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Finkelstein on ‘cults and flunkies’

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Editor: Recently we ran a piece by Gabriel Ash, first published on “Jews sans frontieres,” that was critical of Norman Finkelstein for his repeated assertion that those pushing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel are a cult. Finkelstein has responded at his site with a post titled “Of cults and flunkies.” He encouraged us to post it:

1. In an interview with Philip Weiss on Mondoweiss.net, I stated that BDS leader Omar Barghouti “equates BDS with…full implementation of the Palestinian right of return” (6 June 2012).

2. Mondoweiss rushed to post a correction, stating:

Barghouti never says this. He says the recognition of the Palestinian right of return is a minimal requirement for a just peace, he says nothing about the implementation of that right. Curious why Finkelstein does this? Especially considering he says something very similar himself later in the interview: “I should make clear, lest there be any misunderstanding whatsoever, that the Palestinian right of return is a universally validated right that must be supported” .

3. In a subsequent interview with Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) I reiterated my opinion on the Palestinian right of return:

In everything I have ever written on the subject, I have emphasized that Palestinians have a right of return, and no one has the right to tell Palestinians that they should renounce this right as a precondition for negotiations. In fact, I was the first person to point out that both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had endorsed the right of return….My opinion is that a reasonable political solution can be found if Israelis negotiate in good faith. But to date, the official Israeli position is that they don’t accept any historical, legal, political or moral responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. That is a non- starter. Negotiations must start from the premises that (1) Israel bears overwhelming responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and (2) Palestinians have a right of return. Once these points are acknowledged by Israel, I think a resolution can be found (July 2012) 

4. In a new posting that accuses me of spreading “disinformation about BDS,” Mondoweiss cites the CJPME interview to support the statement that “Finkelstein advocates” the Palestinian “renunciation of the Right of Return.”

5. It would appear that Mondoweiss has discovered a new stage of the dialectic in which a thing is the equivalent of its opposite.

6. I would additionally want to pose this question: If my own opinion on the Palestinian right of return is “very similar” to Barghouti’s (per Mondoweiss); and if my own opinion signifies a renunciation of the Palestinian right of return (per Mondoweiss); doesn’t it then mean—if words have any meaning—that BDS also supports renunciation of the Palestinian right of return?

“What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive”—Sir Walter Scott

*** I notice that Mondoweiss is now engaged in a fundraiser to “push Israel/Palestine into the public.” Permit me to suggest this as their theme song.

Norman G. Finkelstein

Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict for many years and currently writes and lectures. Finkelstein's books have been translated into 50 foreign editions. His latest is "Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom" (University of California Press, January 2018).

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105 Responses

  1. OlegR on July 10, 2012, 9:32 am

    This is the point where i should stock up on popcorn and find a comfortable sitting
    position ?

    You know i am beginning to think that the esteemed professor is
    trolling you guys.
    This is a classic (pardon my french ) lets throw some excrement
    on the fan and see how it goes..

    • Donald on July 10, 2012, 9:52 am

      “You know i am beginning to think that the esteemed professor is
      trolling you guys.”

      A rare moment of agreement. That Hare Krishna link is the obvious giveaway–he wants to see if people will take the bait.

      Finkelstein is like this in general. Lots of substance, but he loves jokes in bad taste and cheap shots and pushing people’s buttons. Usually it’s aimed at Zionists, but he’s branching out.

      • Avi_G. on July 10, 2012, 10:07 am

        Donald,

        I like the “branching out” bit. Perhaps he sees value in diversification. Who knows, Finkelstein could very well become an economy of scale unto his own.

      • OlegR on July 10, 2012, 10:08 am

        /Usually it’s aimed at Zionists, but he’s branching out./

        I suppose it’s just like he said in that interview to Natasha Mozgovaya
        it’s just not fun anymore…
        People like Weiss and now Beinart are doing it much better now
        so like any troll that has an itch to scratch he found himself a new target.
        Just for lols…

      • marc b. on July 10, 2012, 10:31 am

        Finkelstein is like this in general. Lots of substance, but he loves jokes in bad taste and cheap shots and pushing people’s buttons. Usually it’s aimed at Zionists, but he’s branching out.

        that is one of finkelstein’s gifts, his acerbic wit. and maybe this is just a bit of irony, labeling BDS a cult (as if there were a uniform set of tactics agreed upon by all anti-zionists) when zionism, as beinart, j-street, etc. are finding out, is the true closed circle. then again this might just be part of a familiar psychological trajectory, the path followed by so many leftists turned reactionaries.

    • Dexter on July 10, 2012, 9:18 pm

      Did you leave Eastern Europe — you know, where you are really from — because they didn’t have fans to throw excrement at?

  2. chinese box on July 10, 2012, 9:40 am

    Yikes. I’m not sure we need this type of infighting, but perhaps it’s inevitable. Everything seems to be coming to a head, from Beinart’s split from the liberal Zionists, to this…..

    • Charon on July 10, 2012, 7:00 pm

      The infighting is a direct result of establishing a group identity to any sort of movement. Natural human social characteristics try to steer the group and eventually standards are set. Disagree with any of the standards and the group starts to hate you. This is when groups become cults and group think is bad. Group think is always bad IMO.

      Individual expression of ideas is healthy and can be debated in a healthy manner. Group of expression of ideas can lead to the odd person out being smeared by the group. I’m seeing that in some of these posts, perceptions have been created and perceptions can have a blinding effect if you aren’t aware of the whole picture.

      What if an agent provocateur among the group steers it the wrong way and the group follows? Then anybody who no longer agrees in the direction is smeared. What if something like that happened to BDS? Or has already happened? Doesn’t have to be an agent provocateur. Even if a differing of opinions regarding direction. I agree with BDS in principle, but the group has cemented goals that go beyond ending the occupation and one of those goals might be self-defeating.

      Absolute defined language as opposed to neutral language is good for being specific, good when you don’t want somebody to manipulate the intent. “return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194” sounds good in principle. It ignores the other half of article 11: “and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

      This is relevant because the latter is more realistic considering the resolution is 64 years old and was not written from a modern perspective. Make no doubt about it, they should be compensated by the guilty. They should be resettled (or a Palestinian state if that ever happened) and some should be resettled in Israel, but Israel/Palestine cannot hold all of them, not that all of them would come back. It would destroy it demographically for sure, but it would just flat out destroy it.

      Some of us are okay with that, but most people aren’t. I don’t think you can sell this thing with such a specific absolute point here. I disagreed with Finkelstein before but he’s just being honest and I think not only do I understand, I agree with him.

  3. CitizenC on July 10, 2012, 9:55 am

    Norman, you are a priest of the Chomsky cult, and one of his biggest flunkies. But without his formidable talents as a polemicist. Your arguments about BDS etc. are not worth the bother. Your pose of contempt and hauteur is faux-Chomskyism, like a cheap wig or costume jewelry, and doesn’t fool any discriminating reader.

  4. Avi_G. on July 10, 2012, 10:05 am

    What does Philip Weiss make of Norman Finkelstein’s response?

    • philweiss on July 12, 2012, 9:47 am

      Avi,
      I have two main responses. One is that Finkelstein seems to want to undermine our fundraiser, on which I and others depend for a living, an unseemly undertaking for someone who knows what it is like to be stripped of employment.
      The second is that Finkelstein refers to an “interview” I did with him in June. It wasn’t an interview, it was a “debate.” You can see that word in the headline. http://mondoweiss.net/2012/06/a-debate-about-the-two-state-solution-with-norman-finkelstein.html
      I proposed it as a debate (to help publicize his book), published it as a debate; the word interview doesn’t appear there. I have done many interviews of Norman Finkelstein about ideas of his I find compelling, and hope to do more down the road. But his ideas about the two state solution strike me as pretty stale and legalistic; frankly I find my own thinking on this question more interesting than his… which is why I did not seek to interview him. The error is revealing…

  5. Kathleen on July 10, 2012, 10:27 am

    NF “In everything I have ever written on the subject, I have emphasized that Palestinians have a right of return, and no one has the right to tell Palestinians that they should renounce this right as a precondition for negotiations. In fact, I was the first person to point out that both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had endorsed the right of return….My opinion is that a reasonable political solution can be found if Israelis negotiate in good faith. But to date, the official Israeli position is that they don’t accept any historical, legal, political or moral responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. That is a non- starter. Negotiations must start from the premises that (1) Israel bears overwhelming responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and (2) Palestinians have a right of return. Once these points are acknowledged by Israel, I think a resolution can be found (July 2012) ”

    That is what I have always thought you stood on

    NF “I notice that Mondoweiss is now engaged in a fundraiser to “push Israel/Palestine into the public.” Permit me to suggest this as their theme song.”

    Norman why are you being such an ass? So many of us have respect for you being out on the front lines early as Carter, Tutu, and so many others were Edward Said being way out in front. But you were one of the first Jews to be out on the front lines. Your message has been so loud, clear and honorable. Why do you have to get so sarcastic?

    • OlegR on July 10, 2012, 11:45 am

      I don’t think he likes you guys.

      • Krauss on July 10, 2012, 1:50 pm

        And OlegR, the real question is why you keep coming to his defence.
        Or why it even matters whoever Finkelstein likes or not?

        Why are you so desperate to play on his behalf? It began with your subtle ‘trolling comment’ but now you are getting more and more energtic on his behalf. You can’t even hide your favortism.

        Oops.

      • OlegR on July 10, 2012, 4:28 pm

        I wouldn’t say favoritism.
        I feel some empathy for him on a purely human level.
        It’s not fun being Finkelstein on a good day and it seems to me
        from some of his remarks about cancelled lectures
        the good days for him are gonna be a scarce commodity in the foreseeable future.

      • thankgodimatheist on July 12, 2012, 5:55 am

        “I don’t think he likes you guys.”

        And I’m pretty certain he likes you even much less! Hehe.

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 1:09 pm

      “Norman why are you being such an ass?”

      Maybe he wants to top MJRosenberg? Poor Phil, everybody wants to out-Jew him.

      • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 1:12 pm

        “Poor Phil, everybody wants to out-Jew him.”

        Well, except for those who want to out-Palestinian him, of course. He’s in a tough spot, but I think he will not just endure, but prevail.

  6. eljay on July 10, 2012, 10:30 am

    NF ably rebuts the accusation – made by MW in the original post (OP) of the thread he links to in point #4 – that he does not support the Palestinian RoR. Pity that he doesn’t address any of the other points raised in that OP.

  7. Chu on July 10, 2012, 10:41 am

    Finkelstein’s contribution in exposing the the Holocaust Industry and Israel’s crimes are much more admirable than many others in the progressive camps who were covering for the crimes of Israel during the past decades.
    And he said BDS is like a cult – clearly it’s not. This shoudl be a topic for the Doha debates. I can see it now – ‘BDS: Cult or political justice movement’.

  8. giladg on July 10, 2012, 10:46 am

    Norman, the other day you where asked a question about Arab inaction between 1947 and 1967. You responded with a remark including whether the person asking the question wanted the Palestinians to revert to the position whereby they continue to reject the legitimacy of state of Israel.
    Question: “Do you really think that it was something else, besides the settlement movement, that brought about the change in some Palestinians regarding accepting the legitimacy of Israel? Was it not the settlement movement that pushed Arafat to consider Oslo? I have no doubt that without the settlement movement, the parameters of the conflict would be around Jaffa, Haifa and Ramlle, West Jerusalem as well as East Jerusalem.
    Therefor, the settlers should be looked upon as hero’s of our time. They have put their lives on the line to move Palestinian public opinion from the gates of “Israel needs to be destroyed”, to “Jews can live in Tel-Aviv”. The position of Hamas has only hardened since Israel left Gaza.
    As the Palestinians are wavering and returning to classic, hostile positions towards Jews, bolstered by the Muslim Brotherhood, now is not the time to attack the settler movement. Their job is still not done. They need to be supported and praised for their ongoing contribution. How is not the time to call for Israel to pull out of the West Bank. Weakness in never rewarded in this, and many other regions. It is time to help reverse the tremendous damage you have helped create with your “sublime” attacks against Zionists.

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 7:50 pm

      “Therefor, the settlers should be looked upon as hero’s of our time.”

      Good boy, Giladg! You just make sure to figh it out on those lines til the battle is won state!
      Yes sir, if the IDF loses it’s lustre, becomes passe’, old hat and nye kulturny, you just push those settlers into the limelight. No doubt the world will wear its bosom to a nub taking them to it.
      And, oh yeah, if the settlers are going to be center stage, (as heroes should be) remind their Rabbi’s to use a straw, lest people get the wrong impression.

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 7:57 pm

      Wow Giladg manages to combine bigotry, stupidity, and insanity in a way I’ve never quite seen before. It’s fascinatingly creepy. No wonder Israel picked him to represent it on the web. Who better? Both apparatchik and hasbaratchik in one man! I bet he’s handsome, too!

      • giladg on July 12, 2012, 4:44 am

        I got your attention hey Mooser? That’s a feather in my cap. If you can start thinking for yourself, or think about the issues in a way that differs from your cult that re-enforces itself with the same messages all the time, then I would have accomplished something.
        How does the song go? “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo”? What it should say is, “I’m a creep, I’m a hero”, and a handsome one at that.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 6:46 pm

        You bet, Giladg, why, thanks to your oh-so-convincing arguments, I am just about to turn into a big fan of the settlers in a few seconds. Why if you hold your breath, I should be making alle-oops to a settlement before you have to let it out. Just keep holding that breath!
        And I congratulate you. What a quick and flexible thinker you are, catching this change in an attitude I’ve held with increasing conviction for over forty years. You haven’t let that breath out yet, have you? Good boy!

  9. on July 10, 2012, 12:43 pm

    I like Norman Finkelstein a lot. – Does he fit Phil’s ‘Jewish elite identity’ category?
    I don’t think so. – (BTW, the Jewish lobby in Germany tried – in vain – to prevent the publication of a German edition of his ‘Holocaust Industry’. I didn’t read it.)

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 8:00 pm

      “BTW, the Jewish lobby in Germany tried – in vain…”

      Klaus do you have a link to an English language article on that incident? It’s not that I disbelieve you, it’s just that I would like to find out, more specifically, what, or rather, who, comprises the “Jewish lobby” in Germany.

      • philweiss on July 10, 2012, 11:13 pm

        thanks mooser

      • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 11:35 pm

        Yes, I get just a little curious when the “Israel Lobby” or “Zionist Lobby”, two formulations which are quite reasonable, and pretty easy to delineate, becomes “the Jewish lobby”. I’ve got to wonder where it exists besides Klaus’ mind, and what it consists of besides Klaus’…. well, never mind.

      • on July 11, 2012, 8:59 am

        I just read this comment of yours. The Central Council (not ‘Committee’) of Jews in Germany does exist besides my mind. It’s not a religious body, it’s the political representation (lobby) of Jews in Germany. They have successfully lobbied for government subsidies etc. Same as other lobbies do but they got more moral clout. They claim to represent about 200,000 Jews in Germany. But there are only 82,000 registered Jewish Synagogue members.

      • on July 11, 2012, 2:54 pm

        Now Mooser – don’t you want to acknowledge that the ‘Jewish lobby’ in Germany isn’t just a construct of my mind? And while you are at it,
        how about apologizing for calling me:
        “-senile
        – bigotted
        – a liar” ? – you did say so in previous comments.

      • on July 11, 2012, 5:30 pm

        Philip Weiss: how about your “thanks mooser”?

        Good luck Phil with your effort to change the pro-Israel Jewish identity to a Jewish identity that is anti-Zionist. – It’s not hopeless but unlikely, Zionism is Judaism.

        Several years ago I was in Berlin and there was a large banner in front of the Jewish community center – I happened to pass by. The banner said:
        BERLIN JEWS FOR ISRAEL

        I of course infered that Berlin Judaism is Zionism. – Is there another logic?

      • philweiss on July 11, 2012, 5:31 pm

        this website is involved in disproving that equation, among both jews and people who dont like jews

      • on July 11, 2012, 5:43 pm

        Phil – “next year in Jerusalem”, that has been the mantra for 2000 years.

      • Shegetz on July 12, 2012, 10:32 am

        Judaism != Zionism.

        Zionism merely sprouts in the fertile soil of the fear a lot of the Jews I know were raised with. As an 8 year old I got to read the posters in my best friend’s house – “KNOW YOUR ENEMY. THE PLO.” Even so long ago, and at such a tender age, none of the propaganda rang true. Much of it was shrill and didn’t make much sense.

        Not much has changed.

        As for the effect it had on my Jewish friends, well it was mixed. Some grew up and moved to Israel as ‘converts’, but at the same time some of my Israeli-born friends stayed here, somehow managed to get out of IDF service, and never returned to Israel. So its effects on my friends has been a mixed bag to be sure. Hardly an automatic ‘Jewish = Zionist’ or even ‘Israeli = Zionist’. So best not to make assumptions.

        Zionism is more a social/cultural thing , and although this lovely ideological parasite may indeed be more commonly found attached to a Jewish host, don’t think for one minute that goyim are immune. There are far too many cases to ignore the fact that just about anyone can become a Zionist and their mom doesn’t have to be Jewish for it to happen. Just look around…

        In fact, I’m more of the mind that Zionism has little to do with Judaism at all when it comes right down to it. I think it has more to do with power and those to seek to wield and hold power over others. The trappings and people of Judaism are merely useful in this regard. It provides ideological cover and ‘useful idiots’ as foot soldiers.

        You only need to look at the disparities in Israel itself, especially amongst Jews, to see that although the Palestinians get the short end of the stick that there are a lot of Jews that are at that end of the rod as well and that only a small, concentrated part of the population enjoys any of the real wealth while the rest toil and live in poverty.

        Just goes to show that a lot of people don’t mind being at the bottom, so long as they get to stand on someone else’s face while they’re doing it.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 6:51 pm

        Thanks Klaus. That’s very clear. Yes, unfortunately, “Jewish Lobby is the mot juste.

        You know, no matter how cynical I think I am about this, it’s never enough.
        So the German government subsidises “the Jews” in Germany. So smart. That kind of arrangement has always worked out so well for us.

      • on July 11, 2012, 12:59 am

        Finkelstein and the German Jewish lobby

        The former head of the ‘Central Committee of Jews in Germany’, Paul Spiegel, wrote a letter – together with a Social Democratic (SPD) member of the German parliament – to the publisher of Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust Industry’, the Piper company. That must have been in 2000.
        The two ‘Jewish lobbyists’ urged Piper not to publish a German edition on the ground that that would be “politically harmful”. The German edition was published anyway in 2001.

        The story was reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading conservative/intellectual daily. It raised some eyebrows and consternation. And Paul Spiegel and the SPD parlamentarien said that they of course did not intend to infringe on the freedom of publishers.

        I could research the matter more thoroughly – but ‘the Jewish lobby’ (that you are interested in) were the head of the German Jewish Central Committee and the SPD parlamentarian.

      • on July 11, 2012, 8:02 am

        Correction: It wasn’t Paul Spiegel, it was Salomon Korn who was head of the Frankfurt Jewish community and vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany who together with the SPD parlamentarian Reinhold Robbe urged the publisher in a letter not to do a German edition.

      • tree on July 11, 2012, 1:50 am

        Here’s an article from the NY Times about it. (Presumably the NYT is in English):

        http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/08/world/08GERM.html

        and here’s a reprint of the AP article on the same thing:

        http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2001/2001-February/002291.html

        And here’s an English language article on successful lobbying efforts to prevent Finkelstein from having a venue to speak in Germany in 2010.

        http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=15771

      • tree on July 11, 2012, 10:26 am

        I think Jewish lobby is probably more accurate than Israel Lobby for the efforts in Germany to prevent the publishing of “The Holocaust Industry”. The book had little or nothing to do with Israel or Zionism per se, and was more an indictment of some Jewish groups and their lawyers who took advantage of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust to line their own pockets.

        The efforts in 2010, on the other hand, can clearly be called the work of the German Israel Lobby.

      • on July 11, 2012, 12:02 pm

        The ‘Jewish lobby’ and the ‘Israel lobby’ are more or less identical.
        The Central Council of Jews in Germany acts as a lobby for the interests of Jews in Germany and also as a second unofficial embassy of Israel in Germany. – I don’t understand why Mooser doesn’t get this point?
        When they acted against Finkelstein they said that a German edition would stoke right-wing sentiments against Jews in Germany.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 6:55 pm

        “The ‘Jewish lobby’ and the ‘Israel lobby’ are more or less identical.”

        It would probably be splitting hairs to say otherwise. I’m sorry Klaus, this is beyond my comprehension.
        I’m just glad I’m not there to hear what the Jewish lobby (guess I’ll drop the scare quotes) says when they get any back-pressure from the governbmental agencies or councils they appeal to. Or as Tom Wolfe would have it, the flak catchers they mau-mau.

    • Kathleen on July 10, 2012, 8:14 pm

      “I didn’t read it.)” A great and must read

  10. Binyamin in Orangeburg on July 10, 2012, 12:59 pm

    Norman, why is the effort by Mondoweiss (and others) to “push Israel/Palestine into the public” worthy of ridicule? Isn’t that what your whole adult life has been about?

    You often quote Gandhi saying that a political movement’s job is to get people to act on what they already know to be true. What is increasingly clear (see, e.g. P. Beinart, et al.) is that the occupation is incompatible with core American notions of equality and justice. What Mondoweiss and BDS are doing is attempting to get American policy to reflect those core beliefs. Why is that the same as singing Hare Krishna in a San Francisco park in 1967?

  11. Mooser on July 10, 2012, 1:06 pm

    I am coming to the conclusion that you are either anti-Zionist, or you are pro-Zionist.
    You may be able to fool yourself about it, but you won’t fool the Zionists and the Israelis. I don’t have a whole lot of respect for the Zionist-Israeli intelligence, but they know who their fiends are, and who their enemies are. Like many people, they may insult their friends, but there’s no doubt they make short work of their enemies when they feel it’s necessary.

    • seanmcbride on July 10, 2012, 2:37 pm

      Mooser,

      You wrote:

      “I am coming to the conclusion that you are either anti-Zionist, or you are pro-Zionist. You may be able to fool yourself about it, but you won’t fool the Zionists and the Israelis. I don’t have a whole lot of respect for the Zionist-Israeli intelligence, but they know who their fiends are, and who their enemies are.”

      If you are even a tiny bit Zionist you are in whole hog for the entire Zionist project and agenda as defined by the forebears of Likud (Avraham Stern and the Stern Gang):

      BEGIN ARTICLE
      AUTHOR William James Martin
      TITLE The Zionist-Nazi Collaboration
      PUBLICATION Dissident Voice
      DATE July 8, 2012
      URL http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/07/the-zionist-nazi-collaboration/
      BEGIN QUOTE
      The Charter of the Stern Gang, or more accurately, the principles promulgated by Stern, included the establishment of a Jewish state “from the Nile to the Euphrates”, the ‘transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to regions outside of the Jewish state, and the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. It maintained offices outside of the Middle East – including Warsaw, Paris, London, and New York City, the latter headed by Benzion Netanyahu, the present Prime Minister’s father.

      1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a New Order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.

      2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed volkish-national Hebrium would be possible; and,

      3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
      END QUOTE
      END ARTICLE

      Let’s stop playing games. Most of the Israeli and pro-Israel “left” knows exactly what is really go on and they are on board. Pay attention to deeds, not words. The settlements keep expanding without interruption. Israeli-instigated American wars against Arabs and Muslims keep escalating under both Republican and Democratic Party regimes. The Zionist endgame has been obvious from its inception and it is unfolding on schedule.

      You wrote:

      “Like many people, they may insult their friends, but there’s no doubt they make short work of their enemies when they feel it’s necessary.”

      You mean they murder their political opponents (both non-Jewish and Jewish) on a regular basis. That we know for a certainty.

      • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 7:36 pm

        “You mean they murder their political opponents (both non-Jewish and Jewish) on a regular basis. That we know for a certainty.”

        Yes, but just because they insult you, it doesn’t mean they are going to murder you. I imagine they save that treatment for those they consider a danger.

  12. Boycott Israel on Campus on July 10, 2012, 1:10 pm

    It doesn’t matter what Finkelstein says.

    What matters is when thousands of Arab American students start marching for total boycott, total divestment against Israel.

    Until then, nothing happens because no determined group of people cares to make it happen.

    There were always white liberals asking for better treatment for Black people. Yet they had zero weight until finally thousands of Black people openly marched and demanded their rights in 1963.

    Bazinga! That’s when “impossible” civil rights bills were suddenly passed and enforced.

    • Kathleen on July 10, 2012, 8:15 pm

      bingo Bingo and BINGO.

    • Dexter on July 10, 2012, 9:29 pm

      Exactly!

      Finkelstein does not seem to understand that the Palestine-Israel conflict has entered a new paradigm, one that is less about borders and more about rights/justice. He is stuck in the old “school of partition.” Why? Because he makes $$$ pushing two-states, writing books, etc. I think a part of him believes the Palestinian cause ruined his professional career, and he has decided to cash-in (I’m sure it’s not much) on the idea of the two-state “solution” while he still can. But the clock is quickly running out on that silly idea, so keep cashin’ in while you can Norman, keep cashin’ in…

      Anyone who is Arab or Palestinian should remember: it is NOT for Norman Finkelstein to tell us how to resolve our own conflict.

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 11:37 pm

      “when thousands of Arab American students start marching”

      hopefully, and I think certainly to be joined by thousands of students hailing from every ethnicity. Students on every side of the hyphen, as you might say.

  13. ColinWright on July 10, 2012, 1:41 pm

    There’s something ridiculous about all this. I can’t quite put my finger on it — but it is ridiculous.

    I think it has to do with the pretense that what is at issue is Israel and the Palestinians when in fact there seems to be some kind of ego contest underway.

  14. iamuglow on July 10, 2012, 2:33 pm

    Is he calling Mondoweiss a cult now too? He is trolling. This site is an open space for a range of ideas about I/P. He could join the debate here and have a back forth discussion of his views. Instead he addresses his critics with these indirect one way dictates? Ok. Whatever. Moving on…

    • OlegR on July 10, 2012, 4:33 pm

      /He could join the debate here/

      Who says he didn’t a long time ago?
      It’s not like he has to use his own name.

      • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 7:40 pm

        “Who says he didn’t a long time ago?
        It’s not like he has to use his own name.”

        No OlegR, you are thinking of Gilad Atzmon. He may claim to be an anti-Zionist (I wouldn’t know) but he hews very closely to Israeli style argumentation techniques. Maybe it’s a best-of-both-worlds kinda thing for him. You can take the boy out of Israel, but….

  15. seanmcbride on July 10, 2012, 2:39 pm

    Norman Finkelstein,

    Define what you mean by a “cult” and explain how the BDS movement fits that definition. With what other “cults” in history is it comparable by your definition? Was abolitionism a cult? The civil rights movement? The American Revolution?

    Do you have any thoughts about the by now well-established pattern of false leftists among critics of the Israeli government — people who have claimed to oppose the Israeli government on principled liberal or progressive grounds but who later turned out to be something quite different than they claimed to be? Noam Chomsky? Benny Morris? Dennis Ross? Aaron David Miller? Christopher Hitchens? Shimon Peres? Martin Indyk? Jeremy Ben-Ami? Many names come to mind of political operators who apparently have been playing good cop in a good cop/bad cop routine that has been controlled by Israel and the Israel lobby all along.

    • chinese box on July 10, 2012, 5:51 pm

      @seanmcbride

      I’m not sure I would include Chomsky or Hitchens on that list. Hitchens has always been more of a gadfly and a contrarian than a leftist and although his later views on Iraq/Muslims were disturbing to many of us, I believe he was consistent on his support of Palestine up until the end, unless there’s something I don’t know about him, in which case I stand corrected.

      • seanmcbride on July 10, 2012, 8:06 pm

        chinese box,

        You wrote:

        “I’m not sure I would include Chomsky or Hitchens on that list. Hitchens has always been more of a gadfly and a contrarian than a leftist and although his later views on Iraq/Muslims were disturbing to many of us, I believe he was consistent on his support of Palestine up until the end, unless there’s something I don’t know about him, in which case I stand corrected.”

        I was once a big fan of Christopher Hitchens. I think he ranks among the very best polemical writers on the planet for the last few decades (better than Cockburn, Greenwald, Sullivan, Weiss or anyone I can think of at the moment). But he was mysteriously unhinged by 9/11 in a way that struck me as being somewhat suspicious. For the last decade or so of his life he began to resemble hysterical zealots like Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes in his Islamophobic rants and shrill calls to escalate the Clash of Civilizations and Global War on Terror.

        I find it difficult to believe that someone as bright as Hitchens didn’t realize that his campaign to provoke a grand holy war between the West and Islam worldwide would have the effect of radically undermining any efforts to pursue a just and reasonable solution for the Palestinian issue. Neoconservatives clearly grasped that 9/11, the Clash of Civilizations and Global War on Terror provided a superb opportunity to smash and destroy the Mideast peace process and the two-state solution for all time. Surely Hitchens was smart enough to understand the political dynamics in play. So what explains his bizarre transformation and outrageous behavior?

        Regarding Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein: they say all the right things but they continue to protect the Israel lobby from any meaningful scrutiny or effective opposition. They can’t explain themselves on this subject and are evasive and irrational whenever it comes up. They really don’t add up.

        Regarding Dennis Ross, Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk and that entire “incompetent” (duplicitous) clique: one suspects that they were Likud moles inside the bogus “peace process” right from the beginning. The Mideast peace process as managed by this group was almost certainly a con job from top to bottom and designed to fail from the start — about as sincere and authentic as current negotiations with Iran over nuclear technology. Who in the world doesn’t get that by now?

        I confess that I was taken in by the charade for quite a long time — shame on me. Notice that “liberal Zionists” in the Democratic Party have barely lifted a finger to protect Barack Obama from the relentless barrage of attacks and abuse he has been suffering from Greater Israelists and Likud operatives in American politics. Certain matters are coming into focus.

      • Inanna on July 10, 2012, 10:39 pm

        I’m not sure that Hitchens post-9/11 antics are that mysterious given his spirited defence of Salman Rushdie after the fatwa placed on Rushdie after the publication of the Satanic verses. I know that Rushdie and Hitchens subsequently became friends. The question is why Hitchens chose to see all of Islam as a threat rather than just the fundamentalists and kooks who placed the fatwa and were responsible for 9/11.

      • seanmcbride on July 10, 2012, 11:43 pm

        Ianna,

        I care as much about free speech and civil liberties as Hitchens ever did, and am as repulsed by religious fundamentalism as he was. But on rational and sound grounds I strongly opposed the Iraq War and neoconservative Islamophobia and have always been highly skeptical of the 9/11 official story (now more than ever). My respect for Christopher Hitchens’ intelligence and judgment quickly evaporated after 9/11. From my perspective, he seemed to suffer a mental meltdown and became an embarrassment to himself.

        During the last decade quite a few pro-Israel militants who loathed him throughout the eighties and nineties came to embrace him enthusiastically — they realized that he was a useful tool for pushing forward Likud political objectives. His hatred of Islam trumped his sympathy for Palestinians on the game board.

        Hitchens reminds one somewhat of another questionable “free thinker” — Bill Maher — yet another useful neocon and Likud tool. It’s amazing how many strings across the entire political spectrum that Israel is able to pull with ease.

      • biorabbi on July 11, 2012, 12:36 am

        The late Christopher Hitchens resembled Norman Finkelstein. His embrace of the Iraq War and war on terror, I believe, was a kind of mental exercise to play the contrary position to a hilt. Norman Finkelstein seems to be greatly enjoying the BDS is a cult moment of his own. Both were fantastic debaters… watch Hitch versus Galloway or Norman versus Dersh. They destroyed their opponents, clearly relishing the process. A second point with Hitch is brought out in Hitch 22. He was very close to the Kurds and followed the socialist Kurd movement since the early 70’s, then later writing about the chemical attacks.

        The dark sides of Norman Finkelstein and Christopher Hitchens is perhaps they hated being outsmarted. Since BDS was not a creation of Finkelstein, perhaps he feels he should attack it, thereby maintaining his predominant position and not being passed over by history.

        Hitchens was a strong, passionate supporter of the late Edward Said until he died as far as I know. How he reconciled this support with supporting the Iraq War I cannot begin to fathom.

        I am, as I think is obvious by my posting, quite bitter about BDS and what it represents for Jews given their history. But as an effective tactic to take on Israel, boycotts are a mighty weapon as the South African experience showed. I also believe the Israelis are terrified about the BDS movement and similar boycotts, far more than they admit. I also believe Norman Finkelstein is far too smart to not recognize this. It’s hubris. He’s not above it, and neither are I or most people.

        Finkelstein’s major critique of BDS is that it remains ‘agnostic’ on Israel and so this will turn off the mainstream body politic, leaving the BDS as a cult. But why would opponents of Israel state what are their red lines, or why should the Palestinians announce what they will accept before end-stage talks occur?

        To their credit, both Norman Finkelstein and Chris Hitchens raised their middle finger at critics. Not only to they not care, but they relish in the attacks on them.

      • biorabbi on July 11, 2012, 12:41 am

        Hitchens did not see all of Islam as a threat. You miss his point. He hated everything about religion. The Muslims and Christian Arabs he respected like Rushdie and especially Edward Said were secular and scholars. He hated religious conservative Christianity with a venom and also attacked Jewish religious settlers from Brooklyn who lived in the West Bank. He loathed all of them with equal venom. From the beginning of his career until the end of his life(ie Hitch 22), he was a strong opponent of not only greater Israel but the very idea of Israel or zionism. But here again his opposition was not just influenced by Said, but his disgust for any form of organized religion.

      • Donald on July 11, 2012, 2:08 pm

        “To their credit, both Norman Finkelstein and Chris Hitchens raised their middle finger at critics. Not only to they not care, but they relish in the attacks on them.”

        That’s not necessarily a virtue. It’s good to be tough and not give in to unfair criticism and if you are arguing with someone who is an apologist for brutal atrocities then giving the finger might be justified, but if you start doing this with everyone you disagree with then you’ve gone off the rails. Pride kicks in and you can’t admit that the other person (the person you’ve just called a total moron) might be correct on some point.

        Hitchens dug himself into a neocon corner after 9/11, but he didn’t mind because by bashing the far left he made himself the darling of the mainstream media. It was great for his career to be despised by Chomsky fans. Finkelstein isn’t going to sink anywhere low enough to become that respectable-or anyway I can’t imagine it happening–but he is really alienating people unnecessarily. And I’m saying this as someone who thinks some of his substantive points are worth thinking about.

      • Polly on July 12, 2012, 5:12 pm

        Biorabbi wrote ….”Both were fantastic debaters… watch Hitch versus Galloway or Norman versus Dersh. They destroyed their opponents, clearly relishing the process.”

        I’ve only seen one debate between Hitch and Galloway and as I recall Galloway monstered him. And again on Bill Maher’s program.

        Speaking of Galloway, I’ve always wondered why his name is conspicuosly absent from MW. He is an inspired and passionate orator on plenty of subjects that easily overlap with what is regularly discussed here.
        A little full of himself maybe. Thoughts anyone?

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 7:01 pm

        I wonder if biorabbi was a big Dean Martin fan, too. Of course, Dean was acting.
        And yes, Galloway destroyed Hitchens. But hey, if biorabbi (is he a real Rabbi, or a ‘biorabbi’?) has a thing for “gin-soaked popinjays”, that’s cool. Not that there anything wrong with that, of course.

    • Hostage on July 11, 2012, 12:37 am

      Define what you mean by a “cult” and explain how the BDS movement fits that definition.

      He means a relatively small group of people having beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange.

      He is correct that minority rights in Israel was not incorporated in resolution 242, the 1988 Algiers Declaration, the Quartet Road Map, & etc – and that once you step outside the small BDS community you will be confronted by average persons who think it is quite strange to drag in that side issue, because there are so many other minorities living in the very same or worse circumstances, e.g. the “Untouchables” in India.

      I’ve pointed out that there is a very good case to be made for the enforcement of the original minority rights treaty undertakings contained in resolution 181(II) for the inhabitants of both the Jewish and Arab state.. But the average person is unfamiliar with that subject. The UN CEIRPP has advised that the RoR is based on Israel’s unconditional acceptance of that minority rights undertaking during its UN membership hearings and the fact that those rights are under UN guarantee. Most supporters in the Palestinian solidarity movement are aware of that and don’t realize that “Palestine refugee” in resolution 194(III) should also include thousands of displaced Jews who were registered with UNRWA and their descendants. They too are entitled to equal rights and RoR or compensation in the new Arab state of Palestine. That belief is so cult-like to others that I may be the only proponent;-)

      Finkelstein notes that outside of the small BDS movement no one thinks a fair settlement of the refugee problem means the return of six million people – and that the idea will not attract a mass following. He is correct that you cannot argue for a one state solution on the basis of international law or UN resolutions, since Israel has been widely recognized as a state with the same rights as any other. Resolution 242, which has been enshrined in conventional international law requires a settlement that includes a withdrawal of Israeli armed forces and recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every state in the region – including Israel.

      What seems to disturb so many people is the fact that he points out that 1) the one state solution; 2) equal rights for Arab and non-Jewish citizens of Israel; and 3) RoR; means no more Jewish state. So why not be honest and admit that?

      I’ve said on many occasions that 1) I’m an anti-Zionist; 2) a “people” or the “territorial integrity” norm must include all of the lawful inhabitants of a given territory without regard to ethnicity; 3) Population transfer is a serious crime; 4) a “just settlement of the refugee problem” must be interpreted to mean the option of the RoR for those surviving persons who were actually transferred involuntarily in 48 and 67 + maintenance of their family unity. Other “Palestinian” refugees have the right of return to their country of nationality (Palestine) or actual country of origin and are entitled to compensation.

      I don’t personally care if there are finally 1, 2, or 3 states in Palestine. The ultimate goal should be equal rights and treatment for everyone under the law and the right of transit to visit the holy sites in the region of Palestine. The only thing that prevents that from being “cult-like” thinking is that: I’ve always maintained that the international community has no more historical obligation to maintain a racist Jewish state in Palestine than it did a racist Nazi regime in the Sudetenland. I do not support the continued existence of the State of Israel or the State of Palestine in their current forms and could care less who knows that.

  16. YoungMassJew on July 10, 2012, 3:47 pm

    @Mooser:
    Amen

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 8:05 pm

      “Amen”? Remember how we used to say it in Temple? That long drawn-out “Awww-mayne”. You may not believe this, but I once tried to order that at a Chinese restaurant. Of course, it only comes in tofu, chicken or vegetarian.

      • YoungMassJew on July 10, 2012, 11:15 pm

        I stand corrected.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 7:03 pm

        Well then, join me in a bowl of aw-mein over rice noodles! There’s room for two.

  17. DaveS on July 10, 2012, 4:02 pm

    In the now-infamous video interview with Frank Barat, Finkelstein repeatedly used the word “destroy” to describe what would happen to Israel if there were full implementation of the right of return. Hence, in order for there to be a settlement as he envisions it, there must be at least partial renunciation of the right of return. In his view, the vast majority of Palestinians would have to forgo the right of return.

    But he also says: “Palestinians have a right of return, and no one has the right to tell Palestinians that they should renounce this right as a precondition for negotiations.” What does that mean? Is he saying that they need not renounce ROR as a “precondition,” but during the course of negotiations, the vast majority must agree not to exercise that right? Frankly, he is far from clear on this subject. I don’t blame Ash for “misinterpreting” Finkelstein if that’s what he did at all.

    Ironically, it reminds me of his nemesis Dershowitz on torture. Dershowitz has proposed judicially-issued “torture warrants” and methods of torture — sterilized needles under the fingernails (love the hygiene requirement) — but adamantly insists he is “opposed to torture as a normative matter.” Get it? I don’t. (What’s next? “I am opposed to capital punishment as a normative matter. I think only convicted murderers should be executed”???).

    NF’s insistence that Palestinian ROR must be respected but that they must agree not to actually return strikes me as similarly confusing. It’s not necessarily that his position is hopelessly inconsistent — he may be able to reconcile it — but he can hardly complain bitterly when someone makes an honest mistake, if it was a mistake at all.

    For that matter, what is Finkelstein’s position on BDS? He says he is “personally” in favor of it but that the movement itself is a “cult.” For someone who is usually painstaking in his effort to be clear, these positions are anything but.

    • LanceThruster on July 10, 2012, 6:48 pm

      This was very helpful.

      Thank you for deconstructing the narrative in an understandable manner.

    • thelepathy on July 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

      @DavidSamel

      Given (a) that Finkelstein is sick and tired of the endless conflict and seeks a near-term solution and given (b) what he told us about Gandhi’s views on politics and nonviolent resistance (apart from what he, you and I think is morally right), I think he doubts that a broad international public is ready to listen to a proposal, which sees all 6 (?) million refugees return and outnumber the jewish ethnos. I think he’s right on that – even if BDS continues to thrive, such a scenario won’t fly with the broad public in the nearer future.

      On the other hand he has also made it very clear that the palestinians have no reason whatsoever to forfeit any of their rights. Which leads us to the conclusion that from his point of view a return of refugees can only be partial while a considerable part of them will have to be compensated by Israel, which thus could preserve their ethnic majority within the June ’67 borders.
      By no means perfect, but a resolution I personally could live with.


      Quote from the CJPME- interview 07/2012 on ROR:

      /Dr. Finkelstein: My opinion is that a reasonable political solution can be found if Israelis negotiate in good faith. But to date, the official Israeli position is that they don’t accept any historical, legal, political or moral responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. That is a nonstarter.
      Negotiations must start from the premises that (1) Israel bears overwhelming responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem, and (2) Palestinians have a right of return.
      Once these points are acknowledged by Israel, I think a resolution can be found./

    • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 8:09 pm

      “but that the movement itself is a “cult.”

      Oh yes, those leaderless, completely non-hierarchic cults, with not very much top-down coordination and no way to discipline members. And no-one in the BDS movement (as far as I know) has claimed to be contemporaneously in touch with God.
      I hate cults like that, they’re so damn disorganised, and they got no divine inspiration. Oh well, the world is full of phonies!

    • eljay on July 10, 2012, 9:24 pm

      >> Dershowitz has proposed judicially-issued “torture warrants” and methods of torture — sterilized needles under the fingernails (love the hygiene requirement) — but adamantly insists he is “opposed to torture as a normative matter.”

      Any person who recommends a method of torture MUST be required to undergo it for a period of 30 days before it can be legislated into use. If, after 30 days of full-on application of the recommended torture method, the person still recommends it (and has not signed a statement condemning it), then that’s good enough for me*.

      :-D

      I suspect that a turd like Dershowitz would be crying like a baby within a matter of hours…if not less. What an asshole.

      ———————–
      *No, it’s not.

      • DaveS on July 10, 2012, 11:10 pm

        eljay, I have often thought the same thing. I am absolutely against torture, except that those who favor it should be tortured until they change their mind. Shouldn’t take more than a few seconds.

      • Mooser on July 10, 2012, 11:40 pm

        Certainly you fellows haven’t forgotten O’Reilly’s little dip into waterboarding? He lasted a few seconds.

      • eljay on July 11, 2012, 7:45 am

        I have no doubt that 30 days of something as “benign” as sleep deprivation – which I’ve often heard pooh-poohed as “not really torture” – would turn even the toughest-talking, pro-torture nutjobs into blubbering bedwetters.

      • marc b. on July 11, 2012, 7:16 pm

        Any person who recommends a method of torture MUST be required to undergo it for a period of 30 days before it can be legislated into use.

        which neatly leads into that embarassing tub of blubber, christopher hitchens, undergoing the ‘torture’ of waterboarding. i use quotations because the inquisition lasted about 2 1/2 seconds before he pissed his pants and cried ‘uncle’, and because it beggers the imagination of what species of idiot would need to experience repeated, forced drownings to understand that such treatment is torture. hitch’s epiphany took place in 2008, a bit belated considering all of his moist cheerleading for death and mayhem in the previous half decade or so.

      • Mooser on July 12, 2012, 7:04 pm

        So it wasn’t Bill O’Reilly, then? I wasn’t sure. Thanks.

    • Kathleen on July 10, 2012, 10:43 pm

      “NF’s insistence that Palestinian ROR must be respected but that they must agree not to actually return strikes me as similarly confusing. It’s not necessarily that his position is hopelessly inconsistent — he may be able to reconcile it — but he can hardly complain bitterly when someone makes an honest mistake, if it was a mistake at all.

      For that matter, what is Finkelstein’s position on BDS? He says he is “personally” in favor of it but that the movement itself is a “cult.” For someone who is usually painstaking in his effort to be clear, these positions are anything but.”

      So clearly stated. Thanks

    • Sibiriak on July 10, 2012, 11:19 pm

      David Samel:

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

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

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

      David Samel says:

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

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

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

      • DaveS on July 11, 2012, 9:22 am

        Sibiriak, the main thrust of my comment was that Finkelstein’s harsh criticism of Ash was uncalled for. This is what Finkelstein said:

        4. In a new posting that accuses me of spreading “disinformation about BDS,” Mondoweiss cites the CJPME interview to support the statement that “Finkelstein advocates” the Palestinian “renunciation of the Right of Return.”

        5. It would appear that Mondoweiss has discovered a new stage of the dialectic in which a thing is the equivalent of its opposite.

        First of all, he fails to distinguish between Ash and Mondoweiss, blaming the entire website for publishing an “error” in a post, and then ridiculing the website for this error with the Hare Krishna video. But more importantly, he implies that his position is really quite simple, that he supports Palestinian ROR, and that Ash stated the opposite. I pointed out that Finkelstein’s position is actually rather complicated, although I acknowledged that he could harmonize it (as you did). I concluded that Finkelstein can hardly take someone to task for saying what Ash did. After all, Finkelstein insists that the Palestinians must largely waive their ROR during negotiations and accept compensation instead, and when Ash said NF is in favor of renunciation of ROR, it was at most an imprecision and not “the equivalent” of the “opposite” of Finkelstein’s position. In other words, Finkelstein took a cheap and misleading shot at Ash’s distillation of his views.

        For that matter, my comparison of NF’s view to Dershowitz on torture may have been a bit cheap and misleading as well. Just like NF’s oversimplification of his own views.

    • ColinWright on July 11, 2012, 4:56 am

      “Ironically, it reminds me of his nemesis Dershowitz on torture. Dershowitz has proposed judicially-issued “torture warrants” and methods of torture — sterilized needles under the fingernails (love the hygiene requirement) — but adamantly insists he is “opposed to torture as a normative matter.”

      I think it means you should only torture people when it seems necessary.

      As opposed to engaging in it as a recreational activity.

  18. dbroncos on July 10, 2012, 6:20 pm

    This from Marc Ellis:

    “Speaking of BDS, word is out of another “Norman” interview that accuses the movement of having a cult-like status. I don’t see it that way at all. Some of it is deep political activism. Other parts are superficial glosses on identity formations. And Finkelstein should be aware that his own personae runs the cult danger he accuse BDS of. Veterans of dissent should know when their contribution has been made and allow history – and new voices – to emerge. New voices have a right to speak and be heard without being accused of usurpation or deviation. Finkelstein deserves respect for the work he’s done.”

    Well said.

    • thelepathy on July 10, 2012, 7:44 pm

      /Veterans of dissent should know when their contribution has been made and allow history – and new voices – to emerge. New voices have a right to speak and be heard without being accused of usurpation or deviation./

      Agreed, new voices have a right to speak and be heard.
      But they do not have the right to demand not to be confronted with substantial criticism. It’s open to debate whether NF’s criticism on BDS is right or not, but I don’t think it’s unsubstantial.

  19. Miura on July 10, 2012, 7:57 pm

    NF’s support for right of return reminds me of LBJ’s support for the right of dissent: He was all for dissent, just that he thought this right should be held in abeyance and not exercised.

  20. Roya on July 10, 2012, 10:38 pm

    What is with all these childish mutterings from Finkelstein? He’s volunteering to alienate himself from (now) former fans.

  21. ColinWright on July 11, 2012, 5:01 am

    It’s also possible that for all the flamboyant rhetoric and willingness to endorse various Palestinian demands, Finkelstein is essentially a J-Street member.

    That is to say, he wants a ‘nice’ Israel — one that meets his ethical criteria.

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

    • Sibiriak on July 11, 2012, 8:34 am

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

      Wishful thinking on your part.

    • DaveS on July 11, 2012, 9:56 am

      Colin, I do think you are being a little unfair to Finkelstein. I do not think he is switching sides out of ethnic loyalty, or seeks the maintenance of Jewish domination and control over any Palestinians, citizens or not. I think he has labored so long and so hard, and at considerable personal cost, for an idea – the 2ss – that he has convinced himself that it is forever feasible and that those who ask for too much are undermining what would bring relief to millions of Palestinians under occupation.

      Marc Ellis, quoted by dbroncos above, says it best:
      Finkelstein should be aware that his own personae runs the cult danger he accuse BDS of. Veterans of dissent should know when their contribution has been made and allow history – and new voices – to emerge. New voices have a right to speak and be heard without being accused of usurpation or deviation. But, Ellis adds: “Finkelstein deserves respect for the work he’s done.” IMO, that’s a bit of an understatement. His body of work is enormously impressive. And frankly, I can understand why he is irked that people such as myself, who have accomplished one four-millionth of what he has done, are jumping on him in public. But no one is above criticism, and his thin skin and fondness for fratricidal over-reaction are not his most attractive qualities.

      • thelepathy on July 11, 2012, 10:32 am

        Well said, David. I think, you are dead-on with your assessment of NFs possible motives. I also agree that his thin skin is not a virtue. However, he would be a bit boring had he only gotten these beautiful qualities. Is he BDS’ advocatus diaboli?

      • Kathleen on July 11, 2012, 1:52 pm

        “But no one is above criticism, and his thin skin and fondness for fratricidal over-reaction are not his most attractive qualities.” His “cult” and Hare Krishna responses are asinine. I will always have a great deal of respect for NF for his clarity on the issue and his willingness to step up to the justice plate decades ago…before it has become so popular. Again better late than never. NF has taken some tough hits and personal repercussions. Respect the man a great deal. But hope he drops the “cult”…”hare Krishna” song and dance.

    • Hostage on July 11, 2012, 3:41 pm

      That is to say, he wants a ‘nice’ Israel — one that meets his ethical criteria.

      You’re suggesting that Israel should withdraw from all of the human rights treaties, including the convention on elimination of racism, because even an Israeli state that meets ethical criteria would still be unacceptable. Finkelstein is saying that sentiment is cult-like, because it’s not shared by the vast majority of people. It runs counter to the solution adopted by international consensus:

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

      link to icj-cij.org

      The 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS said that:

      One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision.

      But the BDS movement has demonstrated total disregard for the requirements set forth in the Court’s decision as well. It has never stated that Israel is entitled to exist, to be recognized, and to have security on so much as a conditional basis. It has also ignored the decades old declaration of a Palestinian state inside the 67 borders, made by the sole legal representative of the Palestinian people. This despite the fact that a majority of the international community of states have long-since extended formal recognition to the occupied State of Palestine out of a sense of solidarity with the beleaguered inhabitants.

      Finkelstein says that he’s been doing this for 30 years and doesn’t have time for that sort of nonsense anymore. He says that the movement’s positions are riddled with hypocrisy. I just gave you a striking example that’s difficult to overlook.

      • mig on July 11, 2012, 4:53 pm

        Good job Hostage, my view also is same.

    • seafoid on July 12, 2012, 11:27 am

      “Now he’s scared Israel is actually going to get destroyed”

      Fink understands sociopathic power very well.
      I think he thinks Israel will prevail. That it has the smarts.
      It doesn’t

  22. ColinWright on July 11, 2012, 5:08 am

    ‘*** I notice that Mondoweiss is now engaged in a fundraiser to “push Israel/Palestine into the public.” Permit me to suggest this as their theme song.’

    I take it the meaning of this is that Mondoweiss’ views are so extreme that they’ll just be perceived as impossibly weird.

    I don’t want this to sound as cruel as it does, but there’s a definite irony in such an accusation coming from someone who’s managed to get himself drummed out of academia and can only get his books accepted by fringe publishers. It’s like hearing that the author of ‘How to Pet Grizzlies’ disapproves of pointless risk-taking.

    • Keith on July 11, 2012, 5:10 pm

      COLLIN WRIGHT- “…someone who’s managed to get himself drummed out of academia and can only get his books accepted by fringe publishers.”

      Since Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure due to the unprecedented and dishonest efforts of Allan Dershowitz and the Israel lobby, I find this a curious interpretation of events.

    • seafoid on July 12, 2012, 11:22 am

      That’s below the belt, Colin. Fink looks at what he thinks will work. I think in that respect he is like Hostage. The song link was very funny.

      I don’t see Israel in charge of the momentum. They are riding a tiger and they won’t control the endgame.
      Personally I think Israel will tear itself apart. And it will pay to be audacious. So BDS is worth it. And the song link comes across as a bit conservative.

      • Hostage on July 12, 2012, 2:56 pm

        Fink looks at what he thinks will work. I think in that respect he is like Hostage.

        I’m really not trying to be pragmatic. I share the sentiment that the most serious crimes incur an individual’s responsibility and should not be subject to any statutory limitations, immunity, or amnesty.

        I’m deeply offended by the thought that the officials of any state might deliberately perpetrate the most serious crimes against humanity and war crimes – with absolute impunity – and then smugly demand that they be granted the opportunity to negotiate a settlement or a political compromise as if there were only competing civil claims or trivial political considerations involved. I really want these people to be hunted for the rest of their days until they have been brought to justice.

  23. Liz18 on July 11, 2012, 10:34 am

    That Finkelstein would “suggest this as their theme song” just proves that, like a child, he bites the hand that feeds him. It is childish, immature, and, hence, just like him to behave in such a way. And what other way could it be? This is the beast that is white privilege. The focus keeps coming back around to him while people of color continue to be silenced. Enough, Finkelstein. Go tend to your wounds. The rest of us have much work to do.

  24. sjarjour on July 12, 2012, 12:19 am

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

    This is an important clip I think in understanding Finkelstein’s position on BDS. Take a look.

  25. yourstruly on July 12, 2012, 6:34 pm

    considering how much norman finkelsteins has been villified by his opponents, how is it that he so broadly applies the “you’re all cultists & flunkies” brush to bds’ supporters? seems to me that what he learned from his own travails in traversing academic & other minefields would have restrained him somewhat from taking ad hominum swipes on those who disagree with him. and considering the fact that the definition of cult (online free dictionary) as “a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its members often living in an unconventional manner, under the guidance of a charismatic or authoritarian leader”, it’s hard to believe, wordsmith that finkelstein is, that he doesn’t realize that by no stretch is cult a fit for bds supporters.

  26. thelepathy on July 15, 2012, 2:14 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kS-yn9IE40

    Another important clip to watch in order to make sense of Finkelsteins view on RoR.
    At 34:00 he explains why one has to acknowledge that different players from the same political camp do agree on the factual, moral and legal issue of RoR, while they disagree on the political issue concerning the question of the feasibility of RoR. As an example he mentions Chomsky’s view.
    Although Finkelstein keeps stating in interviews, that palestinians have no reason to forfeit their rights, he might have shifted his point of view concerning RoR towards Chomsky’s pragmatic approach.

    Interesting, on that occasion Finkelstein also says:
    “People are entitled to their judgements without being written of as the enemy on these questions.”

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