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Approaching 60, Norman Finkelstein reflects

Israel/PalestineUS Politics

We Are Change Rotterdam posted this February 8 interview of Norman Finkelstein in Europe three months ago. We’ve kept meaning to post it because the longtime scholar of the Israel/Palestine conflict reflects so openly as he approaches his 60th birthday later this year.

Finkelstein bluntly describes the loss of his profession, teacher, and the shift in his political role from being a leader on campuses to being marginalized by Palestinian solidarity activists because of his criticism of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement (BDS) as a cult movement. Finkelstein has also alienated some activists by insisting that the only viable path in the struggle for justice for Palestinians is to work for a two-state solution, a position he defends in the interview.

Author most recently of this important book on the relation of American Jews to Israel, Finkelstein says that he went from 75 speaking invitations a year from college activist groups to none. (Though later this spring, it developed that Finkelstein had a half dozen engagements.) And notwithstanding his criticisms of BDS, he said in this interview with Harry Fear that the BDS movement is “certainly important… certainly ought to be encouraged.” 

Below are key excerpts of the interview. It begins with Finkelstein musing on the fact that he has been engaged in politics since he was a boy.

I remember my friends’ parents were pretty confident that I was passing through a phase. I knew deep inside I was not. This is it. You know… This is going to be my life’s purpose. And that’s what it’s turned out to be….  Then in June 1982 I became involved in the Israel Palestine conflict, and thirty years later, 31 years later, I’m still and it and presumably, I’ll go to my maker whoever that might be, still involved in the Israel Palestine conflict.

How do I assess it? There are days where I think that my life was a complete waste of time. Then somebody wrote to me, “How can devoting your life to truth and justice be a waste of time?” And that was a sobering reminder. So I have my good days and my bad days like everybody else.

Interviewer: Careerwise, you were also a professor at DePaul University. How is your life now?

My career was a disappointment, no point in pretending otherwise. I loved to teach at every university where I did teach, and I taught at many schools, because I was kicked out of many schools. I was always the most popular professor in the department, always had the best student evaluations in the department, and my teaching left an imprint. Students– 10, 15, 20 years later– can still recite passages from John Stuart Mill that I had gone over in class. I was an effective teacher, I was a very committed teacher, and I absolutely loved to teach.

The ordeal at DePaul University left a very sour taste in my mouth and by the end of the last year which was a complete nightmare for me I never wanted to enter a class again, which was just as well, because I was never going to enter a classroom again. I was– it’s a fair statement to make, I was and continue to be blacklisted. I think it’s also a fair statement to make, I got no support from faculty after I was denied tenure. During the tenure battle, there were a lot of people who lent their names and support to me. But afterwards– you know– ask the simple question, I’ve now been out of De Paul six years… “Has one faculty at any university in the United States, one faculty invited me to speak in the department, to give a lecture, to give a talk? Anything?” No. No. I got no– after the DePaul debacle I got no support at all. I was out on my own. And actually I can’t get any job at all. First of all because of age… I’m headed for 60 so that already disqualifies me.

But beyond age, if you google my name– there was a prior time where people asked for references when you were applying for a job. They don’t do that anymore. They just google your name. And if you google my name, you know, it’s disaster. And you can’t do anything about that, by the way. I tell Google, I’ve been in extensive correspondence with them, when you put under my name “Holocaust denier” in the dropdown list, you’re killing all my prospects for a job.

I couldn’t get hired in the local dogpound. I mean it. I mean that literally. I couldn’t get a job in the Postal Service. They see “Holocaust denier,” end of story. 

Now at the airport, I’m on a watch list. So every time I come back. Let’s say when I come back from Europe tomorrow, I get interrogated for an hour and a half. Who puts you on the list? Nobody knows. How do you get off the list? Nobody knows. They even say there is no list.

So between all those things, no work.

So your life is now comprised of lectures, traveling.

Even lectures have significantly diminished because I’ve had major differences of opinion with elements in the Palestine solidarity movement. And they carry on like a cult, and so when the differences emerged, I was blacklisted, too. That’s just a fact. Last year I’d probably say about– I’d say between– about 75 invitations to speak around the United States by what’s called SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine. This year I didn’t receive one. I didn’t receive one. They carry on like a cult. And the guru says, “You’re out,” you’re out. So, you know, things are a little more difficult. On the other hand, I’m approaching 60, so my life is behind me, it’s not ahead of me. If it were ahead of me, then I would be very angry. But now I look back, I don’t look forward.

What would you like to accomplish with your publications and talks?

Well that’s another thing. Maybe I’m– it’s not a sour mood– but things have changed, you know, in my own personal life and also generally, I’m not sure if there is much I can accomplish. First of all, young people don’t read anymore. Reading is out. Young people don’t even have the attention span because of the web. They’re so accustomed to surfing the web that if you write an article that’s more than 300 words, it’s just not going to get read, that’s just a fact. Somebody told me if you do a video let’s say, what you’re doing now, they say keep it under 2-1/2 minutes on youtube, they’re not going to stay on more than 2-1/2 minutes. So books– forget it, it’s hopeless. And I believe in detail. There’s an old expression, the devil is in the detail. And I do think that detail is important. You can’t understand any conflict, you can’t understand– not so much the intricacies, the realities, because there’s a huge barrage of propaganda and in order to break through the propaganda you have to know the details. It’s impossible to do details in 300 words.

So have you given up?

No. I’m in a stage of frustration and I’ll explain why. I have a good friend in Palestine. Her name is [phonetic] Nidal Barham. And I was telling her, that you know, my books don’t sell, it’s a complete disaster. And she said, “But Norm, you said when you first came here– meaning in the 1980s– you said that you write because you want in the future, that someone would pull the book of the shelf and see that back then, meaning now, somebody was telling the truth.” You know, like, there are some people who wrote quite honestly and effectively about American Indians. There was a woman Helen Jackson, for example. That was 100 years ago. Now it’s 150 years ago. But we can go to the library and pull the book off. So I always imagined my books would be like that. Because I recognize I’m not going to get a broad readership.

Well, here’s the problem, I publish with a small publisher, OR books. Libraries are cutting their budgets like mad. So my books don’t get in the library, they’re gone, and that’s kind of frustrating. So I used to be writing for posterity, and now I’m writing for oblivion because it’s not going anywhere. Libraries are not ordering books the way they used to.

Then a real question begins, Why am I doing it? And mostly I do it, It’s a kind of therapy. I want to get the truth out there. If nobody cares about it– OK. I still want it on paper. Ten years ago when I used to lecture, people came up to me at the end and they’d say, Professor Finkelstein I read all your books. Then starting around about four or five years ago, people would line up afterward and say, Professor Finkelstein, I watched all your YouTubes. So now it’s reached the point where they don’t even take the chance to watch a YouTube that’s more than 2-1/2 minutes. So the culture is seemingly changing very quickly, and personally, speaking for myself, I don’t think for the better. The culture has become so vulgar, so gross…

But the new generation is just… [wiggling his thumbs on an imaginary keyboard] texting, texting, texting. It’s not yet that bad in Europe, I’ve noticed. I lectured last night in Belgium. I was shocked, people were actually not doing this [texting]. In the United States it’s frenetic, it’s frenzied….

Questioner asks about the dynamic between the Israel lobby and opponents of Israel.

The opponents of Israel– the Israel/Palestine conflict has gone on for a very long time. And the problem with anything that goes on for a long time, it becomes institutionalized. And when it becomes institutionalized, you develop a stake in its perpetuation, because if it ends tomorrow, Oh my god, what am I going to do with my life?

I’m free– I’m happy to, not happy– but I’m honest enough to admit, that that was a problem for me. I had honed in on this tiny tiny tiny tiny little place in the world’s map, read enough books to fill this room– Well, the conflict ends, what am I going to do with my life? It’s a problem, you know.

Do you still advocate the 1967 borders?

I don’t personally advocate anything. And I don’t think politics has anything to do with what a person personally advocates. That’s one of the useful things I got from reading Gandhi. Politics is not personal. Politics is about, You want to build a mass movement for change. And if you want to build a mass movement for change, you begin where the people are. And if you go past where the people are, you’re not talking any longer to the people, you’re talking to yourself.

So when you asked me what I personally advocate, I think that’s totally irrelevant.  Personally I advocate a world without borders. I’m oldfashioned enough, I still  believe in a world without states. But that’s totally beside the point. What’s important is on what basis– what’s the furthest you can reach a broad public, and the furthest you can reach a broad public is, two states on the June 67 border. You’re talking about the Netherlands: Is it conceivable you can reach a broad public on in any way– I’m not necessarily saying physically, but in any way eliminating the state of Israel? In my opinion the answer is obviously No. The same thing is true in Belgium, the same thing is true anywhere in Europe, the same thing is true everywhere.  It’s not a program that can possibly reach a broad public. And so once you set your goal in trying to reach that public– it doesn’t necessarily have  to mean their actual consciousness, it could be also their incipient consciousness, they’re just almost at the point of being ready to embrace something. OK, that I can see. But one state? Is there a constituency for one state? Is there a potential  for a constituency of one state? Is there any possibility that a broad public is going to embrace in any shape manner or form the elimination of the state of Israel, the answer is obviously No. It has nothing to do with politics.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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116 Responses

  1. MRW
    June 11, 2013, 11:57 am

    Thank you for this interview. It’s powerful. Dershowitz destroyed him. Dershowitz maliciously and malevolently set out to destroy Finkelstein, and I fault American Jews who pretend to ‘good conscience’ for not standing up for him.

    • seafoid
      June 11, 2013, 12:34 pm

      He’ll be back. He’s right. It’s in the detail in all of his books.

      Israel isn’t stable. It would be fine if the occupation had no impact on Israeli society but the social costs are very high. Israel isn’t going to make it.

      So maybe they have Finkelstein for the moment but he’s going to be around for a long time. He’s going to watch it fall apart.

      All the bots with their lies and character assassinations remind of a song by the Red House Painters

      “the attention I need is much more serious
      a kind of weight you couldn’t lift
      even if your cheap career depended on it”

      even if your cheap racist state depended on it

      I don’t agree about people not reading either. There will always be people who want to understand.

      Dersh wounded him badly. But Israel is supposed to be forever. YESHA is supposed to be forever. Israel’s forever is built on injustice . It can’t last. Fink won’t be killed off either.

    • LanceThruster
      June 11, 2013, 12:58 pm

      On many of the online petition sites against Dr. Finkelstein, you’d see entries made where someone says essentially, “My son/daughter told me he was a bad man.” So much of the animus against him is just the echoes of smear merchants.

    • atime forpeace
      June 11, 2013, 2:10 pm

      I learned a lot from this man, i wish him the best.

    • Krauss
      June 11, 2013, 4:10 pm

      Dershowitz didn’t ‘destroy him’, he destroyed his academic career which is something different.

      Even now, who do you think is the most read, the Dersh or Finkelstein?
      Sure, Finkelstein went way overboard with rant on BDS which sounded a lot like the angry rants of a right-wing nationalist but a lot of his books are still very relevant.

      • seafoid
        June 11, 2013, 4:27 pm

        They’ll be even more relevant in the future when the great Jewish schism happens between Erez Amrika and Erez Israel and people are wondering why.

  2. pabelmont
    June 11, 2013, 11:57 am

    So sad. He is a fine man. And the “cult” thing — just as AIPAC decides who can get a job in USA government and USA universities, a “cult” thing there, if SJP really denies him talking opportunities just because he criticised BDS on some point, well, cults of the “left” are as bad as cults of the ‘right”.

    I suppose Hannah Arendt had the same lockout after saying Eichmann was banal (or whatever). People do not like to have their idols smashed, and that includes everyone whose official “religion” decries idols.

    • seafoid
      June 11, 2013, 12:42 pm

      Alice Walker
      “You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity.”

      It’s not like there is just Finkelstein. The situation is very different to when he started in the field even if he doesn’t see it right now.
      Obviously a lot of Jews in the US are complicit in the lies and fear mongering but it’s going to be very hard for their kids to polish the same turd by the Med.

    • Inanna
      June 12, 2013, 3:19 am

      BDS was born as a grass-roots movement within the Palestinian community. It was Palestinians saying what they want, which is their human rights. NF might have survived not agreeing with it but by attacking it in such an offensive way, by calling his allies a ‘cult’ he offended, insulted and hurt people. I can’t really blame SJP groups for not inviting him on speaking engagements – you don’t normally invite people who insult and offend what you are doing.

      NF also engaged in a bit of patronising colonialism by telling the oppressed and marginalised group just how they should be doing things rather than listening to what they had to say. As such, he denigrated and insulted their agency and their capacity to decide what was the right thing for them to do as an oppressed people. That group too wouldn’t normally invite people who talk down to them. You are also engaging in a bit of that yourself. BDS is not an idol, it is a tool, a policy. If you don’t support it or don’t believe in it then don’t. If you think it’s wrong, explain why. But don’t call those who gave birth to it nor those who support it insulting and offensive names.

  3. LanceThruster
    June 11, 2013, 12:02 pm

    My own exchanges with Dr. Finkelstein were always a concrete reminder of how much he loved teaching and how great a price he paid for his integrity. I would love that my own university would add him to the faculty, but despite his remarkable teaching ability and his courageous stand as a truth-teller, he would be a lightning rod for those who would deny that he has anything to contribute to the discussion.

  4. seafoid
    June 11, 2013, 12:50 pm

    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/israeli-mk-gets-a-taste-of-palestinian-humiliation-at-qalandiyah-checkpoint.premium-1.516933

    (Member of Knesset Adi) Kol, who has helped advance bills in the fields of children’s rights, violence against children, health and education: “I am scared. I am scared that we will continue living like this. And that fear scares me.”

    Fink is right. Always has been.

  5. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    June 11, 2013, 1:27 pm

    This is such a very sad interview. Finkelstein doesn’t sound bitter – which is to his credit – just very, very sad. For me, the saddest thing was when he said that his life is behind him, even though he’s only 59. But with his career in ruins, with no chance of improvement – thanks to the maliciousness of Dersh and others – it may indeed seem to Finkelstein that the best is behind him.

    But history will judge him kindly. I do not believe he is ‘writing for oblivion’.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 11, 2013, 8:36 pm

      really? you thought it was sad? after the first 12 minutes it’s just pure..he’s wonderful. that wryness of his. the way he laughs and talks .

      i first saw it months ago (i think it was on his site actually) and i just remembered after getting thru the beginning how much i enjoyed it. everything, talking about that girl in the video that went viral…telling the story of amy goodman and his mother..the part about 7 beauties..and then when he talks about zionism and his dissertation …i couldn’t stop laughing. maybe it’s his eyes or the way his smile and humor come thru. i love this interview.

      and he’s definitely wrong about one thing, he will be read way into the future. people got mad at him, but so what. he’s a great scholar and he’s got a future. he’ll have a future til he’s dead, and then he’ll still have a future.

  6. Parity
    June 11, 2013, 1:30 pm

    Israel does not need to disappear, even as a state. What is needed, if the notion of statehood for Jews and statehood for Palestinians is to be preserved, is a different kind of two-state solution–Israel and Palestine on the same land, with the same borders, having equal power over the shared space. A number of people have come up with this idea independently of each other. A detailed explanation of this idea is on parityforpeace.org. Check out also “parallel states” and “parallel sovereignty.”

  7. John Douglas
    June 11, 2013, 1:40 pm

    It’s a blight on Harvard that the self-serving propagandist Dershowitz still has an academic title and position. It’s a blot on DePaul University, with its money grubbing cowardice, that Norman Finkelstein does not have an academic title, something his research and writing thoroughly justifies, nor the right to do what he loves, teaching.
    Norman Finkelstein is a pioneer. He deserves all that is good.

  8. yourstruly
    June 11, 2013, 1:45 pm

    “not a constituency for one state.”

    No there isn’t but there’s a constituency for ending the special relationship, for seeing to it that the tale no longer wags the dog. May not be visible now, but just tap the resentment elicited by repeated scenes of an Israel-firster Congress genuflecting before the settler-entity’s prime minister and watch where Israel’s alleged popularity goes.

    • john h
      June 11, 2013, 6:17 pm

      Have you tapped that “resentment elicited”, yourstruly? If so, what did you find, who were they, and how many were/are they?

  9. Sycamores
    June 11, 2013, 1:48 pm

    Norman Finkelstein views on the BDS and the Two State Solution has lost him some credibility among many. how does he see a 2ss even possible is beyond me. the BDS is a Palestinian peaceful movement against israeli atrocities and it really has nothing to do with an American professor no matter what his standing is.

    i was appalled how his career was destroyed.

    i seriously believe that Norman Finkelstein has an important piece to play in the ongoing struggle in Palestine/israel his acquire knowledge on the subject is nearly unsurpass. once he gets over his present slump he will come back stronger then ever. then we can all join the guru Norman Finkelstein cult (just joking).

    “I tell Google, I’ve been in extensive correspondence with them, when you put under my name “Holocaust denier” in the dropdown list, you’re killing all my prospects for a job.”

    to the authors ye might want to stress that Norman Finkelstein is not a Holocaust denier on the off change that some new readers might not be familiar with Norman Finkelstein.

    • lysias
      June 12, 2013, 2:52 pm

      How ironic.. Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors, who were both in Nazi camps, the mother in Majdanek and the father in Auschwitz, something he has certainly never denied.

  10. Justpassingby
    June 11, 2013, 1:58 pm

    There is no one like Finkelstein out there, he deserves all the cred, hes simply amazing.
    The “cult” thing was totally uncessary but the palestinian groups shouldnt exclude him thats their, gigantic, loss.

    There is a documentary on Finkelstein made some years ago for those who’ve missed, up on youtube:

    • Annie Robbins
      June 11, 2013, 8:46 pm

      oh i love american radical. i’ve watched it many times. and i will watch it again and again.

  11. David Samel
    June 11, 2013, 2:01 pm

    Finkelstein has more than a passing resemblance to Manning and Snowden. He spoke the truth, knowing it would be at great personal cost. It is a terrible shame that the vendetta engineered by Alan Dershowitz, who was his usual slimeball, deeply dishonest self as he defamed Norman to the DePaul powers, proved to be so successful.

    Finkelstein is wrong about his own legacy. His influence may be declining this year with the loss of speaking engagements, but he had a very strong influence on many others over the past two or three decades, and made a very important contribution to shifting the debate in the right direction.

    While I greatly admire him, I do not think he’s without flaws. I don’t know him personally at all, but it seems he can display a certain arrogance that can be a real turn-off. I think his reasoning on the 2ss is deeply flawed as well. And even in his fight with Dershowitz, he exercised some poor judgment that bit him in the ass. Still, his integrity and scholarship are of a very high caliber. Sometimes, you really can tell a person’s worth by his supporters and detractors. Finkelstein enjoyed the support of the great Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg, and earned the enmity, even the hatred of Alan Dershowitz. That’s a very impressive track record.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      June 11, 2013, 2:15 pm

      Agree. Obviously I don’t know him, but Findelstein does come across as being unnecessarily combative, arrogant, and maybe even slightly unpleasant. Even though I’m a huge fan of his work, he’s not the type of guy I’d like to go down the pub with.

      That said, even if Finkelstein was a paragon of humility and gentleness, the nature of his work would always have got the Dersh’s claws out.

      • American
        June 11, 2013, 8:32 pm

        ‘Maximus Decimus Meridius says:
        June 11, 2013 at 2:15 pm
        + Show content
        Agree. Obviously I don’t know him, but Findelstein does come across as being unnecessarily combative, arrogant, and maybe even slightly unpleasant. Even though I’m a huge fan of his work, he’s not the type of guy I’d like to go down the pub with.
        >>>>

        He may be a bit a arrogrant ,or better way to put it —-he doesnt suffer fools gladly–and I imagine what seems like arrogrance is years of frustraton with the fools.
        The man deserves to be honored for what he has done….he’s been out there telling to the truth and taking the slings and arrows and everything the scum ball zios could throw at him for decades.
        Just like the current whistle blowers, Snowden and Manning, Findelstein was blowing the whistle on the zionist and paid the price for it….he’s a hero imo.
        His head might be bloodied but it’s still unbowed.

        It’s wrong for the Palestine group to shun him.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 11, 2013, 8:50 pm

        he’s not the type of guy I’d like to go down the pub with.

        ha! you’d me missing out. norm is a kid in many ways. he’s fun.

      • W.Jones
        June 12, 2013, 2:00 am

        “Finkelstein does come across as being unnecessarily combative, arrogant, and maybe even slightly unpleasant.”
        Not sure what you are talking about. OK, he is combative when people are combating him at his talks….
        Not sure how he is arrogant though. Anyway, sure I would like to meet him sometime. He pretty much lays it out there, but he has alot of insight too that can come from conversations. I thought he had a very good conversation about the Neocon supporters of the state, saying “They’re not Straussians”, saying that they are not really ideologically focused on it. It would be interesting to briefly get his views on lots of things like religion, or Neturei Kartei, or what inspires him, etc. I think it would just be a brief discussion on each topic in case he would be combative or something, but it’s important to show him respect for his work too.

        That’s not really arrogant, is it, if he knows his real worth?

    • George Smith
      June 11, 2013, 3:02 pm

      I also admire Finkelstein tremendously, and am shocked if he’s being blacklisted by some elements of the Palestine solidarity movement for his politically incorrect views on the resolution of the conflict.

      At the same time, I thoroughly agree with your last paragraph, especially about Finkelstein’s reasoning concerning the 2SS. Which is more likely to attract the “masses” he’s ambitious to woo: (1) a kinder, gentler brand of ethnic exclusivism, where only 1.3 million Palestinians continue to be Jim-Crowed within the 67 borders while the remainder are free to make what they can of 22 percent of their homeland; or (2) equal rights for everyone in 100 percent of Palestine? I think we all can agree with Finkelstein that (1) is better than the present situation. But I can’t imagine building a mass movement for (1), whereas the example of South Africa in the 80s makes a mass movement for (2) highly plausible. And I already see a movement for (2) with strong parallels to anti-apartheid activism in the 80s; it doesn’t feel like a cult to me. The real cult here is the phony “mass movement” that’s actually behind (1) as the “international consensus.” Who exactly subscribes to this “consensus”? Tony Blair. Check. Barack Obama. Check. Let’s see. Uhh…give me a minute, will you?…

      • Hostage
        June 11, 2013, 7:27 pm

        Which is more likely to attract the “masses” he’s ambitious to woo: (1) a kinder, gentler brand of ethnic exclusivism, where only 1.3 million Palestinians continue to be Jim-Crowed within the 67 borders while the remainder are free to make what they can of 22 percent of their homeland;

        Your framing is totally incorrect. The leaders of the BDS movement have rejected incremental advances in order to promote the one state solution that they prefer. The international community of states have never left the fate of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the hands of the PLO. They already enjoy the benefits of de jure representation in the UN and de jure monitoring of their treatment at the hands of the State of Israel. For their own part, Palestinian Israelis have rejected proposals to place them, and the territory they inhabit, under PLO/PA jurisdiction.

        Israel is a signatory of the UN human rights treaties. It has always been required to report to the UN treaty bodies under the terms of the ICERD, ICCPR, & etc. on the steps it has, or will be taking, to eliminate racial discrimination against its own citizens.Their situation is already part of the focus of the BDS movement.

        It’s only the Palestinians living elsewhere, under the jurisdiction of the PA/PLO, who have fallen through the cracks and have no de jure representation or vote in the UN or other state-centric treaty, penal, and reporting systems. The BDS leadership is riddled with people who have bitterly opposed giving their brethren the same benefits of statehood that Palestinian Israelis and Jordanians enjoy today, pending the outcome of the conflict. Frankly the leaders of the BDS movement can’t deliver one state or two, much less government accountability. So they are part of the “pie in the sky” problem of how to deal with apartheid today, right this minute.

        Finkelstein is absolutely correct that the entire international community is queue-up behind the two state paradigm. It represents the only officially-backed leverage the Palestinians have ever been granted to make in-roads via the ICJ and ICC – and they have to accept recognition as a State with the right to exercise jurisdiction over that 22 percent of their own territory in order to do that. It’s cult-like thinking to preach that they would somehow be abandoning their Israeli brethren if they choose to do that.

      • Inanna
        June 12, 2013, 3:08 am

        The leaders of the BDS movement have rejected incremental advances in order to promote the one state solution that they prefer.

        Wrong. While individual advocates of BDS might prefer one or two-states, BDS itself advocates a right-based approach rather than a states-based approach. Precisely because the two-state incremental approach via Oslo has still not delivered. How long do Palestinians have to wait?

      • Hostage
        June 12, 2013, 6:58 am

        Wrong. While individual advocates of BDS might prefer one or two-states, BDS itself advocates a right-based approach rather than a states-based approach.

        I’m was not talking about “BDS itself”. I was talking about the BDS leaders who have signed the one state manifesto. They don’t pretend that they are neutral about the two state solution. Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti were both writing editorials and shreying about the UN recognition bid like it was the end of the world, and actively opposing it. e.g.:
        * http://mondoweiss.net/2011/09/the-un-application-for-the-state-of-palestine-and-the-future-of-the-plo.html
        * http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/04/2011413152522296883.html

      • Hostage
        June 12, 2013, 7:12 am

        Precisely because the two-state incremental approach via Oslo has still not delivered. How long do Palestinians have to wait?

        How long do Palestinians in the occupied territories have to go on dying while we wait for a one state settlement to materialize for the Palestinian diaspora?

        It would be the best thing that ever happened if we could solve one problem at a time and tackle the life and death issues first.

      • Sibiriak
        June 12, 2013, 9:07 am

        Precisely because the two-state incremental approach via Oslo has still not delivered.

        As NF has argued, there has never been a real “two-state approach”, incremental or otherwise. The “peace process” has been a complete fraud and sham, with two states never being the actual goal.

      • Hostage
        June 11, 2013, 7:45 pm

        At the same time, I thoroughly agree with your last paragraph, especially about Finkelstein’s reasoning concerning the 2SS. Which is more likely to attract the “masses” he’s ambitious to woo

        Right now Israel is claiming the legal right to commit acts against the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian territories that would be serious international crimes if only they were committed against the civilian population of any state. That’s the most powerful argument there is against denying that Palestine is a separate occupied State and waiting around for the unlikely possibility of a one state solution materializing anytime soon. You also sound silly to international lawyers when you claim to advance the cause of equal rights for all in single state between the Jordan and the sea, while bitching about the illegal or criminal presence of Jews there. That’s really just a two state argument. Israel has been explaining for years that the rules of occupation do not apply when a state occupies its own disputed territory.

        Believe me, re-defining this conflict as just another bloody civil war would not be progress.

    • john h
      June 11, 2013, 6:25 pm

      “Finkelstein enjoyed the support of the great Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg, and earned the enmity, even the hatred of Alan Dershowitz. That’s a very impressive track record”. One that will live on long after Dershowitz and his ilk have been seen as the dregs they are and then forgotten.

  12. ToivoS
    June 11, 2013, 2:06 pm

    I have such tremendous respect for Norman and it is sad to see how this has turned out. But oh, what a stubborn ass he can be. It just was not necessary for him to brand the BDS movement a “cult”. Obviously, there are factions within the leadership group that are advocates for the one state solution but from what I have seen it is a pretty broad coalition. Even then calling them a cult is not doing Norm any good other than having him expelled from the group. His basic problem is that he has always been a lone wolf and is not a committee kind of person. As the movement for Palestinian justice has grown in the West, it just became inevitable that players in this movement would need to operate within committees. I hope he can reconcile and find a role for himself. He simply has too much to offer to go into retirement now.

    So Google has set it up that “holocaust denial” drops down when his name is entered. I just checked; it was the first item in the “searches related to Norman Finkelstein”. This is awful. Google has such power over people’s reputation. We have all seen in the past few days that Google has been lying through their teeth about their participation in PRIZM. What an abomination they have turned out to be. I need to go back to firefox and linux.

    • piotr
      June 11, 2013, 2:23 pm

      Toivo,

      I guess that we need some advise. Google monopoly, like any monopoly, has pernicious aspects. Linux is an operating system on which you can run browsers, Firefox is a browser. Google is a search engine that you connect to using a browser, and you can do it using Linux and Firefox. The question should be: what is a better search engine?

      Strangely enough, I am using “news” on Google and it is becoming awful. Any testimonies what is a better news search?

    • Walker
      June 12, 2013, 10:25 am

      In Finkelstein’s case his faults are a mirror image of his virtues. But what a champion for justice he has been!

      Thanks to MondoWeiss for posting this.

  13. German Lefty
    June 11, 2013, 2:10 pm

    I already watched this interview a while ago. Finkelstein sounds strange.

  14. Obsidian
    June 11, 2013, 2:18 pm

    In the preface to his book Image and Reality, German Edition, Norm said that he, ‘rejoiced in the death of occupiers, including Americans’.

    Norm’s repeatedly called Israel, ‘a satanic State’, has insinuated that the Mossad was behind the car bombing of the Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt and he’s made a pilgrimage to Lebanon to sit at the feet of His Eminence Hassan Nasrallah, which is nothing to be proud of.

    • seafoid
      June 11, 2013, 2:52 pm

      He’s an academic FFS. He conducts research. If you want.to understand Lebanon and the IDF war machine you talk to the Hezb . Fink has no respect for hasbara. That is why the Dersh took him out. But revenge will be the laughter of Palestinian children living in their homeland in freedom.

    • seafoid
      June 11, 2013, 4:29 pm

      “In the preface to his book Image and Reality, German Edition, Norm said that he, ‘rejoiced in the death of occupiers, including Americans’”

      Back that up. That sounds like more BS.

      • Obsidian
        June 11, 2013, 4:47 pm

        @seafoid

        “I have no more compunction as a Jew about Israeli soldiers (and settlers) suffering setbacks in the Occupied Territories than I have as an American about G.I.s suffering setbacks in Iraq. I celebrate every victory over foreign occupiers. Just as I rejoice in the blows partisans inflicted on the Nazi occupiers in Europe, so I rejoice in the blows Hezbollah inflicted on the Israeli occupiers in Lebanon, Palestinians inflict on the Israeli occupiers, and Iraqis inflict on the American occupiers.”

        –http://web.archive.org/web/20070315095243/http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=4&ar=8

        I don’t do BS, bro.

      • German Lefty
        June 11, 2013, 5:13 pm

        Your link says “Postscript to German edition of The Rise and Fall of Palestine“.

      • talknic
        June 12, 2013, 9:53 am

        @ Obsidian “I don’t do BS, bro”

        BULLSH*T!!

        //”Norm said that he, ‘rejoiced in the death of occupiers, including Americans’”//

        Asked for evidence, you provided NO THING that said he ‘rejoiced in the death of…’

        What you have shown (again and again) is a propensity for bullsh*t

      • Cliff
        June 12, 2013, 11:10 am

        Yes, Obsidian/proudzionist-sock-puppet, you do b.s..

        There’s a qualitative difference between ‘rejoicing in the deaths of[…]’ and “rejoice in the blows [X] inflicted on [Y]”.

        Rejoicing in the death of someone for the sake of death is different. Rejoicing because an invader was defeated (i.e., as NF said: ‘in the blows dealt/inflicted on’) is entirely reasonable and most people express that exact sentiment.

        What a liar like you are desperately trying to do (as other Zionists do) is to make the violence committed by the groups you are ideologically and politically opposed to, seem ‘exotic’ and unique.

        Even though your apartheid State kills more civilians and destroys more civilian infrastructure.

        One Itamar = 1,000+ dead Palestinian children to the pro-Israel propagandist.

        Here, the point is simpler though. Israel has destroyed Lebanon multiple times and has invaded and violated Lebanon’s sovereignty multiple times. Israel has occupied Lebanese land multiple times.

        Israel has killed THOUSANDS of Lebanese civilians, several times.

        And NF is saying that when the invaders (Israel) and occupiers (Israel and murderers (Israel) and thieves (Israel), finally get kicked out of someone else’s country – THAT is cause to REJOICE.

        Not an arbitrary love of death for death’s sake.

        But for justice and for defeating the enemy that has stolen from you and murdered your people by the THOUSANDS and has done so repeatedly with immunity.

        The analogy that NF was making was to the Soviet’s and the defeat of the Nazis.

        The Soviet’s weren’t angels and they had their own atrocities and crimes to face. But as NF says, when we think about WW2 – we are thankful for the Soviets. We honor their victory over of the Germans and we lionize them.

        Israel is the aggressor and its enemies aren’t angels. But Israel’s enemies are indigenous peoples whose sovereignty and human rights and land and property have been violated and stolen by Israel.

        So, we celebrate the victory of these indigenous peoples over the aggressor, the thief, the invader – Israel.

        That doesn’t mean Hezbollah is suddenly Mother Theresa.

      • Obsidian
        June 12, 2013, 1:50 pm

        @talk

        First I paraphrased Norm, than I gave the original quote, which I had to search for in archives.

    • German Lefty
      June 11, 2013, 4:56 pm

      In the preface to his book Image and Reality, German Edition, Norm said that he, ‘rejoiced in the death of occupiers, including Americans’.
      Here’s the German preface: http://www.salamshalom-ev.de/PDFS/Vorwort.pdf
      Tell me where he wrote what you claimed.

      • Ellen
        June 12, 2013, 12:06 pm

        GL, Niergenwo! Weil Norm hat sowas gar nicht geschrieben!!!! Nicht im Vorwort und auch nicht im Postskript.

        Obsidian does it again! Dropped a lie about the preface to the German edition of his book, and if referring to the postscript, made a gross out-of-context distortion and intended misrepresentation.

        Sympathize with Norman’s sentiment or not, what he did write in a postscript is this:

        I celebrate every victory over foreign occupiers. Just as I rejoice in the blows partisans inflicted on the Nazi occupiers in Europe, …

        So his stance is quite “nuchtern.” Matter of fact-hard headed, Norm we know. That foreign occupiers usurping a native population are criminal whether Nazi Wehrmacht Soldaten, or US GIs, and that he celebrates partisan resistance and victory over any occupiers.

        Based on Obsidian’s past postings about his Russian father’s activities (including his celebration of the torturing of my civilian German relatives by Russian partisans) I would think that Obsidian agrees with Norman Finkelstein.

      • German Lefty
        June 12, 2013, 12:35 pm

        Based on Obsidian’s past postings about his Russian father’s activities (including his celebration of the torturing of my civilian German relatives by Russian partisans) I would think that Obsidian agrees with Norman Finkelstein.
        From what you’ve said, Obsidian seems to approve of the torture of innocent civilians, whereas he condemn self-defense against foreign occupiers.

    • quirx
      June 11, 2013, 8:55 pm

      Norm’s repeatedly called Israel, ‘a satanic State

      I would have to agree with that, and also state that might be applicable to America as well, in the sense of ‘adversary’ – the basic original definition:

      הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan, “the opposer,”
      and
      Shaitan (شيطان) is the equivalent of Satan in Islam. While Shaitan (شيطان, from the root šṭn شطن) is an adjective (meaning “astray” or “distant,” sometimes translated as “devil”) that can be applied to both man (“al-ins”, الإنس)

      One might legitimately argue that both Israel and USA are now ‘opposed’ to their original ideals, and have gone ‘astray’. Both are definitely brimming with hubris.

  15. goldmarx
    June 11, 2013, 2:20 pm

    Norman just spoke at the NYC Left Forum on Sunday, June 9 at Pace University. He was awesome, emphasizing that the pragmatic approach of following international law. He did not attack BDS then – he simply pointed out to the Palestinian speaker (Ms. Deek) and the Trotskyist Sherry Wolf and other one-staters that utopian sloganeering does not help the Palestinians on the West Bank who have to contend with racist settlers bent on destroying their crops.

    He also pointed out that then Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni several years ago came out against international law (which supports two states) while the BDS movement supports it, so the one-staters are in the same camp as Livni.

    From the interview, it’s clear that the BDS movement in Norman’s eyes is not a cult as a whole, but several local activists run it as such. Such are the pitfalls of a decentralized movement.

  16. JohnAdamTurnbull
    June 11, 2013, 2:25 pm

    We have to listen very carefully to what Finkelstein says about his own experience. There are very few among us whose lives and livelihoods will be affected the way his has been, but any of us who devoted time and energy to this cause have to recognize some echoes in our own experience. Despite the excitement over recent BDS achievements, anybody with a pencil, the back of an envelope, and a rough idea of population numbers can tell you that we have no idea where we are on the BDS adoption graph. Those lines are never straight — they wiggle up and down. There is no magic force that pushes them inevitably upwards, but there are events that can suddenly erase years of progress.

    When we look around at the events we hold and attend, do we see the same familiar faces? Are we running a lemonade stand or have we discovered Coca-Cola? We don’t know yet. If this were easy, someone else would be doing it. They’re not.

    Whatever disagreement you might have with Finkelstein’s opinions about the future, it’s a nuance. From the perspective of the huge numbers of people who have not yet become offended by Israel’s behavior (and it is emotional, not rational) these differences are invisible. BDS has to be a popular movement, not a nuanced debate among the best-informed. Finkelstein’s predictions may be proved wrong in someone else’s long run, but that is not the problem we all have to deal with now.

    Don’t throw away your assets. Finkelstein got a lot of us off the couch and there are many more still sitting down.

  17. ToivoS
    June 11, 2013, 2:27 pm

    A question just occurred to me based on my above comment. When I did that Google search for Norman, what appeared was a list of sites that I had visited previously, basically a list that was customized based on my previous search history. At the bottom of the page was the “searches related to Norman Finkelstein” list.

    My question is was that customized list based on information stored on my computer or was information derived from the Google cloud? I ask because I had deleted all of the cookies on my computer just a few days back. If my customized list information resides on the Google server is that information also available to the NSA?

    • JohnAdamTurnbull
      June 11, 2013, 2:48 pm

      The information about your search habits (and others’ whose habits can be matched to your own) is stored on Google’s servers, not on your own computer.

      That information certainly is (easily) available to the NSA, but the bad news is that, if the NSA were really interested, it wouldn’t matter whether the information was on Google’s “property” or your own.

      • ToivoS
        June 11, 2013, 4:24 pm

        That seems too pessimistic. I gather it is much more difficult to tap into individual PC’s then it is to mine Google servers. So keeping that information out of the cloud seems like it would provide some insulation against mass sweeps of data. So I will ask another question: can my browser be programmed in such a way that my ‘customized’ information is not sent to Google in the first place. If not, is there some other search engine where that can be done?

      • JohnAdamTurnbull
        June 11, 2013, 6:32 pm

        The attributes of internet architecture are neither optimistic nor pessimistic. they just are :)

        It is more expensive to mine your computer, so someone would have to be motivated to take the trouble. (For example, one or more of the roughly half million people who have access to target lists would have to put you on one and tag you at a high rank.)

        Cookies, scripts and images are the vehicles for the devil’s details. Turning them all off is possible in some browsers but renders the internet almost useless for browsing. You can also interact with the internet via non-graphical utilities. (Do a search on “curl” — but I doubt you would find it interesting.)

        You might also be interested in Torrent and proxy servers.

        There are two search services that make interesting privacy claims: DuckDuckGo
        Ixquick

        Be brave.

      • eljay
        June 11, 2013, 6:50 pm

        >> … can my browser be programmed in such a way that my ‘customized’ information is not sent to Google in the first place. If not, is there some other search engine where that can be done?

        If you use the Chrome browser, use the incognito option; else, try using startpage as your search engine (in Chrome or in some other browser).

      • ToivoS
        June 11, 2013, 8:36 pm

        ejay and turnball, thanks for the suggestions. I happen to have two systems — one MS based using Google as the browser and search engine and the other a linux machine (it has the firefox browser but I rarely use it except to download data bases and perl scripts to analyse data for my work).

        The first system is for the convenience of internet access and the second is because it gives me an environment where I can write my own code. (my coding is quite primitive, I can analyse data files but have never figured out how to surf the web with my own programs).

        I have been reading articles recently that pc based storage and software systems in the linux environment are ‘relatively’ immune from external snooping.

      • MRW
        June 12, 2013, 2:06 pm

        ToivoS,

        Check out DoNotTrackMe.

    • Walker
      June 12, 2013, 10:29 am

      Write your Senator, if you have not already done so.

  18. ritzl
    June 11, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Finkelstein always seemed to me to be the Dick Fosbury (of Fosbury Flop fame; i.e. they laughed, they ridiculed, they doubted, then everyone understood the physics and adopted the technique to change high jumping by about +12″) of criticism of Israel. He was loud and brave enough to pave the way for everything else that followed, including giving just enough space for Palestinian activists to assert their leadership. Pity he’s so hang-dog about it all.

    He’s sounding a bit crotchety in the interview. I hope he can muster some freshness and flexibility to mate with his considerable courage and talent.

    • MHughes976
      June 11, 2013, 3:54 pm

      I don’t quite agree with NF about the SJP ‘cult’. A private organisation has a right not to invite speakers who disagree with its policies. That is different from a university, which has an obligation to protect the free speech of all and provide a platform for highly unpopular views. I wouldn’t think that Zionist organisations have a duty to invite Norman to lecture. I wouldn’t think that universities should deny a platform to Zionists, however much I disagree with Zionism.

      • W.Jones
        June 12, 2013, 12:54 am

        Hmm… Good point, M. If SJP’s position is for one state, or for BDS, or for return of the refugees, then it makes sense it might only invite speakers who agree or are relatively neutral on the points.

  19. Donald
    June 11, 2013, 4:01 pm

    “Pity he’s so hang-dog about it all.

    He’s sounding a bit crotchety in the interview.”

    Having your career destroyed and being labeled a Holocaust denier on Google and not being able to find work at age 60 will probably do that to a person. Plus the rather nasty fight (partly his fault) with his political allies over BDS.

    • ritzl
      June 11, 2013, 4:47 pm

      @Donald. I mean, I agree. Some really bad stuff has happened to him. But then he was a major factor in opening up the space to criticize Israel. That’s a great accomplishment.

      But even his treatment opened up insights into the way the Zionist machine works. Make that two major accomplishments.

      He’s only 60 and I think he has much to feel good about. It’s not only bad stuff. I hope he can dwell on the buildable positives, reformulate, and come back strong. I don’t think he’s defeated, unless he allows himself to be. The “hang-dog” observation was because he seems a bit naive about what he was going up against and is now defeatist about their scorched-earth practices.

      • W.Jones
        June 13, 2013, 1:15 am

        Scorched earth is right. Recanting is not enough, really, because they know you have seen the light at some point and have been cowed.

  20. seafoid
    June 11, 2013, 4:24 pm

    I found the music from the “Never again for anyone” video

    finally.

    The wonderful Lisa Gerrard singing “now we are free” from the Gladiator movie

    This one is for Norman.

  21. Shmuel
    June 11, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Finkelstein’s treatment by De Paul and other academic institutions is shameful. His sudden lack of popularity as a political speaker is an entirely different kettle of fish. He was sought after by a single organisation (SJP), because his views coincided with the dominant views within that organisation. At a certain point, not only did he decide to disagree with one of the central strategies of the Palestine solidarity movement (and so SJP), but he chose to do so in an arrogant and offensive manner. Should leaders of SJP invite a speaker who doesn’t agree with one of the organisation’s main strategies and is likely to insult both the leadership and audiences? The answer seems pretty obvious to me. “Half a dozen” sounds like a lot, under the circumstances.

    Then, just to show he’s not afraid of anyone and fault must always lie elsewhere, he decides that his lack of popularity — like support for BDS — must also be due to the cult-like behaviour of those who dare to disagree with him and don’t fancy being attacked by their own speakers.

  22. giladg
    June 11, 2013, 4:36 pm

    Finkelstein’s comment on fear is very telling. His very essence is built on his arrogant belief system. He is right and others are wrong. He does not want to visit a Holocaust museum? Did his parents teach him everything he needed to know about the events? Of course not. Many Holocaust survivors have avoided the subject like the plague. He has not entered a museum because he may discover that some of his standard positions have been wrong, which would make him sure that his life has been a waste of time after realizing the unnecessary damage he has caused to so many. The events were so dramatic that it should be understandable how and why it continues to stir the emotions. There is no turning back for Norman after his book the Holocaust industry. You can be sure that if he refrains from entering a Holocaust museum, he also dismisses the work of staunchly pro-Israeli intellectuals on right. Again, apparently, his subconscious fears discovering that other core positions he has taken, have also been wrong and a complete waste of time. So he sticks with those who still will give him the time of day. Persona non grata. And by the way Mr. Weiss, when he talks about the cult, he is also referring to you.

    • Donald
      June 11, 2013, 6:19 pm

      He doesn’t avoid the subject–he avoids Holocaust museums. As for pro-Israeli intellectuals (if that’s the right word), he eats them for breakfast.

    • eljay
      June 11, 2013, 6:29 pm

      >> The events were so dramatic that it should be understandable how and why it continues to stir the emotions.

      It should be at least as understandable how and why the events surrounding the Nakba – which were so dramatic and which, thanks to Zio-supremacism, continue to be so dramatic – continue to stir the emotions.

      It’s a shame – but not surprising – that Zio-supremacists are emotionally deficient when it comes to the suffering of the people they and their like-minded co-collectivists have oppressed and continue to oppress.

      >> You can be sure that if he refrains from entering a Holocaust museum, he also dismisses the work of staunchly pro-Israeli intellectuals on right.

      If entering a Holocaust museum means that one learns to appreciate the Zio-supremacist viewpoint that the answer to injustice is not justice and accountability but the creation of an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist state, then I would say that refraining from entering a Holocaust museum is a course of action all people should take.

    • Walker
      June 12, 2013, 10:40 am

      Speaking of avoiding subjects like the plague, giladg, in the “Breaking the Silence” thread you said that Israeli soldiers who committed the acts described in the videos were sent to jail if caught. I invited you to post links documenting that. I never heard back. I’m still interested.

  23. Talkback
    June 11, 2013, 4:39 pm

    Finkelstein’s career is dead, because his ideas are.

    He did a very important work to spread the view of the conflict as seen by international law, the UN and human rights organisations. We simply cannot underestimate his influence. But people have realized that the two-state-solution isn’t viable at all and that the conflict is more adequately described in the Apartheid than in the occupation paradigm. One simply cannot support a human solution, if it doesn’t include the rights of the refugees even if this means the end of the Apartheid Junta.

    • ToivoS
      June 11, 2013, 5:07 pm

      Finkelstein’s career is dead, because his ideas are.

      Oh bullshit. He just needs to tone back on one set of ideas — his devotion to two-states — and focus on justice for the Palestinians. He makes that case as well as any speaker I have heard.

      • W.Jones
        June 11, 2013, 9:07 pm

        I agree. He need not emphasize that the two state solution is the only “realistic solution”. Finkelstein is right that the 2 State Solution is possible. And of course the Israelis are more likely to agree to it at this point.

        However, despite that realism, the two state solution itself has become less realistic as many others, including I think what one of its main advocates J Street, has said (they give it what, a year or two?).

        Its possible that the two Solution becomes so “unrealistic” that what is left is advocating for Palestinians’ basic human rights within the framework of their disenfranchisement, and raising awareness of this new, functional, discriminatory system in place. Thus it becomes less about peace and an end to conflict and more about basic rights and pluralism. This is my estimate.

  24. HarryLaw
    June 11, 2013, 4:49 pm

    Approaching 60, which to my mind is approaching middle age, he may seem tired but he will not be able to stop what he is doing, it’s in his DNA and thank goodness for that, he is a one off,and takes no prisoners, I remember some time ago he was debating a Christian Zionist on Press TV and told him it was like an astrophysicist debating with a member of the flat earth society, priceless.

    • Clif Brown
      June 11, 2013, 7:06 pm

      When I hear the phrase “a mind like a steel trap” I think of Finkelstein. When you hear him in debate it’s the rational mind at it’s best – he comes back to any challenge with facts as comprehensive as if he knew what his opponent would say before he said it – like a champion chess player who sees moves 20 plays in advance. Many people can claim like he does that they have read a room full of books, but he retains it all. It’s not that he’s un-emotional, far from it, but he has the rare ability to channel emotion into reason when under pressure that would cause most people to lose control.

      And he uses words with such precision, not a gratuitous syllable comes out. He is the razor cutting through butter.

      Several references have been made to his arrogance, yet I can’t think of anyone more entitled to it. I’ve no doubt he infuriates many simply because he leaves them stranded on the island of their opinions, unable to defend themselves with facts and unable to deny they have been defeated with logic, often their own.

      • W.Jones
        June 11, 2013, 8:58 pm

        Several references have been made to his arrogance, yet I can’t think of anyone more entitled to it. I’ve no doubt he infuriates many simply because he leaves them stranded on the island of their opinions, unable to defend themselves with facts and unable to deny they have been defeated with logic, often their own.
        Yes, however I do not think he has done this kind of take down on the Pal.Solidarity movement. He has made some negative comments like “cult”, but he has not dedicated a serious amount of writing into such barbs.

        Yes he is not Palestinian, but Finkelstein is no less important than Phil, Gilad, Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, and others. In fact, I think he is more talented and noteworthy in some important ways.

        Thanks again, Norm.

  25. DICKERSON3870
    June 11, 2013, 4:56 pm

    RE: “The ordeal at DePaul University left a very sour taste in my mouth . . .” ~ Finkelstein

    MY SNARK: And it is leaving a hell of a lot of money in DePaul’s coffers!

    DEPAUL REAPS ITS $100,00o,000 REWARD FOR HAVING CANNED FINKELSTEIN: “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said DePaul’s proposed new stadium that would cost taxpayers $100 million was ‘essential’ to the city.”, by Tony Lee, breitbart.com, 31 May 2013

    DePaul, a school that did not even average 3,000 fans a game last season in attendance and has only won seven games combined in the last five years in Big East play, is a private Catholic school that turned down offers to play rent free at the United Center.
    Speaking at the 2013 Intersport Activation Summit in Chicago on Thursday, Emanuel said he was going to “make sure that DePaul has a facility in the city” and that DePaul’s stadium was “essential to the city’s quality of life and economic development.”
    According to Sports Business Journal, Emanuel noted that the “Big Ten basketball tournament will come to Chicago every other year” and the city wanted to land more of those types of events.
    Chicago, meanwhile, is broke and closing 50 public schools because of budget shortfalls.

    SOURCE – http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Sports/2013/05/31/SBJ-Conference-Sports-Rahm

    • ToivoS
      June 11, 2013, 8:56 pm

      Good connection Dickerson. I didn’t think of that at all. That does help explain Emanuel’s backing for that crazy De Paul sports stadium. I was wondering how Jewish donors would ever make sufficient donations to a Jesuit College in return for purging Finkelstein. Well now we know, they didn’t have to. It is the tax payers of Chicago that will make the donation.

    • quirx
      June 11, 2013, 9:02 pm

      Wow, that’s sick. The unwashed masses need sports (which they cannot afford to go see) instead of an education. Rahm is, of course a dual-national. No surprise, eh?

    • ritzl
      June 11, 2013, 11:25 pm

      I hope the connection is a “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (succession does not indicate causality) coincidence. I really really do.

      I hope Anonymous digs into this.

      • DICKERSON3870
        June 14, 2013, 10:56 pm

        RE: I hope the connection is a “post hoc ergo propter hoc” (succession does not indicate causality) coincidence. ~ ritzl

        MY COMMENT: Strictly speaking, the connection between DePaul’s canning Finkelstein (at Dershowitz’s* urging) and $100,000,000 of taxpayer’s funds being allocated for DePaul’s proposed new stadium is quite likely a “post hoc ergo propter hoc”. But ask yourself this, would DePaul be getting the $100,000,000 in taxpayer’s funds from Rahm Emanuel if it had given Finkelstein tenure (over Dershowitz’s objections)**?
        I rest my case! ! !

        * P.S. Dershowitz is just a F. Lee Bailey wannabe!
        Spice Girls: “Wannabe” [VIDEO, 03:58] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJLIiF15wjQhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJLIiF15wjQ

        ** P.P.S. FOR INSTANCE: “Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel”, By Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 5/19/11
        ALSO SEE: “Saban family tried to give Emanuel over 1/2 a million”, By Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 1/24/11

        P.P.P.S. Personally, I can’t stand F. Lee Baily! As obnoxious as Dershowitz can be about Israel, I like him better than I do F. Lee Bailey.

      • DICKERSON3870
        June 14, 2013, 11:08 pm

        [LINKS ADDED]
        ** P.P.S. FOR INSTANCE: “Jewish Donors Warn Obama on Israel”, By Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal, 5/19/11
        LINK – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703509104576331661918527154.html
        ALSO SEE: “Saban family tried to give Emanuel over 1/2 a million”, By Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 1/24/11
        LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2011/01/saban-family-tried-to-give-emanuel-over-12-a-million.html

  26. joer
    June 11, 2013, 6:01 pm

    The thing is that Israel is founded on the principle of segregation and most of its problems stem from trying to maintain that principle. (I at first felt uneasy about being segregated out and urged to emigrate because I am Jewish and I have since learned about the impact of segregation has had on Palestinians.). Can we get rid of segregation without getting rid of Israel’s reason for existing? Can we get rid of segregation without getting rid of Israel? Although I disagree with Finklestein’s assessment that a one state solution is impossible, I agree that the rhetoric of the “one staters” should be more accessible. Maybe less talk of the zionist entity and some talk about Israel evolving into a truly inclusionist state based on equality.

    • john h
      June 11, 2013, 7:16 pm

      “Maybe less talk of the zionist entity and some talk about Israel evolving into a truly inclusionist state based on equality”.

      How is that achieved without talking about the Zionist entity? The inclusionist state you propose must be what replaces the Zionist entity, which is now one state based on apartheid, exclusivism, and inequality.

      You surely are more than well aware that “a truly inclusionist state based on equality” means not only the end of the Zionist entity, but the end of the ideology of Zionism being applied. That is, an end to apartheid, exclusivism, and inequality in Israel/Palestine.

  27. Andreas Schlueter
    June 11, 2013, 6:46 pm

    I feel very sad about this interview! Maybe his critics on the BDS movement wasn´t very wise but after all he he has contributed bravely to the struggle for justice and truth! But what has really damaged his academic carreer came from the other side and what he says about interrogations at the Airports documents the hatred of the system aaginst him. He´s an extraordinary personality whom I had the pleasure to hear personally here in Berlin, Germany!
    But, reason to worry for him!
    Andreas Schlüter
    Sociologist

  28. Ramzi
    June 11, 2013, 8:22 pm

    I remember when I could only watch clips of Finkelstein somewhere in the dark and alone as my only respite to a suffocating surrounding of public opinion.

    He was always one of the most uncompromising and unapologetic public intellectuals when he spoke about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and for those of us who were to0 afraid to speak out, he put himself on the line and made a pretty big sacrifice (relative to what many privileged people are willing to do).

    Not to sound dramatic, but it really is because of his actions and actions like his that I feel, along with many others I suspect, that we can come out into the light with our views and express our indignation, especially on campuses, publications, and through organized groups like SJP.

    And while I disagree with his take on BDS, especially the way he characterized it, I could never expect him to withhold an unpopular point of view even within the growing circle of Palestine solidarity movements.

    He was thrown out of virtually every academic and career circle because he wasn’t afraid to speak out, I don’t think we should have removed him from the discussion altogether.

    • W.Jones
      June 11, 2013, 9:01 pm

      I don’t think we should have removed him from the discussion altogether.
      I don’t think we have.

      If Mondoweiss sees fit, it could host another article or interview about or by him in a week or a few weeks. I would be interested in that. He is a very good author.

      • W.Jones
        June 11, 2013, 10:30 pm

        By the way, Finkelstein made an interesting note in 2011.

        I clearly remember how not long before the Arab spring he made a confident prediction that there would be a large scale US intervention across the Middle East, and that it would start in Tunisia. This was a few weeks or months before the events in Tunisia, which if you remember, started the dominoes across the Middle East, leading to events in Libya and Syria. While I like to think that Tunisia and Egypt have become more democratic, Palestinian activists have noticed serious continuation of policies in those countries regarding the system in the Holy Land.

        In any case, I view this as an astonishing prediction by Finkelstein. So he continues to have important value for this discussion.

  29. yourstruly
    June 11, 2013, 8:43 pm

    “to build a movement for change you have to be where the people are.”

    well, Palestinian civil society is with BDS?

    • Sibiriak
      June 12, 2013, 2:00 am

      Palestinian civil society is with BDS?

      Palestinian civil society is with a 2 state settlement.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 12, 2013, 4:28 am

        they are still w/BDS, your response is not a rebuttal.

      • Sibiriak
        June 12, 2013, 5:22 am

        they are still w/BDS, your response is not a rebuttal.

        It was not intended as a rebuttal, rather a clarification. NF supports BDS with the goal of a 2 state settlement, in line with Palestinian civil society.

  30. W.Jones
    June 11, 2013, 8:45 pm

    I like Finkelstein. He’s certainly courageous and moral.

    60 is not so old. Tolstoy wrote on for a long time.

    Perhaps if he wanted to, he could teach at a community college, or one in another country with a different system?

    Regarding the speaking circuit, I think there should be alot of groups that would invite him. The main thing is that he takes a social justice position. Sure, he could become more open on the 1 state vs. 2 state “solution”, but his position on that is reasonable. I understand he has made conflicting statements on BDS, but it is not a main emphasis either way.

    The only thing I seriously disagree with him about is the significance of the refugees’ return. He thinks this is not realistic, and his view is not surprising either considering the balance of forces. Personally, I think that the human rights issue of refugees coming back to their homeland is too important for it to be clearly dismissed as “unrealistic”, just as I would not dismiss integration in South Africa as “unrealistic.” I could say that it’s unlikely to succeed, but I wouldn’t accept their permanent exile as somehow “OK”, even if it was compensated. That is the only thing I would seriously disagree with him about.

    Finkelstein though is much more important and remarkable than those few issues of disagreement.

    Thank you, Norman.

  31. quirx
    June 11, 2013, 9:28 pm

    He is worn down, feeling beaten down from his struggles. But all those who buck the system, speak truth to power and carve their own path encounter this. When we are young, we have energy, vérve and the strength of our convictions gives us strength, but he’s been at this a while. He’s faced and withstood a lot, with support that sometimes was obvious and enough, and now, it seems he feels that not only has he no more support, but it’s not enough. So I can, as one who has done this in other completely unrelated areas, only tell him (and others who feel likewise) this:

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    • W.Jones
      June 11, 2013, 10:32 pm

      Maybe Kovel and Braverman can help him. Those two seem to especially have “heart”.

  32. Joek
    June 12, 2013, 2:34 am

    I couldn’t help but be somewhat upset at his response as to why Arabs tend to like him as he states ” for the wrong reasons” . I understand he is upset over what transpired with his career and the wounds of political battle remain fresh but as an Arab-American who read his books and yes, watched his youtube debates over the years I came to like him simply because of his scholarly work as it relates to the Palestine/Israel conflict. I’am Palestinian and I learned so much from his books to this day my views on the conflict are shaped by what I read in his books years ago. So, not sure what youtube moment he is talking about that went “viral” but I would hope he would give Arabs more credit as to their motivates why they view him favorably. The facts are “The Holocaust Industry” and “Image and Reality of the Israel -Palestine Conflict” are incredibly informative and ground breaking books that should be available in every library, bookstore and if I had my way, part of college curriculum. Without getting carried away, the point is, while I can’t speak for other Arabs – much less those outside of the USA, not sure it was proper to characterize support for him because he went off on this female who he claims Arabs thought
    “were Jewish”.

    That was a weird response.

    I do feel bad he has become another casualty of the Lobby. The truth be told, many and I do mean many, from politicians – including Presidents, artists, clergy, lawyers and yes, even professors who unfortunately had to go through that gauntlet for speaking the truth. It’s brutal and there are many casualties in this struggle.

    I just hope, even though I sense he is leaning towards that direction as he grows older, that he doesn’t do a Goldstone move and attempt to re-clarify and re-write what has already been written and spoken by him.

    Dershowitz went after President Carter and Desmond Tutu – Finkelstein should be honored that he is in good company.

    We saw the Lobby in action against Hagel and one needs to ask how many careers were cut short by the Lobby before it even starts? How many SOS, SOD, POTUS, Congressmen, Senator, movie director or actor and even heads of Universities were passed over because they at one time expressed a critical view of Israeli policies?

    This is a sad fact of this conflict. There are no borders, literally and figuratively.

    • john h
      June 12, 2013, 4:59 pm

      “I’am Palestinian and I learned so much from his books to this day my views on the conflict are shaped by what I read in his books years ago.

      The facts are “The Holocaust Industry” and “Image and Reality of the Israel -Palestine Conflict” are incredibly informative and ground breaking books that should be available in every library, bookstore and if I had my way, part of college curriculum.”

      That says volumes about his sagacity and his legacy. He and his books are now part of history.

  33. Inanna
    June 12, 2013, 3:46 am

    I’m ambivalent about Finkelstein. I can’t forget his integrity, his moral stance and his bravery that led to some quote personal losses for his views on Israel and Palestine. For that, he will always be a hero. Yet I can’t agree with his views on BDS and that it’s somehow ok to call it a cult and then blame them for cultish behavior when the groups supporting BDS stop inviting him because he called them a cult. I thought that the discussion he had with Anna Baltzer on this showed that he’d softened his views, realized how silly it is to offend one’s allies and wanted to reach out again to allies in the solidarity movement. However, it’s really disappointing to see him revert back to this earlier behavior. I still admire what he’s done and think that he’s heroic in many ways but his life really is an example of ‘character is destiny’.

    • Annie Robbins
      June 12, 2013, 4:01 am

      inanna, do you have a link to norm’s discussion with anna?

      • Inanna
        June 12, 2013, 6:05 am

        Annie, it was the discussion he had with her last year at the New School, moderated by Adam Shatz called ‘The Jewish-American Relationship with Israel at the Crossroads’. Link:

  34. seafoid
    June 12, 2013, 4:39 am

    Finkelstein reminds me of Amira Hass. Both Jews from very politically conscious European backgrounds, parents survived the Shoah, didn’t indoctrinate them, gave them a burning awareness of injustice.

    Deeply intellectual, driven to record facts and share them, impervious to hasbara, shunned by their own people, the subject of waves and waves of hatred both online and in real life.

    Now around 60. Both recorded as saying they feel they have achieved nothing in their careers. Couldn’t be more wrong.

    Magnificent people. They deserve our support.

    • Kathleen
      June 12, 2013, 12:16 pm

      Damn right. Have always admired and respected Finkelstein not only for his bravery but his intellect and his focus on facts. We should all do everything we can to promote his work, books and bravery. Contact outlets for speaking engagements. Sad to hear that the BDS movement has tried to smear him. Total bullshit. I did not like his “cult” comments about BDS but no reason to attempt to destroy his views, opinions and speaking engagement outlets.

    • john h
      June 12, 2013, 5:06 pm

      “Deeply intellectual, driven to record facts and share them, impervious to hasbara, shunned by their own people, the subject of waves and waves of hatred both online and in real life.

      Magnificent people. They deserve our support.”

      Absolutely.

  35. Citizen
    June 12, 2013, 6:31 am

    “You can’t understand any conflict, you can’t understand– not so much the intricacies, the realities, because there’s a huge barrage of propaganda and in order to break through the propaganda you have to know the details. It’s impossible to do details in 300 words.”

    This continual experience over the years has probably worn Norman down more than anything.

    “Nobody knows what Zionism is anymore…Nobody cares about Zionism… Everybody undertands ‘ethnic cleansing’, not ‘Zionism’…Zionism for most people is a hairspray, a cologne… use the language of human rights that people understand. ”

    Yes.

    His expose on the holocaut industry is priceless. If that didn’t take balls, what does?

    • W.Jones
      June 13, 2013, 1:10 am

      “Nobody knows what Zionism is anymore…Nobody cares about Zionism… Everybody undertands ‘ethnic cleansing’, not ‘Zionism’…Zionism for most people is a hairspray, a cologne…”

      I disagree with this comment. Otherwise the misnomer “Christian Zionism” would be meaningless. There’s definitely an ideology surrounding the State’s system.

      “use the language of human rights that people understand.”
      I agree with that though.

  36. Citizen
    June 12, 2013, 6:41 am

    Finklestein versus Dershiwitz debate:

  37. Sycamores
    June 12, 2013, 9:46 am

    Norman Finkelstein career got destroyed, now it’s Richard Falk turn on a global scale,

    Palestinian Rights Investigator Says He Will Not Resign, Despite Criticism

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/world/middleeast/palestinian-rights-investigator-says-he-will-not-resign-despite-criticism.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    UN Expert Falk: I Don’t Intend to Quit

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/168842

  38. Kathleen
    June 12, 2013, 12:12 pm

    This is such a depressing but real interview. Finkelstein is so brilliant, fact based and realistic. Total bullshit he has been so completely black listed. We should all do our best to get him speaking engagements. Had no idea that the BDS movement has tried to keep him out. Where is the room for debate.

    Thanks for this Mondoweiss

  39. Citizen
    June 12, 2013, 3:58 pm

    Chomsky, telling us how Dershie is a real prick, destroying Finkelstein: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8ENawcSliA

  40. gingershot
    June 12, 2013, 7:53 pm

    I’ve had this sense for quite a while that there will be a critical number of great men’ career’s destroyed before Israel at it now exists as Apartheid/Likud-Zionist/and the Israel Lobby is overthrown.

    There will be Norman Finklesteins, Chas Freemans, Falks and many others who really helped as icebreakers to really put a crack or fracture in the monolith the Israel Lobby has created.

    5 or 10 or 15 or 20 careers will be destroyed by the Lobby’s defenders before the walls are completely breached. That is the strength of the Lobby.

    It is a long struggle and there will be many dead heroes. Finklestein has been one of the heroes. He wasn’t perfect and he hasn’t always been right but he is one of them

  41. Obsidian
    June 13, 2013, 12:29 am

    Norm got knifed in the back by his children, the Students for Justice in Palestine.

    –How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child–

  42. coffee
    June 14, 2013, 10:06 am

    Finkelstein (rightly) rejects a German’s telling him how to discuss the Holocaust. But he ought to follow his own advice, show some humility and stop telling Palestinians how to discuss Zionism.

    Finkelstein offered Palestinians conditional solidarity at best. It’s the height of arrogance to refer to the organizers of a non-violent resistance method like BDS as a “cult.”

    He’s entitled to broadcast his feelings but this is not about him. Can you imagine a white solidarity activist in the sixties making a video mourning his misfortune and loneliness and wallowing in self-pity and calling SNCC or the Panthers a “cult”?

    Finkelstein gets away with it because our collective self-esteem as Arabs is low. We invited him and honored him and withheld criticism and put him on a pedestal. Even the angry As’ad Abu Khalil gave Finkelstien a pass:

    http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2010/03/norman-finkelsteins-best-revenge.html

    “I am not normally tolerant of disagreements regarding Palestine, but the man has paid his dues and his services to the anti-Zionst, anti-Israeli cause have won him a special place in the struggle for Palestine.”

    • German Lefty
      June 15, 2013, 6:13 am

      @ coffee
      Finkelstein (rightly) rejects a German’s telling him how to discuss the Holocaust. But he ought to follow his own advice, show some humility and stop telling Palestinians how to discuss Zionism.
      Oh, I very much disagree with you on that. Rejecting a person’s statement because of the person’s nationality? Don’t you think that’s kind of “racist”? Judge a statement by its content, not by the nationality of the speaker. Rejecting the student’s statement because she’s German is majorly unfair. However, her statement should be rejected simply because it’s stupid.
      In my view, Finkelstein’s anti-German sentiment makes him lose credibility. The same applies to his comments on Zionism and BDS.

      Finkelstein offered Palestinians conditional solidarity at best.
      Well, people are free to offer as much solidarity as they want. Unconditional solidarity is dangerous anyway. For example, the USA and Germany declared pretty much unconditional solidarity with “the Jews” and their “Jewish state” because of the Holocaust. This has very bad consequences for Palestinians. That’s why I am reluctant to declare unconditional solidarity with Palestinians, because I fear that they could develop their own version of ethnic nationalism.

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