Dershowitz and Finkelstein: comrades at heart?

28 June 2013

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Man walks by mural of hand holding key reading Returning in Arabic

For Palestinian refugees, the result of Finkelstein and Dershowitz’s positions is the same.

(Abdel Rahim Khatib / APA images)

Over the last decade, one of the more amusing (though least productive) facets of the culture wars around the Israel-Palestine conflict has been the feud between Alan Dershowitz and Norman Finkelstein.

Dershowitz, a tireless advocate for Israel, has incurred Finkelstein’s contempt, which includes claims of misrepresentation, pandering and plagiarism. Finkelstein, a longtime critic of Israel, failed to achieve tenure at DePaul University in part because of a campaign spearheaded by Dershowitz, who wrote damning letters to various university officials (including its president). The two have argued voraciously in print and in person, occasionally directing insults at one another.

It seems intuitive, then, that the mortal enemies have little in common. In reality, though, the substance of their feud doesn’t broach the fundamental issues of Israel and Palestine, about which Dershowitz and Finkelstein have articulated similar, sometimes identical, positions — often enough, anyway — so much so that we can rightly claim the two enemies in fact share profound political affinities. Let’s take a look at the evidence:

Opposing one state

Both Dershowitz and Finkelstein are vigorously opposed to the so-called one-state solution, which assumes various incarnations but at base advances the belief that a binational state for Jews, Muslims and Christians is the most just and realistic outcome of the conflict. Both men have spoken in favor of a two-state solution.

Finkelstein has said, “the near-unanimous consensus for the past three decades has been that the Palestinian people do have a right of self-determination, to be exercised in the ‘occupied Palestinian territory,’ which consists of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. I see no cracks in this consensus” (“A debate about the two-state solution with Norman Finkelstein,” Mondoweiss, 6 June 2012).

Dershowitz claims to have supported the two-state solution since 1967, though he usually qualifies his position with fantasies of Arab aggression or anxieties about eternally preserving a Jewish majority in Israel (the reason many liberal Zionists desire two states) (“The case against the left and right one-state solution,” The Huffington Post, 21 March 2012).

In 2011, he co-produced a proposal to end the conflict with Chibli Mallat, the conclusions of which sound remarkably like Finkelstein’s, calling for “two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, [to] live side by side, as expressed in Security Council Resolutions 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008)” and a commitment “to the principle of nonviolence as the privileged means to effect democratic change in the region and beyond” (“A joint proposal on the foundations of a two-state solution,” The National, 27 October 2011).

Dershowitz and Finkelstein both emphasize the preeminence of Jewish opinion.

Dershowitz: “The American Jewish community is much more supportive of a two-state solution. And, the Israeli Jewish community is much more supportive of a two-state solution” (“Alan Dershowitz and Caroline Glick clash on two-state solution,” The Algemeiner, 1 May 2013).

Finkelstein: “There are major regional changes — what’s happening now between Israel and Turkey that’s part of an Arab Spring … there is a changed political configuration now. There are changes in public opinion. There are changes in Jewish opinion” (“Finkelstein thinks shift in young Jewish opinion means there will be two (viable states),” Mondoweiss, 19 October 2011).

Denying right of return

Dershowitz is adamantly against any form of right of return for Palestinian refugees. Finkelstein’s pronouncements on the matter have been ambiguous, but there is enough evidence to suggest his ultimate rejection of it.

A colleague, for instance, was present in 2010 at Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon, when Finkelstein gave a lecture urging residents, some of them refugees for more than 60 years, to disavow their right of return. (This fits a pattern of Finkelstein admonishing Palestinians to be more reasonable and realistic, what Asa Wistanley calls “marginalizing Palestinians from their own struggle.”)

Dershowitz: “For peace to be achieved, pragmatism must be balanced with principle. The right of return should be implemented so as to protect Israel against demographic annihilation without denigrating the Palestinian narrative” (“Palestinians and the ‘right of return’,” The Christian Science Monitor, 16 April 2007).

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Norman Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz appear on Democracy Now! together in 2003.

Finkelstein: “For now, Israel will not honor a Palestinian right of return; to ‘demand’ it is the emptiest of gestures” (“Two critiques of Norman Finkelstein,” Mondoweiss, 23 December 2011).

Finkelstein: “If we end the occupation and bring back six million Palestinians and we have equal rights for Arabs and Jews, there’s no Israel.”

Finkelstein argues that he supports the right of return in principle, but “in order to achieve a political settlement of the conflict, the right of return will have to be subject to negotiations,” whereas Dershowitz is opposed to the right in principle. For Palestinian refugees the result is identical.

Bickering with boycott activists

Because of his opposition to boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), Finkelstein has alienated a significant portion of his audience (and gained new fans among Zionist hardliners). This alienation hasn’t resulted merely because of his opposition to BDS, but also because of the condescending way he has articulated that opposition.

Dershowitz: “It may be enough to say: ‘The boycotters are wrong’ and leave it at that. But the boycotters are not just adopting bad politics derived from faulty thinking. There is an edge of malice to their campaign. Their desire to hurt, to punish, outstrips their ability even to identify with any precision their targets — all Israeli universities without exception? All academics within those universities? Israeli academics in non-Israeli universities? They cannot say” (“This boycott is not just wrong; it’s anti-semitic,” The Sunday Times, via alandershowitz.com, 14 June 2007).

Finkelstein: “[BDS advocates] don’t want Israel. They think they’re being very clever. They call it their three tiers … We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know what’s the result: there’s no Israel” (“Finkelstein, BDS and the destruction of Israel,” Al Jazeera English, 28 February 2012).

Finkelstein has stated on numerous occasions that BDS is a “cult,” though he has never applied the same term to his utterly sectarian worship of some imaginary “international consensus” that risibly simplifies the complexity of the world’s population.

Disrespect towards Arabs

In communities of decolonization, one’s interactions with the colonized party are as important as the opinions one articulates (indeed, a person’s negative behavior generally foregrounds an insidious agenda). Neither Dershowitz nor Finkelstein practices respect when communicating with Arabs.

For Dershowitz, to whom Arabs are little more than a brown mass of existential danger, unsavory interpersonal behavior is no surprise. We might reasonably hold Finkelstein to a higher standard, however.

I’m thinking of Finkelstein’s tendency to lecture Palestinians about their unrealistic expectations and their need to succumb to the inhibitions of Israeli liberals. In early June at a Left Forum panel, for example, he proclaimed of those unwilling to recognize Israel’s right to exist: “That’s pure unadulterated hypocrisy. And, speaking personally, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. And speaking politically, it won’t go anywhere” (“Norman Finkelstein throws wrench in anti-Israel movement’s claim to a rights-based agenda,” Anti-Defamation League, 21 June 2013).

He also admonished Palestinian attorney Lamis Deek (“Israel is a state. It has the same rights and the same obligations as the 190 other states”) and afterward complained to As’ad Abukhalil for criticizing him on the Angry Arab blog: “It’s useful to think twice before joining in a lynch mob.”

Here Finkelstein sounds a lot like Dershowitz when the latter patronized Palestinian novelist Susan Abulhawa at the 2010 Boston Book Festival (“Trainwreck in Boston: Dershowitz calls a Palestinian novelist a bigot and a Holocaust denier,” Mondoweiss, 17 October 2010). Even the language they use is comparable.

Finkelstein recently went on a bizarre, paranoid rant: “Even lectures have significantly diminished because I’ve had major differences of opinion with elements in the Palestine solidarity movement. And they carry on like a cult, and so when the differences emerged, I was blacklisted, too. That’s just a fact.

“Last year I’d probably say about — I’d say between — about 75 invitations to speak around the United States by what’s called SJP, Students for Justice in Palestine. This year I didn’t receive one. I didn’t receive one. They carry on like a cult. And the guru says, ‘You’re out,’ you’re out” (“Finkelstein disowns ‘silly’ Israel boycott,” The Jewish Chronicle, 16 February 2012).

This sort of behavior is typical of certain members of privileged groups who devote themselves to improving the lot of the oppressed. Anybody who has worked in communities of decolonization knows the type: a person arrives and shows himself ultimately uninterested in achieving liberation, but insists on leading the wretched horde to his vision of an acceptable outcome — one that is invariably “pragmatic” and “realistic,” saturated in the language of objectivity and the common good.

Of course, it is but an unlucky accident that these outcomes always happen to favor the interests of the oppressor. When that person is challenged or marginalized, histrionics ensue.

Finkelstein’s comments about Students for Justice in Palestine reveal a man more interested in nourishing a God-complex than in doing anything to help Palestine.

Patronizing and pedantic

Dershowitz and Finkelstein have differences, too. Finkelstein has never plagiarized or supported torture and Dershowitz has never attempted to lead a march on Gaza he would later deem “sectarian” after the people on whose behalf he purported to march demanded a voice in the planning (“Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition”).

Finkelstein acknowledges evidence of Israel’s brutality in the past and present, whereas Dershowitz more or less blames everything that’s ever gone wrong in the Holy Land on the Arabs. Yet Finkelstein’s positions on the right of return and binationalism indicate an unwillingness to accept moral ownership of the brutality he acknowledges. To say that emphasis on justice isn’t pragmatic is to severely underthink the possibilities of decolonization.

Ultimately, on the issues that matter most, those fundamental to the cessation of the Zionist colonial project, there is little disagreement between Dershowitz and Finkelstein, certainly none of significance. There is also little to distinguish in their patronizing and pedantic tone with Palestinians.

Many advocates of Palestine are rightfully upset with Finkelstein, but if I may offer a suggestion, I would advise that we assign Finkelstein the same status we have long accorded Dershowitz, that of a slightly cogent but mostly curmudgeonly white male who occasionally annoys with outbursts of bluster and disdain.

Just as their feud has taken too much time away from important matters, Finkelstein’s discourse of “international consensus” and “cults” and “pragmatism” is so slovenly that we’re better served challenging more sophisticated opponents of Palestinian aspirations.

Finkelstein can be frustrating because he apparently believes that practicality, realism and reasonableness exist within fixed structures of meaning and have nothing to do with definitional commonplaces and political ethos generated and maintained by the ruling classes. He’s made it clear he’s sticking with that discourse. There’s nothing left to do with Finkelstein but hope he reads the Wikipedia entry on the theory of hegemony.

It’s difficult to say whether the Dershowitz-Finkelstein feud will continue. While the two have much in common politically, they differ in motive, and this difference of motivation will likely keep them at odds. For those who care about Palestinian voices, motivation is less important than actual belief; in this area, Dershowitz and Finkelstein are the Peres-Netanyahu tandem of American liberalism.

Let us then leave them to their feuding with the understanding that they have nothing really to resolve beyond the antipathy of competing egos. Passionate interpersonal conflicts, after all, often occur with the people with whom we have most in common.

Steven Salaita is the author of Israel’s Dead Soul. Follow him on Twitter: @stevesalaita.

Editor’s note: The reference to the article “Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition” which appeared on Norman Finkelstein’s personal website was linked to the wrong target and misattributed to The Jewish Chronicle. This has been corrected.

Comments

I was interested in reading this article based on the title but I was quite disappointed with the content. The points made here are flimsy at best. I wonder if the writer is in fact a disgruntled BDSer. I think there are many more worthwhile subjects to write on. You take very general view points that Dershowitz and Finkelstein share and construct your argument around them. In terms of conflict vs. peace, the idea of a one/two state solution has many different facets. I always understood Finkelstein's perception of "Israeli won't budge on that" in terms of the possibility of peace and the ending of the occupation. Peace talks are always about compromise and a one state solution is a compromise the Israelis will never agree too. I think this is Finkelstein's point of view rather than the possibility he's a Zionist in disguise

I am extremely disappointed there there is no acknowledgement of Finkelstein's prodigious, valued and astute articles, books, interviews, talking tours etc ( and professional sacrifice) supporting the Palestinian cause. I think it is pathetic when people turn on tried and true supporters of Palestine like Chomsky and Finkelstein who are important and influential voices because they may be at variance with one or two aspects of the struggle. I bet everyone in the movement has shifted positions, while very few have copped vilification from both the proIsrael and proPalestinian camps.

We in Falasteen are suffering. This is what the EI writes about? Lately it seems the point of EI is to smash those it disagrees with. Come back to the issue.
A real slippage of standards.

Anyone who doesn't agree with BDS is crucified.

Of course, BDS is just a method (just like using stupid words which do not belong to the matter is a method of Nick the Zionist) But even though BDS is supported by a lot of Palestinians, who are the best judges of the matter, the kernel is NOT BDS, but the right of return. NF is against BDS because it could enganger the existence of aparteid Zionist colony, and NF is against the ROR exactly because of the same "threat" to Israel the Arian (sorry, Jewish) state.

It is Palestinians who are suffering from Zionist colonization, while Nick the Zionist defends NF from being "crucifyed" - i.e. called a Zionist as he is.

"Israel the Arian (sorry Jewish) state is completely inappropriate.

Moderator, please remove this comment.

Yes, it is "completely inappropriate" for Zionists to first ethnic cleanse Palestinians and then do their best that their racist colony on Palestinian land stay "Jewish" - i.e racially pure as much as possible. No much difference from " Arian state". Finkelstein, Avenry and other deniers of Palestinian right of return deny it exactly because the return will end "Jewish character" of the Zionist settler colony. But Zionists' colonial racism is NOT my fault :)

He holds his head a little too high. Pretty sure he gets to see his forum. It's like some formulaic bs, was 30 now 35. Please. Guess he's not getting the results he wanted. Some people liked him and some still do, but he seems to be either pretty paranoid, a sleeper, or just plain dumb.

This article is sensationalist and sleazy. Both Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein do not believe that BDS works, but this doesn't mean we should dismiss their important work as scholars documenting propaganda and Zionist media tactics and manipulation. Chomsky was asked about this at a talk he gave in Beirut, and he responded that a change in American foreign policy will be what makes the difference, citing changes in foreign policy that brought about the end of Apartheid in South Africa. I disagree with both of them about their views on the boycott, and also the idea of '67 borders (free Palestine, ALL OF IT) but to start going 'OMG they're really the Dersh in disguise' is offensive and ridiculous. Furthermore, as Arabs, we should welcome the work of foreign scholars who are helpful to the cause (and certainly Noam and Norm have done a lot in this regard in the West) but we should also not worship them and expect them to behave and think like Arab resistance icons such as Kanafani, Habbash and Nasrallah. Get a grip. The writer would also have us think that Dershowitz and Finkelstein have merely had a petty spat, when in fact Finkelstein was the target of a vindictive campaign led by Dershowitz because he exposed his shoddy 'scholarship' and he paid a very heavy price, which was the end of his academic career and a pariah status that means he won't get hired by any university. This article was a very cheap shot, EI. Disappointing indeed.

what a repulsive hack job. You should be ashamed of yourself. How about uniting all those opposed to Israeli racism and the occupation instead of seeking to divide those who have publicly championed the cause of solidarity with Palestine.

This article is grossly unfair. Finkelstein has said on many occasions that the right of return is a Palestinian right and cannot be given away by non-Palestinians. A negotiated settlement will likely include the return for some and compensation for others. For Finkelstein, RoR in exchange for compensation is for the Palestinians to decide. Finkelstein has made many sacrifices for the movement. This article is kind of disgusting.

It really is breathtaking to see EI accuse someone of being "patronizing and pedantic".

It seems like bashing Norman Finkelstein has become a sport amongst many pro-Palestinian activists - have we run out of things to do? I actually felt like vomiting reading this article. Equating Finkelstein to Dershowitz borders on the insane. Are we talking about THE Alan Dershowitz, the maniacal, racist, genocidal Palestinian-hating, war-mongering, Islamophobe? Are we saying that because Finkelstein supports the two state solution and doesn't fully embrace the right of return he has turned into a monster. The entirety of his career, contributions and sacrifices (which included the complete demolition of his career) are irrelevant because his soul doesn't burn with anti-Zionist fire.

I disagree with most of Finkelstein's conclusions, and I think his characterization of BDS was both incorrect and malicious. But I think that his misguided proposals stem from a desperate hope to see at least some segment of the Palestinian people gain relief from their suffering. His attacks on BDS should be admonished, but the man shouldn't be crucified as a result.

Oh, one more thing Mr. Salata, I know that attacking Finkelstein has become so popular that you assumed that if you make your writing sensational without any of your analysis making sense people won't notice and will start cheerleading for you. But honestly I've seen better work from the National Enquirer. Get a grip.

I totally agree.

Vexatious, trashy, and sloppy. Finkelstein is unmistakably an ally of Palestinian liberation: Dershowitz is unmistakably a deadly adversary. Are standards slipping at EI?

The author seems to believe that if Dershowitz holds a view, it is automatically the amoral one, and anyone sharing a view that could be skewed as being similar is therefore in the same realm of sleaziness as Dershowitz. This is logically idiotic.

The characterization of Dershowitz's and Finkelstein's view of the two-state solution is also extremely misrepresentative of both parties, favouring the former and trashing the latter.

The author should perhaps take some of his own advice and examine the "definitional commonplaces and political ethos generated and maintained" by his own intellectual class.

A great article as usual by Steven Salaita. As someone who reads all what he writes, I understand why people might feel uncomfortable with his very astute and courageous analysis, that requires from us to be less restricted by established taboos both on the right and left in politics and the academy.
There is much to think about through these articles, and the role of intellectuals is to push the limits of our thought and actions, and Salaita's writings do exactly that, rather than say the things that follow the lines established by liberals, conservatives and even the left in the U.S.

Thanks very writing it.

The critique pretty much hits it on the head. Though Norman Finklestein chooses to overlook it, his blind acceptance to the rightness of ethnic cleansing and denying others their humanity due to religious and "ethnic" differences is a major ethical and moral failing on his part. Quite sad really.

I am curious if you have read anything Finklestein has ever written. You comments are embarrassing and highly destructive.

this article is the truth! The worse Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and elsewhere suffer, the more fun it is to cheer them on!

There are absolutely no similarities at all between Norman Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz. This article is an all time low for Electronic Intifada. Just when Norman accuses elements of the Palestine solidarity movement of behaving like a cult Steven Salaita pops up and writes something that could have been published in a Stalinist newspaper. Norman has a difference of opinion and has been writing on this subject since before the many of EI readers were even born (not that that would entitle him to any respect, of course not). So what do you all do? Jump on him like the cult member he points you out to be.

The people living under occupation deserve WAY MORE than this, Steven, and they deserve way more than you.

I will preface this article that I am in favor of a one democratic state, right of return and BDS. In taking this stance, one also has to be prepared to propose a well defined strategy on how to achieve a one democratic state and accept that a right of return might not include all of Palestinians who lost their homes.
In defense of Finkelstein, who I know and have heard speak publically a couple of times, he does not openly state he is for or against a two state solution. Rather, he points out that a two state solution is what the broad public would be ready to accept in accordance with international law. Just because Norman takes a firm position on international law does not necessarily mean he is resolute about a two state solution--I have heard him say on a couple of occasions how he personally does not believe in states or borders. Norman does acknowledge the right of return (resolution 194), but also warns of the limitations involved in "fully exercising the law".
The more appropriate question is to ask Norman to elaborate on a plan how a two state solution actually could be achieved in face of the exponential growth of settlements, the daily evictions of Palestinians and Bedouins, the latter who are Israeli citizens, from their respective homes in East Jerusalem, West Bank, and the Naqab.
Each year I spend 2 to 3 months in Gaza and quality time in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A two state is assuredly a mirage. Can you imagine if approved what it will entail to relocate a contingent of bellicose settlers to make way for two states?

means "what Zionist Jews in Israel and their USA enablers would be ready to accept". I doubt very much that the majority in the ME and in the World are "ready" to let them decide what is OK for Palestinians and what is not.
International law, even if one believe in it, means also RIGHT OF RETURN. Period. For NF it is but a plot of BDS to end Israel.

Can you quote me the exact international legal document that binds Israel to right of return? Where is it in international law?

Especially because there is a post with all info he needs (or pretends to need)
http://electronicintifada.net/...

I am still, by the way, waiting for Nick the Zionist providing me an example of MSM treating Israel HALF as hostile as they do Iran. Not that I am holding my breath :)

How far back does this law go? A large percentage of this world's population lives in territory that could theoretically be claimed by other people. Should Greek compensate Turks? Should Turks compensate Greeks? Should Turks compensate Bulgarians? Should Palestinians compensate Jews who were occupied for many MORE years under their rule before Israel was created? The history of the world is the history of war, land theft, rape, and every crime you can think of. It is only that some states accept this fact and others do not. If we magically were able to bring the list of all the victims of state wars in history you would see that the greatest majority and their descendants were paid absolutely nothing and received nothing. This is not morally right, but that is just a fact that I accept. I love peace, but peace also includes sacrifice. I think that 1967 borders without right of return is a fair deal. There were many Jews who were living across the Middle East before they were territorized into leaving. Read about Jews who fled Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia. Do you equally fight for all people to receive compensation or why is it that you only favor one small group? Can the native peoples of Australia count on your support? What about the marginalized Jews of Iran?

You’re right Nick, the law goes back only as far as it has been followed. The enforcers of the law should always be informed by that fact, because behind the law is the spirit of the law and behind that is the spirit that guided us to it. It’s an easy convenience to dismiss it when one doesn’t respect it.
It seems to me that your points are wildly out of parallel and subjective. You need to grasp the concept that although a restoration of the ’67 borders along with a surrender of the right to repopulate Palestine with Arabs seems a fair deal to you, it doesn’t to Arabs. The fact is that according to extant international law, those lands were misappropriated in an illegal act of aggression against a sovereign people. Of course, outside of the control of a courtroom, the hoards would quibble with a few of those characterizations but it is the law today.
You may disagree with it and you can deride it for whatever reason you like and God knows you’ve got plenty of friends in high places but when you or anyone else breaks it then you should be proved to have done so and brought to justice. The man whom this article seeks to diminish has spent a good deal of time trying to impress on ignorant people the importance of that law and it seems like most of your co-contributors have a healthy respect for that. Perhaps, if you did, your comments would be transformed into cogent ideas worth responding to.

he demands "sacrifice" from colonized Palestinians. How nice of hum.
And Nick the Zionists' hasbara is quite stale, just to let him know :)
Yes, the natives of Australia and other colonized people do have support of anti-Zionists, including Palestinians. And NO, the Jews in Iran are NOT colonized and their life has nothing to do with Zionist colonization of Palestinian land, save the Zionist crimes against Jews of the ME, who were uprooted by Zionists to use them as cannon fodder against Palestinians and as "demorgaphic" weapons against Palestinans.

After WW2 the United Nations rules forbade a nation to gain territory through war.The UN resolution 194,article 11: "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible; Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations." Israel has never lived up to this resolution.You will need to get the UN to pass another resolution if you want to discuss other claims.This one concerned Palestinians.

I really expect better from EI. As someone else commenting here has said: "Sensationalist and Sleazy".

This diatribe is also premised on the very naïve assumption that Dershowitz isn't in fact lying through his teeth with every utterance. He supports a two state solution? Please!

Having said that, there is one point the author brings up on which Finkelstein must be taken to task. He claims that Israel has the same rights as all the other recognised 190 states. Why then is he so insistent that the Palestinians recognise Israel's RIGHT to exist? This isn't a right given to any other state anywhere.

But Benny Morris did it too. Does it mean we should support Morris genocide fantasies about nuclear war as an opportunity for Zionists to get rid of all Palestinians?
NF should be thanked for his books (some of them) and then asked :WHO made you the authority to decide which of their rights Palestinians should forfeit in order to you being sure that the Zionist aparteid colony on Palestinian land aka Israel is there to stay?

This is a vile and despicable article, and EI should have refused to publish it. I am someone who has defended BDS many times, and have worked on multiple BDS campaigns for a number of years, and this article makes me sick to my stomach. Also, calling Finkelstein a racist on the level of Dershowitz shows clearly that the author has no understanding of racism. There are way more constructive ways to argue against Finkelstein and people have done that - but articles like these destroy the credibility of the movement.

NF clearly puts the existence of the Zionist colony on Palestinian land BEFORE any rights of Palestinians worth reviewing. NF wants to preserve the Zionists colony on Palestinian land , egro, Palestinians must forget about their right of return, least it endanger "Jewish state". If it is NOT racism, I am a queen Victoria.
There is a lot of sorts of b..l sh.t, should we discriminate between them?
One more time - NO ONE has a right to discard the rights of colonized people and not be called a racist, "levels" notwithstanding.
I am very sorry that I have to say such things about NF, who did do a lot of good things. But if I had to choose between being nice for the sake of former goodness (even sacrifices) and support of Palestinians' rights (and other victims' of Zionism) I do not hesitate.

You're funny Lydia. You go on about colonization being wrong and illegal and yet you don't seem to give any credence at all to the only mechanisms we have to address those illegalities and wrongs. NF understands that without them the Arabs simply lost the war.
What are you gonna do about it, huh...Lydia?

are now incuding JC, who repeats the most open Zionist racist frase "the Arabs simply lost the war".
Should I point one MORE time, that the problem with NF is NOT his support for "2 states", but his denial of Palestinian right of return? And in this he is with Chomski and Avnery, yes. So, they all are NOT against colonial Israel on Palestinian land. No wonder. Avnery, for ex, started as relactant colonialist terrorist and now is defending "demographic balance" of Israel - i.e. NOT too many non-Jews. It seems he learned a bit from "racial purity" lesson of Nazis.

Well said, Lidia, 100% agreement!

Much as I respect the excellent productions of NF's mind and his undoubted intellectual bravery, he is neither infallible nor a Pope to dictate to Palestinians how and when to waive their rights, for reasons of this imperialism-tinged 'pragmatism' in which he has in old age sadly become reduced to believing.

He has also said straight out that he is a Zionist (I suppose he means the fluffy type not personally dedicated to murdering Palestinians who remember and insist on their rights) so that question is beyond dispute.

I think he has been 'gotten to' since being refused transit-entry to Israel a couple of years ago, and has slightly broken down mentally as a result. Here's hoping for his full and speedy recovery!

THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS article 13 states that "[e]veryone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." UN RESOLUTION 194 “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.”

Norman Finkelstein frequently invokes international law, but his is an idiosyncratic and selective version of it. Despite his brilliant and frequently heroic written work, he does not have the right to reject the right of return for the Palestinian people. It is disingenuous for him to say that insisting on the Palestinian Right of Return is a covert effort to destroy the state of Israel—yes, destroy it as a state founded in ethnic cleansing: what’s wrong with that? But not destroy its people or their right to self-governance.

The obvious difference between Dershowitz and Finkelstein's statements concerning the two state solution is that Dershowitz just mouthed them without believing a single word of what he said, whereas Finkelstein has actually worked to enact them, incurring personal costs that Salaita is well aware of but glibly elides ("Dershowitz and Finkelstein have differences, too. Finkelstein has never plagiarized or supported torture and Dershowitz has never attempted to lead a march on Gaza he would later deem 'sectarian'"). Of course Dershowitz doesn't want a two state solution. To say that he does, in order to compare him to Finkelstein, strikes me as willfully obtuse.

If supporting the two-state solution makes one Alan Dershowitz, then Dershowitz assumes the form not only of Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky but Marwan Barghouti, Uri Avnery, Edward Said, the DFLP, and, increasingly, Hamas. Finkelstein is consistently "pedantic" with his intellectual opponents, white or Palestinian- just ask Frank Barat. Or, for that matter, Sherry Wolf, who was on the same panel as Lamis Deek and got the same treatment she did. Lazy slurs that he's a "white man" condescending to Arabs won't wash.

In conclusion, Norman Finkelstein is essentially Alan Dershowitz because he more or less agrees with Marwan Barghouti and is sometimes dyspeptic. This is really weak.

This is quite possibly the sloppiest hack job I've read in a very long time. Smear campaigns like this one only alienate supporters and damage our movement. You are certainly entitled to criticize NF for some of his statements and positions but it is beyond grotesque for you to claim that Dershowitz and Finkelstein are comrades or substantively identical. Finkelstein may have expressed organizational criticisms of BDS but he has consistently affirmed his support for the tactics of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions. Finkelstein has emphasized that the right of return is a right that can't be bargained away at any negotiating table. Furthermore, if support for two-states as an interim solution makes someone a comrade of Alan Dershowitz then my many relatives and friends in Palestine are racist, war mongering, self-hating Palestinians. You want to talk condescending and pedantic, who are you to tell Palestinians and others who disagree with you that they are apologists for colonialism who share profound political affinities with Alan Dershowitz? Shameful.

Ask them, both, Dershowitz and Finkelstein, at which point the problem between Israel and the Palestinians starts: in 1948 or with the 1967 occupation?
None of them will probabely say 1948. But this is the core issue: the right of the Palestinian people to live through selfdetermination in their own land, such as expressed in the famous President Wilson's Forteen Points Speach of January 8, 1918. Even the 1947 UN-partition plan didn't mean the annihilation of the indigenous Palestinian's rights. Ask Dershowitz and als Finkelstein, both won't see the problem in 1948!

Dershowitz reproduces Joan Peters' thesis. Finklestein exposed one of the most important Zionist myths: Israel exists because the holocaust occurred. Finklestein's latest position, calling himself a "diplomat" as a result of perceived universal rejection of Israel, might be misguided and his asking us to accept the legitimacy of the conquest of Palestine is right out racist. How could he be a diplomat between the killer, the thief and an occupied-dispossessed people unless he would become an apologist for pre-1967 Israeli crimes? The crime continues as long as the right of return is not implemented.

Finklestein should be criticized and called out for his patronizing attitude to our people and movement. This does not give our movement a license for hyperbole. We must also be responsible and self-criticize so that when we criticize Finklestein for his irresponsible actions of favoring the personal quarrel over the movement's interest, that criticism would resonate.

I disagree with Finklestein's newly found animosity to our movement for one state and return (he claims it is only BDS). I think Electronic Intifada is engaging in the same petty tactics of personal quarrel with their latest article of comparing him to Dershowitz. I hope EI would reconsider this move and critique Finklestein for his latest appeal to Zionist streams, but keep an analytical perspective, as they have done throughout their development.

We have disagreements with many international and Arab intellectuals. Our discourse should focus on mature outlining of the disagreement, with reason to build on points of intersection. Intersection and debate make movements grow. Finklestein and EI are serving as distraction to our primary focus: ridding our people of Zionist colonization and apartheid.

I hope you find it in you to retract and lead by example.

The creation of the state of Israel was enabled by the consequences of the Holocaust. That is not a myth, it is an interpretation of historical events. One cannot 'expose' anything otherwise.

Zionist colony in Palestinian land had started way before Hitler and was the typical colonization project not unlike Rhodesia. Zionists did their best not to let European Jews escape if the destination was not Palestine, and collaborated with Nazis in this regard. Ben Gurion the Zionist hero openly declared : "If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half by transporting to Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel."

I.e. It was NOT about Holocaulst, but about colonization of Palestine, which BG justified by (false) "the history of the People of Israel"

I had thirty family members die in the Holocaust and for you to say this was partly the work of Zionists/fellow Jews is an insult beyond words. You can be an activist for Palestinians without being a monster, a fact that escapes you.

and my other relatives were saved from Hitler by Red Army and Soviet Union. Zionists DID collaborated with Hitler in their colonization of Palestine, and a fact that escapes Nick the Zionist is that not me, but Ben Gurion was a "monster" , not only regarding Palestinians, but also regarding Jews, but one could not be a Zionist colonizer and not be a "monster"...

Your characterization of Norm Finkelstein is misleading and childish. The consensus he speaks of is very real. You have put words in his mouth. You speak of oversimplifying arguments but you oversimplify his. Try being honest and present the core of his arguments instead your mischaracterizations of it before trying to refute it.

Just so you know I have looked at your arguments over time and I have looked at his and it's not often that anybody manages to change my mind but I have come around to his way of thinking. He is right.
If you want to know I think this article sounds more like an ad hominem attack than an argument. I don't mind that you disagree but putting Finkelstein in the same camp as Dershowitz is inaccurate and uncalled for. Nya nya nya nya nya nya is not an argument.

I agree with those arguing that the author crops the picture too much in trying to make his point. But in his defense, the point he's trying to make is a difficult one to solidify. This is really a question of incrementalism in liberal political activism. Finkelstein is not in any way directly working to maintain the Zionist system. He wants to take it to court, or at least (perhaps most) face it with the real possibility that it will have to go unless it reaches a settlement.
The rub is the same in this case as it is when a member of the status quo challenges it, they accept too much to change it ...much.
So while Finkelstein helps preserve Zionism by not directly challenging it, doesn't he erode it by making it accountable and face the possibility of having to explain and defend itself?
How long can they go on pretending 2 + 2 = 5 if they can't realize the sum.
I agree with the author but I also agree with Finkelstein that the law is the law.

The law that colonizer could keep his loot if he agrees to return a bit of it? "The law" includes also racist laws of Nazis, USA and aparteid SA.
Not mentioning that 194 resolution is "the law" as well, and it is about right of return. NO, NF and his Zionist supporters are not even about "law", they pick what suits them and call it "the law". Zionists like NF and his ilk , like any other Zionist put Zionist colony on Palestinian land FIRST, and then try to justify it. AD justifies it by more openly racist "arguments" and more gross lies, and NF justifies it by "the law", but does the difference really matter?

Dershowitz is on record saying that the two state settlement he supports should include the large settlement blocks inside the separation wall to be annexed to Israel, more or less the Allon Plan.

To compare the two is one thing, but to say: "the two enemies in fact share profound political affinities" is fantasy.

Salaita writes: "Ultimately, on the issues that matter most, those fundamental to the cessation of the Zionist colonial project, there is little disagreement between Dershowitz and Finkelstein, certainly none of significance. "

This is false and renders all of your arguments invalid.

Finkelstein supports the international consensus of a full Israeli withdrawal to the June 1967 borders, whereas Dershowitz does not. Dershowitz has supported all along, the Bantustanization of the West Bank, and the illegal annexation of large swaths of the best land there. Dershowitz is a pathological liar, someone who hasn't added anything to our society, quite the contrary, he has done a lot of damage, whereas Prof. Finkelstein is one of the leading scholars on the conflict and is a person of awesome intellectual range. He has enlightened many, especially young people and I believe his work to be invaluable to anyone interested in the topic.

Obviously the author wanted to ruffle the feathers of those who know the truth. And obfuscate the facts for the rest. I can not see any other reason for him to write this screed. Salaita is acting as a troll here. Fortunately from the looks of the comments here, he did not succeed.

I may not agree with everything the NF says, but to associate him with a fascist monster is absurd and unfortunate. NF has done a lot for our cause. This doesn't mean we should follow everything he says blindly, or crucify him if he has different opinions, including the right of return and the BDS (which I do support)

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