Finkelstein discusses BDS, Netanyahu’s speech to congress, Palestine joining ICC
Norman G. Finkelstein, a political scientist, activist, and professor, is easily one of the most active and recognizable voices on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Along with other Jewish supporters of the Palestinian cause, he has been labeled as a “self-hating Jew” by the Zionist community. Finkelstein received his doctorate from Princeton University and currently teaches at Sakarya University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Turkey. Finkelstein has written books, including “Method and Madness: The Hidden Story behind Israel’s Assaults on Gaza.”
In addition to his in-depth studies on the Israeli agenda machine, Finkelstein has also examined the politics of the Holocaust, an interest that was mainly influenced by his parents, who were Jewish Holocaust survivors. His mother (whose entire family, along with her first husband, perished in other concentration camps) survived the Majdanek concentration camp, as well as two other slave labor camps. Finkelstein’s father was a survivor of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.
As expected, Finkelstein has been met with heavy criticism and retaliation from politicians, the academia community, and, as expected, the pro-Israeli community.
I had an opportunity to speak with Finkelstein via email to discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to congress and Palestine joining the International Criminal Court.
Rasha Abousalem: Considering the growing BDS movement against Israel (as well as Israeli products)- Do you see a long-term impact that will actually effect any US policies with Israel?
Norman G. Finkelstein.: The recent victories of the BDS movement signal the growing alienation of Americans (and American Jews) from Israel. However, I do not believe that BDS can “liberate” Palestine. The prime mover must be a mass nonviolent movement in the Occupied Territories, supported by the international solidarity movement.
R.A.: What do you think of some Democrats refusal to attend Netanyahu’s speech to Congress? How do you think this will affect future US-Israeli relations?
N.F.: The US-Israeli relationship, born of a common strategic perspective (to control the Arab-Muslim world) remains firm. But, clearly, there’s no love lost between Obama and Netanyahu. The question is, how can the Palestine solidarity movement leverage this falling-out to serve the cause of Palestine? Right now, I don’t see any way to do this.
R.A.: What role do you think the US will play or how much of an effect will the US have in regards to the push for Palestine to be join the International Criminal Court in April?
N.F.: I am not optimistic about the ICC route. The PA does not have its heart in this. Between the PA’s terrifying incompetence and its fear of alienating the US, my guess is, the ICC initiative will get bogged down in technical minutiae.
R.A.: What impact do you think the growing US sentiment/criticisms towards Israel will have on future US foreign policies?
N.F.: If the Palestine movement stakes out a reasonable position based on international law, it has a good chance of reaching mainstream public opinion. If it insists on pipe dreams such as “one State,” it will go nowhere.
(R.A. note: Norman Finkelstein has spoken many times regarding the question over a “one-state” or “two-state” Israel/Palestine, and is in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)