Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Finkelstein stands by ‘BDS cult’ accusation, says it’s ‘historically criminal’ to not support the two state solution

Jun 04, 2012

Adam Horowitz


Norman Finkelstein was on Democracy Now this morning to discuss his two new books and Amy Goodman asked him the BDS movement and support for the two-state solution. The video of this portion of the interview is above.

Ali Abunimah has a strong response at Electronic Intifada that ends:

After continuing his attacks on the Palestinian-led BDS movement, Finkelstein offered this thought on the consequences of Palestinians continuing to insist on their rights, and rejecting the so-called two-state solution which Finkelstein misleading asserts is “the law”:

“That’s the law. If you want to go past that law, or ignore the Israel part, you’ll never reach a broad public. And then it’s a cult. It’s pointless in my opinion. We’re wasting time. And it’s not only a wasting of time. It becomes – and I know it’s a strong word and I hope I won’t be faulted for it – it becomes historically criminal.”

There you have it, Palestinians. If you continue to insist on rights for all Palestinians, you are committing a crime.

It’s well worth reading the whole piece.

The only comment I have to add is something I considered injecting in the discussion after Finkelstein’s interview with Frank Barat, and it concerns main error in Finkelstein’s argument against the BDS movement. It’s clear that Finkelstein supports the two-state solution and that’s his prerogative, but he insists that the BDS movement supports one state and this is factually incorrect. The BDS movement has three demands:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

These demands can be met within a one-state solution, a two-state solution or any number of any proposals. In fact, when I attended the Third National BDS Conference in Hebron this past December one attendee asked Omar Barghouti why the movement doesn’t explicitly endorse one state? He responded by saying it’s because the overwhelming number of Palestinian organizations that endorsed the BDS call support two states. While it’s true that some notable figures in the movement, like Barghouti, support one state, it should be obvious that this doesn’t reflect the movement as a whole. Does Finkelstein know this? Has he attempted to find out?

There is a finer point here that Finkelstein avoids taking on explicitly and that’s the question of the Jewish state. Whenever there is a demand to support the two-state solution, it is usually a euphemism for supporting Israel as a Jewish state, and that seems to be what Finkelstein is insisting on here — “You can’t reach a broad public if you are agnostic on the question of Israel.” My guess is that if I ask Barghouti whether those same Palestinian organizations that support two states also support a Jewish state he would laugh. And why should they? But more importantly, who is Norman Finkelstein to demand that they do?

As Abunimah points out in his post above, Finkelstein seems to deny the agency of Palestinians to determine their own liberation movement, and instead wants to take the lead from human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. I support the BDS movement because it represents the clearest consensus within Palestinian civil society of what it will take to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, I believe this is the Palestinian people’s greatest weapon in countering Israel – only the Palestinian people have to power to declare the conflict over. Finkelstein asks Palestinians to sacrifice this power for what is politically feasible at this time, regardless if it is even possible on the ground.

It’s unclear where Finkelstein is headed from here. Liberal Zionists won’t have him and at the same time he is alienating many in the Palestine solidarity movement. Finkelstein often mentions meeting at the “rendezvous of victory,” but at this point it’s uncertain who else will be there.

Lobby group urges Americans living in Israel to vote here lest ‘domestic concerns’ drive US choice

Jun 04, 2012

Philip Weiss


The group Americans for Jerusalem has launched a project to get Americans who live in Israel to vote. “Israel needs you to vote.” American just “wants” you to. Notice the leverage that the group is trying to bring to bear:

By mobilizing this never-before targeted micro-group we can be a decisive factor in the 2012 elections, ensuring a Congress and White House who will stand by Israel.

Beyond the direct electoral significance, mobilizing and energizing American voters in Israel will play a key role in influencing the votes of friends, family, and supporters of Israel back in the US; voters whose vote would otherwise be driven by domestic concerns rather than concern for Israel.

Wait, isn’t that a frank appeal to dual loyalty?

Israeli airstrikes destroy dairy factory for the fourth time in three years

Jun 04, 2012

Alex Kane

DalloulThe aftermath of one of the attacks on the Dalloul factory (Photo: Motasem Dalloul)

Four times. That’s how many occasions Abu Haroun Dalloul has witnessed his dairy factory in the Gaza Strip pulverized by Israeli bombs. The latest attack came last night as part of a wave of Israeli air raids on Gaza over the weekend that injured 13 Palestinians and killed two.

Ma’an News Agency tells the story of Dalloul:

Factory owner Abu Haroun Dalloul told Ma’an the bombing was the fourth time his factory has been targeted in recent years. The facility was previously destroyed in Israel’s war on Gaza in January 2009.

He called on Arab and Islamic nations, as well as the European Union, to form a committee to prove his factory does not store weapons.

The business sustained an estimated loss of $300,000 after Sunday’s strike, Dalloul said, noting he had just purchased a new processor at a cost of $80,000.

“We call on the whole world to protect us. My factory makes food and yogurt. Why is it being bombed like this?” he said.

“If it stored or manufactured weapons, it would not have been placed in a residential neighborhood, where most of the houses nearby belong to my relatives,” he continued.

One neighbor, Um Basem al-Shanshiri, said Sunday’s bombing caused panic and terror amongst the sleeping children in the area.

The continued attacks on the dairy factory bring to mind Israel’s destruction of a flour mill and chicken farm in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. The United Nations Goldstone report found that “as a result of its actions to destroy food and water supplies and infrastructure, Israel” violated a number of human rights treaties.

The bombings that eventually damaged the Dalloul factory started on Friday, after an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian fighter on the Gaza-Israel border. Gaza remains under Israeli occupation and a blockade that has crippled the Strip’s economy.

The Dalloul factory was not the only business that suffered damage from the latest Israeli attacks. According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, an organization based in Gaza, “a poultry and cattle farm, a water well, a carpentry shop, and a storeroom were also damaged.” Seven children have also been injured as a result of the latest raids.

The Israeli Air Force has nothing to say about the dairy factory they destroyed. The Israel Defense Forces website reports that they “targeted a weapon manufacturing facility and a terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip. Direct hits were identified.”


German submarines for Israel outfitted with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles

Jun 04, 2012

Adam Horowitz

In December, Allison covered the decision by Germany to allow the sale of nuclear-capable dolphin submarines to Israel. The German newspaper Der Spiegel is now reporting that Israel is arming them with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

From Spiegel Online:


Germany is helping Israel to develop its military nuclear capabilities, SPIEGEL has learned. According to extensive research carried out by the magazine, Israel is equipping submarines that were built in the northern German city of Kiel and largely paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The missiles can be launched using a previously secret hydraulic ejection system. Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told SPIEGEL that Germans should be “proud” that they have secured the existence of the state of Israel “for many years.” . . .

The submarines are built by the German shipyard HDW in Kiel. Three submarines have already been delivered to Israel, and three more will be delivered by 2017. In addition, Israel is considering ordering its seventh, eighth and ninth submarines from Germany.

The German government recently signed the contract for the delivery of the sixth vessel. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, Chancellor Angela Merkel made substantial concessions to the Israelis. Not only is Berlin financing one-third of the cost of the submarine, around €135 million ($168 million), but it is also allowing Israel to defer its payment until 2015.

Merkel had tied the delivery of the sixth submarine to a number of conditions, including a demand that Israel stop its expansionist settlement policy and allow the completion of a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip, which is partially financed with German money. So far, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met none of the terms.

Netanyahu vets possible Romney VP

Jun 04, 2012

Annie Robbins

mitt romney rob portman
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio under consideration as Romney’s running mate

The Columbus Dispatch:

[L]ast Tuesday, [Ohio Senator Rob] Portman boarded a commercial jet in his hometown of Cincinnati and flew to Tel Aviv. The purpose? Back-to-back meetings Thursday with the two most powerful politicians in Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

No other senators were present in the meetings. No members of the U.S. House. The only American to accompany Portman was the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

And though Portman and his staff did not announce the visit until after the meetings, the Israeli government went out of its way beforehand to leak the news that the meetings were on the prime minister’s schedule.

Each story written in advance prominently noted that Portman is under consideration by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to be his vice presidential running mate.


That type of speculation prompted Portman’s people to reply that they are shocked — shocked! — to hear that anybody would think he made the trip because of vice presidential politics.

This story was covered by multiple media sources  last week. Not one zeroed in on the bizarreness of Netanyahu vetting these guys. It might occur to ask why the VP candidates are being vetted in Israel. Nope.

Netanyahu bats away Dershowitz’s suggestion of settlement freeze

Jun 04, 2012

Philip Weiss

Even Alan Dershowitz must be worried about Israel destroying itself. He calls for a partial settlement freeze to advance the peace process, in the Wall Street Journal, and says he discussed the idea with a high-ranking Israeli.

The piece reflects the usual pigginess about Palestinian land:

There would be no Israeli building in those areas likely to become part of a Palestinian state. There would be no limit on Israeli building within areas likely to remain part of Israel.

I recently proposed this idea to a high-ranking Israeli official. His initial reaction was mostly positive, but he insisted that it would be difficult to impose an absolute building freeze in any areas in which Israelis currently live….

I reminded him that Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel is prepared to make “painful compromises” in the interests of peace. An absolute building freeze would be such a painful but necessary compromise.

But here’s Haaretz correspondent Barak Ravid’s twitter feed today.

PM Netanyahu: “we are a government who respects the rule of law and strengthening the settlements – there is no contradiction between the 2”

LGBT activists protest NYC ‘Celebrate Israel’ parade

Jun 04, 2012

Adam Horowitz

From a NYC Queers Against Israeli Apartheid! press release:

QAIA protesters at the Israel Day Parade.

LGBT activists protested at New York City’s “Celebrate Israel” parade today, objecting to Israel’s apartheid laws denying Palestinian human rights and its use of gay rights messaging to portray Israel as open and democratic. Signs reading “Support Palestinian Queers” and “Israel: Stop Pinkwashing Apartheid” dotted the sidelines of the Fifth Avenue parade. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) organized the protest.

“Israel is trying to repair its horrible human rights profile by painting itself as a gay mecca,” said Brad Taylor of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. “But having some gay clubs in Tel Aviv doesn’t make Israel a democracy. Israel builds separate roads for Jews and Arabs, separate schools, separate neighborhoods. Your rights to work, travel, marry, etc. — they all depend on whether or not you’re Palestinian. It’s apartheid, whether you’re gay or straight.”

“The Israeli government’s ‘Brand Israel’ PR campaign tries to sell a twisted message: Israel supports gay rights, so you must support Israel — you can’t oppose Israeli violence against Palestinians. What a disgusting abuse of the LGBT community! So much of the LGBT community is absolutely outraged at the Israeli government,” said Emmaia Gelman of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

The protesters also planned to challenge NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn as she marched in the parade, calling on her to take action to stop Muslim-baiting at NYC’s LGBT Community Center and in NYC’s Gay Pride parade. The community center ejected and banned groups meeting in support of Palestinian LGBT organizations last year, at the demand of pro-Israel individuals. Shortly afterward, pro-Israel marchers in NYC’s 2011 Gay Pride parade beset and assaulted a Palestine human rights contingent.

“Speaker Quinn is constantly telling us how important Israel is to her. But she hasn’t uttered a word about the Arab-baiting and Muslim-baiting that pro-Israel groups are fomenting in the LGBTQ community — her own backyard. The LGBT community is in an uproar about this discrimination, and she’s giving it the all-clear,” said Leslie Cagan of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. 

Heading for the exits?

Jun 04, 2012

Philip Weiss

American Jewish support for Israel seems to be dropping if you look at numbers attending the Israel Day Parade in New York:

2012 — 35,000 marchers — predominately Orthodox Jews. Haaretz:

In 2002, an estimated 750,000 spectators came to watch 100,000 marchers.

These days the parade, which last year changed its name to the Celebrate Israel Parade from the Salute to Israel Parade, draws much smaller numbers. It also has grown increasingly Orthodox over the years; most of the marchers are children from area day schools.

1977: 75,000 marchers — cross-sectional parade. (New York Times)


Report from Cairo: Egyptians fought hard for the revolution and refuse to relinquish their gains

Jun 04, 2012

Ahmed Moor

A defaced picture of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak outside on trial in Cairo, June 2, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

I arrived in Cairo over the weekend in time for the announcement that Mubarak had been sentenced to life in prison.

It’s been a year since I was last in the city and I was glad to see that many aspects of daily life appeared close to normal. Shops were open and people were in the streets – just as they were before the revolution. And because the Egyptian pound never collapsed things cost roughly what they used to.

The crowds began gathering in Tahrir sometime in the late afternoon. Many felt that Mubarak’s sentence was far too lenient. Moreover, he had been acquitted of the corruption charges, as had his sons and senior ministers and advisors.

I wasn’t ready to join the growing protest in Tahrir – the streets were hot and congested – but I wanted to get some views of people on what was happening. I found a nearby coffee shop where older men with menial jobs sat and smoked nargeelah. I ordered a tea and listened for a few minutes.

Most of the men expressed some ambivalence about the sentence. Almost all recognized that Mubarak should have been prosecuted but a few insisted that he built Egypt – he made it what it is. One man was particularly adamant that the former dictator deserved different treatment although he didn’t specify what.

Those were the only dissenting voices I heard.

Once I’d finished my tea I began walking to Tahrir, half an hour away and past the renovated and busy liquor store around the corner. I took the route past Maspero – the state-run television building – which was surrounded by tanks a year ago. Today, the barbed wire still stood but the imposition was much less ominous. Hummus vendors and small unattended children overran the portion of the Nile river bank where the megalith hunkered.

I caught up to a protest which had just left Maspero. My thought was that it must have formed there since the broadcast building was a symbol of the old Egypt. Our procession was led by men carrying Egyptian flags and April 6 banners. They chanted things like, “We will die like them to gain justice for them.” Many women were in the crowd which reminded me of the earliest days of the revolution.

After a while I broke from the now enormous march and pushed ahead into Tahrir where thousands of people had congregated. Some chanted, but not everyone. People in groups of five or six stood and sipped tea or ate popcorn sold by mobile street vendors. There were many women there as well.

I registered a change in the square. It was (and is) a potent public symbol but it had also transformed into a benign public commons. Ideas were being debated and opinions shared. Most encouraging, there were calls for the reform of the judicial process.

The line that’s emerged in the past 48 hours is that the Mubarak sentence has strengthened Morsi’s campaign for president. I think maybe there’s truth in that, especially after Ayman Nour – a leading liberal figure here – responded to the verdict by lending his support to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate. The runoff election is still two weeks off. I don’t know if the memory of the trial will carry the same potent charge in people’s minds then so it’s hard to tell if Morsi will actually benefit.

There are also many things that few people know now. Like, what role did the ruling generals have in the outcome of the Mubarak trial? Did they engineer the acquittal on corruption charges because of the implications for themselves? How much power are they willing to cede? Will they continue to exist beyond the law?

Yesterday demonstrated one thing clearly to me. The Egyptians fought hard for their revolution and they refuse to relinquish the gains they have made. When there’s a need, the people still show up in numbers. The Generals must know that.

But will they know it in two weeks?

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