“Q. But those in Israeli society who oppose two states don’t care about the international consensus, and their dreams have become real.”
I had the pleasure of attending a conference that took place a few years ago in which Prof. Finkelstein was the guest speaker. The conference was entitled Gaza and Egypt Intertwined and since the audience was permitted to ask questions at the end of the conference, I put the following question to Prof. Finkelstein:
I just wanted to get a better understanding about your refusal to support the BDS movement. I believe it all turns on which solution is more viable – the 2SS or 1SS. At a recent book tour you indicated that the 2SS is twice as dead as the 1SS. My question is a simple one: How many more cycles of violence (commonly referred to as “mowing the lawn”) must the Palestinians endure before you are prepared to embrace BDS. What the Palestinians need more of is people of your stature and influence to breathe life into the BDS movement, which will finally lead to a liberated Palestine.
Here is how Prof. Finkelstein responded (it is not verbatim):
But what’s your (BDS movement) stance on Israel? They say they don’t take a stance on Israel…
So if you say you want the enforcement of international law, you can’t then say we take no position on Israel. That’s the law, Israel is a state. If there’s an answer to that, I’m curious to hear it.. but I have not heard it so far…
But when I hear people from BDS, there’s no discussion about the politics, it’s just: This is what we want! It’s like a child having a rattle and the rattle says “One State.” And you keep shaking the rattle. Where is the political force supporting One State? There are 195 countries or so now in the UN. Is there one state in the world that currently supports One State in Palestine? They all support two states. Is there a single human rights organization that supports One State? There’s no political support for it in the world! So even if it is in principle correct, … that is not what political people do. They don’t hold to political principles at the expense of assessing political forces – what’s possible, what’s not possible. Because at the end of the day, isn’t the goal to improve people’s lives, to make the situation better… or do you want to just sit here in the comfort of the West and hug your political principles while the suffering continues over there? That doesn’t make sense to me… and that’s my problem with the BDS. (emphasis added)
I didn’t get the opportunity to respond to his response but if I had, I would have simply said that your response sounded like a paean to political expediency! While it’s true there is little support for the 1SS today, this doesn’t mean it will always remain so. How politically viable did a liberated South Africa, an independent America, the abolition of slavery, or even a Jewish Homeland for that matter, appear in the early stages of their development?
But what you fail to recognize is something the great Nelson Mandela once said: “It always seems impossible until its done.”
That’s why I still call upon you to do the right thing and endorse BDS.