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It Wasn’t a War


August 1, 2010

The Israel critic and Holocaust heir on the “Gaza massacre,” the Goldstone Report, the public turn against Israeli policy, and the difference between “of” and “in.”

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The career of radical political scholar Norman Finkelstein might be described as a sort of heroic painting-into-a-corner. The son of Holocaust survivors, his life’s work has been dedicated to exposing the hypocrisy, ideology, and violence that sustains the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The dimensions of his emphatic anti-Zionism, expounded over the course of six meticulously researched and often polemical books on Israel, Palestine, and the legacy of the Holocaust, have made him a pariah in the mainstream and a hero amongst supporters of Palestinian liberation.

The high controversy around Finkelstein’s politics has penetrated university walls on more than one occasion, making his academic career fraught with defensive, uphill battles. I first met Finkelstein in 2007, in the eye of a storm of controversy surrounding his academic status at DePaul University. Despite his prolific and highly influential body of critical scholarship—and after first having been approved for tenure at DePaul by both department and faculty committees—Finkelstein’s tenure had ultimately been denied—minority dissenters had campaigned successfully against his appointment. Flanked by a supporting cast of speakers including Tariq Ali, Tony Judt, and Noam Chomsky (via satellite), Finkelstein stood before some one thousand six hundred people in the University of Chicago’s packed Rockefeller Chapel to make the case for academic freedom. Contrary to his reputedly prickly demeanor, he appeared extraordinarily collected and calm, his heavy brow furrowing only slightly over sharp, dark eyes as he prepared to publicly address the charges against him. (The university’s final word on the matter was that Dr. Finkelstein’s reputation for outspoken criticism of Israel and of Israeli apologists like Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz made Finkelstein unfit for tenure at DePaul, a school of “Vincentian values.”)

It was the culmination of a long struggle to advance his radical political critique of Israel and of the American Israeli lobby from within the academy. Now an independent scholar, Dr. Finkelstein remains a leading voice of dissent against the pro-Israel policies that underwrite an apartheid regime enforced by egregious war crimes and human rights violations. In This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, his first book since departing from DePaul—he argues that Israel’s November, 2008 invasion of Gaza, which decisively ended a fragile ceasefire brokered by Egypt that June, marked the beginning of an unprecedented decline in public support for Israel. The book’s epilogue is devoted to the Goldstone Report, a document authored by renowned South African jurist Richard Goldstone that describes the damning conclusions of a U.N.-commissioned investigation into the Gaza invasion, including charges of war crimes against Israel.

In the wake of the bloody attack on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla, Finkelstein’s argument has been affirmed as Israel wages a round of diplomatic gestures in response to an unprecedented international outcry. I spoke to Dr. Finkelstein by phone about the implications of diminished international support for Israel, the damning conclusions of the Goldstone Report on the 2008 invasion of Gaza, and what the turning tide of public opinion means for a peace process that has, historically, looked more like a state of war.

—Kate Perkins for Guernica

Guernica: This Time We Went Too Far looks at Israel through the lens of international public opinion—specifically, a severely damaged public perception of, and support for, Israeli policy after its invasion of Gaza beginning in November of 2008. How substantial is that change in public perception, and to what extent does it give critics of Israel a new kind of traction with respect to influencing policy?

Norman Finkelstein: There’s no question that public opinion is changing, and if you’re a person of the left, your goal is presumably to try to mobilize public opinion to affect elite policy; and I think now there are unusual, unprecedented opportunities to do so. Whether anything will come of it, well, that’s the challenge. It’s not enough for public opinion to shift; it then requires marshalling that public opinion, harnessing it, for it to have a political impact.

There are many issues, as everyone knows, in the United States on which public opinion leans very much to the left of elite policy, but that’s because public opinion hasn’t been turned into a political force. Having said that, it’s nonetheless a significant part of the battle to get public opinion on your side, before you try to harness it, and that part of the battle, it seems to me, we’re closer to winning now. Public opinion in the United States has shifted significantly, not just outside but also within the Jewish community.

If you are, as I am quite frequently, speaking at college campuses in the United States, it’s quite clear that support among Jews for Israel has dried up.

Guernica: How do you interpret this shift in public opinion, and what in particular do you see as being its most revealing indicators? Is it that the basis for dissent has morphed in some unprecedented way, or is there a kind of quantitative momentum to it that could be attributed to new critics, former supporters of Israeli policy becoming increasingly unwilling to defend its actions?

Norman Finkelstein: There’s no question—and all the poll data bear it out—that there’s a significant disaffection, or what’s called in the literature on the subject a “distancing” of American Jews from Israel. In particular, the younger generation, the under-thirty generation. If you are, as I am quite frequently, speaking at college campuses in the United States, it’s quite clear that support among Jews for Israel has dried up. You’ll find there is a handful of people that you might call the Hillel faithful, who will still have some public events in support of Israel, but barely anybody shows up for them, and when critics of Israeli policy speak, the “Hillel faithful” no longer really show up to protest, to demonstrate, to shout down, to hand out leaflets, because they realize how isolated they are.

Now, beyond the under-thirty generation, there are other significant indicators. Probably the most widely discussed recently was the defection of Peter Beinart, who was until recently Editor of The New Republic, which is a fanatically pro-Israel publication. Beinart wrote an article for The New York Review of Books saying how support for Israel is drying up among American Jews. The article received an absolutely huge amount of attention within the Jewish community precisely because Beinart is an orthodox Jew, not to mention that he used to be a senior editor at TNR. So this is what you would call a defection, and an influential one, at the hard core of support for Israel.

There are many other everyday indications, though, of American public opinion changing toward Israel. American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal. By “liberal,” I mean, basically, support for the rule of law, support for human rights, support for peace; and on all those counts—rule of law, human rights, peace—Israel’s record has become indefensible. Israel has become a lawless country with demonstrated contempt for human rights and, probably, at least in terms of visibility, the most warmongering country on earth today. So, for American Jews, who are overwhelmingly liberal—80 percent voted for Barack Obama, by far the highest percentage of any ethnic group apart from African Americans. And when you factor in income, it’s quite astonishing what percentage voted for Obama as compared to, say, Latinos, of whom about 63 percent voted for Obama and within which demographic income is much lower. And that’s because American Jews are, by and large, liberal; and it’s become impossible to reconcile Israeli policy with liberal values.

Nearly the whole of Israeli society managed to convince itself that the Israeli commandos were victims of a premeditated lynching on the Mavi Marmara.

Guernica: And the turn away from Israel that you’re describing, the “distancing” that marks the shift in public opinion, is something you and others have cited as comparable to that of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in South Africa. By the end of apartheid there, though, it was clear that the domestic resistance movement—organized dissent within South Africa—was as important to ending the apartheid regime as the international pressure, insofar as the domestic resistance was able to effectively harness the momentum the anti-apartheid movement gained from international boycotts. I wonder what you would say about the state of dissent within Israel, and whether you read it as having undergone, or as being near to experiencing, a shift parallel to that of international public opinion since the 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza?

Norman Finkelstein: Well, of course, South Africa wasn’t freed of Apartheid until 1994, so I’m not implying that we’re at the endgame by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, the attitudes of the Israeli elites are pretty close to those of the South African whites during the years of international boycotts—this hunkering down, this belief that they’re the victims, the whole world is against them, that there’s a double standard, that they’re the victims of propaganda and conspiracy, and basically a complete contempt for international opinion. That’s basically where Israel is right now.

Judging from what I read in translation (a lot is now available in translation), the state of Israeli dissent is not a pretty picture. Nearly the whole of Israeli society managed to convince itself that the Israeli commandos were victims of a premeditated lynching on the Mavi Marmara. Israel launched a violent commando raid in the dead of night against a humanitarian convoy in international waters and executed nine of the passengers. It takes a peculiar talent in these circumstances to turn yourself into the victim.

As Israel becomes like South Africa, it’s increasingly becoming a pariah state, being excluded from culture at large. The other day, an Israeli friend wrote to me, “Can you believe it? They excluded us from a gay pride parade in Spain! We can only march as individuals!” She was so incensed at the absurdity of this. And I just felt like reminding her that for the past three years, Israel won’t admit toys into Gaza. But there is this anger as the momentum gathers, as Israel is being slowly but surely excluded here and there. My friend’s way of expressing this was, “The world’s noose is tightening around us.” But, no—Israel is tightening the noose around itself.

We have to be careful though not to reduce everything to [divestment]. It may acquire more significance, but I think the major fronts right now are international law and nonviolent civil resistance.

Guernica: It does seem to be an increasingly unavoidable dynamic between Israel and the rest of the world. For example, there’s the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an international effort to force Israel to change its policies, which has expanded significantly since it emerged in 2005, not just in membership, but in its cultural dimensions—sports, the academy, consumerism, as well as its political-economic aspects. You don’t give much attention to BDS in This Time We Went Too Far, though, and I’m wondering what your view of that movement is. What, in your view, are the most significant indicators that the so-called Gaza War had an unprecedented and directly negative effect on the international perception of Israeli policy?

Norman Finkelstein: I think there are several strands of popular resistance and popular mobilization occurring. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is one. I don’t see it as being the main one, currently, except at some moments and some junctures it has the most salience; for example, if some popular or prominent musician decides not to perform in Israel on behalf of the BDS cause, but it’s just one of several strands of resistance.

A second, major strand is the mobilization of international law to force Israel to conform to what Israel’s apologists now call a “lawfare,” which in their minds is the same as warfare, but instead of military weapons, it involves the use of the law as a weapon. This was most prominently expressed during the mobilization of the Goldstone Report. There have been many examples of it, mostly taking the form of the international community exercising what’s called universal jurisdiction, where, when Israeli officials want to visit this or that country, they’re threatened with being held there for past violations of international law. So there’s serious concern among Israelis that their generals and their officials are not free to travel even in places like the UK, because they may be served with papers for having committed war crimes.

A third strand of demonstrated dissent consists in the various forms of nonviolent resistance that have emerged, as demonstrated in the villages that are being destroyed by the wall that Israel is building. Now there are popular mobilizations that are occurring along the fence and so-called “buffer zone” that Israel has created in Gaza. Then there is, of course, the form of nonviolent resistance carried out on the aid flotillas, and in particular there has of course been an enormous international reaction to the recent attack by Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara.

We have to be careful though, I think, not to reduce everything to BDS; it’s one of several strands, but probably the least significant, in my opinion. It may acquire more significance, but I think the major fronts right now are the international law and the nonviolent civil resistance.

Guernica: I want to return to the Goldstone Report, which you mentioned just now with respect to the impact of international law on Israeli policy. That report, of course, detailed the results of the UN fact-finding mission led by international jurist Richard Goldstone; it was an investigation into Israel’s conduct in, and basis for, the 2008 Gaza offensive that officially ended the ceasefire agreement brokered in Cairo in June of that year. You dedicate the epilogue of This Time We Went Too Far to the Goldstone Report, and you seem to interpret the effect of its public disclosure as amounting to something like a decisive lifting of the rock on the gruesome conduct of the Israeli military. Even so, Tariq Ali published an article in the New Left Review describing the Goldstone Report, essentially, as a whitewash, since it tones down the far more damning Palestinian eyewitness accounts detailed in the appendices of the findings. How would you respond to that argument?

Norman Finkelstein: Yes, I read that article. Of course, Tariq’s a friend of mine—he’s a terrific guy! But, look—for those who bothered to read it—the Report was really incredibly damning. It did limit itself in what it undertook to examine. It did not examine the legality of Israel’s attack on Gaza. There’s a distinction in international law between what’s called the justice of a war, and the justice in a war. The justice of a war basically refers to the question whether there is a right to attack in the first place. Justice in a war is concerned with whether the fighting happens in accordance with the international laws of war. In Goldstone’s report, he did not discuss the question of whether Israel’s attack was legitimate. He discussed the question of how Israel fought the war. I think his conclusions were pretty much as damning as they could get. He says that Israel launched a deliberately disproportionate attack “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.” I don’t know how much further he could go; he’s very clear in stating that all the evidence points to one conclusion—that Israel’s attack was designed, premeditated, orchestrated by the highest levels of Israeli society, that the senior-most officials of the Israeli military were involved in state terrorism, designed to terrorize the civilian population. That’s a pretty tough assessment.

Israelis themselves have said it wasn’t a war. People allow themselves to slip into this language, and it’s not even used by Israelis.

Guernica: State terrorism—and yet the Israeli invasion Goldstone investigated is still commonly referred to as the Gaza War.

Norman Finkelstein: Right—it wasn’t a war. Israelis themselves have said it wasn’t a war. People allow themselves to slip into this language, and it’s not even used by Israelis. As one Israeli I quote in the book said, “It’s a big mistake for Israel to say it ‘won’ the war, when there was no war. There were no battles…no military enemy in the field.” One Israeli soldier after another testified that they never saw an enemy in the field. And yet soldier after soldier kept using the same words, testifying that Israeli forces “used insane amounts of firepower.” How do you describe a situation where the attacker is using “insane amounts of firepower,” but there’s no military enemy? That’s not a war. That’s a massacre.

Guernica: Right, but describing it that way—as a massacre—would seem to address the justice of a war, rather than what you’re saying the Goldstone Report confined itself to detailing, that is, the justice in a war.

Norman Finkelstein: That’s debatable, but the upshot of the Report is an explicitly damning assessment that has had an unprecedented effect on public support for Israeli policy.

Guernica: To what extent, in your view, has the Obama administration’s comportment toward Israel since the Goldstone Report and, in particular, since the attack on the Mavi Marmara, reflected the American public’s diminished support for Israel?

Norman Finkelstein: Well, I think it’s too soon to expect a substantial change in elite opinion. Public support has to be mobilized effectively to change policy. You could say that there’s been some progress, at the lowest or ground level, public opinion. But pressure then has to be exerted on Congress; and then there’s the highest level, where policy is actually made, the executive branch. It’s very tough; and there’s no reason to be pessimistic, but without a distinct and visible mobilization of public opinion, there’s no reason to be excessively optimistic.

There have been some—I don’t want to call them ‘shifts,’ but there has been some movement in the Obama administration, mostly because they are concerned about losing Turkey. A new configuration of power is emergent in the Middle East—how substantial it is, and whether it will be able to withstand U.S. pressure, I can’t say—but clearly a new configuration of power is beginning to emerge along the axis of Iran-Turkey-Syria and, you might argue, Lebanon—versus the grouping of the regime leftover from the British Mandate period, which has been taken over by the U.S. and includes Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Iraq, although it’s not yet clear where Iraq fits into the picture. The U.S. is definitely concerned about this configuration of power, which is reminiscent of what in the nineteen sixties was called the ‘radical Arab regimes,’ back then headed by Nasser in Egypt, and Syria. Nowadays these regimes are less about the rhetoric, but they have substantial economies, and they’re well entrenched.

After the flotilla attack, some of the most influential, elite policy analysts, including Anthony Cordesman, who was a complete apologist for Israel after the Gaza massacre, came out swinging. Cordesman said that Israel has to bear in mind that it’s becoming a serious liability for the United States. For someone of that influence, that’s a significant shift; he’s saying that Israel is causing us trouble, and of course, he had Turkey in mind. So to that end, I think that at the elite level, we’ll begin to see some movement at the level of diplomacy and power-balancing. But what that indicates is that right now the U.S. isn’t reacting directly to popular pressure; it’s reacting directly to state pressure.

Then again, state pressure itself is a consequence of popular outrage. Erdogan’s very strong reaction to the flotilla bloodbath was itself the result of an accumulation of popular outrage. He spoke out very strongly against the Gaza invasion in an exchange with Shimon Peres—I think it was at Davos in 2009, during the Gaza massacre—that reflected the influence of the Turkish population’s overwhelming disapproval with Israel’s behavior in Gaza and elsewhere. So it’s not so easy to isolate these things as exclusively a state-to-state dynamic.

Guernica: What about Israel’s official state response to the Goldstone Report?

Norman Finkelstein: Israel hasn’t issued any formal response, because officially, it doesn’t recognize the Goldstone Report. It has issued some very substantial reports—by now, you could say it’s issued three—two very large reports, and one smaller report, on what actually happened and also on their progress in investigating war crimes allegations. The bottom line is that none of these reports have satisfactorily responded to the claims of the Goldstone Report, and none of these reports are very convincing. For example, with regard to Israel’s targeting of hospitals, Israel claimed that there were Hamas militants seeking refuge in the hospitals. But over and over again, international human rights investigations have shown that there is no evidence for that claim. Furthermore, these international human rights investigations have consistently found that the violent attacks on civilian infrastructures were carried out after Israeli forces had secured and controlled the area. These findings conclude that none of this damage was being inflicted by what in international law is called military necessity. As Human Rights Watch (HRW) points out in its last report, called “I Lost Everything,” HRW obtained satellite imagery both of what the area looked like before Israel took over and of what it looked like after. The preponderance of destruction occurred after they took over the area. And the case of the civilian deaths—almost all civilian deaths occurred where there was no military fighting going on, according to reports issued by both HRW and Amnesty International. The vast majority of civilian deaths occurred in places and situations where there was no fighting. Israel’s claims, in defense, that Hamas used civilians as human shields, have across the board been shown to be baseless by all the reports on human rights groups’ findings. There’s no evidence that Hamas engaged in human shielding during the Gaza massacre whatsoever.

As far as the justice of the invasion, which the Goldstone Report doesn’t address: during the period of the ceasefire, around October of 2008, there was one reported rocket attack on Israel. Remember, we’re not talking about roman candles and firecrackers. These are not military “rockets” and mortar; they’re the most primitive sorts of weapons. Those were not Hamas, but rather what Israel called “rogue terrorist organizations.” There’s no question that Hamas was, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs put it, “careful to maintain the ceasefire.”

The ceasefire lasted until November 4, 2008, despite the fact that Israel had explicitly violated its terms of the ceasefire: Israel was supposed to gradually lift the blockade of Gaza in return for Hamas ceasing rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. Well, Hamas ceased its rocket and mortar attacks, but Israel didn’t lift the siege of Gaza. Then, on November 4th, while everyone in the U.S. was watching the presidential election unfold, Israel went in and attacked Gaza, killing six Palestinian militants and knowing full well that it would provoke rocket attacks, giving them a pretext to launch the invasion.

Guernica: The pretext being a typical basis for the kind of disproportionate violence Israel has exerted in the name of self-defense. The same rhetoric about security and self-defense has been trotted out by Israel after the attack on the aid flotilla, and provoked significant admonishments even from international apologists for the Gaza invasion, like Cordesman, as you mentioned earlier. Do you see, or expect to see, Israel changing its rhetoric in response to the increasing condemnations it’s facing?

Norman Finkelstein: I think Israel is going to try to prove that it has met all the demands of the international community, and that there’s no reason any longer for there to be any hostility directed toward Israel. They’re going to claim that they lifted the blockade, even though they won’t have done that. But in fact there are significant limitations to the lifting of the blockade; most crucially, Israel is still blocking any exports from Gaza, which means that the economy can’t resume there. If as a result of the crippled economy there has to be an increase in aid flotillas, what we can expect to see from Israel is another propaganda war—Israel is going to claim that these flotillas are unnecessary, just as they claimed before the attack on the Mavi Marmara that anyone who wanted to could just deliver any goods and that Israel would transport them to Gaza. Well, that was a complete lie. But they’ll continue to use arguments like that, and the propaganda war will be a new, or rather renewed, realm in the battle between popular resistance and the Israeli government.

For a time, though, things had been looking quite promising: it was popular resistance that was leading, and state actors who were lagging behind. State action was being set by popular resistance, namely the flotillas, and not by states. The so-called Quartet—Blair, et al—they were reacting to the initiatives of popular resistance. Now, they’ll try to recuperate and lead again, and it’ll depend on us to escalate the pressure, such that we remain a step ahead of policy elites, such that we’re leading and we’re determining, the next move.

G

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37 comments for It Wasn’t a War

  1. Comment by Rob Prince on August 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Well done – …

    Reflects about as well as anything I have read, the realities here in the USA on Israel-Palestine and what needs to be done. Insights are on target. I am worried (again) about how the Israeli’s and the US – will respond to their growing isolation,and fear they will do as they have done in the past – escalate, meaning perhaps we are headed for another war. Iran? Lebanon? another strike at Gaza? I don’t know… but anything to take the attention off of Israel’s sorry record

    Rob Prince

  2. Comment by Jake White on August 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I think the phrase “Holocaust Heir” breaches the line between radical left wing politics and antisemitism. You may be using “heir” in some way that doesn’t imply inheriting a benefit from a parent (I checked merriam webster and am not entirely sure that’s possible), but if you are, you are no longer being a radical lefty, you are being antisemitic. You would never say someone was a Darfur heir or a Katrina heir, as though it were a token.(Would you?!?!) The Holocaust eradicated a vast number of my ancestors, and yes, some Jews are affected by that legacy in ways that don’t line up with radical lefty politics. I didn’t read your interview, because I wasn’t sure you would have any good ideas, but I read the part that was on 3QD. Even if you love Jews, and Finkelstein is a Jew, the phrase “Holocaust Heir” disturbs me and I’d like you to address it.

  3. Comment by Stuart Reeve on August 4, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Re: Rob Prince

    ‘I didn’t read your interview, because I wasn’t sure you would have any good ideas’

    I think you just disqualified yourself from making any comments on this interview, didn’t you?

    Don’t try make anti-Semitism into a stick with which to beat anyone who criticises the Israeli apartheid system

  4. Comment by Anonymous on August 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Sorry, should read Re: Jake White

  5. Comment by Jake White on August 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I didn’t say anything about “criticizing Israeli apartheid system”. I happen to be one of those young Jews who is pretty upset with Israel and their scum politics. This has nothing to do with supporting Israel. This has to do with the phrase “holocaust heir”, which I find antisemitic.

  6. Comment by Paul D. on August 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    heir has this definition too:
    “any person or thing that carries on some…circumstance…from a forerunner”

    it can also just be a set of ideas inherited. it does have a different connotation generally but i think it works here to emphasize the contrast between what we would expect him to believe and what he actually believes.

  7. Comment by Jake White on August 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks for the reply, Paul. I still think that “Holocaust Heir” is a reference to Finklestein’s idea that some people use the Holocaust as an ideological weapon, an idea that is by no means mainstream, and, when referred to without context, comes off as antisemitic. Heir has a connotation that doesn’t match up with the Holocaust unless you are being insensitive towards one of the greatest tragedies in Jewish and European history.

  8. Comment by Antoine on August 5, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I could see how this phrase disturbs you at first glance, but a simple Google search should reassure you that nothing pejorative is implied here. In this particular case, the term “heir” is appropriate for anyone who had family in concentration camps during WW2. Heir means “A person inheriting and continuing the legacy of a predecessor.” How can you link this to antisemitism or radical left politics? You should really read the whole interview, there are some great points in there.

  9. Comment by Pamela de Maigret on August 6, 2010 at 1:25 am

    Excuse me? But as a WASP, I am having trouble understanding what Jake White means when saying that “holocaust heir” is anti-semetic. It is a simple description of someone or of their ancestors. Holocaust heirs can also be Catholic, Gipsy, homosexual, Communist and a myriad of other things. More to the point, what does “anti-semetic mean? Anti-Jews, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist? Jake White, what are you really trying to say about Professor Finkelstein?

  10. Comment by goyxy on August 9, 2010 at 1:53 am

    “I just wonder where this apartheid notion comes from.”
    Really ?
    You are living in this country and don’t have an idea where it comes from ?
    That’s funny – just don’t take your special environment(Neve Shalom) for the whole case.

    I’m living in Germany and I’m very concerned about the racial aspects of the current daily life in Israel – a young (arab) man put to jail because of having sex with a jewish woman, another man actually in hungerstrike in germany because the embassy doesn’t allow him to reenter East-Jerusalem. Not to mention the daily reports of killed civilians on the other side of the fence(wall).

    btw – I don’t believe you are living in Neve Shalom.

  11. Comment by Oren Gur on August 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

    goyxy, your answer is a prime example of what I’m talking about. the jewish woman and arab man were able to come into contact because there is no apartheid in Israel. the point was not that he had sex with her, but that he lied to her and said he is jewish. he would have been equally culpable had he lied to her about his marital status (as an aside, he did cheat on his wife in having sex with her). Regardless, the issue is being openly debated in court. The same can’t be said for the women in certain countries who have rocks thrown at their head when accused of as much as looking at the wrong man (see: recent cover of Time magazine). And you don’t have to go to Neve Shalom to see jews and arabs mingling and co-habiting. Go to Jaffa (Tel aviv), Haifa, or to any mall, or to paliamant, where even a representative who tried to break a legal military blockade was given a chance to speak the day after.

    Even where I am now (Ra’anana), in the mall, half of the people are Arabs. And their women are even allowed, unlike in some countries in Europe (and on the police force in Philadelphia, USA), to wear their hijab.

    There are racial aspects to daily life in every community, unless, of course, you happen to ethnically cleanse your community (ask your parents if you do not know what I am talking abuot). And today, please enlighten me on how the germans treating the turks in your country?

    in short, there is no apartheid in Israel. this is one of the big lies that keeps being repeated until people think it is truth, an exercise well known in Germany.

    btw – i never said i lived in neve shalom, and frankly, i don’t care if you believe me on such matters. i don’t believe you live in germany. BOOM, ROASTED!

  12. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 13, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Oren,

    I’m afraid the person who posted that comment was not me but a local stalker here in Toronto who has been harassing me (and various other people) online. One way he does this is by impersonating them on various blog comments. That’s the reason the comment you were replying to has been removed.

  13. Comment by David on August 15, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Oren, you say “he would have been equally culpable had he lied to her about his marital status”

    Has anyone in Israel ever been jailed for lying about their marital status in order to get sex? Hate to break this to you but men lying about themselves in order to get sex is quite common but, in the west anyway, it’s not a crime.

  14. Comment by Oren on August 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Andy, I didn’t notice your note was deleted (or that you were a
    “journalist”) until you said something. A quick google search for
    your name turned up your open letter to the jewish communities of Canada (http://www.jewsforajustpeace.com/images/pdfs/ACJC2_11-9-06%203x172_Doc1.pdf). Based on that, it does not seem to me that it would require a stalker pretending to be you to say what you said. If you do have a stalker who is harassing you, I am sorry, but he seems to have the same perspective as you. Regardless, thanks for writing, good luck with continuing to criticize Israel for the “Separation Wall,” as you/your friends call it. You do realize the towns where suicide bombers were coming from are within walking distance of Tel Aviv, and that since the freedom wall has been built, a semblance of normalcy has returned for some residents of TA? Now they can feel relatively safe when their kids board a bus to go to school, or when they go to a restaurant or cafe. Do you feel safe when you do these things in Toronto? Easy for you to criticize. Pastor John Hagee puts it quite well: “Our world is divided into two groups: those who support Israel and those who do not. There is no middle ground” (see: http://joshuapundit.blogspot.com/2010/08/pastor-john-hagee-ani-yisreali-i-am.html). Assuming you can’t levitate, it seems your choice of sides is clear.

  15. Comment by Oren on August 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    David, to answer your question: “Has anyone in Israel ever been jailed for lying about their marital status in order to get sex? ” I said this because the law is about rape-by-deception. So deception could include saying you are single, when you are indeed married. It seems this case was more about insinuating/saying – i wasn’t there so I don’t know what actually transpired – he was Jewish, when he was not actually Jewish. But deception seems broad enough to apply to marital status as well, though I can’t say if it has been used in this way. Regarding the facts of this case (if these matter to you), see: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3925330,00.html

    Q: “When you spoke, did you tell her you’re Jewish?”

    A (Saber Kushour): “No, I said I’m Dudu and didn’t explain whether I’m Jewish or Arab. I did say I’m single. I don’t deny this. If I said I was married, perhaps she would not have sex with me.”

    Saber Kushour is currently appealing the conviction, though he is not the first to be found guilty for the same crime in Israel: “Several men have been convicted of rape by deception in the country, the most notable in 2008, when a man was jailed for posing as a housing ministry official and promising women apartments in exchange for sex” (http://news.aol.ca/ca/article/man-jailed-lying-sex/19564908). So it’s not like they made a new law to go after an Arab… and while not every time a man lies about his marital status to get sex is it a crime in the sense that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it is also true that every time one speeds they do not always get a ticket, no?

    And thanks for the newsflash vis a vis “men lying about themselves in order to get sex is quite common.” I think it is also true of women, though perhaps to a lesser extent, no? Regarding it not being a crime in the west, it (rape by deception) almost did become a crime in Massachusetts: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/29/politics/uwire/main3894875.shtml

    this is all besides the point of this article, really. But the discussion is good because at least it has two sides, unlike this
    interview with Finklestein. The deception by rape case is interesting jurisprudence, I agree, and perhaps it will be overturned. But that is what happens in a democracy. Even if you and I do not agree with the present ruling, he was tried in a court of law. He is now appealing, which is something you can’t do after you get stoned to death (look up “adultery” on Wikipedia to see what I am talking about… rajm is the punishment for zina).

    I see you don’t dare ask what would happen if women in certain
    countries were even accused of looking at a man that is not their
    husband, let alone sleeping with them? People who want to put Israel down rarely seem to consider the state of affairs in other countries… easier to blame Israel for all the world’s problems than to actually take a step back and think, it seems…

  16. Comment by Oren on August 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    David, to answer your question: “Has anyone in Israel ever been jailed for lying about their marital status in order to get sex? ” I said this because the law is about rape-by-deception. So deception could include saying you are single, when you are indeed married. It seems this case was more about insinuating/saying – i wasn’t there so I don’t know what actually transpired – he was Jewish, when he was not actually Jewish. But deception seems broad enough to apply to marital status as well, though I can’t say if it has been used in this way. Regarding the facts of this case (if these matter to you), see: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3925330,00.html

    Q: “When you spoke, did you tell her you’re Jewish?”

    A (Saber Kushour): “No, I said I’m Dudu and didn’t explain whether I’m Jewish or Arab. I did say I’m single. I don’t deny this. If I said I was married, perhaps she would not have sex with me.”

    Saber Kushour is currently appealing the conviction, though he is not the first to be found guilty for the same crime in Israel: “Several men have been convicted of rape by deception in the country, the most notable in 2008, when a man was jailed for posing as a housing ministry official and promising women apartments in exchange for sex” (http://news.aol.ca/ca/article/man-jailed-lying-sex/19564908). So it’s not like they made a new law to go after an Arab… and while not every time a man lies about his marital status to get sex is it a crime in the sense that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it is also true that every time one speeds they do not always get a ticket, no?

    And thanks for the newsflash vis a vis “men lying about themselves in order to get sex is quite common.” I think it is also true of women, though perhaps to a lesser extent, no? Regarding it not being a crime in the west, it (rape by deception) almost did become a crime in Massachusetts: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/29/politics/uwire/main3894875.shtml

    this is all besides the point of this article, really. But the discussion is good because at least it has two sides, unlike this interview with Finklestein. The deception by rape case is interesting jurisprudence, I agree, and perhaps it will be overturned. But that is what happens in a democracy. Even if you and I do not agree with the present ruling, he was tried in a court of law. He is now appealing, which is something you can’t do after you get stoned to death (look up “adultery” on Wikipedia to see what I am talking about… rajm is the punishment for zina).

    I see you don’t dare ask what would happen if women in certain countries were even accused of looking at a man that is not their husband, let alone sleeping with them? People who want to put Israel down rarely seem to consider the state of affairs in other countries… easier to blame Israel for all the world’s problems than to actually take a step back and think, it seems…

  17. Comment by Oren on August 15, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    David, to answer your question: “Has anyone in Israel ever been jailed for lying about their marital status in order to get sex? ” I said this because the law is about rape-by-deception. So deception could include saying you are single, when you are indeed married. It seems this case was more about insinuating/saying – i wasn’t there so I don’t know what actually transpired – he was Jewish, when he was not actually Jewish. But deception seems broad enough to apply to marital status as well, though I can’t say if it has been used in this way. Regarding the facts of this case (if these matter to you), see:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3925330,00.html

    Q: “When you spoke, did you tell her you’re Jewish?”

    A (Saber Kushour): “No, I said I’m Dudu and didn’t explain whether I’m Jewish or Arab. I did say I’m single. I don’t deny this. If I said I was married, perhaps she would not have sex with me.”

    Saber Kushour is currently appealing the conviction, though he is not the first to be found guilty for the same crime in Israel: “Several men have been convicted of rape by deception in the country, the most notable in 2008, when a man was jailed for posing as a housing ministry official and promising women apartments in exchange for sex” (http://news.aol.ca/ca/article/man-jailed-lying-sex/19564908). So it’s not like they made a new law to go after an Arab… and while not every time a man lies about his marital status to get sex is it a crime in the sense that it is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, it is also true that every time one speeds they do not always get a ticket, no?

    And thanks for the newsflash vis a vis “men lying about themselves in order to get sex is quite common.” I think it is also true of women, though perhaps to a lesser extent, no? Regarding it not being a crime in the west, it (rape by deception) almost did become a crime in Massachusetts: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/29/politics/uwire/main3894875.shtml

    this is all besides the point of this article, really. But the discussion is good because at least it has two sides, unlike this interview with Finklestein. The deception by rape case is interesting jurisprudence, I agree, and perhaps it will be overturned. But that is what happens in a democracy. Even if you and I do not agree with the present ruling, he was tried in a court of law. He is now appealing, which is something you can’t do after you get stoned to death (look up “adultery” on Wikipedia to see what I am talking about… rajm is the punishment for zina).

    I see you don’t dare ask what would happen if women in certain countries were even accused of looking at a man that is not their husband, let alone sleeping with them? People who want to put Israel down rarely seem to consider the state of affairs in other countries… easier to blame Israel for all the world’s problems than to actually take a step back and think, it seems…

  18. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 16, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Oren,
    I do have a cyberstalker who likes to post things using my name and so the words you attribute to me in quotations are not actually mine.

    I am surprised that you would quote an anti-Semite such as Pastor John Hagee. Does that mean that, in your book, anti-Semites are ok as long as they are Jew haters who support Israel either because a) they hate Muslims more b) they prefer that Jews live in Israel than America c) they think the stronger Israel is, the sooner the Apocolypse and the destruction of all Jews folloewed by the Second Coming of Christ (or some combination of the three).

    That you see a Jew-hater like Hagee as your friend just shows us how out of tune modern Zionism is with reality.

  19. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 16, 2010 at 2:55 am

    Oren, Oren, Oren,

    You’ve muddled up your propaganda talking points. What you’re supposed to be arguing is that Jews can never be safe in the galut and that anti-Semitism is inevitable and immutable and that therefore the only way Jews can ever be safe is by leaving exile and obtaining sanctuary in Israel.

    By admitting that a Jew is safer in Toronto than in Tel Aviv you’re sending the wrong message and working at cross-purposes with the Aliya department.

    If you say that too loudly not only will you discourage Jews from going to Israel but you’ll encourage even more Israelis to emigrate to Toronto. Already we have a bustling “Little Israel” at Bathurst and Steeles that is growing by the day as more and more Israelis move here.

    Perhaps you are expressing a subconcious desire to come here so you can truly live a fulfilled life as a Jew without all the distractions caused by the constant drum beat?

  20. Comment by Prakseda G. on August 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Thank you Kate Perkins, Professor Finkelstein and Guernica for this detailed interview! So refreshing to have equal time for, this apparently, anti-“Vincentian Values”-thinker!

    I would differ, however, with Professor Finkelstein on one point: that any change in public opinion is taking hold in the US only – we have been raised, after all, to believe that anything Israel does it OK and have been sheltered from the hard facts of its daily politics against the Arab population in that part of the world.

    Internationally, on the other hand, the public – and even some democratic States – have always seen the Israeli Occupation and its physical inhumane Wall and its bogus “buffer zones” as well as psychological walls (the rendering a daily normal life impossible) and administrative walls (identity cards and check-points) as apartheid.

    One may feel outrage and disgust and want things to change, but, at the same time, how can one go up against two wealthy nuclear countries in cahoots?

    For those who would like to learn more about the Wall, read:
    A Wall in Palestine by Rene Backmann, tr by A. Kaiser, Picador, 2010.

    Praksedag G.

  21. Comment by Oren on August 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Andy, I am afraid your fields will be filled with crows now that you have brought your straw man to this discussion. The crooks of it, and why I enjoy hearing people like Hagee say “Ani Yisraeli – I am an Israeli,” is because without Israel the possibility of Jewish eradication is always more likely, since historically Jews have been persecuted. Forgive me if I don’t seriously address your point regarding the coming apocalypse, and instead enjoy your admission that people like Hagee make Israel stronger. So yes, my enemy’s enemy is my friend, and Israel gives Jews an opportunity to at least go down defending themselves like every other major religion can. If Hagee can help in the propaganda war, call me Hagee’s No. 1 fan. And my enemy would not have to be my enemy if he didn’t keep saying he wanted my family eradicated.

    Do I work for the Aliya department? I’m not actively trying to get people to move to Israel, though I do enjoy bringing people there to experience it for themselves. Have you ever been? Would be interesting to hear about your experiences there. I guess I could work for the Aliya dept, as I have brought many friends to Israel to experience it for the first time, and will be doing so again when I get married there soon. But I live in America. While I have certainly considered making Aliya, I am not being counter-productive in vocally (in this case by typing) supporting Israel while at the same time saying you have quite a bit of chutzpah in criticizing it so vocally from Toronto. Why would I think it is a bad thing that Jews are safer in Toronto, or that Jews live in Toronto rather than Israel? It is the reality of the beast. Israel is surrounded by enemies, you are surrounded by evergreens and moose. I am happy that Jews live everywhere, as it increases the likelihood that following WWIII there will still be Jews, even if they are merely like you. Maybe the next generation will learn if there is another Holocaust in the form of a nuclear Iran. You may label me a Zionist, but I am merely a supporter of Israel to the extent that I would not waste my time criticizing its actions. Not because it has never done anything I don’t agree with, but because there are enough people like you who criticize Israel even when it is in the right (i.e., the freedom wall to protect its people, even if it makes it harder for you to look your Palestinian friends in the eyes in Toronto, or in Israel for that matter). If I am a Zionist, I suppose you are an Anti-Zionist who would rather there be no Jewish state. But good for you if you think that saying what you say would stop someone from persecuting you for your religion.

    The more I say, the more likely you’ll find 1 thing to complain about while ignoring most of it – just like people do in choosing to harp on Israel when the world is filled with problems.

  22. Comment by Oren on August 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Andy, Andy, Andy: get off your high horse.

    try reading this, one of the more sensible things Mr. Friedman has written: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/opinion/08friedman.html?_r=2&ref=thomaslfriedman

  23. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 17, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Oren,

    So you are just pretending to be Israeli and were misleading people when you suggested you were in Neve Shalom and then the Galillee. Good to know, if rather sad.

    It seems I had you all wrong. I had you figured as an Israeli hawk when in fact you’re a chicken hawk, identifying with Israel above all else but too much of a coward (or perhaps too attached to your material comforts in America) to actually move there and put your money where your mouth is.

    In any case, you assume too much about me. I am not a Zionist but I do not call my self an anti-Zionist but an internationalist.

    And the reason I would not have used my impersonator’s words is that regardless of whether or not Zionism was the correct ideology for Jews in the first half of the twentieth century it is a fact that there have now been several generations of Israelis and that there is an Israeli people with national rights. I do not think, however that they have more rights than the Palestinian people. Nor do I see the logic in someone whose ancestors have not lived in Israel for thousands of years having more of a birthright than someone who was born in what is now Israel but who fled or is the child or grandchild of a refugee.

    I do not know if the answer is a binational state or two states that have equal rights (rather than a parent state and client state which is what most Zionists mean when they refer to a two state solution) but what I would like to see is an outcome in which the rights of both peoples are respected and in which one does not rule the other. If that’s some sort of power sharing agreement as in Northern Ireland or two states remains to be seen.

    But by all means, sit in comfort in the US and beat those jingoistic drums. You have nothing to lose since you do not have to live with the results. You apparently love Israel enough to support it when its right but not enough to criticise it when it’s wrong or when it does something you say you do not agree with. Perhaps because you are afraid of what your friends will think? Afraid of being shunned if you deviate from the groupthink that the schlichim encourage? Afraid of being cast out of the Hillel House or some other communal institution for daring to voice heritical thoughts?

    As for the “Freedom Wall” (and thank you for admitting it is a wall, Israeli propaganda likes to refer to it as a fence or barrier or some other euphemism), it would be one thing if it actually followed the Green Line but by making deep, often fjord like dips into the West Bank it’s actually little more than a land grab and an attempt to divide Palestinian towns from one another.

    But I forget, you wear rose coloured glasses (or a rose scented mouth guard) and are incapable of admitting any wrongdoing by the Israeli government.

    I suppose you don’t think the saying “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing” applies to you?

    It’s easy to live in America and criticise Arabs (or do you prefer to call them Ay-rabs?), that takes no courage Oren. Being within the American Jewish community and saying what you admit thinking, Oren, that Israel isn’t always right and, stating when and why you think they are doing something wrong. That’s difficult. I’m sorry you are too much of a coward to voice the thoughts you admit having, even while hiding behind your Israeli pseudonym.

  24. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 17, 2010 at 12:52 am

    BTW Oren,

    I am sorry you have so little self-respect that you are the “number one fan” of an anti-Semitic Holocaust apologist, someone who says Hitler was “fulfilling God’s will” by murdering 6 million Jews, just because his views on Israel happen to be convenient for you.

  25. Comment by Oren on August 17, 2010 at 4:20 am

    pretending to be an israeli? ever heard of such a thing as a duel-citizen? would i have to spend 182.5 days in israel and 182.5 days in america for that to resonate with you? maybe 183 and 183 in each every 4 years. whatever is convenient for you to think about me, go ahead. my moral compass is a-ok, and i don’t associate with the jewish orgz. that you mention or fear speaking my mind amongst friends. but nice try continuing to label and stereotype me as is convenient for your comment-du-moment. it’s another great ploy for you to be able to avoid what I say and simply regurgitate the same stuff you say to people you think I am similar to.

    vis-a-vis Hagee, I thought I made it clear that the religious stuff is not something I really care about. When anyone says something that includes fulfilling g-d’s will, it doesn’t resonate.

    if you are so concerned with the rights of the Palestinian people, why aren’t you concerned with the right of Israel to defend its own people?

    i’m interested to see how you label me next. in the meantime, you have dodged the question: have you ever been to Israel?

  26. Comment by Oren on August 17, 2010 at 4:23 am

    oh darnit, i wrote duel citizen instead of dual citizen! I bet I can predict what Andy is gonna rail me for next!!!

  27. Comment by Oren on August 17, 2010 at 4:45 am

    also, Andy, try to wrap your head around this: last week I was in the Galilee, and in the same day drove to Neve Shalom (Israel is, after all, the size of New Jersey). Now I am in Greece. Soon I will return to America. I’m not trying to convince you of time travel here, but it seems odd that someone who refers to himself as an internationalist can’t fathom international travel.

    your personal attacks are funny, and reveal your inability to discuss things on an intellectual level (i.e., without convenient labels and attacking me personally)

  28. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    And what do your personal attacks reveal about you?

    Anyway, Oren, I don’t believe you are who you say you are. You didn’t correct earlier posters who thought you lived in Israel and it was only when you slipped and said you are living in the US that you tried to ameliorate your contradictions by spinning a story that you are a dual citizen and went overstated your case by stating, implausibly, that you spend *precisely* half the year in Israel and *precisely* half the year in the United States.

    As most college kids would say today: “Whatever!”

  29. Comment by Oren on August 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    andy, you are a trip. which reminds me: for the third time, I am asking you as directly as possible —- HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO ISRAEL?

    a) i never said I lived in Israel
    i) I did correct a poster who said he didn’t believe I lived in Neve Shalom (see my post from August 9: “btw – i never said i lived in neve shalom”)
    ii) Before that I stated I would be attending my cousin’s bat mitzvah in Neve Shalom (it was lovely, thanks for asking).
    iii) Before that I said “as I sit here in the Galilee.” Believe it or not, I was sitting in the Galilee when I wrote that. I’m sure guernica could check my IP address when i posted that message, but judging from this article, i doubt they’d do anything to support those with my view…
    iv) I never stated I live in Israel.

    Therefore, there are/were no contradictions to ameliorate. I divulged my dual citizenship (spinning a story? what?) when you personally attacked me. If you don’t believe me, whoopdedo. Again, this is clearly a way for you to not address the intellectual parts of my argument, but rather limit yourself to personal attacks. “I don’t believe you” makes me think I am debating with a grade schooler (this isn’t a personal attack against you, but rather a wakeup call).

    b) quoting myself again (I could get used to this): “would i have to spend 182.5 days in israel and 182.5 days in america for that to resonate with you? maybe 183 and 183 in each every 4 years. ”
    i) anyone who reads the above quote as my stating that I “spend *precisely* half the year in Israel and *precisely* half the year in the United States” is, simply put, reading it incorrectly.
    ii) you read my statement incorrectly
    iii) how can a question be a statement? I was asking you a question, not making a statement. That’s why that sentence featured a question mark.
    iv) the use of the phrase “would i have to” makes it a hypothetical scenario, i.e., “would i have to speak more slowly for you to understand me?” <— That is not a statement. “I’ll speak more slowly so you can understand me.” <— that is a statement.
    v) the reference to leap years is drenched in sarcasm… i know that sarcasm can be hard to read sometimes (vs. hearing), but come on… perhaps you are trying to irk me on purpose at this point, that would make more sense to me than your most recent post
    vi) I never stated I spend precisely 50% of the year in Israel, and 50% of the year in the US.

    You continue to avoid anything resembling an advancement of the discussion, and are limiting yourself to personal attacks aka propaganda. Now I am convinced it was you, and not your purported stalker, who made that initial dubious statement.

    I’ll ask you for a 4th time, and if you don’t answer directly, you can rest assured you won’t hear from me again: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO ISRAEL?

  30. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 20, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Yes.

    But you remind me of someone I was talking to in the 1980s who was annoyed at my opposition to apartheid in South Africa. He asked me if I’d ever been to South Africa. “No”, I replied, “have you ever been black?”

    Oren, have you ever been Palestinian?

  31. Comment by Oren on August 20, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Andy, I have obviously never been Palestinian (as an aside, this raises the question: has anyone ever been a Palestinian?***) But what is your point? Have you ever been Israeli OR “Palestinian?” Have you ever been purple? Have you ever been an aborted fetus? Have you ever been a tree? Have you ever been executed by lethal injection, by a firing squad, or by electric chair? Have you ever been a baby cow (a calf) born into this world to quickly transition into a medium rare cut of veal? I guess you are not entitled to any opinions about Israelis, Palestinians, the color purple, abortion, deforestation, the death penalty, or vegetarians, because you have obviously never been any of the things I have mentioned.

    But please, I would love to hear more about your experiences in
    Israel, and about what you think asking me if I have ever been
    Palestinian proves or demonstrates.

    ***see: March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said:
    “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

    see also quote by terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Yasser Arafat, stated on Jordan TV on the same day he signed the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn in 1993:
    Here’s what he said: “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.”

  32. Comment by Oren on August 20, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Andy, I have obviously never been Palestinian (as an aside, this raises the question: has anyone ever been a Palestinian?***) But what is your point? Have you ever been Israeli OR “Palestinian?” Have you ever been purple? Have you ever been an aborted fetus? Have you ever been a tree? Have you ever been executed by lethal injection, by a firing squad, or by electric chair? Have you ever been a baby cow (a calf) born into this world to quickly transition into a medium rare cut of veal? I guess you are not entitled to any opinions about Israelis, Palestinians, the color purple, abortion, deforestation, the death penalty, or vegetarians, because you have obviously never been any of the things I have mentioned.

    But please, I would love to hear more about your experiences in
    Israel, and about what you think asking me if I have ever been
    Palestinian proves or demonstrates.

    ***see: March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said:
    “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

    see also quote by terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Yasser Arafat, stated on Jordan TV on the same day he signed the Declaration of Principles on the White House lawn in 1993: “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.”

  33. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 21, 2010 at 1:58 am

    My point is that the argument that you can’t oppose a country’s policies unless you’ve lived in that country (which is the implied argument behind your “have you been to/lived in Israel” question) is invalid and hypocritical.

    Interesting, and sad, that you are now getting into denialism. You were trying to pass yourself off as a moderate before but now you are parroting the far right line that there is no such thing as Palestinians.

    You are taking Zhair Muhsein’s comments out of their political and historical context as he was obviously speaking as a pan-Arabist at a time when that movement was at its height. There are similar quotes from Jewish thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth century denying that there is such a thing as a Jewish nation (as opposed to a religion) and I would not be surprised to find modern quotes from stating that there is no such thing as an Israeli people, only a Jewish people.

    Certainly, you would not argue that Jews have no right to a state just because there was no Jewish “national consciousness” in modern times until the late 19th century and that, even then, it remained a minority trend until recently (if

    I guess you are not familiar with those hematological studies that show not only are Palestinians distinct from other Arabs but Jews (even Ashkenazis) and Palestinians are more closely related to each other.

    See Michael F. Hammer, PhD, “Jewish and Middle Eastern Non-Jewish Populations Share a Common Pool of Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May 2000 which reported:

    “The extremely close affinity of Jewish and non-Jewish Middle Eastern populations… supports the hypothesis of a common Middle Eastern origin. Of the Middle Eastern populations included in this study, only the Syrian and Palestinian samples mapped within the central cluster of Jewish populations. Continued studies of variation in larger samples, additional populations, and at other loci are needed to confirm our inferences as well as to clarify the affinities of Jewish and Middle Eastern Arab populations.”

    See also http://epiphenom.fieldofscience.com/2009/01/shared-genetic-heritage-of-jews-and.html

    “Palestinians and Jews are virtually indistinguishable.”

    “Jews and Palestinian Arabs are blood brothers – although this close genetic relationship probably stems from pre-Judaic times, rather than any more recent conversion of Palestinian Jews to Islam.”

  34. Comment by Oren on August 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    i didn’t argue that you couldn’t oppose policies if you have never been to Israel, i merely asked if you had ever been to Israel. I never asked if you had ever lived in Israel = you are attributing to me something i never said = p-r-o-p-o-g-a-n-d-a

    all your labels for me are continuing to make my head spin. I don’t know what any of these terms mean, which is generally what happens when you try to sum up a wide range of political beliefs in 1 or 2 words. can’t i just be myself without your labels? i’m not a piece of clothing.

    But calling someone a pan-arabist? What a funny thing to say. how many arabs kill other arabs? perhaps they are trying to unite Arabs in the afterlife? are arabs that kills other arabs all pan-arabists too then? why do you only seem to mind when Israel is involved?

    if you want to talk about academic articles, why not cite Tal Jonathan (2009) in the British Journal of Criminology: He notes that in 2002, the # of suicide terror attacks in Israel reached an apex: 55 attacks, resulting in 220 deaths. This after 34 in 2001 (85 deaths), with 25 more to come in 2003 (142 deaths) and 14 more in 2004 (55 deaths). I would think more people can relate to a) suicide attacks and b) death than Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes, which I’ll admit are not my cup of tea. Other than quote a few paragraphs, do you understand the science behind it? Oh wait, more p-r-o-p-o-g-a-n-d-a. The numbers I cite are why the liberation wall was built. As there were only 7 attacks in 2005 (22 deaths), 4 in 2006 (15 deaths), and 1 in 2007 (3 deaths), i would say that the safety wall is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: protect Israelis and allow them to live relatively normal lives.

    Assuming everyone does understand what Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplotypes are, and that “Palestinians and Jews are virtually indistinguishable,” please illuminate what you think the real world implications of these findings are? Even if I agree with this 100%, why are you telling me? Why not tell Abbas and Ahmadinejad, I’m sure they’ll care. The point is that if they (and other arabs/muslims) really cared about the Palestinians as people, something could be done to help them. They would rather have them be political pawns though (have you noticed that there is no wall to the east of the west bank Why don’t they go that way?).

    Furthermore, more recent studies of the type you refer to, using greater variation and larger samples (as the late Hammer said was necessary) were carried out by Ariella Oppenheimer. She concluded that “[Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish] Jews [from Israel] were found to be more closely related to groups in the north of the Fertile Crescent (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) than to their Arab neighbors… Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin differed from the other Middle Eastern populations studied here [Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Kurdish Jews from Israel; Muslim Kurds; Muslim Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian Authority Area; and Bedouin from the Negev] …” Her article was published in The American Journal of Human Genetics and titled “The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East.” So these findings somewhat contradict Prof. Hammer’s. And don’t humans and monkeys share over 90% of their genes as well? why don’t you spend time freeing monkeys from human captivity?

    whether Jews (this means you i guess) and Palestinian Arabs are blood brothers according to geneticists or not, please tell me how this impacts the facts on the ground (vs. those in ivory towers).

  35. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 22, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Wow, you act as if you’re some sort of Mideast expert and you don’t know what pan-Arabism is? Rather than pretending that your ignorance is a virtue, why don’t you look it up? Pan-Arabism was a prominent ideology in the 1960s that declined in the 1970s particularly after the death of Nasser and called for Arab unity. That’s the thinking behind Muhshein’s remarks.

    BTW, your citation of Oppenheimer actually supports the fact that Palestinians are a discernible group and that Arabs are not just some indistinguishable mass as Israeli propaganda (that’s how you spell the word by the way) would have you believe. How could Palestinians be genetically distinct (as well as hemotologically distinct) if the right wing Zionist theory that there are no Palestinians, that Israel was an “land without a people” and that Arabs just moved there in the 50 years prior to 1948 to benefit from the economic spinoffs of Zionist settlemnet. If that were true then Oppneheimer wouldn’t be referring to Palestinians as a distinct genetic group.

  36. Comment by Oren on August 24, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    thanks for correcting the typo. But Andy, why do you keep coming up with ad hominen characterizations for me? I’m passionate and open to seeing the truth, but how am I acting as “some sort of Mideast expert”? And what makes you think that I don’t know what pan-arabism is? Must have been my statement “how many arabs kill other arabs? perhaps they are trying to unite Arabs in the afterlife?” i should know by now not to use sarcasm with you.

    Present-day Arab “unity” is manifested through mutual destruction and agony of the masses by leaders who distract from their failures by declaring their hatred of “Zionists” while making known their plans to vanquish Israel. Pan-Arabism is alive in their unified thirst for Jewish blood, with the blood of their fellow Arabs being a close second. Just yesterday, with the horrible death toll from flooding in Pakistan, a suicide bomber there added 20+ to the count. What they do to themselves is sad and horrific, but mostly their business. What they try to do to Israel is a legitimate concern of the state of Israel.

    regarding your attempts to analyze the research of Hammer and Oppenheimer, first you argue:
    1) Palestinians and Jews are virtually indistinguishable
    Now you say:
    2) Palestinians are a discernible group.

    Which is it? are you saying that they are different from other Arabs, but the same as the Jews? and i wonder how this concerning article impacts such genetic inquiries: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/12/17/gaza.gender.id/index.html

  37. Comment by Andy Lehrer on August 25, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    No, my point is that both Hammer and Oppenheimer show that Palestinians are distinct from Arabs as a whole which means that, unlike the theories put forth by right-wing Zionists (and some not so right wing Zionists) Israel was not a “land without a people for a people without a land”) in which Arabs simply moved to in the 100 years before 1948 but that the Palestinians are a distinct population who were living there all along. Now while they may disagree as to how closely the Palestinians are related to Jews they do agree that there is a longstanding population group that is distinct from other Arabs.

    Oh BTW, you’re showing your ignorance again. Pakistanis aren’t Arabs.

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