefinitely); and as regards the final status of the frontiers and particularly of Jerusalem. This was not because the drafters liked to tease, but because the resolution reflected the emergence of a broad ‘line’ from the jostling and mutual struggle of the powers involved and because the US, as the dominant party framing the legislation, wanted a very wide space for manouevre on Israel’s part. Israel has had that space, and made ample use of it. This is what “justice and right” means, not “in the abstract”, but concretely.

        ………….

        the law is in fact congealed power, it follows that any consensus which emerges within it will reflect the priorities of those exercising power, rather than resisting it. That is what entering ‘the real world of politics’ means. Second, that in giving the law a spurious consistency and determinacy in his rhetoric, he fails to recognise that it is both a strategic stake and a strategic field of contestation, and that to fight within it there is no neutral, non-selective, non-partial way to interpret and decide between the relevant provisions and resolutions. One can attempt to be more or less reasonable, more or less objective, more or less serious about the material: but any serious, reasonable and objective study will acknowledge that indeterminacy is structurally built into the field of international law, and deliberately inscribed in the relevant bases for the ‘consensus’. But construing the law as a consistent body of doctrine allows Finkelstein to belabour BDS for choosing to cite international law in its propaganda without explicitly endorsing the ongoing existence of Israel.

        link to leninology.blogspot.com

      • kapok
        February 17, 2012, 12:50 pm

        hmm, I like Annie. The prose is dense but rewards close attention. But he’s merely stating the obvious: Israel, like Canada and the US and lord knows who else, were imposed on the world from elsewhere by squabbling bureaucrats.

      • Danaa
        February 17, 2012, 1:38 pm

        Hostage,

        I think I was trying to put together two different strands of thought, which are not in conflict, but not in tandem either. Its more of separate, but complemetary tracks, a “let’s come from several directions” approach.

        I can’t argue with anything you say about the ICC – and will support that model wholeheartedly. Just being able to present a case there is a huge triumph already, and you, in pushing this avenue are doing great service to us all (me too, because I am learning a lot). I was just being dubious of success because Israel has the means and the will to be ruthless towards any palestinian going that route. I wish there was a way for non-state actors who are not officials of PA – and therefore not subject to immediate persecution – to pursue a case. Maybe you know of one? may be it’s time to be clever…

        BDS is another channel altogether and goes to the heart of a challenge to Israel’s impunity. It does not address matters of legality, per se, but matters of morality in a universal context. Very much along the lines Shmuel put forth above. It is something anyone can do, and as such, helps in alleviating the sense of impotence in the face of raw power that many feel around the world, not just Palestinians. It does not preclude a legal, law-based approach which is where NF’s arguments fall flat.

        Annie, thanks for the excerpt – very interesting. I need to digest. Maybe it’ll help overcome my inner Cassandra – at least for a bit.

      • Danaa
        February 17, 2012, 2:40 pm

        Hostage – one correction to my original statement – cf the sentence you highlighted. BDS is not “the only” means. It is one of the more effective ones to deploy, principally because we can all participate in it and do it now, and to whatever extent we are comfortable with.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 6:57 pm

        It explains why Israel does not simply reject the terrain of the law, but rather insists on forcefully prosecuting its case and remaining a member of the relevant bodies.

        So the author doesn’t appear to be aware that Dr. Alan Baker of the MFA submitted a written pleading and that both he and Israel were no-shows for oral arguments and the decision in the ICJ Wall case.

        Israel loves to dialogue with everyone, except where it counts, inside a courtroom. So it’s inexplicable to me why BDS places so emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom.

        Or, perhaps more urgently, it explains why the legal consensus to which Finkelstein refers was actually built on a series of ambiguities. UN Resolution 242, in which the US and European powers were important negotiating parties, deliberately adopted a certain terminological inexactitude as regards what constituted occupied territory;

        All 15 ICJ Justices rejected the Israeli propaganda talking points about ambiguity and noted that resolution 242 cites the unambiguous prohibitions against the acquisition of territory by war and the corollary from the UN Charter against the use of force in the conduct of international relations. They all said the territory captured in 1967 is occupied territory; that the Geneva Conventions apply there; and that Israel had established settlements in violation of international law.

        But construing the law as a consistent body of doctrine allows Finkelstein to belabour BDS for choosing to cite international law in its propaganda without explicitly endorsing the ongoing existence of Israel.

        No he’s pissed because BDS constantly cites international law, but does nothing to move the issue out of UN political forums and into the Courthouse. Throwing shoes at pictures of Abbas to get him to refer the Goldstone report to the UN HRC is mental masturbation if you don’t follow-up by throwing shoes at his picture to get the President of the State of Palestine to submit it to the International Criminal Court where it really belongs. All of this BDS shreying about international law rings a little hollow

        The US refused to ratify the Covenant of the League of Nations and managed to codify Henry Cabot Lodge’s reservations when the UN Charter was being drafted. The failure of the political organs of the UN to enforce international law is no surprise, but that is one of the reasons the International Criminal Court was established as an independent organization outside of the UN. Bitching about legal hurdles to enforcing international criminal law that no longer exist, doesn’t reflect particularly profound thinking.

        Nothing is standing between the Palestinians and a remedy in the International Criminal Court, except their own disinterest.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 8:53 pm

        I wish there was a way for non-state actors who are not officials of PA – and therefore not subject to immediate persecution – to pursue a case.

        That is already possible, but I don’t believe it has happened yet. The Court is a new institution. Relative to other courts, these are still the early days.

        Anyone can refer crimes that are subject to the jurisdiction of the Court to the Prosecutor in-line with Article 15 of the Statute. The Prosecutor can then initiate investigations on his/her own initiative. The only legal hurdles in this case have been the challenges to the validity of the State of Palestine’s declaration which accepted the jurisdiction of the Court for all the crimes that have been reported so far. In principle, there should be no need for Palestine to join the ICC as a state party, especially after the UNESCO vote. The Article 12(3) procedure it employed in 2009 applies to situations involving a State which is not a signatory of the Rome statute. Palestine supplied documentary evidence of recognition of its statehood from 69 other states at the time it supplied the declaration. Every state can exercise universal jurisdiction, so the UNESCO vote and the 69 bilateral agreements establish that Palestine is a state which can transfer jurisdiction to the Court.

        Palestinian civil society organizations could be mobilizing right now to get the ICC to start investigating the 300+ reports it received concerning the situation in Gaza from the Arab League, AI, HRW, and etc. The ICJ advisory opinion used the same language employed by the Geneva Convention and Rome Statute regarding the transfer or facilitation, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies and the prohibition against internal displacement or deportation. So obtaining permission to investigate and prosecute cases involving officials who are facilitating the illegal settlements from the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber should be a slam dunk.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 17, 2012, 9:12 pm

        Israel loves to dialogue with everyone, except where it counts, inside a courtroom. So it’s inexplicable to me why BDS places so emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom.

        did you mean “places no emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom” or “places so much emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom.”

        i can’t speak for them. it is possible they simply don’t take positions outside of the ones they do take, except speaking as individuals. they might do this for lack of consensus. i assume they take an agnostic view of one state or two for the same reason and make no mention of israel for the same reason. i don’t know. they mention on their ‘introducing bds’ page their call for a global citizens’ response was a year after israel ignored the ICJ advisory opinion. link to bdsmovement.net

        All 15 ICJ Justices rejected the Israeli propaganda talking points about ambiguity and noted that resolution 242 cites the unambiguous prohibitions against the acquisition of territory by war and the corollary from the UN Charter against the use of force in the conduct of international relations.

        the author didn’t address the court, just this

        ambiguity is not the same as dissensus. If 99% of the states in the UN general assembly support one particular interpretation of the law, that lends strong credence to that interpretation, but it does not resolve the fact of there being an ambiguity, of there being multiple possible interpretations, of there being indeterminacy. The only thing that does actually resolve this, is physical force:

        i assume he means israel interprets it differently and claims they are in the framework of the law, and to them, that’s what matters. but, is it true what he said here: “the resolution reflected the emergence of a broad ‘line’ from the jostling and mutual struggle of the powers involved and because the US, as the dominant party framing the legislation, wanted a very wide space for manouevre on Israel’s part. Israel has had that space, and made ample use of it.“?

        No he’s pissed because BDS constantly cites international law, but does nothing to move the issue out of UN political forums and into the Courthouse.

        i don’t even recall norm mentioning the courthouse and i can’t watch it again (i don’t like being called part of a cult). i just remember his focus on bds not recognizing israel or the movement wanting to destroy israel. i do consider myself part of the movement and i am not calling for the destruction of israel. i am also very pro going to the UN and using the courts. even meshaal endorsed that. i don’t think the movement is unified around one or 22s, i think it is rights based. in terms of a unified movement it doesn’t seem like they are giving marching orders for specific political moves. i’m not sure anyone can speak for the whole movement because it is so spread out. i think, more than anything, this was what weakened norms argument, assuming everyone in the movement was lined up behind one state or bent on destroying israel. the movement is more spread out, ideologically.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2012, 11:29 pm

        did you mean “places no emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom” or “places so much emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom.”

        “places so much emphasis on dialogue about international law outside of the courtroom.”

        “the resolution reflected the emergence of a broad ‘line’ from the jostling and mutual struggle of the powers involved and because the US, as the dominant party framing the legislation, wanted a very wide space for manouevre on Israel’s part. Israel has had that space, and made ample use of it.“?

        That’s a hasbara talking point that was first deployed by Abba Eban to distract attention from the inadmissibility clause. That reflected a non-derogable customary norm of international law and the UN Charter which the Security Council is bound to unconditionally respect. It can’t adopt a position which creates a loophole for Israel to do something that is legally prohibited (without exception) simply by omitting the definite article from a sentence in one of the multilingual versions of a resolution. The cabinet ministers who wrote the resolution repudiated that idea decades ago, but Israel never changed the script. I’ve written about the resolution at length here:
        link to mondoweiss.net

        No he’s pissed because BDS constantly cites international law, but does nothing to move the issue out of UN political forums and into the Courthouse

        NF said that all he wants to do is enforce existing international law. The Security Council is a political organ that doesn’t enforce the laws. It has always turned that job over to ad hoc and permanent international tribunals.

        The movement can’t just mobilize because no one has enforced a judgment and talk itself to death about rights and remedies and not bring political pressure to bear on prosecutors when the opportunity presents itself. Economic and academic sanctions are good, but the pursuit of appropriate penal sanctions should also be a priority of the movement.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 18, 2012, 1:06 am

        the pursuit of appropriate penal sanctions should also be a priority of the movement.

        i agree wholeheartidly. i am going to address ‘the movement’ about this. thank you.

        edit, thatnks for the link..checking it out.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 18, 2012, 1:45 am

        whoa, from your earlier link:

        Alan Baker

        Palestinian representatives at the UN have prepared a draft resolution that will seek to declare that Israeli settlements are “illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of peace.” The issue of the legality of Israel’s settlements policy has long been a central issue on the agenda of the international community.

        It is claimed that settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians (1949). But both the text of that convention, and the post-World War II circumstances under which it was drafted, clearly indicate that it was never intended to refer to situations like Israel’s settlements. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Article 49 relates to situations where populations are coerced into being transferred. There is nothing to link such circumstances to Israel’s settlement policy.

        During the negotiation on the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Arab states initiated an addition to the text in order to render it applicable to Israel’s settlement policy. This was indicative of the international community’s acknowledgment that the original 1949 Geneva Convention language was simply not relevant to Israel’s settlements.

        The continued reliance by the international community on the Geneva Convention as the basis for determining the illegality of Israel’s settlements fails to take into account the unique nature of the history, legal framework, and negotiating circumstances regarding the West Bank.

        A special regime between Israel and the Palestinians is set out in a series of agreements negotiated between 1993 and 1999 that are still valid – that govern all issues between them, settlements included. In this framework there is no specific provision restricting planning, zoning, and continued construction by either party. The Palestinians cannot now invoke the Geneva Convention regime in order to bypass previous internationally acknowledged agreements.

        talk about sleazy.and then it goes on and on and becomes even more absurd! link to jcpa.org

        a must read!

        What Does Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Say?

        Immediately after the Second World War, the need arose to draft an international convention to protect civilians in times of armed conflict in light of the massive numbers of civilians forced to leave their homes during the war, and the glaring lack of effective protection for civilians under any of the then valid conventions or treaties.5 In this context, the sixth paragraph of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

        The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.6

        What is the exact meaning of this language? The authoritative and official commentary by the governing body of the International Red Cross movement, the International Committee of the Red Cross, published in 1958 in order to assist “Governments and armed forces…called upon to assume responsibility in applying the Geneva Conventions,”7clarifies this provision as follows:

        It is intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.

        In other words, according to the ICRC commentary, Article 49 relates to deportations, meaning the forcible transfer of an occupying power’s population into an occupied territory. Historically, over 40 million people were subjected to forced migration, evacuation, displacement, and expulsion, including 15 million Germans, 5 million Soviet citizens, and millions of Poles, Ukrainians and Hungarians.

        The vast numbers of people affected and the aims and purposes behind such a population movement speak for themselves. There is nothing to link such circumstances to Israel’s settlement policy. The circumstances in which Article 49(6) of the Geneva Convention was drafted, and specifically the meaning attached by the International Committee of the Red Cross itself to that article, raise a serious question as to the relevance of linkage to and reliance on the article by the international community as the basis and criterion for determining Israel’s settlements as illegal. One may further ask if this is not a misreading, misunderstanding, or even distortion of that article and its context.

      • Hostage
        February 18, 2012, 2:42 am

        During the negotiation on the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Arab states initiated an addition to the text in order to render it applicable to Israel’s settlement policy. This was indicative of the international community’s acknowledgment that the original 1949 Geneva Convention language was simply not relevant to Israel’s settlements.

        The UN, the EU, and the other High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions had advised Israel on numerous occasions about the flagrant illegality of its annexations, deportations, and settlements. Those universal condemnations were strong evidence of agreed-upon state practice. So, to no one’s particular surprise, the offenses were added along with dozens of others under the heading “Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law”.

        Baker spouts this nonsense in the Op-Eds. Like Charlie Sheen, he is always “winning”, except in Court, at the Reconvened Geneva Conferences, or at the Rome Diplomatic Conference when it actually matters.

  67. Polly
    February 16, 2012, 11:51 pm

    Thanks Pixel, I always let blurt once the party is over ;)

  68. kapok
    February 17, 2012, 12:44 pm

    If anyone has NF’s ear ask him to consider the absurdity of the situation: A special, “chosen” person(and that cliche is apt) is given leave, simply because of an accident of birth, to jump the queue to the Promised Land. How can that be sustained or even justified? What’s wrong with one state? Officially non-religious; if you want to be a Jew, you’re a Jew; a muslim, a muslim; Xtian, ditto; none of the above, no problem. Would that not be the proper model of peace and justice?

  69. Sue Wood
    February 17, 2012, 1:53 pm

    I’m with you Danaa! Haven’t people stopped to think that lawyers and barristers have been working on this for years? What good are ICJ ‘advisory’ rulings? Though it has to be said that this is what prompted the call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (sorry Norman, but it is a bit of a mouthful when not actually explaining to people what it is). Furthermore, many, many BDS activists are far from young, and we’re sick and tired of all these so-called processes, and it’s time for civil society, worldwide, to take matters into their own hands. And as I said on +972, BDS does not advocate for one or two states: simply three basic rights: an end to occupation, equal rights for ALL those living in Israel ‘proper’ and the right of return for the refugees (if all of the world’s Jews have the right to go and live there, why not the ethnically cleansed and their offspring?). Again, it’s about equal humanity! Whilst people within the BDSmovement may have their own views on 1s/2s, (many think 2states are impossible now, for example), it is not our job to advocate for either, but simply to inform people about the facts on the ground. And don’t forget that the anti-apatheid movement started very, very small, and if one compares the time-scale, BDS has had significant successes, such as government banks and pension plans divesting from Israeli arms companies for one, or two or three. A drop in the ocean maybe, but more and more people are becoming aware of the stark realities and are voting with their pockets. I think somebody said something about few BDS successes outside the US or something to that effect; in actual fact, despite Israel being a member of the EU in all but name, and despite the EU’s complicity, there has been much more success in Europe than in the US. Agrexco, Israel’s one time largest fruit, veg and herb exporter, for example, went bust thanks to a concerted campaign in Europe. Why, Hostage, do you think the settlement project has gone into overdrive? Why do you think the Zionists are fighting BDS full on? (There never used to be any Zionists at meetings I went to until a couple of years ago). Because BDS is working like nothing else has. Don’t knock it.

  70. Sue Wood
    February 17, 2012, 2:15 pm

    PS. When I wrote “BDS is working. Don’t knock it.” I wasn’t refering to you Hostage, or, indeed, anyone in particular. Just wanted to add, about Omar Bargouthi and others thinking that the statehood bid could do more harm than good: I think part of that could be about the idea that recognition could preclude the PLO, which speaks for ALL Palestinian people, whereas the PA only speaks for those in the Occupied Terrotories. Mahmoud Abbas stated that this wouldn’t happen and in fact reiterated this, more than once, during the bid and during his UN speech. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

    • Hostage
      February 17, 2012, 9:35 pm

      I think part of that could be about the idea that recognition could preclude the PLO, which speaks for ALL Palestinian people, whereas the PA only speaks for those in the Occupied Terrotories.

      The PLO doesn’t actually have any legal standing to represent the Israeli-Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel in the UN organization. That’s one of the points that Finkelstein was trying to clear-up. The leaders of the BDS movement are the source of the bogus idea that UN recognition of Palestine would change the role of the PLO. NF explained that under international law Israel is a state, like every other member State of the United Nations, with the same rights and obligations. In his email to lareineblanche he explained that the terms for settling the conflict have been set forth in multiple forums, ranging from the U.N. General Assembly to the International Court of Justice to the positions of human rights organizations. The status of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel never comes up for an obvious reason.

      *The 1988 PLO Declaration of the State of Palestine implicitly recognized Israel by mentioning that resolution 181(II) had partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State and that it continued to be the source of international legitimacy which guarantees the rights to sovereignty and national independence. link to unispal.un.org
      *In an exchange of letters on 9 September 1993 between Yasser Arafat,
      President of the PLO and Yitzhak Rabin, lsraeli Prime Minister, the President
      of the PL0 recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security” and various other commitments that preclude it from interfering in matters falling within the domestic jurisdiction of another state.

  71. Finkelstein has a good point that we should use international law and rulings in our arguments to change existing Israeli and US policy. Whether it is regarding status of Jerusalem or the Wall or the illegal settlements, the law is on our side and we should proclaim that loudly and clearly.

    Finkelstein is badly off track with his dismissal of BDS and other forms of nonviolent resistance. Lawyers are never going to solve this issue. It will take mass pressure.

    In addition to the growing BDS campaign, there is the newly emerging Global March to Jerusalem. This is on the same track: interntional mass peaceful direct action. See their website for details http://www.gmj-na.org. The idea is tens or hundreds of thousands of people marching to Jerusalem (or as close as they can get) to draw the world’s attention to what is going on.

    The international rulings and resolutions that are on our side are great but they are collecting dust. It is going to take mass action in the form of BDS, GMJ and similar good actions to change the horrible current situation.

  72. Rafi
    February 18, 2012, 2:40 am

    I’ve always liked Norman.

  73. Rusty Pipes
    February 23, 2012, 12:56 pm

    Finkelstein conflates the BDS movement with Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti. Although Abunimah and Barghouti are prominent spokespeople for BDS in english-speaking activist circles and alternative media, they are not the sum total of the views within the BDS movement. No one person possibly could be. The call for BDS came from a broad spectrum of Palestinian civil society in 2005. All sorts of Palestinians support BDS, from many different political parties and religious groups.

    In practice, the BDS movement is more BD/S. Civil society, the average Palestinian and average international supporters of human rights, only have immediate power over their own finances (Boycott) and related power over the finances of institutions with investments (Divestment). The application of Sanctions falls within the specialized field of lawyers and politicians. Because of divisions within Palestinian political parties and the PA’s history of corruption and cooptation, opinion among Palestinians varies about whether Abbas can or should pursue actions against Israel through the channels of International Law. So, while civil society is united on Boycott and Divestment, it is divided about Sanctions — especially the means by which Sanctions might be brought to bear.

    Neither Abunimah nor (O) Barghouti is a lawyer or a politician. Barghouti is an engineer who has written a book about BDS and traveled and lectured widely. He also makes no secret about his preference for one state, but he clarifies that he does not speak for all Palestinians. Abunimah is a journalist whose Electronic Intifada has given him a prominent platform to advocate BDS as well as his other beliefs. He has made no secret of his support for one state, it’s the title of his book. The Brandeis PR for Abunimah highlights this:

    As part of the 8th International Israeli Apartheid Week, Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP) will launch its first Israel Apartheid Week. The week is aimed at educating the Brandeis community on Israel’s apartheid policies towards Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and the Gaza strip, as well as within its own borders. The keynote speaker for the week will be Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada and a prominent figure in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    In the keynote address, Ali Abunimah will make the case for defining Israel as an apartheid state, and will give his solution, as presented in his book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. “There is already one state in Israel/Palestine; a state based on structural and institutional discrimination, a state in which Jewish citizens enjoy rights and privileges that are denied to Palestinians, in other words, an apartheid state” said Elisha Baskin (Graduate student, 2012).

  74. Blake
    May 9, 2012, 1:15 am

    Norman Finkelstein – Political scientist – BBC HARDtalk 2012

    American Presidents have long been criticised for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. That American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains America’s unwavering support for Israel.

    So what happens if American Jews fall out of love with Israel? That’s what the Jewish American academic Norman Finkelstein claims is happening. He says they are now so unhappy with what Israel is doing that they want to distance themselves from the country. But then he is nothing if not controversial. He, after all, is famous for accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust. And his actions have so incensed Israel it’s banned him from entering the country. Could he be right and if he is what does that mean for Middle East policy?

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