Dershowitz and Finkelstein: comrades at heart?

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).

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, 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.




Sad to see EI publish a piece comparing Finkelstein to Dershowitz. Really really low. Upgrade your editorial standards.


It's encouraging to see EI publishing something critical of Norman Finkelstein and braving the wrath of his supporters; pro-Palestinian journalism needs more clear-eyed analysis of Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, and others whose personality cults promote them as Palestine's allies despite their actual statements.


I second your sentiments Jim and I think Chomsky would too. Norman might be a bit ticked off at this point however, so keeping it mature and civil, as I think one of the above has suggested, is a wise course.
They are both extremely fine individuals who are still, after all human beings, especially fine in fact and I really don't like to contemplate our social conscience without their contributions. But they are also struggling with their own vaunted status in a world of confused and needy hero worshippers. (see cool hand luke)


I wont troll but I will say this...when embarking upon something new it is extremely important to review everything old. Every single point that this article made against Finkelstein to delegitimize his opinions were weak and best and an attack on a man's character at worst. I did not catch a single reference from any of Finkelstein's books on the conflict and occupation. You simply took his words out of context to fit them in your analysis...this is quite irresponsible journalism and if you're writing for such an established name like EI, I think you ought to re-evaluate your research methodology. If your aim was to challenge people's opinions about Finkelstein, then it would have been helpful if you had raised questions rather than coming out so strongly against him. Personally, I admire Finkelstein for his advocacy and work for the Palestinian cause but I think he can be seen as a pacifist. Nevertheless, during emergencies like the recent attacks against Gaza, the flotilla, etc he was extremely outspoken and veracious against the occupation. Something to consider...which I hope you do.


I share many commentators' strong criticisms of this article. I too feel this opinion piece is poorly researched, sensationalist and has a strong, personal tone that undermines whatever serious message Salaita might have wanted to put across.

However, placing the blame on the Electronic Intifada and calling for censorship is not the answer, in my view.

EI serves as a valuable and broad platform for critical expression and debate. Unlike the heavily biased corporate media outlets, EI does not have a rigid editorial line, at least not one that I can fathom. What the journal does object to are messages of racism and hate, and rightly so.

The way I see it, this opinion piece is simply that -- the opinion of the author, and not of EI. The dozens of comments that have followed this article (including mine) underline how people feel about it.

If you also disagree, then by all means form your own opinion and publish it yourself, either here as a comment, or in your own opinion piece, but don't blame EI.


This is a very poor article that ignores Finkelstein's extraordinary body of work, and the personal courage and integrity that has caused him to sacrifice his career several times over. This exemplifies the petty intolerance of some on the Left, which unfortunately bolsters Finkelstein's characterization of BDS as a "cult".


I think it's very unfair to criticise Finkelstein because he diverges from the method to which to bring about Israeli concessions and the contrasting vision of the end of this conflict.

You cannot expect an American liberal to harbour motivations of the liberation of all of Palestine and the complete end of Zionism. The most 'pro Palestinian' solution you're going to hear from him is advocacy of the two state solution. I don't put this down to Finkelstein's heritage but the moral aversion to kicking some 5-6 million Jews from their homes (whether they should have been living there or not). To endorse such actions would repeat the same mistakes of 1948. If we are going to accept 1948 was morally indefensible then how can we accept driving Jews from their homes now or in the future is anything different? This is the point Finkelstein is trying to make.

Lets not forget Finkelstein visited Hezbollah in Lebanon and actively supported their armed struggle, defending their actions and seemed happy with the Israeli defeat in 2006. He has also went on Russia Today advocating an internal Palestinian resistance movement (possibly violent) as a means of resistance.

I don't know what to say about the patronising of Palestinians; his best friend is Palestinian and he routinely spends time around Palestinian advocacy groups on University Campuses.

Our differences in opinions should not obscure the tremendous work Finkelstein has done for the Palestinian cause especially as no one asked him to!


The French colonizers went out of Algeris, for ex.
But, anyway, no ONE here is calling for "kicking some 5-6 million Jews from their homes" (robbed homes, not THEIRS, by the way). NF is not talking about it either, as much as I know. NF is against Palestinians' return because it means end of "JEWISH character" of Israel. I.e., Zionist Jews will lose their "master race" status.
Noting it, I cannot agree with NF being just a bit too "liberal". I know some liberals who are anti-Zionists. They are just real liberals, not race-based ones.


lidia, many countries have what is called an "open capital account" or full currency convertibility. This means that foreigner can more or less freely conduct business and own property in the said country. Examples of these kinds of countries include:
--many European countries
--Hong Kong

Palestine and Israel are currently not as economically open as these other countries. Do you think any foreigner should be allowed to freely buy and own Palestinian property? Provided they comply with Palestinian law, Palestinian regulation and Palestinian taxation?

If Palestine conforms to the global standard, then it is natural that most of Palestine will over time become owned by foreigners, like a normal country. In the long run many of these owners are likely to be Asians. But in the short run, many of these owners could happen to be Israeli nationals.

I think this is okay.

In my view the point is not that Israelis cannot own Palestinian businesses, royalties, land, stocks, bonds and other property. The point is that all Israeli owners of property domiciled in Palestine should fully comply with Palestinian regulation and taxation.

Peace, freedom and justice for Palestine in my opinion means that the Palestinian Authority will have legal jurisdiction (for regulation and taxation) for all property domiciled in Palestine.

Palestinian negotiators should try to maximize the amount of property domiciled in Palestine. The largest reason for this is because this maximizes Palestinian tax revenue.


No, they should not. When they stop it, with the end of Zionism and aparteid Israel , Palestinians free from Zionist robbery will decide what to do with their land.

Before this, all the words about "Palestinian law, Palestinian regulation and Palestinian taxation" are ridiculous. Bantustans do not have "law"


While I think you may be veering of topic, i.e. the serious accusations being made against Finkelstein, where my criticism was that you were skewering his words and mine, I do agree with you on this. So does Finkelstein. He thus supports a Palestinian state.
Finkelstein isn't saying that he doesn't feel Palestinians have the right of return. He is stating the fact that he severely doubts that a full scale return of all refugees is realistic in practise or that there is a chance of it coming to be. I have yet to see how it would be carried out at any rate, and can neither foresee Israelis or the world at large accepting such terms, however righteous they may be, and this is Finkelstein's point as well.
Hence, as I stated, you can certainly agree with Finkelstein on this or disagree with him, and criticise him, but don't just twist his opinions or words. Equating him with someone like Dershowitz remains both absurd and shameful.


(as a Zionist colony on Palestinian land, I clarify).And NF is OPENLY against such option. ALL else is just words, and words are cheap.
One more time, ALL excuses by NF and Einar Steinn Valgarðsson and other defendans of NF and Israel just mask the ugly thruth - some people value Zionist colony on Palestinian lands above the rights of Palestinians and deny them the rights under various pertexes. AD uses more openly colonialist ones, NF - at least most of the time - uses "realistic" ones. Both set of pretexes are Zionist. If one is anti-Zionist, one does NOT tell Palestinians : "forget your rights".
I hope after 10th or 20th repeating some Zionists would get that their Zionism and Zionism of NF is NOT something Palestinians and their supporters agree with. Zionists are NOT to be begged to agree with ROR, they will be forced to let Palestinians return, by the same "world at large" which forced the end of aparteid.
I rest my case.


Is Hong Kong SAR a bantustan of China? Are autonomous states within decentralized federal unions bantustans?

An independent sovereign free democratic plural Palestine within 1967 borders is not a bantustan. Have faith in Palestinians and their elected leaders.

"Before this, all the words about "Palestinian law, Palestinian regulation and Palestinian taxation" are ridiculous." Palestinian elected bodies and Palestinian institutions are not ridiculous. Palestinians are a great and good people.

Finkelstein has said that the word "Zionism" has no meaning and should not be used. I agree.

What do you mean by apartheid? Do you mean in Gaza and the West Bank? If so, you have a point. If you mean within Israel's 1967 borders . . . . where are you going with this?

Many respected free democracies all over the world have apartheid qualities. England for example. England mistreats her minorities and is apartheid like. Do you support BDS against England? How would you stop mass English bigotry against English nationals of muslim heritage? Why stand up for justice inside Israel more than justice inside England?

Maybe I am not understanding you. There are two unrelated issues:
--which legal entity (Israel or Palestine) has regulatory and taxation rights over a specific piece of property. Or what country a specific piece of property is domiciled in. Here Palestinians have every right to negotiate vigorously to maximize the land and property and royalties (water royalties and under water NG/oil/mineral rights for example) that the Palestinian authority has jurisdiction over.
--who owns a specific piece of property.

For example, most of Israel can be owned by Palestinians, Chinese and Indians, and if so . . . so what. Property rights need to be respected.

Similarly most of Palestine can be owned by Asians, Brazilians, Turks, Europeans and Israelis, and if so . . . so what. As long as they fully comply with Palestinian law, regulation and taxation.


Finkelstein has a long record of solidarity with the Palestinian cause and has in no way turned his back on it. These attempts of smearing him and labeling him a Zionist simply because he disagrees with your tactics are all at once alienating, pathetic and shameful.


Zionist is one for whom the existence of Zionist colony on Palestinian land is a priority. All else could be debated. There is a lot of kinds of Zionists. NF is against ROR, because it is, as he put it, a plot to destroy Israel. If it is not a Zionism, Obama is a Marxist.


Finkelstein is looking at facts on the ground. While Palestinians due have a principal right of return, in practise it seems unlikely that there will ever be a full-scale return of all refugees, as it would never be accepted (see the comment about dismantling of Israel) and Finkelstein is simply pointing that out. This fact may certainly be unfair, but it is indeed unlikely in practise that a return will mean more than a certain number of refugees being returned and compensations offered to the rest, if even that.
Finkelstein supports a state for the Palestinian people and supports the Palestinian cause. You have every right to criticise Finkelstein, just as he has the right to express his doubts about tactics he either disagrees with or finds unrealistic, however he might otherwise sympathise, but calling him a Zionist or equating him with Finkelstein is both wrong and shameful and will at worst serve to alienate people from the Palestinian cause.
It will indeed be alienating if the message is going to be that anyone who differs the least from your outlook or disagrees with individual methods will be automatically be branded "the enemy" and smeared, no matter how sympathetic to the Palestinan cause, 'cause he doesn't to it exactly "your way". That is a false road to take, in my opinion. As for tactics, I was referring to the boycott. Agree or diagree with Finkelstein, criticise him if you like, but he is definately NOT Dershowitz's "comrade at heart".


"Facts on the ground" is a Zionist slang for "colonialism". If NF agrees with it, he is a supporter of colonialism, but sure, he does it while being "sympathetic to the Palestinan cause", so it really does not matter.
Palestinians demand not NF "sympathy" but their rights. NF denys them. It is CLARE enough for me.


Please stop twisting my words and Finkelstein's. I never stated Finkelstein agrees with the situation as it is, neither has he to my knowledge, he simply looks at the way things are and sollutions that he deems viable. In his case, he deems a Palestinian state alongside Israel, along with a number of refugees plus compensation as a viable and realistic aim, at least a plausible one, i.e. one that has any chance of succeeding at all.
Now, I agree with you that this would indeed be a compromise, and a huge one at that. However, it is a fact that the return of all refugees would dismantle Israel as a state with a Jewish majority. We may feel that sollution to be justified or we may not, but I hardly see how that sollution would ever come to be in practise. If you foresee a way that this might come to be, please share it. In the meantime, please don't demonize people simply because they don't foresee that way or believe it to be impossible to carry out.


as a state with a Jewish majority" - exactly! This is Einar Steinn Valgarðsson OWN words, and NF thinks the same - so no "twisting". So, for ESV and NF "Israel as a state with a Jewish majority" - i e the settler aparteid colony on Palestinian land is a MUST. The rights of Palestinians for both ESV and NF mean NOTHING compared with the preservation of the Zionist aparteid colony. So, they both are Zionist. Period.
Now, I see the article as a great litmus test - no spin could change the basic truth - NF and his defenders are Zionists. AD is a Zionist too. NF and AD have a lot of different traits but they BOTH are for Zionist colony on Palestinian land. NF is even less honest than AD - he wants to mask what AD is caliming openly - NO rights for Palestinians, Zionist settlers are the masters.
Please, dear good-hearted Zionists - do NOT bother to explain to us here and to Palestinians how awful and "unrealistic" right of return is, because it means the end of existence of your dear Zionist colony. We KNOW it is, and exactly because of it we are FOR the right of return. NO to colonies. NO to "master race". NO to Zionism.


This argument is going in circles and serves no purpose. I've explained my own views and the point Finkelstein is making. You seem to have no interest in them, only to interpret them as the opposite of what we're saying and twist a meaning out of them that isn't there. This is getting tiresome. Also, I personally happen to be board member of the Association Iceland-Palestine and frankly take offence with being labeled a Zionist. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me or with Finkelstein, but I want it based on my actual views, not views that you try to impose on me.
While a full return of all refugees may well be justice, you have also yet to explain to me how this might be carried out in practise. THIS is the point that Finkelstein is raising, though you seem determined to avoid it. Raising this point neither equates him nor me with the likes of Alan fucking Dershowitz. This smearing is pathetic. Period.


1) ROR is a demand by Palestinians
2) NF denys it under various pretextes, but spills his beans admiting that it means the end of Israel as a Zionist settler colony
3)ESV supports NF "opinion" and thus denys Palestinian rights.
4) If ESV does not want to be called a Zionist, he should STOP talking like one and using various exuses to shore up Zionist colony.
5) How to achieve ROR? Palestinians say it is BDS. No wonder that NF hates BDS with passion and ESV pretends that he ( a "board member of the Association Iceland-Palestine", no less) has never heard about it. Odd, is it not?


You commented on the right of return (ROR) is a right by the Palestinians. However, you did not comment on any solution to obtain that right. I have never hear or read anything to which NF has said that the Palestinians do not have the ROR. Image for a second if Mexico proclaimed the ROR for the land take from them by the US. Mexico has the right to obtain all of California as well as half of the US. Is this ever going to happen? Is the US ever going to decide to be reasonable and give back the land that they took from Mexico by military force? Is Mexico ever going to be in a position to take back the land either by force or public opposition in Mexico? The occupation in Plasticine has been going on for more then 40 years, 40 years of imprisonment and misery, and, it is getting worse with more and more land taken every time there is a "peace process". It is one thing to have a theoretical discussion about how the world should work, however for the people who suffer everyday in Gaza and the Wast Bank, these discussions do not make peace and have no solutions to the realities of the world.
Furthermore, if you are attempting to discredit someone, you should find quotes from the actual person you are attempting to discredit.


YES or NO?
Now, I am not in position to say how to implement ROR, Palestinians think that BDS is a way. I agree with them, and it is not for nothing that NF is mad about BDS - it is working.
And it is NOT 40 years, Zionists are raping Palestine for more thab 100 years now. But some colonies lasted longer - and they HAD ended.
And about Mexico - and not only Mexico - USA is not going to be a global mass-murderer for ever. The time could come (and even earlier than we think) when USA imperilaism will be defeted and dismantled.


Isn't this blog about helping Palestinians.

How do incendiary comments like this help Palestinians?:

"And about Mexico - and not only Mexico - USA is not going to be a global mass-murderer for ever. The time could come (and even earlier than we think) when USA imperilaism will be defeted and dismantled."

Shouldn't the focus be on Palestinian freedom and justice? Doesn't this mean lobbying and persuading as many countries as possible to support the Palestinian cause?

Or is the intent to just shoot mouths off without helping Palestinians. Palestinians have a strong legal case for freedom, independence and democracy within 1967 borders.


Thank you for expressing so eloquently the point that I feel Finkelstein is making and the point I've been trying to make myself.
The only thing I take issue with is the word "Plasticine" (i.e. as opposed to "Palestine") but I trust that this is simply a typing error on your part. All the best. :)


Every situation is unique.

Mexico was ruled by a harsh dictator, causing Texas to fight for and win her freedom. Much the way Arabs and Palestinians fought their harsh Turkish Ottoman hegemonic imperial oppressing occupiers to win their freedom.

Texas was independent for a decade before America allowed Texas into America. Texas. Mexico has no rights to Texas. Any referendum inside Texas would almost unanimously vote to stay inside the US.

The rest of the South Western US was purchased from Mexico for a lot of money (which the then bankrupt and poor Mexico desperately needed) and confirmed by duly passed treaties. Under international law Mexico has no claim to any part of America.

Under international law Israel is a fully sovereign independent nation inside her 1967 borders. Palestine is similarly suppose to be a fully sovereign nation in all of Gaza and the West Bank.

Maybe international law and international institutions such as the UN are evil, immoral, unjust, imperial, hegemonic, wrong. But international law is international law.


Alright already, Finkelstein's not really Dershowitz in disguise any more than this intellectual falderal is producing anything at all. At this point anyway.


I read EI occasionally (usually through Angry Arab and sometimes by itself), but have never posted here. I am pretty saddened by this extremely shoddy hit piece.

Finkelstein has a different political strategy than the author (and EI generally). But can someone with a straight face really say that: "Let us then leave them to their feuding with the understanding that they have nothing really to resolve beyond the antipathy of competing egos."

I challenge anyone to watch the Finkelstein-Dershowitz debate and come away with the understanding that there was nothing of issue involved except for egos. Indeed, many of your commenters have already made this point.

I will just address one point from this shoddy piece here (picking at random) "Bickering with activists":

The author engages in all sorts of guilt by association ("winning fans amongs Zionist hardliners"), then deplores the "condescending tone", then talks about the "imaginary international consensus". The UN and the World Court are imaginary now? No further comment is necessary.

Finkelstein has had many other discussions with BDS activists, like Anna Baltzer , and he explicitly said there that he admires her work a lot, but also said that the issues are important and within the solidarity community (Finkelstein is not "lecturing Arabs"), one must speak frankly about these things.


UN amd World Court are against ROR? It is news to me.
AD and NF are different, sure, like Bush and Obama are. In both cases it is not about their "egos" but about politcs of imperialism (Zionism). There are different sorts of Zionism, one is more openly racist (AD), and one is "sympathetic" (NF), but both are against Palestinian rights and for Zionist colony on Palestinian lands. Nothing personal, just politics.


I’m the fool called this debate falderal. It’s becoming anything but that…but I doubt it will continue because it is edging perilously close to a discussion of class privilege. I won’t go there, it’s premature but I will say that Einar and free ed are too easily dismissing Lidia’s argument.
Look at it this way, if all Jews were as diligent about preserving their cultural heritage as Norman (I.e. progressive leadership in matters of governance, the arts and civil rights), would Israel/Palestine look as it does now? I don’t think so but Lidia’s argument does raise a specter of doubt. On the other hand, if all Palestinians were as dedicated to preserving their dignity and solidarity around their human rights as Lidia is, would we still be where we are now? I’m not sure, I like to think not and that any movement that’s cohesive, coherent and steadfast will win the day.
But this day has gone on so long and the sacrifices have been so great that anyone who doesn’t agree with Lidia should perhaps reflect on whether they really hear her.
The civil rights movement- middle east is so conflated with nationalism that it’s incredibly difficult to arrive at the “global consensus” Norman dreams of and still not see it diluted upon our rude awakening.
I think Norman and Lidia are both right and like them both. It’s the global consensus that needs work.


I guess I was not really aware how many of EI readers have some odd ideas like

1) Palestinians should stop demanding their rights and insted try to look meek and beg for help of USA (the great friend of colonized nations, for sure) and other imperilialist rulers and for mercy from Zionist colonizers. How "realistic" such way is one should look not further than the "success" of so-called PA. They do their best to crowl under feet of USA and Zionist rulers, while oppressing any attepmt of real Palestinian resistence - non-violent including. A world of good they brought to Palestinians, sure.
2) People who like N. Finkelstein are first for Zionist colony on the Palestinian land aka Israel should be praised because they also want to do "something" to help Palestinians - providing this "something" would not endadger the Zionist settler colonialist project.
3) What NF stays for and what Palestinians who demand their rights and use BDS to get them stay for are both right! Year, sure...

I suppose some of commentors with 1,2,3 POV could be foreign to EI, but still, it looks like EI could use some basic-points clarification of its position for its readers. On the other hand, I was trying my best till I am blue of face and still got the same odd "arguments" instead of understanding what I was explaining. But maybe it is just me :(