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Two critiques of Norman Finkelstein

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Editor: In recent public appearances, Norman Finkelstein, long a leader on discussion of the Israel/Palestine issue, has had differences with some activists over political questions. This site has great respect for Finkelstein, and Weiss regards him as a vital friend, but we thought it important to air these differences by publishing two posts from writers who’d attended events. The first is from a regular commenter on this site, Daniel Crowther, who works in Boston in the technology development industry. The second is from Noura Khouri, a Palestinian-American community organizer in the Bay Area. The video below is of the Boston University event that Crowther attended late in November. 

Daniel Crowther:
Norman Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani have teamed up to write a book, one with a very ambitious title; “How to resolve the Israel – Palestine Conflict.” On Nov. 30th, they came to the Morse Auditorium at B.U. (after a talk at Occupy Boston earlier in the day) to explain the book, and why it should be read when it comes out. Radical stuff, I know.
 
Gathered to hear their pitch was a disparate group of students, citizens and school officials. There had been talk of a B.U. Hillel anti-Finkelstein action beforehand, and possibly a walk out during the lecture, but neither came to fruition.
While very few knew that Finkelstein holds views similar in many respects to what we call Zionism, everyone knew that he once called Israel a “lunatic state.” Many of the assembled students were on the edge of their seats, waiting for the fireworks. They didn’t come. Funny thing about most modern day “radicals,” they’re usually the only ones making a rational argument. To be sure, there were points where Finkelstein delved into sensationalism, but his analysis was very sober and careful.
Finkelstein, as he has for many years, said that “the international consensus” is what will drive the settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the larger, Israeli-Arab Conflict. According to Finkelstein, we need to look no further than the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for our definition of “international consensus.” Both bodies accept the two-state settlement on the June 1967 border, and end to occupation, including East Jerusalem, a “just settlement of the refugee question” and security for both parties.
 
Advocating one state, without the two- state international consensus in Finkelstein’s view, is potentially damaging and could lead to these advocates becoming “a cult.” He used the language of Gandhi, saying that “politics is not about changing public opinion, or bringing enlightenment to the benighted masses, it is about trying to get people to act on what they already know is wrong.” Because two states is what has been accepted, by the UNGA, the ICJ, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Quartet, and basically every other international organization– as well as civilian populations throughout the world, including a plurality in the U.S.– this is what the general Palestinian solidarity movement should strive for.
 
Finkelstein had some mildly critical words for BDS and its “vagueness,” stating that in order for the movement to attract a wider audience, goals must be clearly stipulated – to include the final settlement, which in his view, should be based on the June 1967 borders, “two states for two peoples” and all that jazz. This drew the ire of many Palestinian Solidarity movement activists in the crowd. Jamil Sbitan, who is with Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, remarked – “As the Palestinians have a right to self-determination and have called for this movement, it is unfair to tell them that the opinion of international institutions and states is more legitimate than their right to determine their own future.”
Perhaps most surprising of all was the constant stream of students getting up from their seats and leaving, not out of protest, but because they have heard lectures like Finkelstein’s before and- and maybe, just maybe- along the way they have come to agree with the burgeoning “cult” Finkelstein continually warned the audience of. While Finkelstein stressed the importance of mobilization of people toward a resolution based on his definition of international consensus, he eschewed audience member’s questions about the moral question of a two-state settlement, which would undoubtedly leave many Palestinians out in the cold.
 
“Israel is a reality” was the refrain. Finkelstein was also dismissive of the problem the settlers and the rightward shift in Israeli society pose for a settlement. One audience member asked him, “ You say two-states, but how does that happen without Jews killing Jews? – the settlers are fanatical and will not leave.” Finkelstein brushed the concern aside, saying, “they are cowards – they will leave.” I couldn’t help leaving the lecture a bit dumbfounded, and I wasn’t alone. I went to hear from Finkelstein some new proposals for peace; what I got was a utopian vision that has very little chance of materializing. If international law and institutions held the key for peace, there would already be peace.
 
Getting Israel and the United States to follow the law – in the mind of many in the audience, including myself -can only be achieved by demanding far more than what is already on the table. Finkelstein fell short of this mark.
 

Here is Noura Khouri at her site: “Norman Finkelstein: Scholar, Advocate, Radical, or Liberal/Zionist?”

Norman Finkelstein is called an ‘American Radical’, but I believe a far more appropriate term for him, and those who share his views is ‘American Liberal’.

I recently heard Norman Finkelstein speak at the American Muslims for Palestine conference, for the first time following the incredible uprisings and display of people power – which began in the Arab world, and inspired the occupy movement which continue to grow in strength and numbers daily. No doubt an outstanding scholar, Finkelstein has gone to great lengths to research, document and disseminate the ongoing atrocities and war crimes committed by Israel. His thorough, meticulous approach is unparalleled and he’s paid a great price to his professional career, as his advocacy on Palestine caused him to lose tenure at DePaul University. Yet, instead of using his address to seize and build upon our knowledge during this historic moment, I was disappointed to hear him give, almost verbatim, the same talk we’ve heard for years.

For the sake of progress, I believe it’s necessary to understand Finkelstein’s logic and to do so, we must note the line and important distinction, of where his scholarly work ends and his advocacy begins. When the role of scholar and advocate blur, it becomes unclear and difficult for the audience to follow a line of reasoning; creating a schism. The issues he shifts from academic to advocate are some of the most critical for Palestinians and include, but are not limited to: one-state versus two, right of Palestinian refugees to return, and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

He stakes all of his positions on these issues, which are virtually based on the same premises, that we should a) do what is popular or ‘realistic’ b) adjust our language and positions to appeal to ‘global consensus’ for fear that c) if we don’t, we will inevitably ‘turn people off.’  It is difficult to understand from where he comes up with his conclusions and what he lays down to be, ‘realistic goals’. What is clear however, is that all of these positions he urges are heavily based in an antiquated top down model of power and are, it is worth noting, most commonly held liberal Zionist positions. During this historic time it is more important than ever to be critical and understand the role of our allies, while building mechanisms for communication – in order to learn from one another.

Though it’s not complicated to understand once presented with the truth, the corporate media would have us believe otherwise, and the majority of American’s are utterly confused by the situation, issues and facts on the ground. The role of a scholar is to present facts and information, in a clear and succinct manner; which is very important in educating the masses and is desperately needed today. This is especially true for the case of Palestine, as for anyone with a belief in justice and human rights, the facts alone speak for themselves compelling one to join the cause.

The role of an advocate is to take these available facts and use the information to create analysis, build positions and ultimately take action. For many years now, Finkelstein’s stated position has been consistent (with itself). He suggests, like so many liberals, with regards to advocacy for Palestinian justice, that we take a more “practical” or “realistic” approach to the most difficult issues, until we are able to achieve ‘global consensus’.

Despite taking note of the global uprisings and referencing the shift of power in his talk, he continues to selectively advocate for “realistic” strategies, and appeal to this ‘global consensus’. He goes on to define this ‘international consensus’ broadly to mean: “the authoritative political, legal and human rights bodies in the world”1 and suggests that we place our hope in international law and bodies such as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice-despite what he recognizes as their historic inability and/or political unwillingness to enforce their own laws, as they relate to Palestine. He even goes on to acknowledge “one of the best kept diplomatic secrets is that a broad international consensus has long existed on how to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict.”1 and in doing so, displays another example of his confusing and contradictory conclusions.

Using the same logic when speaking about one of the most important issues for Palestinians-right of return, he continues to overlook and thus dismiss altogether, the unlimited potential for people power, handing it over to Zionists: “For now, Israel will not honor a Palestinian right of return; to ‘demand’ it is the emptiest of gestures. That right will be honored only if the Palestinians become powerful enough to enforce it. If or when that happens, that some leaders verbally renounced the right will count for nothing.”

If and when, we amass such a show of people power that we will be able to influence justice to be served, we certainly will not need Israel’s permission to grant us these rights. Just as the apartheid government of South Africa was forced to fall, so will the Israeli system of oppression. Would the activists who worked all those years to end apartheid in South Africa have done justice to their cause if they created goals, based on what they thought the oppressors would be wiling to concede? For 20 years Israel has shown a clear lack of good will to engage in negotiations, or even uphold the agreements they’ve already made!

Another one of his bizarre recommendations is, rather than educate the international community about the racist ideology of Zionism* and Israeli apartheid, he suggests we adjust our language to fit this ‘global consensus’. Would the civil rights, women’s rights or any other movements in the USA have succeeded if they backed down because they didn’t have popular support at the time? Could they have effectively succeeded without talking about the KKK and white supremacy, issues of gender and male dominance etc.? Are we more concerned about protecting people’s feelings, or “turning them off” – than we are capable of/educating the general public about the source of the injustices, and seeking justice for the oppressed?

He builds on this line of reasoning, with regards to perusing the two state solution, by saying that “thousands of Palestinians suffered, sacrificed, even died for a sovereign Palestinian state.” However, I would far more likely characterize Palestinians brave struggle and sacrifices have been for the sake of freedom, liberation and justice. And, finally in a blow to the logical thinking mind, Finkelstein admits, in a posting subtitled: The one-state solution is an attractive ideal mistaken for a live option, implies the one state solution is ideal, and goes on to recognize: “of course the two-state solution is unjust. It cements Zionist usurpation of Palestinian land. It lets the perpetrators of this usurpation go scot-free, without so much as compensation for their victims. Worst of all, it perpetuates a state based on racial supremacy. Israel’s notion of Jewishness, the determinant of who should hold sovereignty, is ultimately a biological. It is based on kinship. In practice, this kinship does not, as in other countries, depend on tracing family lines back to residence in the sovereign state, but simply on closeness to anyone considered ‘Jewish’ in the racial sense of the term.” 2

He clearly lays out all the reasons to be against such a state, yet still defies his own knowledge of the issue, and astoundingly makes his case for a two state solution. Using the following logic: “it leaves ‘Jewish property’, including the settlements, in place. Some advocates of the one-state solution are explicit about this, though they never seem to mention it when criticizing the two-state solution. Others don’t speak of the settlements, or make vague references to adjudication – not a promising way to expel committed fanatics.” Yes, the settlements would remain in place and those who want to live in them as equals would be encouraged to do so. Those who wish to disrupt the process of justice and sharing the land as equals, could be taken in to be held to legal proceedings, in addition to truth commissions and international observers (such as, but necessarily the UN) to enforce the deal.

He also takes a hard, critical look at boycott, divestment and sanctions, a powerful nonviolent strategy, modeled after the case of South Africa, largely credited for ending apartheid. He rejects this strategy, in direct opposition to Palestinian calls for international solidarity, put forward by Palestinian activists and 170 NGO’s in 2005. He does so using the logic that it is divisive and will turn people off.  Yet if Finkelstein were consistent with even his own positions, rather than catering to Zionist critics, he would resent them as reasonable demands-to cease all relations with the state of Israel, until it complies with international law (demands of BDS call: http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro.). In fact, we can learn a great deal by Palestinian proponents of the call, who are well versed in steering clear of ideological debates altogether, and care not for semantics of a so called one or two state solution, and instead focus on achieving their rights.

He even continued his talk with commonly repeated Zionist logic, that India has a prevailing caste system and the struggle for Kashmiri independence and gives the example of  so many of the other countries such as China and Saudi Arabia. All of which are indeed unjust and which we should most certainly be critical of! However, none of these countries proudly boasts to be US’s number one ally, or recipient much less largest recipient, of US tax dollars and weapons – which without Israel would never have amassed so much power.

Just as we don’t want a state based on religious purity, we also don’t want to be ideological purists. However, we have gone too long and come too far, to compromise on our most basic rights now. I understand wanting to be practical to achieve political gains. However, Palestinians have already been down that road and in the process, given up so much; and lost everything in the process. We should learn these important lessons from history, and must support allies based in principles and solidarity, rather than compromising our most basic fundamental rights. Besides, why would anyone with absolutely no power to negotiate officially, begin with such week positions when all we have is the truth and our principles.

The overwhelming show of people power globally, shows increasingly that we are no longer waiting for, nor depending on governmental or international bodies to correct the massive number of injustices which are taking place on our planet.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is in nearly 1,500 cities worldwide, and growing in strength and numbers daily. During this most historic moment, and incredible show of people’s power globally, we are discovering, defining and realizing what is possible. We have drawn massive inspiration from those across the globe who literally managed the impossible: to over throw some of the most powerful US backed allies/dictators- which were to the West of utmost strategic importance. Just as the corrupt 1% of bankers, politicians, dictators and war makers are working closely together, so must we. The success of this global people’s movement to achieve our full potential, is directly related to the extent of which we learn to work together, learn from each other and share information.

The role of an ally is more important and necessary than ever to actively connect the various issues – from OWS, to Egpyt with the issue of Palestine etc, and show how they are all the same struggle. As the the 99% begins to collectively taking matters into our own hands, it is literally impossible for anyone to predict what is ‘realistic’ or ‘possible’. Norman Finkelstein who is speaking to people from all over the country and the world, is in a position of great influence. The international solidarity movement (http://www.palsolidarity.org), the Flotillas (http://www.freegaza.org/) and the Global March to Jerusalem (http://www.globalmarchtojerusalem.org/gmtj/?page_id=34) and BDS (www.bdsmovement.net) are great ways and perfect examples of movements and campaigns for allies of the Palestinian people to support. Otherwise, just stick to the facts Norm! ; )

1. From his article, titled: Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/resolving-the-israel-palestine-conflict-what-we-can-learn-from-gandhi/

2. Article: Reasoned rejection of one-state position: The One state solution is an attractive ideal mistaken for a live option: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/reasoned-rejection-of-one-state-position/

*The definition of Zionism is the belief in the right of a Jewish state to exist, which is in itself inherently racist. It is impossible to reconcile democracy, equality and justice with separate laws and standards for non-Jews. The definition of apartheid is ‘separate’, as in laws for non-Jews.

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213 Responses

  1. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    December 23, 2011, 9:48 am

    Here is part two, for those who are interested, on my post about the whole lecture:

    In my mind the real star of the show was Mouin Rabbani (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Mouin_Rabbani). Rabbani, who Finkelstein called “the shrewdest analyst on the Israel-Palestine conflict today,” has the unique trait of being very understated in his delivery, but a tremendous force once his words have been transcribed. He spoke of the events of the last year in the Arab world as an “Arab 1848,” whereby a “fundamental change has taken place in the social, economic and political order of the peoples of the region.” Everyday citizens have “broken through the barrier of fear” throughout the region, leading governments to try and counter this change, or move to stay relevant in light of it. Rabbani placed the Palestinian Authority ( PA) in the latter category.

    With the election of Barack Obama, the PA believed they had their man. The PA, like most people with knowledge of the conflict, was becoming disillusioned with the idea of a two-state settlement. Under the Oslo process, the Palestinians were “hamsters in the wheel, having to prove their worth at every turn for the crumbs from the American/Israeli table.” With Obama, they thought that “salvation was just around the corner.” He spoke of wanting the U.S. to have a different relationship with Muslims, and of the Israel-Palestine conflict as being central to the current problems, and assigned a Middle East envoy (George Mitchell) within thirty six hours of taking office. Unfortunately, all that Obama had to offer was a “revival of Oslo,” and once this reality set in, “Obama went from a Jesus like savior to Judas” in the eyes of not only everyday Palestinians, but the PA leadership as well.

    This posed a problem for the PA. Due to the fragmentation of the Palestinian body during the Oslo process, the PA had to contend with Hamas, who was gaining steam and threatening the legitimacy of the PA. The PA, according to Rabbani, “wanted an achievement.” So, in February of 2011, they went to the UN Security Council with a motion to condemn further settlements in the OPT. The PA leadership, according to Rabbani, thought with the events taking place in the Arab world, and the increased pressure on international institutions by popular movements, the U.S. would be “very wary of vetoing” the motion. The subsequent U.S. veto proved to be “a death blow” for the peace process to date. What the PA was looking for with their next move, the bid for statehood, according to Rabbani, was not “internationalization” of the conflict, but “electric shock for Oslo.” The PA was threatening the US and the Quartet with a “hold me back or I will kill him” scenario. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum – after being “kicked in the teeth” by Obama at the UN, the PA leadership has made it impossible to go back to the negotiating table without a “clear and credible agenda,” it would be “political suicide” for them to do so. The PA’s inadvertent internationalization of the conflict at the UN has lead to a “decided break with Oslo” and potentially an “end to the Quartet” with International Law and UN resolutions becoming the basis for any future talks.

    What has to take place first and foremost according to Rabbani, is a “Palestinian National Reconciliation” between Fatah, Hamas, other Palestinian political movements, the Palestinian diaspora and those inside in the Green Line. “Human Agency plays a role” he declared. “Palestinian Solidarity, Arab solidarity and International solidarity need to be mobilized.” While Rabbani agrees with Finkelstein that current political realities lead to “the possibility, if not the certainty, of eventually solving the conflict” within the two-state paradigm, he advocates a full right of return for living Nakba victims and “perhaps” all of their descendants. Will this be problematic for a two-state settlement? Will it pose problems for the authors as they collaborate? We will have to wait and read. One thing is for certain, the students involved in the Palestinian Solidarity movement have a moral clarity you don’t find every day. On the right of return, Kareen Chehayeb had this to say – “I believe in the full right of return, and that if a two-state settlement [was to forego] the right of return, there will be a plethora of new problems.” Now that sounds like a radical.

    • tokyobk
      tokyobk
      December 23, 2011, 2:48 pm

      The question I have for Rabbani is why he expects Israel to agree to resettlement of all refugees and the descendants? This means the end of Israel as a Jewish state. I do understand why he thinks it is a fair and just end but since the conversation was about politics in the world and in the context of international diplomacy, how does he think this will ever be an agreed to point, and therefore one worth talking about in the context of negotiations.

      • annie
        annie
        December 23, 2011, 2:59 pm

        The question I have for Rabbani is why he expects Israel to agree to resettlement of all refugees and the descendants?

        could you cite the segment /timeframe in the video Rabbani said he expected Israel to agree to resettlement of all refugees and the descendants. i’d like to review the context. i watch the whole thing last night and am not recalling that segment.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk
        December 23, 2011, 3:24 pm

        I watched it at Norman’s site where there is another video of questions and answers, so it may have been there. Rabbani says clearly: If Israel agrees to resettlement of all refugees and descendants than there is legitimately something to talk about and otherwise not.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk
        December 23, 2011, 3:34 pm

        Annie, start at about 1:25 for larger context and 1:30:30 is the statement. He goes on to say this is the key issue.

      • annie
        annie
        December 23, 2011, 3:51 pm

        ok, thanks..yes i heard him say it was a key issue, that is kind of a no brainer.

      • annie
        annie
        December 23, 2011, 4:41 pm

        I watched it at Norman’s site where there is another video of questions and answers, so it may have been there. Rabbani says clearly: If Israel agrees to resettlement of all refugees and descendants than there is legitimately something to talk about and otherwise not.

        tokyobk, either Rabbini says he expects Israel to agree to resettlement of all refugees and the descendants or he doesn’t. you’re going to have to do better than claiming he said clearly “If Israel agrees to resettlement of all refugees and descendants than there is legitimately something to talk about and otherwise not.”

        obviously if If Israel agrees to resettlement of all refugees and descendants we’re looking at a completely different ballpark and you are moving the goal posts wrt your previous assertion.

        i’ve reviewed the segment you directed me to and Rabbini makes no such statement wrt your assertions. nothing. in fact what he does say (paraphrasing) is ‘how does one go about addressing this issue, there is a contradiction between ror and 2ss..the key to unlocking the contradiction lies in explicit recognition of ror..iow, i feels it is my view if the right is not recognized the issue will never be resolved ans when we speak of a solution to most vexing issue..more emotive than the issue of settlements or jerusalem is the ror.’

        nothing about him expecting israel to agree to resettlement of all refugees and the descendants.

      • tokyobk
        tokyobk
        December 24, 2011, 7:40 am

        You misunderstood the point of my question. It was never that he actually used the word “expects” –in the video– it is that he says very clearly something in the context of negotiation that he cannot reasonably expect the Israelis to accept. I understand why he believes it is moral and just, but given that the right of return will never be accepted, I wonder how he expects it is something that will unlock the two state negotiation from the freezer, the topic of the video.

        He spoke about an absolute condition for negotiation that is non-negotiable for the Palestinians but impossible for the Israelis to accept.

        He mentions another non-starter from the Palestinian point of view: semantical name changes of Jerusalem allowing the Israelis to keep the actual Jerusalem.

        If I went to a lecture where someone kept saying that the Israelis will name a town al-quds and hey thats Jerusalem solving the issue of sharing Jerusalem I would respond:

        “I wonder why this professor expects the Palestinians to accept a suburb named al-quds in place of the actual Jerusalem. They will never accept this”

        I suppose someone could say this speaker never used the word “expect” in his speech — but that would not alter the importance of the question: how do we deal with the non-negotiables in the two state. In fact , it might sound like sophistry.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        December 23, 2011, 6:20 pm

        I think Israel is doomed as a Jewish state. The underclass in the form of the Orthodox and the Russians are taking over. They don’t generate the money needed to keep the social system going. And the whole thing is an apartheid abomination. Which means the Zionists will have no control over the fallout.

        The Jewish state was a nice idea.

    • Charon
      Charon
      December 23, 2011, 3:33 pm

      Dan, did Finkelstein really say ‘two states for two people’ ? I know he has always advocated the right of return for refugees, that would mean more Arabs inside of Israel proper. Every time I read ‘two states for two people’ (Obama, especially likes to say this) it makes me think the refugees are going to get shafted out of the ROR.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 23, 2011, 4:03 pm

        I have heard Finkelstein speak and have read much of what he has written but I have never heard him advocate the right of return for the Palestinians, quite the opposite, in fact. Finkelstein, like Chomsky, has said that while the Palestinians should never give up their claim to that right, it is unrealistic to expect it to happen and that it would negate the possibilities of a “two-state solution.” Finkelstein seems unable or unwilling to recognize that if there ever was the possibility of “two states side by side,” there is no longer.

        I also believe that, for enduring personal reasons, neither of them have come to grips with the true nature of Zionism. In any case, it is not for outsiders to tell the oppressed how they should wage their liberation struggle.

      • Charon
        Charon
        December 23, 2011, 5:42 pm

        You’re right Jeffrey, my mistake. That’s exactly their position. I misinterpreted it as advocating.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        December 23, 2011, 4:08 pm

        I had him saying it to a pro israel student – i dont have a full quote, but he was brushing a kid off basically saying, “your gonna get your “two states for two peoples” thing you say you are for” So, no – he wasn’t saying it like it was his view, he was telling a kid what he is advocating is actually what the kid says he wants…..I probably took too much of a liberty with it, I was really just trying to recap the basic form of his argument as expeditiously as possible…..But, I mean if your for two states, in my view – you kind of automatically fall into the “two peoples” camp.

      • Charon
        Charon
        December 23, 2011, 5:52 pm

        Thanks for clarifying, Dan. When Obama mentioned the ‘two peoples’ in his ME speech last May, he specifically said one for the Jewish people and one for the Palestinians. Sounds pretty grim for nearly 25% of Israel’s population that isn’t Jewish. At the same time, it also means a Palestinian state wouldn’t have any Jews in it (except maybe for the Palestinian Jews defined by Arafat). Two states seems to be anti-peace IMO.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      December 25, 2011, 4:25 pm

      If international law and institutions held the key for peace, there would already be peace.

      That’s not necessarily the case. There has never been a widely recognized State of Palestine until the recent UNESCO vote and the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court is a recent innovation too (July of 2002). The adoption of the Rome Statute in 1993 helped establish a “shelf life” for the South African Apartheid regime. There were only 60 state parties in 2002, but today there are 120 members constituting the majority of the international community of states. Many, if not all of them, have supported the adoption of UN resolutions or the Declaration of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention concerning the illegality of acts committed by Israelis in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

      In the past, there simply was no effective agreed-upon method for an occupied state, like Palestine or Namibia, to request enforcement of the applicable international laws against an aggressive neighbor, like Israel or South Africa. The Apartheid regime in South Africa succumbed to international sanctions in 1994. Those sanctions included the adoption of the Rome Statute covering further acts of apartheid.

  2. Sin Nombre
    Sin Nombre
    December 23, 2011, 10:10 am

    You know I think Finklestein’s position here is *very* easy to defend.

    On the one hand at least one of his critics here faults him for his Two-State advocacy on the grounds that it’s unrealistic to expect Israel to ever move any goodly number of the settlers off whatever land is to be given up to make way for that second Palestinian state. “It’s clear the settlers would resist like hell and there’s lots of them,” the argument goes.

    On the other though they don’t seem to realize that on the path to the One-State solution they are in favor of, damn near *all* Israelis and not just “the settlers” would resist this like hell given it means the *total* destruction of what they regard as their state. (And not just a possible partial dismemberment of it.)

    And the other logic jump I seem his critics making here is that while they take Finklestein to task for relying on the already-existing Israel/PA and international consensus that already exists and etc.—saying, rightfully, “what the hell has that accomplished?”—they then go talking airily about their One-State solution and a full Right of Return and etc. essentially as if it’s going to come about just as soon as they convince the Israelis and the Pals and the international world of its beauty.

    Oh, I know, they use the words “people power” instead of the idea of “consensus” amongst centers of power, but at *some* point if “people power” is indeed going to have any power just as a matter of logic it has to either persuade some existing center of power to support it, or tell us where its own power comes from. And the critics here do neither.

    Seems to me that maybe the *only* way anyone can really think that a (at present non-consensus) One-State solution is going to have *more* force behind it than a (at present wide consensus) Two-State solution is if, unlike the latter, there’s just simply is some mass of *military* might behind the former that can persuade Israel to give up its jewish nature. Otherwise, as I said, it just makes no sense to say that it’s somehow going to be easier and more realistic to get people persuaded of something *more* extreme than … something less extreme they already have only rather recently agreed upon.

    Like I say, sort of a logic jump.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Finklestein is dreaming: There ain’t gonna be no Two-State solution with more durability than a Mars Bar in the Sahara, and there ain’t gonna be no One-State solution before the Sun flames out, and what’s gonna happen is the continued slow ethnic cleansing we’re already seeing probably capped off at some point by a sudden spasm of expulsion finishing same by Israel saying “Out; here’s our state, you had your chance, if you want a state on whatever slivers we haven’t grabbed so far go ahead.”

    But Finklestein’s got the better logic than his critics here I think. Maybe not the better morals/ethics, but the better logic.

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      December 23, 2011, 10:33 am

      thanks for comment Sin. where did you come up with mar’s bar. is that an old one?

      • Sin Nombre
        Sin Nombre
        December 23, 2011, 11:05 am

        No, just struck me Phil. Perhaps I’ve foolishly missed a stand-up career? Anyway, you can have it, along with some great holiday time too I hope.

        And hey, you eat that beautiful mushroom you found in Fall? Remember, those tend to re-appear on the same stumps/logs/buried wood year after year…

        A bad year here for the “hen of the woods” mushrooms I usually get tons of. Too dry in August and Sept. I think. But was a good year for the Sulphur Shelfs (a/k/a “chicken of the woods”) which, if I recall, was the kind you got.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 23, 2011, 11:16 am

        i ate it. bit by bit, in chicken stock. its growing on me.
        dont want that mars bar. too sandy

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        December 23, 2011, 12:22 pm

        “Don’t get me wrong, I think Finklestein is dreaming: There ain’t gonna be no Two-State solution with more durability than a Mars Bar in the Sahara, and there ain’t gonna be no One-State solution before the Sun flames out, and what’s gonna happen is the continued slow ethnic cleansing we’re already seeing probably capped off at some point by a sudden spasm of expulsion finishing same by Israel saying “Out; here’s our state, you had your chance, if you want a state on whatever slivers we haven’t grabbed so far go ahead.”

        The purpose of BDS, of all our other efforts, is to EDUCATE the powerful of the earth to two things: [1] the facts, the problem and [2] their duty (moral, ethical, perhaps practical) to get busy and do something.

        While recent EU statements fall far short of “action”, they betray something akin to a realization that the EU has a “duty” (moral, ethical, perhaps practical) to move the world toward 2SS.

        We and others should of course continue talking about 1SS, about 2SS, about BDS, and doing all we can to keep the pot simmering. I’m a bit fearful of what will happen when the pot begins to boil (Israeli cut-off of all water or all electricity to Gaza has been mentioned, as an example. Many more “price tag” pogroms is another), and the increase in “temperature in the pot” is palpable.

        As with “global warming” which is typically but not entirely truthfuilly portrayed as a disaster caused NOW but with bad effects to come LATER, the I/P conflict is typically portrayed as a disaster caused by PAST events but coming to a boil NOW. This latter is true, as disaster is indeed increasing now.

        Thus, the time for EU and Russia and all the world except the USA (which has only its chains to lose) to ACT is NOW.

        Keep up with BDS, etc. It’s all we small folks can do.

      • Erasmus
        Erasmus
        December 24, 2011, 3:41 pm

        “Keep up with BDS, etc. It’s all we small folks can do.”

        Agreed. Finkelsein criticized BDS to be vague on its goals, by not advocating either 1SS or 2SS. That in turn i find wise.
        However, the BDS should have some few selected targets that can make a dent and will be economically felt, especially the TOURISM sector .

        No holiday- or “pilgrimage” travels to Israel until a satisfactory final agreement with the Palestinians will have been concluded.

        That is something we small folks can certainly do.

      • ToivoS
        ToivoS
        December 24, 2011, 4:19 pm

        Coming back to the subject, annie and HenryLaw are arguing that Norm is not really opposed to BDS. Sort of true, but he is definitely politically undermining BDS by describing its backers as cultists. I am comfortable with his aversion to actively backing it but if he slanders its advocates then he is taking a more oppositional political stance. He should just remain silent.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 24, 2011, 9:10 pm

        Finkelstein takes the same position as does Chomsky. BDS against companies that invest in the West Bank and targeting products produced in the West Bank is okay. Boycotting Israel and everything Israeli, with a handful of academic and journalistic exceptions, however, is not from their prospective.

        In other words they recognize Israel’s legitimacy within……within…what were those borders again? Chomsky is more subtle in dismissing those calling for BDS against Israel, describing them as misguided. Besides it would not look proper for someone who has become one of the world’s leading cult figures to accuse others of being cultists.

      • proudzionist777
        proudzionist777
        December 25, 2011, 9:35 am

        Why not butt out and let the Israelis and the Palestinians sit down and work out their own differences?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 11:46 am

        Why not butt out and let the Israelis and the Palestinians sit down and work out their own differences?

        So you accept the General Assembly resolutions that call on the member states, including the United States, to stop selling arms and providing military assistance to Israel and which condemned the United States for using its veto in the Security Council to prevent the adoption of the customary sanctions against parties when they have flagrantly violated international laws?

        The Zionists freeloaders butted into the Versailles Peace Conference and claimed the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine was an international problem. When the Zionists were denied a State of their own by the mandatory administration, they adopted the Biltmore resolutions which proposed a) the institution of a Jewish military force fighting under its own flag and under the high command of the United Nations; and b) that the Zionist organization would present its demands for a Jewish State in Palestine to the new international forum. See the Aide Memoire from the British Embassy to the Departmrent of State in the Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1942, The Near East and Africa, page 551 http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1942v04&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=551

    • December 23, 2011, 10:59 am

      at *some* point if “people power” is indeed going to have any power just as a matter of logic it has to either persuade some existing center of power to support it, or tell us where its own power comes from. And the critics here do neither.

      so your argument, in the above statement, is for the perpetuation of the notion that might makes right.

      Yesterday I posted a statement that Dennis Ross made on Diane Rehm’s show in 2006, that Israel advocates are organized and effective and instead of criticizing Israel, Palestinians should achieve the same level of organization & effectiveness.

      My critique said that Israel was effective because it stole money; refused to register its foreign agents; and disregarded rule of law, the foundation of what Ross hailed as “the American way.” THAT is how power is accumulated into ‘might.’ It’s not ‘right.’ And we see the trail of evidence stretching back 100 years that when the rule of WRONG prevails, people die, nations are shattered, and instability reigns.

      Instead of putting your intellectual energy behind ‘might makes right,’ Sin Nombre, — and Norman Finkelstein, how about FIRST, make a commitment to TRUTH, then put the rest of your intellectual energies to figuring out how THIS TIME the Jewish people are going to integrate themselves into the world community without causing the destruction of themselves as well as of any state that resists their ‘we’re special’ agenda.

      • Sin Nombre
        Sin Nombre
        December 23, 2011, 1:25 pm

        Apropos of what I wrote teta mother me wrote:

        “Instead of putting your intellectual energy behind ‘might makes right,’ Sin…”

        I didn’t. You need to read more closely and/or with less demand for polemics. I just pointed out that the critics of Finklestein in Phil’s original comment never explain how right makes might.

        Or at least how their One-State right makes more might than Finklestein’s Two-State right.

    • Avi_G.
      Avi_G.
      December 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

      Leave it to someone who hasn’t lived in the region to come up with this impeccable faulty logic about the conflict. Neither you who misplaced his name, nor Finkelstein, are willing to acknowledge the simplest of facts.

      So, I won’t be doing the talking, I will simply let Avraham Burg — former speaker and member of the Knesset — explain to you why you are clueless:

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/now-it-s-your-turn-1.403059

      [Current leaders] create an illusion at home or abroad that the present reality is temporary. That it is still possible to put the fattened genies back in their small bottle. But that is cynical deception because it’s not possible. Because we have crossed all the red lines and all the points of no return.

      […]

      So enough of the illusions. There are no longer two states between the Jordan River and the sea. Let the right-wing MKs, the Katzes and the Elkins, travel around the world and show the beauty of their faces without the deceptive layer of makeup we provided.

      […]

      Meanwhile we must consider how we can enter into the new Israeli discourse. It has intriguing potential. The next diplomatic formula that will replace the “two states for two peoples” will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom. In other words, there is a very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea – neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one. It is likely to be a country with nationalist, racist and religious discrimination and one that is patently not democratic, like the one that exists today. But it could be something entirely different. An entity with a common basis for at least three players: an ideological right that is prepared to examine its feasibility; a left, part of which is starting to free itself of the illusions of “Jewish and democratic”; and a not inconsiderable part of the Palestinian intelligentsia.

      […]

      The conceptual framework will be agreed upon – a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The practicable substance could be fertile ground for arguments and creativity. This is an opportunity worth taking, despite our grand experience of missing every opportunity and accusing everyone else except ourselves.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        December 23, 2011, 12:37 pm

        Avi_G: Most Israeli commentators, including Burg here, take the view that what is “possible” is whatever Israelis will agree to. As if they and they alone run the show.

        Who would ever have supposed that the Palestinians could have been pushed into exile as almost a whole people in 1948? But it happened. who would suppose that the Jewish people of Europe could be almost entirely murdered in 1930-45? But it happened.

        Things can happen when a stronger power exerts itself. So far the EU and UNGA have not been willing to act, but it is my opinion that they constitute a stronger power than Israel, a power to which Israel will listen (and change both its mind and its behavior) when that greater power speaks with one voice, a voice backed up with economic power.

        I don’t say it will ever happen. Waiting for it to happen is like waiting for God to “ingather” the Jews to Zion, which (as far as I can see) never happened either, though some acted as if it had.

        But whatever else can friends of Palestine (and of Israel, if truth be told) do, other than work to bring together the nations of the earth (the USA and Israel on the sidelines — bless their misguided small-little-tiny-microscopic hearts) to demand-require-force Israel to withdraw to the green-line and make peace, subsequent (and not earlier) land swaps to occur between sovereign states?

        Pie in the sky? Sure. But there is no other hope.

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 23, 2011, 2:07 pm

        I love Avrum Burg.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 23, 2011, 2:21 pm

        Burg crossed his “Rubicon”.

        Lives in France, now overtly opposes Zionism, not only observing tensions.

        I think he made a mistake, personally and politically.

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 25, 2011, 12:55 pm

        Richard, Avrum Burg Lives in Nataf now, not France.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 23, 2011, 4:14 pm

        The fact of the matter is that there has essentially been one state, one apartheid state west of the Jordan since 1967, all of it under Israeli control with the Green Line being nothing more than a convenient fiction.

        The Israelis have used the “peace process,” aided and abetted by liberal Zionists in US peace groups, whether knowingly or unknowingly is irrelevant, to fill in the areas of the state with Jewish settlers in order to make the division of that one state all but impossible. And the same goes for the likelihood of any peaceful resolution in the near future.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        December 23, 2011, 6:21 pm

        Yes. It is one state and it is called Erez Israel. Only one community has rights in this state.

  3. tombishop
    tombishop
    December 23, 2011, 10:15 am

    These are very insightful articles. There can be no clearer expression than these that the two-state solution is dead.

  4. American
    American
    December 23, 2011, 10:23 am

    I somewhat agree with Norm that it will take some international bodies to finally bring justice to Palestine and that there is a large international consensus already…..but disagree that BDS and other activism is usless or immaterial.

    No way can Palestines and activist sit back and wait for these international bodies to take action. ….if they do they might be waiting forever. Something has to shove the international bodies into action. Worse case scenario is that Israel will do something so horrific that they are finally forced to act. No one wants that, so activism and movements like BDS are the only tools left for the general public to pressure governments, world opinion and therefore international bodies.

    Removing the US from the equation would have an effect overnight but that isn’t likely to happen, at least any time soon or in time.

  5. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    December 23, 2011, 10:46 am

    Norman Finkelstein is advocating what is realistic and what is possible at this point in time, which is all that anybody can do. He knows that 95% of that worlds population according to UN resolutions etc are on the two states side, and that US/Israel are the 5% on the recalcitrant side. His call to mobilise the 95% is correct as is his call for them to just apply the law, of course he is aware that if there was a major war in the Middle East, a war a significant number of people in the US are pushing for this could change the equation, in fact it could make Israels position physically problematical, similiarly an armed uprising as in South Africa could do the same thing, but this would not be in the Palestinians favour because of the disparity of arms. So we must and can only act on what is possible now, here the upgrading at the UN of Palestine as on observer state and access to the International Criminal Court open up new possibilities, remember the Israeli leadership have no immunity in this court, the specific charge that they are in breach of article 49.6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 directly or indirectly transferring citizens of the occupier into occupied territory would be impossible to defend, activists for Palestinian rights must never forget there are many ways to skin a cat, BDS is only 6 years old, the South African BDS model took many more years to take effect. In my opinion everything should be thrown at the Israelis until they realise the game is not worth the candle only then will they negotiate.

    • pjdude
      pjdude
      December 23, 2011, 2:48 pm

      if the law was actualy applied Israel wouldn’t even exist. its very existence is a violation of international law.

    • MRW
      MRW
      December 23, 2011, 4:51 pm

      HarryLaw,

      Big difference between ‘can’ and ‘ought’.

  6. clenchner
    clenchner
    December 23, 2011, 11:04 am

    You know who would agree with this –
    “As the Palestinians have a right to self-determination and have called for this movement, it is unfair to tell them that the opinion of international institutions and states is more legitimate than their right to determine their own future.”
    Avigdor Lieberman. Only he might state it like this:
    “As the Jewish people have a right to self-determination and have firmly established the state of Israel as a Jewish state, it is unfair to tell them that the opinion of international institutions and states is more legitimate than their right to determine their own future.”

    Identical logic. The logic of irrational nationalism.

    • Avi_G.
      Avi_G.
      December 23, 2011, 11:45 am

      You write that spiel as though you yourself do not advocate for a Jewish state.

      And it’s quite instructive that you would equate the desire of the indigenous people of Palestine to self-determination with the ideology of a racist colonial trespasser from Moldova.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        December 23, 2011, 12:00 pm

        Doing the two-state tango and the one-state two-step! Hows about Israel does, something, anything, to change the present situation? Hows about Israel makes one little external compromise, co-operates with one UN ruling or international law, one little internal course adjustment on the road to Masadadammerung?
        Yep, there is nothing Zionists would rather discuss then one-state-two-state.
        As if Israel’s course isn’t obvious, and as if Jews couldn’t possibly end up like every other colonial project.

        I’ve got a great idea! Why don’t we discuss the one-state two-state gambits when there is the slightest indication that Israel will agree to a positive solution?

      • December 23, 2011, 1:33 pm

        does anyone know of a colonialist project that has been dismantled?

        what happened to the colonizers? did the colonized territory revert to the original occupants?

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 23, 2011, 9:22 pm

        teta mom,

        If you are referring to settler projects, Algeria became a French colony following its invasion in 1830 and it was treated as a department of France until the Algerians ran their butts out of there a century and a few decades later, 132 years in all. It is doubtful if the Zionist experiment will last half that long. The descendants of the colonizers, what they called the pieds noirs, went back to France.

        In the end, that is likely to be the fate of those Israelis who immigrated from France, the US, the UK, South Africa and elsewhere who have never given up their passports. Sound far fetched? As Israel moves at an ever increasing pace towards an internally repressive state, it will become more isolated and more and more of those Israelis who don’t really have much attachment to the land (as evidenced by the more than half a million already in the US!) will decide the grass is greener elsewhere.

        Would not it be wonderful to see Israel go, not with a bang but a whimper?

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 23, 2011, 12:47 pm

        Avi, I do not advocate for a Jewish state. I’m firmly in favor of a complete separation between synagogue/church/mosque and state. Though, I’ll defer to the Palestinians how they want to run their affairs.

      • Avi_G.
        Avi_G.
        December 23, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Newclench says:
        December 23, 2011 at 12:47 pm

        Avi, I do not advocate for a Jewish state. I’m firmly in favor of a complete separation between synagogue/church/mosque and state. Though, I’ll defer to the Palestinians how they want to run their affairs.

        You’re playing childish semantic games again. You are in favor of a state that is majority Jewish, whether its secular or not doesn’t make much difference within this context.

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 23, 2011, 1:55 pm

        You have a real penchant for putting your own words on others’ mouths. I’m in favor of self determination for both peoples. That makes me a champion of a state that has a Palestinian majority.

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        December 23, 2011, 2:51 pm

        the problem is jews don’t have the right of self determination at least not in the way you, witty, and the rest of the promoting of war crimes Israel supporters you believe. the right of self determination doesn’t mean you get a state where ever you damn well please. its the people( well the legal resident population) deciding their own political status. which your against the people of palestine deciding all of palestine political status.

      • tree
        tree
        December 23, 2011, 3:08 pm

        That makes me a champion of a state that has a Palestinian majority.

        Which morally has absolutely no meaning. Apartheid South Africa had a black majority and being its “champion” meant nothing towards ending its racism and discrimination.

        The moral position is to favor a state that treats all its citizens with equality and justice, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Israel is not that state, even within the green line, and most certainly it is not just or equal in its treatment of those under its control in the occupied territories.

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 23, 2011, 3:37 pm

        Tree, I accept the challenge you have bravely laid down. I’m withdrawing the (nonexistent) support I may have had for policies that discriminate.
        I still support the right to self determination for all parties though – Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Hebrew speakers. (This is the position that the PLO has adhered to since the 70s, and still does today.)

      • tree
        tree
        December 23, 2011, 4:29 pm

        So, do you support Israel being a state that treats all its citizens as equal partners without favor for Jews over Christians, Muslims and others? In other words, as an Israeli state rather than a Jewish one? You haven’t made that clear.

        Because your support for “self-determination” for all parties doesn’t really mean anything unless you are willing to define “self-determination” inclusively, with the “self” meaning all people who live within the state, or the area controlled by the state, rather than as “you people (of the “wrong” ethnicity) get to have full rights OVER THERE, and not here” – the “liberal” Zionist view, as per Witty . It seems to me that you haven’t really “accepted” the challenge, but rather have sought to elide it with “self-determination” which is not necessarily the same thing.

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 23, 2011, 5:38 pm

        Tree, and I’m being consistent with anything I’ve ever written here:
        Yes. I’m a huge fan of an Israeli state that allows citizens to be ‘Israeli’ as opposed to ‘Jew’. (There were some interesting court cases around this over the years.)
        Part of the reason I sometimes say ‘Hebrew speakers of Palestine’ instead of ‘Jews’ is because the Israeli Jews have more or less created themselves since 1948 as a thing quite distinct from, through related, to the religious or ethnic group we call Jews. They have land, culture, language, shared identity, etc. And the non Jews among them (Russians, migrant workers, and many Israeli Palestinians) prefer being Israeli over other options they might consider.

      • tree
        tree
        December 24, 2011, 12:24 am

        Yes. I’m a huge fan of an Israeli state that allows citizens to be ‘Israeli’ as opposed to ‘Jew’. (There were some interesting court cases around this over the years.)

        I’m aware of them, but it seems like you are still skirting around the issue of equality, rather than addressing it. Perhaps I should simply ask you this question again, as I still don’t know your answer to it, despite your two responses so far.

        “So, do you support Israel being a state that treats all its citizens or subjects as equal partners without favor for Jews over Christians, Muslims and others?”

        Yes, or no?

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 24, 2011, 10:57 am

        Are you being intentionally thick? Yes. As I wrote above. This isn’t that hard buddy. I think you are suffering from rubbed off ignorance and ill-will from some of the small-tent yahoos here. No offense, but given the clarity of each and every answer I’m giving you, you have to wonder what the problem is…. Talk about not taking ‘yes’ for an answer…. is this how you treat all supporters of equality? It’s like a process designed to eliminate any but the most patient and forgiving, as opposed to one built for recruitment.

      • tree
        tree
        December 24, 2011, 6:19 pm

        Are you being intentionally thick? Yes. As I wrote above. This isn’t that hard buddy. I think you are suffering from rubbed off ignorance and ill-will from some of the small-tent yahoos here.

        Newclench, I did not insult you and I don’t think it was necessary for you to engage in insults. For someone who espouses a “big tent” you can be incredibly nasty towards those who disagree with or question you. You might want to reconsider whether calling people “ignorant, ill-willed yahoos” is an effective strategy if you really want a big tent. Frankly I get the impression that you don’t really believe in a “big tent” but merely a tent that accommodates your viewpoint and belittles those that disagree with you. That’s not a big tent, it’s merely another small tent centered around you. If you want to be perceived as a big tent advocate, you might try acting like one.

        Despite what you may think, your answers were anything but unequivocal in support of equality and justice. You used the term “self determination”. Witty and others use the same “self-determination” term to mean that Jews get to rule and discriminate in Israel and Palestinians get limited rule and rights in whatever scrap of territory Israel may eventual allow them. It is not a synonym for equality. So your use of that term, rather than equality, did not make clear your stand as opposed to Witty’s. And your stated support for a state with a Palestinian majority does not indicate whether you believe in equality either. They are clearly not the same thing, as I pointed out by mentioning Apartheid South Africa. Likewise with your reference to legal challenges to allow Israelis to be listed as such in identity documents. It does not specifically address whether you believe that Israel should change to become a state of all of its citizens, or change to give citizenship to all those indigenous people who are subject to its laws.

        Talk about not taking ‘yes’ for an answer…. is this how you treat all supporters of equality? It’s like a process designed to eliminate any but the most patient and forgiving, as opposed to one built for recruitment.

        I asked you to clarify your position so that I could understand whether you do in fact support equality or not. Your hostility is coming from somewhere else. Otherwise, why would someone who truly believes in equality be upset when someone asks for clarification? Are you trying to say that you might not believe in equality unless you are treated with kid gloves and unquestioning and gushing admiration? Because that’s what your lashing out here seems to imply, and it only serves to obscure your position. You might want to rethink how you communicate here, because it is counterproductive to your espoused belief in a big tent.

        That said, thanks for the clarification.

        And, BTW, I’m not a “buddy”. I’m female.

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 24, 2011, 9:38 pm

        It was wrong of me to lose my temper and write to you as I did. From time to time I fail to live up to my own standards. My sincere apologies.
        and
        I’m not Witty and it sort of irritates me that sometimes my views are conflated with his. I’m not a Zionist as he is.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 24, 2011, 11:34 pm

        I am a liberal Zionist, proud of it.

        And, by Zionist, I do mean the right of the Jewish people that reside in Israel to self-govern (the equivalent term for self-determination).

        I don’t believe that self-determination is limited to only democratic equal rights within a geography, but can include the self-determination of a community, based on social affiliation, self-determined.

        I fear the prospect of discrimination against Jews in a pendulum swing in all of the forms proposed, that those that advocate for Palestinian human rights in the name of social justice for all don’t mean it and even if they mean it can’t deliver it.

        That dissidents speak ill, cruelly ill, of those with Zionist sentiment, even from those that criticize Zionist application, greatly diminishes/erases the confidence that they mean equal rights for all instead of national rights.

        A much better approach is the one of respectful disagreement, comparing a better proposal (if one exists).

        I too actively work for the recognition of Palestinian equal rights, but not with the same litmus tests as Tree.

        The desire to self-govern is a reasonable sentiment. It is a reasonable sentiment for Jews that do not regard the prospect of governance in association with a prospective Palestinian nationalist majority as self-governance, as it is reasonable sentiment for Palestinians that do not regard minority status in a Zionist dominated single state as self-governance.

      • James North
        James North
        December 25, 2011, 11:19 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘You would never know from my vague words above that I support Israel’s invasion of Gaza, coming up on its third anniversary, a full-scale attack that killed 1400 Palestinians, including 300 children.’

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        December 25, 2011, 2:22 pm

        in other words you believe in the right of theft which we already knew. and I believe I have asked you to quit using the phrase self determination and its like as you refuse to use them in a way in line with the definitions of the phrases. the jews in Israel don’t have any right to decide the political status of palestine occupied or “Israel” a right can never be conferred by a crime.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 4:54 pm

        And, by Zionist, I do mean the right of the Jewish people that reside in Israel to self-govern (the equivalent term for self-determination).

        Richard the right of self-determination is not equivalent to the right to self-govern. Since the right can be exercised by opting for incorporation into another existing state. The right applies to all of the peoples of a nation, not just its Jews. I’ve pointed out elsewhere here that even the Peace of Westphalia in the 1620s recognized that states are multicultural and that protection of the civil and religious rights of minorities sometimes have to be internationally guaranteed in order to end a conflict.

        I no longer have any faith in the ability of the Jewish people of Israel to govern themselves. Contrary to formal assurances provided to the international community, they’ve refused to adopt constitutional guarantees of equality for women and minorities for more than 60 years.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 25, 2011, 4:59 pm

        You’d never know from North’s summary that I consistently described the Israeli invasion in Cast Lead as excessive.

        How can a respected journalist comment so incompletely and still retain the confidence of his readers?

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      December 23, 2011, 10:17 pm

      international consensus and self-determination are two important considerations. If the international consensus is bad, then it shouldn’t be used of course. The international consensus during medieval times I would say was much different than today on some important issues.

      Self-determination is also an important principle. But it shouldn’t be used to void another people’s self-determination. I think that the Holy Land shouldn’t be under only one state devoted to only one religion, regardless of the international consensus.

      So they are both important considerations, but one shouldn’t be taken as “absolute no matter what.”

  7. Krauss
    Krauss
    December 23, 2011, 11:07 am

    This is some excellent critique. I’d like to add several points.

    First, let me state my genuine and deep appreciation of Finkelstein. I do not believe he has any agenda, simply that he is wrong. Let me give several reasons.

    He has shown incredible naivité of how the world works.
    For instance, in a recent talk with Chris Hedges he sort of semi-attacked the notion of the Israel Lobby. As he went on in his attack, you sort of saw how he moderated his stance. First he claimed that the lobby only exists in the narrow I/P sphere.

    He gave a not-so-subtle hint that he thought the talk of the excessive influence of the neocons, demonstrated time and again, beyond merely I/P had a whiff of anti-Semitism. The reason for this, he thought, is because the supposed architects were Cheney and Rumsfeld. But why did he think so?

    He read their official autobiographies.
    So he actually thinks these sanitized propaganda books are a genuine relfection of policy. I was astounded to hear this, but I believe this is key to understand him.
    For these reasons I do not believe he could ever have thought of the Israel lobby. It requires a certain sense of realism, even cynism, about the world. To understand the world beyond national borders and strict national interests. To understand what motivates people beyond money. In short: ethnocentrism, guilt, shame and feelings of revenge are very powerful and can steer people well beyond the rational. So too with the Israel lobby.

    Curiously, as he was ending his longdrawn attack on Walt/Mearsheimer, he switched position. He no longer excluded the Israel lobby from having a role in Iraq, but essentially took their position: that it’s a cofluence of factors. They never stated it was the only force, but that it was one of several major forces. Had it not pushed very hard for it, it is doubtful(but not certain) that the war would have happened.

    The lobby isn’t just AIPAC, but also sympathetic journalists like the kind you find on the staff of TNR, to name but one example. Or the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

    There is a second aspect, which is connected to this, that also bears thinking about. In a recent interview with Mearsheimer and Finkelstein(read here: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/blog/greater-israel-or-peace/), Norman basically shot down everything John said as nonsense, more or less, or overblown.

    He basically stated that if America wanted to, then Israel would secede from the territories and end the occupation. Easily. This mirrors Chomsky’s quote that when the Israelis went out of Gaza, it was ‘merely a show for the goys’. In fact, it was dressed up as a gesture of peace when it really was a way to do the inevitable. And thus clear the way to bomb Gaza as the cost of protecting 10,000 fanatical Jewish settlers was too much and Sharon understood this.

    But to think you will end a 44 year old occupation with approaching 400,000 Jews firmly rooted in settled towns is a fantasy. There are entire political parties devoted to stop this. Settlements is a national concensus and no major party is different on this score.

    This again shows the incredible naivité of Finkelstein. He just does not understand the situation at it’s core. He has amazing knowledge, but it’s how he interprets it that is the problem. He believes, without blinking, the official hagiographies of people who could easily be tried for war crimes as uncontested truth. He dismisses the notion of the Israel Lobby outside a minimal interpretation and even injects innuendo that suggests there is anti-Semitism in it’s more accurate description.

    He seems to believe the propaganda that it would be easy to dismantle the settlements when it’s de-facto Israeli policy for almost half a century. Israel would essentially face civil war, many IDF commanders are more loyal to their rabbis and would never allow Jews to convict Jews from what they believe is their holy land, promised by God. That Finkelstein takes the Chomsky approach of ‘it’s just a show for the goys’ again underlines how shallowly he understands what is happening.

    I will always have the deepest respect for him as a moral and just human being. But part of the price for that morality, it appears, is stunning naivité that he has not been able to shake off. It also doesn’t help that he thinks that people should be worried about not upsetting Apartheid. As one commenter aptly stated, that would be like telling blacks in the 50s to ‘calm down'(and many did to Martin Luthor King) and be careful not to upset whites and ‘be reasonable’.

    Sadly, he is more and more proving to be irrelevant in the discussion.

    • Dan Crowther
      Dan Crowther
      December 23, 2011, 11:25 am

      in my notes at the lecture krauss – i wrote at least five times, am I at a chomsky lecture?

    • tokyobk
      tokyobk
      December 23, 2011, 3:00 pm

      Norman Finkelstein is the last person on earth who can be accused of misreading a text.

      Perhaps he just,bthinks the pre is a whiff of antisemitism in some of the lobby critiques and perhaps there is.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        December 23, 2011, 4:22 pm

        I don’t think Finkelstein or anyone else is incapable of being wrong.
        I happen to agree with much of what he writes about in general, but on Israel/Palestine he is increasingly veering off into semi-bizarre positions. There are many reasons for this. To name but one of several is because he believes, without irony, that Cheney’s official biography is a serious place to start if you want to get to the truth about the war in Iraq. Go figure.

        To be fair to Finkelstein, he didn’t openly say he thought Walt/Mearsheimer were anti-Semites(and when pressed, I think he would not have made those charges either), but he certainly conveyed the sense that he was uncomfortable with the notion of the Iraq war and the Israel lobby.

        The ironic part of this is that as he was closing his long assault on their thesis, he actually changed his mind and stated, yes, in fact the lobby had it’s hand in the invasion and it was not insignificant. But that does not mean it was solely responsible.

        And that is the exact position Walt/Mearsheimer have taken too. It was a driving force among several forces, but it was not alone in pushing for the war. They went a step beyond and said if it wasn’t for the lobby, the war would not have happened. I would qualify that and say if the lobby was indifferent it would probably have happened. If the lobby, for whatever reason, was against it; it would most likely not have happened in my opinion. Similarily, if only the lobby was for the war, but nobody else, I do not think it would have happened. I think this is a nuanced position to take and it’s very close to the Walt/Mearsheimer position too, which Finkelstein at the end of his assault basically endorsed.

        Yet it’s hard to discount and ignore his initial unnuendo which made him fall quite a bit in my eyes. It was just a bizarre attack.

        So Finkelstein, after conveying clearly that he thought there was a minor element of anti-Semitism(he specifically talked about Jews, not neocons, and in such a way to make the point nakedly clear) in the more accurate description of the lobby then turned around 180 degrees and basically agreed with the Walt/Mearsheimer(who, again, were much more nuanced than his crude ‘Jews’ comment) thesis of the lobby vis-a-vi Iraq.

        Finally; whenever I hear anti-Semitic innuendo when talking about such plain issues like the war in Iraq and the Israel lobby I would expect it to come from Bill Kristol or the Commentary crowd. Coming from Norman Finkelstein?

        This unstable pattern doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in a man who is increasingly drifting away into irrelevancy(quoting Cheney’s official biography as a source of truth on Iraq, telling Palestinians to be ‘reasonable’ in face of violently hostile Apartheid and suggestion anti-Semitism as innuendo) on this discussion and it breaks my heart to admit this.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 24, 2011, 5:08 pm

        There would have been no war without the dominating presence and influence of the Jewish neocons in and around the White House who Finkelstein has said, obviously without a scintilla of investigation, had no connections to Israel. Yes, incredibly, he did say that.

        I doubt, as well, that he has ever mentioned the Office of Special Plans that Douglas Feith had set up in the White House under another Jewish neocon, Abe Shulsky, which was used to generate false information about Iraq’s WMD when the CIA had failed to produce it or the well known existence of the Clean Break script that Feith, Perle, and David and Meyrav Wurmser prepared for Netanyahu in 1995. Both Feith and David Wurmser, of course, became key members of Cheney’s staff. Meyrav Wurmser, an Israeli, went on to found MEMRI, a major Zionist propaganda source.

        There is an obvious effort to build up Finkelstein as a successor to Chomsky and him being the subject of the film, “American Radical,” is the most glaring example of that. While he should be appreciated for what he has contributed to the struggle for justice in Palestine and the exposure of the holocaust industry it would be nothing short of a disaster for the Palestinians and for the movement, in general, if he was allowed to achieve the prominence and attain the influence of Chomsky.

  8. Richard Witty
    Richard Witty
    December 23, 2011, 11:26 am

    Thanks for posting this.

    I’ve posted a couple references to recent Finkelstein interviews here. I hope you saw them. They came from his website.

    I’m pleased that Norman is seeking to be effective in realizing Palestinian self-determination, human rights relative to Israel, and within Israel.

    I’m pleased that Norman has acknowledged that the goals and applications of the goals of the BDS movement are vague in formation, and vague in application, to the extent that that is what they communicate. (‘The Palestinians don’t know what they want’ – is what is communicated.)

    In contrast, Finkelstein’s faith in human sympathy, the basis of genuinely non-violent commitment (as distinct from non-violent tactic) is refreshing.

    I don’t believe that Israel is a nation of animals, as is implied in the more contemptuous denunciations. There is enough history that supports the contention of their individual and even institutional willingness to help Palestinians. (There is a history of investment in infrastructure to support Palestinian society during the pre-intifada years, then a reiteration of investment to support a separate Palestinian society post the first intifada. The second intifada killed everything.)

    And, in addition to past willingness, I believe that it is still possible for Israelis, Americans and others to understand Palestinians as human peers, deserving sympathy (not the same as pity) and support (not the same as solidarity resistance).

    Folks, please don’t play a holier than thou, ‘which side are you on’ game. It is beyond irony to conclude that Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein or even Richard Goldstone are pandering “liberals” (as a pejorative, rather than as praise).

    The desire to be pure rather than effective is two horrible things:

    1. A lie to oneself (‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’). Better that we be humble about our own purity by any definition.

    2. Inneffective at making change

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      December 23, 2011, 1:30 pm

      richard, thanks for comment; though I changed time stamp so it would not be a thread jack… phil

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 23, 2011, 1:40 pm

        Phil,
        I genuinely don’t understand that accusation.

        I don’t “threadjack”. I write on only a few topics, and in direct response to the topic.

        I definitely am more inclined to write about comments that I disagree with in some respect, but that is dialog, no?

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 23, 2011, 1:50 pm

        >> I definitely am more inclined to write about comments that I disagree with in some respect, but that is dialog, no?

        It may be “dialog”, but simply writing about comments one disagrees with is not dialogue:
        – a conversation between two or more persons;
        – an exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.

        This explains a lot… :-)

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 23, 2011, 2:25 pm

        I also write about some things that I agree with here.

        The original content is the focus. To write in response to original content is not threadjacking, it’s commenting.

        When my posts appear four hours after writing, they look out of context of the conversation, as if they were “threadjacking”, when in fact this post was written early in the morning, not at 1:40 when it appeared (even though time-stamped as 11:26.

      • libra
        libra
        December 24, 2011, 3:07 pm

        RE: “When my posts appear four hours after writing, they look out of context of the conversation, as if they were “threadjacking”, when in fact this post was written early in the morning, not at 1:40 when it appeared (even though time-stamped as 11:26.”

        No Richard, if comments are not indexed in from the left, then they are clearly responding to the original article irrespective of when written. If you toil for “the Jewish state” into the early hours so that you consistently end up being the first to comment then, however inadvertently, it gives the impression you are trying to “thread jack”.

        On the other hand, perhaps like a true Zionist you simply imagined you had established “title” over the first comment slot by dint of settling there for several years. In which case I can only congratulate Phil on setting a fine example by evicting you and suggest you stop whining.

  9. December 23, 2011, 11:34 am

    insightful and informative critique, Krauss; thanks.

    Agree, the Finkelstein-Hedges conversation was disappointing; I was not able to put my finger on WHY, but you did.
    Incidentally, Hedges pretty much just held a microphone; no push-back.

    One lesson we might learn is that there is no messiah and Superman has gone the way of the telephone booth. Finkelstein is not going to save the world, Hedges is not going to save the world, Phil Weiss is not going to save the world, for all his valiant effort. They can only operate on THEIR part of the problem, to the best of their own abilities, and we, all of us, are going to have to do likewise.

  10. Avi_G.
    Avi_G.
    December 23, 2011, 11:40 am

    “Israel is a reality” was the refrain. Finkelstein was also dismissive of the problem the settlers and the rightward shift in Israeli society pose for a settlement. One audience member asked him, “ You say two-states, but how does that happen without Jews killing Jews? – the settlers are fanatical and will not leave.” Finkelstein brushed the concern aside, saying, “they are cowards – they will leave.”

    As someone who has always respected him and admired his work, it saddens me to have to say this, but professor Finkelstein is delusional.

    Advocating one state, without the two- state international consensus in Finkelstein’s view, is potentially damaging and could lead to these advocates becoming “a cult.”

    What we have here is a gaping hole of logic. First, that consensus that which Finkelstein cites was galvanized and formed by the United States and its allies. And professor Finkelstein knows this very well. Second, in this mental exercise, Finkelstein is merely using Zionism to fill in the gaps. Much like belief and ideology, Zionists liberal or otherwise, overlook evidence and facts and instead rely on a dream to fill in the gaps. Remember, one does not require evidence to believe that there is a god. One need only believe that there is a god.

    Ultimately, whether its Dershowitz or Finkelstein, Yasser Arafat, Pope Benedict or John Wayne, they are all irrelevant to this conflict.

    The final settlement of this conflict will be decided by the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground show Israel swallowing the entire occupied West Bank and the Palestinian population in historical Palestine growing in numbers greater than the Jewish population.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 23, 2011, 12:43 pm

      “‘You say two-states, but how does that happen without Jews killing Jews? – the settlers are fanatical and will not leave.’ Finkelstein brushed the concern aside, saying, ‘they are cowards – they will leave.'”

      The correct answer to this objective is “So what? Fine, then Jews will kill Jews. They’re not immune and if killing those guilty Jews will protect the lives and safety of all the innocent Palestinians (and thereby indirectly protecting innocent Jews), then they absolutely should be killed if they do no leave voluntarily and put up a fight. All efforts should be made not to have to kill them, of course, but if push comes to shove, the fact that they are Jews should be completely and utterly irrelevant. (And racist. If a Jew has no problem killing a Palestinian for political ends, he should have no problem killing a Jew for political ends.)”

  11. Boycott Israel on Campus
    Boycott Israel on Campus
    December 23, 2011, 11:48 am

    Finkelstein also took some heat in Dearborn this year:

    http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/index.php?mod=article&cat=Community&article=3854

    Again, he seemed to be pressuring Palestinians to take the only “realistic” deal: two states, and Israel keeps all its atom bombs and its powers to re-invade at will.

    Yes, that is the only realistic deal unless there is a boycott movement that shakes the campuses. As long as we sit and demand no action against Israel– Finkelstein is right: Israel will last forever, and Palestine will be starved and shot out of existence.

    So let us make a boycott movement and change that “reality”.

    • Avi_G.
      Avi_G.
      December 23, 2011, 12:38 pm

      By rejecting BDS, Finkelstein has stuck a fork in the two-state paradigm. In fact, that he continues to trot this “International consensus” meme is a good indication that he is in extreme denial.

      As an aside, while Israelis reject giving Palestinians equal rights, the mythical ideal to which many non-Israeli Jews cling is not only pathetic, but repulsive.

      To think that someone like Ben-Ami, for example, is raising funds and establishing political connections with Beltway insiders in order for his American children to have that ‘Jewish’ pie-in-the-sky that is Israel, all on the backs of Palestinians — while admitting that he does not care for their human rights — is disgusting.

      When Jews around the world rise up and acknowledge that Palestinians are human beings, deserving of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then there will be something to talk about.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 23, 2011, 1:05 pm

        avi elaborate how bds serves two state paradigm, pls

      • Avi_G.
        Avi_G.
        December 23, 2011, 1:32 pm

        Philip Weiss says:
        December 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        avi elaborate how bds serves two state paradigm, pls

        Well, in my head I keep going back and forth between the two paradigms, one in which BDS serves the one state and the other in which it serves the two-state solution.

        But, the gist of it is this: Past and current trends indicate that reversal of the facts on the ground — facts that one could reasonably describe as obstacles to the two-state solution — require a new strategy. BDS, as in the South Africa model, has the potential to bring enough pressure to bear on Israel for it to change/reverse course.

        However, for that course reversal to solidify and result in subsequent and drastic changes on the ground in the occupied West Bank, requires a massive global effort. In other words, given the Israeli military infrastructure in the occupied West Bank, given the vast colonies, an entire network of Jewish-only roads that bisect and cut roads used by Palestinians, and given the Israeli population’s reluctance or inability to force the government’s and the military’s hand, it is impossible at this juncture to imagine a two-state solution.

        Like MK Avraham Burg put it, Israel is way past that red line. At this point, such large scale and abrupt reversal has the potential to tear Israel apart into shreds. So those in positions of power in Israel and the US know this very well and they are caught in a dilemma. They can neither move forward, nor can they move back. If they abruptly moved forward toward a one-state solution, then the same upheaval could take place.

        In light of this reality, that is these facts, Israel and the US have painted themselves into a corner. So the only solution is to maintain the current status quo, that is that Israel continues to control all the land from the river to the sea.

        Slowly, the Israeli population and government will have to come to terms with that reality.

        Tying all this back with BDS, when the movement grows and becomes formidable enough, it will have the potential to pressure Israel to recognize Palestinians in the West Bank as full citizens. That will be BDS’s moment of glory, if you will.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 23, 2011, 1:36 pm

        thanks Avi, so my sense is it will ultimately serve single state, in yr view– though anyone who is for two states can say, this is the only way, bds.

      • Avi_G.
        Avi_G.
        December 23, 2011, 1:43 pm

        Philip Weiss says:
        December 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm

        thanks Avi, so my sense is it will ultimately serve single state, in yr view– though anyone who is for two states can say, this is the only way, bds.

        Or, put differently, those who have not supported BDS have made themselves irrelevant anyway because BDS is not strong enough at this juncture to bring about that course reversal required for the manifestation of a two-state solution.

        So people like Finkelstein are actually shooting themselves in the foot. They should have gotten on board years ago if they wished for their visions to become a reality.

        Currently, I suspect that Finkelstein’s fear is that should he get on the BDS bandwagon, he will end up becoming — in his view — an ‘accomplice’ in the implementation of the one-state solution. So he must be undergoing an internal crisis, having to get over and give up the Jewish State vision.

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        Boycott Israel on Campus
        December 23, 2011, 2:10 pm

        Still waiting for an actual effort to boycott Israel, at any campus. I don’t mean tip-toeing around a hummus boycott, either.

        I mean, a plain call to boycott everything from Israel. Just like South Africa was boycotted.

        BDS has become a code word. It now means that we privately sympathize with Palestinians, but we will NEVER publicly demand boycott against Israel. Too scary.

        Until campuses are full of boycott-Israel marches, “BDS” will continue to mean self-congratulatory emails containing the phrase “BDS”, and public avoidance of ever calling for real BDS.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 23, 2011, 2:29 pm

        “avi elaborate how bds serves two state paradigm, pls”

        The demands of BDS are explicitly described in terms of 67 borders. Either that is true, or they are lying in their demands.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 23, 2011, 2:56 pm

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLYimsoDnrQ

        Avraham Burg on a two-state solution

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        December 23, 2011, 6:39 pm

        That’s just one of the things with the potential to tear Israel apart. What is going on in Israeli society is more important, I think . The Orthodox birth rate is higher than the non Orthodox birth rate. Settlers have more kids than regular Israelis. Trend those facts out for a decade and see what happens.
        Look at what is going on in education and think what it means for the economy of the future

        http://972mag.com/israel%E2%80%99s-bizarre-decision-to-give-up-on-education-and-its-future/28962/

        Throw in secular Ashkenazi flight as Israel becomes poorer and more violent.
        The settlers have the potential to tear the IDF apart.
        Right-wing activist calls on IDF soldiers to sabotage equipment

        Yitzhar resident ‘warns’ soldiers not to take certain actions that may prevent evacuations, such as spreading nails on roads or damaging engines.
        http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/right-wing-activist-calls-on-idf-soldiers-to-sabotage-equipment-1.401226

        There is going to be another decade at least of no or very low economic growth in the West. Israel is going to have a house price crash. there may be a credit crunch. who is going to bail the Israeli economy out? Plus the Oligarchs don’t care about anything other than more money. Nobody with any influence in Jewish Israel is taking the long view. Nobody

        It is all indicating that the status quo is deeply unstable. So the US can hold the line on the Arabs for the moment but it can’t stop Israel from rupturing internally and the mush coming up from deep underground destroying everything .

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/christchurch-earthquake/news/image.cfm?c_id=1502981&gal_objectid=10775150&gallery_id=123223#8432140

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        December 23, 2011, 6:53 pm

        BDS is only a tool, independent of outcome, or at least it should be. It supplies power where there is none. Power to be used in whatever manner, and to whatever outcome the Palestinians see fit.

        For people, not Palestinian, to armchair an outcome/objective for BDS is to diminish its effect. Whether someone, somewhere, says “these are the objectives” is wholly beside the point (and a hasbara-latch distraction). The whole intent and drive should be to empower Palestinian leadership to achieve the outcome they determine to be right for the Palestinian people.

        The Palestinians are themselves conflicted on OS/TS as best I understand (from polls). It seems to me that any discussion of what is the “best” outcome, or what the intent of BDS should be is an aside from its enabling potential for whatever the PLO, PA, or whatever elected body decides is the right thing to pursue in the best interests of the Palestinian people.

        Ira Glunts said here that Ben-Ami publicly challenged Palestinians to “get the power [“we” have] in order to effect ‘your’ outcome.” tea mother said above that Ross has made the challenge of “get the power” as well. BDS is that effort.

        From 10000 miles away, it is difficult, or should be, to pick and advocate what is best for Palestinians. Let them decide. Let BDS help them achieve what they decide.

      • December 23, 2011, 1:27 pm

        the first chapter or two of Ben Ami’s book, “A New Vision for Israel,” traces his family history — father was a Jabotinskite, educated, like Jabotinsky, in Italy. Jabotinsky’s friend & biographer J Schectman says that “Rome was Jabotinsky’s spiritual center” and that he absorbed his militarist ideals from his admiration for Mussolini.

        it’s all them damn Eyetalians’ fault.

      • clenchner
        clenchner
        December 23, 2011, 2:06 pm

        Unless I’ve missed something, Finkelstein was only ‘mildly critical’:
        Finkelstein had some mildly critical words for BDS and its “vagueness,” stating that in order for the movement to attract a wider audience, goals must be clearly stipulated – to include the final settlement, which in his view, should be based on the June 1967 borders, “two states for two peoples” and all that jazz.
        He’s not saying BDS is wrong or bad, he’s saying it lacks political clarity because many adherents insist on vagueness regarding end goals. Agree or disagree, it seems a fair point.

  12. HRK
    HRK
    December 23, 2011, 12:30 pm

    I just have to say: I just spent 45 minutes writing something, but then I erased it because I gave it to a friend to read and she said it had a “mean spirit” about it. “And you’re not a mean-spirited type of person.”

    Damn!

    And I’m so nice I won’t even hint about whether it was mean-spirited toward the one-state or the two-state solution!

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      December 23, 2011, 1:06 pm

      thanks for self censorship in the name of kindness! i could learn a thing or two from you

    • December 23, 2011, 1:33 pm

      Oh, stop being nice and be mean from time to time. We need “mean”.
      As long as it is “controlled meanness”:)
      The Truth is now, in the era of polite , globally sanctioned political correctness
      is viewed oftentimes as a “Meanness”.

      • pjdude
        pjdude
        December 23, 2011, 2:59 pm

        exactly those of us who care about justice and the rule of law( yes witty I know you refuse to comment on my posts but will whine about unfair it is to have justice and the rule of law because it harms the settlers ability of stealing land) and palestinians’ rights should be “mean” and go for the throat until we have a boot to the throat of the monster that is Israel. only until they are threatened like they threaten the palestinians on a daily basis. only when they are forced to be a decent people who solve problems without violence will the Israelis do so

        it was wrong for them to steal palastine and they need to come to terms with that and admit that

  13. dianeshammas
    dianeshammas
    December 23, 2011, 12:49 pm

    Look guys, we have known for a long time since 2009 at least when I invited Finkelstein to a conference we had at UCI, he is a progressive liberal not a radical. To his credit, he paved the way for non-Zionists, but in his position given his familial background, it is normal for him to hedge on issues like BDS, right of return, etc. which in email correspondences with him when I approached his position on the big Z he dodged the question.
    I will give myself as an example. At my father’s knee I heard about the Nakba. My father had a first cousin who was a diplomat that led the Arab League from Lebanon over the Israeli occupation and inside the meetings 242 was always the centerpiece of conversation. I despised Zionism and never could understand why the international community could never understand why we couldn’t go back to 1948 why 1967. I yearned to ask Finkelstein in our email correspondences why not. I feared it as I thought this might expose me as an Anti-Semite. So I passively rooted for a two state solution while it did not make sense to me. It was an American Jew to think otherwise that it was complete Tom Foolery to think of even a two-state as the Israeli government with all their settlements have made the West Bank complete “Swiss Cheese”. I slowly mustered enough courage to say I support the one state. I then started investigating my own self. What about Lebanon’s treatment of the Palestinians. During the civil war average Lebanese and their descendents in the U.S. took more of the Kataeb stand that the Lebanese Christians would be annihilated, and Palestinians are our enemies as we were tacitly forced to take Palestinians into our country and suffer the consequences. Later, I re-analyzed the position and saw no one forces you to do anything, you willingly signed to let them in. We can say all kinds of things about Arafat’s war lordism along with the Gemayal’s, but how about the people, the Palestinian people. I have visited the camps each year I go to Lebanon, it is utmost squalor. On the Lebanese street, you hear well they choose to live this way, all of them have money in their pockets. I say even my own dog lives better than they do. A gradual change took place within me and I asked why can’t the Palestinians work in the Lebanese formal workforce as many immigrants in U.S. do albeit racist in many ways to where you can see ethno-commerce enclaves. It did not make sense to me. It also helped with Jewish American comrades in the middle east groups with whom I have been involved, changed their Zionist attitudes. A few of my Lebanese friends and cousins still living in Lebanon or visit frequently there to see their families, disagree with me as they remember the Civil War–btw it crosses across Muslims and Christians as inside Shatila -Sabra there is a funeral area set aside where Amal massacred Palestinian civilians. It takes years to rethink your philosophies and to make tides turn in your life. So I guess I am saying that we can show gratitude for Finkelstein going most of the mile, but we have to pick up from where he left and go farther. BTW support William Sonoma as they are selling maftoul “couscous” and I have a great recipe I concocted if someone is interested.

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      December 23, 2011, 1:04 pm

      send me recipe diane, at [email protected], and we’ll post it for the holidays!

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 23, 2011, 2:03 pm

        I second that. I love couscous. Also indicate all traditional condiments you would suggest eating with it..

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      December 23, 2011, 6:42 pm

      I have visited the camps each year I go to Lebanon, it is utmost squalor.

      http://www.countercurrents.org/lamb170410.htm

    • notatall
      notatall
      December 25, 2011, 4:54 pm

      Reply to Diane Shammas: I taught Humanities at the American University of Beirut a couple of years ago. I recall a discussion in which my students, mostly Lebanese, told stories of being denied housing or employment because of the religious group they belonged to, and recounted how potential employers or landlords would identify their group by their name or their mother’s name, etc. All deplored the confessional system. I let them go on for forty-five minutes, and then asked, What about the Palestinians? Their universal response was, That’s different, they are foreigners. This was shortly after Carlos Slim, the cellphone multibillionaire of Lebanese ancestry had just been welcomed in Beirut as a prodigal son. Let me get this straight, I said, Carlos Slim, born and raised in Mexico, who speaks no Arabic, has never before been in Lebanon, is Lebanese, and the Palestinians are still foreigners after three generations? They shrugged their shoulders. The confessional system in Lebanon is the rough counterpart of ethnicity in the U.S. a hundred years ago, when political positions, jobs, housing, and social services were channeled through ethnic societies. It is deeper in Lebanon than it was in the U.S. because it is formally institutionalized, which it never was in the U.S., but the parallels are there. The situation of the Palestinians fits the classic definition of racial oppression, a system in which identity is inherited and imposed independently of place of birth or residence, language, culture or even religious belief—just like the racial regime immediately to the south.

  14. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    December 23, 2011, 1:20 pm

    Finkelstein is not really a political animal — he has is own views and does not adjust them to be part of a larger movement. I see him as a lone wolf. He should be respected for what he is. I can see his argument for two states but do not really agree with it. He does sound a bit like a liberal Zionist and that leads to the necessary contractions inherent in that oxymoron. However, many advocates for the one-state solution have their contradictions. I noticed this in particular at all of the excitement and support that many here voiced for the PAs recognition by UNESCO (including myself). This was shared by some who are advocates for the one state solution. That is a contradiction. That recognition is international support for two states. Building any political consensus involves living with and sometimes attempting to resolve contractions so that is not a bad thing.

    The one thing about Norm that I do not understand is his antagonism against BDS. That is a powerful tool that can and is being applied by both those supporting one or two states. Eventually, I believe facts on the ground are going to determine the outcome. It is quite irrelevant what I happen to believe in this regard but what I can enthusiastically support is justice for the Palestinian people. And BDS is the tool for expressing this support.

    • December 23, 2011, 1:55 pm

      You are correct. Prof. Norman Finkelstein is a type of a “lone, independent wolf”.
      Very smart, intelligent, hard working, courageous, outspoken, determined,yet prone to make mistakes like every other human beings. I don’t think he serves any agenda or ideology. Lone wolves don’t do that, they like to follow their own ways, hate to do what others try to force on them. I would call him the ultimate idealist, humanist. He did paved the way for many people to go in the right direction ,and he will be remembered and honored for it.
      Sometimes I get impression that he is either a bit tired of all of it,
      or he doesn’t to seem notice the Powers that try to influence and kidnap the wordly politics , the Powers that Gilad Atzmon is mentioning in his newest book “Wondering Jew”, and on his website. Once you start seeing them, many things, that are going on in the world become pretty easy to understand ,although seeing it is also very disturbing , frustrating, since it seems like it is almost impossible to resolve.

  15. MRW
    MRW
    December 23, 2011, 2:05 pm

    “The one thing about Norm that I do not understand is his antagonism against BDS.”

    Me neither. If I remember correctly, he left the Gaza trip he was on with Phil because of it.

    Phil, why don’t you ask Finkelstein if he will write why.

  16. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    December 23, 2011, 2:35 pm

    I don’t recall N Finkelstein being against BDS, his opinion if I recall is that he is for BDS as long as it is focused on an obtainable objective one that the 95% of the World already believes is a just solution and will support. His objections to BDS are that 95% of that opinion may not support a one state solution since that is not attainable in the near future or in present conditions.

    • Charon
      Charon
      December 23, 2011, 3:58 pm

      That’s my understanding as well. AFAIK, Finkelstein doesn’t personally advocate or favor any solution. He’s just trying to be rational about the cards that each side has been dealt. For example, what Dan wrote about Finkelstein’s analysis. Two states might be dead on the ground, but international consensus via UNGA and ICJ support two states based on 1967 borders. Israel may have “annexed” EJ (and Golan Heights, but that’s not really a part of I/P) but their annexations are meaningless. Nobody but Israel and the opinions of few radicals recognize this. EJ, all of Gaza and all of the WB beyond the green line (including the Jordan River bank and the large settlement ‘blocs’) is Palestinian land according to international consensus.

      If they stick to this plan, the world has their back. At least they are supposed to anyways. The two state solution is dead, but the Palestinians have to ride it out a little longer since the world isn’t convinced. It’s a Zionist opinion that Israel should keep the settlement blocs and EJ. It’s an international fact that all of the WB including EJ and even the Western Wall is occupied Palestinian land. Just because there are holy Jewish sites there doesn’t mean it belongs to Israel. There are holy Jewish sites in Iran. Just because they occupy and build homes in it doesn’t mean it is there’s. Only a fool would argue this, and that’s who is arguing most of the time… Zionist fools.

      It’s a Zionist opinion that the Palestinians should sacrifice any of this for nothing. That’s foolish. They shouldn’t settle for anything less than 100% equal contiguous land swaps. If Abbas would ‘approach the table to negotiate’ and not compromise anything less than they deserve, eventually the international consensus would see that the two state solution is dead. By avoiding it because of Israeli pre-conditions, Israel can win this argument and consensus remains.

      • annie
        annie
        December 23, 2011, 6:33 pm

        If Abbas would ‘approach the table to negotiate’ and not compromise anything less than they deserve, eventually the international consensus would see that the two state solution is dead.

        not sure if you got a chance to watch the video but towards the end norm talks about the viability of a palestinian state vs any other kind of agreement that doesn’t allow for a state w/ economic viability. so there does become a pt where palestinians or abbas if you will, or palestinian negotiators simply can’t compromise more, to the point where the state would cease to be a state. (this is from memory last night but norm described it very well, it is the part where he turns on the power pt and the lights dim).

        personally i think there’s a much higher possibility by the time this is resolved it will be as one state, but that will only come about by the continued willingness of palestinians to engage via the 2ss model, which they have done time and again, and the unwillingness of israel to engage..as demonstrated just recently here. there’s only so long people will hear their excuses and believe it. this is one very good reason why i am an advocate of norm’s position (because it has international backing) and it is only thru the continual demonstration of israeli recalcitrance the ante will be upped (using norm’s analogy in the clip, flipped, the public might accept actually offering their room instead of a coat.)

        plus, if i am wrong it won’t matter because i also support one state. i support whatever will work and get us their faster. but one state will be accepted easier ideologically by a plurality of governments and people after the 2ss has been completely exhausted and all efforts made by palestinians in what norm defined as a viable state (whatever term he used), not a bunch of little mini statlets.

  17. patm
    patm
    December 23, 2011, 5:02 pm

    Phil, thanks for setting up this discussion of Prof. Finkelstein’s views. It was (is) excellent.

    My take-away, along with a far greater understanding of the man, is the belief that MW must not only continue but expand its coverage of BDS activities. All of us need to get on the BDS bandwagon. BDS is the tool that will do the job that needs doing.

  18. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    December 23, 2011, 5:15 pm

    Just to add the ordinary man in the street and thats who the BDS campaign is aimed at might not be inclined to boycotte if the objective is not supported by any resolution at the UN, any member state at the UN or any Judicial authority like the highest court in the world [ICJ] or even majority Palestinian opinion at this time. The one state solution is supported by none of these at the present time, so in my opinion Norman was being what Norman always is realistic and logical.

  19. annie
    annie
    December 23, 2011, 6:02 pm

    this speech of norm’s, the video and the discussion here absolutely demonstrate why i stated earlier (in what has now become an almost 500 thread article , published on dec 13 and still active as of today)
    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/david-remnick-erases-norman-finkelstein.html

    he forged a path that now is becoming mainstream american discourse and he was the one responsible more than almost anyone i can imagine for changing the discourse on israel/palestine.

    and he’s still driving the discussion today. you may not agree with him, but denying his role in the movement is, imho, ludicrous.

  20. quebecleft
    quebecleft
    December 23, 2011, 6:10 pm

    This is interesting.from what i can see one of the problem with the 2 states solution now is the advocates of that position are americano-centric.it is based on the belief that the US and it’s zionist owned foreign policy will always control the narrative on the ME.The world is now evolving at a very fast pace,it has accelerated and the usual debates are going to become irrelevant.how long will it take i don’t know but it is starting to smell like it is changing.Second as Jeff mentionned it, only the palestinians have the right to decide what is acceptable and i will support whatever they decide. i think like in may 68: demand the impossible.Do you think that the commune of Paris the people were reasonable?Mr. Finkelstein is an extraordinary scholar like Chomsky unfortunatly i think that they can’t make a complete break from their jewish identity(atzmon).This is Ok but they should refrain from commenting on a subject that is not of their business. What we need INTIFADA everywhere and freedom in the new year

    • annie
      annie
      December 23, 2011, 6:38 pm

      i don’t think norm thinks what he thinks because he is jewish. i think he thinks it because of the reasons he explains.

      The world is now evolving at a very fast pace,it has accelerated and the usual debates are going to become irrelevant.how long will it take i don’t know but it is starting to smell like it is changing

      how long it will take will be a measure of how long it takes for the vast majority to comprehend the emperor has no clothes. once it has been thoroughly exposed under no circumstances will israel agree to 2ss (and that will happen by palestinians continually stepping up to the plate, which they continue to do) then we will see a seismic shift.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        December 23, 2011, 9:01 pm

        Finkelstein was a Maoist and has an international human rights basis. He rejected Hitchens’ calling the Passion antisemitic (Finkelstein did this in a humorous way on an interview). Finkelstein makes a critique of BDS that it should make itself more specific, but that hardly means he thinks it’s necessarily bad.

        Finkelstein takes the lessons of the Holocaust regarding human rights and applies it to the people bearing the brunt of the “situation.” He is using his tragic family past, or being stimulated by it, in a positive way to help people regardless of nationality.

  21. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    December 23, 2011, 6:43 pm

    I suppose we have to distinguish between the question of what would amount, as a matter of humanity and justice, to a reduction in the wrong being done to the Palestinians and the question of should be done here and now to move things forward. The 2ss is so massively unfair that even if things went fairly well it would amount to very little reduction in the overall wrong being done. On the worst outcome it would amount over time to no reduction at all in suffering and injustice because the pieces of Swiss cheese to which Diane refers would be very likely gobbled up, one by one on various pretexts, over a few decades and the population – mere cheesemites to some people – once again ‘transferred’. Even so, NF and others can make a serious case for calling for 2ss negotiations and hoping for the best. For my part I disagree – we’ll just get caught up in the endless prevarications which we’ve already witnessed and in seeming to encourage them, even to call for more. I think our job in the western world is less to call for negotiations that to call for recognition that injustice is being done, more every day, worse every day.
    Season’s greetings to one and all of all races and ideologies.

  22. quebecleft
    quebecleft
    December 23, 2011, 6:57 pm

    I have a lot of respect for mr. Finkelstein but i don’t understand one thing.the conclusion that is reaching does not make sense with his analysis that he took regarding this conflict.his position does not correspond to what he is describing.that is why and the same with Chomsky i am trying to understand what is doing the warping. What do you mean ?the palestinians stepping up to the plate? You have the same attitude they have nothing to prove to anybody.You want them to make nice so you can give them a cookie.i find this very condescending.we have to step up to the plate and be relentless and agressive

  23. Graber
    Graber
    December 23, 2011, 8:12 pm

    Can I do a (somewhat) personal plug? There have been a lot of discussions of the efficacy and consideration of BDS on this thread. I hope some of you will come to Philly in February to contribute those viewpoints at UPenn’s BDS conference: pennbds.org.

  24. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    December 23, 2011, 8:41 pm

    I sympathize with Finkelstein regarding the 1967 lines. One can point out about the UN recognizing Israel. It is a real state. Another option would be the lines the UN chose in 1947. But either way I think it is OK.

    However, I disagree about the right of return. A People who have lived for centuries in their homeland should be allowed to return to their homeland. I think you can talk about practical considerations, and say it should happen gradually. But they do have that right. And ultimately if people descended from the ancient inhabitants of the Holy Land, ie both Palestinians and Israelis, can live in their ancestral homeland, the question of borders is not so important after all.

  25. notatall
    notatall
    December 24, 2011, 5:49 am

    Finkelstein at Occupy Boston

    Norman Finkelstein spoke in November at Occupy Boston. He gave one of the most miserable performances I have ever witnessed, an appeal not to get ahead of public opinion. He gave as an example his own willingness to give up his shirt to the homeless sleeping out-of-doors in the cold, but added that if anyone asked him to give up a spare room in his apartment he wasn’t ready, and so it would be a mistake to ask him. Evidently he identifies with those who have warm clothes and homes rather than those who lack them, and it obviously never occurred to him that the movement is not about asking but about taking.

    I once heard one of the big civil rights leaders speak at a rally in Harlem. When he finished, Malcolm X stood up and said, “The biggest thing we have to watch out for is these Uncle Tom preachers.” After hearing Finkelstein last night I think I know how Malcolm felt. When question time came I referred to that occasion, and asked Finkelstein how he reconciled his commitment to ordinary politics with his support for the Occupy movement, whose greatest strength was its rejection of ordinary politics. He responded by saying he had always thought of himself as a leftist, so how could he be a moderate, and if he was so moderate, how come he had been dismissed from jobs.

    Later that evening, Finkelstein spoke at Boston University. A report from someone in attendance:

    At Boston University he gave one of the most hypocritical, delusional and offensive talks of his career as well. I think he’s boycott material at this point.

    As a Zionist, he’s terrified that an occupy movement may bring along not just a shift in opinions about Israel and US policies, but also actions and demands to bring an end to the racist system represented by a Jewish state in Palestine, and that’s why all his warnings at his Occupy Boston talk about not becoming a ‘cult’ continued in his BU talk: the cult in this case is anyone who demands anything but the fictional two-state solution. He says, maybe a single state is more moral but claims that it’s unrealistic to expect it to happen, thus fighting for it will only prolong the suffering.

    If he really believed that a one-state solution is more moral, wouldn’t this be the time to push for it? Instead he shrieks in fear of any real and just resolution.

    At a moment when history is being made and people are looking to not accept the norms (no pun here), he claims one possibility: political resolution along lines dictated by institutions that failed and are still failing to bring any resolution or justice.

    At BU he started with a lot of identity politics about being Jewish. I understand he’s addressing an audience with many young Jewish students, but I can’t stand this crap. When does a Jew become just a human being and not a privileged Jewish human being?

    He presented nothing, absolutely nothing, about challenging systems, which is what people with vision hope the occupy movement will embody.

    ——————————

    Summary: Finkelstein’s logic is the same on Palestine and Occupy Boston: He denounces those who fight for justice not because he thinks they are wrong but because those in power will not accept it. Malcolm X understood his type.

  26. patm
    patm
    December 24, 2011, 10:14 am

    DONOR OPIUM, the impact of international aid to Palestine

    This video was uploaded Dec.20, 2011 with this introduction:

    “For twenty years now the international donor community has financially supported Palestinian institution-building, infrastructure development, the economy, public employees’ salaries, health and education, social welfare, the police, electricity production, private credit guarantees, and the bigger part of the civil society organizations with regards to democracy promotion, human rights, tolerance, women rights etc.

    Peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state have been the declared goals of all the support. But actual results are the fragmentation and pacification of the Palestinian people.

    This documentary film, directed by Mariam Shahin and George Azar, and funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, features Palestinian criticism of this externally funded “development”.”
    ****
    Note: I posted this notice of this video on the Christmas Greeting thread but it has, I think, relevance on this thread as well.

  27. dianeshammas
    dianeshammas
    December 24, 2011, 11:59 am

    Annie is right about Finkelstein not leaving the trip for BDS as I also was with their same delegation. Again, Annie is correct That you might be mistaking his purported position on BDS with the Gaza Freedom March. I also was involved marginally with the decision to out a BDS into the mission statement for the March but it never was the made the condition to join it. there grew a bitter dissension between those who supported the majority of Palestinian civil society’s which posited that BDS and right of return to be included in the mission statement and those who asserted that such inclusion would deflect from the primary mission of breaking the siege. I chose the former of course as allying with them for it’s inclusion made moral sense to me.

    As for Finkelstein’s position on BDS I have picked up various comments of his on the topic which not having a cohesive statement from him it is difficult for me to articulate what he actually thinks. My sense is that he supports economic boycott just from what he has posted in the last 3 years on his website but he hedges on the academic and cultural dimensions of the boycott. One person responded to me it is not his negation of the latter forms of boycott as his reservations are tactical. My sense was that his reservation was related partly to the loss of academic freedom, but perhaps I am incorrect.
    In an email correspondence I also remember that he was not opposed to right of return but at the same time he felt if these demands could not be met compensation should be put in place. Counter to what some folks think about the controversial tone of writing, he is a cautiously methodical and he does not make strong statements about the “right of return” as I myself have not read yet for any systematic proposal for Reintegrating Palestinians into their homeland with the present settlers increasingly moving in. Even though I always have supported “al awda” the right of return.

    On another note Phil, I am making the maftoul dish today and perfecting it from another recipe I used. will send it to you after I finish and it has been tested.

  28. Bill
    Bill
    December 25, 2011, 12:44 am

    I have known Norman since 1984, when we were trying to expose Joan Peters. At the time, a lot of liberal Zionists tried to get Norman to join them. He did not. He is not a Zionist. He has a view of what is possible. Perhaps he is incorrect in his analysis, but having seen what he faced and went through, I have to shake my head at some of these comments.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      December 25, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I have to shake my head at some of these comments.

      Me too. Non-state actors, like Darfur have had to rely on the cooperation of the Security Council to refer situations to the ICC Prosecutor. Member states of the United Nations or its specialized agencies, like UNESCO can self-refer situations on their own territory to the ICC. Israel and the US have spent decades making sure that the conflict has been handled as a political issue that can only be addressed through diplomatic negotiations conducted outside the framework of international law. Now that the Palestinians can finally go around the roadblock in the Security Council, Norman Finklestein is being criticized for wisely suggesting that the armed conflict can be resolved through the framework of existing international consensus and international law.

      I’ve noticed the silence of the advocates of the one-state solution in the aftermath of the UNESCO vote, and it’s pretty deafening. Although there is a clear international consensus that Palestine is an existing, occupied state, that is capable of accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC, many solidarity activists are still editorializing about recognition of a “non-existent state” of Palestine and characterizing it as a waste of time. In the interim, Palestinians continue to be the targets of war crimes and crimes against humanity – only now it has nothing to do with any US veto in the Security Council.

      Norman has always advocated BDS within the framework of international law. The framework includes arms and military assistance embargoes against states that consistently violate human rights, & etc. He questions the usefulness of advocating BDS that targets institutions outside of that legal framework because they inhabit a gray area of responsibility. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlfwNSIktmE

      Grassroots BDS efforts alone did not produce a “tipping point” for the South Africans. At the present time, the relationship between our Congress and Israel is one of active protectionism. We have US statutes which require: the recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state”; a veto of any Security Council resolution that would recognize a Palestinian state or sanction Israel; and statutes which tend to protect Israel from the effects of the Arab League boycott.

      In contrast, the ANC and South African solidarity advocates obtained UN resolutions calling on member states to stop arms sales and to impose economic sanctions on the government of South Africa. Here in the US the Congressional Black Caucus introduced legislation in the 1980s that formally implemented all of those Anti-Apartheid resolutions in United States Code: Title 22,Chapter 60. http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/usc_sup_01_22_10_60.html

  29. December 25, 2011, 1:17 am

    I’m the student that was quoted in Daniel Crowther’s part of the article (Jamil Sbitan). I just wanted to clarify that I have the utmost respect for Dr. Finkelstein–he is an incredible scholar, charismatic lecturer and extremely genuine and humane person. Indeed, I do disagree with him regarding the two-state settlement, however, this does not change the fact that Dr. Finkelstein has done so much for the cause and has sacrificed his career for it. The type of material he has published in the past (like The Holocaust Industry) shows that he is a person who is brutally honest about his opinions and is, indeed, a big whistleblower.

    Some of my SJP group disagreed with him, others agreed, and others were on the fence. It is of no doubt to me that his argument is legitimate. Some of my own Palestinian relatives agree with him in that they see it as the most realistic approach to the solution – although, on a moral level, they do believe in the liberation of Palestine as a whole. He wasn’t arguing for a two-state solution on a moral level, but what, he sees, as achievable.

    Finkelstein spoke at BU and Northeastern during his stay in Boston, and both schools’ Hillels and Zionist groups issued letters and called the admins of both universities to cancel the event. I was called into the Dean’s office to discuss the security situation of the event because of the e-mails and Zionist bombardment they were getting, and a bunch of the admins of BU were there in case anything happened from the fanatical reactionaries. At Northeastern, the Zionist crowd was especially insane. No other speaker, other than Noam Chomsky (to a lesser extent), can bring such reactions from the oppressive crowd. It is because they feel threatened by him.

    As a ‘One-Stater’ myself, I feel annoyed by the one-state crowd who immediately would want to exclude such people as Dr. Finkelstein from the Pro-Palestine movement simply because they see the solution differently. We need to have these debates on the solution, and exchange ideas. He challenged a lot of people’s ideas on the one-state solution, made everyone think, and, as usual, completely destroyed the Zionists at the Q&A.

    Also, the people that walked out of the lecture didn’t do so because they necessarily didn’t agree with Finkelstein, but because it was a long lecture. (2 hours plus Q&A) I know for a fact that I and many others at my SJP and my school in general were very excited to have him speak at my university.

    • December 25, 2011, 1:26 am

      I also disagree with the notion that he might be a Zionist. His doctoral dissertation was about deconstructing Joan Peters’ farce of a book, In Time Immemorial. I also recommend this lecture by him, “The Coming Breakup of American Zionism”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQclvwOepw8

      You cannot honestly claim that he is a Zionist (liberal or otherwise) after all the work he has done for the Palestinian cause. I know he has made some comments in the past that we shouldn’t be addressing Zionism as an ideology, and while I disagree, that does not make him a Zionist. Finkelstein is just a VERY independent thinker. He definitely has eccentric, but nonetheless enlightening views on things; while on other things, his views agree with the mainstream.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        December 25, 2011, 2:30 am

        He wasn’t arguing for a two-state solution on a moral level, but what, he sees, as achievable.

        I agree.

        I think Norman is being loyal to Chomsky since Chomsky has been a hero/ally to him for so long. Norman is also looking at things from a tactical perspective (what would garner the most support/framing the struggle a certain way/etc.).

        Zionists do that. Everyone does that. Some of us/a lot of us may disagree with him but I don’t think he is a Zionist at all.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 25, 2011, 2:30 am

        The problem that I have with non-Palestinians, such as Finkelstein, telling the Palestinians what they should or should not be talking about, what their goals should or shouldn’t be and how they should or shouldn’t go about achieving those goals is one that I would have with any outsider believing that he or she is in a position to give such advice or criticism, particularly when it hasn’t been asked for.

        The Israel-Palestine conflict alone among liberation struggles has had to struggle with this problem. I do not recall anyone involved in the anti-apartheid movement telling South African blacks what they should settle for and how they should conduct their fight against their racist oppressors. Had they done so, they would have been invited to take a hike.

        The same applies to the opposition to the US war in Vietnam and to its interventions in Central America. Those of us who were active in opposing those US actions focused on stopping them and educating the public to oppose them, as well.. Curiously, there have been any number of people who have been involved in the I-P struggle, who, despite the best of intentions (if we grant them that) have spent more time deciding what the outcome should be in that struggle as opposed to educating the US public about US involvement and the reasons behind that involvement and, in particular, the role of the American Jewish establishment, AKA the Israel Lobby. If one measures Finkelstein by that standard, he does not get high marks.

        Like his mentor, Chomsky, he has refused to recognize the obvious power of the Jewish establishment/ Israel Lobby in shaping US policy towards Israel, (apart from an occasional grudging admission) despite having been a target of it himself.

        It is not just Jewish activists like Finkelstein and Chomsky who have failed on this issue but such outspoken critics of Israel as Palestinian-American professor Joseph Massad, himself a target on The Lobby, and Lebanese professor Asad Abu Khalil, the two of them having been the first from the “Left” to criticize Mearsheimer and Walt immediately after their ground breaking article on the Israel Lobby first appeared in the London Review of Books. I still find that astonishing.

        In sum, if one honestly desires to examine the failures of the Palestine solidarity movement to halt the Zionist juggernaut and lessen its controls over US policy, one first has to admit that it does indeed control that policy. In doing so, we must put aside the worship of personalities. The movement, apparently, is not yet at that point.

      • December 25, 2011, 8:33 am

        Finkelstein does, in fact, recognize the power of the Israel Lobby. We went out to dinner with him after the talk, and we asked him about this. He said that he doesn’t see unrestrained support of Israel as a Vital National Interest of the United States. Therefore, the Lobby must be influencing these decisions–he, however, says that foreign policy is very complicated, and it is hard to conclude who is behind the scenes.

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 25, 2011, 1:36 pm

        If he recognizes it he should talk about it. It is not something that should be restricted to dinner table talk. If he didn’t bring it up in his speech he should be asked why not? It just happens to be the single most important domestic aspect of the Israel-Palestine conflict and to ignore it or only mention it when asked about it around the dinner table is simply not acceptable. My god, when Tom Friedman, of all people, can tell the truth about the Lobby’s control of Congress in the pages of the NY Times, the least Finkelstein can do is acknowledge the same truth and elaborate on the subject in greater detail. The truth is, from what I have heard him say about it, he really doesn’t know that much about it. I suggest that he should read what Grant Smith has written and documented about its history.

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 26, 2011, 4:59 am

        I have this same problem with non-Palestinian groups co-opting the I/P issue. I read where there were supposedly pro-Palestinian Zionist groups in London dictating to the real Palestinian (a kid from Gaza) what he could and could not say in Great Britain about Gaza, and accusing him of being anti-semitic and a bunch of other things because he wouldn’t follow their agenda!

        The problem that I have with non-Palestinians, such as Finkelstein, telling the Palestinians what they should or should not be talking about, what their goals should or shouldn’t be and how they should or shouldn’t go about achieving those goals is one that I would have with any outsider believing that he or she is in a position to give such advice or criticism, particularly when it hasn’t been asked for.

        I also agree that this is our value in helping the Palestinians, when they asked for it a few years ago, and for which BDS was designed: “educating the US public about US involvement and the reasons behind that involvement and, in particular, the role of the American Jewish establishment, AKA the Israel Lobby.”

    • annie
      annie
      December 25, 2011, 1:46 am

      thank you..revealing and helpful..especially

      At Northeastern, the Zionist crowd was especially insane. No other speaker, other than Noam Chomsky (to a lesser extent), can bring such reactions from the oppressive crowd. It is because they feel threatened by him.

      he’s threatening because is is not fringe. i’m sure they wish he were, but he isn’t. he’s very sensible.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 25, 2011, 5:54 am

        I hope that he is a Zionist in the sense of affirming the national aspirations of the Jewish people, rather than seeking to erase that.

        I assume that he will remain critical of Israel’s behaviors and policies, which is more than reasonable.

        If it turns out that the Palestinian people remain in a diaspora, and even after multiple generations retain their identity as Palestinian, rather than just assimilated into the mush, that that not be sought to be squelched, as the Jewish identity had historically been sought to be squelched, assimilated, but nevertheless thought of as important enough to retain over millennia in diaspora.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        December 25, 2011, 9:58 am

        There is something here, RW, but just what is hard to see.

        Suppose I say that I affirm the national aspirations of one group of (some) of the Jewish people (not me among them, by the way), and let me further affirm that by this I mean to say, inter alia, that I believe a national territory is properly part of a nation. In other words, in making RW’s affirmation, I affirm a belief that Israel (those among all Jews who desire to be a single “nation”) have a right to be such a single nation and to have a national territory.

        (If there were no right at all to a national territory, then each “nation” could be a free-floating sort of disembodied entity, as the Palestinian diaspora is today and as the Jewish diaspora was until Israel was created.)

        OK, suppose I affirm that this Jewish nation has a right to a national territory. But further suppose that I (like the government of Israel!) decline to say what the territory IS which this Jewish nation has a right to.

        I guess such an affirmation is pretty empty, as far as territory goes, isn’t it? I affirm a nation’s right to a territory but I don’t say where or how big or what to do with the people who already live there.

        Kinda empty.

        If RW or Israel or Bibi or The Dersh or Yvette DOES say what the national territory IS which Israel is entitled to (and what to do with the people who already live(d) there, well then it would at least be possible to discuss the matter.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 2:02 pm

        (If there were no right at all to a national territory, then each “nation” could be a free-floating sort of disembodied entity, as the Palestinian diaspora is today and as the Jewish diaspora was until Israel was created.)

        A bit a of clarification is in order here. With the exception of refugees, the members of an ethnic group settled in the diaspora have no territorial rights elsewhere. The Greek term ethos and nation originally had the same meaning, but that is no longer the case. Ethnic groups are simply people of common descent or origin without regard to their current terrestrial location. Nations on the other hand are spatial or territorial entities. As you’ve noted, members of the same ethnic group may become scattered or dispersed, i.e. a diaspora. Some Nations are also Nation-States.

        The modern concept of statehood dates back to the Peace of Westphalia, which dealt with the problems resulting from conflicts arising in multicultural geopolitical territorial entities. The Treaty of Osnabrück actually established the principle of international intervention and guarantees pertaining to the civil and religious rights of minority groups living in the territories of the contracting parties. There was also an effort to ensure equality between the Protestant and Catholic members of the German Diet. For more information see Leo Gross, Essays on International Law and Organization, Brill, 1984, page 5 http://books.google.com/books?id=QwatfGNCmNsC&lpg=PP5&dq=&pg=PA5#v=onepage&q&f=false

        So even if East Jerusalem and the West Bank were inside the boundaries of the State of Israel, that wouldn’t prevent the European members of the Security Council from intervening to condemn “price tag” attacks, home demolitions, internal displacement, deportation, and other wrongful acts committed by members of one religious group, like the Jews, against others, like the Muslims and Christians. That sort of thing was part an parcel of the Westphalian concept of statehood and an international community of states. In the case of the Palestinians the UN established the framework for intervention under the terms of a protection plan for religious and minority groups contained in the General Assembly resolution of 29 November 1947.

        When Israel drove Palestinian Arabs into exile in the neighboring states it violated the territorial integrity of those other nations in violation of the principles of Westphalian sovereignty.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        December 25, 2011, 2:15 pm

        thanks again Hostage for your incredible contributions to understanding here

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 25, 2011, 3:25 pm

        “Ethnic groups are simply people of common descent or origin without regard to their current terrestrial location. Nations on the other hand are spatial or territorial entities.”

        The usage of the term “nation” applies to BOTH territorial and to social associations.

        ALL formations of nations, residual or “new” emerge from the coming together of social groups (the majority of “new” states are NOT of the federal variety, but of division of formerly federal states – Yugoslavia, Soviet Union, Czechoslavakia, even partitioned post-colonial states like India/Pakistan. The vast majority of pre-Westphalian states, somehow you accept.)

        Even is Israel were the first and the last of the social formations in diaspora to form up and land somewhere, it would be just and legally valid if only by virtue of the ratification of the UN.

        It won’t be the last, as there are still many communities that are coherent in identity, but disparate in settlement, that do desire to land. And, there will be new formations that didn’t exist prior or were assimilated into larger formations prior.

        The Palestinian identity is a case in point. The residence has long precedent for MANY families, most (how most is an open question). But, the identity of Palestinian rather than Arab as fundamental is modern.

        Some idiotic Zionists and partisan opportunist solidarity (Newt Gingrich for example), regard the even new formation as irrelevant and not existing. The formation of identity is inevitably a social formation, NOT a geographic one.

        The identity of Palestinian that includes diaspora (however that occurred) is a social formation, as well as the formation of Jewish Israeli.

        The assumption that the national geography of the planet is completed is a violation of those unformed states national rights, an extent of conservatism that is unnatural (the view that things don’t change).

        I agree that international institutions have a right, an obligation, to express themselves on contreversies even within sovereign borders. (In Israel, in Palestine, in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, in Iraq, in Iran, etc.)

        Again, the CURRENT setting is that Israel exists. That any extra-legal effort to cause its assimilation or removal excepting through the paths of consent, are a violation of international law (even if stated in the affirmation of international law).

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 25, 2011, 4:43 pm

        Hostage speaks more respectfully of Westphalia than I would, since to me it seems that it enshrines a degree of sovereign authority over individual religion – cuius regio eius religio – that I think imperfect, though perhaps progressive in all the circumstances of the time. Was one of the reasons why the Jewish population gathered in Poland rather than in the Holy Roman Empire that Westphalia was oppressive in comparison with the Confederation of Warsaw? I’m speaking of what I little know and of what Hostage and others know well.
        With a bit more confidence, I’d say that individuals surely have a right to live at peace under a sovereign who respects their reasonable rights without an eye to the supremacy of a racial or religious group. The idea that a group defined by race or religion should demand that there should exist a state which is theirs, where they have a supreme voice in appointing the sovereign, is not an expression of individual rights but a negation of them.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 6:29 pm

        Hostage speaks more respectfully of Westphalia than I would, since to me it seems that it enshrines a degree of sovereign authority over individual religion – cuius regio eius religio – that I think imperfect, though perhaps progressive in all the circumstances of the time.

        Exactly, the treaty provisions were imperfect, but they represented a stepwise improvement or a minor advance in the laws of nations. International law is not static. The provisions of the Peace of Westphalia prefigured the minority rights provisions the Concert of Europe incorporated in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) regarding Jews and Muslims in the Ottoman Empire and the various minority treaties and declarations employed by the League of Nations and United Nations. Those agreements did not prevent the Holocaust or the Nakba, but there was no longer any question that those sort of events constituted flagrant violations of international human rights obligations. Those earlier precedents were reflected in the explicit requirements regarding the rule of law, democracy, and human rights codified in the Final Act of Helsinki and The Guidelines on the Recognition of New states in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union (1991). They also were reflected in the international penal laws codified in the statutes of the Ad Hoc and permanent international criminal tribunals, e.g. ICTY, and ICC.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 7:07 pm

        The usage of the term “nation” applies to BOTH territorial and to social associations.

        No it does not. I’d recommend you get hold of the Whiteman Edition of the State Department Digest of International Law and read the Chapter on the differences between peoples, Nations, and States.

      • MRW
        MRW
        December 26, 2011, 5:02 am

        “I hope that he is a Zionist in the sense of affirming the national aspirations of the Jewish people, rather than seeking to erase that.”

        Classic co-opting.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        December 26, 2011, 6:04 am

        I see what you mean about international law and its progress. I may be misled by my Platonist feeling about a moral law that is the same for ever. You did warn me about the dangers of polla grammata.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 1:03 pm

        “If RW or Israel or Bibi or The Dersh or Yvette DOES say what the national territory IS which Israel is entitled to (and what to do with the people who already live(d) there, well then it would at least be possible to discuss the matter.”

        I propose the green line with the only modification that the Jewish portion of the old city of Jerusalem be incorporated into Israel.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 1:11 pm

        Hostage,

        “No it does not. I’d recommend you get hold of the Whiteman Edition of the State Department Digest of International Law and read the Chapter on the differences between peoples, Nations, and States.”

        The term “nation” is used in MANY different ways that have nothing to do with political definitions. For example the “Nation of Islam” is used. The “Aboriginal Nation”, “First Peoples”, etc.

        Would you say that the Palestinian diaspora that lives not as official refugees are part of the Palestinian “nation”, or have they been eliminated from that status.

        If they are included, then it is a people, a social self-identification that describes the “nation”, and not current geography and not a strictly political definition.

        Further, if a spouse married into a Palestinian identified community and their kids married out, would their kids then be part of the Palestinian nation or not?

        The answer is grey, as the answer is grey for association in the Jewish people – nation – state.

        This question of whether a people can be understood as the basis of nation is an important one in this discussion.

        The standard among assertively leftist dissent has been that a people cannot be a nation, that ONLY geography constitutes a nation, and only those that exist already may EVER come to constitute a nation.

      • annie
        annie
        December 26, 2011, 1:24 pm

        if a spouse married into a Palestinian identified community and their kids married out, would their kids then be part of the Palestinian nation or not?

        The answer is grey, as the answer is grey for association in the Jewish people – nation – state.

        richard, palestinians do not loose their status of being ‘real palestinians’ if only their father is palestinian. so whatever your point is about assimilation..it is NOT “as the answer is grey for association in the Jewish people”..i’ve certainly never heard any palestinians claiming assimilation is worse than hitler.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 1:47 pm

        Annie,
        The question was on whether nationhood comes from geography or from social association.

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        December 26, 2011, 1:51 pm

        Palestinian identity is nationalistic.

        Jewish identity is not. Jews in the diaspora who have never been to Israel and do not have Israeli citizenship are not part of the ‘Jewish State’.

        You have yet to substantiate your argument, Dick.

        Self-determination belongs to people of a land. Saying otherwise reveals that you are a religious fanatic who thinks Jews by sole virtue of being Jewish have a claim to the land the Palestinians actually live on.

        You make rules up as you go that specifically benefit your ethno-religious group rather than rules that are fair and sensible.

        You are a racist and hypocrite. Not a liberal. Just a religious fundamentalist and Zionist.

      • libra
        libra
        December 26, 2011, 7:03 pm

        RW: “I propose the green line with the only modification that the Jewish portion of the old city of Jerusalem be incorporated into Israel.”

        Richard, what a disingenuous answer to the question posed to you. No mention whatsoever of the settlers but we know the “Witty Plan” allows them to keep the land they have stolen. The Palestinians don’t actually get back anything back but a line on a map plus half a million or so unwanted settlers. Nor do they get anything else in compensation for this loss of resources. Israel doesn’t take a single Palestinian refugee in return, let alone an equal number.

        In summary, the “Witty Plan” is so fraudulent that even it’s author is too embarrassed to fully reveal it. In fact Richard, it is not just your plan that is a fraudulent, but also your support for ‘the Jewish state”. Because by refusing to advocate for the withdrawal of the settlers to the green line, you are putting greed for stolen land above securing “the Jewish state”.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 8:00 pm

        Did you ask for a comprehensive proposal,or just the question of borders?

        Why the addiction to condemn?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 26, 2011, 8:58 pm

        The term “nation” is used in MANY different ways that have nothing to do with political definitions.

        Richard we are only discussing the legal rights of spatial political entities capable of governing a terrestrial “jurisdiction”, not scattered social groups. Jurisdiction is the only tangible manifestation of sovereignty. The ability of non-self-governing peoples and territories to determine their own political status and assert their right of self-determination in international law is defined in Articles 1, 2, and 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

        1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

        2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

        3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

        So, we are only discussing the Palestinian people who inhabit the territory of Palestine or those who are registered with the UN as refugees. Palestinians living in other jurisdictions in a “diaspora” do not have an internationally guaranteed right of return or self-determination. FYI, the move from Mandates to Trusts in international law, as reflected in Chapter XI of the UN Charter : Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories, was intended to protect indigenous peoples against further colonial abuses that had occurred under the League of Nations system of Mandates, such as the Balfour Declaration.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 26, 2011, 9:13 pm

        Annie, The question was on whether nationhood comes from geography or from social association.

        Annie the term “nation” has several meanings. Non-spatial social entities cannot exercise jurisdiction over a territory. They are “subject to” international law, but are not “the subjects of” international law. So territory is an indispensable attribute of nationhood in the context of international law.

      • annie
        annie
        December 26, 2011, 9:30 pm

        thank you hostage, helpful.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 9:35 pm

        “Palestinians living in other jurisdictions in a “diaspora” do not have an internationally guaranteed right of return or self-determination. ”

        So, Edward Said, or even possibly Ali Abunimeh do/did not have the right to participate in Palestinian self-determination?

        When Palestinian solidarity seeks to incorporate the Palestinian diaspora in its determination of Palestinian national will, does it distinguish between who is a Palestinian refugee from a Palestinian national, excluding non-refugee nationals from vote or even voice?

        I don’t think it does, and I don’t think it should. I believe that Palestinian solidarity should incorporate all that regard themselves as Palestinian in their discussion, even if they look white and speak “proper” elite British English or Brooklyneeze.

        The case of Zionism, is the case of a people/nation, that immediately prior was non-spatial, with no geographic home, shifting to requiring then acquiring a home space, and ratified by international institutions at the green line. (not originally, but in many subsequent UN resolutions).

        The case of Palestine includes similar.

        There is a basis of sympathy, of mutual identification, so long as mutual respect is constructed, mutual respect of persons, mutual respect of rights.

        You earlier stated that there was only one “usage” of the term nation. There may be one usage in single bodies of law. But, in language, language used by really all parties, there are multiple meanings applied, that as you acknoweldged are affirmed in some legal process (the transformation from a formerly unlanded people/nation to formation into a nation/state).

        I’ll take that as a semantic miscommunication.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 26, 2011, 10:17 pm

        RW: “I propose the green line with the only modification that the Jewish portion of the old city of Jerusalem be incorporated into Israel.” . . . Richard, what a disingenuous answer to the question posed to you.

        libra, the reason there are so many settlers is because the Israelis have used economic and tax incentives to put them there. That process can be easily reversed by a Palestinian government even if the stolen communal property isn’t returned to the Palestinian owners. That is the reason it is so imperative for the Zionists that Israel retain the settlement blocks. Otherwise, the Palestinian government would almost certainly adopt higher property taxes on settlement blocks and tax income the residents earn in Israel at a higher rate.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 10:29 pm

        So, you do get that I am proposing the green line as the boundary, not the settlement blocks.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 27, 2011, 12:13 am

        So, Edward Said, or even possibly Ali Abunimeh do/did not have the right to participate in Palestinian self-determination?

        I have no idea if Edward Said or Ali Abunimeh were ever registered as refugees by the UN or if their families owned homes there. The Palestinian people living in the territory of the former mandate and the refugees registered with the UN are under no legal obligation to consult the wishes of other Palestinians living in the diaspora before they end the armed conflict, establish their own state, or carry-on diplomatic negotiations related to a final settlement with Israel. The PA has stated that Palestinian ex-patriots will still be welcome to immigrate to the State of Palestine, but Israel has no desire or obligation to repatriate Palestinians who are merely emigres. Emigres and their descendants are not the subject of UN GA resolution 194, the Geneva Convention, and have never been registered as refugees by the UN.

        The fact that individuals speak a common language, like English, or share a common national descent or origin, does not make them members of a single nation or entitle them to participate in the self-determination of groups living elsewhere. See the examples of the United States, Canada, Australia, & etc.

        The case of Zionism, is the case of a people/nation, that immediately prior was non-spatial, with no geographic home,

        Nonsense. The League of Nations Mandate didn’t create a Zionist national home. It stipulated that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in living in other countries. So plenty of us have always been members of other nations.

        You earlier stated that there was only one “usage” of the term nation. . . . I’ll take that as a semantic miscommunication.

        Richard there is only one usage to which the legal right of self-determination has been attached. Miscommunication is what happens when you post on Mondoweiss.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 27, 2011, 4:58 pm

        Hostage,
        You very frequently respond to different questions than I ask, straw man questions.

        “Nonsense. The League of Nations Mandate didn’t create a Zionist national home. ”

        Who spoke of the League of Nations?

        “The fact that individuals speak a common language, like English, or share a common national descent or origin, does not make them members of a single nation or entitle them to participate in the self-determination of groups living elsewhere. See the examples of the United States, Canada, Australia, & etc. ”

        The comment was about elegantly speaking Ali Abunimeh. He gets a voice, no?

        I’m really not sure why you want to pick the usage of the word “nation” that fits your definition, and exclude other common usages, even usages that you employ, in the name of “justice” and “truth”.

        So, to your understanding, it is only registered refugees that have any right of determination of Palestinian diaspora vote.

        And, is there any vigorous determination of those that register as refugees of the chain of their status, how they came to be registered as refugees? Are they all directly descended from individuals that in 1948 had resided in green line Israel? Or, 1967 from the West Bank?

        Is there any inter-marriage? If an intermarried individual was descended from a family from Jaffa on his father’s side, but from Amman on his mother’s, is that person a designated refugee? And, is that person a refugee per legal definition?

        We were talking about the nature of the term “nation”, what it means, what it can mean.

        I stated that the Jewish nation originated (in this century) as a social association, not a geographic. And, parallel, that a diaspora Palestinian community is functionally accepted as a component of the Palestinian nation, and should be.

        I’m not sure why you use the demeaning phrase “miscommunication is what happens when you post on Mondoweiss”.

        What do you think that you are communicating that I am missing?

        What do you think that I am communicating that you are missing?

        I don’t perceive that you address my contentions at all frankly. I wish you would, so that some actual discussion could occur.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 27, 2011, 8:22 pm

        Hostage, You very frequently respond to different questions than I ask, straw man questions.

        So you’ve noticed that I ignore your attempts to change the subject. I think everyone realizes that you are the one employing a straw man about the right to self-govern. You’ve repeatedly tried to discuss members of non-spatial Diasporas as if they are nations or persons of international law that can exercise sovereignty or the right to self-govern themselves in the absence of a defined territorial jurisdiction.

        Who spoke of the League of Nations?

        You did when you misspoke about “The case of Zionism, is the case of a people/nation”. They were not recognized as a people or nation in accordance with international law. There were, and still are, non-Zionist Jews who remained citizens and nationals of other polities. They are not members of any Zionist nation. The First Zionist Congress wasn’t even a corporation, much less a lawmaking body. It didn’t exercise jurisdiction over single inch of territory or a single Jewish national.

        The members of the League of Nations were the first to accepted the proposal of the Zionist delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference to create a national home for Zionists in Palestine. The Zionist Organization was initially given the status of a so-called “Jewish Agency”, but it was prohibited from doing anything which might prejudice the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews living in other countries in accordance with the explicit terms of the Mandate for Palestine.

        In addition, American Jews made it perfectly clear that they did not consider themselves Israeli nationals in the Ben Gurion-Blaustein exchange during the 1950s. So some Jews have always been members of other, non-Jewish, nations. The international courts have subsequently ruled that self-determination is a human right involving the determination of the political status of a polity. A “people” cannot be defined in terms of ethnic identity, because if it were, participation in the political process would then be determined solely on the basis of ethnic characteristics, which is contrary to Article 1(3) of the UN Charter. See the ICJ Advisory Opinion in the Namibia case. So a people always consists of the indigenous groups inhabiting a territory. See Thomas D. Musgrave, Self-determination and National Minorities, Oxford Monographs in International Law, 1997, page XV.

        The comment was about elegantly speaking Ali Abunimeh. He gets a voice, no?

        Richard I answered you. Now you are begging a different question about “a voice”. If Ali Abunimah is a) living in the territory of the former mandate, b) a descendant of a refugee registered with the UN, or c) his family owned property in Palestine, then he has a legally secured interest in the final settlement under the terms of GA resolution 194 or the Geneva Convention and its protocols. Palestinian emigres living in the Diaspora that don’t meet any of those criteria do not have any legal standing (locus standi) to challenge the terms of the final settlement.

        Is there any inter-marriage?

        You sound like a throw-back to the White settlers who used any excuse to steal Indian land. Inter-marriage doesn’t effect the right of your descendants to inherit your estate. Any person whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict can be registered as a Palestine refugee. The definition also includes descendants of fathers fulfilling the definition.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        December 25, 2011, 5:55 am

        I also disagree with the notion that he might be a Zionist.

        Of course not. His remarks about following Gandhi’s advice and not self-identifying yourself with such labels was only intended to help others avoid getting bogged down in distracting and endless intellectual sideshows and applying pointless ideological litmus tests.

        The Oxford University’s Union society asked Norman Finkelstein to participate in a debate speaking for the motion “This House Believes That The State of Israel has a Right to Exist.” At the end, Finkelstein crossed sides and voted against Israel’s right to exist. He doesn’t hide his position on that issue, since there is an article about it on his website: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/trials-and-tribulations-of-being-born-an-imbecile/

        We could debate whether someone who publicly votes against the right of the State of Israel to exist is best described as a liberal Zionist or an anti-Zionist, but that’s exactly the kind of distraction that Finklestein has advised against.

      • December 25, 2011, 11:27 am

        Of course he is not a Zionist.
        He fought most of his adult life with lies, manipulations spread by zionistic propaganda, wrote many books on the I/P conflict revealing the truth that was hidden or distorted, gave many lectures, interviews on the subject.
        He is/was consistent in his views, and he is the first one to admit if/when he was wrong.
        He is , however, not a Superman, he isn’t alpha and omega, he doesn’t hold a magic wand that miraculously would change everything in a second.
        He spent many years working tirelessly on the subject.
        He changed many opinions, influenced many people, brought many obscure things to light.
        For one man he did a tremendous share of revealing the truth to the world.
        He may be mistaken on some issues, he has his very personal views on certain things , but to accuse him of serving zionistic propaganda is a very low blow. Totally undeserved.
        People ,these days, are much too quick to glue labels to anybody.
        Labeling /stereotyping stops us from thinking, not too mention that it may hurt another human being if is is glued wrongly/rapidly without too much of the evidence.

      • annie
        annie
        December 25, 2011, 11:56 am

        i kind of liked the introduction chris hedges gave him in sante fe earlier this month:

        http://podcast.lannan.org/2011/12/14/norman-finkelstein-reading-6-december-2011-video/

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 25, 2011, 1:50 pm

        As far as I am concerned, the declaration that one is an “anti-Zionist” carries little weight in and of itself. It is what I have heard over the years from those within the ranks of the Left who have rejected the notion that the Jewish establishment/Israel Lobby shapes US policy towards the I-P conflict and the Middle East, in general and they are also largely responsible for keeping any discussion about it off the agenda of the Palestinian-American movement.

        These same people, still among the leadership of the anti-war movement, such as it is, though longer of tooth and some wider of girth, were also instrumental in keeping the Palestinian issue separate from all the other struggles going on in the world since the 80s. Forgive me, but I no longer have the time of day for any of them.

      • Dan Crowther
        Dan Crowther
        December 27, 2011, 8:02 pm

        Well said, Jeffrey

    • December 25, 2011, 3:04 pm

      @unverified….
      You made a very good points.
      Thank you for clarifying a couple things.

  30. Basilio
    Basilio
    December 25, 2011, 6:25 am

    As far as the refugee issue, Israel should take responsibility for the refugees. This will entail some resettlement in the 1948 lands and/or an immigration formula for their descendants without expecting Israeli Jews to agree to being a minority in Israel. Otherwise, a recognition of Israel wouldn’t be a reality. I would love all refugees to return, but I don’t think all of them can return, but they should have the right in theory and connected to an immigration formula.

    • MRW
      MRW
      December 26, 2011, 5:06 am

      They had the right to return to their houses in 1948 under every international law and the laws of war, why would it be any different now? The fact that they have been prevented from it through Israeli terrorism, obfuscation, and deceit (and perfection of the 3,000 year real estate mythology/fairy tale purchased by our Christian Zionists) does not obviate it.

  31. sebenarnya
    sebenarnya
    December 26, 2011, 3:11 am

    When the white man starts citing Gandhi (out of context), it’s time to leave the room.

  32. Richard Witty
    Richard Witty
    December 26, 2011, 6:14 am

    One significance of the original commentary on Finkelstein’s recent comments, is that so long as Norman hates Israel sufficiently, expressed in angry rhetoric, in biting condemnation of Israel’s existence, in rejecting Israel’s legitimacy, Norman is loved and accepted as hero.

    To the extent that he humanizes Israelis in any fashion, speaks of them as human beings, or even as a reality to be tolerated and made the best of, he is attacked.

    That is SUCH a low moral standard of dissent, that rejects the primary progressive values of universal humanism/democracy in favor of either reactionary forms of dissent (in reaction only, without any underlying proposal comprising a plausible contrast) , or partisan opportunism (gullibility on the part of solidarity).

    Noone commenting here are grand chess players, making history by subtle awareness and application of the laws of change.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      December 26, 2011, 9:31 am

      To the extent that he humanizes Israelis in any fashion, speaks of them as human beings, or even as a reality to be tolerated and made the best of, he is attacked.

      Richard that is a complete exaggeration. No one here has criticized him for calling Israelis human beings. I’ve seen criticism for statements about the role of the Jewish neoconservatives in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq; for statements questioning the efficacy of BDS on targets outside the framework of international law; and for endorsing the two state solution at the possible expense of the rights of the Palestinian refugees and the Palestinians already living in Israel. I’ve seen nothing along the lines you allude to in your comment. I suppose that if we ask you for a quote, you’ll disappear as usual and move on to another article.

      • James North
        James North
        December 26, 2011, 9:38 am

        Richard Witty said, “Hostage, you caught me out. I continue to use the Big Lie technique. (Now who was it that pioneered the Big Lie?) Of course I can’t find any Mondoweiss visitors who criticized Norman “for calling Israelis human beings.” Of course I can’t produce the quotations that you politely asked for. Instead, I’ll weasel, evade, and pop up with another Big Lie on a new thread.’

    • James North
      James North
      December 26, 2011, 9:34 am

      Richard Witty said, ‘I say that I support

      the primary progressive values of universal humanism/democracy

      ‘In actual fact, I support Israel’s murderous invasion of Gaza, which killed 1400 people, including 300 children.’

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 10:06 am

        Hostage and North,
        Read the preceeding paragraph as well, not just the single phrase out of context.

        How unusual for you?

      • James North
        James North
        December 26, 2011, 10:23 am

        Richard Witty said, ‘My Big Lie continues. I stated clearly that Mondoweiss visitors had turned against our erstwhile hero Norm Finkelstein because he started “to call Israelis human beings.” I should have been able to respond to Hostage’s polite request, and found a quote from a visitor that said, “Now that Norm Finkelstein regards Israelis as human beings, I can no longer respect him.”
        ‘There is of course no such quote. Instead, I accuse Hostage and James North of “taking my statement out of context.”
        ‘In other words, I continue to promote the Big Lie.’

  33. Richard Witty
    Richard Witty
    December 26, 2011, 10:36 am

    So you don’t understand what I mean?

    For the purpose of actual communication, rather than for denunciation?

    The case remains that to the extent that Norman “normalizes” anything relative to Israel, he is condemned. To the extent that he ridicules and speaks contemptuously of Israel, he is praised.

    As the majority of his history, he has condemned, and it looks like he continues to fundamentally, as in the “Israel doesn’t have a right to exist” citation, he’s loved.

    But….

    • James North
      James North
      December 26, 2011, 10:43 am

      Richard Witty said, ‘My Big Lie continues. I still have not produced a quote from a Mondoweiss visitor that says, “Once Norm Finkelstein started calling Israelis human beings, I turned against him.”
      ‘I could apologize for lying. Instead, I’ll continue to evade.’

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail
      December 26, 2011, 12:41 pm

      “The case remains that to the extent that Norman “normalizes” anything relative to Israel, he is condemned. To the extent that he ridicules and speaks contemptuously of Israel, he is praised.”

      That is 100% rubbish and you know it. It suits your agenda to say it, despite the startling lack of any evidence. You live in a Witty world of fantasy, disconnected from the one the rest of us inhabit. That is why you are subjected to ridicule. If you want to join in the debate you have to engage with people instead of merely generalising with vapid, meaningless, fictional claims topped off with sanctimonious lecturing from your mountain top. Sadly, it is not the mountain top of the sage, but that of the deluded prophet of doing nothing save uttering whimsical homilies and catastrophic mischaracterisations of every position except his own.

      • Richard Witty
        Richard Witty
        December 26, 2011, 1:16 pm

        Justicewillprevail,
        Is the substance of your comment that those that congregate here accept Israel, or is that those that congregate here love Norman unconditionally and would never consider rejecting him as a “closet Zionist” as was said about Noam Chomsky widely?

      • justicewillprevail
        justicewillprevail
        December 27, 2011, 5:25 pm

        top marks for more obfuscation. You ignore the points against you, and then raise an absurd binary which you would like to impose on me. You are unwilling or unable to debate rationally – all you do is hurl labels around which you have invented and try to pin them on people, or demand, as above, that they choose one. Sorry, not playing your silly game. Try answering some of the questions thrown at you, instead of wilfully ignoring them and clouding the issue with smoke and mirrors. You are completely detached from the debate or any semblance of the reality of Israelestine.

  34. Ted
    Ted
    December 26, 2011, 12:09 pm

    S. African apartheid was defeated primarily by the defeat of the SADF’s attempt of regional hegemony by Cuban, Angolan (FAPLA) and SWAPO forces in March 1988 in southern Angola at Cuito Cuanavale.
    Subsequent events like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union led directly to the release of Mandela, the independence of Namibia and the elections in S. Africa of 1994.
    BDS campaigns don’t defeat racist regimes or imperialism or zionism.

    • lysias
      lysias
      December 26, 2011, 12:59 pm

      Israel has already been defeated militarily, in two attempts to invade Lebanon. There’s no reason why she couldn’t at some point face more decisive military defeat.

      And any Israeli attempt to maintain regional hegemony could fail even without any military defeat, just as a result of the decline of the American protector and revolutions in the Arab world.

      At that point, BDS might make a substantial impact. Just as it did on South Africa.

    • piotr
      piotr
      December 26, 2011, 10:05 pm

      Greetings, Earthlings.

      Resistance is futile. Or is it?

      Military defeats contributed perhaps, as did the collapse of USSR, but quite indirectly as definitely not as a determining factor. Military defeat was perhaps even in SA favor as they did heavy lifting against the Communism, were praised for that and were on the frontline of Freedom.

      With the fall of USSR the boundaries of Freedom were less clear than before. Somehow SA found itself on the outside. But how? “General political climate” to which BDS contributed. Otherwise the connection of the fall of Berlin wall to the release of Mandela etc. is quite cryptic.

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      Jeffrey Blankfort
      December 26, 2011, 11:36 pm

      That’s an unusual opinion regarding the fall of apartheid but it has little basis in reality. While the defeat of the SADF certainly curbed the regime’s ambitions I have not seen any evidence that it contributed much to the fall of apartheid, at least in the opinion of those on the ground.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union did lead to the release of Mandela but not in the way you suggest. With the collapse of the USSR, the ANC lost its main international support so it was forced to make concessions to the IMF and World Bank that would insure that post-apartheid South Africa would not be essentially different from apartheid South Africa in terms of who controlled the economy.

      In exchange for their betrayal of the people’s struggles a number of former ANC officials have become multimillionaires and the situation for the majority of black South Africans today is little better than it was before the collapse of the old regime.

      On the other hand, BDS alone will not bring down Israel because (1) whatever economic setbacks it causes will likely be replaced from the coffers of the US and (2) unless the US itself joins the BDS bandwagon which is not even remotely possible at the present time, it will never come close to having the teeth of the So. African sanctions.

  35. Ted
    Ted
    December 27, 2011, 8:46 am

    Timeline:
    1.March 1988 defeat of SADF in southern Angola
    2. May 1988 negotiations begin for Namibian independence
    3. November 1989 breach of the Berlin Wall
    4. February 11, 1990 release of Mandela
    5. March 21, 1990 Namibian independence
    6. April 27, 1994 universal adult suffrage elections in S. Africa.

    Yes I have left out many other important dates but this gives a general outline.
    Yes the ANC has not challenged the nature of the capitalist economy (land ownership, banks, mines, etc.) but that is not a new situation for any “ex-colony”.
    It is “neo-colonialism” or “re-colonization”.

    Remember, S. Africa had a nuclear capability due to Israeli co-operation but that capability was negotiated away by the ANC.
    USA can’t have a black African government with nuclear weapons.

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      Jeffrey Blankfort
      December 27, 2011, 9:29 pm

      I don’t believe your timeline offers any more proof of your argument. The collapse of the USSR meant that not only the ANC but other liberation struggles around the world lost their sole source of support and consequently felt obliged to compromise in their demands.

      Had not Mandela agreed in advance to preserve the white South African capitalist structure and to “rush into the arms” of the World Bank and the IMF as the late South African poet, Dennis Brutus, (who did time with Mandela on Robyn Island), described it, he would never have been freed.

      There was not even a pretense of remaining faithful to the ANC’s Freedom Charter. It is important to remember that the ANC was one of the most fully developed and well organized liberation movements and enjoyed far more world wide support than the others and its leaders, those not in prison, traveled around the world garnering support for their struggle.

      I recall meeting Cyril Ramaphosa, a trade union leader who had all the trappings and rhetoric of a Third World revolutionary. Today, a multimillionaire, his fellow corporate board members would jokingly refer to him as “Comrade Cyril,” according to Brutus.

      There is no way one can cover up the fact that the ANC massively betrayed the black people of South Africa which the anti-apartheid movement would rather not deal with but that is not the subject of this thread.

  36. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    December 27, 2011, 9:15 am

    First, let me say, what a Great Comment Thread!

    I think its important for me to define my view of Zionism. It is NOT just about believing in the right of jews to migrate to Palestine, or moving there yourself. Again, this is my view. Ive heard Chomsky mentioned as someone who is NOT a zionist, I couldn’t disagree more. He lived and worked on a Kibbutz, and has never said anything like, “man, that was a bad idea, I wish I had a do over on that one.” To me, Chomsky holds zionist views, unless we are willing to discount the real world actions one makes. As for Finkelstein, he has always couched his arguments in a very ethno-centric way, and does so in a way that makes jews out to have preferred status in the debate. Now, if I think its bullshit for someone to be able to move to Israel, gain immediate citizenship etc based on who they are, I should also think its bullshit for preferred classes of people in the debate to end the conflict. If Im being consistent.

    For example, in his lecture I was at, when he went through his “your young, your liberal, your jewish, you dont wann a explain…..” bit. Now, here he is saying that Israeli violence etc is not a “jewish thing” as “jewish things” are defined (by him) – ok, I would agree that most american jews (especially when young and in college) are not “violent” people – but, this is about the jewish state, right? How can violence, in Finkelstein’s view, not be a “jewish thing” if that is what Israel does daily? I see this as an irrational view– one that describes Finkelsteins views of jews much more than it does reality ( we are weak and timid, non violent) — in the face of massive state violence carried out, by jews, for over 60 years in the name of the jewish people. This is an inherently zionist, in my view. He paints with a HUGE brush,speaking for jews in general, and even when he is criticizing one group of jews, he is absolving others of any complicity with his insistence that “its not a jewish thing.” Notice that he didn’t say it wasn’t a “american jewish thing.” It was the most general of a statement he could make. Two questions come screaming to mind – (1) What if Finkelstein is wrong, and violence is a “jewish thing” as evidenced by the history of the zionist project in palestine ( joshua at jericho also comes to mind)? (2) Is Finkelstein intentionally neglecting to include: the main stream jewish organizations, the jewish neo-cons, the main stream jewish columnists/ think tankers, and the jewish members of congress in his definition of jewish? Because nearly all the folks mentioned support Israel as it is, supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the first Iraq war as well as the US actions in the Balkans…..In fact, if we are being honest with ourselves, you could make an argument that the jewish wing of the establishment has been the MOST militaristic since Israel began the occupation in 67……If a dude is not willing to address this, I gotta think its out of tribal loyalty……The other point, would be is that Finkelstein does have a tendency to make the conflict out to be a jewish issue, as evidenced by his addressing jews specfically in his speech(es) and his statements about who he thought were the “groups” assembled in the lecture hall ( palestinians, jews, kids studying the topic or friend of a palestinian) – Well, I do have friends who are Palestinian, but I wasnt there with them, and why can’t I just care about my fellow man? By drawing artificial boundaries on who *can* be in the room, Finkelstein helps the cause of those who want peace to be negotiated in a dark room, between only the two parties, with Israel having a tremendous advantage in leverage i.e. the zionists.
    Also, I didn’t say he was a zionist, I said that he held views simliar in certain respects to zionism…and the above is sort of where I was coming from, in fact, the other critique just came right out and said it…

    Also, kids left starting in hour one, I sat in the back and could see everything. It was a non inspiring lecture, they might not have left as indignant one staters, but they certainly left – while some might have had dinner with Finkelstein afterwards, others stayed behind and discussed the lecture, myself included — the sentiments were nearly uniform. “We’ve heard this before” and “wow, he really paints this as a jewish issue.” In short, if this conflict is ever resolved, it will be because of 10,000 jamil sbitans, not one Norman Finkelstein.

    • Jeffrey Blankfort
      Jeffrey Blankfort
      December 27, 2011, 9:49 pm

      Chomsky, as late as two years ago, admitted on Israeli TV, that he was a Zionist, but claimed that Zionism had changed while he remained faithful to its origins. Which he then distorts as to be unrecognizable, insisting that a bi-national state was a popular position among Zionists before the war, with no evidence that such an outcome had any support among the leadership, and that the Zionists did not seek an exclusively Jewish state until the Nazi holocaust.

      What is astonishing is that he continued to say this despite the fact, which he acknowledged, that this was disputed by older Zionists, such as Nahum Goldmann, who had been in the movement from the beginning. http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html

      In trying to make this a Jewish issue in the US, Finkelstein is little different than those Jewish-Americans, not in the minority, who have become engaged on this issue who have tended to apply litmus tests to gentiles who express their support for the Palestinians and opposition to Israel, not just Israel’s post-67 occupation, but to Israel itself as if opposing Israel’s existence as a Jewish state may be acceptable for Jews but is a symptom of Aunty Semitism when articulated by non-Jews.

      Why, they wonder, with hints of darker motives, are these people who are neither Jewish nor Arab, Palestinian or otherwise, concerned about the Palestinians? Did they ever wonder why people who were neither African nor black opposed South African apartheid? Who were neither Nicaraguan nor Salvadoran or Guatemalan opposed US intervention in those countries? Are those people whose cars have “Free Tibet” bumper stickers from Tibet or do they have a secret agenda? Of course, not.

      What is happening in Israel and Palestine may be a Jewish-Arab issue there but in the US it is an American issue, in the UK a British issue, in France, a French issue etc., and that is a point that needs to be emphasized over and over and over again.

      • annie
        annie
        December 27, 2011, 10:01 pm

        as if opposing Israel’s existence as a Jewish state may be acceptable for Jews but is a symptom of Aunty Semitism when articulated by non-Jews.

        as if, or did finkelstein he ever say that about non jews?

      • Jeffrey Blankfort
        Jeffrey Blankfort
        December 27, 2011, 11:19 pm

        I’m not aware that he has. I wasn’t specifically referring to him, but for the most part the hostility to non-Jews isn’t expressed directly, more hinted at, and believe me, I have seen this attitude expressed by Jewish activists in a number of ways since I became active on the issue back in 1971.

        If you want two good examples of what can be described as a Jewish boycott of important non-Jewish personalities involved in exposing the perfidious influence of the Israel Lobby in the US: One is Grant Smith, of IRmep, who since 2002, has written close to a half dozen books using FOIA and declassified documents to expose the largely unknown history of the Lobby in the US. See his Israel Lobby Archive http://www.irmep.org/ila/.

        His latest: ““Divert!: NUMEC, Zalman Shapiro and the Diversion of US Weapons Grade Uranium into the Israeli Nuclear Program” which I will be interviewing him about tomorrow, will be issued in January. He has previously documented the otherwise ignored efforts of the Kennedy administration to force AIPAC’s predecessor, the American Zionist Council, to register as a foreign agent, as well as AIPAC’s early history, how AIPAC stole a classified government document in order to secure the first free trade act in 1985 over the opposition of major corporations like Dow Chemical and Monsanto, and his new book which will trace the illegal activities that Israel was engaged in this country in order to provide weapons and war planes to the Jews in the Yishuv in 1948 into the diversion of weapons grade uranium from NUMEC in Apollo, PA to Israel’s nuclear weapons industry.

        I assure you that he won’t get a hearing on Democracy Now!. Neither did either Mearsheimer or Walt when they were in the headlines after the issuance of their book on the Israel Lobby. Instead, Amy brought on Chomsky to diss what they had written even though he hadn’t even read it. Needless to say, neither Mearsheimer or Walt are Jewish.

        Then there is Alison Weir who started the website “If Americans Knew” http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ and who is now the president of Council for the National Interest, which was started by former members of Congress who were targeted by the Lobby, none of whom were Jewish. For most Jews in the movement, they might as well not exist.

        It may just be the case that talking about The Lobby among most Jews, irrespective of their position on Israel is discouraged or verboten–Mondoweiss being a singular, unique, one of a kind, breakthrough–that no one has tried to imitate.

        When I started speaking and writing about the Lobby in the 80s, even though I was known to be Jewish, I was quickly marginalized and criticized as being antisemitic, skipping over the self-hatred nonsense, by Left groups active around Palestine. Later, the leadership of JVP, when it appeared on the scene, was concerned enough about my “obsession” with The Lobby to “monitor” me, similar to what the ADL had done, a decade earlier.

        While I publicly supported Finkelstein when he was under attack at De Paul, I have had reservations about him despite my admiration for his exposure of Joan Peters and of the holocaust industry. We all have our litmus tests and for me, where one stands on the role of The Lobby is my litmus test and he hasn’t passed it. As we stand on the threshold of what would most certainly be an Israeli Lobby inspired attack on Iran, not recognizing and working to expose its power is indefensible for someone who speaks publicly on the I-P issue.

  37. Ted
    Ted
    December 27, 2011, 12:50 pm

    The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine included the Balfour Declaration.
    Israel is a colonial-settler state base on a religious and ethnic orthodoxy founded with a jewish majority through the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian people.
    In the same way that the USA, Australia, New Zealand, S. Africa, Canada and others were founded by clearing the indigenous people.
    Since at least 1967 (see USS Liberty) the USA has unconditionally supported the zionist project for its own geopolitical and geostrategic reasons.
    A significant Israel Lobby has now formed which ensures that there will be no small deviation from this support and that in line with the policy of all Israeli governments there will be no viable independent Palestinian state with E. Jerusalem as its capital as the zionist project continues to “redeem the land”.

  38. December 27, 2011, 1:30 pm

    here is a pretty interesting transcript from a debate (2007) between prof James Petras and prof Finkelstein about the power of the AIPAC over US foregin policy.
    It looks like prof Finkelstein was wrong on some issues.
    http://www.ascertainthetruth.com/att/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=624:norman-finkelstein-versus-james-petras-debate&catid=69:debates&Itemid=64

    • Dan Crowther
      Dan Crowther
      December 27, 2011, 2:01 pm

      yeah, great add here dum vita – something i read not too long ago…….prob had it in mind when i was at the lecture

  39. December 27, 2011, 10:15 pm

    Norman Finkelstein:
    “…….Very well because they know I am not anti-Israel in the great scheme of things. I only care about what is just.
    I never defined myself as an anti-Zionist, because for me Zionism is not the issue. The issue is justice….”
    “..If anyone has to be in the line of fire, how much would I prefer that it be the wretched politicians who sent them or the blow dried, gym- fit pundits.
    Academics and journalists who beat the drums of war from afar.
    Nonetheless, I won’t defend cocky marauders and conquering vandals, lawless ubermenschen riding roughshod over the lives of innocents..”
    http://www.ziomania.com/finkelstein/interview%20with%20professor%20norman%20g.%20finkelstein%20by%20y.m.d.%20fremes.htm

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