Citizen Action Monitor

Israel and Palestine have crossed a point of no return, suggest Tariq Ali and Norman Finkelstein – Part 2

Paradoxically, things have never looked better for the Palestinians, says Finkelstein, and he explains why.

No 1810 Posted by fw, October 26, 2016

Non-violence as a tactic has real possibilities. One of the paradoxes of the Israel-Palestine conflict is, objectively, things have never looked better, aside from the fact that other parts of the Arab world are now getting huge amounts of attention, which never before happened, and that steals the camera from the Palestinians. Otherwise, it’s never been better. A huge amount of public opinion now is ready to put pressure on Israel, and even larger in Europe. The challenge in politics is what Gandhi always said: How do you get people to act on what they already know is wrong? Politics is not about trying to raise people’s consciousness. Everybody knows a thousand things are already wrong. The genius of the Bernie Sanders campaign was to say what everybody was already thinking – I can’t pay my loans. I can’t find a job? I can’t move out of my parent’s home. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. That’s the challenge: how to get people to act on what they already know is wrong. There’s a real possibility here. The way you get people to act to engage in mass non-violent resistance. To do that, you must be willing to get your bones broken to evoke people’s pity and sympathy.Norman Finkelstein

Part 2 is all Norman Finkelstein – 20 minutes of Finkelstein. It’s not that he says a lot, it’s that he frequently repeats himself. Fortunately, his content is informed and provocative.

As he draws to the end of his allotted time, Finkelstein asks: Where are we at now?  Public opinion is increasingly on the side of the Palestinians. The next step is to find the right target. Gandhi was very shrewd with the salt march: he picked a target that affected everyone but hurt the poor the most. What do we have as a target now? – the blockade of Gaza. It’s a realistic goal to end the blockade. There is a problem, however — the level of despair in Gaza is hard to correct. But if we could show them that we’re ready to do our all, and they’re ready to do their all, then there’s a realistic prospect for ending the blockade of Gaza. And Norman thinks it’s a worthy goal.

Below is an embedded video of a 97-minute talk by Norman Finkelstein and Tariq Ali which challenges common misunderstandings about the Israel-Palestine situation. Below the video are my abridged, paraphrased notes for Part 2, beginning at 38:24 minutes, ending at 59:10. A chronological index accompanies the notes to facilitate selective viewing of the video.

Consider this question as you watch the video and read the notes: What implications, if any, do Finkelstein’s and Ali’s informed observations have for Canada’s Israel-Palestine foreign policy?

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Tariq Ali and Norman Finkelstein on Israel and the Solidarity Movement
by The Real News Network, June 5, 2016

Paul Jay moderates Ali and Finkelstein in conversation about the fascisization of Israel and need to build a broad movement in support of the Palestinian people.

NOTES

38:26-38:34Paul Jay (PJ) – I’m asking Norman to respond to the one-state versus two-state solution; then the question of sanctions.

There is no rational basis for Israeli anger at Palestinians

38:35-48:17 — Norman Finkelstein (NF) – I feel that the one-state, two-state has been argued to the point of tedium. I’ll make some other remarks and if we have time I’ll come back to that. I want to return to the interview that Paul had in Lebanon with the young woman who wanted to strangle the Israeli children. It conjures up an image of seething anger and brutality on both sides. It creates a picture which is highly distorted. I don’t think there is a rational basis for this Israeli anger at Palestinians.

“The notion that both sides have comparable grievances is preposterous”

Look at what happens during these conflicts between Israel and Gaza, the balance sheet is so wildly imbalanced that the notion that both sides have comparable grievances is preposterous. During Operation “Protective Edge”, one, one Israeli house was destroyed; 19,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed. One Israeli child was killed; 550 Palestinian children were killed. 20,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Gaza. At the outside, 40 tons were dropped on Israel. There was no “war”. There was some fighting inside Gaza, which cost the lives of 67 Israeli soldiers. Take a place like Shejaiya – 90,000 people crammed into this tiny area. Israel dropped more than 100 one-ton bombs. How can anyone compare that to what happened to Israel?

In terms of alternative tactics for Palestinians, 3 have been tried but only mass non-violence has worked

48:17-59:10 — Turning to the question of what’s possible, in the history of the Palestinian struggle, three strategies have been tried:

/1 Diplomacy, which begins in 1993 with the Oslo agreement, failed. When the Oslo agreement was signed there were about 250,000 illegal Jewish settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Now there are about 600,000. If you judge an agreement not by its verbal claims but by its outcomes, Oslo was not a peace process; it was an annexation process. The goal was to annex the most desirable parts of the West Bank. That process unfolded with a certain kind of methodicalness over the past 20-25 years. Diplomacy is a dead end.

2/ The armed resistance of Hamas. Under international law, nothing debars Hamas, the Palestinians, from using armed force to end occupation. For me, that’s not an important question. Legally and morally they have the right. But there’s the political question: Does it work? Since 2008-09, Operation “Cast Lead”, there have been three Israeli operations – Cast Lead, Pillar of Defence (2012), and Protective Edge. Each time Hamas set the same goal: end the blockade. Today, 2 years after Protective Edge, the blockade was not lifted. Each side pretends the strategy works: Hamas gets to say “Our rockets work”; the Israelis get to say “They’re attacking us with rockets. What do you expect us to do?” And Obama gets to say “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Stupefying narcissist! (Laughter and applause). So, both sides have a stake in pretending armed resistance works. It does not.

What’s left?

/3 Mass non-violence resistance of the First Intifada. It was a remarkably successful mass uprising, which hurt Israel at two levels. 1) Public relations disaster for Israel when soldiers started breaking the bones of the Palestinian children throwing stones. 2) Huge numbers of Israelis had to be called up for military service – half a million at a time – to put down the uprising.

Paradoxically, things have never looked better for the Palestinians – with one qualification

Non-violence as a tactic has real possibilities. One of the paradoxes of the Israel-Palestine conflict is, objectively, things have never looked better, aside from the fact that other parts of the Arab world are now getting huge amounts of attention, which never before happened, and that steals the camera from the Palestinians. Otherwise, it’s never been better.

Public opinion is now swinging toward the Palestinians

A huge amount of public opinion now is ready to put pressure on Israel, and even larger in Europe. The challenge in politics is what Gandhi always said: How do you get people to act on what they already know is wrong? Politics is not about trying to raise people’s consciousness. Everybody knows a thousand things are already wrong.

But how do you get people to act on what they know is wrong?

The genius of the Bernie Sanders campaign was to say what everybody was already thinking – I can’t pay my loans. I can’t find a job? I can’t move out of my parent’s home. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. That’s the challenge: how to get people to act on what they already know is wrong.

There’s a real possibility here. To get people to act, to engage in mass non-violent resistance, you must be willing to get your bones broken to evoke people’s pity and sympathy. What got people to act during the US civil rights movement? When they saw the dogs on the kids, water cannons on the kids, some volunteers getting killed, etc.

The next step is to find the right target that will engage people in mass non-violent resistance against Israel

Where are we at now? There have been major changes in public opinion. Then you have to find the right target. Gandhi was very shrewd with the salt march. He picked a target that affected everyone but hurt the poor the most. What do we have now – the blockade of Gaza. It’s a realistic goal to end the blockade.

Bernie Sanders made a point during his major interview when he said the blockade has to be lifted. That means Bernie is on our side, and that’s not trivial. It means a large number of people.

Target the blockade of Gaza — even the UN is onside

Two days ago, Haaretz ran an editorial – the blockade has to be lifted. It said all this talk about we [Israelis] need security, that’s BS. Then the UN inquiry in Gaza report, someone sneaked in a line that said: the blockade of Gaza has to be lifted immediately and unconditionally. That’s unbelievable — “immediately and unconditionally!” There is a realistic prospect that, if we do things right, to end the blockade of Gaza – in the short term.

Palestine cannot be liberated from the outside

That’s what I think the aim should be – June 5, 2017, the half century of the occupation. We have one year to organize. I think it’s a realistic goal – except for one thing. The objective factors are there. The problem is the subjective factor. We shouldn’t want to do it from here. It has to start there. In the absence of a mass movement, it’s not realistic that you can liberate Palestine from the outside. And I don’t even think it’s desirable. If you do it from the outside, tomorrow the people will be just as powerless and a band of crooks will take over.

The problem is the people of Gaza are is despair and Hamas is terrible

The problem is with the people of Gaza. The people of Gaza are hopeless. And Hamas now is terrible. It’s repressive and is just looking out for itself. In the history of all political movements you have that mentality where you think that the survival of the struggle is synonymous with the survival of your group. And then you just defend your group.

We need to show Gazans that we’re prepared to do our all if they’re ready to do theirs

I talk a lot to the people in Gaza and the level of despair is hard to correct. But if we could show them that we’re ready to do our all, and they’re ready to do their all, then there’s a realistic prospect for ending the blockade of Gaza. And I think it’s a worthy goal.

END OF PART 2

SEE ALSO

Israel’s next Gaza war will be ‘last’ one: Lieberman by AFP, Daily Mail Online, October 24, 2016 — Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Israel’s next war with Gaza militants would be their last “because we will completely destroy them,” but added he remains committed to a two-state solution. Lieberman, speaking in an interview with Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, said however that he did not want another war in Gaza, which would be the fourth since 2008.

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