Lessons from Finkelstein: International Law and equal rights should be the focus for Palestine solidarity

Activism
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‘Zionism is racism’, ‘Israel is a settler colonialist state’, ‘a settler colonialist project needs to be decolonized’. If you’re a left-leaning person and you are working for justice in Palestine, you have probably come across statements like these. And as true as they may be, we have to ask ourselves a fundamental question: “Who are we talking to?”

As Norman Finkelstein put it: “Zionism for most people is a hairspray, a cologne [..]” And I think he has a point. The broad public has no idea what we are talking about. I realized it the other day when I was selling a book to a man at my university, and he asked me about my bachelor thesis. I told him I was writing on Zionism, and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

As a solidarity movement who is working for justice in Palestine from the outside, we have to ask ourselves first of all, what our goal is, our purpose. One obvious goal that most people can agree to, is to create a broad public opinion in favour of the Palestinian cause. If this is our goal, we have to be pragmatic about the tools we choose to pursue this goal. A good place to start is our vocabulary.

We have a huge vocabulary. Zionism, apartheid, South Africa, Shuhada Street, settler colonialism, and so forth. We shouldn’t dismiss it all together, the vocabulary is good, the arguments are strong, but we should be pragmatic about how we use it. Because there is another language, a language that can resonate with people who have no clue about the Israeli colonization of Palestine, a language that can reach the broad public: International Law and equal rights. This is the most important lesson that we should learn from Finkelstein.

Personally, International Law is not my moral compass, it is not a language that I would usually use, it’s not a standard that I would use to measure whether something is right or wrong. But I have to be honest with myself. Am I working for justice in Palestine to feel good about myself, or am I working for justice in Palestine because I genuinely want Palestinian children to be able to go to school without being teargassed at a military checkpoint? If I chose the latter, I have to put my own moral standards aside for a moment, and be realistic about my choice of tools.

Politics, says Finkelstein, is not about what you personally want or believe, it’s about the maximum you can realistically achieve within the existing framework. In the matter of public opinion, the law is the framework, the furthest we can go in any argument. If we are advocating for something which is on the other side of the law, such as dismantling Israel as a state, then we lose the broad public, we lose our credibility. We no longer have the law as a common horizon that gives us credibility among people who don’t know us, we are just talking to ourselves.

And remember, as Finkelstein points out, the law is completely on our side in this matter. The Palestinians won in every aspect. The International Court of Justice, the highest judicial branch in the world, voted unanimously in favour of the Palestinian cause. Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, are Palestinian territory under International Law. The occupation, the siege, the annexation, are illegal under International Law. The settlements are illegal under International Law. The wall is illegal under International Law. Israel has a legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-borders, meaning Israel has to withdraw immediately from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

On the matter of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, Finkelstein’s opinion has changed over the years. In 2008, in a lecture given by Finkelstein at the Case Western Reserve University, Finkelstein spoke strongly in defense of the right of return: “They have the right. It is incontestable,” he stated. He further refers to an investigation made by Human Rights Watch which concluded that there can’t be any question: The Palestinian refugees have a legal right of return.  However, over the years, Finkelstein has come to believe that the return of the Palestinian refugees and the demographical change that would follow, would mean the end of the state of Israel which he says is not in accord with Israel’s legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-borders.

Rightfully, Finkelstein has been widely criticized by many who see this as a betrayal of the Palestinian refugees. It is true, as he points out, that the return of the refugees would create a demographical change. But does this mean the end of the state of Israel? No, but it would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, opening up for Israel instead to become a democratic state, in which all its citizens, despite ethnicity or religion, can enjoy equal rights.

And despite what Finkelstein has come to believe in recent years, there is absolutely a basis for the right of return under International Law. Article 11 in UN resolution 194 states that the refugees have a legal right to return. Amnesty International say they have a legal right of return. Human Rights Watch say they have a legal right of return. And these are powerful institutions and organizations, that are uncontroversial and trustworthy to the broad public, and therefore a strong tool for those of us who seek to reach a broad public.

If we want to do everything that is in our power for the Palestinian people, to use the means and institutions that are available to us in our countries, to put pressure on the Israeli government and system of oppression, then this is our strongest case: International Law and equal rights. If we go beyond that, we are not trying to reach the broad public anymore. At least not in an effective way.

This solution, that Finkelstein lays out in his pragmatic manners, calls for a two state solution. We can agree or disagree as to whether this is the right solution, and it goes without saying, that I would support any solution that is supported by the Palestinian people, but we have to be realistic about how we can best contribute from the outside, and one thing we can’t do, is to decolonize Israel. Decolonization has to come from within, and the mere idea that decolonization could come from the outside, is a colonial idea in itself which we should be critical about.

About Seth Andersen

Seth Andersen is a Danish activist who has been involved with different Palestinian-led non-violent solidarity groups in the Occupied West Bank and in Denmark

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88 Responses

  1. AddictionMyth
    August 10, 2017, 10:40 am

    I think the best thing we can do is stop GIVING money to Israel (currently $4b+/year) and keep SPENDING money on Israel. This is why I’m against BDS – it’s counterproductive to the long term health of the country. To put it differently – I can think of lots better things to boycott. This will reduce the incentive for instigation of violence and open up space for people to negotiate.

    • festus
      August 10, 2017, 12:17 pm

      “However, over the years, Finkelstein has come to believe that the return of the Palestinian refugees and the demographical change that would follow, would mean the end of the state of Israel which he says is not in accord with Israel’s legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-borders.” So Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State is more important than the right of the Palestinians to go home? Come on Norm (and Chomsky) — surely you cannot believe this.

      • festus
        August 10, 2017, 12:19 pm

        “..but we have to be realistic about how we can best contribute from the outside, and one thing we can’t do, is to decolonize Israel. Decolonization has to come from within, and the mere idea that decolonization could come from the outside, is a colonial idea in itself which we should be critical about.” Baloney. Israel depends on massive welfare from USA and Germany and others…turn off the spigot. Further, America seems to think it can run pretty much every non-white nation on the planet — using violence quite often. Yet the outside world has no say, can take no actions, against Israel?

      • Jerry Hirsch
        August 10, 2017, 5:52 pm

        Listen to Finkelstein’s words for yourself.

      • Jerry Hirsch
        August 10, 2017, 5:58 pm

        Festus, Israel receives just over 1% of it’s GDP in U. S. foreign aid annually. Hardly a “Massive” amount.

      • RoHa
        August 10, 2017, 8:20 pm

        Not only baloney, but also appalling punctuation.

      • Emory Riddle
        August 11, 2017, 7:35 am

        Over 1% of GDP going to a tiny nation in foreign aid alone is not massive? Add in all the other special gifts and — not even counting all the blood and treasure lost in ME wars due to The Lobby — and Israel costs the American taxpayer tens of billions of dollars per year.

      • karmagalny
        August 11, 2017, 12:41 pm

        Jerry Hirsch
        “Festus, Israel receives just over 1% of it’s GDP in U. S. foreign aid annually. Hardly a “Massive” amount.”

        So, then if it’s such a measly amount, you fully support cutting th off at the knee caps, yes? The truth is the Jewish state couldn’t survive without US economic, diplomatic and military support and the plug needs to be pulled. They have no right to have a state at the Palestinian’s expense. They have the right to leave in peace, just like the rest of humanity. They don’t need their own state. They can learn to live alongside their indigenous neighbors in Palestine and Palestinians can come home. This is hardly an unreasonable expectation as long as they don’t subscribe to chosen status.

  2. Paranam Kid
    August 10, 2017, 12:02 pm

    “….the law is completely on our side in this matter. ”
    So what? Israel has been flouting international law since its creation 70 years ago. How much longer do the Palestinians have to wait & endure?

    “…would mean the end of the state of Israel…”
    I still have not heard a fact-based argument as to why a country predicated on racism should not cease to exist as such. Why are the zionists allowed to keep a state run by & for the sole benefit of 1 particular ethnic group at the expense of another ethnic group? Nazi Germany was not allowed to do so, why is Israel exceptional?

    “…not in accord with Israel’s legal right to exist as a state…”
    As Ben White has pointed out: “No states have a “right to exist”, without exceptions. States come and go, are formed, and broken up. South Sudan was created in 2011. The USSR ceased to exist in 1991. Czechoslovakia became Slovakia and the Czech Republic in 1993.

    Nations don’t have rights, people do. So the right of a nation to exist is not an absolute a-priori timeless question – states exist simply because they do. If they get recognized for their existence it is as an a-posteriori matter, exactly the way it happened with Israel. The state of Israel was recognised as such, and remains so today.”

    The right of the people in this case is the right to self-determination by the Jewish people, and they have had that right since 14 May 1948. But Israel, which is a zionist state has denied that same right to the Palestinians by subjugation, exploitation, enslavement, incarceration in concentration camps. But the right to self-determination for the Palestinians is never mentioned, even by a Finkelstein.

    As for the 2-state solution, Israel’s continued settlement construction has now rendered this option null & void simply because a viable Palestinian state, i.e. politically, economically & militarily independent, is now a physical impossibility. Those who keep callig for a 2-state solution are either completely unaware of the facts on the ground, or are disingenuous in the extreme.

    I have difficulty in understanding Finkelstein’s thinking. He says he supports Israel, but talks about Israel’s right to exist without mentioning Palestine’s right to exist. He still talks about the now unfeasible 2-solution, and, although officially supporting BDS, has criticised the movement (no problem there) without suggesting, as far as I know, a way forward to improve the movement.

    • Citizen
      August 10, 2017, 5:36 pm

      ” But the right to self-determination for the Palestinians is never mentioned, even by a Finkelstein.”

      Glad somebody noticed.

      • MHughes976
        August 11, 2017, 9:17 am

        The Palestinians don’t have the right of s-d because they don’t exist, you know – might as well call for s-d among unicorns.

    • RoHa
      August 10, 2017, 8:16 pm

      “The right of the people in this case is the right to self-determination by the Jewish people, and they have had that right since 14 May 1948. ”

      There is no such right. I would like to refer you to my posts in which I argue this at length, but since the administrators of MW buggered everything up a while ago, it looks as though they have been lost.

      I might try to rewrite them someday.

      • Mooser
        August 10, 2017, 10:17 pm

        “I might try to rewrite them someday.”

        If only you had saved copies! Oh well, no use crying over spilled milt, as my buddy Onan used to say.

      • Paranam Kid
        August 11, 2017, 9:25 am

        “There is no such right”
        I am interested to read your arguments, so maybe you can publish a short summary here. If you can’t I will assume that it is just an empty statement for now.

      • RoHa
        August 11, 2017, 6:50 pm

        OK. I’ll try to do it today.

      • RoHa
        August 12, 2017, 7:48 am

        OK, here we go with bare bones versions.

        By “the right to self determination”, I mean the moral* right of a group to establish, or refrain from establishing, a state. If this is not what you mean, then the arguments may not be relevant to your concerns. In that case, read them as examples of straightforward reasoning and fairly accurate punctuation.

        1. The Jews are not the sort of group to have that right.

        Establishing a state in a territory will have important effects on all the residents of the territory. On conventional principles of equity, then, it seems that the right to establish a state would be shared by all the residents of the territory. But the Jews are not the sole residents of any territory. Thus, they do not qualify.

        2. Extending the right leads to self-contradictory situations.

        Suppose we allow that some groups who are not the sole residents of a territory have the right. Further suppose that there is a territory in which there are two such groups, the Marmites and the Vegemites, intermingled and equally distributed (or spread, as on one commenter suggested) across the territory. The Marmites want to establish a Marmite state in all or part of the territory. The Vegemites want the territory to remain mixed and undivided. If one group exercises its right to self determination, it denies the right to self determination of the other. This suggests that neither group has the right.

        3. Extending the right can lead to chaos and injustice.

        Suppose we declare that the Jews do have the right to sd. Can we find a set of non-question-begging reasons not to extend the right to other groups, such as stamp collectors, the famous West Brisbane Gentlemen’s Cheescake Photography Club, or (eljay’s favourite) left-handed lesbian Latvian spokeshaver’s apprentices?
        If not, then we will be faced with the prospect of satisfying demands for states for all those groups, and the resulting chaos will certainly create more injustices than it resolves.
        A principle that leads to injustice is not a moral principle.

        4. It leads to inequity of rights.

        Let us suppose that Jews have the right to sd as Jews. Australian Jews also have the right to sd as Australians, since they are residents of the territory. I, on the other hand, only have the right as a an Australian. (I am not a lesbian, I do not collect stamps, and I was expelled from the club for reasons I will not disclose here.) Jews have two rights of sd, while the rest of us have only one. What justifies this inequity?

        These arguments may not be decisive, but I think they make st least a prima facie case against the idea that Jews have the right of sd qua Jews. And I have not yet seen a positive case for the idea that they do.

        *The MW commenter known as “Hostage” demonstrated that Jews do not have a legal right to self determination. Tragically, a great quantity of Hostage’s invaluable contributions to MW has been lost, along with many examples of my elegant prose and dozens of Mooser’s best jokes.

        There was a time when gentlemen responsible for such culpable ineptitude knew that they should take a bottle of whisky and a loaded revolver, and seek a quiet place to do the only decent thing left to them. But that was for gentlemen. Perhaps MW administrators do not qualify.

      • Paranam Kid
        August 12, 2017, 9:29 am

        @RoHa re bare bones versions
        Thanks for your extensive reply. I agree with everything you say there, and the misunderstanding is due to my incorrect use of the term “Jews”. The term I should have used it “Israeli Jews”. They have their self-determination but exercised at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.

        Nevertheless, the Zionists, pretending to represent the Jews, established Israel fraudulently (no authorisation), which was recognised by the UN despite the fact that the rights Palestinian Arabs were completely trampled upon & their rights ignored.

        The reality of the situation today is that Israel is still recognised but that same vile Israel has managed to scuttle all attempts at finding a viable solution for the Palestinians, i.e. their own viable state.

        As a genocidal apartheid state Israel has absolutely no legitimacy, so would need to be dismantled & rebuilt from the ground up. That is also unlikely to happen since Israel has a powerful protector, the US. The Palestinians would need a similar type of protector, but have none. So I don’t see any way out for the Palestinians, despite brave efforts like BDS.

      • Keith
        August 12, 2017, 10:50 am

        ROHA- “By “the right to self determination”, I mean the moral* right of a group to establish, or refrain from establishing, a state.”

        I respectfully disagree. The “right” of self determination has an extremely limited intent. It is meant to morally reinforce the right of the indigenous inhabitants to be free from outside colonial domination. Anyone even remotely familiar with the history of the formation of the nation state is well aware that they have not been formed through any sort citizen participation involving a reasoned analysis of mutual benefit. Political theory is basically rationalizations and justifications. Historically, nations have been formed through warfare and other violence whereby the winner absorbs the looser. The breakup of states is analogous. The decision makers are always the elites attempting to increase their power. We both agree, however, that the Zionist Jews had no right to do what they did. This colonization of Palestine is exactly the opposite of the basic intent of the right of self determination. The Jewish state was basically imposed from the outside.

      • eljay
        August 12, 2017, 10:53 am

        || RoHa: … Can we find a set of non-question-begging reasons not to extend the right to other groups, such as … (eljay’s favourite) left-handed lesbian Latvian spokeshaver’s apprentices? … ||

        Funny, I thought my favourite group was big-nosed Canadian lumberjack axe sharpeners.

      • Mooser
        August 12, 2017, 12:38 pm

        “Tragically, lost, along with many examples of my elegant prose and dozens of Mooser’s best jokes.”

        What nonsense, “RoHa”! I only have about a dozen jokes, and I repeat them over and over. They’re all there.

      • RoHa
        August 13, 2017, 3:17 am

        ‘The term I should have used it “Israeli Jews”.’

        Insofar as there is a right of sd, Israeli Jews only have it as residents of the territory, There is no “Jewish” rsd separate from the right of the non-Jews in the territory.

      • RoHa
        August 13, 2017, 3:29 am

        “The “right” of self determination has an extremely limited intent. It is meant to morally reinforce the right of the indigenous inhabitants to be free from outside colonial domination.”

        That’s actually broader. I tried to hint at it by including “or refrain from establishing, a state.”

        Of course I know that states are traditionally formed by people hitting each other on the head with incredibly heavy swords. The Zionists,m however, like to cling to a fantasy tale. They think that a bunch of French/Chinese got together and said “Hey, we’re all French/Chinese. Let’s form a state!” And then they established France and China. (Just as well they didn’t get them mixed up, so that the French established China and Chinese established France. That would have been embarrassing.
        ” This is Tientsin? Sorry! It was supposed to be Calais.”)

        Political theory is really very useful. It is one of the many ways philosophers have of telling everyone else they are wrong.

      • Paranam Kid
        August 13, 2017, 3:56 am

        @RoHa
        “Insofar as there is a right of sd, Israeli Jews only have it as residents of the territory, There is no “Jewish” rsd separate from the right of the non-Jews in the territory.”

        The Israeli Jews took that right in Israel but denied the Israeli Palestinians that same right. And that, among many other criteria, makes Israel an apartheid state, which lacks legitimacy. The situation in the Stolen Palestinian Territories doesn’t even need discussion.

      • yonah fredman
        August 13, 2017, 5:17 am

        People and groups of people have a right to self protect. When the government condones or participates in the repression of groups, it is natural and right for those groups to organize to self protect. The Jews of eastern europe, specifically those under the rule of the czars, but also those in other countries where yehudi hatred was tolerated and encouraged in law and deed by government and groups, there was a need for yehudi group organization to battle groups and governments that repressed them and threatened them with violence. The organization of an army for such self protection was a natural, human impulse and within their rights as humans. The utility for such an army to have a territory is part of the natural mode of self protection on this planet.

        The mentioning of Jews in Australia circa 2017 shows the disingenuous nature of the writer of this comment. The nature of the threat posed to Jewish life and limb in Eastern and Central Europe in the period 1881 to 1939 was borne out by events. These events were not necessarily the inevitable outcome of the Jewish experience in Europe, but indeed they were the eventual culmination of a certain stage in the existence of the Jewish people in Europe. The impulse to self protect was sensing something very real. To pose the example of Jews in Australia rather than dealing with the extreme nature of the need to self protect that indeed existed demonstrates that someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

      • Mooser
        August 13, 2017, 2:20 pm

        “People and groups of people have a right to self protect… there was a need for yehudi group organization to battle groups and governments that repressed them…The utility for such an army to have a territory is part of the natural mode of self protection on this planet.” “yonah”

        Oh, I see.
        Israel is an Army which possesses a State.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 13, 2017, 3:01 pm

        Oh, I see.
        Israel is an Army which possesses a State.

        how an army/state in the middle east protects people of “eastern europe, specifically those under the rule of the czars, but also those in other countries where hatred was tolerated and encouraged in law and deed by government and groups, where there was a need for group organization to battle groups and governments that repressed them and threatened them with violence.. the threat posed to Jewish life and limb in Eastern and Central Europe in the period 1881 to 1939… in palestine of all places!

        i just don’t buy it. so who protects the palestinians against the extreme nature of the need to self protect that indeed exists — hatred that’s tolerated and encouraged in law and deed by government and groups, that repress them and threatened them with violence???

        the way to ‘self protection’ is to go somewhere across the world and oppress other people who had nothing to do with posing a threat to ones life and limb in Eastern and Central Europe in the period 1881 to 1939. really? sounds like someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes! an excuse for russians and europeans to colonize the holy land in palestine.

        and god forbid you drag Jews in Australia circa 2017 into the equation. why that would be disingenuous! .. about as disingenuous as fantasizing a palestinian connection to Jewish life and limb in Eastern and Central Europe in the period 1881 to 1939!

      • Mooser
        August 13, 2017, 2:24 pm

        “The mentioning of Jews in Australia circa 2017 shows the disingenuous nature of the writer of this comment…someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.” “yonah”

        OK, “yonah”, you caught us. It’s not really 2017, that’s a hoax. Well, since you discovered the fraud, you get to pick what year it is.

      • Mooser
        August 13, 2017, 3:07 pm

        “who protects the palestinians against hatred that’s tolerated and encouraged in law and deed by government and groups???”

        “Annie” it is very unfortunate that the Palestinians get hurt in the process, but somebody has got to protect against ” the threat posed to Jewish life and limb in Eastern and Central Europe in the period 1881 to 1939″!

        And don’t believe the fake news about it being 2017, either.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 13, 2017, 3:27 pm

        my head is spinning around today. when logic goes topsy turvy and the oppressor and the oppressed become 2 sides of the same coin and the enemies of free speech become the protectors of their right to silenced us. argh. loose wires in the brain it’s all so confusing!

      • Mooser
        August 13, 2017, 3:25 pm

        “and god forbid you drag Jews in Australia …”

        “yonah” is, no doubt, aware that many Jews, from every denomination, who have an interest in esoteric spiritual matters go to Australia to the small out-back village of Kang, seeking the Kang guru.
        Or he may not be, it’s hard to tell.

      • Mooser
        August 13, 2017, 4:55 pm

        “argh. loose wires in the brain it’s all so confusing!”

        Who knew you could get a contact high from “yonah’s” pilpul overdose?

      • RoHa
        August 13, 2017, 9:53 pm

        Yonah, let me see if I understand your argument.

        1. A group that is being repressed or persecuted has a right to group self-defence.
        2. This implies setting up a group army.
        3. Such an army is most effective if it has a territory as a base of operations.
        4. Therefore, the group has a right to such a territory.
        5. Such a territory would then be a de facto state.
        6. Therefore, a persecuted group has a right to a state.
        7. The Eastern European Jews were such a group.
        8. Therefore, they had a right to a state.

        If that is your argument, it is the most coherent bit of thinking I have ever seen from you. Congratulations.

        I do see a few problems with it, though. At first blush 1,2, and 3 seem reasonable, but 4 would only follow if having a territory is essential for effective self defence. And I am not sure that it is. (I am inclined to agree that denying a right to effective self defence is equivalent to denying a right to self defence.)

        But I would refer to my earlier point, that I cannot accept the moral legitimacy of self-defence at the expense of an innocent third party*. Thus, I deny that the Eastern European Jews had a right to form a state any territory that was occupied by anyone other than their persecutors.

        I would also suggest that this right to a state would only persist as long as the danger persisted. Since it seems that the Eastern European persecutors have retired, the right has now lapsed.

        Annie has already shown the absurdity of claiming a territory in Palestine for self-defence of Eastern European Jews. History shows that it was not very effective.

        The anomaly of an Australian Jew having two helpings of rsd while other Australians only get one applied just as much in the 1920s as it does now. Ask Sir Isaac Isaacs.

        (*Contrary, I think, to Hobbes. I may not understand Hobbes correctly, but at least I have tried. He doesn’t seem to have made the slightest attempt at understanding me.)

      • yonah fredman
        August 14, 2017, 3:26 am

        Phil Weiss argued recently that it is conventional wisdom that Israel is an anachronism particularly regarding the west. This may be true. (Only in regards to the Islamic world, it is not better than it was 140 years ago, but everywhere including former Soviet union, yehudi hatred is a nonissue ( when compared to the era of zionism’s birth. And since zionism was birthed in Europe , the change in Europe and the west is the predominant fact.)

        Today the primary argument for Israel’s existence is its existence. A fact is a fact and undoing a fact, well, let’s just say it’s easier said than done.

        But history is relevant. Particularly getting history right.

        All the pulses of increased aliya to israel and consciousness of the Zionist idea followed the trend of history of pogroms or yehudi hatred cultural eruptions. Maybe my knowledge is limited to pinsker and herzl, but here are two men who were more than willing to toss yehudi onto the ash heap or a vestige a fading echo. Herzl would have been willing to convert, as long as it was a mass conversion and he could lead the parade. Pinsker was just as willing as Phil Weiss and mooser to wave bye bye to tradition. What stopped him? Jew hatred. His concept of the incapacity of the world to control the disease of this hatred was wrong, but only in the long run and with a global perspective. Focused on his time and place, pinsker was a prophet.

        We can go back to talking about 2017, but self determination is a high faluttin’ term. Self protection is clearer. Yes in 2017 the present tense is here and self determination and self protection as historical dynamics takes a back seat to the present tense: Israel’s existence, the west bank and the history of palestinian pain.

      • YoniFalic
        August 14, 2017, 8:31 am

        There is another issue that undermines Yonah Fredman’s claims of a need to self-protect.

        These claims are completely false. Hostility toward Jews was in decline as I have pointed out several times already.

        The collapse of Commonwealth Poland harmed Jewish incomes from about 1780-1830, but thereafter Jewish income in E. Europe steadily rises until by 1880 EEuro Jews overtake the Polish Szlachta (nobility) in income.

        Jews were rising to high position in government and in the economy from England to the Czarist Empire.

        Jews were also pervasive in the arts, politics, and intellectual life. As Slezkine, Reinharz, and Shavit point out, intellectuals of the time period sometimes refer to the 19th century as the Judenjahrhundert (Jewish Century). I would simply say that because of greater literacy and numeracy Jews were able to take better advantage of modernization than other groups.

        The Czarist Empire built the first university that was meant for Jews and at which instruction (at least in the main) would be in a language (Yiddish) primarily used by Jews.

        One can look at all the serious historians: Baron, Slezkine, Sombart, Nathans, Stanislawski, Lindemann, Cesari, Yerushalmi, et al. They all agree with this assessment.

        I have to remark about pogroms. The Czarist Empire was undergoverned. Pogroms could not break out in the Hapsburg or the Hohenzollern Empires because the governments would execute pogromists very quickly.

        Pogroms in the Czarist Empire include gentile on gentile pogroms, gentile on Jew pogroms, Jew on Jew pogroms, and Jew on gentile pogroms. We read about gentile on Jew pogroms because Jews were more literate and because anti-Czarist propagandizing was a Jewish cottage industry, but the pogroms were relatively minor (obviously not if one suffered them), and when the Czarist government got its act together, it punished pogromists severely.

        Previously Mondoweiss articles have addressed false Jewish beliefs about the Czarist Empire.

        As I have said, “I am puzzled why Mondoweiss allows writers to post errant historical nonsense according to the Jewish studies faculty here at Columbia but invariably moderates out any attempt to address the error even if the error has previously been addressed on Mondoweiss.”

        I also must comment on the Dreyfus and Beilis cases. Lindemann has analyzed them extensively. Both defendants tended to harm their own defense. Both were exonerated (Dreyfus’ exoneration took much too long but that delay seems unrelated to hostility toward Jews.) Beilis was found not guilty by a jury consisting mostly of Ukrainian peasants, who were not on the whole very educated. Yet racist Jews invariably accuse Ukrainian peasants of flaming and extreme antisemitism. One must also note that the Czarist Empire actually had a problem with human sacrifice. At the time period, the Beilis case was one of several in which defendants were accused of human sacrifice.

        I must also ask the partisans of the Leidensgeschichte why we only hear of the starvation of Ukrainian peasants in the USSR and not about the starvation of Ukrainian Jews during the Holodomor. I know that it’s a later period, but Jewish power did not pop out of nowhere. Do the partisans believe that ethnic Ukrainian commissars orchestrated the starvation of ethnic Ukrainians?

      • RoHa
        August 14, 2017, 9:12 am

        Alas, Yonah, you have lapsed back into gobbledygook. I cannot extract a coherent argument or claim from your latest effusion.

      • eljay
        August 14, 2017, 10:44 am

        || RoHa: Alas, Yonah, you have lapsed back into gobbledygook. … ||

        Alas, poor Yonah! I thought I knew him, RoHatio, a fellow of infinite speech, of most Zionist fancy.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2017, 11:46 am

        “1. A group that is being repressed or persecuted has a right to group self-defence.
        2. This implies setting up a group army.”

        Of course! A lot of groups might try to ensure their survival by having lots of babies, and maybe even trying to achieve some kind of doctrinal unity. But since we Jews have everybody else so badly outnumbered, a military solution was the first choice.

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2017, 12:13 pm

        ” Hostility toward Jews was in decline”

        The pattern is clear. During times of peace, prosperity, amicable relations and religious unity among non-Jews, they get together and pick on us!

      • Mooser
        August 14, 2017, 12:28 pm

        “Yonah”, perhaps we should define Zionism as “the never-ending quest of the Jewish people to find a suitably small pond in which to be the biggest fish”.

        ” Pinsker was just as willing as Phil Weiss and mooser to wave bye bye to tradition. What stopped him? Jew hatred”

        Ah yes, the Jew is made by those who hate him. That’s the only way to live.

      • Keith
        August 14, 2017, 2:28 pm

        YONI FALIC- “Pogroms in the Czarist Empire include gentile on gentile pogroms, gentile on Jew pogroms, Jew on Jew pogroms, and Jew on gentile pogroms.”

        Thanks for the comment. One thing I would add, however, is to emphasize that this period was a transition period between the old, preindustrial order and the the new order of industrial capitalism. Eastern Europe was in turmoil as various groups struggled for power. Under these circumstances, violent conflict was predictable.

      • yonah fredman
        August 14, 2017, 10:58 pm

        Roha- even if the time stamped on my comment seems to indicate it was an answer to you, it was not.
        Your summary of my logic is fine.
        Yes, the moral choice is to establish such a state in the territory of the persecutor, so as to minimize damage to innocent third parties. In fact recent history (1492 to 1898) has included global conquering that has changed the ownership of the world, imposing hardship, death and suffering on conquered people and in the post WWII, post colonial world, such global conquering is now forbidden. Cool. No more war. But that’s what I mean, easier said than done. You wish to turn back the clock, the permission has expired, no more need for a state, so now give it up. That’s not how it works though.

      • yonah fredman
        August 14, 2017, 11:09 pm

        To those who seek to minimize or contextualize the facts regarding yehudi hatred from 1881 til world war I in Mother Russia. For all I know you may be right. But if you are trying to convince American Jews of the benevolence of Mother Russia in that period, you’re never going to win. Nothing to do with a Zionist narrative. The vast majority of Jews in america have their roots in ancestors who cursed Mother Russia as a Jew hating place. My great uncle harry was imprisoned overnight on a false accusation of thievery and he said, if they treat us with such disrespect, i’m getting out. and thus an entire family was saved. but the saving of the family is told as Mother Russia treated its Jews with disrespect. Millions moved after 1881. I guess they were just overwrought or something, antsy, pushy, trying to make a buck, or something. well, this is what I heard, they treated us with disrespect, we had to fear the police, we heard that in america things were better for jews, so we left. millions went to america and other prime time destinations, such a migration was produced by instability and produces instability and in the instability, the idea of self protection took a very specific form.
        the specific form was harmful to the palestinians.
        but trying to minimize or contextualize, that’s fine, but who am i supposed to believe, you or my grandparents?

      • RoHa
        August 15, 2017, 5:45 am

        @eljay

        ; )

      • Sibiriak
        August 15, 2017, 9:38 am

        yonah fredman: The vast majority of Jews ind america have their roots in ancestors who cursed Mother Russia as a Jew hating place…
        —————————-

        And no doubt an abiding, ineradicable, seething Jewish hatred towards “Mother Russia” has played and continues to play a big role in the ongoing anti-Russian demonization project.

      • yonah fredman
        August 15, 2017, 11:33 am

        Sibiriak- Don’t blame others so quickly. Maybe blame the czars, Stalin, the gulag, the cold war (“we will bury you” and banging on tables at the UN like some 7th grade juvenile delinquent) and Putin and his murderous ways. Then look for someone else to blame.

      • Mooser
        August 15, 2017, 5:54 pm

        ” That’s not how it works though.”

        “Yonah” why do you make the assumption that Israel will have the population and outside support to keep going?

        What is going to change the demographics of Judaism in the 21st century? The Zionism fad is waning.

      • Mooser
        August 15, 2017, 6:34 pm

        ” and thus an entire family was saved.”

        Your entire family got out, “Yonah”? Oh well, some people have all the luck.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 15, 2017, 7:31 pm

        yonah, why do you call it mother russia and not just russia? isn’t mother russia a figure of speech indicating national personification like motherland?

      • yonah fredman
        August 15, 2017, 9:17 pm

        Annie- mother russia is a phrase I like because it is in one of my favorite woody Allen lines. In “love and death”, not my favorite woody movie, a black drill sgt. gets in the face of a soldier recruit and yells at him, “you loves mother russia, don’t you?” I love that line.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 15, 2017, 11:37 pm

        ah, that makes sense yonah. it’s a term i rarely hear. wasn’t clear you were using it with sarcasm.

      • RoHa
        August 16, 2017, 5:24 am

        Annie, I thought “Mother Russia” was a standard term among sentimental Russian patriots and people who wanted to refer to the mindset of those patriots. Not unusual at all.

      • eljay
        August 16, 2017, 8:57 am

        Mother Russia

        Perhaps there’s more to y.f. than he’s willing to let on… ;-)

      • Mooser
        August 16, 2017, 11:03 am

        “Perhaps there’s more to y.f. than he’s willing to let on… ;-)”

        “yonah” has spent years studying the Holy Movies.

    • eljay
      August 10, 2017, 10:11 pm

      || Paranam Kid: … The right of the people in this case is the right to self-determination by the Jewish people, and they have had that right since 14 May 1948. … ||

      Jewish is a religion-based identity. People who wish to self-determine as Jewish should have the right to self-determine as Jewish. The choice to be/come Jewish does not comprise a right to a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Paranam Kid
        August 11, 2017, 9:30 am

        I don’t quite get your point, and am not sure we’re on the same page.

        Jewish is both a religion & an ethnicity-based identity. So Israel is not a religion-supremacist state, it is an ethnotheocracy, predicated on a racist ideology called Zionism.

        As a racist country, i.e. in its current form, Israel has absolutely no legitimacy.

      • eljay
        August 11, 2017, 1:10 pm

        || Paranam Kid: I don’t quite get your point, and am not sure we’re on the same page. … ||

        You wrote “The right of the people in this case is the right to self-determination by the Jewish people, and they have had that right since 14 May 1948. … ||

        Self-determination applies to people of a geographic region.

        Palestinian is a geographic-based identity tied to the geographic region of Palestine. A Palestinian state should be the state of and for all people from the geographic region comprising the state.

        Israel is a geographic-based identity tied to the geographic region of Israel. An Israeli state should be the state of and for all people from the geographic region comprising the state.

        Jewish is a religion-based identity, not a geographic-based identity. It is not tied to a specific geographic region – it is based on religious conversion. A “Jewish State” is a religion-supremacist construct. The choice to hold the religion-based identity of Jewish does not comprise a “right” to establish a state primarily of and for people of that religion-based identity.

      • Paranam Kid
        August 12, 2017, 9:13 am

        @eljay
        OK, I get your point. I should have said that the Jews living in Israel have their self-determination. The Palestinians living in Israel or in the Stolen Territories have that right too but Israel has prevented them from exercising that right.

        So we’re on the same page. The only thing I disagree with is that “Jewish” is not just a religion-based identity but it is also culture-based.

      • eljay
        August 12, 2017, 1:51 pm

        || Paranam Kid: @eljay
        OK, I get your point. I should have said that the Jews living in Israel have their self-determination. The Palestinians living in Israel or in the Stolen Territories have that right too but Israel has prevented them from exercising that right.

        So we’re on the same page. … ||

        I think we pretty much agree. Just to clarify: Jews and non-Jews in Israel have (or should have) the right to self-determine as Israeli or as something else by democratic consensus. Same applies to Palestine. Right now, the rights of non-Jews in Israel and in not-Israel are being restricted by Zionists – supremacist Jews and their supporters – in Israel and elsewhere in the world.

        || … The only thing I disagree with is that “Jewish” is not just a religion-based identity but it is also culture-based. ||

        Fair enough. But I’ll stick to defining Jewish as a religion-based identity because AFAIK it’s the only way one can officially* acquire that identity.
        ____________________________
        (*Perhaps one can unofficially…
        – become Jewish by immersing oneself in Jewish culture; and
        – be culturally Jewish and also adhere to a non-Jewish faith,
        …but I don’t know if this is true.)

    • Paranam Kid
      August 12, 2017, 9:05 am

      @MHughes976
      If Palestinians don’t exist then neither do Israelis, esp. since there is no Israeli nationality.

    • Nathan
      August 13, 2017, 9:07 pm

      Paranam Kid – You maintain that the two-state solution is “null and void” because of Israel’s continued settlement construction. This point of view creates an interesting dilemma. If the settlements mean that now there must be a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the conclusion must be that you see the settlements as permanent. Obviously, if the settlements are not permanent (i.e. they must be dismantled), you could then easily adopt the idea of the two-state solution. However, in your view, the two-state solution is null and void because of the settlements – so you believe that they will not be dismantled ever. So, if the settlements will not be dismantled (and they will continue to exist in the framework of a single state), they must be defined as legal.

  3. Annie Robbins
    August 10, 2017, 12:17 pm

    Politics, says Finkelstein, is not about what you personally want or believe, it’s about the maximum you can realistically achieve within the existing framework. In the matter of public opinion, the law is the framework, the furthest we can go in any argument. If we are advocating for something which is on the other side of the law, such as dismantling Israel as a state, then we lose the broad public, we lose our credibility. We no longer have the law as a common horizon that gives us credibility among people who don’t know us, we are just talking to ourselves.

    if politics is about the maximum you can realistically achieve within the existing framework, and the law is that framework, and advocating for something which is on the other side of the law, such as support for an illegal occupation, then according to finkelstein’s theory, aipac and all those pro israel thinktanks have just been talking to themselves for all these years, and we know that is not the case — don’t we?

    And remember, as Finkelstein points out, the law is completely on our side in this matter. The Palestinians won in every aspect. The International Court of Justice, the highest judicial branch in the world, voted unanimously in favour of the Palestinian cause. Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, are Palestinian territory under International Law. The occupation, the siege, the annexation, are illegal under International Law. The settlements are illegal under International Law. The wall is illegal under International Law. Israel has a legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-borders, meaning Israel has to withdraw immediately from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    it’s irrelevant if “the law is completely on our side in this matter” if there is nothing “won” by winning. it does’t matter if the ICJ voted in your favor if there is no action taken supporting that vote. if “the occupation, the siege, the annexation, are illegal under International Law. The settlements are illegal under International Law. The wall is illegal under International Law“ what difference, practically speaking, has a vote on that illegality made? contrary to finkelstein’s allegations, obviously Israel having “a legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-borders” does not mean Israel has to “withdraw immediately from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem”, because if it did — israel would have withdrawn from gaza, WB and EJ a long time ago.

    there is a difference between “in theory” and reality. the reality is, for pro israel supporters “politics” has always been very much about ‘what they personally want and believe’ and the maximum they have realistically achieved has never been within the existing framework of what’s legal under international law, not that i know of, not ever.

    the elite, congress, educational institutions, think tanks, the media, is not “the broad public”. if people were somehow bound by influencing “the broad public” by way of what’s acceptable under international law, the broad public would be all over the map because most of the broad public has no idea what’s legal and what is not and/or is deeply divided over it.

    now, imho, the framing of calling for equal rights and ROR being an advocation for “dismantling israel” is an adoption of a zionist narrative. it doesn’t matter if norm thinks one state, in effect, would ‘dismantle israel’. you don’t hear regime change advocates in syria openly advocating for a dismantling of syria even though you know the neocons would like nothing better than chopping syria up into bite size easily controllable territories. so to base a theory on ones own intent using the framing of ones opponent, gives ones opponent the advantage. because words matter.

    and i have more to say on this topic, will put it in another comment.

    • Annie Robbins
      August 10, 2017, 12:39 pm

      imagine a line of 100 inches of linear logic and place “international law” in the center (50 inches) of that line. place yourself or “what i want” on the left side (1) of the spectrum but stay as close to that center as you can. place norm at 50. place norm’s ideological allies or his so called “broad public” at 49-51. place all your ideological opponents at 100. place congress at 99 standing right beside them. place peter beinart and a bunch of the ‘liberal zionists’ at 79-95.

      now, if your goal is to end up with a totally free region where everyone has equal rights and lives in total harmony, where do you stand? because i would stand at 1. i would not stand at 50 because the people i am tugging against on this line are about as divorced from international law, or aligned with those divorced from international law, as one could imagine! the idea one has the most advantage by standing in the center (along with international institutions whose vote has not stopped an illegal occupation for decades and been largely ineffective) might sound like a nice theory, but the weight will be stacked against you.

      large swaths of the “broad public” will empathize and align with the human instinct to be free and i would argue they are not mostly 49-51. the narrative of ‘dismantlement’ of apartheid will resonate with them — which is much more resonant of what the left wants than ‘dismantling’ a state which is not always the same as dismantling a regime. don’t underestimate the broad public.

      • Sibiriak
        August 10, 2017, 2:24 pm

        Annie Robbins: now, if your goal is to end up with a totally free region where everyone has equal rights and lives in total harmony, where do you stand? because i would stand at 1.

        ————————-

        IF that were my goal, I would stand very close to 50 –arm and arm with international law and institutions–and pull in my direction. Because international law is a powerful FORCE, not just a an ideological norm, and I would want that force squarely on my side. I would be very hesitant to put a great distance between myself and that FORCE, unless I was quite confident the cause I supported could manage without it–or against it.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 10, 2017, 4:27 pm

        Because international law is a powerful FORCE, not just a an ideological norm

        i realize when i wrote “norm’s ideological allies” it may have implied something other than norm finklestein’s ideological allies.

        i also realize, perhaps i wasn’t clear my comment was an extention of my earlier one. more specifically regarding the concept of winning or losing the “broad public”. on a day to day basis, the broad public is more influenced by the media than they are by international law. and if it were true “the maximum you can realistically achieve” — in the matter of public opinion, is somehow constrained within the framework of the law (or what is legal), or “the furthest we can go in any argument”, then we never would have invaded iraq — which had broad public support. the “broad public” has been shown repeatedly throughout history to be very influenced by arguments that are outside the law.

        i am not advocating for anything against international law. but as you point out (below) people have different “take on international law”. my linear visual metaphor was with regard to moving the opinion of the broad public. in the matter of public opinion, it is likely that everyone on that (1-100) spectrum thinks they have the law on their side. finklestein is squarely in the “2 states” column which i placed in the center of the linear metaphor. the one state for everyone (1) is at the opposite end of the spectrum of the occupation forever crowd (100).

        everything’s fair game in terms of moving public opinion because the broad public is not in unison on what the law provides or doesn’t provide and can be swayed by either side of the spectrum. people will not be studying international law for decades to make up their minds about what is right and what is wrong in israel/palestine. they will be more persuaded by their peers and what they see on videos on the internet and imaginings of whole families being blown up in gaza or homes being bulldozed or simply the idea of what it means to them be a free person and what “equal rights” means to them. remember, israel thinks they have the law on their side and their supporters do to.

        that is my point. the argument that one staters are not aligned with international law, that bds is a cult, or that 2 states is the only scenario likely to win the hearts and minds of broad public, i’m not sure i agree with it. personally, i would be quite happy with 2 equal states, quite happy indeed. but what i would be happy with is irrelevant. we are in a battle with a powerful opponent who are losing their grip on public opinion in a society that has allowed and funded this atrocious occupation for decades largely with the approval of the broad public. but right now things are more fluid. public opinion is changing. i’m arguing that to counter the forces on the pro occupation end of the spectrum, there’s no moral imperative to attach oneself to a “2 states is the only way” interpretation of international law. BDS has not done it so why should i? in the fight for public opinion i am going to stand in the most idealized concept of a free society as i can, and in that position countering apartheid, the middle road (2 states) may even have a chance of holding.

      • gamal
        August 10, 2017, 5:18 pm

        “everything’s fair game in terms of moving public opinion because the broad public is not in unison on what the law provides or doesn’t provide and can be swayed by either side of the spectrum. people will not be studying international law for decades to make up their minds about what is right and what is wrong in israel/palestine”

        really enjoyed those Annie, you remember when people were ready to fight for what was right, Palestinians are choosing to struggle,

        reminds of back in the day in the murderous world of Jamaican DJs a little thin ghetto girl this isn’t music pure toughness in a hard hard ghetto dancehall style

        “some a drink rum some a smoke ganja

        but I a woman thats say me must prosper”

        sister Nancy propers still, all the men of her era long dead, bum chaka laka,

        “everything’s fair game” cool

        tougher than tough pure clarity

      • Annie Robbins
        August 10, 2017, 5:36 pm

        gamal, you are so cool ;) listening now…

      • DaBakr
        August 11, 2017, 5:02 pm

        @g@a
        i’m all for ‘everything’s fair game’. and the icj has lost any credibility as a “force” for anything other then symbolic and has done nothing but chase after except low hanging fruit, warlords and two-bit dictators. most emerging nations would rather take matters of justice into their own hands and find the iic condescending and racist. no wonder its so appealing to far-left progressives.

    • Sibiriak
      August 10, 2017, 2:55 pm

      Annie Robbins: if “the occupation, the siege, the annexation, are illegal under International Law. The settlements are illegal under International Law. The wall is illegal under International Law“ what difference, practically speaking, has a vote on that illegality made?
      ——————-

      Well, for one thing, it’s contributed significantly to the legitimacy and therefore to the POWER of the BDS movement.

      The BDS movement has deliberately aligned itself with international law. I think that’s a smart move. Without that alignment, I believe BDS would be less powerful.

      International law is one weapon to be grasped and used. It’s not enough, but one needs all the weapons one can get a hold of.

      Finkelstein’s take on international law isn’t the only possible one, btw.

      • jd65
        August 10, 2017, 6:15 pm

        Hey again Sibiriak:

        Finkelstein’s take on international law isn’t the only possible one, btw.

        Unfortunately, I think Finkelstein may disagree w/ you there. Seems to me he often feels that his way of looking at things is the only reasonable way. Here’s Holly Hunter unwittingly channeling a future Norman Finkelstein in the 1987 classic Broadcast News:

        Over the last few years I feel like I’ve seen NF become increasingly condescending and totally convinced of the superiority of his own ideas, opinions, and attitudes over all others to the point of being rudely dismissive. He’s smart of course. And obviously he’s contributed a great deal of positive, useful material and energy over the decades to the problem. But my sense is that he’s one of these guys who has for so very long had his wagon hitched to a two-state solution, that he’s unable to unwire/rewire his brain to deal w/ the reality that that “solution” is no longer a realistic option (maybe it never really was in the first place?). And because this NF old dog is unable to learn new tricks, much of what he says and thinks on the subject, while still often coming off as “smart” and “reasonable,” regularly turns out to make little sense when put through the ringer.

      • Annie Robbins
        August 10, 2017, 8:37 pm

        Seems to me he often feels that his way of looking at things is the only reasonable way

        this is not unusual and something i happen to share with norm a great deal of the time (about my way of looking at things). i have a lot of respect for norm i just think his opinion about what the broad public will accept isn’t correct because he’s not factoring in the element of time — because he can’t. i think everyone can agree we don’t know how long it will be til this situation becomes resolved (or how it will be resolved) and the world could be a very different place by then. so factoring in public opinion, not knowing what public opinion will be in 5yrs vs 20 yrs vs 50yrs or whenever, how can you do that knowing we might be looking at a completely different dynamic in x number of years, possibly a completely different dynamic altogether. everyone keeps talking about this 2state window — is it closed? if it’s not will that window be open in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years? once (or if) public opinion internationally thinks it’s decidedly closed — and that could happen — then what? the more he’s talking about change right now — tomorrow or next week this year or next year — the more chance there is of him being correct. but the farther away in time you get (which team israel is banking on) the more unpredictable broad public opinion becomes.

        sibiriak:

        it does’t matter if the ICJ voted in your favor if there is no action taken supporting that vote…..what difference, practically speaking, has a vote on that illegality made?
        ——————-

        Well, for one thing, it’s contributed significantly to the legitimacy and therefore to the POWER of the BDS movement.

        in public opinion perhaps but institutionally i think currently we may be getting outflanked w/all this anti bds legislation — for the time being. practically speaking, i see no change in the occupation, the siege, the annexation, the settlements or the wall. i think public opinion is moving faster than the icj or the UN or whatever. right now, i think the power of bds is coming from the people, not international law which seems kind of toothless and moving at the pace of a turtle vs public opinion which is moving very very fast in our favor, the inaction/pace of international law notwithstanding.

    • Misterioso
      August 11, 2017, 11:27 am

      @Annie Robbins

      For the record:

      It is important to remember that It is resolved in paragraph 11 of Resolution 194 that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

      Section 11 also calls for the establishment of a Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) consisting of three member states to take over the role of the United Nations Mediator and the Truce Commission. It then “Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations.”

      I personally know many Palestinian refugees of the 1947-48 conflict. Virtually everyone of them has no desire to return to what is now Israel. They will settle for adequate financial compensation for their losses.

      The financial losses incurred by the 800,000 Palestinians made refugees as a consequence of the 1948 war (al Nakba) and events leading to it during the previous five plus months following passage of the recommendatory only UNGA Partition Plan (Res. 181, 29 October 1947), including the expulsion of about 400,000 Palestinians, has been carefully arrived at as follows: In 1994, during a conference on refugees held at Georgetown University, Professor Atif Kubursi of the Economics Department at Ontario’s McMaster University announced that through diligent research he had determined the total financial losses incurred by Palestinians made refugees as a result of the 1947-48 war to be $199 billion in 1994 U.S. dollars. In 1996, after including an adjustment for inflation since 1948 and a modest 4% rate of return, he revised the figure to $235 billion. (“Compensation for Palestinian Refugees,” by Terry Rempel, Journal of Palestinian Studies, Vol. XXIX, Autumn 1999.) On 8 April 2000, at a conference on refugees held at Boston University Law School, Professor Kubursi declared that after amending the total to include loss of income and psychological stress, he determined the losses incurred to be: property losses – $146 billion; lost income – $300 billion; and psychological losses – $281 billion. (ADC [American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee] Times, April/May 2000, p. 5)

      • Annie Robbins
        August 14, 2017, 5:21 pm

        thanks ‘for the record’ misterioso

  4. Boris
    August 10, 2017, 4:31 pm

    There is a saying – if you are young and not liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and still a liberal, you have no brain.

    It seems that Finkelstein is getting older.

    And wiser.

    Not wise, but wiser…

    • JosephA
      August 10, 2017, 10:38 pm

      Boris,

      I heard the saying, but differently: “If you are young and not liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and liberal, you have no money”

      I respectfully disagree with this saying, although it does make some people laugh.

      Firstly, I prefer the term progressive, as conservatives do not like progress. They like things to stay exactly as they are. Secondly, you can have a heart and have money, it is possible.

      • Boris
        August 11, 2017, 11:04 am

        Poor Finkelstein…

        BTW, progressive could be anything. Like “progressive dementia”.

      • Misterioso
        August 11, 2017, 4:10 pm

        @Boris

        “People in glass houses….”

  5. ErsatzYisrael
    August 11, 2017, 1:53 pm

    If we are advocating for something which is on the other side of the law, such as dismantling Israel as a state, then we lose the broad public, we lose our credibility. We no longer have the law as a common horizon that gives us credibility among people who don’t know us, we are just talking to ourselves.

    Please, the only “something which is on the other side of the law” here, is the cancerous Zionist abomination that has been allowed to take root in Palestine, and which continues to be nurtured by oblivious imbeciles, fondly spewing nonsense on the internet.

    You lost all your credibility when you began advocating for ongoing crimes against humanity in Palestine, which is precisely what Zionism is. But yeah, you just keep talking to yourself so you can feel better about that Zionist apartheid in Palestine, and the Zionist genocide of the Palestinians.

  6. Hanna Kawas
    August 11, 2017, 6:14 pm

    Mondoweiss says: “They fear the truth – we report it.” However, if the truth you are reporting means giving (within the space of 2 days) coverage to the condescending and arrogant posturings of first Chomsky and then Finkelstein I have to question the relevance of such reporting. At least the article on Chomsky didn’t add insult to injury by being placed in the “Activism” section with the title of “Lessons…”. Operation “Rehab Finkelstein” after his BDS debacle deserves no place in a progressive website, until he steps down from his pedestal and publicly acknowledges the harm he did with his METHODS of disagreeing with the BDS principles and movement.

  7. Rusty Pipes
    August 11, 2017, 9:31 pm

    Seth, thank you for this:

    And despite what Finkelstein has come to believe in recent years, there is absolutely a basis for the right of return under International Law. Article 11 in UN resolution 194 states that the refugees have a legal right to return. Amnesty International say they have a legal right of return. Human Rights Watch say they have a legal right of return. And these are powerful institutions and organizations, that are uncontroversial and trustworthy to the broad public, and therefore a strong tool for those of us who seek to reach a broad public.

    If we want to do everything that is in our power for the Palestinian people, to use the means and institutions that are available to us in our countries, to put pressure on the Israeli government and system of oppression, then this is our strongest case: International Law and equal rights.

    International Law is a powerful tool, which we should use as best we can, supporting lawyers and scholars to press those cases. In addition, unlike most UN member states, Israel’s acceptance into membership in 1949 was conditional upon its accepting and reintegrating Palestinian refugees. Israel has managed to avoid that obligation for UN membership for almost 70 years; so a review of its status in that body is long overdue. The reason for the delay in that review points to a shortcoming in relying solely upon International Law — namely enforcement mechanisms (and the International community’s inability or unwillingness to apply them to Israel). Legal victories, hard-won though they may be, continue to be symbolic as long as they are not enforced against Israel.

  8. Brewer
    August 12, 2017, 3:07 am

    Finkelstein has come to believe that the return of the Palestinian refugees and the demographical change that would follow, would mean the end of the state of Israel which he says is not in accord with Israel’s legal right to exist as a state within the pre-June 1967-border
    Tried to respond to this yesterday but got bogged down and ran out of time.
    My hero Norman is wrong. The Palestinian right to return pre-dates the Israeli State. Their right to return to their homes existed in 1947, in 1847, in 1747 and so on.
    “Right to exist” as applied to States is a shibboleth, a slogan invented by neo-colonists. It has no discernible meaning for no State possesses it per se. A legislative body has a right to govern a State granted by the citizens of that State.
    The actions taken by Zionists to expel the people of the land were illegal and the U.N.’s collusion in the setting up of the Israeli State was conditional (and those conditions were not satisfied) but, more importantly, it was beyond UNGA’s constitutional powers to Partition and create the Israeli State – which it did not in fact do. Israel was declared a State unilaterally by Ben Gurion. It’s subsequent recognition by other States makes no law.
    I would be interested to hear Norman’s authority for Israel’s legal right to exist. So far as I know, there is none.

    There is, however, a large body of International Law that upholds Palestinian right to return and it is this that legitimizes their their (and our) struggle. It is also the sole path to the government of that territory gaining legitimacy in fact.

    • Nathan
      August 14, 2017, 10:03 pm

      Brewer – Israel’s “legal right” to exist is identical to the right of all other nations to exist: It came into existence. It really is not too complicated. A state comes into existence, and that’s it. It exists. There was an attempt to prevent the birth of Israel by force, but it didn’t succeed. That’s life.

      What was the UN’s collusion in setting up Israel? The General Assembly recommended partitioning Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The recommendation was rejected by one of the parties to the conflict, and the UN did NOT force the implementation of its rejected recommendation. So, the UN did not participate in the setting up of Israel. The state was founded by the Jews of Palestine. As you said, “Israel was declared a State unilaterally by Ben Gurion” (all declarations of independence are unilateral, and Israel is no exception).

      • Mooser
        August 15, 2017, 12:04 pm

        ” A state comes into existence, and that’s it. It exists. There was an attempt to prevent the birth of Israel by force, but it didn’t succeed”

        And when a state no longer has the population or resources to survive, it goes away.
        And when a “state” which is really a colony loses its backing, that can get pretty nasty, too.

        I’m just happy and relieved it is so easy for the majority of Israel’s Zionist residents to leave for other places and avoid any ranny-gazoo.

        What’s so funny about this is that it won’t be too long before Israel is insisting on it’s right to cease existing as a Zionist enterprise and claiming it can do so at no cost, with no responsibility.

      • Nathan
        August 15, 2017, 10:21 pm

        Mooser – Theoretically, you are absolutely right in saying that “when a state no longer has the population or resources to survive, it goes away”. I don’t know which state in history would be your example; however, obviously, you are not talking about Israel. Israel is enjoying a real population explosion (the population today is about 10 times larger than it was 70 years ago). And its economy is booming (and natural gas has been discovered, and the expected income is literally astronomical). You added that it could be nasty when a state loses its backing. I suppose that, again, you are correct – but obviously you’re not talking about Israel. The support for Israel in the real world of politics is quite remarkable (I believe that the Obama administration promised a ten-year assistance program of some $30 billion).

        There are, indeed, many Israelis who could easily leave for other places. These people could acquire foreign passports, they have tip-top professional qualifications and they have the money that is needed for immigration. However, although some migrate, the vast majority want to live in Israel. It’s home and it’s family (and the weather is super). It’s surely very strange that you prophecize the end of Israel. You see the population going away (when in fact it’s growing), you see its resources dwindling (when in fact they are inmeasurable), and you see its international backing as a lost cause (when in fact Israel’s standing in the world community is quite impressive).

        I wonder why you are living in alternative reality. I understand that you wish that Israel would disappear tomorrow morning, but you shouldn’t let your fantasies get the best of you. You should be able to handle the not-so-complicated mission of being anti-Israel while at the same time staying in contact with planet earth.

      • Sibiriak
        August 16, 2017, 1:58 am

        Nathan: I wonder why you are living in alternative reality.
        ————————

        When there is a really horrible situation with no obvious solution in sight, many people become inclined to wishful thinking.

      • catalan
        August 16, 2017, 9:59 am

        “When there is a really horrible situation with no obvious solution in sight, many people become inclined to wishful thinking.” Sibiriak
        Horrible or not, we all have to do our bit to solve it. For example, I haven’t bought Ben and Jerry ice cream in a long time. Also, I haven’t bought Sabra hummus lately. I don’t even own a Soda Stream machine. I make sacrifices like that so Gaza will get electricity.

      • Mooser
        August 16, 2017, 11:13 am

        “Mooser…you are absolutely right “

        Thanks, “Nathan”.

  9. Nathan
    August 13, 2017, 9:54 pm

    We learn in the above article that “Article 11 in UN resolution 194 states that the refugees have a legal right to return”. I would suggest in the name of honest reporting that the author of the article actually quote Article 11. Anyway, here’s the quote: “…the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”. So, the resolution does NOT say that “the refugees have a legal right to return”. Obviously, those refugees not willing to live in peace with their neighbors should not be permitted to return. And, besides, haven’t we learned in school that General Assembly resolutions are not binding?

    • Mooser
      August 15, 2017, 5:59 pm

      “Obviously, those refugees not willing to live in peace with their neighbors should not be permitted to return…”

      “Nathan” our visitor from Bizzaro-world.

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