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.