Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 3016 (since 2012-06-23 07:13:37)

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  • Two-stater says the reality has shifted to one apartheid state
    • The activists like to say that talk about “negotiations” are pointless...

      How would a "final settlement" come about except via negotiations? Just curious....

      Another compelling post, Hostage.

      Btw, I noticed you use the word "shreying" quite often. It's quite uncommon. I like it though!

    • Why would they want to include a divisive assertion

      If support for that assertion was *overwhelming*, why would its inclusion be divisive?

      why weren’t Palestinian and Israeli rights to statehood affirmed?

      Israeli rights to statehood? This is a Palestinian movement asserting Palestinian rights

      1) You conveniently left out my question about *Palestinian* rights to statehood. 2) How can a movement assert one group's rights without acknowledging the the rights of other affected groups? What other civil or human rights based movement has ever done that?

      What is disingenuous is to expect Palestinian resistance to Israeli oppression to adopt the 2s “peace” mantra

      How is it simply a "mantra" if the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS support it? How does their overwhelming support for a 2SS have anything to do with my or anyone else's expectations?

    • 1. Because “overwhelming” is not the same as “all”.

      Huh? You are demanding absolute unanimity? When is that ever possible? Why should overwhelming Palestinian support for a 2SS --expressing a right to self-determination of the Palestinian people--be swept under the table?

      2. Because BDS is a rights- rather than solution-based aproach.

      And that just begs the question: why weren't Palestinian and Israeli rights to statehood affirmed? Besides, how in the real world can rights be realized without any solutions ?

      The disingenuousness of this "approach" is clear.

    • In another thread, I quoted Philip Weiss:

      ...when I attended the Third National BDS Conference in Hebron this past December one attendee asked Omar Barghouti why the movement doesn't explicitly endorse one state?

      He responded by saying it's because the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS call support two states.

      I asked: if the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations backing the BDS agreed on a 2SS, why wasn't that agreement reflected in the BDS statements.

      I never got any answer to that and related questions.

    • Actually, despite many claims here at MW, many (most?) Palestinian intellectuals are NOT "interested in sharing the same imagined political entity."

    • A de facto single state is quite different from a de jure single state.

      There is not, and likely never will be in foreseeable future, a single state incorporating Israel, the West Bank and Gaza that is internationally recognized as such.

    • No, like the article says, the pendulum is swinging away from the two-state solution into a known unknown: an apartheid Israel

      Exactly. There is no logical or factual connection between the ending of the possibility of a genuine two state solution and movement toward a single democratic state.

      I see movement toward the creation of Palestinian autonomous zones in the remnants of West Bank territory that will be left after Israel annexes the major settlement blocs and consolidates the separation wall.

      These remnants will be called a "state" by some and "bantustans" by others. Israel will then wash its hands of the Palestinian quest for statehood.

  • Judith Butler responds to attack: 'I affirm a Judaism that is not associated with state violence'
    • Hezbollah and Hamas ares not fascist organizations. Their brands of Islamism, though, rule them out as "leftist" or "progressive" organizations in the usually sense of those terms, imo.

  • We are 'unwilling for an Arab to date a girl from among our people': Israeli org uses Zion Square lynching to push racist agenda
  • Israel's secret Iran meeting between security officials and Rabbi who wants to 'annihilate' Arabs
    • In 2001 BBC News ran a story titled "Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs":

      The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has provoked outrage with a sermon calling for the annihilation of Arabs.

      "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable," he was quoted as saying in a sermon delivered on Monday to mark the Jewish festival of Passover.

      Rabbi Yosef is one of the most powerful religious figures in Israel, He is known for his outspoken comments and has in the past referred to the Arabs as "vipers".

      Through his influence over Shas, Israel's third largest political party, he is also a significant political figure. As founder and spiritual leader of the political party Shas, Rabbi Yosef is held in almost saintly regard by hundreds of thousands of Jews of Middle Eastern and North African origin.

      The Palestinian Authority has condemned the sermon as racist and is calling on international organisations to treat the rabbi as a war criminal.

      'Arab terrorists'

      Rabbi Yosef said in his sermon that enemies have tried to hurt the Jewish people from the time of the exodus from Egypt to this day.

      "The Lord shall return the Arabs' deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world," he said.

      Shas spokesman, Yitzhaq Suderi defended the rabbi, saying his remarks referred only to "Arab murderers and terrorists" and not the Arab people as a whole.

      'Stirring up hatred'

      Palestinian cabinet minister Hassan Asfur urged international civil institutions and human rights organisations to consider Rabbi Yosef a war criminal in future.

      The utterances were "a clear call for murder and a political an intellectual terrorism that will lead to military terrorism", he said in remarks reported on Palestinian radio.

      He added that no punishment would come from Israel "because its political culture and action are in line with [the rabbi's] racist statements".

      Israeli Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit also condemned the sermon, saying: "A person of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's stature must refrain from acrid remarks such as these."

      And he added: "I suggest that we not learn from the ways of the Palestinians and speak in verbal blows like these."

      Salah Tarif, the only Arab cabinet minister in the Israeli government, also criticized Rabbi Yosef, saying "his remarks add nothing but hatred".

  • My correspondence with NYT's Rudoren
    • It's interesting to compare Rudoren's piece with Jeffrey Goldberg's 2004 "Among the Settlers":

      Personally, I find Rudoren insidious and repugnant.

      [Dayan] defies the caricature of settlers as gun-toting radicals who attribute their politics to God and the Torah...

      I think that reveals the precise predetermined purpose behind Ruderen's portrait of "the leader of Israel’s settler movement" -- to counteract the increasingly negative image of the settlers. No objective journalism there, at all.

      ...expanding the Jewish presence in those and other disputed historic places across the West Bank ...

      "Disputed historic places". Nice.

    • The NYT wouldn’t risk putting someone who wasn’t “reliable” on Israel in her position.

      So true.

    • rudoren is not naive, and she’s not delusional. she knows what she’s doing, she knows why she was sent there, and she has all the experience she needs to get the job done.

      I agree. She's very slick.

  • In September, the agendas collide
    • Could you summarize Beilin's opinion? I don't have access to that article.

    • No it means Israel gave the PA and advance on the Tax money that weren’t actually collected yet, that what and advance means.

      I'm not sure about that. The JPost article refers to the "transfer" of funds already collected, but previously withheld from the normal monthly transfer for political reasons:

      Israel, in a “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, gave Ramallah over the last few days a NIS 180 million advance on tax money it transfers on a monthly basis, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

      [...]The officials said that Israel generally transfers some NIS 100m. to the PA each month in tax revenues that Jerusalem collects on the PA’s behalf. This money is often contested, and Israel withheld the transfer of these funds in November in response to the Palestinians’ applying for and winning acceptance as a state to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    • The Iranian threat to a Israel is largely a threat to Israeli expansionism.

    • The U.S. and Israel are really concerned about Iran reaching *nuclear threshold* status--not producing nuclear weapons, but gaining the ability to produce them relatively quickly if they were to decide to.

  • 'Al Jazeera' reports Syrian regime committed Houla massacre in effort to ignite sectarian conflict
    • One would almost think from reading this that Saddam Hussein was some sort of Middle Eastern Good King Wenceslas...

      Almost? That thought would never have occurred to me after reading this. Just the opposite.

  • At 'Daily Kos,' a liberal Zionist calls for BDS
    • I agree completely.

      Perhaps what you describe should be called a two-state settlement, not a solution.

      A full solution will have to wait a very long time, unfortunately--until internal Israeli changes (born of struggle, internal and external pressure, the dying of old ideologies) permit a single democratic state with full individual rights, a bi-national state with collective rights, or some kind of regional confederation.

      In the mean time, a two-state settlement is indeed possible, even if it seems unlikely given the "facts on the ground".

      a 2 state solution, based on 1967, with some substantive right of return for refugees is the best i can hope for. if we do not GET this, it ends in another zionist dispossession, greater israel, and gaza pushed into egypt. and an iron wall policy towards jordan (with new pal refugees), and egypt (now “holing” gaza)

      Yes. There is a mistaken notion that if a 2SS becomes impossible, a 1SS becomes inevitable. But that's just an article of faith.

      As anonymouscomments points out, things CAN get worse--much worse--if people, in their thirst for justice, play into Israeli expansionists' hands.

    • Given the crimes it has committed and still commits all around the world (including the support of Israel), what is there to love about America? A lot? Nothing?

    • Intentions aside, isn't it a good thing that "liberal Zionists" support BDS?

    • …and tribalism is evil.

      Not necessarily. What about indigenous groups in South America, for example, fighting for their rights of self-determination. Or what about Tibetan "tribalism"? And so on...

      I'm not a member of a "tribe" myself, but I see the power of social identities all over the world, and it's not a given to me that the world would be a better place if all those identities ("imagined communities") were annihilated, and the world became filled with rationalistic, self-identifying individuals, especially not along the lines of the neoliberal, utility-maximizing, consumerist individual.

  • Backer of NY ads exposing Palestinian land-loss says response has been 'astounding' and news 'coverage is pouring in'
    • What efforts are being made to get more maps out like this, and how can that effort be supported?

      Maps are incredibly powerful. The opened my mind years ago. A lot of people visualize the West Bank as some kind of contiguous Palestinian area with settlements on the border. They don't get the reality that settlements and the matrix of control lay all over the West Bank making any kind of sovereign, viable, contiguous Palestinian state physically impossible.

  • Arthur Koestler's Zionist recruiters used anti-Semitic ideas
    • The urge to assimilate is a form of self hate.

      This is so wrong. It assumes that one's real, essential, "self" is determined by the ethnic, religious, cultural, or whatever, group one is born into.

  • 'NYT' sees end of 2SS in Levy report, Munayyer sees Israel's growing int'l isolation
    • I am convinced this is what they want ….. them against the world (as long as the US protects them).

      It's not what they want --they are obviously fighting a propaganda war to prevent that--but they certainly are willing to run that risk..

      And all the liberal zionist who think they can ‘change’ zionist Israel are just as deluded ...

      As are the one-democratic-state-for-everyone anti-Zionists.

    • "'We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,' State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters whena sked about the Levy committee report."

      I.e., existing settlement blocks are okay.

    • "This nightmare scenario would force Israel either to cede its Jewish character to an Arab majority or to invite the world’s unprecedented condemnation and isolation as a profoundly undemocratic state."

      Israel is clearly going the "invite" route.

  • Ash responds to critique of Finkelstein on BDS
    • "Since Fink opposes BDS, I think the best approach is “ignore and/or excommunicate”, and carry on without him."

      That might make sense--except Finkelstein doesn't oppose BDS.


      "I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics.

      I support the BDS.

      But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal..."

    • It well may be that a 1SS-oriented BDS movement might "scare the pants off the Israelis" enough to get them to move toward a 2SS (they certainly arn't going to move to a 1SS!)

      But that's a dangerous game, and, imo, misjudges Israeli politics.

      As Uri Avnery put it:

      "Let me tell you what I find most frightening in your proposal, more than anything else. You say that the Two States Solution is inherently bad and should be rejected. Your alternative is a solution which 99 percent of Jewish Israelis do not want, and which has no chance to be accepted. What does that leave? It leaves the slogan of the Israeli right wing: that there is no solution to this conflict.

      That is what I am afraid of: of those who say that "There is no solution to the conflict", the conflict will last forever, that it is our fate to suffer an eternity of it. This is what I am afraid of, because it can serve as justification to all horrors, up to and including ethnic cleansing."

    • "His talks and his lectures in which he dismisses the right of return, says it should be negotiated away,"

      That's not at all accurate. There's a big difference between "negotiating away the right to return" and having a right of return accepted by all, and negotiating the implementation of that ROR.

      Finkelstein has never dismissed the right of return, nor said it should be negotiated away.

  • Finkelstein on 'cults and flunkies'
    • Seems like he's engaging in deliberate hyperbole.

    • "Now he’s scared Israel is actually going to get destroyed — so he’s switching sides."

      Wishful thinking on your part.

    • David Samel:

      "Is he saying that they need not renounce ROR as a “precondition,” but during the course of negotiations, the vast majority must agree not to exercise that right? "

      Yes, that is exactly what he is saying, clear as a bell. In a political settlement, the Israelis must accept the ROR in principle and take responsibility for creating the refugee situation, while the Palestinians agree not to implement the ROR fully in practice, in return for compensation etc.

      That concept has long been on the table. Nothing new, and nothing unclear about it.

      David Samel says:

      "what is Finkelstein’s position on BDS? He says he is “personally” in favor of it but that the movement itself is a “cult.” "

      Finkelstein says he supports BDS *tactics*, but believes BDS *goals* need to be clarified and made explicit and embrace international law regarding the state of Israel (adopt a 2SS as the goal). He also doesn't like certain cultish aspects of BDS as a *group*.

      That all seems perfectly clear to me, whatever one thinks about it.

  • 'IDF Ranks' transforms pro-Israel Facebook users into 'virtual soldiers'
  • Beinart signals shift to cultural Zionism, away from need for a Jewish state
    • CitizenC says: "The only admissable “secular Jewish identity” is..."

      Admissible by whom or what, or into what? What other forms of human social identity are inadmissible? What forms are admissible?

    • Mooser,

      I notice you slid from "culture" to "true national culture".

      I don't think a culture per se must be rooted in a defined physical territory.

    • Binyamin in Orangeburg says: " The problem is not “Jewish self-government” per se, its how it has been realized. "

      I agree. I see no inherent problem with Tibetan self-government either, for example.

  • Queer activists disrupt SF Film Festival over Israeli sponsorship
    • Mozer: "These regimes that are controlling the West Bank and Gaza are very primitive."

      Inanna says: "Yuck. Cultural essentialism. The point is Mr Mozer that Israel controls what happens in the West Bank and Gaza."

      Exactly. He omits the reality of politicide:

      "Politicide is a process that covers a wide range of social, political and military activities whose goal is to destroy the political and national existence of a whole community of people and thus deny it the possibility of self-determination.

      Murders, local massacres, the elimination of leadership and elite groups, the physical destruction of public institutions and infrastructure, land colonization, starvation, social and political isolation, re-education, and partial ethnic cleansing are the major tools to achieve this goal."

      Baruch Kimmerling "Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians" p.4

  • It's one state now, unequal and unsustainable-- former peace processor at Open Zion
    • He describes a theoretical 2SS... and so what?

      He describes elsewhere why the settlements,"matrix of control", Israeli intentions, etc. make such a scenario extremely unlikely.

    • Hostage,

      I'm not clear at all where any disagreement is (or where Wiki specifically is in error--I did just pull out a few snippets from their article).

      "Mass population transfer doesn’t necessarily destroy the group as a social unit if they arrive at a destination together. "



      "You are citing the dicta from the Jorgic v. Germany case. The European Court of Human Rights actually went on to disagree with the ICTY. The ECHR upheld the conviction in the German courts for the crime of genocide based upon destruction of the group as a social unit."



      "Other international courts have ruled that rape and other acts that destroy group cohesion, may constitute genocide even in cases where they don’t result in the physical destruction of the targeted group members."

      Thanks for pointing that out.


      "See The ICTR Prosecutor v. Jean‑Paul Akayesu starting on pdf page 8 link to

      'In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: '"

      As I said, imo, the "in whole or in part" phrase is quite problematic. We are seeing, and will continue to see, and extraordinarily wide range of a actions being labeled genocide.

      I personally don't think that is such a great thing.

    • Then again, according to Wikipedia:

      Bosnian Genocide:
      In 2005, the United States Congress passed a resolution declaring that "the Serbian policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing meet the terms defining genocide".[10]

      However, in line with a majority of legal scholars, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have ruled that, in order for actions to be deemed genocide, there must be physical or biological destruction of a protected group and a specific intent to commit such destruction. To date, only the Srebrenica massacre has been found to be a genocide by the ICTY, a finding upheld by the ICJ.[11]
      "In September 2006, former Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik was found guilty of multiple instances of crimes against humanity, but while the ICTY judges found that there was evidence that crimes committed in Bosnia constituted the criminal act of genocide (actus reus), they did not establish that the accused possessed genocidal intent, or was part of a criminal enterprise that had such an intent (mens rea)."


      On 12 July 2007, in its judgement on the Jorgic v. Germany case, the European Court of Human Rights noted that:

      the ICTY, in its judgments in the cases of Prosecutor v. Krstic and Prosecutor v. Kupreskic, expressly disagreed with the wide interpretation of the 'intent to destroy' as adopted by the UN General Assembly and the German courts. Referring to the principle of nullum crimen sine lege, the ICTY considered that genocide, as defined in public international law, comprised only acts aimed at the physical or biological destruction of a protected group.


      Hostage writes:

      "Most of the constituent acts of the “international crime of genocide” do not require that any persons be killed at all. "

      Yes, but according to Article II of the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide:

      "In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: "

      "Intent to destroy" is required, and, crucially, "in whole or in part" is extraordinarily vague. How small can the "part" be?

    • Hostage,

      Excellent post, as always!

    • Logically-- at this point --their best bet, imo, is to do exactly what they are doing: "warehouseing" (imprisoning) Palestinians in Gaza, and areas A,B in the West Bank, let them have a "state" there if they wish, while progressively absorbing area C.

      I don't believe the Israeli leadership believes a total expulsion of the Palestinian population is feasible.

    • Mooser,

      A single, democratic state comprising Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank would surely lead to Jews becoming a minority in that state. I don't think that is compatible with Zionism, is it?

      Mooser says, "He still thinks the Jews in Israel are entitled to everything they stole..."

      No, he doesn't. Please show evidence to the contrary.

      Mooser says, "and do not need to make reparations, doesn’t he?"

      No, he doesn't. Where are you getting that stuff?

    • seafoid says: "Halper is still a Zionist."

      Wrong. He is clearly not a Zionist.

      He has expressed support for a single, democratic state in Palestine.

      See, for example, back in 2003:
      "One State: Preparing for a post Road-Map struggle against apartheid."

      seafoid says: "It may take another 100 years but it won’t be the Jews who decide... The end will be when the Israeli economy collapses."

      Okay, if you say so.

    • Agreed.

      But my question is: what are the conceivable paths by which it could become part of a single-State with Israel and the West Bank?

      I mean within the next 50 years or so.

      I understand that in a century or two, the whole situation will be different --in unpredictable ways.

    • There's a huge difference between a de facto bi-national state and a de jure bi-national state. Eventually, the state of Israel will annex territory in the West Bank, incorporating the settlers etc., and relegate the Palestinians to their non-contiguous bantustans. Israel will not be forced into annexing those Palestinian enclaves.

      Jeff Halper:

      " (Area C of the West Bank) contains less than 5 per cent of the Palestinian population. In 1967 the Jordan valley contained about 250,000 people. Today it’s less than 50,000. So the Palestinians have either been driven out of the country, especially the middle class, or they have been driven to areas A and B. That’s where 96 or 97 per cent of them are. The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough, there is probably somewhere around 125,000 Palestinians in area C, so Israel could annex area C and give them full citizenship.

      Basically, Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship. So I think Israel feels it could get away with that. No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can…

      In other words, we’re finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians have been confined in areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that’s it."

  • Norman Finkelstein's disinformation about BDS
    • Shingo:

      Spo what are you suggesting. That it is more realistic – meaning more acceptable...

      More realistic does NOT mean "more acceptable"; it means more feasible, more possible, more achievable. It refers to a factual/logical judgment about reality, devoid of any value judgment.

      But if you want to change my word to "acceptable, I will oblige you an answer your question:


      [What would be] more acceptable – that all the Palestinians perish or be massacred than for Israel to becoem a binational state?

      It's a silly question; the answer is obvious: Israel to become a binational state!

      Sometimes I wonder about your people

      I don't have a "people". I'm not Jewish; I'm not Zionist; I don't live in the U.S.; I personally do not identify with any specific national, ethnic, religious or cultural group; I'm a radical individualist.


      a 1SS would require the total dismantlement of the zionist Israeli state, society, culture and ideology.


      It would only require the dismantlement of racist policies and racist institutions

      I consider the Israel zionist state, society, culture and ideology to be racist --ethno-religious supremacist, to be precise. I think THAT ethno-supremacist state-society complex would have to be dismantled in order for a democratic, equal rights based, 1SS to be realized.


      As Avnery points out, the only structure that would be dismantled woudl be the Jewish majority

      The "Jewish majority" isn't a "structure". It is a demographic fact. The structure Avnery refers to is the State of Israel in all its manifestations, which is much more than a demographic fact. It is a conglomeration of political, economic, social, cultural and ideological institutions and structures that was built, as Avnery points out, over five generations.

      I don't like that state-society complex at all, really. I find it rather detestable in multiple aspects, to put it mildly.

      But as a realist, I agree with Ilan Pappe:

      The millions of Jews in Israel must be reckoned with. It is a living organism that will remain part of any future solution.

      I don't think that organism can be re-educated and transformed in the short-medium term; it is unlikely to be destroyed either. It's a hideous organism for sure, but it must be reckoned with.

      Ilan Pappe:

      ... it is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place.

      I agree with that logic. Ultimately, the purpose of non-violent pressure on Israel such as BDS can only be to trigger negotiations with the state of Israel. What other purpose can non-violent pressure on Israel have?

      Okay then, if these negotiations are going to happen within the next decades, I cannot see Israel agreeing to a dismantlement of the Jewish State--can you?

      I can see Israel being pressured into agreeing to a two-state settlement. Not a just one. Not a solution. But a major improvement on the present abominable situation.

      Ilan Pappe:

      change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem.

      I agree with that also. Change from within will take a very, very long time. But it will happen, imo. Not in the foreseeble future though, and it is the foreseeable future that I am concerned with.

    • Hostage:

      I’m sorry, but if 600,000 settlers living in the midst of 4 million Palestinians make the existence of a viable state of Palestine impossible, then an additional 6 million Palestinian refugees living alongside 5 million Jews would obviously destroy the viability of the existing State of Israel too. To claim otherwise requires evasion, deception, or gibberish that comes across as cult-like thinking.

      Likewise, if a 2SS is deemed unrealistic because it is allegedly impossible to force Israel to dismantle a portion of the zionist Israeli state in the West Bank--the settlement blocks and matrix of control--then a 1SS (democratic state with equal rights for Jews, Arabs, et al.) is, arguably, vastly more unrealistic, since a 1SS would require the total dismantlement of the zionist Israeli state, society, culture and ideology.

      Uri Avnery:

      Anybody who is rooted in the Israeli-Jewish public knows that this public's deepest aspiration - and here it is permissable to make a genralization - the far far deepest aspiration is to maintain a state with a Jewish majority, a state where Jews will be masters of their fate. This takes precedence over any other wish and aspitaration, it takes precedence even over wanting to have a Greater Israel.

      You can talk of a Single State from the Meditteranean to the Jordan River, define it as bi-national or supra-national - whatever the term used, in practice it means the dismantling of the State of Israel, destruction of all that was built for five generations. This must be said out loud, without any evasions. That is exactly how the Jewish public sees it, and certainly also a large part of the Palestinian public. This means the dismantling of the State of Israel. I am a bit disturbed by the fact that these words are not said explicitly.

    • Rusty Pipes:

      The 2005 BDS statement had broad support from civic groups across party lines throughout Palestinian society. Palestinians disagree on many things (including 1SS vs 2SS), but those three points were among the few things on which they have agreement.

      And yet, Phillip Weiss writes:

      ...when I attended the Third National BDS Conference in Hebron this past December one attendee asked Omar Barghouti why the movement doesn't explicitly endorse one state? He responded by saying it's because the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS call support two states.

      Okay, if the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations backing the BDS agreed on a 2SS, why wasn't that agreement reflected in the BDS statements, at least in the form of a recognition of Israel as a legitimate state (not necessarily as a Jewish State, of course)?

      Why does the BDS statement demand that Israel recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination but not mention Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people's inalienable right to self-determination?

      Why does the BDS statement demand Israel adhere to international law by
      respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. but NOT mention that the manner of implementation of such a right would be determined in negotiations with Israel?

      Why does the BDS statement call for Israel's "ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall without making it explicit that the occupied territories are those outside Israel's 1967 borders?

    • "Hostage: If suggesting that Palestinians are going to have to negotiate or compromise on the RoR makes you a Zionist then Frank Barat and the Palestinian refugees that he mentioned in his interview of Finkelstein must all be liberal Zionists too, because he said that they know that a compromise is going to be necessary. "

      Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Palestinian negotiators at Taba and subsequently (2008) adopt a position that a RoR agreement would entail severe restrictions on the actual number of refugees that could return to Israel along with compensation, symbolic statements of responsibility etc.? Wasn't that true of the Geneva Accords as well? If so, are all the Palestinians that supported those negotiating positions "liberal Zionists"?

    • ColinWright,

      If it is quite possible that many of Finkelstein's criticisms are substantial and well-founded, as you suggest, why wouldn't you be interested in looking into them?

    • Shingo: "...calling BDS proponents flunkies."

      Not right, as far as I am concerned.

      Shingo: "So why does he leave out the part about Israel violating international law."

      He doesn't leave that out. Just the opposite. He constantly points out Israel's violations of international law.

      Shingo: "...and refuse to produce a specific strategy on how to force Israel to adhere to international law? "


      "The only possibility for creating a real peace process, and not the sham of the past 20 years, is to mobilize the Palestinians' most potent asset—i.e., the population itself—in a nonviolent grassroots struggle along the lines of the first intifada. The succession of practical victories won by the Palestinian hunger strikers (with relatively little concrete support from the Palestinian population) again demonstrated the efficacy of this strategy.

      B. The question then becomes, if and when such a grassroots movement takes flight, what will be its goal? Here I think the answer is practical-political, not abstract-moral. Even an invigorated grassroots movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental. In the absence of such broad public support, Israel will have carte blanche to crush Palestinian resistance, however nonviolent."

      So, Finkelstein's proposed strategy is a non-violent Palestinian uprising backed by international public opinion and governmental action, using various tactics --including boycotts, divestment and sanctions--with the goal of reaching a two state solution (based on international law, 1967 borders, with some land swaps, a recognized RoR, a negotiated settlement on refugees, etc.)

      That's a far cry from a "sit and wait approach".

      What's your proposed strategy and goal?

    • "Referring to BDS proponents as a cult and flunkies is not a straw man?"

      Yeah, but responding to a stawman with another strawman doesn't cut it though.

      "No peace until you recognize us – while we are under no obligation to reciprocate."

      That's not Finkelstein's position. And you know it.

    • "Not all the criticisms he's making of BDS seem either substantial or particularly well-founded."

      Meaning many are.

    • Right, Hostage.

      Finkelstein's position is complex, at times subtle and, arguably, logically consistent.

      It is noteworthy, though, that so many folks here attack a strawman caricature instead of his actual position.

    • Roya,

      Regarding Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, who you mention:

      Pappe writes:

      "Even before one begins to define more specifically what such outside pressure entails, it is essential not to confuse the means (pressure) with the objective (finding a formula for joint living). In other words, it is important to emphasize that pressure is meant to trigger meaningful negotiations, not take their place. "

      Negotiations with the objective of a formula for joint living.

      Dwell on that for the moment.

      Can you imagine Israel agreeing to a 1SS in such negotiations? Really?

      What kind of transformations would have to take place in the Israeli polity and society for Israel to negotiate away it's Zionist raison raison d'etre?

      And by what means will those transformations be FORCED (we know they won't be coming voluntarilly)? By international pressure + a non-violent Palestinian Intifada? By violence?

      Pappe argues that for the kind of new reality in Israel/Palestine that you want, Roya, there must be an internal transformation within the collective Israeli Jewish psyche:


      "... it seems safe to conclude that the peace process has actually deterred the colonizer and occupier from transforming its mentality and ideology. As long as the international community waits for the oppressed to transform their positions, while validating those upheld by the oppressor since 1967, this will remain the most brutal occupation the world has seen since World War II."

      "...I still believe that change from within is key to bringing about a lasting solution to the question of the refugees, the predicament of the Palestinian minority in Israel, and the future of Jerusalem..."

      So Pappe's formula for change includes both pressure from outside AND radical change from within.

      But as Pappe says:

      "The closing of the public mind in Israel, the persistent hold of the settlers over Israeli society, the inbuilt racism within the Jewish population, the dehumanization of the Palestinians, and the vested interests of the army and industry in keeping the occupied territories—all of these mean that we are in for a very long period of callous and oppressive occupation."

      That's the question of *time* that I raised. In the short/medium run, pressure form outside is NOT going to cause a transformation of Zionist ideology and mentality. That's a very long-run proposition, imo.

      Pappe writes: "Pariah status will hopefully persuade Israel to abandon its policies of war crimes and abuses of human rights. "

      Those seem to me to be realistic goals (compared to a 1SS) which can be achieved in the short/medium term via BDS+non-violent revolt+the use of international law, and are consistent with a two-state settlement goal.

      Pappe ends his piece with this:

      "However, it is first our sacred duty to end the oppressive occupation and to prevent another Nakba—and the best means for achieving this is a sustained boycott and divestment campaign."

      But that leaves open the question: if the BDS campaign is aimed toward forcing genuine negotiations with Zionist Israel, isn't it clear that those negotiations --in the foreseeable future--will be about a some kind of two-state agreement (unjust, and not a "solution") and that 1SS is very much a different, very long-term project?

    • Roya,

      You make some strong points, and believe me, I'm not dogmatic on this at all.

      Roya says:
      "your entire argument for why the one state solution is an illusion, a Utopian dream” is predicated on the notion that Israel will not voluntarily transform itself."

      Not quite. My argument is that Israel will not voluntarily change itself to accept a 1SS AND cannot (will not) be forced into a 1SS.

      The way I see it, if Israel can be forced into anything at all, it will be a 2SS. If it can't be forced into a 2SS, I believe, a fortiori, it can't be forced into a 1SS.

      Note also: by "1SS" I've been referring to a single democratic state comprising Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, with Jews and Arabs living together, with equal individual rights, and possibly some collective rights (a bi-national state).

      That's somewhat different from Colin Wright's vision:

      "ColinWright says: I advocate forcing Israel to make political changes that I happen to believe will lead to the majority of Israeli Jews leaving Palestine. Palestine will then be a Palestinian state."

      But either way, I don't see the means by which to "force Israel to make political changes", i.e. force Israel to accept a single territorial state with Gaza and the West Bank and with everyone being equal citizens etc.

      Why do I say that? Because I find the situation in which Israel absorbs most of Area C, and relegates Palestinians to Gaza and Areas A and B--which is what I believe Israel has in the works--will NOT be susceptible to the same kind of anti-Apartheid campaign that transformed South Africa into a single state with equal voting rights etc. (See my posts regarding Jeff Halper and Neve Gordon's analyses.)

      Of course, I could be wrong. I'm just stating my tentative judgment of the situation.

      Roya, please explain to me --in detail, step by step--how Israel is going to be forced into a 1SS?

      Roya says: "And let’s not forget the array of politicians, scholars, activists, journalists, etc. of all backgrounds who advocate for the one state solution and believe it to be attainable. [...] I’m not one to dismiss each and every one of these people, who undoubtedly know more about the issue than me, as silly and delusional ideologues."

      I certainly don't dismiss any of those folks as delusional ideologues.

      It's just a matter of judgment. Reasonable people can disagree. The situation in Israel/Palestine is highly complex, to say the least.

      It may also come down to a question of TIME. In the very long run, anything is possible--certainly a single state, be it along western liberal-democratic lines based on individual rights, a bi-national state recognizing collective political rights, or a Palestinian national state along the lines Colin Wright predicts.

      So, keep in mind, that a movement for a (clearly unjust) 2SS in the short/medium run (which would alleviate much suffering) does not preclude a possibility of a single democratic state in the long run.

    • tree,

      Where can I find Finkelstein's latest response?

    • tree,

      I can't speak for Finkelstein, but I'd say his remarks contain core logical/factual arguments peppered with some emotional rhetoric (hardly an uncommon phenomenon), and I don't think
      the existence of the latter should be used to discredit the former.

      I'd also say he thinks the BDS movement DOES have some cultish qualities--and he may be right on that point, even if he needlessly exaggerates it.

      In any case, I agree that the "cult" comment is completely separable from his 2SS argument.

      He can be right on the 2SS argument etc. and wrong on the "cult" charge.

    • Nope. Never said that. Israel certainly would be regarded by many as an apartheid state.

      Israel IS an apartheid state, imo.

    • Roya,

      You make some excellent points, and I can't disagree with your conclusion that a right to a "true return" isn't in the cards in any 2SS. Any realistic 2SS would involve a recognition of the ROR in principle, but NOT in practice. A political settlement would have to be reached involving compensation +restrictions on actual return, imo.

      Cf. Hostage's comment above.

    • Roya,

      I don't think 1SS is "about destroying Israel". I think the notion of a single democratic state based on citizenship and equal rights is a far better concept of a state than the Zionist concept of an ethno/religio-centric Israeli state. So naturally, 1SS advocates say they are interested in *transforming* the Israeli state, not eliminating it or destroying it.

      That argument has great appeal, and I was persuaded by it for some time. When I came to the realization that the whole "peace process" was a fraud, that Israel had no intention of relinquishing the settlements in the West Bank, and that those settlements and the vast "matrix of control" decisively precluded the creation of a genuine, sovereign, viable Palestinian state, I couldn't help but throw up my hands and say--well that's it, the struggle for a 2SS is over, now we are talking about an anti-apartheid struggle within a single de-facto state, a struggle which will eventually lead to a single democratic state.

      But deeper reflection leads me to the conclusion (tentative of course--I'm not an ideologue) that such a 1SS is an illusion, a Utopian dream.

      Such a state would require a complete change in the Jewish Israeli ideology and mentality, the abandoment of all the foundational Jewish national myths, the dismantlement of all the power structures, etc. and I just don't see how such a transformation can be achieved. (It would also require Palestinians to give up some Palestinian nationalist aspirations).

      As WillB wrote in another thread:

      "Israel pulling all the settlements from the West Bank to accommodate a Palestinian state is, no doubt, an incredibly unlikely scenario. But this assessment seems relatively favorable when I move consider the probability of Israel willingly dismantling itself to accommodate the erection of a single Arab majority state encompassing all of Palestine. If Israel uprooting the settlements as part of a two-state agreement is incredibly unlikely, the odds of Israel acquiescing to a one-state solution border on the absurd."

      I've come to the (tentative) conclusion that NEITHER a 2SS (based roughly on 1967 borders) nor a 1SS is possible, but that the best possibility in the short/medium term is for the Palestinians to get as much a truncated, fragmented, not completely-sovereign, pseudo-state as possible, end as much oppression, violence and daily suffering as possible, then work from there. If more than that is possible in the short/medium term, then I think it will be in the direction of the kind of two-state settlement advocated by Finkelstein and others, rather than an abandonment of the two-state concept.

      As NevadaNed said:
      "So however long you think it will take to get a two-state solution, it will take even longer to get a one-state solution. And the Palestinians have been oppressed for the last 64 years already."

      MB also has made some hard-hitting, but compelling points:

      "MB. says: The Israelis are quite right to fear the one state solution — they know, very well, the ceaseless humiliations that they have heaped on the Arabs, and they fear that the Arabs will never, ever forgive them, and will never turn the other cheek. They are right — most Israelis, surely, must know what they have done. I am not suggesting Israelis feel guilty or sorry about it — they are racist supremacists — but they know very well Arabs will not forgive them.

      It is not at all the same case as when West and East Africa was handed back to its original African owners — in those cases, the white population, annoyed and peeved that they could no longer enjoy their manicured lawns, cucumber sandwich garden parties, cricket, evening cocktails and ‘England in the summer’ lifestyle, simply packed up their colonial bags and returned to the rolling fields of Southern England or France. Think about it — how many of the original white population of settlers stayed and worked with the new African governments? Very few — an eccentric white tea planter here or there, or a working class white electrician or engineer, with little to go back to in Europe remained — but not a great amount of white people remained in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and even fewer white people remained in Nigeria, Niger, Mozambique Algeria, Morocco, etc.

      In Southern Africa it was different — the white settlers had deeper roots going back to the late 1600′s, and had developed a rural white peasantry, a working class and an affluent middle class, who had long severed their European roots. And in these countries, the black populations usually lived in chronic under class slum poverty, servitude, and even lived quasi hunter gather rural lives, a state for the most part, worse than the serf status of Europe in the 1600’s, with no education and no real means of taking organised, directed revenge beyond numerous random gruesome stabbings and lynching of white people, etc, which did happen in South Africa.
      In Israel though, it is different — you have a literate, well educated, powerful Arab population, with a long and enlightened cultural memory, with a sense of identity and dignity that goes far further back than the middle ages, a sense of pride, supported by very powerful connections worldwide, and all of these Arabs know they have had their faces shoved in the dirt and trash for decades — and they will not live in peace with those who turned up from Poland and Russia, Paris and Brooklyn, stole their homes and then proceeded to intentionally hurt everything sacred to them.
      The Israelis know that, and thus will not accept one state — that is the truth.

      Also, as Shahak and other have shown, Israeli society, culture, and religion is riddled with racism, prejudice and exclusion – the Israelis would never accept being on equal footing with ‘the other’. Not only that, many of Israel’s immigrant population hail from Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Poland — ALL of these countries are deeply, deeply racist, macho, inward look, excluding societies, mired in ethno centric nationalism, and exclusion of the ‘other’, and the Jewish immigrants have carried that racism with them to Israel.

      Do you think Ukrainians and Poles and Moldovans would ever accept equal rights with Arabs — never. Israelis will not either.

      Two states is not going to happen — the Jews have contempt for the very idea of giving up, or sharing the land. One state isn’t going to happen either."

      I also find Hostage's (and Finkelstein's) arguments about the potential power of international law in the service of the Palestinian cause to be somewhat compelling.

      Thus, I see the best hope in the combination of a non-violent Palestinian intifada, combined with intense international pressure, popular and governmental, combined with new attempts to harness international law--all toward the goal of a 2SS (not a 1SS requiring the complete transformation of the Israeli state/society).

      In the very long run-50, 100, 150 years-- a single democratic state may well emerge as a real possibility.

    • ColinWright says: "Europeans — I don’t think they would be all that resistant to the argument that Israel is simply a relict of the colonial and racial nationalist mentality of a hundred years ago.

      [...]Just come out with it. Israel shouldn’t exist. "

      Do you have any evidence to support that assertion? Have you seen opinion polls on that question? Do you think a large majority of Europeans would say "yes" to the proposition that "Israel shouldn't exist"?

    • If you focus on that one word "cult" and ignore the rest of Finkelstein's arguments, then you are being neither logical nor compelling, imo.

    • Well, again, I get from you no scenario on how all that is going to translate into a single, de jure, (democratic) state.

      Shingo says: "You’re simply hanging your rebuttal on whether Israel wil ever declare it’s borders in the West Bank."

      No. I'm simply asking how you see a single-state coming into being. If Israel leaves Gaza and areas A and B outside its borders, by what process do you see those four territories being integrated legally into a single state?

      Shingo says: "Israeli maps of the region already designate all of it to be Israel. "

      I'm not sure what maps you are referring to, but I find Neve Gordon's descriptions of Israel's intentions more convincing:

      Neve Gordon, the Occupation of Israel (p.215-216)

      "Not unlike Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the barrier aims to resolve the contradiction between Israel's geographic and demographic aspirations. For years the demographic "threat" was kept at bay by denying the occupied Palestinians Israeli citizenship and subjecting them to military rule. Israel created a colonial regime in the West Bank (and Gaza) in order to sustain the Jewish majority within its borders, installing a dual legal system within a single territory, one system for Jews, the other for Palestinians. But the contradictions arising from the Israeli system had by zooz made it clear to many Israeli decision makers, even those on the far right, that the incongruence between Israel's geographic and demographic ambitions had led to a political juncture whereby it seemed that Israel would have to choose between one of two options: continue maintaining a colonial regime or, conversely, give up the idea of a Jewish state. The barrier served as a third option."

      "[...]Geographically and politically, the barrier does not resemble either one of the two traditional visions for peace: two national states side by side or one bi-national, secular polity.57 Instead, its objective is to enlarge Israel's internationally recognized territory by annexing West Bank land, while creating self-governing enclaves for the Palestinians.

      Aside from the sixteen small enclaves mentioned above, the barrier's route cuts the Palestinian territory up into and at least two (north/south WB) and perhaps four larger enclaves (the north is divided into three parts, north of Ariel, south of Ariel, and Jericho).

      Taking the Gaza Strip into account, it becomes clear that the future Palestinian "state" to be will be made up of three if not five main regions. Each of these regions will be closed off almost completely from each other.

      Israel will continue to effectively control all of the borders, so that it will be able to implement a hermetic closure whenever it wishes and in this way continue controlling the legitimate means of movement.

      What is new about the barrier is not the attempt to create closed enclaves in the OT, but the effort to transform these enclaves into quasi-independent entities that will ostensibly form a Palestinian state.

      The Gaza Strip provides a good indication of what will happen in the West Bank if Israel goes ahead and unilaterally withdraws from parts of the West Bank. Oren Yiftachel makes this point strikingly clear when he argues that Israel has entered a new phase in which it is restraining its expansionist impulse.

      Instead, it consolidates territorial gains by further Judaizing areas with a substantial Jewish presence, while ridding itself of the responsibility for the densely populated Palestinian areas and isolated Jewish settlements."

      My research leads me to believe THAT is the Israeli plan--not, as some suggest, gobbling up the entire West Bank.

      Shingo says:"How so, apart from being infintely worse? "

      Israel has no need of Palestinian labor. Big difference. Israel can annex what it wants, and leave the Palestinians in the enclaves that remain. And, as Neve Gordon points out, Israel will have a far greater ability to hermetically seal-off Palestinian areas.

      Shingo says: "What Jeff Halper has described would simply be intolerable and the Palestinians will most certainly turn to violence. ?

      Yes, perhaps, and then what? How will THAT violence lead to a the separation walls coming down and the creation of a single state incorporating Israel, Gaza and the West Bank?

      Shingo says: "The logistics involved in supplyiong those bantustans would consume all of Israel’s efforts as they certainly won’t be granting access to the UN to run supply routes."

      I wouldn't be so cocksure about that.

    • I don't dispute your arguments against a 2SS (rough 1967 borders).

      What you haven't explained is how a 1SS (not simply a defacto single state) will emerge.

      "Who said anything about annexing either one?>

      How will those areas then ever become part of a single state?

      "Gaza has already been dealth with, and converted into a bantustan."

      Yes, exactly. So how then does it become part of a single state w/ Israel?

      "The Palestinians are not going to settle for bantustans in area A and B, and nor will the world. "

      I'm not so sure.

      Is "the world" pushing now for Gaza (the "warehouse" model for areas A and B) to be absorbed into a single state with Israel? I don't see that at all.

      Why would it be any different with areas A and B?

      As Halper says:

      " Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship.

      No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can…"

      Assuming the Palestinians don't succumb to despair and accept their enclave pseudo-state, what will they do? Would a violent --or non-violent--intifada be any more effective at that point than they were in the past?

      The situation at that point would be, despite the obvious similarities, crucially different than the South African scenario.

      Jeff Halper:

      "Warehousing, then, is the best, if bleakest, term for what Israel is constructing for the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories. It is in many ways worse than the Bantustans of apartheid-era South Africa. The ten non-viable “homelands” established by South Africa for the black African majority on only 11% of the country’s land were, to be sure, a type of warehouse. They were intended to supply South Africa with cheap labor while relieving it of its black population, thus making possible a European dominated “democracy.”

      This is precisely what Israel is intending – its Palestinian Bantustan encompassing around 15% of historic Palestine – but with a crucial caveat: Palestinian workers will not be allowed into Israel. Having discovered a cheaper source of labor, some 300,000 foreign workers imported from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Rumania and West Africa, augmented by its own Arab, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Russian and Eastern European citizens, Israel can afford to lock them out even while withholding from them a viable economy of their own with unfettered ties to the surrounding Arab countries. From every point of view, historically, culturally, politically and economically, the Palestinians have been defined as “surplus humanity;” nothing remains to do with them except warehousing, which the concerned international community appears willing to allow Israel to do."

    • "His legitimate criticism of BDS and the 1ss has been addressed. "

      I'm seeing Finklestein's illegitimate criticism of BDS being used to discredit his legitimate criticism of BDS. Those two elements are not being kept so separate as you suggest, imo.

    • "I don’t think your question regarding NF’s 2s-consistency is relevant."

      If he has consistently maintained his positions, how can it be that he has suddenly "sold out"--an allegation made various times, in different ways, in this thread?

      "NF’s criticism of Barghouti for studying at TAU (even if there were something to it) is a cheap “tu quoque” argument; the criticism regarding Barenboim is factually incorrect; and the criticism regarding Five Broken Cameras is a misrepresentation of PACBI policy. "

      A cheap shot, a factual inaccuracy, and a misrepresentation of PACBI policy don't quite amount, in my view, to a "politically motivated campaign of disinformation". That just seems a bit hyperbolic to me.

    • Shmuel,

      I have no way to answer those questions, of course. If you wish to speculate, that's your choice. Just doesn't seem like a worthwhile endeavor. YMMV.

    • Shingo:

      How will Israel be forced to annex the Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza?

      My view is that nothing is inevitable, and the future is notoriously hard to predict--but it appears to me that neither a 2SS (based on adjusted 1967 borders) nor a 1SS is possible (well, anything is possible in a hundred years).

      I agree with Jeff Halper:

      " (Area C of the West Bank) contains less than 5 per cent of the Palestinian population. In 1967 the Jordan valley contained about 250,000 people. Today it’s less than 50,000. So the Palestinians have either been driven out of the country, especially the middle class, or they have been driven to areas A and B. That’s where 96 or 97 per cent of them are. The Palestinian population has been brought down low enough, there is probably somewhere around 125,000 Palestinians in area C, so Israel could annex area C and give them full citizenship.

      Basically, Israel can absorb 125,000 Palestinians without upsetting the demographic balance. And then, what is the world going to say? It’s not apartheid, Israel has given them full citizenship. So I think Israel feels it could get away with that. No one cares about what’s happening in areas A and B. If they want to declare a state, they can…

      In other words, we’re finished. Israel is now from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, the Palestinians have been confined in areas A and B or in small enclaves in East Jerusalem, and that’s it."

      That seems to me a realistic view of the situation.

      Still, the future is hard to predict, and if I had to say which is more likely (less unlikely), I'd say it was a 2SS solution. Here I follow Neve Gordon's argument:

      "[...]The most accurate way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state. For more than 42 years, Israel has controlled the land between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Within this region about 6 million Jews and close to 5 million Palestinians reside. Out of this population, 3.5 million Palestinians and almost half a million Jews live in the areas Israel occupied in 1967, and yet while these two groups live in the same area, they are subjected to totally different legal systems. The Palestinians are stateless and lack many of the most basic human rights. By sharp contrast, all Jews -- whether they live in the occupied territories or in Israel -- are citizens of the state of Israel.

      The question that keeps me up at night, both as a parent and as a citizen, is how to ensure that my two children as well as the children of my Palestinian neighbors do not grow up in an apartheid regime.

      There are only two moral ways of achieving this goal.

      The first is the one-state solution: offering citizenship to all Palestinians and thus establishing a bi-national democracy within the entire area controlled by Israel. Given the demographics, this would amount to the demise of Israel as a Jewish state; for most Israeli Jews, it is anathema.

      The second means of ending our apartheid is through the two-state solution, which entails Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (with possible one-for-one land swaps), the division of Jerusalem, and a recognition of the Palestinian right of return with the stipulation that only a limited number of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to Israel, while the rest can return to the new Palestinian state.

      Geographically, the one-state solution appears much more feasible because Jews and Palestinians are already totally enmeshed; indeed, "on the ground," the one-state solution (in an apartheid manifestation) is a reality.

      Ideologically, the two-state solution is more realistic because fewer than 1% of Jews and only a minority of Palestinians support binationalism.

      For now, despite the concrete difficulties, it makes more sense to alter the geographic realities than the ideological ones. If at some future date the two peoples decide to share a state, they can do so, but currently this is not something they want.

      So if the two-state solution is the way to stop the apartheid state, then how does one achieve this goal?

      I am convinced that outside pressure is the only answer. Over the last three decades, Jewish settlers in the occupied territories have dramatically increased their numbers. The myth of the united Jerusalem has led to the creation of an apartheid city where Palestinians aren't citizens and lack basic services. The Israeli peace camp has gradually dwindled so that today it is almost nonexistent, and Israeli politics are moving more and more to the extreme right.

      It is therefore clear to me that the only way to counter the apartheid trend in Israel is through massive international pressure. The words and condemnations from the Obama administration and the European Union have yielded no results, not even a settlement freeze, let alone a decision to withdraw from the occupied territories."

      Neve Gordon's view seems very close to Finkelstein's.

    • Ash writes: "By this stage, I find it unavoidable to conclude that Finkelstein is engaged in a politically motivated campaign of disinformation aimed at destroying BDS, rather than any form of conscientious, informed criticism of it."

      At this stage, I'm NOT able to jump to such an extreme conclusion. Intemperate remarks, mistaken views, inaccuracies, falsehoods--okay--but that doesn't necessarily amount to a "politically motivated campaign of disinformation".

      What is the alleged political motivation, and where is the proof of such motivation? I don't think it is sufficient to simply *deduce* such motivation: "Finkelstein is too smart--he MUST be engaged in deliberate misinformation". That's not good enough, imo.

      In any case, it all seems like a grand distraction from the fundamental issues Finkelstein has raised.

    • Shmuel,

      I've read through all the threads, top to bottom, on this topic.

      I my view, charges of "smears and disinformation" seem exaggerated. I can't help but view them as a way to avoid dealing with the Finkelstein's core arguments. I could be wrong, though!

      There do seem to be a lot of posts attacking Finkelstein for selling out, re-inventing himself, abasing himself, giving into the lures of power and privilege, revealing his true tribal colors, and so on.

      My question is this: has Finkelstein ever NOT supported a 2SS? Has he ever taken a different view of international law regarding the existence of the Israeli state etc.? In other words, has he changed his positions in any fundamental way?

    • Roya, I'm not following you on the "latent hypocrisy".

      You write: "Palestinians expelled from lands that would still then constitute Israel would (a) have to live in what was originally their land, but under foreign, Israeli rule..."

      Are you suggesting that a right of return involves a right of Palestinians to return to areas in Israel proper and NOT be under the jurisdiction of the Israeli state?

      In any case, as far as I can tell, Finkelstein supports the idea that the right of return must be recognized as a matter of law, but its implementation is a matter of politics, and that a 2SS would inevitably involve an agreement to restrict the actual number of returnees to the Israeli state in return for some kind of compensation.

      Finkelstein: "The challenge is to work out a political solution once the legal right has been affirmed. Hollow rhetoric won’t help: it requires mental and moral lucidity. The basic facts are these. Prospects for achieving a more or less reasonable settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict have never been better. The new regional configuration of power—in particular, Egypt and Turkey—will henceforth impose real constraints on Israel’s reflexive resort to brute force. International opinion has wearied of the conflict, and grown frustrated and impatient with Israel’s intransigence and bellicosity. Jewish opinion in the diaspora has also begun to distance itself from Israel.

      The principal challenges now are two-fold: for the Palestinians in the occupied territories to get their act together—something over which we have no control—and for the solidarity movement to get its act together. For our part, we need to articulate a goal that has real prospects of reaching a broad public; otherwise, it’s pointless, except as an exercise in moral posturing.

      My own judgment, based not just on reading dusty tomes and documents but also on three decades of experience testing in the wider world what works and what doesn’t, is that the most effective appeal is one grounded in international law. Because the legal consensus regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict is so broad and deep, Israel has no convincing answer to it. But one cannot invoke the law selectively, it must be embraced in its wholeness: two states based on the June 1967 border, and a just resolution of the refugee question based on the right of return and compensation."

    • Liz18, just where and how is Finkelstein "denying the Palestinian voice as legitimate"???

    • More ad hominem attacks on Finkelstein. How about addressing the logic of his arguments as well?

    • "I almost wonder if he’s making these anti-BDS statements because he doesn’t like sharing the limelight with all the new thinkers/activists who have appeared on the scene in the last 5 or 10 years."

      That, or perhaps he is convinced that is arguments are logical and compelling.

    • Roya, you are correct. I misstated Finkelstein's argument, reacting to ColinWright's statement: "Just come out with it. Israel shouldn’t exist.".

      Finkelstein's argument isn't that people in the BDS are actually using the slogan "Israel shouldn't exist", but rather that by failing to *explicitly* recognize the place of the Israeli state in international law and public opinion, they hamstring the BDS movement. He's calling for a clarification of goals.

      Finkelstein: "An unwitting omission that BDS does not mention Israel. You know that and I know that. It’s not like they are like oh we forgot to mention it. They won’t mention it because they know it will split the movement. Cause there is large segment of the movement, component of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel."

      Finkelstein is saying, imo, "Just come out with it. Israel should exist."

      Of course, there is the counter-argument that a 1SS is not about eliminating or destroying Israel, but about transforming it.

      I personally don't find that latter argument convincing, despite its superficial appeal. But that's another discussion.

    • I agree about the "cult" terminology. Wrong and intemperate.

      Beyond that, all Finkelstein has done is put forward a strong argument in favor of a two-state solution, and in favor of BDS recognizing the existence of the Israeli state and international law regarding the Israeli state.

      I think those are important--and debatable-- arguments.

      In any case, Finkelstein has not changed in terms of his attitude toward Zionism:

      "I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the theory of Zionism more than a quarter century ago, and settled accounts back then with it. I do not have to beat my breast now to show the world that I am not a Zionist. After many books, and not a small amount of troubles along the way, I think people have gotten the message.

      On the other hand, I am also not a fanatical anti-Zionist, if one conceives Zionism as wanting to preserve and develop Jewish-Hebrew culture (the strain with which Prof. Chomsky seems to identify). Each to his or her own, so long as it is tolerant of difference, and respectful of basic principles such as equality under the law."

    • "But does anyone seriously delude themselves a 2SS is possible any longer?"

      Does anyone seriously delude themselves that a 1SS is possible any longer?

      The answer to both questions is obviously "yes".


      anonymouscomments said:

      "[...]but if anyone showed me a practical path by which we could compel the nuclear armed, racist, and recognized state of Israel to EVER accept a just one state, then maybe I’d think it was feasible.

      As impossible as the long envisioned 2 state solution seems, I find arriving at the single state much more difficult, if not impossible given realpolitik (in my lifetime). And if we do end up with a single state, I’d bet money that it looks like WW2 Germany and involves a repeat of 1948. Not my idea of a single state, but many settlers and Lieberman might be very fond of this calamity."

      "[...]a number of people here so easily bury the 2SS saying israel will never accept a real 1967 (or ~1967), viable 2SS. but at the same time they think that this will end in a 1SS inevitably… perhaps painfully and a long bloody time from now, but we will get there.

      i think this is absurdly optimistic thinking [...]

      israel would CLEARLY ditch hebron and east jerusalem, and take a 2SS, if the only other option was a path whereby they would be stuck with a 1SS where the zionists leaders of israel essentially LOOSE their jewish majority (the end of israel as we know it, and the end of israel as they DEMAND it- jewish majority). they would, if forced, take a 2SS and let the people complain about the ’48 refugees (and ignore them).

      revisionist zionists, likud and many zionist ideologues have been very methodically working to kill the 2SS, and continue to try to kill it. >500,000 settlers are the testament to this effort.

      if we all want to deem it dead, they accomplished their goal. what great company to agree with. and they did not fail think about what they will do next after killing the 2SS. a global awakening and the growth of the movement for palestinian rights should not delude us into thinking we have more power and leverage than we ACTUALLY have, or ever WILL have. the balance of power on the ground, and in the global community is not so justice minded…. they have long been appeased with the idea of a 2SS, including many palestinians and palestinian leaders.

      i do not agree with what NF says, but i do think this issue needs to be teased out into 2 fundamentally different injustices, sadly with *different* hopes for amelioration-
      1) the ethnic cleansing of ’48
      2) the occupation and israeli expansionism

      some people almost seem eager to bury the 2SS because they think that such will, in time, spell the end of the ethnocentric jewish state. i just don’t see it, and i think if the *majority* of the movement becomes intransigent on the right of return, and shifts to a 1SS, we are doing exactly what they want…. and they will spin it. oh will they spin it.

      am i throwing the refugees under the bus? YES. but i want a token right of return and generous compensation. of course i *want* full right of return, but i’m a big fan of realpolitik. accepting an historic injustice in order to end another injustice. if the refugees do not get thrown under the bus, palestine will be thrown under the bus in time.

      this does not mean i disagree with refugees and activists and BDS calling for a full right of return. i would not denigrate or slander these people at all, as NF did. i often join in making those “demands”. but if this becomes a central and implacable demand, we won’t be seeing any palestinian state any time soon. if it is a bargaining chip to be used in order to help force israel’s hand, and allow an israeli leader to implement the 2SS? then it is pragmatic.

      i love it…. the 2SS is stridently deemed politically and practically dead, but zionists ending their ENTIRE ideological jewish state thing seems like the next logical option and more feasible? laughable."

      And WillB said:

      "To my mind, the most compelling argument against the workability of a one-state solution is that Israel is a Spartan nuclear power whose populace can’t be persuaded to give up their Jewish majority state. BDS, international pressure, US threats to pull loan guarantees and cut off diplomatic support, etc. might convince Israel to make significant concessions to the Palestinians as part of a two-state settlement, but nothing short of sheer military force will get the Israelis to give up Israel qua Jewish majority polity.

      Even if this point is overstated, there seems to be an undeniable kernel of truth to it. Consequently, when advocates of a one-state settlement argue that intransigent religious zealots in the settlements render a two-state settlement unworkable, I wonder why they don’t think this applies a fortiori to plans for implementing a single secular or binational state in Palestine."

    • I happen to agree with Finklestein on his point that "Israel shouldn't exist" is a terrible slogan upon which to build broad international pressure, popular and governmental, against the oppressive Israeli state.

    • Finklestein has not backtracked on the issue of the right to return:

      "I should make clear, lest there be any misunderstanding whatsoever, that the Palestinian right of return is a universally validated right that must be supported (see my most recent statement on the subject at link to But there is a distinction between law and politics.
      The challenge is to work out a political solution once the legal right has been affirmed. "

    • Finkelstein's prescription for change involves a new non-violent Palestinian intifada combined with international support, both popular and governmental, and he believes that international support requires an appeal to international law. International law recognizes Israel as a state, therefore, Finkelstien argues, so should BDS.

      Norman Finkelstein:

      "We are now at a crossroads in the conflict. I truly believe it is possible—not certain, not even probable, but still possible—that we can achieve a reasonable settlement within the two-state framework. But achieving this goal will require a maximum of political clarity and a vastly reduced amount of sloganeering.

      The only possibility for creating a real peace process, and not the sham of the past 20 years, is to mobilize the Palestinians' most potent asset—i.e., the population itself—in a nonviolent grassroots struggle along the lines of the first intifada. The succession of practical victories won by the Palestinian hunger strikers (with relatively little concrete support from the Palestinian population) again demonstrated the efficacy of this strategy.

      B. The question then becomes, if and when such a grassroots movement takes flight, what will be its goal? Here I think the answer is practical-political, not abstract-moral. Even an invigorated grassroots movement cannot possibly succeed unless it wins the backing of international public opinion, both popular and governmental. In the absence of such broad public support, Israel will have carte blanche to crush Palestinian resistance, however nonviolent."

    • Finkelstein supports BDS tactics. He disagrees with what he believes are the goals of the BDS movement.

      Finklestein: "I said clearly. I said I think the solidarity movement has the right tactics. I support the BDS. But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they are explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include recognition of Israel. Or it is a non starter."

  • 'Americans for Peace Now' says Presbyterian measure could stoke 'global anti-Semitism'
  • Netanyahu says Shamir statement, 'The sea is the same sea and the Arabs are the same Arabs,' is correct
  • Author Deepa Kumar on the imperial roots of anti-Muslim sentiment
    • Excellent points!

    • Cf. Richard Webster, "The Dark Mirror of Islam" (1990)


      "It would seem that the more we have succeeded in emptying our own religious tradition of the cruelty and intolerance which characterised it throughout much of our history, the more we have destroyed our understanding of the historical process itself. Unable to come to terms with the violence of our own religious heritage, we have increasingly come to perceive the violence of other religious traditions as strange, alien, or even evil. In other words, Islam has become, as Judaism once was, a dark mirror in which we see and persecute the reflection of our own unacknowledged past.

      It is time that we laid down that mirror and contemplated our own history more directly. If we could but bring ourselves to look carefully into the empty sockets of the scarred, gouged-out face which is the history of twentieth-century Europe, we might begin to recognise that cruelty, torture and terror are by no means alien to our own culture.

      We might understand that the very forms of modern political totalitarianism which we have been taught to revile stand in an uncomfortably close relationship to a religious tradition which is still generally revered. We might even begin to develop a deeper insight into the nature of fundamentalism.

      For by far the most remarkable feature of most Western discussions of Islamic fundamentalism, including the recent contribution to this column by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Habgood, is our seeming reluctance or inability to acknowledge that our own culture is itself the product of a fundamentalist religious revolution of unprecedented rigour and severity. This revolution took place in the sixteeenth and seventeenth centuries. It was carried through both by Puritan preachers and by leaders of the Counter Reformation with fanatical zeal and, at times, murderous cruelty. It has left deep scars upon our culture, and its heritage survives today in the rigour of the political and economic doctrines to which we are in thrall.

      As the Muslim new year begins, the most helpful way in which we in the West could celebrate it is not by issuing more contemptuous and insulting denunciations of their fundamentalism, but by coming to terms with our own. For the task of escaping from fundamentalist doctrines is indeed urgent. It is a task which can be achieved only by cooperation and not by conflict. It is a task in which the West needs the help of Islam just as much as Islam needs the help of the West. "

  • Shamir ordered Bernadotte assassination to save Jerusalem for Jews. But will his obits tell you that?
    • Ian Lustic on Shamir (2002):


      [Lustick:] What's ironic is that the Likud, the right wing of the Zionist movement, going back to revisionists, used to make fun of the Laborites, the socialist Zionists, who would create "facts" during the mandate period. "We want this part of Palestine to be with the Jewish state. We'll put up a stockade there, one more goat, one more acre of land, one more goat. That's how we're going to get the country." And Jabotinsky, that is the leader of the Revisionists, the mentor of Begin, would say, "This is absurd! This is not the way a respectable nation gets a state. A respectable nation gets a state by going out and conquering it and annexing it, or going to the British Empire and having it given to them." So they made fun of this.

      But when the Likud came into power, it saw the old Labor Zionist techniques, which had been used in some settlements even earlier in the West Bank by the Labor Party government, as the key. They didn't want to officially annex the West Bank and Gaza; that would mean giving citizenship to the Arabs there, and it would mean a confrontation with the world, to say nothing of the majority in Israel that still opposed it. But just one more settlement, one more settler, one more road -- eventually, the idea was to create a network, an infrastructure, a set of interests that would make it impossible, politically, for governments to give up that area, and then impossible psychologically to imagine you would give it up. That was their objective.

      Under Begin, under Shamir, that was the objective. Even though they pretended to negotiate, it was my job in the State Department and elsewhere to try to convince American diplomats that when they were negotiating with Israelis and not objecting to settlement activity, they were actually following the Israeli game plan. Shamir put it best after he lost the 1992 election, when he admitted that the negotiations he had been involved in at Madrid, he was going to drag on for ten years, not with the hope of getting an agreement, but with the hope of putting a million Jews into the West Bank and Gaza, and making future negotiations irrelevant.

      [Question:] Explain to us what have been the factors, the forces that prevent that possibility from becoming a reality.

      [Lustick:] What is the reason why the vision of Gush Emunim, of the Bloc of the Faithful, of the Shamir-Begin governments, of making Jewish rule over the whole Land of Israel a reality -- why will it fail? First of all, Israel is not living in a vacuum. The world is a much more tightly interconnected place than it ever has been, and Israel has been deeply implicated and dependent on the United States. book coverSo when you try to convince people that "We shouldn't even think about the West Bank, it shouldn't even be on the agenda," and all the time, you have to defend yourself from outsiders' questionings, "Why are you doing that? The Palestinians want to talk to you. Why don't you negotiate with them?" -- you undermine your ability not to think about it because you have to give rational arguments.

      In fact, a very amusing thing happened. This is in my Unsettled States book. Shamir was meeting secretly with the youth movement of the Herut Party that he was the head of when he was Prime Minister, and he was asked, "Mr. Prime Minister, what do we do when we're asked by the leftists and by the Americans, 'Why should Israel insist on having Judea-Samaria? Why not withdraw from the settlements for peace?' What should be say to these people?" So Shamir said, "Don't say anything to them! Don't argue with them! Just say, 'Kacha zeh! That's the way it is!'" And he's right, because if you argue, that means that there's some rational basis, some contingent basis on which maybe things could change and you think you wouldn't need those territories. If Israelis need to argue to win, then ultimately Israel won't win at all from the point of view of keeping the territories."

  • Walt says liberalism and Zionism are difficult to reconcile
    • An Israeli soldier describes his work in Hebron:

      "...Suddenly, out of the blue, a group of about six Jewish women landed on us, with about six-seven girls, little girls, and simply started running around, started kicking stalls and turning them over, and we were just two people and we didn’t know what to do and they started going wild and spitting on Arabs and spitting on elderly people.

      There was Mohammad who… didn’t do a thing except just sit there, he was just there, he simply didn’t do a thing, and they just came and kicked him and spit on him and yelled at him to go away and overturned stalls.

      I remember we came to the worst moment, when one of the women simply picked up a rock and shattered a window of two meters by two meters, of a barber shop that was there. And she just shattered its front window to bits...

      So on the one hand you say to yourself [expletive deleted] it, I’m supposed to guard the Jews that are here. On the other hand these these Jews don’t behave with the same morality or values i was raised on.

      I reached a point in Hebron where I didn’t know who the enemy was anymore: whether it’s the Jew whose going crazy and I need to protect the Arabs from him, or whether I need to protect the Jew from the Arabs who are supposedly attacking… There are a few things that stayed with me.

      One, I think my definition of a Jew has changed a little. I used to think that anyone who defines himself as a Jew is a Jew, as far as I’m concerned. Today I’m not so sure. After I saw Jews that… I don’t know if my definition of Jews even makes any difference with regard to the fact that… they’re also human beings, but they don’t act like… Jews who went through a holocaust, they themselves didn’t go through a holocaust, but I’m sure that some of them are from families that survived the Holocaust.

      If they’re capable of writing on the Arab’s doors “Arabs out” or “death to the Arabs,” and drawing a star of David, which to me is like a swastika when they draw it like that, then somehow the term Jew has changed a little for me with regard to who’s a Jew.

      That’s one thing. Another thing that has stayed with me from Hebron? I think of myself as a little injured maybe, I don’t know. Not physically injured. More emotionally injured."

      "That morning, a fairly big group arrived in Hebron, around 15 people or so, of Jews from France. They were all religious Jews, French Jews, they didn't really know Hebrew, and spoke half English, half Hebrew, and half French.

      They were in a good mood, really having a great time, and I spent my entire shift following this gang of Jews around and trying to keep them from destroying the town.

      In other words, this is what they were busy doing for hours.
      they just wandered around, picked up every stone they saw off the ground, and started throwing them in Arabs’ windows, and overturning whatever they came across...

      Maybe someone told them that there’s a place in the world where you can just, I don't know… that a Jew can take all of his rage out on the Arab people, and simply do anything, do whatever he wants. "

  • An all-consuming occupation
  • Circumcision deaths are a legalized non-scandal
    • "Yes, it is the scientific consensus that circumcision is the permanent amputation of a natural and proper part of the male anatomy..."

      Yes, but what harm does that "amputation" cause?

      "It is also scientific consensus that it entails risks up to and including death."

      Exactly how risky is the procedure, if done properly?

    • I didn't say religion was a positive good. I said the freedom of religious practice was a positive good. It's a widely recognized human right. Of course, that right can be limited when it comes into conflict with other human rights.

      Regarding the allegation that religion was a unique evil, I was referring to statement you quoted: "But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” That seems to me to impute a unique evil power to religion--a notion I disagree with.

    • "’s harm because (1) it happens without consent and (2) it’s irreversible."

      Lack of consent and irreversibility by themselves do not constitute harm. Something good can also be done without consent and be irreversible.

      I'm not religious myself, but neither do I see religion as a unique source of evil.

    • I'm certainly open to the idea that circumcision could be harmful, as you assert. Is this the scientific consensus? My main point was simply that harm needed to be proven in order to justify a restriction on religious freedom, imo.

    • @GermanLefty:

      I have to disagree. If the harm done by circumcision is negligible, then I see no adequate justification for the non-negligible harms involved in an extension of state power and restriction on the freedom of religious practice (a positive good).

      A punch in the face can cause serious harm, so that analogy does not hold.

    • "Should not all unnecessary, harmful amputation of genitalia be illegal regardless of gender? "

      In my view, the question of harm is central here. If circumcision can be performed with minimal harm, then the right to freely practice religion prevails. If not, the individual rights of the child prevail. Has a compelling case been made for the harmfulness of circumcision, properly performed?

  • Help Mondoweiss continue to push Israel/Palestine into the mainstream
    • giladg says: "I am sorry, I cannot turn the other cheek when it comes to the wars and violence that have been forced on Israel. "

      For a more balanced, fact-based perspective, see Zeev Maoz "Defending the Holy Land".

      "Most of the wars in which Israel was involved, Maoz shows, were entirely avoidable, the result of deliberate Israeli aggression, flawed decision-making, and misguided conflict management strategies. None, with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call "wars of necessity." They were all wars of choice-or, worse, folly."

      giladg says: "I cannot turn the other cheek when someone denies my right to exist in my historic homeland and wages war me. "

      Your right to exist in what you perceive to be your homeland is one thing; your right to ethnically cleanse that terrirtory and deny Palestinian rights is something else entirely, imo.

    • Btw, have the clauses denying a Palestinian state's right to existence ever been removed from the Likud's charter? (Not a rhetorical question.)

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