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What Comes Next: If the goal is to change U.S. policy, American Jewish opinion can’t be ignored

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This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found here.

Like the Munchkin cult in Oz, many Palestine solidarity activists—not least on the Mondoweiss website—are celebrating the purported demise of the two-state solution.   On the optimistic timeline of Ian Lustick, the unlikely guru pro tem of this group, the inevitable one-state solution will come to pass in just a little over a century from now. [1] The other day I was waiting for a subway for what seemed an eternity, when a young woman next to me muttered, “Jesus will come before this damn train!” The same might be said of one state.   Meanwhile, far removed from the one-state love fests, and on a less cheery note, Palestinians themselves will on this reckoning have to endure for generations to come a vicious occupation.

In fact, no credible case has been made demonstrating the impossibility of two states.  However, instead of arguing this contention, [2] I want to consider here the implications vis-à-vis the American Jewish community of pronouncing the two-state solution dead and gone, while it remains the only live and plausible option. [3]  Pew’s just-released “portrait of Jewish Americans” provides a basis for informed speculation. [4]

The Pew survey plots what, prima facie, appear to be two contradictory trajectories:

Jews are committed to liberalism

Fully 70 percent of American Jews prefer the Democratic Party and 50 percent describe themselves as liberal (among Americans generally, the respective percentages are 50 and 20). [5]  A majority still supports “big government” (among Americans generally, only a minority does).   Although it’s obvious, it nonetheless surprises and redounds to their credit that most American Jews acknowledge that other minority groups, including Blacks, Hispanics, and even Muslims, suffer more discrimination than them. [6]  On some indices, the liberalism of American Jews goes through the roof.   Fully 80 percent support social acceptance of homosexuality (60 percent among Americans generally).  If Jews held sway, Chelsea Manning would be a viable presidential candidate.

Jews are committed to Israel 

Fully 70 percent of American Jews say they feel either very attached (30 percent) or somewhat attached (39 percent) to Israel.   Yet, depending on how one clusters the same data, different conclusions can be drawn.  It might also be said that fully 70 percent feel only somewhat attached (39 percent) or not very/not at all attached (31 percent) to Israel. [7]  Still, it would be foolish to gainsay the American Jewish bond to Israel.   The depth of this connection becomes yet more apparent when placed in the context of the Pew finding that American Jews overwhelmingly (75 percent) regard Holocaust remembrance as the essence of their identity.   Justifiably or not, in the imagination of American Jews, an inextricable nexus exists between the Jewish catastrophe (Death) and Israel’s establishment (Rebirth), while Israel’s extinguishment would amount to a “second Holocaust.”

How does the contradiction between American Jewish support for liberalism, on the one hand, and American Jewish support for Israel, on the other, play out politically?   Whereas American Jews feel attached to Israel as a State, they no longer blindly support Israeli policy as it impinges on the Israel-Palestine conflict.   Just 38 percent believe Israel sincerely wants to resolve the conflict, and just 17 percent support the Israeli settlement enterprise.  On a related note, fully 90 percent find no incompatibility between “strongly” criticizing Israel and being Jewish, and just 10 percent believe that anti-Semitism poses a serious threat to Israel. [8]   Moreover, the investment of American Jews in liberalism trumps their investment in Israel.   In the hierarchy of American Jewish values, “working for justice/equality” (56 percent) ranks much higher than “caring about Israel” (43 percent). [9]

All the same, American Jewish dissent does not cross, or even approach, the threshold of questioning Israel’s existence.   90 percent regard Israel as an “essential” or “important”  constituent of their Jewish identity.   The reasonable inference is that any hint that resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict entails the dissolution or disappearance of Israel will set off alarm bells among American Jews.   Further—and this point warrants emphasis—liberal precepts do not intrinsically conflict with Israel’s existence.   On a pair of quintessentially liberal criteria, Israel easily passes muster: it is a State under international law, and a member State of the United Nations.   Indisputably, Israel is also a discriminatory State, which contradicts the broad American Jewish commitment to “justice/equality.”  But extirpating this egregious feature would, on liberal tenets, require Israel’s democratization, not its elimination.

***

The Pew survey’s findings suggest that American Jews might be nudged from their current critical stance toward Israel to the international consensus for resolving the conflict: two states on the 1967 border, and a “just” resolution of the refugee question.   These terms are squarely anchored in liberal tenets and are wholly embraced by liberal institutions, yet do not call into question Israel’s existence.   If a mass nonviolent movement emerged among Palestinians demanding implementation of this consensus, and the solidarity movement abroad mobilized around it, the likelihood is that many American Jews could be won over, or embarrassed into silence.   Either way, a significant obstacle to resolving the conflict would be removed.

If, however, the Palestine solidarity movement muddies the waters with the call for “One State from the River to the Sea,”  American Jews will likely close ranks.   60 percent of American Jews seem wedded to a “peaceful two-state solution,” and among those under 30, who tend to be the most open-minded, [10] it rises to 70 percent.   Pew did not ask respondents whether they supported a one-state solution, but it can be surmised that the percentage answering affirmatively would fall in the ballpark of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who celebrated Christmas (1 percent).  It is, of course, perfectly legitimate to write off American Jews as a potential constituency.  However, it is hard to conceive how the struggle in the U.S. can be won in the face of determined Jewish opposition.   Jews might comprise only 2 percent of the U.S. population, but on this particular issue they constitute a—perhaps, the—decisive voice. It is also disingenuous to avow that you are trying to wean American Jews away from an intransigent position, yet advocate a solution of the conflict that, now and in the foreseeable future, will find zero resonance or traction among them.

“Arabs,” Abba Eban famously, and falsely, quipped, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace.”   The tragedy would be if the Palestine solidarity movement ends up vindicating his mendacious claim.

Notes 

 [1] A New York Times op-ed by Professor Lustick declaring the two-state solution dead (“Two-State Illusion,” 15 September 2013) received a rapturous reception from one-state advocates.   He pointed to the 120-year-long Algerian war of independence as a relevant precedent for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict.

 [2] In a forthcoming book, How to Resolve the Israel-Palestine Conflict (OR Books), Palestinian political analyst Mouin Rabbani and I flesh out the case for a two-state solution.

 [3] The argument put forth here is fully developed in my book Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish romance with Israel is coming to an end (New York: 2012).

 [4] Pew Research Center, A Portrait of Jewish Americans (Washington: 2013).

 [5] I have rounded off most of the survey percentage findings to the nearest 10.

 [6] Still, 40 percent subscribe to the fantastical notion that Jews do suffer discrimination in the U.S., perhaps because Princeton’s entering class is only 99 percent Jewish.

 [7] Similarly, whereas Pew stresses that 40 percent of Jews believe Israel was given by God to the Jewish people, it might also be emphasized that 55 percent either don’t believe it (27 percent) or don’t even believe in God (28 percent).

 [8] In addition, despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s counsel that President Obama is bad for Jews and bad for Israel, a robust majority of American Jews continues to support Obama, including (albeit by a smaller majority) his policy toward Israel and Iran.

 [9] 42 percent put a premium on “having a good sense of humor.” Triangulating these findings, one might conclude, rightly, that “working for justice/equality” while “caring about Israel” requires “having a good sense of humor.”

 [10] For example, whereas only 10 percent of American Jews say the U.S. is “too supportive” of Israel, among under-30 Jews, the percentage climbs to 25.

Norman Finkelstein
About 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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112 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    October 22, 2013, 10:31 am

    Exactly. Wow, never thought I’d say that about Norman Finkelstein.

    • Donald
      Donald
      October 22, 2013, 12:06 pm

      “Exactly. Wow, never thought I’d say that about Norman Finkelstein”

      How completely expected of you. Finkelstein is what a truly liberal Zionist would look like (not that I think he actually is one–I think he just supports the 2SS out of his sense of political realism). He’s honest about Israeli crimes. Naturally you’ve never agreed with him until he attacks 1SS supporters. His honesty about Israeli crimes would be a real turnoff.

      He might be right regarding his views on what is achievable. Right now nothing good seems achievable.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 22, 2013, 1:20 pm

        ” Finkelstein is what a truly liberal Zionist would look like”

        Not at all. Finkelstein is an honest anti-Zionist. He is willing to do what none of you are willing to do – admit that American Jews will never agree to Israel’s destruction, that calls for one state are ultimately harmful to the Palestinian cause, and that most of the pro-Palestinian movement is deluding itself into thinking otherwise.

        My problem with Finkelstein is principally tone, not substance. As I’ve told you a million times, there are many who write about so-called Israeli crimes. They are not all as foul-mouthed, disagreeable, and at times, antisemitic, as Finkelstein is.

        In recent years, Finkelstein seems to have learned the lesson that raising his high-pitched voice in public, and treating those who question him like crap is not helpful to gaining support for his ideas.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 22, 2013, 3:05 pm

        Not at all. Finkelstein is an honest anti-Zionist. He is willing to do what none of you are willing to do – . . .

        I agree. Here’s what he said in Yoav Shamir’s film “Defamation”:

        “It’s the best thing that will ever happen to Israel if they get rid of these American Jews who are warmongers from Martha’s Vinyard; and the warmongers from the Hamptons; and the warmongers from Beverly Hills; and the warmongers from Miami. It’s been a disaster for Israel. It’s the best thing if it can ever get rid of this [warmongering] American Jewry. It’s a curse.”

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 22, 2013, 3:41 pm

        “I agree. Here’s what he said in Yoav Shamir’s film “Defamation”:

        “It’s the best thing that will ever happen to Israel if they get rid of these American Jews who are warmongers from Martha’s Vinyard; and the warmongers from the Hamptons; and the warmongers from Beverly Hills; and the warmongers from Miami. It’s been a disaster for Israel. It’s the best thing if it can ever get rid of this [warmongering] American Jewry. It’s a curse.””

        You know how I feel about Western activists. We’d probably have a deal by now if not for the outside pressure and the money. A lot of the far-right money in Israel comes from America.

      • Donald
        Donald
        October 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

        “He is willing to do what none of you are willing to do ..”

        A sweeping inaccurate statement–you’re too filled with anger when you come here to be able to see distinctions between people. There are fissures here between various commenters, but you can’t see them,because everyone to your left looks alike. That’s a common malady, actually, not limited to you.

        “there are many who write about so-called Israeli crimes.”

        So-called Israeli crimes kind of says it all, hophmi. Would you trust a Palestinian supporter who referred to “so-called terrorist bombings”? No, and with good reason.

        “Finkelstein seems to have learned the lesson that raising his high-pitched voice in public, and treating those who question him like crap is not helpful to gaining support for his ideas”

        Good grief, his style hasn’t changed. Are you blind? He’s using exactly the same sarcasm towards BDS supporters that he commonly directs at Israel supporters. (And he hasn’t completely dropped his sarcasm towards Israel supporters, even in this post.)

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 22, 2013, 4:55 pm

        “A sweeping inaccurate statement–you’re too filled with anger when you come here to be able to see distinctions between people. ”

        Thanks, Dr. Freud. I’m not an angry person. I may be the least angry person here, judging by the comments.

        ” There are fissures here between various commenters, but you can’t see them,because everyone to your left looks alike.”

        Oh please. Most of the commentators here think I’m a far-right Likudnik. I’m plenty good at making the distinctions. You guys are the ones who think Peter Beinart and Moshe Feiglin are the same.

        “So-called Israeli crimes kind of says it all, hophmi.”

        No, it just says that I don’t accept the pro-Palestinian narrative wholesale or the concept of collective national responsibility in the way that you use it.

        “Would you trust a Palestinian supporter who referred to “so-called terrorist bombings?”

        Stop with the sophistry. Each suicide bombing is a fact. The mushy “Israeli crimes” which is a catchall used to include everything the IDF does, whether it’s self-defense or not, is a talking point, not a fact.

        “Good grief, his style hasn’t changed. ”

        Actually, it’s changed a lot. I have followed him for quite a while. My law school once held a session on the Holocaust asset cases where Goldhagen spoke. He showed up and almost had to be physically removed because he wouldn’t stop heckling the panelists. Today, Finkelstein is a lot less likely to do things like that.

        ” He’s using exactly the same sarcasm towards BDS supporters that he commonly directs at Israel supporters. ”

        Yes, that’s true, the sarcasm is somewhat similar. It’s nothing compared to the sorts of things he says about Israel’s supporters. But it’s telling that he was the hero of many here until you tasted his medicine, and now he’s a big enemy. He isn’t the first to suffer this fate for leaving the reservation, however close he stays to it.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 23, 2013, 10:29 am

        the concept of collective national responsibility

        States are collectives with national responsibilities. The jurists on the International Court of Justice said that the State of Israel was illegally violating the fundamental rights of Palestinians to freedom of movement, housing or protection from the elements, access to adequate supplies of food and water, access to health care and an education, and the right to work. The jurists said Israel was obliged to end the illegal situations it had created and to pay the victims compensation.

        Generations of Germans, who were not even born yet in WWII, are nonetheless still obliged by their government to pay compensation to Jewish victims of those same crimes.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 23, 2013, 10:42 am

        “Generations of Germans, who were not even born yet in WWII, are nonetheless still obliged by their government to pay compensation to Jewish victims of those same crimes.”

        That’s a legal settlement. It is not as if the settlement involves blaming current Germans for the crimes of their ancestors.

      • Donald
        Donald
        October 23, 2013, 5:54 pm

        “I’m plenty good at making the distinctions. You guys are the ones who think Peter Beinart and Moshe Feiglin are the same.”

        You’re good at unconscious self-refutation. “You guys”, lumping everyone into one category right after you claim to be plenty good at making distinctions.

        “No, it just says that I don’t accept the pro-Palestinian narrative wholesale or the concept of collective national responsibility in the way that you use it.”

        It means more than that. It means you think that when Palestinians murder Israelis, it’s murder, but when Israelis murder Palestinians, then it’s a narrative you don’t accept.

        “Stop with the sophistry. Each suicide bombing is a fact. The mushy “Israeli crimes” which is a catchall used to include everything the IDF does, whether it’s self-defense or not, is a talking point, not a fact.”

        White phosphorus, indiscriminate firepower used in urban environments, sprinkling millions of cluster munitions on southern Lebanon in the last days of the 2006 war, apartheid policies on the WB, shooting at innocent fishermen and farmers–sure, Hophmi, since the victims aren’t Israeli Jews, this is all just a lot of “sophistry”. You reveal a lot of inner ugliness with comments like that.

        “But it’s telling that he was the hero of many here until you tasted his medicine, and now he’s a big enemy.”

        Not everyone sees him as the enemy, though some do. And yeah, you can’t expect people to be happy when he goes out of his way to be insulting. He could say that the 1SS is impractical or impossible for reasons A, B, and C, but he likes to be childish sometimes.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 23, 2013, 9:04 pm

        ‘The mushy “Israeli crimes” ‘

        You mean the crimes which turn Palestinian children into mush?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 7:06 am

        That’s a legal settlement.

        No it’s not. But even if it had been, it would still be an example of collective national responsibility.

        The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany never went to any Court or filed any lawsuit against the German people or State. They went to West German Chancellor Adenauer and the West German Parliament. The latest round of compensation included crimes committed by the French Vichy regime against Moroccan Jews, e.g. Moroccan Jews to get Holocaust compensation http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4061166,00.html

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      October 23, 2013, 4:22 pm

      “Exactly. Wow, never thought I’d say that about Norman Finkelstein.”

      You and Norman are lying to yourselves by focusing on what American Jews want, rather than what israeli Jews are willing to do. When Norman says:

      The Pew survey’s findings suggest that American Jews might be nudged from their current critical stance toward Israel to the international consensus for resolving the conflict: two states on the 1967 border, and a “just” resolution of the refugee question. These terms are squarely anchored in liberal tenets and are wholly embraced by liberal institutions, yet do not call into question Israel’s existence. If a mass nonviolent movement emerged among Palestinians demanding implementation of this consensus, and the solidarity movement abroad mobilized around it, the likelihood is that many American Jews could be won over, or embarrassed into silence. Either way, a significant obstacle to resolving the conflict would be removed.

      …we can see he’s not thought this through because this offer — which is in essence the Arab Peace Initiative — has been on the table for a decade and the israeli Jews are giving it the finger. So he and you can quack on and on about what is necessary for American Jews to be won over and make rather bigoted implications about Palestinian non-violence (as if the israelis have ever responded humanely to non-violence), the rest of us will say, yes, and the israeli Jews have made it clear, under no uncertain terms, that THEY WILL NOT AGREE TO THIS. They reject this international consensus.

      Since that is the fact, what the American Jews want or think doesn’t really mean anything — their refusal to open their eyes and view the truth demonstrates that they are all PEPs or are living in a fantasyland. The Palestinians and their supporters are simply willing to look at the facts: since the israeli Jews are unwilling to accept a 2ss with anything remotely like just terms, they must find another solution (or tactic) that might.

      To think they should do otherwise is to suggest that they should sacrifice their future and their well being and continue pursuing a fantasy 2ss because to do otherwise might offend American Jews.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        October 25, 2013, 11:17 am

        Woody Tanaka:

        …the israeli Jews have made it clear, under no uncertain terms, that THEY WILL NOT AGREE TO THIS.

        But Israeli Jews have made it clear, under no uncertain terms, that THEY WILL NOT AGREE to a single democratic state either– and with 10,000 times the adamancy. So, by your logic, a democratic 1SS is as much an impossible fantasy as a 2SS.

        Since that is the fact, what the American Jews want or think doesn’t really mean anything

        You are missing the point. Any solution, 1S or 2S, will have to be FORCED on Israel, i.e., Israeli Jews will have to be pressured into it AGAINST THEIR WILL.

        Finkelstein’s argument is that, assuming it ever happens, American Jews will perforce play a major role in putting that pressure on Israeli Jews.

  2. Mike_Konrad
    Mike_Konrad
    October 22, 2013, 11:07 am

    Still, 40 percent subscribe to the fantastical notion that Jews do suffer discrimination in the U.S., perhaps because Princeton’s entering class is only 99 percent Jewish.

    Is this hyperbolic sarcasm?!

    Princeton is only around 15% Jewish.

    It ruined his essay.

    • Donald
      Donald
      October 22, 2013, 12:03 pm

      “Is this hyperbolic sarcasm?!

      Princeton is only around 15% Jewish.

      It ruined his essay.”

      Was your comment hyperbolic sarcasm aimed at people who don’t understand hyperbolic sarcasm? If not, it ruined your comment.

    • piotr
      piotr
      October 22, 2013, 2:34 pm

      Are you retarded? This is not a rhetorical question. People with certain types of personality disorders are not able to distinguish between statements made in error and statements that express sarcasm, a joke etc.

      PS. “Are you retarded? This is not a rhetorical question.” is an allusion, a quote from the most famous rant of 2013.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 22, 2013, 8:18 pm

        What rant was that?

      • piotr
        piotr
        October 23, 2013, 7:11 pm

        I can tell you if you are at least 18 years old. Actually, you can google my first two sentences, but I do not want to be responsible for your loss of innocence.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 23, 2013, 8:10 pm

        I am, depressingly, well over 18. And I tried Googling the sentences, but got nothing I recognised.

      • Peter in SF
        Peter in SF
        October 23, 2013, 1:17 am

        Finkelstein could have chosen some real statistic that would prove his point. Instead, he took the lazy route of obvious exaggeration.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 26, 2013, 12:55 am

        OK. After more hard work with Google, I found these:

        (a) some sorority girl’s rant about something or other,

        (b) line from a nothing film called My Boss’s Daughter.

        Do either of these count as famous?

  3. Steve C
    Steve C
    October 22, 2013, 11:29 am

    Your characterization of the one-state solution as constituting “Israel’s extinguishment” or “its elimination” are not fair, given the evidence. The character of every nation is constantly in flux, and the change proposed by the one-state solution would not destroy Israel; it would expand it and give its citizens more equality. Under the two-state solution, Israel would lose control over much territory, and could therefore be seen as a more significant change to the current status quo.

    You also assume far too much about potential support for the one-state solution. If American Jews were asked if they would support an expanded, democratic, bi-national Israel with a constitution ensuring equal treatment of ethnic groups and freedom of religion, I would wager that a significant number would.

  4. merlot
    merlot
    October 22, 2013, 11:34 am

    Am I supposed to take seriously an analysis of what comes next that is premised on the idea that what is acceptable and realistic should be determined by the results of a pew opinion survey? Am I to take seriously the idea that American Jewish opinion are the measure by which I should understand what is both acceptable and realistic in Palestine and Israel? Am I to take seriously the idea that Palestinians should shape their “mass nonviolent movement” to address the “consensus” of PEP Jews in America and not their own actual needs, concerns and beliefs? Am I to take seriously that the limited needs of a group completely distanced from the conflict should trump all ideas of justice and the day to day reality of people actually living in the conflict? Finkelstein’s credibility as a useful commentator on this issue is decreasing exponentially with each new thing he writes. His complete disconnect from reality in Palestine and Israeli is unbelievable.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      October 23, 2013, 8:49 pm

      I cannot go so far as to say NF has a complete disconnect. I really do not know his current thinking, and do respect much of his work and activism. But I was surprised that what I think or believe is a sharp critical mind was resorting to Pew survey results to back up his case. In fact, it weakened his argument.

      Just examine the survivorship of Pew opinion survey results as reflecting sustainable reality.

  5. RudyM
    RudyM
    October 22, 2013, 11:44 am

    Jews might comprise only 2 percent of the U.S. population, but on this particular issue they constitute a—perhaps, the—decisive voice.

    This seems to be the problem. Thank you Zionism for forcing me to be obsessed with the Jews.

    Interesting that Finkelstein finds a welcome at Mondoweiss, but not Atzmon or Blankfort.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      October 22, 2013, 1:21 pm

      “Interesting that Finkelstein finds a welcome at Mondoweiss, but not Atzmon or Blankfort.”

      Yeah, it’s really interesting. Maybe accusing the Jews of deicide as Atzmon likes to do is a nonstarter even here.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 22, 2013, 4:31 pm

        “Maybe accusing the Jews of deicide as Atzmon likes to do is a nonstarter even here.”

        Source? or pure slander?

      • Cliff
        Cliff
        October 22, 2013, 6:29 pm

        ‘even here’

        Says the Jewish colonist who slanders all Palestinians as Nazis and Arab and Palestinian agency as genocidal and plays up the importance of the Mufti to in-turn slander all Palestinians.

        You and Atzmon are on the same extremist wavelength. Don’t act like you’re above him, troll.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        October 23, 2013, 12:36 am

        I don’t remember seeing any accusations of deicide. I am just reading The Wandering Who? now and it’s, eh, okay so far. Mostly I was reacting to seeing Finkelstein included here when he has said some pretty insulting things about those who hold what might be dominant views on Mondoweiss (support for BDS and a single democratic state in Palestine/Israel), while other voices I’d be interested in hearing from are absent. (You didn’t say anything about Blankfort, but what little I’ve read of him suggests he’s more of a genuine scholar, and possibly more an actual thinker, than Atzmon.) The worst thing about my comment is how much it made it all about me.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      October 23, 2013, 11:48 am

      Re: Thank you Zionism for forcing me to be obsessed with the Jews.

      Agreed. I don’t think the definite article even fits, but have to use it anyway when quoting or describing things done by the Zionists in Palestine.

  6. Bill in Maryland
    Bill in Maryland
    October 22, 2013, 11:55 am

    Thanks Mr. Finkelstein, first off, for your condescending and gratuitous comparison of Mondoweiss readers to a “cult”, and secondly for your fairness and logical prowess in arguing for a 2SS by saying “no credible case has been made demonstrating the impossibility of two states.” Pray tell, how does one use the facts of the present to prove the impossibility of future events, e.g. standing in 1950s Mississippi or Pretoria and proving that the end of Jim Crow or South African Apartheid is impossible?

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      October 23, 2013, 8:58 pm

      Exactly, Bill. Imagine taking results of a Pew survey in the Jim Crow South and using the results of that survey to make the case for humiliation and Aparteid.

      With that tactic NF was not the sharp thinker I thought him to be.

      As for the insults….I thought it was simply Norman being Norman. Not personal. Just his rhetoric.

  7. Bandolero
    Bandolero
    October 22, 2013, 11:59 am

    I disagree.

    While I agree that “no credible case has been made demonstrating the impossibility of two states” I do not think that point is very important. What’s missing there is that having two states would not mean the solution of the conflict and the end of the struggle. Two states would just mean that the struggle enters a new phase.

    Then, what’s the struggle all about? In my opinion it’s about defeating the racist colonial and ruthless ideology of zionism. The struggle against it will not stop before all the land is governed by non-racist principles, it will not end before the zionist aim of “transfering” people to establish a “jewish” majority is abolished, and it will certainly not end before the zionists ability to ignite wars in the muslim world by means like monopolized media manipulation, black propaganda and false flag terror as a cover to deflect public world opinion of continuing racist zionist policies is broken.

    So, in my view, there is absolutely no contradiction in struggling for a Palestian state in what is currently non-state land and at the same time struggling for the abolishment of all racist policies. In the end, only pressure on the racist regime of Tel Aviv will change it’s happy Chutzpah calculations and it’s criminal behaviour, and all and any pressure targeting the racist and illegal behaviour of the Tel Aviv regime is helpful in that end.

  8. Shmuel
    Shmuel
    October 22, 2013, 11:59 am

    OK, the two state solution is not dead. It can still be accomplished if Palestinians conduct a non-violent campaign for a Palestinian state based on ʻ67 borders and a “just” resolution of the refugee question (of a kind acceptable to liberal-minded US Jews); the Palestine solidarity movement rallies around that; American Jews are won over (or “shamed into silence”); the US government (finally free of the obstacle posed by US Jews) exerts pressure on Israel; and Israel agrees to comply. All “before Jesus comes”.

    What bugs me about this post is not its lack of realism (the one-state posts haven’t been any more realistic), but its framing of the struggle in terms of what US Jews would be likely to accept (and consequently laying blame for the lack of a solution on the Palestinians themselves – odious Abba Eban quote and all). This would be problematic even if it were actually a workable, pragmatic solution. Since it is not even that, it is simply offensive.

    • Donald
      Donald
      October 22, 2013, 4:08 pm

      “but its framing of the struggle in terms of what US Jews would be likely to accept (and consequently laying blame for the lack of a solution on the Palestinians themselves – odious Abba Eban quote and all). ”

      Good point. I didn’t spot that, but you’re right. In a way he hides behind blaming the Palestinian solidarity movement, but the implication is there–if the Palestinians themselves don’t go along with what Norman thinks American Jews will accept, then he is ready to quote Eban.

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        October 22, 2013, 4:28 pm

        In a way he hides behind blaming the Palestinian solidarity movement

        I read “Palestine solidarity” throughout as a euphemism for Palestinians (so as not to appear to be blaming the victim).

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 22, 2013, 6:19 pm

        Well, if the Solidarity movement’s proposals are actually the same as the Palestinians’, by implication how can you be wrong, Shmuel?

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 22, 2013, 4:57 pm

        ” In a way he hides behind blaming the Palestinian solidarity movement, but the implication is there”

        Yes, because it’s a giant failure here. You laugh every time I remind you that American support for Palestinians is in the single digits. But it’s true, and he’s absolutely correct when he chastises you for trumpeting every little thing as if it was a major victory and when he points out the hypocrisy of criticizing Israel’s internal discrimination on grounds that would apply to many, many countries. I’m still waiting for the criticism of India’s treatment of the Dalits.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        October 23, 2013, 5:40 am

        @ hophmi
        Does the US taxpayer give India $8.5 million (plus interest) per day, all borrowed at interest from China and Japan? Does it constantly use its UN SC veto to immunize India from accountability?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 23, 2013, 10:12 am

        and when he points out the hypocrisy of criticizing Israel’s internal discrimination on grounds that would apply to many, many countries.

        That’s one of his weakest arguments. Every state is held to the same legal standards under the UN’s Universal Periodic Review and CERD procedures. Article 2 of the Charter is not a fig leaf for the crime of apartheid or racial segregation.

        It is true, that unlike other countries, the Zionists conditioned the establishment of their national home on compliance with public international law in the Basel Program (1897) and their declaration on the rights of religious and minority groups supplied in accordance with the protection plan contained in resolution 181(II), The Plan for the Future Government of Palestine. That minority protection plan was adopted in line with the customary procedures for the creation of new states employed by the Concert of Europe and the Versailles Peace Conference. The League of Nations also incorporated acceptance of a treaty on minorities into its own rules for the termination of a mandate regime. The rights of religious groups, minorities, and women were explicitly placed under UN guarantee and there is a compromissory clause that grants the International Court of Justice jurisdiction to resolve any dispute that might arise over interpretation of the plan between the General Assembly and Israel, unless the parties agree to another mode of settlement.

        So, when Norman Finkelstein says that international law has nothing to say about Israel’s treatment of its own citizens, that isn’t necessarily the case. It certainly isn’t hypocritical to require Zionists to live up to their own pronouncements, assurances, and obligations – and the UN has singled out others countries over systematic discrimination, like South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.

      • Donald
        Donald
        October 23, 2013, 5:41 pm

        “Yes, because it’s a giant failure here. You laugh every time I remind you that American support for Palestinians is in the single digits.”

        Hophmi, who is the “you” in “you laugh”? I’ve never gone to the trouble of checking, but have never “laughed” at your assertion. Quite the contrary–I assume it’s probably true and then go on to point out that serious proponents of a 2SS would find this deeply disturbing, given that our enabling of Israeli policy is part of what prevents a 2SS from coming to fruition. Real supporters of a 2SS would be saying most of what Finkelstein has been writing for the past few decades (minus the unnecessary sarcasm, perhaps.)

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 22, 2013, 6:31 pm

        This would be problematic even if it were actually a workable, pragmatic solution. Since it is not even that, it is simply offensive.

        Oh, I don’t know. If the Palestinians agreed to such terms, perhaps it could be put into place. You know, if millions of Palestinian refugees were jumping to declare they did not want to return, would give up Jerusalem, would accept “flexible” boundaries based on where settlements are already, would agree to have no army- for “security reasons” of course, would accept occasional random patrols, etc. why wouldn’t the State agree to a nominal “state” declared and stamped on official paper?

    • Inanna
      Inanna
      October 23, 2013, 1:25 am

      What bugs me about this post is not its lack of realism (the one-state posts haven’t been any more realistic), but its framing of the struggle in terms of what US Jews would be likely to accept (and consequently laying blame for the lack of a solution on the Palestinians themselves – odious Abba Eban quote and all). This would be problematic even if it were actually a workable, pragmatic solution. Since it is not even that, it is simply offensive.

      Thanks Shmuel. That’s exactly right.

  9. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    October 22, 2013, 12:10 pm

    Munchkins are not opposed to a two state solution. Munchkins support justice – 1ss, 2ss or something else. However, our opinions, as well as the mainstream “Jewish opinion” you site in the Pew survey, are still here nor there in the face of a small crowd of big money Zionist Americans and 600,000 settlers whose numbers are growing every day. Ask any member of Congress.

    The I/P problem won’t be resolved anytime soon, but the increasingly audible voices of Israel’s critics, including those who advocate for one state, are providing a strong signal that the staus quo is unsustainable. This critique will continue to get louder regardless of whether or not American Jews decide to “close ranks”.

  10. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    October 22, 2013, 12:13 pm

    Norman: good presentation. Jews in the USA will support pressure on Israel (by USA, by UN perhaps) to achieve an end of settlements and/or an end of occupation. those are, roughly, the prerequisites for 2SS as envisaged by PLO (already) in 1988. But they will probably not (on thee polls) support pressure for PRoR (Palestinian Right of return) because Israel will “paint” that as “extinguishing Israel as Jewish” which is as much as to say (for them anyhow) it would amount to “extinguishing Israel” per se. democracy is fine here, non-discrimination is fine here (indeed Jews demand it here) but Israel must be allowed to discriminate most notably against the exiles expelled in 1948 and refused re-admittance since then (and forever for all too many Israelis, today).

    So, yes, American Jews should be encouraged to call openly and loudly for pressure on Israel to remove the settlers, demolish the wall, demolish the settlement buildings, end the occupation, and make a 2SS peace.

    BTW, a VERY liberal Israeli emailed me (in answer to a question from me) as follows:

    Sure, many people here would like to have as big a Jewish state as
    possible, and all the water too. But with desalination water is becoming less of a problem. getting possession of underground water reservoirs is no longer a matter of survival, it is just a matter of saving on electricity bills – if Israel has to give up on the West Bank aquifers, it could get all the water needed out of the Mediteranean.

    And if pressed, Israelis WOULD give up the West Bank. Israelis would NOT give up the Jewish Majority and the Jewish State.

    It is not just about an ideology called “Zionism”. It is about war. We have been at war with the Palestinians for much longer than Israel had been in existence. No one now living, on either side, can remember a time when there was no war. Israelis have no reason to trust the Palestinians (of course the Palestinians have even less reason to trust
    the Israelis).

    You don’t end a war by putting yourself at the other side’s mercy and hoping for the best. Not if you can help it. And Palestinians are not in a position to demand Israel’s unconditional surrender. As Israelis see it, any solution which places the percentage of Arabs among Israeli citizens anywhere close to 50% would be an unconditional surrender.

    Therefore, if there were to be a path towards democratic 1SS (unlike the present apartheid 1SS), it would have to be imposed on Israel very, very much against Israeli wishes. Thus it is sad that the Israelis have worked so hard and spent so much money and caused so much Palestinian grief to buoy up the settlements with all the impression it makes of permanency (and thus of 1SS).

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      October 22, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Norman, on re-reading your essay, I believe that you are declaring against 1SS but in favor of international consensus which you believe calls for some sort of PRoR (to Israel) in a 2SS creating a (new) Palestine.

      If Israel were ALSO democratic and non0-discriminatory (which I believe you thought American Jews would tend to support as well), then you are within a hair’s-breadth of the goals of BDS.

      Do you now endorse the goals of BDS or its methods? do you believe, now, that American Jews (based on the polls) would endorse the goals and/or methods of BDS?

      If not, perhaps you are suggesting that American Jews act (to achieve THEIR goals) and that all others (Americnas and others) stay out of the way. BDS, of course, is a movement that seeks maximum participation.

    • Bandolero
      Bandolero
      October 22, 2013, 3:38 pm

      Pabelmont

      I think, your VERY liberal Israeli acquaintance inadvertedly made just a very good point for advocating a one state solution:

      And if pressed, Israelis WOULD give up the West Bank. Israelis would NOT give up the Jewish Majority and the Jewish State.

      As soon as Israel and the occupied territories are regarded as one state then there is no “Jewish Majority” anymore, but just one apartheid state run by a minority of zionist racists. Hence, pressuring Israel to admit that it has successfully conquered all the occupied territories including Gaza and to end the apartheid may lead to Israeli withdrawing from the occupied territories to preserve the “Jewish Majority” – and alas – territories occupied by zionists will become liberated and a two state solution will be more plausible.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      October 22, 2013, 5:15 pm

      because Israel will “paint” that as “extinguishing Israel as Jewish” which is as much as to say (for them anyhow) it would amount to “extinguishing Israel” per se.

      I’ve been commenting here for along time about the fact that Zionists deliberately communicate using meaningless symbols, like “Jewish and democratic state” or “Jewish national home” that are undefined and have no agreed-upon meaning shared by the speakers and listeners. So the key Zionist propaganda talking points that have been used for more than a century are little more than evasions and euphemisms.

      The Jerusalem Post reported that the coalition agreement between Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi (with the knowledge and consent of Yesh Atid) mandates the passage of a “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People”. http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/The-new-basic-law-Its-about-time-314771

      The proposals so far amount to blatantly racist declarations, that all too clearly violate civilized norms of equality with respect to a fifth of the state’s population. Justice Minister Livni has temporarily headed off disaster, by appointing Prof. Ruth Gavison to draft the compromise. But Gavison openly justified the current amendment to the Citizenship law, that prevents Israelis from establishing a family in Israel with Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, by citing the need to ensure a Jewish majority, even if that means infringing on democracy and equal rights. So the constitutional exercise promises to be a train wreck if it is ever consummated.

  11. eljay
    eljay
    October 22, 2013, 12:18 pm

    >> On a pair of quintessentially liberal criteria, Israel easily passes muster: it is a State under international law, and a member State of the United Nations. Indisputably, Israel is also a discriminatory State, which contradicts the broad American Jewish commitment to “justice/equality.” But extirpating this egregious feature would, on liberal tenets, require Israel’s democratization, not its elimination.

    Indisputably, Israel is also a colonialist and expansionist state. Extirpating these egregious features would require Israel to end its occupation and colonization of Palestine, withdraw to within its / Partition borders and reform into a secular, democratic and egalitarian state of and for all of its citizens, equally.

    Unfortunately, Zio-supremacists and their supporters will have none of that. They want “Greater” Israel and they want supremacist “Jewish State”.

    And they want to be able to blame anyone *but* supremacist Jews and their supporters for the resulting unrest.

  12. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    October 22, 2013, 1:09 pm

    I can’t believe that the 2SS, if it came about, would be final, though I think it may come about as a step to something else, either a 1SS or the all but total expulsion of the Palestinians.
    My conclusion from the Pew survey, supposing it to be valid, would be that so long as Western Jewish opinion, which supports Israeli Jewish opinion in completely refusing to trust Palestinians, remains decisive there will be solution, only the status quo. Finkelstein and Lustick seem to agree on the mistrust’s existence and I’m persuaded by Lustick that it stands in the way of a 2SS almost as much as of anything else.
    So it would seem that the Palestinians do not have an opportunity, even one to squander. A thousand pens are already being sharpened to write a thousand stories which will present them as squandering an opportunity – ie stories of a generous offer that was nearly made, had it not been clear that they were so devious, deceitful and fanatical, wanting it all (would you believe it? all!!) from river to sea. Will Kerry and Obama be wielding one of those quills? Will Finkelstein – surely not?

  13. Krauss
    Krauss
    October 22, 2013, 1:17 pm

    Shorter Finkelstein:

    You must appease the supporters of Apartheid.

    This past week has been the death knell of “liberal” Zionists.

    • W.Jones
      W.Jones
      October 22, 2013, 4:05 pm

      Krauss,

      I think Finkelstein’s idea that Jewish opinion can’t be ignored is not incorrect. And how can the opinions of Palestinians be ignored?

      If one side in an agreement believes one thing and another side has quite another view, what is the outcome?

      The reality now is that the goal must be to achieve rights as best as possible within the real, “unresolvable” situation, and to understand what human rights say about it.

  14. Rusty Pipes
    Rusty Pipes
    October 22, 2013, 1:21 pm

    What would a Finkelstein post be without a little hyperbolic humor (99% of Princeton students)? Perhaps this could be reworked to be a motivational speech for the folks at JStreet that they really do have a liberal base of Jewish voters who can be mobilized to lobby their congresscritters for a 2SS now, not later. I understand that the response Ben-Ami has been getting from that overwhelmingly liberal constituency has been less than liberal or less than overwhelming.

  15. rensanceman
    rensanceman
    October 22, 2013, 1:50 pm

    The inherent fatal flaw of Zionism which ensures it’s eventual demise is its demand to have an exclusive Jewish state with all of the evil attributes that accompany it. The monstrous evil of the Nakba can not ever be neutralized through time alone. When Israel loses its patronage by the U.S. It will have to become a little less arrogant and accept the fact that the indigenes were forcibly removed from their villages, that massacres did occur and that the Palestinians have been brutalized and humiliated far too long. Omar Barghouti’s recent essay on this site provides a scenario that may provide a workable remedy.

    • Bandolero
      Bandolero
      October 22, 2013, 4:15 pm

      rensanceman

      I think the inherent fatal flaw of Zionism is that the demand to have a “Jewish state” is nothing else than racism. To exchange the word “race” for “ethnicity” in that ideology doesn’t mitigate the fatal flaw, it just serves propaganda to whitewash the racism.

      Almost from the beginning, Zionism was nothing else than a very aggresive racist, colonial and darwinistic ideology, a jewish painted copy of the extreme rightwing ideologies which were trendy in Europe – and in America – at the end of the colonial 19th century.

      What I find interesting is that many German rabbis, liberals and orthodox alike, as well as jewish intellectuals, saw this very clearly when zionism emerged more than a century ago, but now it seems to have been somehow forgotten.

  16. Liz18
    Liz18
    October 22, 2013, 1:57 pm

    It is always a good reminder for me when I read something by Finkelstein that he doesn’t listen and that–despite all these years–he is still relying on his reason to get him through. The insulting comment comparing munchkins to Palestinian activists, claiming that these activists are “celebrating” the demise of the two-state solution, and all in all, his over-intellectualized dribble makes me wonder why he keeps coming back with his offensive rants. I don’t think any true activist–Palestinian or otherwise–is celebrating the demise of anything. It might behoove Finkelstein just once, to realize that this conflict isn’t about him, was never about him, and that all one needs to do is to look at a current map with new settlements strategically placed every day to decide how difficult a two-state solution would really be. But this will not happen, because all Finkelstein can do is remain in his own way. Move over, Finkelstein, these “activists” have real hard and good work to do.

    • Dutch
      Dutch
      October 22, 2013, 5:30 pm

      Well said, Liz. Back to reality. Here’s Yuval Diskin in Haaretz.

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.553697

      Ex-Shin Bet head: Conditions ripe for Palestinian Arab Spring
      Yuval Diskin also says Israeli-Palestinian peace unlikely: ‘It’s clear that, considering the current political map, there is no chance the Israeli public will accept a peace agreement.’

      Former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin said Monday that conditions were ripe for a “Palestinian” Arab Spring, amid rising dissatisfaction in the West Bank.

      “In the West Bank, immense tension and frustration among Palestinians is escalating, as they feel their land is being stolen from them,” Diskin told a Finance Ministry conference, in remarks carried by Army Radio. “They are realizing that the state they aspire to achieve is growing more distant and understand that the economy is no longer something that they can take comfort in.”

      Diskin also said he does not believe the Israeli public is ready to reach a deal with the Palestinians. “It’s clear that, considering the current political map, there is no chance the Israeli public will accept a peace agreement.”

      Diskin also noted that Egypt and Jordan must take part in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. “Egypt and Jordan should be involved in early stages, as it will give Abu Mazen legitimacy to make decisions. ”

      One of the six former Shin Bet heads who appears in the Oscar-nominated Israeli documentary Gatekeepers, Diskin has come our sharply against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the past.

      Diskin paints a picture of recklessness in the government’s highly sensitive security discussions. Among other things, Diskin, who served as Shin Bet chief from 2005 – 2011, enumerates alcohol consumption, cigar smoking and the fact that Netanyahu is “possessed” by Iran.

      “Netanyahu is scared, fickle and shirking responsibility,” Diskin says in that interview. “There is a crisis of leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public. Maybe people will think I’m exaggerating, but I’m telling you: From close up it looks even worse.”

  17. James Canning
    James Canning
    October 22, 2013, 2:38 pm

    American Jewish opinion obviously is important, and in my view it should be directed toward encouraging Israel to get out of the West Bank for its own sake.

  18. piotr
    piotr
    October 22, 2013, 3:02 pm

    One could as well phrase the issue that way; “If the goal is to decide on the tenure case of Prof. Norman Finkelstein, American Jewish opinion can’t be ignored.” But if you do, then the ball is in the possession of Grand Poobahs, Exalted Dragons and other grandees of “organized Jewish life in United States”.

    On a picky note, munchkins were in the past used as a synonym of honest little people oppressed by the Wicked Witches of East and West, moreover they were quite sensible. The gullible folks were Mangaboos who were in thrall of the trickster styling himself Wizard of Oz. I think that there is no way to decypher the meaning of “munchkin cult” (unless another book of L. Frank Baum makes it clear).

  19. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    October 22, 2013, 6:02 pm

    I have always tried to defend Finkelstein but his insistence on describing backers of the 1ss is just infuriating. Personally I could go with either 1 or 2 states but have concluded over time that current Israel policy makes that impossible. The default would be 1 state. Recognizing this does not make me part of any cult.

    Adding to the discussion started Barhouti and Rosenberg in other threads I sort of agree with MJ that the 1ss solution will be the end of Israel at least in name and its Zionist policies. MJ correctly sees that and I believe he like other liberal Zionists have even argued that killing the 2ss is suicidal for Israel — they simply cannot absorb the WB without creating a Jewish minority. Finkelstein fears this end also.

    Thus the 1ss may very well mean the end of Israel. However, it is a real stretch to accuse those who advocate that end of either cultism or antisemitism. It might be unpleasant for liberal Zionists but it is not antisemitism.

  20. Jerome Slater
    Jerome Slater
    October 22, 2013, 7:13 pm

    Well done, Norman (less footnote 6).

    Jerry

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 23, 2013, 5:55 am

      @ Jerry Slater
      Wonder what those 40% of American Jews were thinking of when they said Jews still suffer discrimination in the USA?

  21. Ron Edwards
    Ron Edwards
    October 22, 2013, 8:08 pm

    Has ecology flown out the window? Quoting myself from 2009 at http://rabbibrant.com/2009/02/16/tolan-good-luck-george-mitchell/:


    Let’s talk about that two-state idea from the get-go, even before talk of the settlements. Bluntly, I don’t buy it as a physical, political, economic, or ecological possibility – not even a little bit, and not even at any earlier point in history.

    How is it supposed to look? Right off the bat, does it mean full segregation of the current populations? That means that 1.2 million people get expatriated; they have to pack up and move from Israel proper to either Gaza or the West Bank. Is that part of the plan? (And for that matter, what about that fascinating exception to the federal ideal of Israeli Jewishness, the Druze?)

    Well, never mind that, let’s go ahead – let’s say, it happens. Poof! Everyone in the borders of Israel, whatever they end up being, is Jewish. Everyone in the new state of Palestine, however it ends up looking, isn’t. Let’s even ignore what anyone anywhere else thinks about this, especially the American taxpayers who bankroll it.

    What’s going on in Israel itself, then?

    First, consider the menial labor class. This is a major issue throughout Israel’s sixty-year history: in a state by and for Jews, who gets to clean the streets and urinals? Positing the relaxation of “the Palestinian problem,” the society will have to cope with ethnic and economic tensions which have until now been distracted and co-opted into militaristic nationalism. If Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews are not going to accept such work, then are we to look forward to ever-more populous foreign workers living in Israel? Since Oslo and especially since 2000, that seems to be the solution. So if that escalates, what are their rights and roles in society? Can they be citizens? Nationals?

    Second, consider the military, both in terms of actual activity and in terms of political presence and influence. Will it be maintained at its current levels of manpower and equipment maintenance? How about the new borders? Real borders aren’t merely lines on a map, they demarcate limits of direct influence. Is the IDF really going to consider the Jordan border and the new Palestinian airspace to be off-limits? How interested in a new state could any Palestinian reasonably be if Israel can treat its airspace as it treats Lebanon’s? Will the new state of Palestine be permitted to negotiate whatever it sees fit with Syria or Jordan? How about the whole seacoast?

    Third, last time I looked, there were thousands of settlers living in federally funded country-clubs, many of whom are permitted to carry firearms, prone to intolerant views, and generally left to their own devices regarding assaulting people they don’t like. Let’s presume that most of this real estate, perhaps all of it, becomes Israel. Now that their residences are basically suburbs and no longer “settlements,” they don’t get federal funding or other supportive policies any more. So, what happens to all those country club residences? Some may well become slums. Either way, who wants to live near these people? What is public policy to do now that they are no longer under the blanket of military “protection,” and have to abide by Israeli civil laws? Look forward to an Israeli cop being shot by a former settler when he gets a parking ticket

    Fourth, and this is the really big issue, all the talk seems to be about acreage without any meaningful content regarding ecology. Israel proper is water-poor. Its coastal aquifers, including in Gaza, have become salinated through over-aggressive use and drilling. At present, 90% of the water used from the aquifer under the West Bank goes to Israeli use, either in the settlements or in Israel. Instead of talking about percentages of land area, any serious discussion about land ownership must really about water rights and use-purchase agreements. Am I to understand that the two-state solution means that the Palestinian state owns the water beneath it? And if so, is it empowered to set the terms for Israel’s use of that water? Or more accurately, am I to understand that the Israeli proposal for the two-state solution includes such things?

    I raise these questions not because I see them as logistic difficulties. Such difficulties could be overcome and negotiated. I raise them because they are consistently absent from the discussions of a two-state solution. In other words, I don’t think anyone in Israel’s policy-making community has ever presented an idea or vision of what Israel will *be and do* as one of those two states. My most cynical interpretation is that the phrase is, and here I speak only regarding the policy-makers, lip-service to appease us Americans.

    I could take that all the way back to Ben-Gurion, but the outstanding example is Sharon. Yousef Baker’s article (http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/20578) discusses his tactics as prime minister and again with founding Kadima. All Sharon’s ostensibly peace-seeking rhetoric was predicated on the audience’s presupposition of the already-existing two peoples, two economies, two cultures, and two religions, and the extension of those into two states. For someone who was so fond of speaking of “facts on the ground,” his statements always lacked all substance regarding the facts I outlined above. In that absence, I think that what Sharon called “disengagement” began with on cultural and political separation (politicide), moved on to segregation, ultimately to expulsion, and given recent events which are effectively Sharon-ian and undertaken under a Kadima-based government, economic and military annihilation. I cannot help but conclude that “two state” means “one state shoves its unwanted and embarassing elements into a separate place and then obliterates them.”

    Unfortunately, people called “moderates” on this issue here in the States, such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, seem entirely on-board with that.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      October 23, 2013, 6:27 am

      I think this was very well said in 2009 and prescient. One reflection of the absence of ideas about how Israel will exist and act as one of two states is the way the negotiations never seem to come to the point of concrete and detailed proposals. This is certainly about economics and ecology, as you say, not to mention the sheer difficulty of breaking the practical habits of a lifetime. The Palestinian side is not too good at concrete proposals either, in their case I think because they are not real representatives and anything they put on the table would be strongly and violently repudiated in the streets. On the Israeli side there is also the reason that any concession accepting that Palestinians are in Palestine by right, even on rather miserable terms, would be a fatal, even if slow acting, poison in the veins of Zionism.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      October 23, 2013, 10:32 am

      “Right off the bat, does it mean full segregation of the current populations? That means that 1.2 million people get expatriated”

      No, and it has never meant that for Israel. Palestine, I don’t know about. I’ve heard several right-wingers say that if Palestinians continue to live in Israel, settlers should remain in Palestine.

      ” Since Oslo and especially since 2000, that seems to be the solution. So if that escalates, what are their rights and roles in society? Can they be citizens? Nationals?”

      Do you worry about this issue for Palestinians that go abroad to work elsewhere in the Arab world? I think most will become citizens.

      “How about the new borders? Real borders aren’t merely lines on a map, they demarcate limits of direct influence. Is the IDF really going to consider the Jordan border and the new Palestinian airspace to be off-limits? How interested in a new state could any Palestinian reasonably be if Israel can treat its airspace as it treats Lebanon’s? Will the new state of Palestine be permitted to negotiate whatever it sees fit with Syria or Jordan? How about the whole seacoast?”

      I think at first, they will be off-limits, and if the security threat is reduced, then the need to protect those borders will be less important. Again, you have your spheres of influence in the world. Russia punishes FSU countries, like Ukraine or Georgia, that conduct foreign policies they perceive as national security threats.

      “What is public policy to do now that they are no longer under the blanket of military “protection,” and have to abide by Israeli civil laws? Look forward to an Israeli cop being shot by a former settler when he gets a parking ticket”

      That’s rather odd. First of all, the settlements are not country clubs. Many of them are just like American suburbs. The people living there are not super-rich. Most settlers, and poll after poll has shown it, will acquiesce to a peace agreement if it happens.

      “Am I to understand that the two-state solution means that the Palestinian state owns the water beneath it? And if so, is it empowered to set the terms for Israel’s use of that water?”

      No idea. I assume some kind of sharing will be worked out, although Israel actually gets water from other sources to make up for the shortfall.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 23, 2013, 11:06 am

        “I’ve heard several right-wingers say that if Palestinians continue to live in Israel, settlers should remain in Palestine.”

        Oh, here is a grand example of what passes for “morality” among the zios: treating zio criminals and Palestinian victims as equals. What a repulsive band of evil these zios are.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 23, 2013, 12:11 pm

        That means that 1.2 million people get expatriated”

        No, and it has never meant that for Israel.

        For the math challenged, it has always meant exactly that for the 750,000 Palestinians and their posterity who were exiled by the Zionists.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 23, 2013, 12:24 pm

        “For the math challenged, it has always meant exactly that for the 750,000 Palestinians and their posterity who were exiled by the Zionists.

        For the reading comprehension challenged (or simply for those who are not trying to be disingenuous), the writer is referring to Palestinians living in Israel proper today, not the 1948 War.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 7:48 am

        For the reading comprehension challenged (or simply for those who are not trying to be disingenuous), the writer is referring to Palestinians living in Israel proper today, not the 1948 War.

        Yeah Hophmi, we know that Israelis think they have a license to arbitrarily and permanently exile the Palestinian civilian population they drove off in 1948. But Article 23 of the Lieber Code was already customary law in the United States in 1863:

        Art. 23. Private citizens are no longer murdered, enslaved, or carried off to distant parts, and the inoffensive individual is as little disturbed in his private relations as the commander of the hostile troops can afford to grant in the overruling demands of a vigorous war.

        * link to icrc.org
        * link to avalon.law.yale.edu

        And we’ve noticed that Israel rewards it’s war criminals. For instance:
        100-Year-Old General: We Razed Arab Villages, So What?
        Brig. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Pundak:oarl If we hadn’t done it, there would be a million more Arabs and there would be no Israel. — link to israelnationalnews.com
        The government of Israel even promoted that reprobate old piece of human filth:
        100-Year-Old Becomes Israeli Major-General: 100-year-old finally gets rank of “Major General” that he earned 60 years ago.
        Nearly 60 years later, Pundak sat flanked by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and finally received the long-awaited rank. He was the first person in Israeli history to be raised to the rank of Major-General after retirement. — link to israelnationalnews.com
        Gen. Pundak: Kill 500 in Gaza and They’ll be Quiet: Newly promoted 100-year old general who was Gaza Governor supplies his formula for peace.
        link to israelnationalnews.com

      • Ron Edwards
        Ron Edwards
        October 23, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Hop a doodle doo! (You’d think I’d get the A-team counter-attack with that post, but maybe they were busy.)

        Who cares what you, an individual, think? My post concerns actual enforceable policy – what we, all of us, can expect to see from this this phantom two-state which so many seem to think is so concrete and solid. As said by anyone with any authority to put it into practice.

        Not one single proposal prating of the “pre-1967 lines” have I seen which accounts for the non-Jewish native population currently living there. I wanna see what one of those might say, in an actual official policy proposal – not a term paper, not a pundit piece, not a press statement, not a campaign speech, and not an editorial. (I’m not holding my breath.)

        And certainly not from you. Go flap away.

      • talknic
        talknic
        October 24, 2013, 8:00 am

        hophmi ” I’ve heard several right-wingers say that if Palestinians continue to live in Israel, settlers should remain in Palestine”

        I hope you put them right, after all you’ve surely learned something here.. no?

        Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis live in Israel. Israeli settlers illegally live in Palestine

  22. Talkback
    Talkback
    October 22, 2013, 8:10 pm

    So it’s not the Israeli but the American Jews we have to indulge now to reach a solution?

    And where’s the contradiction between support for liberalism and Israel as long as both are good for the Jews?

  23. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    October 22, 2013, 8:28 pm

    The ship of state of the United States foreign policy, which is the primary defender of Israel, cannot be turned around to make a 180 degree turn from being pro Israel to being pro one state. Finkelstein seems to be pointing out that if in fact those inside the pentagon or the state department who in fact are willing to make that 180 degree turn, are ever to gain any political leverage, they will have to face up to the minimums of the Jewish community. Given the facts of US campaign finances this seems to be realism of a more realistic sort.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      October 23, 2013, 6:01 am

      @ yonah fredman
      Yep. US campaign finance law rules. There will be no Palestinian state of any sort, it seems to me, unless that system were to be changed, which is highly unlikely.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      October 23, 2013, 3:11 pm

      True.

  24. Ludwig
    Ludwig
    October 22, 2013, 8:28 pm

    I think I speak for all my fellow right wing zionists when I hail the end of the so called “two state” solution. Good riddance!

  25. Hostage
    Hostage
    October 22, 2013, 8:42 pm

    So it’s not the Israeli but the American Jews we have to indulge now to reach a solution?

    It’s always been that way. Armenian, James A. Malcolm proposed a scheme to secure autonomous Armenian and Jewish states through the intervention of the government of Great Britain in the late 19th century, acting in its role as “the policeman of the Ottoman Empire”. Christopher Sykes recorded the fact that years later it was Malcolm again who had rekindled interest in the negotiations between the Zionists and the British government on that subject. One day he advised Mark Sykes:

    “The question is, do you want the help of the Jews in the United States? The only way you can get that help is by offering Palestine to the Zionists.”

    – Two Studies in Virtue, by Christopher Sykes (London, 1953), cited in Lucien Wolf and Theodor Herzl, by Josef Fraenkel, Transactions (Jewish Historical Society of England), Vol. 20, (1959-61), pp. 161-188. link to jstor.org

  26. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    October 22, 2013, 10:45 pm

    The continuous low level provocation in West Bank and East Jerusalem is designed to start third intifada and give Israel a pretext to cleanse those areas of Palestinians. Naither Jordan nor Syria are in position to prevent refugees, and Arab Spring in Jordan will likely give representation to Palestinians there and provide welcome relief to Zionist conscience.
    The drums of ethnic cleansing are growing ever louder.

    • Inanna
      Inanna
      October 23, 2013, 1:14 am

      @Eva: I think you should consider that this would not happen in a vacuum. Hamas would certainly respond in this situation and refugees fleeing to Syria and Lebanon would certainly lead to a response from Hizbullah. I agree that this is definitely a mainstream fantasy in Israel but there are too many countervailing forces at work right now for it to succeed, imho. Which is why Israel wants to weaken the Hizbullah/Syria/Iran axis.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      October 23, 2013, 10:34 am

      “The continuous low level provocation in West Bank and East Jerusalem is designed to start third intifada and give Israel a pretext to cleanse those areas of Palestinians. ”

      Yes, yes, you’ll keep repeating this, but so far, it hasn’t happened. You’re always crying wolf.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 7:19 am

        Yes, yes, you’ll keep repeating this, but so far, it hasn’t happened. You’re always crying wolf.

        Are you kidding? Israel has used the pretext of the on-going armed conflict and security to illegally revoke the residency of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. See: “Israel admits it revoked residency rights of a quarter million Palestinians” http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-admits-it-revoked-residency-rights-of-a-quarter-million-palestinians-1.435778

        Military authorities are only allowed to temporarily displace the protected civilian population of an occupied territory in order to protect them from combat operations. But Israel doesn’t do that. In fact, in hundreds of cases it moved its own civilian settlers into the area of armed conflict, while forceably displacing the Palestinian inhabitants.

  27. Inanna
    Inanna
    October 23, 2013, 1:11 am

    A few points:

    All that liberalism on the part of American Jews has not secured better human rights for Palestinians nor a state for them for the last 65 years. American Jews are comfortable with their PEP and the hypocrisy that entails. It seems to me that you are indulging in an argument that is not really logical.

    Palestinian liberation does not rely on waiting for Israeli or non-Israeli Jews to liberate them because the oppressor never liberates the oppressed. Go read MLK Jr’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Especially that bit on white moderates. It seems to me that’s where you fit in. I know you’ll protest that categorization but what you want to give the Palestinians is only enough human rights that are acceptable for American and Israeli Jews because that is what’s realistic. Well what’s realistic can change and Palestinians are changing that every day. You know, with their “cult”.

    Stop with the immature attacks on people don’t agree with you and start listening to what they are saying. I guess if its Anna Balzar you are debating then you’ll be more civil but I guess Mondoweiss is not sexy enough to warrant civility. If you were civil then we can at least disagree with you civilly rather than be left with a sense of distaste at your behavior and name-calling as well as the desire to discount anything you may say in the future.

    Reading your views from an Arab perspective leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I’ve run out of patience for westerners and their parochialism. It’s this kind of parochialism that continues to objectify Palestinians and reduce their demands to what is acceptable to westerners that will ensure that this conflict will not end after you have applied your solutions.

    • Liz18
      Liz18
      October 23, 2013, 9:20 am

      Well said Inanna! I loved your comment – thank you for posting it.

  28. Citizen
    Citizen
    October 23, 2013, 5:24 am

    As Finklestein points out:

    “In the hierarchy of American Jewish values, “working for justice/equality” (56 percent) ranks much higher than “caring about Israel” (43 percent). [9]”

    Further, the poll points out that 32% of American Jews said they have Christmas trees and 34% of American Jews said that they think being Jewish is compatible with believing that Jesus is the Messiah, a belief that’s theologically anathema to traditional Judaism.
    Meanwhile, Pew estimates that there are 1.2 million non-Jewish Americans who identify as sort-of-Jewish, even though they are not Jewish by religion and have no Jewish family background. Currently 58% of American Jews intermarry.

    And, Finklestein points out that Pew did not ask respondents whether they supported a one-state solution.

    So, how does he reach his surmise that “the percentage answering affirmatively would fall in the ballpark of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who celebrated Christmas (1 percent)’?
    Wouldn’t any logical guesstimate based on the above poll results suggest a much higher percentage would answer affirmatively?

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/184996/boundaries-blur-between-jews-and-christians-in-sho/?p=all#ixzz2iXCjixSN

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      October 23, 2013, 12:03 pm

      Further, the poll points out that 32% of American Jews said they have Christmas trees and 34% of American Jews said that they think being Jewish is compatible with believing that Jesus is the Messiah, a belief that’s theologically anathema to traditional Judaism.

      Correction: Believing that Jesus may have been the Messiah is not the same thing in Jewish theological terms as believing he was also the Son of God or that he will stage a miraculous return. 2+2 ≠ 5

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 23, 2013, 12:27 pm

        “Correction: Believing that Jesus may have been the Messiah is not the same thing in Jewish theological terms as believing he was also the Son of God or that he will stage a miraculous return. 2+2 ≠ 5”

        I don’t think that distinction has much to do with this particular poll. Theologically, one can be Jewish and believe in Jesus, simply because there is no theological way of renouncing one’s Judaism. Logically, of course, it makes zero sense.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 23, 2013, 8:12 pm

        Hostage,

        You are correct, but what is your point? The poll was specifically talking about His Messiahship. (“when Pew researchers asked Jews if believing that Jesus was the Messiah was compatible with being Jewish, 34% answered yes.”)

        Don’t you think there is something unusual about the converse of this statistic, though, Hostage? The rabbis claim that someone who apostasizes is still Jewish, and science says that someone who changes religion does not lose his/her ethnicity. Even if nationality is more than genetics, then has someone who believes Jesus is Christ lost their language, food culture, their education, etc.?

        How is this idea that you cannot have Jewish nationality and believe in Jesus justified religiously or scientifically?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 9:26 am

        Hostage,

        You are correct, but what is your point? The poll was specifically talking about His Messiahship. (“when Pew researchers asked Jews if believing that Jesus was the Messiah was compatible with being Jewish, 34% answered yes.”)

        There are some Messianic Jewish congregations that believe Jesus was the Messiah, but still reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, virgin birth, etc. They believe the Christian Church doesn’t grasp or accurately reflect the teaching of Jesus. Many of them would never consider conversion to Christianity or joining a Christian Church. At the same time, a minority of Jews, like Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, have written about the subject and have a more tolerant approach to Messianic Judaism.

        I’ve met a few people like that over the years, and unlike the ones in the “Jews for Jesus” movement, they are definitely non-Christian from a theological standpoint. See for example the discussion in paragraphs 10-12 of Pauline Kollontai’s, Between Judaism and Christianity: The Case of Messianic Jews, Journal of Religion and Society, Volume 8 (2006) ISSN: 1522-5658 http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/2006/2006-6.pdf

        So, that’s my point. It’s obviously relevant to the results obtained from the question in this survey.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        October 24, 2013, 9:30 am

        In a very tangential way. But you’d need to do further polling to draw any kind of conclusion.

        Keep in mind that mainstream Judaism rejects this kind of messianism in general, whether it’s Jesus or it’s the Lubavitcher rebbe.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 9:49 am

        In a very tangential way. But you’d need to do further polling to draw any kind of conclusion.

        No, because I don’t disagree with the results in the poll cited by the Forward:

        It’s not just that a lot of Jews have Christmas trees, though 32% say they do; it’s that 34% of Jews said that they think being Jewish is compatible with believing that Jesus is the Messiah, a belief that’s theologically anathema to traditional Judaism.

        The number of Jews who do NOT practice “traditional Judaism” is considerably higher than 34%. I have no trouble accepting the idea that a minority of Jews do accept the proposition that belief in any Messiah is not incompatible with being Jewish.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 24, 2013, 2:17 pm

        Hostage,

        On the contrary, why should it be only a minority who think this, when rabbis and scientists tell us changing religion from Judaism does not change one’s ethnicity?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 25, 2013, 4:31 am

        Hostage, On the contrary, why should it be only a minority who think this, when rabbis and scientists tell us changing religion from Judaism does not change one’s ethnicity?

        I said I had no trouble believing the 34% poll number. In any event, many Jews won’t listen to rabbis, while others won’t listen to scientists;-)

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 23, 2013, 8:22 pm

        “Believing that Jesus may have been the Messiah is not the same thing in Jewish theological terms …”

        Not quite relevant to the topic, but can you please tell me what, in Jewish theological terms, these Messiahs are supposed to do?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 24, 2013, 8:32 am

        Not quite relevant to the topic, but can you please tell me what, in Jewish theological terms, these Messiahs are supposed to do?

        See Moses, Joshua, King Saul, and King David.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 24, 2013, 7:36 pm

        [RoHa racks brain for Bible knowledge.]

        Lessee.

        Moses gave up being an Egyptian prince (questionable career move) in order to encourage God to kill Egyptian first born and lead Jewish slaves out of Egypt to starve in a desert.
        Joshua fit the battle of Jericho so that his tribe could take over someone else’s land.
        Saul robbed and killed lots of the neighbours, and consulted a witch.
        David killed lots of the neighbours, and sent one of his own men to die in battle so that David could steal his wife.

        And Jewish theology wants more characters like these? That is not encouraging.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 25, 2013, 6:50 am

        And Jewish theology wants more characters like these? That is not encouraging.

        The only qualification is that you must be anointed by the God of Israel. There have been other candidates, including non-Jews or members of the other tribes (owing to various interpretations of the meaning of the “scepter departing Judah” in Genesis 49:10). Some of the other candidates were Cyrus, Judas Maccabeus, Herod, Vespasian, Simon bar Kokhba, Sabbatai Zevi, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 25, 2013, 10:50 am

        David killed lots of the neighbours, and sent one of his own men to die in battle so that David could steal his wife.
        You raise a good question, ROHA. David was a pre-figure of the Messiah, so it does not mean the Messiah has to do all that literally. If it talks about the Messiah being righteous, but doesn’t mention stealing wives, etc., then the assumption can be that the Messiah wouldn’t steal the wives.

        Granted, perhaps there could be some transformation of this. David was guilty before God as it says in the prophetic Psalms, and the righteous Messiah could be guilty too by carrying His people’s sins, as I read one rabbinical scholar propose a righteous person may do.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        October 26, 2013, 12:45 am

        “The only qualification is that you must be anointed by the God of Israel.”
        “…it does not mean the Messiah has to do all that literally.”

        But I ask again, what is a Messiah supposed to do? What is a Messiah for?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        October 26, 2013, 12:22 pm

        But I ask again, what is a Messiah supposed to do? What is a Messiah for?

        I concluded a long time ago that there was no Guy-in-the-Sky™ and that the Messiah schtick was a political device employed by charlatans to keep the regular customers coming back when they were disappointed and wanted something better. The Messiah is always right around the corner and he will usher-in the age of Something Better™

      • Walid
        Walid
        October 26, 2013, 1:46 pm

        “But I ask again, what is a Messiah supposed to do? What is a Messiah for?” (RoHa)

        If you go by the book, it’s said to be about the fall and redemption of mankind. You can’t have one without the other, something like love and marriage that go together like a horse and carriage.

      • W.Jones
        W.Jones
        October 23, 2013, 8:42 pm

        Finkelstein’s first main point is that it will take an extremely long time for one state to arrive. Some critics however say that what we have already is in fact one state. Namely there is one government that rules over the entire territory, allowing autonomy for Gaza and the West Bank.

        Finkelstein’s second main point is that with a goal of one state, Pal.s are resigned to suffering under the current occupation. However, many do not see that in fact the same thing exists under “2 states.” Namely, under the proposed “2 states” as the State’s supporters see it, Palestinians would not have an army, etc. In practice, once they elected a party that opposed the State, the State can simply impose very harsh conditions on them at will.

        Gaza is arguably a perfect example of how the State’s supporters envision the 2SS. As you know Sharon withdrew from Gaza in part to avoid having to bear responsibility for it in negotiations. Of course supporters of the 2SS would not wish for Gaza to have an Islamic party in control. But in any case how would having a 2SS in Gaza actually make things different for Gazans? Not to be harsh, but what? Would the West Bank be better off with a Gaza-style 2SS than what it has now, where Israel at least openly bears some direct responsibility for managing it?

        His third point is “no credible case has been made demonstrating the impossibility of two states.” Of course 2 states are possible. The State demands that in such a case a Palestinian State have no army, which raises a question how they would defend themselves if abuses continue, since obviously international law and courts have failed and continue to do so. And when the State holds the cards, what is to persuade them and their supporters to allow Pal.s to have an army? So what is impossible is two completely independent and sovereign states considering the current balance of political forces.

      • Theo
        Theo
        October 25, 2013, 10:59 am

        And there are a lot more non-jews who also do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God!!
        Jesus was a jew, (if he ever lived as the Bible says), and if he did what he supposedly did, then we can say he was a prophet.
        He was made the son of god and elevated to diety during the 5th century at the Nicea convent. That convent also rewrote the Bible to fit the new catholic church, a process repeated several times since.

  29. Bandolero
    Bandolero
    October 23, 2013, 8:40 am

    During the day I couldn’t get this headline out of my head

    If the goal is to change U.S. policy, American Jewish opinion can’t be ignored

    More and more, I think, Norman Finkelstein had here laid out arguments for a total different conclusion, namely:

    If the goal is to change U.S. policy, American Jewish opinion should be ignored

    Norman Finkelstein lays out here in great detail and with Pew polls that almost all jews in America are emotional very attached to the US policy regarding Israel.

    I find it is an argument that almost all jews have deep conflicts of interest regarding Israel, and therefore the advice of jews regarding the US policies regarding Israel should be disregarded as biased.

    Though I find “jews” is an imprecise – and racist – term here, when swapping the term jews for the Israel lobby and it’s popular constituency, which is definetely not identical with “jews” but – as Finkelstein lays out – overlapping a lot, the argument becomes quite powerful.

    There is good precedent. Nixon’s China opening is considered a quite successful move now, but at that time it was quite controversial. Taiwan’s ambassador called Nixon a sell-out and the powerful Taiwan lobby, or China lobby, representing many Chinese “freedom lovers” living in the US, was really upset. But Nixon and Kissinger disregarded the advise of the Taiwan lobby, the policy was successful, and the citizens of Taiwan were not harmed in any way by this to the present day. The opposite is true: the once very tense conflict across the Taiwan straight is quite cool now and Taiwan has almost better relations to the PRChina today as it has relations to the US. If conflict breaks out involving Taiwan today, it’s even more likely to be shooting over some South China sea rocky islands with Taiwan and the PRC on one side and the Philippines on the other side than a cross straight conflict.

    There is also bad precedent. When George W. Bush heeded the advice of exiled Iraqis like Chalabi to liberate Iraq, it didn’t end well for nobody, except maybe Mr Chalabi personally, whose newly found Iranian friendship enables him to live a fine life now. Ignoring the policy advice of exiled Iraqis like Chalabi would have obviously been a better choice for the US.

    So, my conclusion from Finkelstein’s argument that jews are very attached to Israel is: To get a successful US policy in place regarding Israel – and that region – the advice of the Israel lobby and it’s popular constituency should be ignored. The advice of that constituency is biased and has a conflict of interest problem.

  30. flyod
    flyod
    October 23, 2013, 10:10 am

    if history proves anything, it is only a matter of time until the other 98% have their say

  31. Dan Crowther
    Dan Crowther
    October 23, 2013, 1:52 pm

    I gotta say, for a jewish guy to state, seemingly without any sense of history, that American Jews – 2% of the population- has a veto, and is right to have a veto, over this area of US foreign policy is just utterly ridiculous. Does Ol Norm really want to pit US Jews against the rest of us? Has that ever worked out well? Idiotic. Jewish folks have power and influence as Jewish folks to the extent the rest of us allow it to happen, and again, as history as shown things change. Not a good look from Norm.

    Also, I’ve really had enough of the “whatever jewish folks claim to be, they are” bullshit. Hard to convince me that as a whole there’s really a widespread dedication to peace and justice when that same community, as a whole, supports a decidedly unjust regime that they are de facto citizens of. Hard to convince me of that. I think a fair reading of those polls is: “US Jews support liberalism, peace and justice in places where they are an extreme minority.” In other words, they’re liberal to the extent they have to be. Congratulations. Enough of the thinly veiled supremacism.

    • hophmi
      hophmi
      October 23, 2013, 2:14 pm

      “has a veto, and is right to have a veto, over this area of US foreign policy is just utterly ridiculous.”

      He didn’t say that. He said that American Jews – who tend to be the most active on this issue – are a major part of how foreign policy toward Israel occurs, and that if you want to change the policy, you can’t simply ignore what they think.

      “Hard to convince me that as a whole there’s really a widespread dedication to peace and justice when that same community, as a whole, supports a decidedly unjust regime that they are de facto citizens of.”

      Who cares? No one is trying to convince you. You’re an extremist politically. It’s a waste of time to try and convince someone like you.

      “I think a fair reading of those polls is: US Jews support liberalism, peace and justice in places where they are an extreme minority.”

      I think a fair reading of the polls is that US Jews support liberalism out of all proportion to similarly financially successful groups in the United States, and that the vast majority of them (and the majority of liberal Americans, for that matter), see no contradiction between supporting the existence of a Jewish state and being a liberal.

      Just like a lot of people see no contradiction between being human rights activists and supporting Hugo Chavez, no contradiction between being human rights activists and advocating leaving Saddam Hussein in power, no contradiction between being human rights activists and supporting the Iranian regime, no contradiction between being human rights activists and supporting religious fundamentalist groups in the Middle East like Hezbollah, and so on and on.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        October 24, 2013, 12:17 am

        He didn’t say that. He said that American Jews – who tend to be the most active on this issue – are a major part of how foreign policy toward Israel occurs, and that if you want to change the policy, you can’t simply ignore what they think.

        We can’t ignore American Jews in our calculations, but we can certainly dismis American Jewish opinion on the issue. We can ignore it in that sense. It’s not impossible that the situation of Jewish dominance in political discourse (on this issue anyway) can be changed. As Finkelstein reminds us, Jews are 2% of the population. I don’t think it’s really healthy politically that 2% of the population has so much power. This does come around to partly being about Jewish American power. I’m kind of serious about that. I’m not just trying it for size and quasi-trolling effect at this point.

        We might have to wait forever for most Americans to give a damn about Palestinians, but I think there is plenty of dirt on Israel and its “lobby” that directly affects Americans. I intend to dig into that angle more in the near future.

      • RudyM
        RudyM
        October 24, 2013, 12:53 am
      • Walid
        Walid
        October 26, 2013, 3:32 pm

        “no contradiction between being human rights activists and supporting religious fundamentalist groups in the Middle East like Hezbollah, and so on and on.”

        hophmi, calling Hizbullah a religious fundamentalist group shows that either you don’t know what Hizbullah is about or you don’t have a clue what Islamic fundamentalism is. Either way makes you wrong.

  32. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    October 23, 2013, 3:42 pm

    ‘Like the Munchkin cult in Oz”

    The Munchkin were a “cult”??? Well, at least we know that Normie has no idea what the word “cult” means.

  33. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    October 23, 2013, 11:11 pm

    Finkelstein says his main issue here is how giving up the 2SS influences the community here.

    He quotes the poll and says “In the hierarchy of American Jewish values, “working for justice/equality” (56 percent) ranks much higher than “caring about Israel” (43 percent).”

    Next, he says:

    90 percent regard Israel as an “essential” or “important” constituent of their Jewish identity. The reasonable inference is that any hint that resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict entails the dissolution or disappearance of Israel will set off alarm bells among American Jews.

    Can you give me a sense though on how they would react to the idea of the State becoming binational like Lebanon (two religions) or Canada (two nationalities)?

    He adds:
    Further—and this point warrants emphasis—liberal precepts do not intrinsically conflict with Israel’s existence.
    I can see that- one can propose a state for a nationality, like, say, Greece. Yet isn’t it also true that strong leftist precepts actually put the most value on universalism and having a federal state for all nationalities, like, say in the U.S., Canada, and the Russian Federation?

    Finkelstein concludes:

    If a mass nonviolent movement emerged among Palestinians demanding implementation of this [2SS w/ 1967 borders] consensus, and the solidarity movement abroad mobilized around it, the likelihood is that many American Jews could be won over, or embarrassed into silence.

    I think this can be true for both the 1SS and 2SS. If there was a 1SS mobilization that included very positive feeling about Israelis among Palestinians along with a strong mobilization raising worldwide awareness of the real situation, it seems likely they could both agree to live together with the help of international organizations and oversight.

    However a major weakness with Finkelstein’s conclusion of mobilizing support for the 2SS is that in reality mobilizing Palestinians as a community is difficult for even basic concerns due to their poverty, conquest, and dispersion. How much harder would it be to enthusiastically mobilize them to demand a treaty where half of them could never return to live in the homes from which they were expelled?

    Finkelstein contrasts this with another option:

    If, however, the Palestine solidarity movement muddies the waters with the call for “One State from the River to the Sea,” American Jews will likely close ranks.

    What will they close ranks around instead of the 1SS?
    The 2SS with “land swaps” or no second state at all? Aren’t those already what they have closed ranks on?

    Finkelstein’s ending sounds correct, though:

    “Arabs,” Abba Eban famously, and falsely, quipped, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity for peace.” The tragedy would be if the Palestine solidarity movement ends up vindicating his mendacious claim.

    At any point over the last 80 years the “Arabs” could probably have simply agreed to whatever terms were offered them, however harsh. In failing to do so, they missed an opportunity for “peace”. It is a tragedy that people do not have an agreement yet. Unfortunately, isn’t Finkelstein’s Dilemma a Catch 22, because finalizing a treaty under which they cannot ever return to their homes would also be tragic?

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