I don’t know why it’s necessary to get tangled in all these knots. The basic argument Finkelstein is making seems pretty straightforward: we should want to appeal to a mainstream public; the maximum a mainstream public can be brought around to supporting in the foreseeable future is the international consensus two-state settlement (2SS); we should therefore set that as our goal. We should call for the 2SS very explicitly and very clearly, because being fuzzy about it just makes us look suspicious. That means calling for the implementation of Palestinian legal rights – including, he says, the RoR – but it also means supporting/accepting the existence of Israel within the ’67 borders, without being fuzzy or evasive about it. That’s what the 2SS entails. You haven’t really challenged this argument at all here.
The Abunimah piece is terrible:
1) The idea that Finkelstein doesn’t give credit to or is unconcerned by the role of Palestinians in changing people’s consciousness is too absurd to comment on, for anyone who’s read his writings. In this particular interview he focused on B’Tselem, Amnesty and HRW to illustrate his point that there now exist sources credible to American liberals and American Jews in particular that can be cited to support criticism of Israel’s human rights record. Al-Haq does not, rightly or wrongly, have the same credibility as Amnesty International in those constituencies. Is this really controversial?
2) Responding to a strategic argument by branding it an “attack” on “Palestinians” is, er, not a convincing response to accusations of cult-like behaviour.
3) Finkelstein’s point about human rights organisations is that they reflect the outer limits of what Americans can be convinced to accept and mobilise around. And so if we want to convince and mobilise non-trivial numbers of Americans, the position of the mainstream human rights organisations is a good one to orient towards. Now maybe Ali Abunimah thinks it’s not important to mobilise non-trivial numbers of Americans, and so doesn’t think it matters if what activists in the US advocate alienates most Americans rather than convincing them. If that’s what he thinks then he should say so, and make a case for it. If it’s not, then he needs to address the argument instead of bloviating.
4) The rest is just insults. Except for the end when Ali pretends to speak to and for “Palestinians” as a collective, which is just funny (and not at all cult-like).
Finally, Finkelstein doesn’t ‘deny agency’ to anyone. (Though even if he did, who cares? That would, arguably, be a problem with Finkelstein. But is it useful to devote time to arguing about the political crimes and misdemeanours of Norman Finkelstein? Isn’t it more useful to argue about the main strategic argument he’s making?) He has explicitly said that ending the occupation will require Palestinian resistance combined with international solidarity. Obviously in his remarks on an American show, Democracy Now, he focused on the latter. What does that mean, though, to say that successfully resisting Israeli occupation (or beyond) requires international activism as well as Palestinian resistance? It means that whatever goal is chosen has to be able to both mobilise Palestinian resistance and mobilise sufficient numbers of people abroad. It is not ‘denying agency’ to recognise that.