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On October 28, 2010, Norman Finkelstein delivered a lecture in Toronto sponsored by CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East). He is an American Jewish scholar, who has been a supporter of Hezbollah, Hamas and few other questionable organizations. At the event he proudly displayed on his jacket’s lapel a pin with the Palestinian flag (thus the title of this post).
For his support of those Muslim extremist organizations, they have bestowed upon him the highest possible “honour” in their hierarchy of values – that they consider him a non-Jew. That’s very similar to what Hitler did. In the cases when he reluctantly wanted to keep a Jew, who was useful to his regime, he used to resolve his moral dilemma by declaring him or her an “Honorary Arian”. That was the case with the conductor Herbert von Karajan’s wife, who was of Jewish background. We could only guess what would have happened to those “Honorary Arians”, had Hitler survived beyond 1945 and they were no longer needed.
The audience was the usual assortment of the types of people common for such an event. There were numerous ladies with hijabs (but unfortunately no niqab/burkas), angry looking young Arab men, tattooed lefties with purple or orange-coloured hair, nostalgic old hippies with white hair, and many others that wore different versions of that ugly chequered scarf, which Arafat utilized to hide his baldness.
Although the organization that put together the event claims that they are supporters of peace, the image they created at the beginning was anything but peaceful. The lady who opened immediately directed the audience’s attention to their website’s “BDS Centre”, i.e. the boycott page. Right now they are boycotting the Mountain Equipment Co-op for its links with Israeli companies. (So far the boycott has been an utter failure, rejected both by the co-op and its customers. No wonder, how can the lefty cyclists afford the higher prices of other bike retailers?)
She also announced that their next event would be a fundraiser with the Arab lady member of the Knesset, who took part in the extremist flotilla earlier this year, which was supposed to break the Gaza blockade.
Chris Hedges, a US journalist “specializing in the Middle East”, gave a short introduction, in which he described in the darkest possible colours Finkelstein’s “martyrdom”. He was persecuted for his views, he was fired and banished from many educational institutions, forced to move from job to job. There were no academic prizes for him, no TV appearances, he was generally ignored. (Strange opinion, if you consider the ordeal the self-respecting Jews go under the campus anti-Semitism in the USA and Canada.)
If you ask the Gaza mothers, they will tell you that Finkelstein is a moral giant, he is a voice of courage and hope. He is a crusader against human suffering. (Is this just me, or it really looked like Hedges was recycling a pro-Obama speech from 2008?)
Finally, the “moral giant” took the stage. I should admit that he created the impression of a calm and rational person. Compared to the lunatic clown George Galloway, who peddles his sideshow in a scary way, Finkelstein looks (but doesn’t sound) convincing.
He started immediately with the warning that in the Middle East we are headed toward something terrible and we should be worried.
Then he gave his own version of the last decade’s sequence of events. In 2000 Hezbollah “ejected” Israel from Lebanon, so Israel decided to restore its bullying power. In its attempt to do so in 2006, it suffered another defeat in Lebanon. In order to restore the fear in its neighbours, it turned to Gaza. What happened in Gaza had nothing to do with Hamas, but with installing fear. (In Finkelstein’s world, it looks like Israel lives in vacuum, trying to scare her innocent neighbours for no apparent reason.)
The elections won by Hamas were completely fair. Nevertheless, USA and other countries imposed sanctions. Later other Palestinians attempted a coup, which was foiled by Hamas. Then the blockade was established. (Hamas has been a terrorist organization for many years and most countries in the world have noticed that. The fact it was elected doesn’t change its nature – Hitler was also lawfully elected. It was Hamas that did the coup in Gaza killing hundreds of PLO activists and their families.)
The Irish activist Mary Robinson who took part in the (infamous) flotilla noted on that occasion that Gaza’s civilization was destroyed. (What civilization?!)
To resolve the confrontation, an agreement was brokered by Egypt – Hamas was supposed to stop shooting rockets and Israel was expected to lift the blockade. But Israel reneged from the promise, so Hamas resumed its actions. On November 4, 2008, Israel killed 4 Palestinian militants, which happened on the day of the US elections, so nobody paid attention to the event. Hamas restarted their actions, but nobody remembers that actually it was Israel started it again. The purpose was to restore the fear in the Arab world.
(This is a big fat lie. Hamas never stopped its assault using the excuse that there were many other militant organizations it did not control. On November 4, 2008, Israel started a military strike to destroy a tunnel on the Gaza-Israel border dug by militants to infiltrate into Israel and abduct soldiers. That was a legitimate step to remove an immediate threat. During the events, a gunfight broke out, in which one Hamas fighter was killed. Hamas responded with mortar fire at Israeli troops. An Israeli airstrike on Hamas mortar positions then killed five Hamas fighters.)
Then Finkelstein stated again that there was a total breakdown of the Gaza society. There were only two options available – to accept the destruction or resist. Hamas chose to resist. If you condemn Hamas for the attack, can you say what they should do? (Another lie: Hamas had a third option, to recognize the existence of Israel and live in peace. But they refused to do that and renew the truce, they wanted more, like complete opening the borders with Israel and Egypt.)
On December 27, Israel invaded Gaza, the invasion continued for 22 days. That was considered a “Gaza War”. Israel practically was saying: “We showed the Arabs who is in charge!” Israel denied that it was a war. However, there were over 3,000 military flights, the soldiers used night vision devises, Hamas couldn’t even see them. According to unnamed sources, Israeli soldiers’ testimonies stated there was nothing to be seen, there were no people; it was boring. That sounds strange, like a war with only one side. (Obviously Finkelstein forgot the daily fights with Hamas trying to lure the Israeli troups into underground tunnels, the using of fake Israeli uniforms of medical clothes, etc.)
Israel used an insane amount of firepower in Gaza. What really happened? Israel used white phosphorus, which reaches a very high temperature with the purpose to kill civilians and destroy schools and hospitals. (Another lie, the substance was actually used for smoke generation to hide from the enemy. Hamas used white phosphorus as well, but in a rocket sent to Israel.)
According to Finkelstein, over 1400 people were killed – 4/5 civilians and children. Israel had very small casualties – wasn’t that a massacre? There was no war, but massacre in Gaza. Israel’s excuse was that Hamas was using human shields. That’s propaganda. Every human rights group, including Amnesty International, investigated the issue and found no evidence. (Another questionable statement, Israel was using high-precision weapons and regularly warned the Palestinians of coming hits. Hamas used human shields on many occasions.)
Israel made sure that Gaza would not recover, by limiting the supplies delivered there. The humanitarian aid is only a fraction from what is necessary. According to the Red Cross (?), the blockade had devastating consequences. People are on a starvation plus diet. (Yeah, that’s why Gaza is the third fattest place on earth.)
But that obscures the main issue, which is what right does Israel have to do that? If people are under blockade, they can resist and have the right to receive weapons. (Then should we send them more weapons? They smuggle enough to keep killing Israelis.)
According to Amnesty International, both Hamas and Israel are violators of human rights, so there should be a total embargo on both. That is a law and Israel falls into that category. (Finkelstein forgets again that in every single case the violence has been initiated by Hamas and Israel has responded to protect her citizens.)
The next important event was the Gaza-bound flotilla. Nobody knows what exactly happened on May 31. According to Finkelstein, the picture which was a result of the UN investigation shows that Israel began the assault using tear gas and grenades, when they flotilla people repelled the attack, the helicopter came and they used live ammunition, before the commandoes landed. (No video proves that, on the contrary, the videos show that the thugs on the boat were armed with knives and metal sticks and were patiently waiting to assault the Israeli troops.)
Israel never claimed that the flotilla contained weapons. It could have disabled parts of the boat – no violence was necessary. If Israel didn’t expect force, why didn’t they board the ships during the day? Why did they use commandoes? (Israel didn’t know what was on board and what to expect, that’s why they used commandoes, which turned out to be a good choice. Imagine what would have happened, if unarmed customs officers boarded the boats.)
Then what comes next? Israel suffered a major defeat in 2006 and tried to restore its deference capacity, but failed. It tried to do it again in Dubai by killing a Hamas leader. So how do they restore the Arab fear? They will probably try to start again a war with Lebanon within 12-18 months. They will proceed in the same as in Gaza. (Again, Finkelstein wants to make things look as if Israel fights for entertainment.)
Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, says that the next war will change the area, they will fight building by building. And he is serious. What if they attack Tel Aviv and there are casualties? Israel cannot afford a defeat, if Hezbollah is defeated, the Iran forces will probably interfere. Both sides will take extreme measures to win.
The importance of the flotilla is that it was the first breakthrough; it made the international community realize that the blockade should be lifted. Without resolving those issues, there will be no peace process. (No, it made many people aware that some leftists are more than willing to collaborate with Hamas.)
Since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, there has been no progress. There were 250,000 illegal Israeli settlers at the time, now they are over 500,000. They have annexed 42% of the West Bank and they use that to negotiate more concessions from the Palestinians. (There has been progress, Ehud Barak was ready to give to the Palestinian everything they wanted, but Arafat foolishly refused. As of the settlements, all of them were built on land long time ago allocated by the League of Nations for Jewish state.)
The freeze of the settlements is a myth – they have not stopped (according to Peace Now), even though Netanyahu claims the opposite. (Talk to the real settlers, who complain that Netanyahu froze everything, even the completion of unfinished houses.)
The public opinion is changing – they realize that Israel has problems. Jews in the USA are predominantly liberal, 80% of them voted for Obama. They cannot defend Israel anymore. (Maybe Finkelstein can ask them again after the catastrophic loss for Obama’s cronies in the mid-term election.)
In conclusion Finkelstein said that the facts make people think that they have to do something. The Palestinians should not forfeit their rights for peace. They also have to be reasonable – we must show to the Israelis that there is a way out that preserves the rights of everybody. There is room for everybody if you are decent and reasonable, there is a place for you. (That’s a very hypocritical statement, considering that Abbas doesn’t want any Jews in his future state and wants to move to Israel of 5.5 million of the so-called Palestinian refugees.)
During the question period Finkelstein was asked whether he supports a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence. He replied the pursuit of such resolution of UN to support independence is no good – the Palestinian leadership is on American payroll, US may stop them in any attempt to do something extraordinary. The Palestinian leadership are professional peace processors, they will never do anything radical. Although he said that as if he regretted that the motion would not pass, the audience didn’t like his reply very much. Obviously, making the PLO thugs look less heroic that they are supposed to look is far from acceptable.
Replying to a question about the future of the settlements, Finkelstein said that less than 1% of the territory is physically occupied by them (he obviously forgot his earlier statement that Israel has occupied 42% of the West Bank). Large number of settlers are subsidized they will be eager to move. There are some fanatical settlers, but they are very few. Are the settlements a problem? You can tell the settlers: yes, you can stay, but we the army are moving out, so are you staying? That will resolve the problem immediately. The settlement issue is resolvable easily. (So it’s the same old “trick”: Get out of here, Jew, or we will kill you.)
Yes, Finkelstein is not the insane clown Galloway, but he is no less scary. The fact that people like him exist should serve as a reminder to Israel that every weakness will be mercilessly exploited. Every concession will bring only new suffering and destruction.