Norman Finkelstein: ‘No doubt Israel is violator of Palestinian human rights’

December 5, 2013

In Blog Video

Press TV has conducted an interview with Norman Gary Finkelstein, an author and lecturer, from New York, to discuss Israel’s membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), despite gross violations of Palestinians’ rights by the Israeli regime.

What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Let us look at what some of the accusations [the other guest Lee] Kaplan has made basically and denials, basically saying. Let us start up with the bad ones; that Israel actually was the one that gave the bad ones the land that they are on and that as far as Gaza, actually it was the Palestinians themselves that basically are causing the downfall in the situation of Gaza Strip. Your take, professor?

Finkelstein: There is already a huge long history in the case of Gaza, of Israeli human rights violations and international condemnations of the blockade and the siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza. I do not think there is any serious dispute among rational people, as the Amnesty International just came out with a report and also many other statements in the past several weeks by humanitarian bodies that Israel is purposely creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Israel, right now, is taking advantage of the opportunity that public attention is now focused elsewhere in the Arab Muslim world, whether it be Syria or whether it be the negotiations between Iran and the Western powers; Israel is taking advantage of that situation in order to turn the screws on the people of Gaza, exactly as it did before the 2008-9, Israeli massacre in Gaza, exactly as it did at the time the [Turkish aid ship] Mavi Marmara tried to penetrate Israel’s illegal and immoral blockade of Gaza.

Once again, they are turning the screws, hoping this time that by imposing the siege on Gaza, the people of Gaza will overthrow or repudiate the Hamas regime. In this respect, it has to be said that Israel is acting in collusion with the so-called Palestinian Authority, which also will want to see the people of Gaza overthrow or repudiate the Hamas regime.

But, there cannot be any serious dispute among rational people that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and that Israel is responsible for it.

Press TV: Your take on what Mr. Kaplan has discussed in the overall situation in the Gaza Strip.

Finkelstein: The problem Mr. Kaplan [has] is he arbitrarily and capriciously, simply invokes numbers and figures that have no bearing whatsoever on what is currently happening there.

So, in order to justify Israel’s human rights violations in Gaza or justify Israeli refusal to negotiate a settlement of the conflict, he brings up the ‘Khartoum Three No’s’, which occurred approximately 50 years ago. now, what those three No’s have to do with now is anybody’s guess except the desperation of somebody who just grabs any kind of propaganda he can come up with; then he brings up this 10,000 Gazan missiles or Gazan projectiles, what that has to with what is going on now is also behind my comprehension. This is just random grasping at figures; it has nothing to do with the current reality.

So, let me ask Mr. Kaplan a simple question. Des he think that the international humanitarian agencies or the United Nations Rehabilitation [and] Work Association, Amnesty International, does he think they are just making up these claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza? And if he does believe that Amnesty International for example is making up these claims, can he possibly explain the mode of why are they doing it?

Is Amnesty International, the Nobel laureate in peace, anti-Semitic? Is the United Nations Relief and work association anti-Semitic? What is the reason? Why all of these human rights organizations are sounding the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza?

Press TV: Looking at the situation with the… especially now that Israel is supposed to be rejoining the Human Rights Council, not only rejoining the Human Rights Council, but actually being part of the EU bloc on the council; how much of responsibility do you see the EU and the United States for the aggression that takes place by the Israelis against the Palestinians?

Finkelstein: There is no question that Israel could not possibly get away with what it does, were it not for the uncritical backing up of the United States and the passive not active in my opinion, but the passive support of the European Union, where the United States and the European Union to impose the pressures and impose the sanctions that are warranted in this situation.

There is no doubt in my mind that Israel would be forced to withdraw from the occupied territories and then the Palestinians will have the right to exercise their self-determination as it is mandated under international law.

So, the United States is playing a critical role in enabling Israel to further its annexation of critical parts of the West Bank and enabling Israel to impose vicious, murderous and illegal blockade of Gaza.

Press TV: It appears Mr. Kaplan is reiterating the all basic phrases that we would hear before, that Israel established a state on a land that basically had no people, for people without land. Your take on his comments, Professor Finkelstein.

Finkelstein: I would agree with him on one point; it is not Arab land, it is Palestinian land, the International Court of Justice ruled in July 2004 that the whole of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are Palestinian territory and they are designate for the Palestinian right to self-determination.

Not a single judge on the court… The ICJ, the International Court of Justice consists of 15 judges from all around the world, including, at the time, an American judge, Thomas Buergenthal, a British judge, Rossane Higenes, who was also Jewish.

Buergenthal himself a Holocaust survivor; one of the 15 judges dissented from the opinion that the whole of the West Bank, the whole of Gaza, including East Jerusalem are to use the terminology of the International Court of Justice occupied Palestinian territory.

Now, I know that Mr. Kaplan is thinking of the court that they are all anti-Semitic; everybody in the world, every single state, every single individual, who criticizes Israel, anyone who finds that international law is being violated by Israel must be an anti-Semite; it is a very convenient worldview but a worldview that I think has very little to do with reality just as Mr. Kaplan’s claim that the Arab states want to destroy Israel, that is not…