MALMO, Sweden (Reuters) – Anti-Israeli protesters clashed with riot police outside an Israeli-Swedish Davis Cup tennis match in Sweden on Saturday, but did not break through police lines.
Due to security concerns, the three-day match is being played in an empty stadium in this southwestern port city, which has a large immigrant population.
Several hundred left-wing militants carrying banners saying “Turn left, smash right,” and “Boycott Israel” joined a peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstration by about 6,000 people.
About 200 of the militants began pelting police with stones, fireworks and paint bombs, Reuters witnesses said, while organizers of the official demonstration shouted at the masked protesters not to use violence against the authorities.
Police said they arrested eight protesters and detained more than 100, most of whom were released after identity checks.
Malmo, which is Sweden’s third largest city and is ruled by a left-of-center coalition, was heavily criticized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and by Israeli players for its decision to close the stadium to the public.
Around 1,000 police officers have cordoned off a large area around the stadium to prevent protesters from getting in.
Sweden took a 2-1 lead over Israel on Saturday when Robert Lindstedt and Simon Aspelin won the doubles match over Andy Ram and Amir Hadad. The best-of-five tie will be wrapped up on Sunday.
Tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors have been heightened by a three-week Israeli offensive in the Gaza strip which began on December 27 and killed about 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis.
(Additional reporting by Oliver Grassman; Reporting by Kim McLaughlin; Editing by Charles Dick)
Video of the protest:
03.07.2009 | Aljazeera English
Israel’s War Against Palestinian Civilians
On the 40th day after the first child in Palestine was killed in Gaza during the most recent Israeli military offensive, this vigil remembers all the children who died in Gaza. Some members of the Jewish community also showed up and read a composite list of names of Israeli children who have been killed.
Israeli satire about the messages and style of Israelis trying to justify Israeli policy to peple living abroad
In a drunken racial tirade, an Israeli settler threatens a British film crew. The wild exchange has the settler cursing Jesus, threatening to kill the film crew and Palestinians. Warning: Vulgar Language
Click here for video if below doesn’t work.
Boicot del partit de bàsquet Barça – Maccabi de Tel Aviv. Palau Blaugrana. 5 de febrer de 2009.
Boicot a Israel. Solidaritat amb Palestina!!
A shoe was thrown at Israel ‘s ambassador to Sweden, Mr. Benny Dagan, when
he was giving a speech at Stockholm University today. The shoe hit its
target. It was followed by two books and a note pad, all hitting the
severely embarrassed ambassador.
The two protesters, a young woman and a young man, shouted “Murderers!”
and “Intifada!” while pelting Dagan with the objects. They are currently
under arrest, suspected of assault and public disturbance.
The lecture was organised by the Foreign policy association at Stockholm
university. The ambassador was supposed to talk about the upcoming
elections in Israel , but turned quickly to issues of Hamas and Iran and
developed a lengthy defence for Israel ‘s recent actions in the Gaza
Some 20 minutes into the lecture, a woman stood up in the audience, threw
a red shoe at the ambassador and shouted “Murderers!”. The shoe hit Dagan
in his stomach. Another protester then joined in and hurled two books and
a note pad.
Dagan was dumbstruck and paralysed, but returned to his lecture shortly
after a few minutes – only to face shouts and other verbal protests from
the audience. The meeting ended in chaos, while the two protestors were
taken to custody.
The boycott movement in Sweden has gained momentum during the last weeks,
not the least since Veolia lost its Stockholm metro contract, worth some
3.5 billion euro a year, after a long campaign against the company’s
notorious involvement in the Jerusalem tram project. The movement is now
taking aim at the Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel
scheduled in Malmö 6-8 March.
ISM didn’t participate in the action, but was at the meeting.
International Solidarity Movement-Sweden: www.ism-sweden.org
By James Suggett
* Part 1: “You say you had some input into UN Resolution 242…”
* Part 2: “Listen to his source — this is a scholar…”
See also: Harvard undergrad sacked for pulling a Dersh
* See also Appendix I of BEYOND CHUTZPAH: ON THE MISUSE OF ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE ABUSE OF HISTORY
This video was recorded by Vermont’s CCTV, Channel 17.
Finkelstein: … appearance… such a beautiful space. There’re only two places to live in the United States — San Francisco and Vermont. [audience laughter] Unfortunately, I’m in Chicago. [audience laughter] There’re older people in this room, mostly my age cohort, so you remember the button “War is not healthy for human beings and other living beings,” well, neither is Chicago. [audience laughter] And since… Chicago… to dispense with Dr. Finkelstein and judging from this crowd should be either Comrade or Tovarisch. [audience laughter] And I’ll take that… [inaudible] I’m going to not speak directly on the topic that was advertised this afternoon. During my travails with Professor Dershowitz of Harvard, who is not an old comrade, [audience laughter] one student once came up to me and accused me of plagiarism on the ground I was repeating the same speech more than once. [audience laughter] He was very emphatic about it. [audience laughter] I think quite …[inaudible] plagiarism. I did learn from that particular experience — if I’m gonna be speaking twice in the same day I should have two lectures with me so I don’t have to deal with that piece of lunacy.
|So this afternoon I’m not going to speak on the longer topic, in the evening I’ll go on at some length, roughly between the lengths of Castro and Chavez [audience laughter]… I smell sulfur… [audience laughter] But this afternoon, it’s a smaller… [inaudible] we can get to know each other and what I decided to do this afternoon is to speak on a narrower topic which is the most recent events in Gaza and Lebanon. Obviously, I could’ve included Iraq but there are many people that are more knowledgeable on Iraq and are more available, so I’m gonna speak on mostly some developments in Gaza and Lebanon, and also, at the end, to sort of reflect on where things are headed, because I do believe, it’s often used, the expression, “we’re at a turning point” or “we’ve reached a turning point” and most of the time… [inaudible] that expression is hot air. But I do believe that in the case of the recent war in Lebanon there were significant developments which will have a substantial impact on the the unfolding of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the conflict between the US and Israel on one hand and Arab, Muslim nations in the Middle East onthe other. I’ll get to that at the very end.|
Let me begin with the… [inaudible] of the most recent course of events, which begins January 2006 when Hamas, the Islamic leadership, is elected to power in the West Bank and Gaza. They were elected in January 2006 and in March 2006 they took office. Immediately, as they took office, the United States and Israel, and then the European Union, inflicted on Hamas a quite brutal sanctions regime… … and the sanctions were conditional on Hamas doing two things. The two demands which were imposed on Hamas were:
1. they have to renounce terrorism or renounce violence and
2. they have to recognize the State of Israel
… those two demands, the economic sanctions against the Palestinians would continue. So first of all, let’s look at those two conditions. On their face, it seems to me, the two conditions are perfectly legitimate. The bargaining [poor audio quality] of civilians for political ends is the basic definition of terrorism and any State or organization, or movement is legally bound and morally bound to renounce the resort to terrorism. That seems to me a legitimate demand. The number two demand, that Israel be recognized within its borders, the right, as the language has it, to territorial integrity and political sovereignty within its borders. That demand seems to me perfectly legitimate also, in fact it’s, frankly, uncontroversial.
So the issue is not the demands that were put on Hamas, those, as I’ve said, I think are pretty much uncontroversial. The question is the uniformity of those demands. That is to say — are they applied across the board to all the parties in the conflict? Or are they being applied to one party in the conflict? If they’re applied across the board then we can call them moral principle, if they’re applied to one side, the proper word is to call it hypocrisy.
Let’s see how the demands work out in terms of their uniform application to all parties to the conflict…. …
Let’s look at that first demand, the question of renouncing terrorism. … what’s been happening since what’s called the beginning of the second Intifada, which is to say, since September 2000 until today. If you look at the most recent numbers posted on the B’Tselem website — B’Tselem is the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories — the most recent numbers from last night, you’ll see that there’ve been been 3800 Palestinians killed since September 2000, September 28, 2000, and approximately 1,000 Israelis killed, the ratio being roughly 3.8 to 1. On both sides, between one half and two thirds of the fatalities have been civilians. So if we limit ourselves to the total number of fatalities or the number of civilians killed on both sides, the ratio comes to roughly to about 4 times as many Palestinians killed as Israelis killed.
Some people want to go beyond those numbers and say that those numbers are still not capturing reality because, the argument is made, “ok, it’s true, Israel kills civilians but it’s not true that they target civilians. And one has to make the distinction between targetting civilians and civilians who are ‘collateral damage'” and that will be the last time I’ll use that expression. I alredy feel guilty using it now.
What does the record show? Once again we have quite extensive human rights reports, quite extensive documentation — the record shows that Israel has routinely targetted civilians for killing. I’ll get to that later when I discuss the question of Lebanon but we have quite a bit of documentation from Human Rights Watch, from Amnesty International and so forth, that Israel targets civilians for death. So at that level, again, there seems to be, pretty much, an equivalence between the actions of Hamas and the actions of the State of Israel.
It’s also true to say, and you’ll find this through out the human rights literature, that Israel indiscriminately kills Palestinians. That is to say, it fires wildly into crowds and many Palestinians get killed. The argument, among human rights organizations at any rate, that technically — no, I shouldn’t say technically — in effect, there’s no difference between indiscriminately killing civilians and targeting civilians.
So let’s just take a couple of examples. If Hamas targets a bus in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and blows it up, and then afterwards, says, “well, we didn’t really wanna kill the civilians, we just wanted to destroy the bus,” people would laugh, that’s ridiculous. So if Israel drops a one ton bomb on a densely populated area of Gaza, as it did in July 2002 in order to “kill” a Palestinian leader, a fellow named Shahade, and then they said “well, yes, it’s true, 14 others were killed (9 of them babies) but we didn’t intend to. we intended only to kill the Palestinian leader.” The argument seems to me as silly and unacceptable as the argument of a hypothetical Hamas claim that “we wanted to just blow up the bus.”
Or if you take it on a larger scale, if the United States said “we dropped the atomic bomb on Heroshima because we wanted to kill Hirohito.” Well, that’s just silly. You know you are knowingly using violence in a way that’s going to inflict massive civilian casualties. And so even quite conservative Israeli — smart but very conservative — Israeli legal scholars, I’ll quote to you Yoram Dinstein, he was the president of Tel Aviv University and he’s the leading authority on international law, he writes in one of his… … says “there’s no genuine difference between a premeditated attack against civilians” — what Hamas does — “and a reckless disregard of the principle to distinguish between civilians and combatants.” They are, under international law, equally forbidden. Well, that raises the obvious question. Why is it that the demand to renounce violence is only imposed on Hamas? Noone has imposed during this whole period — which as I’ll get to in a moment, is turning into quite a horrific state in Gaza — nobody’s imposed the same demand on Israel? Why is it only one side is being asked to renounce violence, and for those who care about the numbers, the side which is numerically far less culpable of terrorist acts by a ratio of one to four?
Let’s turn to the second demand, namely the demand for mutual recognition, or, I should say, the demand of recognizing the State of Israel. As I said, already twice now, that’s an uncontroversial demand. Israel is a member of the United Nations, it has a right to have its territorial integrity and political sovereignty respected by its neighbors, the right to live in peace.
Well, fair enough, but now let’s look at the other side of the equation. You could say, first of all, just to return for a moment, Hamas’ statements on the issue of recognizing Israel have been ambiguous. I don’t think it’s incorrect to say they play down what their current position is. As far as one can tell, their current position is that they’re willing to accept a long-term ceasefire, the equivalent more or less of an armistice with Israel. They’re not ready to recognize Israel, except, they said, if a Palestinian government negotiates a settlement with Israel and the Palestinian population supports it, then they will not stand in the way. Which is basically the position that’s been articulated by the Iranian leadership as well as the Hezbollah. Philosophically, as a movement, they won’t accept recognition but if a government does negotiate a settlement, the Palestinians support it, they won’t stand in the way.
Ok, I’m willing to acknowledge that that’s an ambiguous position on their part. But now let’s look at the other side of the equation. The other side of the equation is pretty straight forward. In fact, it’s not complicated at all. Since 1967 no Israeli government, no Israeli political party, no Israeli senior official has ever recognized a Palestinian State within the June 1967 borders. Now, it is true that they’ve recognized, recently, since roughly the case of the Likud Party…[inaudible]… ’97, the case of Sharon, roughly.. early 2001, they’ve recognized the right of Palestinians to a State. That has no bearing and no reference to a State as it’s understood by the international community.
There has been, since roughly the mid 1970s, you could say for the past three decades, there’s been a consensus in the international community on how to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. And the consensus, I suspect, is familiar to everybody in this room — it’s called the Two-State Settlement. It’s not two States anywhere and of any shape. The two States have very specific meaning under international law. A fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter, as anchored in article two of the UN Charter, is that it’s inadmissible to acquire territory by war or by force. You can’t change countries’, nations’ borders simply through the imposition of force. For those of you who know the technical side of the Israel-Palestine conflict, you know that a famous UN Resolution 242 from November 1967 lists out the basic principles for resolving the conflict at the very top. The first principle listed is the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war.
That principle was upheld in the recent 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, the World Court. That means concretely that Israel has to “fully” withdraw from the territory acquired during the June 1967 war, for our purposes in particular, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Why? Because all of those territories were acquired in the course of a war and under international law you have no privy whatsoever to territory acquired in the course of a war. Now, no Israeli party, no Israeli government, no Israeli official has ever acknowledged a full withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. And we know that because the record, as I said, is quite clear. Every year, for the past 20 years, the United Nations, usually around December, has a resolution called Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question. Every single year. And every single year the vote is exactly the same. It’s the whole world on one side, I’ll quote to you from this year, the last vote was December 2005… It was 156 to 6, the whole world on one side and on the other side — I should just point out that this resolution calls for a Two-State Settlement on the June 1967 border — it’s the United States, Israel and depending on the year, it’s some variation of Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, Micronesia and the Martial Islands. That’s seven all together but usually one drops out. Each year they grow… [inaudible]… depending on who gets paid that year. [audience laughter] It’s the whole world on the one hand, the United States and Israel on the one hand and those South Sea …[inaudible]… on the other hand. And the record has been that way, you know, if you take the year 1989, it was 151 to 3, the three then were the US, Israel and the island State of Dominica. Dominica still comes in and out, you know like Grenada is also another major super power [audience laughter] … [inaudible] … depending on the year.
And it’s always been the United States and Israel who have opposed that Two-State Settlement. That’s at the level of rhetoric. Now, at the level of practicality.
So you could say on the Palestinian side Hamas has made ambiguous statements about a settlement on the June 1967 border. On the Israeli side there has been no ambiguity whatsoever, it’s a categorical “NO,” and we should add — a categorical “NO” across the board. There’s no issue here of a different political party having a different position. That’s at the level of rhetoric. We should also add two caveats.
There is this claim that the obstacle is that Hamas won’t recognize Israel, as if to say, if they did the problem would be resolved. But nobody disputes that for the past 30 years the Palestine Liberation Organization did support the Two-State Settlement but Israel still opposed it. So it’s can’t be, logically, the Palestinian side that’s the obstacle. Because all of those UN resolutions I mentioned, and I can go through a quite copious documentary record, the Palestinians always supported it. It’s true, a new element entered the picture with Hamas being elected in January but it’s simply not true that were it not for Hamas, there would be a settlement.
Let’s just give another relevant example. In April 2002 the Arab League met in… … the Two-State Settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict. And they even gave a very understated statement on the refugee question. Rather than calling for the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees, they only called for “a just solution of the refugee problem.” It was a major consession on the Arab side. Now, if you read the press, even the Israeli press, the question arises: “Will Hamas recognize the Arab League initiative of April 2002?” Well, it’s an interesting question but it seems to me an irrelevant one because Israel completely rejected that initiative. Israel did
denounced that initiative. So whether Hamas recognizes it or not is a mute questions. Israel opposes the Two-State Settlement as understood by the entire international community and has always done so, since probably within a month of the June 1967 war.
But that’s all at the level of rhetoric. We also have to look at the reality of what’s happening on the ground. While Hamas makes ambiguous statements about recognizing Israel rhetorically. In fact, on the ground, Israel is unambiguously destroying any possibility of a Palestinian State. As I stand here and speak now, as you in the audience listen, Israel’s building a wall declared illegal by the International Court of Justice which will absorb about 10% of the West Bank, according to the most recent figures. Number two, Israel has now de facto annexed the Jordan Valley, which is about 25% of the West Bank and it has cut up, through its settlement building, it’s cut up the West Bank into 3 fragments. 1 fragment in the north, a settlement called Ariel, and 1 fragment to the north and south, a settlement block called Maale Adumim. And what’s being left to the Palestinians is what The Economist called a “Swiss Cheeze State” on about, they estimated about 50% of the West Bank.
That’s the level of practicality. Right now, as we speak, Hamas is being asked to verbally recognize Israel, while Israel is in fact, on the ground, systematically destroying any possibility of a Palestinian State.
And we have to bear in mind that it is the Palestinians are being subjected now to extraordinarily brutal economic sanctions. If they don’t meet the two conditions, no sanctions against Israel. A couple of days ago one of the raportuers on human rights at the United Nations, a smart guy and I think a principled guy, his name is John Dugard — he’s considered the “father of human rights” in South Africa, a South African white lawyer who now currently works for a human rights division of the UN, and his …[inaudible]… so to speak is Palestine — he said something, which I found quite resonent, he said, “in effect, the Palestinian people have been subjected to economic sanctions — the first time an occupied people have been so treated. This is difficult to understand. Israel is in violation of major Security Council and General Assembly resolutions dealing with unlawful territorial change and the violation of human rights and” Israel “has failed to implement the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice,” which called on Israel to dismantle the wall it’s building, “yet it escapes the imposition of sanctions. Instead the Palestinian people, rather than the Palestinian Authority, have been subjected to possibly the most rigorous form of international sanctions imposed in modern times.” And now there’s an interesting footnote which the older people in the room will remember, he says “It is interesting to recall that the Western States refused to impose meaningful economic sanctions on South Africa to compel it to abandon apartheid on the grounds that this would harm the black people of South Africa. No such sympathy is extended to the Palestinian people or their human rights….”
That was all the first few months of the imposition of the economic sanctions. The most recent round of the disaster occuring as we speak. In Gaza [it] began on June 25 when Palestinians related to Hamas captured an Israeli soldier and demanded the release of the women and children prisoners in Israeli jails. There’re roughly at this moment 9,000 Palestinians being held prisoner in Israel of whom 215 are minors, about 700 are administrative detainees — which means no charges have been leveled against them, no trial has been given to them, they are, for all intents and purposes, they are hostages, no charges and no trial.
At that point Israel proceeded to starve Gaza into submission in order to get back that one Israeli and to stop the Qassam rocket fire into Israel. Just on this question of the Kassam missiles, about which we hear a lot, let me just give you a couple of statistics to keep in mind. The withdrawal from Gaza, which all of you remember, that Steven Spielberg extravaganza, occured in September 2005.
Between September 2005 and the beginning of the latest round on June 25th, Israel fired about 7,000 to 9,000 artillery shells into Gaza. In that same period as Israel fired seven to nine thousand artillery shells into Gaza, the Palestinians fired about 1,000 of these clunky Kassam missiles into Israel.
The casualties are also interesting to compare. Between January and June 80 Palestinians had been killed, while on the Israeli side, from these terrible, horrible, lethal, ghastly Qassam rockets, 5 Israelis had been killed in the last 6 years. 5 Israelis killed in the last six years, 80 Palestinians in the last six months but you’d never know it if you follow the media. All they care about are those [Qassam rockets]… … what is Israel to do?
Soon after, Israel began to impose the ruthless sanctions against Gaza, I’m now quoting Meron Benvenisti, one of Israel’s leading authorities on the Occupied Territories, formerly the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, he said, to use his words “Israel took about a third of the Hamas government hostage.” That’s his words.
In fact, if words have any meaning, the entire 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza have now been taken hostage by Israel. Since June 25, when the current round begins, 262 Palestinians have been killed, about half of them were not participating in any hostilities. 260 on one side, on the Israeli side 1 soldier has been killed. 50% of the work force is unemployed, poverty is at 80%. Let me just quote to you from the past couple of weeks, what Gaza looks like now, as we speak. Let me quote to you first Patrick Cockburn, the distinguished journalist from the Brittish Independent, he says “Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the verge of starvation. A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians in prison in the most heavily populated area in the world.” …… “what most dread is an unknow voice on their cell phone saying that they have 1/2 hour to leave their home before it is hit by bombs or missiles. There is no appeal.”
Ok, some of you don’t trust the goyim, so read what Gideon Levy has to say, the chief Israeli correspondent in the Occupied Territories for Haaretz newspaper. He wrote (“Gaza’s darkness,” Haaretz, 09.03.2006) a couple of weeks ago “Gaza has been reoccupied. It is in its worst condition ever. The Israeli army has been rampaging through Gaza — there’s no other word to describe it — killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately…. In large parts of Gaza nowadays, there is no electricity. Israel bombed the only power station in Gaza… There’s hardly any water. More than ever, Gaza is also like a prison…. This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment.”
The Israeli Human Rights Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, just released a report this past week entitled “Act of Vengeance,” in which it describes the repercussions of Israel’s destruction of the only power plant in Gaza and it describes, accurately I think, what Israel did as a war crime.
Finally, let me quote again John Dugard. He says (Haaretz, 09.26.2006) “Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is “intolerable, appalling, tragic” and the Jewish state appears to have thrown away the key… If … the international community cannot … take some action, [it] must not be surprised if the people of the planet disbelieve that they are seriously committed to the promotion of human rights.” If the international community does not take any action, then they shouldn’t be surprised that the people of Gaza are skeptical about their commitment to human rights.
And that actually is a segway into the other side of the conflict, namely the one in Lebanon. Because amidst the destruction, rampaging in Gaza, on July 12, the Hezbollah, Islamic movement of Lebanon, decided to take action. They captured 2 Israeli soldiers, several others were killed in the course of a battle. Hizbullah’s action, the capturing of 2 soldiers, was generally attributed to 2 causes. Number 1, Israel was also keeping Lebanese prisoner and the Hizbullah wanted its prisoners released. And Hezbollah said not directly but by indirection instead that we were taking this action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Gaza. And now I’ll speak off the record and I’ll just speak personally, I happen to think that’s a noble gesture. I don’t see any reason …[inaudible]… why the Palestinians have to be starved to death, starved into submission, and the whole world has to sit silently by while this gang of murderers and monsters proceed on their way. And if Hezbollah wants to take an action of solidarity I don’t know what international law says on that topic — I’m right now reading international law, it gives me something of a headache — and I finally don’t care. I think they have a right to act in solidarity with a people who’s being starved to death. Well, Hezbollah took the action, as I’ve described it and then the Israeli reaction set in.
On July 13th, I think, or 14th, Israel attacked Lebanon. The information we have was that Israel for a long time has been planning this invasion of Lebanon. Basically, had to teach Hezbollah a lesson because Hizbullah had inflicted a defeat on Israel in 2000 when after a guerilla war enduring about 18 years they drove Israel out of Lebanon. And Israel has to restore, what’s called, a fancy phrase they use, they have to restore their “deterrence capacity.” Deterrence capacity basically mean they have to restore the principle that what Israel says goes and to hold Arab neighbors in a state of terror. Israel used the attack by Hezbollah, the capture of its 2 soldiers, as the pretext to invade Lebanon and then Israel proceeded to use the tactics which it always does.
This is the 5th time Israel has invaded Lebanon — major invasion. Operation Litani in 1978, Operation Peace in the Galilee in June 1982, Operation Accountability in 1993, Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996. They sometimes had Biblical names, as when …[inaudible]… was in charge, Operation Grapes of Wrath, ’cause he likes to think he’s profound. And then there are certain beaurocratic names, Operation Accountability, that was Rabin, who was no nonsense. The one they’re currently using for the Gaza, it’s a very nice name, called — as they starve the Palestinians to death — they call it Operation Summer Rains. These are nice titles. I wonder which one the Germans dreamt up when they were destroying the Warsaw Ghetto.
In any case the tactics Israel used in the last war are pretty much typical. The tactic basically is — Hezbollah is a guerilla army, and they want to separate the army from the people — and the tactic basically is to fire, destroy indescriminately the civilian infrastructure and the civilians themselves in the hope that they will break with Hizbullah and blame Hizb’ullah for all of the destruction that’s brought. That was the expectation during the first few days of the war.
Anyone who knows the history, every time Israel enters Lebanon it does 2 things. It carpet bombs the south because it wants to teach the civilians in the south, if you support Hezbollah, this is what you’re going to get. And number 2, it drives the civilian population to take take root, hoping that enough pressure would be put on the government to disarm Hizbullah. It’s the same tactic over and over again. There’s a retired Israeli army colonel, he said, this past war: “the goal of Israel’s military campaign is to create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters,” which is exactly what they wanted to do. To the credit of Israelis, I have to say, there’s a certain amount of candor about the kinds of tactics they’re using. So the Defense Minister [Chief of Staff of the Israeli army] Halutz said at the very beginning of the war, “if the soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years.” “Nothing is safe in Lebanon, it’s as simple as that.” You can also add that it’s as simple as that, that’s a criminal statement. Under international law, the most basic principle, the principle of distinction, distinguishing between the civilians and combatants, civilian areas and military areas. When you make a statement that “nothing is safe in Lebanon” you are uttering a legally criminal statement.
On July 28, Israel’s Justice Minister said “all those now in South Lebanon are terrorists.” And who are the terrorists? By July 28, those who had money, those who had the wherewithal, they had already fled to Beirut. Those who remained, estimates were about 50,000, they were the old, the infirm, the poor. Those who remained were to whom Ramon, Justice Minister Haim Ramon, were terrorists. That is to say they are fair game. Ehud Olmert, the …… he said, “All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced. They lost their properties, they lost their possessions” (Matthew Tostevin, Reuters, 2 Aug 2006). He’s boasting about it. This was the big achievement of the war and who are their power base? Most of you in this room know it because you saw the scenes when Hezbollah had its victory demonstration a few days ago, it’s half the population of Lebanon. That’s the estimate. About half support, that’s the power base, which was displaced, they lost their properties, they lost their possessions. And then Mr. Olmert, the Prime Minister, then went on, got a little carried away, entered into fantasy land. He said “they are bitter, they are angry at Hezbollah and the power structure of Lebanon itself has been divided and Hezbollah is now entirely isolated in Lebanon.” Easily, you can judge for yourself, from that demonstration, the biggest one ever in Lebanese history.
What was the result of the war? About 1200 Lebanese were killed, the estimate is that about 90% were civilians. On the Israeli side there were 160 Israelis killed, 43 of the civilians. So if we look at the numbers absolutely, about 1,000 Lebanese civilians to about 40 Israeli civilians. It’s about a factor of 25. Or if you look at it relatively, on the Lebanese side 90% civilians, on the Israeli side 20% were civilians. However you look at it, the fact remains.
If Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, if you want to make that claim, I won’t argue with you so long as you say further that Israel is a terrorist organization by probably, at least, 25-fold greater. That’s what the numbers show. Whether absolutely or relatively, the record of Hezbollah is just much better than the record of Israel.
Human Rights Watch put out a report (Fatal Strikes) about 2 1/2 weeks into the war and this is what found. Let me recall a few passages. “In dozens of attacks, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target… Israel repeatedly attacked both individual vehicles and entire convoys of civilians who heeded the Israeli warnings [to abandon their villages]” …… The also attacked “humanitarian convoys and ambulances” that were “clearly marked.” While none “of the attacks on vehicles…resulted in Hezbollah casualties or the destruction of weapons;” “in some cases…Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.”
And here’s an interesting finding by Human Rights Watch, register it in your memory bank — “no cases [were found] in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack.” So all those claims that you heard in the media that Hezbollah was hiding among civialians, forcing Israel to target civilian areas against its will, because it was the only way to get the cowardly Hizbullah… Human Rights Watch, which is very far from a pro-Arab (whatever that means) perspective, very far — Human Rights Watch gets most of its funding from Jews, or a large percentage, they’re very touchy on this question — they couldn’t find ONE case, one, where Hezbollah was using the Lebanese population as shields.
They said [that] “on some limited occasions, Hezbollah fighters have attempted to store weapons near civilian homes and have fired rockets from areas where civilians live.” They found 2 cases of that and they conclude that Israel committed war crimes.
Amnesty International, about 5 weeks after the war, around 30 of August also came out with a report (Israel/Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or “collateral damage”? Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure) that said “the country’s [Lebanon] infrastructure suffered destruction on a catastrophic scale,” that much of this destruction constituted “war crimes that give rise to individual criminal responsibility.”
I mentioned a moment ago that however you look at the record, the record of Hezbollah is much better than the record of Israel in terms of numbers. But there’s also a second issue.
Under the laws of war it’s strictly prohibited to target civilians as reprisals. That is to say, if they target your civilians, you’re not allowed to target theirs as a reprisal. Ok, we will grant that. Those are the laws of war and probably the laws of war are sensible, to the extent that “laws of war” has any meaning at all, I remain very confident that in a hundred or two hundred years, should humanity survive, that it will look back with sheer bewilderment and consternation at this notion of laws of war. It’s sort of like — etiquette of cannibals. It doesn’t seem to work. But, granting the existence of the concept of laws of war, and granting the fact that it prohibits reprisals, the fact remains that, according to Hezbollah, and Amnesty in its report did not dispute this, it only targetted civilians after Israel initiated such attacks and was aimed at stopping them.
At one point, in one of his speeches, Nasrallah said (Amnesty report, 09.14.2006) “any time you decide to stop your attacks on our cities, villages and infrastructure, we will not fire rockets on any Israeli settlement or city. Naturally, we would rather, in case of fighting, fight soldier to soldier on the ground and battlefield.”
That’s the war as seen through the eyes of its two belligerents.
There’s another element that ought to be of special concern to us in the audience because by, I would say, the 3rd or the 4th day of the war it ceased to be an Israeli-Lebanese war and it became an American/Israeli war on the one side and the Lebanese on the other side.
It was very clear that the United States fought, that here was an opportunity to deliver a real blow to that “Axis of Evil,” which has an element of truth. Just as, in my opinion, the domino theory has elements of truth. There is no doubt, no dispute, that there are forces in the Arab world which, to a lesser or greater degree, are opposing US hegemonic ambitions in the region. And those forces mainly manifest themselves now in terms of Iran, to much lesser degree Syria. There are some forces in Iraq, for example those represented by the fellow [Moqtada al-] Sadr. And then there is Hezbollah and Hamas. Hamas is obviously a very weak link and it’s now being, as I’ve said, decimated. The hope was, by the Americans, that if Israel can inflict a significant enough blow against Hizbullah, it would set back the regional ambition of Iran, Syria and the Sadr forces in Iraq. That is to say, they hope that they can salvage something from the mess they created in the Arab world — a mess in terms of their own interests, a mess they created…
And so then you have that horrifying scene of that freak from hell Condoleezza Rice saying that they’re not just being incinerated, she said this is the “birth pangs of the new Middle East” [Special Briefing on Travel to the Middle East and Europe, 07.21.2006]. That’s what they hope. They hope that they can set back, deliver a …[inaudible]… blow to the forces which oppose them.
It’s very interesting in this regard. I never read anything by Arab leaders because it’s such hot air, such nonsense, [with] no direct relationship to anything happening in the real world. But Nasrallah’s speeches were quite interesting. I wanna just quote on this point… As many of you know, since I see this is an informed audience, there’s this whole debate which recently ensued among those interested in this topic on the power of the Israel Lobby, the Jewish Lobby. There’s this paper written by a fellow from the University of Chicago John Mearsheimer and the Dean at the Kennedy School Steve Walt in which they were very emphatic about the power of the Jewish Lobby and claim that the Jewish Lobby is behind the war in Iraq, and so on. How many people are familiar with it? Good.
What’s very striking about is, while it used to be the case that the Left would claim that it’s US imperial interests that are behind what’s going on in the Middle East and it was the Arab world which claimed “the Jews are behind it, the Jewish conspiracy.” And now, oddly enough, there’s been a reversal. While we here are debating the power of the Jewish Lobby, it was very striking to me, at any rate, to read Nasrallah’s speech (BBC Monitoring International Reports/ Al-Manar, 09.23.2006). The last one, in which he said: “Brothers and sisters, we should today stress that this war was an American war in terms of decision, weapons, planning, and desire, and by giving several deadlines for the Zionists; one, two, three, and four weeks.” So now, he’s come around to the conventional leftist view. That it’s not the tail wagging the dog, it’s not Israel controlling the United States through the machinations of The Lobby. He’s saying, no, this is a war of American interests and desires, and they’re using Israel to do the demolition job.
Now …[inaudible]… the political implications of what’s happened. Usually these wars don’t have significant implications, the only one that actually did was June ’82, when Israel invaded Lebanon. Estimates are, they killed 18,000 to 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, overwhelmingly civilians. And that did have significant implications because they drove the Palestine Liberation Organization into exile and set in motion significant changes. But generally, these wars just result in “trivial” things, like the deaths of many, many people and the destruction of people’s possessions, belongings and so forth. This time I don’t think that’s the case.
I would say there are about 3 or 4 significant changes as a result of this war.
Number 1, Hezbollah demonstrated that you can defeat Israel. And you don’t need a large conventional army of the kind that Egypt had in 1973. You can defeat Israel through a guerilla war. That much is pretty obvious.
There’s a 2nd crucial lesson, which I think is much more important. Hezbollah showed not only that you can defeat Israel. It showed how to defeat Israel. It proposed a relatively simple, but to my thinking fundamental, formula. So in this speech, the last speech (09.23.2006), Nasrallah raised this issue: “what is the Hezbollah model?” He considers it as follows: “Resistance depends on planning, organization. This resistance experience, which should be conveyed to the world, depends – on the moral and spiritual level – on faith, certainty, reliance [on God], and readiness to make sacrifices.” Ok, you have to be committed. You have to be willing to go the full nine yards. The next sentence I found remarkably interesting. It says: “It also depends on reason, planning, organization, armament, and, as is said, on taking all possible protective procedures…. The pious, God-reliant, loving, and knowledgeable resistance is also the conscious, wise, trained, and equipped resistance that has plans. This is the secret of the victory we are today celebrating, brothers and sisters.” To most of you this doesn’t sound like anything particularly profound but, in fact, it is because at the end of the day Israel always depended on the fact that its adversaries were stupid, incompetent, blowhards and windbags, and hot air baloons, and, in fact, they were right… That when they were dealing with a Nasser, he was a blowhard; a Saddam Hussein, he was a windbag; when they were dealing with Yasser Arafat, he was a hot air ballon. They were nothing of any substance… [inaudible]… That was Israel’s ace in the hole. Now comes along an Arab leader who says we have to use “reason.” It’s a very remarkable thing to read. We have to use “reason.” We have to think, plan, organize. And he didn’t just say it … [inaudible]… As I’m sure, as most of you know, that the Israelis were reporting that their [Israeli] population was waiting anxiously for each speech from Nasrallah to find out what’s going on [Poll: Israelis believed Nasrallah over Peretz,Ynetnews.com, by Anat Breshkovsky, 09.03.2006]. They [Israelis] stopped believing their own media and they only believed what he had to say. No more of the Arab windbaggery — on the second day of the war in ’67 Nasser says ‘we destroyed all of the Israeli Air Force.’ Or when the hot air baloon Saddam Hussein, after defeat in 1991, gave out Victory Medals to the Iraqi Army. That era is over. This is a serious leadership whose commitment is matched by its intelligence and its incorruptibility. And that really is the formula. And now the United States and Israel are in living dread because they don’t fear Hezbollah — it’s 3,000 fighters — that’s not what they fear. What they fear is, throughout the Arab world all the anti — they call it American, I’ll call imperialist — all the anti-imperialist movements will now be emulating the Hizbullah model. Those who want to defeat the Americans, the American designs in the region, they’re going to look for the Hezbollah model and the Hizbu’llah model says you have to “reason,” you have to think, you have to “plan,” you have to anticipate, and if you do that, you can win. And the fact is, it’s true. If you do that, you can beat them.
Because as a fundamental fact, as Azmi Bishara (a leading member of the Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, an extremely smart fellow, he said — I thought it ahead of time [audience laughter], I was glad he confirmed it — he said, Israel can’t win. They can’t win because, for the older people in the room, there was an era of the proverbial farmer-fighter, the Israeli who was the farmer and the fighter, it was the equivalent of our own American West when you had the Settler-Fighter — that era is over. Israel is, for better or for worse, it’s a Westernized society and they don’t have… they’re interested in hi-tech, they’re interested in a good time, they cannot fight and win against the types who embody Hezbollah values. It’s just not going to happen. When they described in the newspapers how Hezbollah organizes, they said this is not an organization that you can knock on the door, can I join? No. They start from a quite young age and they learn discipline. What does discipline mean? [The Guardian, 07,29.2006] They tell a fellow, you go over there in that barn and you wait there until we call you. And sometimes they sit in that barn for 2, 3 and 4 days, waiting to be called and until they’re called, they don’t leave. You know, most people in the West can’t do that. I’m not knocking it. May be it’s for the better. I don’t know. But that kind of mental discipline, commitment, it’s not going to be replicated any longer.
The old Israel, yes, they could do it. That generation. The truth of the matter is, the old Zionist generation was completely incorruptible. They really were. They were totally dedicated on a level of dedication that is really quite awesome. Take someone like Abba Eban, he graduated with triple honors, triple A’s, from either Oxford or C …[inaudible]… and he goes to work for this crumby little organization called the Zionist Movement, you know, it was nothing then, when he joined. This is pre-’67. From commitment. From ideals. Now, the Israeli government, for those who follow, almost every single member of the government is now under indictment. [audience laughter] Who saw that article a couple of days ago, by Uri Avnery? He’s going through it, every single member is under indictment. One for sticking his tongue down 6 women, one for… [inaudible]…it’s now a level of moral corruption where they can’t compete. At the end of the day they always depended that they’re adversaries were corrupt, stupid blowhards who wanted to become part of the American system. Nasser wanted to be in the American system, the Americans rejected him. That’s when he went to the Soviets. They all want to be part of the American system. Hezbollah doesn’t. As far as one can tell now.
And that leads me to the last point because some people think that I am “anti-Israeli.” Actually, I don’t even know what the term means. Those concepts are totally alien to me.
But let’s say, you’re entitled to, I suppose, your first allegiance, your first commitment, your depest convictions are with Israel. My view is, if that’s how you feel, then — I’m not going to dispute it for the moment — really, you have more reason than anyone else to want to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Because now, I think, Israel is facing a very serious threat.
Its old tactic — the tactic has always been the same from the very first days of the Zionist movement — “the Arabs only understand the language of force.” So whenever they get out of line, take out the club and break it over their skull. That’s been the Israeli approach. And the Americans have now pretty much internalized it — that is the lunatics let loose, the Condoleeza Rices and the Rumsfelds that during the last war… take out the club and break it over their head — that isn’t gonna work. You know, the first day of the war, I’ll never forget, Nasrallah said “the universe can blow up, the stars can crash, the planets can collide — you are not getting back those two prisoners. There’s going to be a prisoner exchange, you’ll not get them back unilaterally from us.”
Well, Israel unleashed its Air Force, it unleashed its Army that went to work for 5 weeks. They didn’t get them back.
Taking out the club and breaking it over their skull won’t work. What’s happening is very different. This time they attacked Haifa — first time Israel’s rear was hit. There’s no question that next time it will be Tel Aviv. And then the time after that, well frankly, I don’t know if we’ll be around to see it.
So if your 100% commitment is to Israel, Israel Uber Alles, or whatever… I say, you should work with all of us to try to resolve this conflict peacefully, reasonably. Use the principles of international law and try to achieve, together with all of us, a just and lasting settlement to the conflict. Thank you.
By Juan Gonzalez, Daily News columnist
When the bullets started to fly, New York photojournalist Bradley Will was clutching a camera, doing what he loved most – filming a group of downtrodden people fighting for respect in some forgotten corner of our world.
This was last Friday, on a narrow street on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, where Will, 36, a longtime member of New York’s radical IndyMedia Center, had gone in early October to document an amazing story.
It is one our own national media somehow managed to ignore for five long months.
Since June, residents of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico’s poorest region, have been in open yet relatively peaceful rebellion against the abuses of their governor, Ulises Ruiz.
Thousands of teachers have shut down all the public schools throughout the state. Their supporters in the student and trade union movements, numbering in the tens of thousands, occupied the grand old central plaza in the capital city.
The protesters chased Ruiz and his administration out of the state capital. They took over the radio and television stations and organized spontaneous so-called Oaxaca People’s Assemblies in dozens of smaller towns across the state.
They vowed to keep up the protests until Ruiz, a leader of Mexico’s corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party, resigned.
Not since China’s Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989 had a Third World nation witnessed such a massive and intractable public protest.
But you couldn’t tell that by watching network news reports in this country or reading the national press. Here was Mexico, our next-door neighbor and one of the world’s most populous nations, in the throes of a huge crisis, and the big American media paid no attention.
So Jenny Smith, Will’s close friend for many years, wasn’t surprised when she heard he was heading for Oaxaca.
Smith first met Will back in 1993, when she was 19 and they were both budding poets in Boulder, Colo., enrolled in something called the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.
“Every issue that involved people being oppressed or needing help, Brad wanted to be there,” Smith said yesterday. “He was just fearless.”
For a few years, Will wandered the country, first as a tree-sitting environmental activist in the Pacific Northwest, then as a squatter and defender of community gardens on the lower East Side. At some point, he picked up a camera and turned to documentary films.
He took his camera to Ecuador and Brazil to do stories on peasants fighting to recover their land, and to Prague to chronicle protests against the World Trade Organization.
Wherever there was a cause the big commercial media ignored, Will headed there to tell the story.
“He went to places where popular movements were trying to create direct democracy,” said Eric Laursen, another longtime friend. “Sometimes, he seemed to defy gravity.”
There are more than a few in our modern media who desperately want to dismiss social activist-journalists such as Will, the same way that a hundred years ago others sought to discredit muckrakers like Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair.
Last Friday, Will was filming on the outskirts of Oaxaca in a place where no other American journalist had bothered to go.
His film, available on YouTube.com, shows a large red dump truck drive onto a narrow street. A few dozen protesters start throwing rocks at the men in the truck, who are supporters of the government.
Suddenly, men in plainclothes from the truck begin to fire guns. The crowd retreats. Another shot is fired and Will is heard crying out.
His camera, still running, falls to the ground. Will, shot in the stomach, would die minutes later.
Initial press reports in this country claimed he died in a crossfire. His 80-second film clip, however, shows no crossfire. All the shooting came from one side.
The next day, thousands of federal police moved in and retook the city’s downtown in a show of force. Early this week, Oaxaca’s governor refused a request by both houses of Mexico’s congress for his resignation, so the crisis continues.
Maybe now it will get a little more attention.
Originally published on November 1, 2006
Oaxaca, part 1
Oaxaca, part 2
Gaza, fuoco sulle donne
VIDEO: La Republica
Beit Hanun: l’esercito israeliano spara sul corteo. Vittime e diversi feriti
[3 novembre 2006]
Two women have been killed as Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of women gathered to help besieged gunmen flee a Gaza mosque, witnesses and doctors say.
11.03.2006 | BBC News
— Um Mohammed
Beit Hanoun woman
Editor’s note: Transcript below video.
Transcript: Question and Answer section
Questioner: …inaudible..(auditorium echo)
Finkelstien: I think there are 2 separate issues on the question of Arafat. Namely, number 1, as a leader of the Palestinian people, and that’s a responsibility for Palestinians to judge and not myself, and the second issue is whether he was an obstacle to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. The second issue, it seems to me, we can look at the documentary record and come to a fairly clear conclusion. The PLO, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, from the mid-1970s supported the two state settlement and supported the international consensus for resolving the conflict. That’s not controvercial at all because they were voting for it and supporting it in many different fora, the United Nations and elsewhere. So on the question of whether Arafat was, as we’re constantly told, the main obstacle to resolving the conflict, that Arafat blocked a resolution in the year 2000 during the Camp David and later Taba negotiations, I think the scholarly, the diplomatic record is very clear there and the answer is a resounding No.
00:27:22, Disk Two
Questioner: [poor audio quality] Another question reads “What is the real hidden agenda that dominates US policy regarding Israel? Why is there supression of information regarding the truth
[on the issue] in this country?
Finkelstien: I think there’s no possibility of resolving that question here and I don’t think there’s been any definite resolution of the question in the scholarly literature. There are basically two camps, everybody in this room is familiar with these two camps. One camp says that Israel serves US strategic interests in the Middle East and is basically a garisson state or a watch dog of US interests in the Middle East and the other claim is [that] there’s a powerful Jewish — sometimes it’s called Jewish, sometimes Zionist, sometimes Israeli — Lobby, which is shaping and determining US policy when it comes to the Middle East. That’s one of those questions where, I think, people can legitimately disagree. It’s a question for which I’ve not seen any definite responses which are absolutely convincing. I think you can find examples where the Israel lobby, or Jewish lobby, or Zionist lobby proved to be very powerful and then there are instances where the US government decided “this is not in our interest” and put Israel in its place. You can find exmaples on both sides and I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer to that question. And some people may argue, and I think there’s some truth to it, the question has become moot nowadays because Israel and the United States have become so interlocked that to speak of Israel on one side and the US on the other, it’s kind of an artificial separation. It’s like asking the question “Does President Bush serve Texan interest or American interests?” Nobody raises that sort of question, some people think it’s Texas, [laughs] ok… but most rational people don’t think it’s a significant question and it may no longer be a significant question between Israel and the US.
Questioner: Next question is “you spoke of the wall Israel is constructing in the West Bank, the majority of Israeli citizens support the wall, doesn’t the Israeli government have the right and the obligation to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks by Palestinians? Proponents of this wall argue that [poor audio quality] [..when…] you reduce terrorism there will be no need for this wall, if Palestinian leaders would reign in Palestinian extremists.”
Finkelstien: Well, let’s be clear about basic matters, Israel has every right to build a wall, as any sovereign state has the right to build a wall. It has a right to build a wall on its property but it doesn’t have the right to build the wall on another people’s property. That’s the only issue. That was the only issue that came up in the World Court decision. It’s not a complicated question for Americans. My parents — we lived in Brooklyn, NY, we owned a house — my parents were difficult people, they didn’t get along with anyone [audience laughter]. Actually, they didn’t even get along with each other [audience laughter]. So, on the other side were the Golds and on the other side were the Kasslers and they did not get along with the Golds and they did not get along with the Kasslers, so they built a fence. And it was within their right to build a fence but, as everybody knows, when you build at fence, at any rate in New York, you first have to hire a surveyor. That’s a fact, I’m not joking. You have to hire a surveyor and you have to make sure that fence is right down the line on your property because if that fence is literally one quarter of an inch on the Golds’ side or on the Kasslers’ side, they have the right to tear it down. Under law, that’s it. Now, let’s take Israel’s wall. What happens if my parents decide to build a fence that’s not only on the Kasslers’ side but goes right around their swimming pool? [audience laughter] Well… some people will begin to wonder “are Mary and Harry Finkelstein trying to protect their property? Or are they trying to steal the Kasslers’ swimming pool?” [audience laughter] Now, it happens…[audience applause] it happens that the Israel fence takes in the most productive water and land resources on the West Bank. So you begin to wonder whether it’s about terrorism or it’s about theft. Now, what happens if my parents’ fence went not only right around the swimming pool but went straight through the living room? Well, then you’ll begin to wonder whether my parents are trying to get rid of the Kasslers. Now, it happens that Israel’s fence is cutting the West Bank in half and making any possibility of a Palestinian State null and void. That’s all the human rights organizations are saying. If you divide the West Bank in half and you annex Jerusalem, which accounts for 1/2 to 2/3’s of the whole Palestinian GNP, there’s no Palestinian State, it’s over. That’s the issue. There’s no question about Israel’s right to build a wall. A wall on its border and that’s the only question [audience applause].
Questioner: The next question touches upon a very interesting…[inaudible] debate… “since a Bantustan is the only type of entity Israel grants the Palestinians, why don’t the Palestinians give up the two state idea and expand it instead to ….[inaudible]
Finkelstien: Well, you know that question constantly comes up and I don’t want to give a glib answer to it because I happen to think that’s another area where honest people can disagree. I’ll just give you my opinion on the topic. The prospects of a one-State solution are very far off in the distant future and people have to be honest about that. It’s not a snap solution. And you have to ask yourself a question — and it’s a serious moral question, it’s about moral responsibility — when you start advocating a one state settlement you’re confining the Palestinians who are not living under a misserable occupation, you’re consigning them to perhaps another century of misery… because that’s what we’re talking about, if we’re arguing for a
one-State settlment. Now some people may argue, “well, there’s no other alternative because the two-State settlement is dead.” I’d say there’s an argument there, I’m not going to dispute it, but I think a morally responsible position is — if there’s even a 5% possibility of a two-State settlement and ending the Israeli occupation within our lifetime, then that’s the position we should be fighting for. As a general rule, I don’t think it’s a complicated question. You know, people say, one State, two States, well, I’m of the old school of thought. I think the world would be a very nice place with no States… so it’s not just, you know, Palestine-Israel, [audience applause] it’s the whole world. But… I don’t have to bear the consequences for making that statement, because I’m very secure in my United States, or at least upto now [audience laughter]… with my American citizenship and my American passport, I’m not living under occupation. But when you start advocating that for Palestinians you have to be very careful about what you’re doing, because you’re in effect saying “from now through a very long period into the future they’re going to have to live with that occupation” and you have to be very morally responsible before you condemn people to that fate.
Questioner: Professor Finkelstein you have been criticized for saying you support Hezbollah. Can you explain your thoughts on this claim, if there’s any basis for it?
Finkelstien: Well, there’s excellent basis for it. At Columbia University [March 9, 2006] they [protesting students] held up signs saying I love Hezbollah, I happen to think that was over stating it, I like it a lot [audience laughter]… I don’t think the Hizbullah question is particularly complicated. We have, with all due respect, we have oldsters in the room. And I think a lot of the oldsters, in particular if they’re of Jewish descent, they were 100% behind the Red Army’s victory over the Fascist occupation. And they were thrilled when the Red Army smashed the Nazi war machine. And I’m sure a lot of the oldsters in this room were thrilled at the communist and socialist resistances in many of the countries of Western Europe to the Nazi occupation. Now, Stalin’s record on human rights was NOT exactly what you would call stellar [audience laughter]… And neither was the record of the Communist Parties… but we all recognize the right of any people to resist a foreign occupation of their land. And the Hezbollah resisted the brutal Israeli occupation of Lebanon and dealt them a swift blow and defeat. I, for one, am very glad about that [audience applause]… I think a foreign occupier should be thrown out of countries [audience applause]… And I personally would be the very worst hypocrite in the world were I to condemn the Hezbollah for it’s defeat of the Israeli occupation, whereas ’till this day I still celebrated the Red Army’s defeat of the Nazi occupation of Europe. I refuse to be a hypocrite. They had a right to expell the foreign occupiers, so does Hezbollah. It was a splendid victory [audience applause]…
Questioner: Considering the cost of [poor audio quality] war/wall, the settlements must be the most expensive [poor audio quality] real estate in the world …[poor audio quality]… [Finkelstein:] why are they investing in the settlements?
Finkelstien: That’s a good question — “what is the rational behind the settlements?” — and actually the book that I mentioned earlier in my talk, The Accidental Empire, is supposedly an analysis of that question, “how Israel came to build the settlments in the occupied territories.” I don’t agree with his argument at all. His basic argument is that the religious crazies took over organizations like Gush Emunim and so forth, and the government was unable to reign them in. I don’t think that’s really what happened. Israel from early on had a conception of what the Israeli State should look like. Come 1947 there was a partition of Palestine, they never really accepted those partition borders ’cause they felt that they should have more of Palestine, that they should have really the whole of Palestine, which included for them, depending upon whom you’re talking about, Jordan, parts of Lebanon, the Sinai and so forth. In 1948 during he war they expand beyond the Partition borders and they now have 77-78% of Palestine. 1956 — they invade Egypt along with the French and the Brittish, they conquer Gaza, they conquer Sinai, unfortunately for them, the Americans at that point said to get out, and they always had a fairly large conception of their view of what their State should be. Their main problem, come 1967, is a very basic problem. They want the land but all those Arabs, and they still want a Jewish State. So how do you preserve a Jewish State with all those Arabs? In 1948 they solved that problem by expelling the Arabs. But in 1967, for various reasons, not least of which the war was so short, they only managed to expell about 250,000 – 300,000 Arabs. After the war they have all these ideas, Levi Eshko, who was the Prime Minister, he says “let’s take those Gazan refugees and settle them in Iraq” and they were trying to settle them in Iraq. They got rid of around 100,000 that way but in the end it didn’t pan out. So, they want the land but a problem of the people and the way they tried to resolve that problem is basically the South Africa style, namely create Bastustans, stuff the Arabs in as dense an area as possible and then keep the rest for yourself. There’s an interesting quote I came across, a remark I came across yesterday. Mr. Sharon is still convinced that can work because he said the problem in South Africa was there were many more Blacks than Whites and the ratio was such that the Bantustans couldn’t work. But he remains confident that because of the population, the ratio’s pretty even in Israel-Palestine, the Bantustan policy can work. They’ll have all these little enclaves where they’ll stick the Arabs, sort of like our Native American reservations and they’ll have it encircled by White settlements and they think it can work. It’s an interesting question because it’s one where I think ideology is more significant than rational interest. They remain, at some level, Zionists and they have a conception of what their State should look like. They’re sticking hard and fast to that ideology and then trying to accomodate the reality of all those Arabs and what to do with them.
Questioner: Outside earlier some people were handing out, may be some people’ve see them… I read one of those quotes that was attributed to Finkelstein. It says “Finkelstein accuses Jewish leaders of being ‘…Jew liars who [ ] huckster their dead,’ on p. 127 of his book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. When I actually go to that page it says “anti-Semites gleefully mock the ‘Jew liars’ who even ‘huckster’ their dead” [audience laughter]. In fact he Finkelstein was quoting anti-Semites but they attribute this quote to him [audience laughter]… [poor audio quality]… [Finkelstien:] I want to be clear about that…
Finkelstien: I wanna be faithful to the record. I don’t shy away from a laugh and I don’t shy away from undiplomatic language but I’m deadly serious about what I write and I’m very careful about what I say. They are acting like hucksters and they are huckstering the dead. And that’s what’s so godly awful about the whole thing. That they have turned, these people have turned the Nazi holocaust into a racket. It’s not me that originated this brilliant idea. Take the most authoritative scholar on the Nazi holocaust in the world, Raul Hilberg. For any of you who study the subject you know Rual Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, his three volume study is the standard one on the topic and nobody disputes he is the dean of Nazi holocaust historians. It was Raul Hilberg, not Norman Finkelstein, who in 1999 said that Jews are, I’m quoting him literally, “Jews are, for the first time in history, they’re making use of the blackmail weapon.” They are blackmailing, this is my part now, they are blackmailing the Swiss banks, the German industrialists to extract what they call holocuast compensation for needy holocaust victims. That was all sheer fakery. It was a fraud. It was a disgusting fraud for several reasons. Number 1, it was exploiting the most collosal chapter in Jewish suffering and turning it into a blackmail racket. Number 2, the claims that were being made against the Swiss banks and the German industrialists were simply not true. Number 3, when they got the money, which they extracted in the name of, quote on quote, needy holocaust victims, the needy holocaust victims never saw any of the money. The money went into the pockets of these Jewish organizations and of the settlement class action lawyers. It was, exactly as I say in the book, it was a double shakedown. Now, there are a couple of things that are worth noticing. Number 1, not only were they turning the Nazi holocaust into a shakedown racket, not only were they huckstering the Nazi holocaust, acting exactly like stereotypes straight out of Der Stürmer but what’s worse was — and it’s one of those weird ironies when you study the record — they were turning into the world’s leading holocaust deniers. Well, how can that be? It’s not so complicated. In order to extract the monies from the Swiss and the Germans they had to claim there were all of these needy holocaust [survivor] victims out there. Well, they started to escalate the number of survivors. And each year, if you read the publications, and I document it, each year the numbers of survivors start to increase. So you now had claims, for example, they claim that in the year 2025 “tens of thousands” of Nazi holocaust survivors will still be alive, in the year 2025. 90 years after the end of World War 2 “tens of thousands” of holocaust survivors are going to be alive. Well, if you start increasing the numbers of survivors and you have an absolute number population you end up decreasing the number of victims. As my late mother used to say… and they get so enraged when I quote her. I don’t like to bring in personal biography, it’s relevant now, I will — my late mother, my late father were survivors of the Nazi holocaust, both of them survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, after the Ghetto my mother was in Maidanek concentration camp and two slave labor camps, my father was in the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Auschwitz death march. And my mother used to go around saying “if everyone who claims to be a holocaust survivor actually is one, who did Hitler kill?!” [audience laughter] Everyone’s a survivor! And that’s what they were doing, they were turning… so, some of you know this fellow, David Irving, the so called holocaust denier. David Irving would go around saying, one of his famous quips was, “an Auschwitz survivor is born every day.” Wel, you know what the problem was? The problem was, according to the Holocaust industry, it was true, an Auschwitz survivor was being born every day because they were increasing the numbers to justify extracting more compensation monies from the Europeans. There was no basis for these numbers. You take the fellow who just passed away a few weeks ago Simon Wiesenthal, some of you know him as the famed Nazi hunter. I don’t particularly go for the fellow BUT he was in the camps. They asked him last year “how many survivors are still around?” His figure — he said ten or fifteen thousands, at most. But you read these people [lawyers and Jewish organizations] and “tens of thousands” would be “alive in 2025 or 2035!” You know what’s funny? I burried my parents in 1995. According to actuarial charts, I won’t be alive in 2035! I won’t but they’re saying “tens of thousands” will still be alive.
Questioner: … why you felt it important enough to write this book?
Finkelstien: There are three reasons to write The Holocaust Industry. Number 1, I was involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict and it was quite clear that the Nazi holocaust was being used as a bludgeon to silence criticism of Israel. That was the political motive. And then there was a personal motive. I honestly belive and here I have to again go into the area of personal biography… I was very close to my late parents and I was as sensitive as anyone could be to their suffering and I thought they deserved better. I didn’t think that the Nazi holocaust should be reduced to the moral stature of a Monte Carlo casino and that’s what was being done. Finally, because I think as a historical phenomenon it [the Nazi holocaust] is significant. I’m not saying it’s the most significant and I’m not saying it’s unique but I think there’s an enormous amount you can learn from it. And when I read the memoirs, in particular the ones from right after World War 2, the wonderful one which is very hard to get now by Ella Lingens-Reiner called Prisoners of Fear. Some of you know Alex Cockburn, he was recently writing on the topic and I asked him please please read Ella Lingens-Reiner’s Prisoners of Fear and he wrote me the other and he said “I picked it up and, you know, I couldn’t put it down.” There’s a lot of stuff, a lot’s been written, which really moves, which has depth, which has profundity, and you can learn a lot from it. The problem is you can’t learn anything from the topic now because the Nazi holocaust has been hijacked by a gang of hucksters and that’s a real problem. I thought they need to be exposed and that was the purpose of the book. And I have no appologies for it, in fact, one of the weird things is, things I couldn’t possibly have imagined, you know, I was just skimming the surface when I wrote the book… Who would’ve imagined that Dr. Israel Singer, the head of the World Jewish Congress, who was attacking the Swiss bankers because of those secret Jewish bank accounts, who would’ve imagined that this past year Dr. Israel Singer, it turns out, he took out a secret Swiss bank account where he was throwing in World Jewish Congress money? That’s funny. Or who would’ve imagined the lead council for the holocaust victims, this fellow named Burt Neuborne at New York University, who went around saying “I’m doing it pro bono, I’m doing it pro bono” — and I used to call him the “pro bono holocaust huckster” [audience laughter]… Who would’ve imagined that Burt Neuborne, who was doing it pro bono, he said “I’m doing it for my daughter, she was a Rabinical student, died prematurely from a heart attack, I’m doing it for her…” Who would’ve imagined that Burt Neuborne, the pro bono holocaust huckster, took five million dollars [$4.4 plus expenses] from the German settlement? And then, this past month, he put in the bill for $4.1 million dollars in the Swiss settlement. That’s the pro bono holocaust huckster. “I’m doing it for free” he said. It’s all a bad joke. And, if I could say finally in my own defense, let them say what they want… but the world’s leading authority on the Nazi holocaust bar none is Raul Hilberg and Hilberg wrote, I’ll ask you to just read the back of the book [turns to panelist]… [Questioner:] Raul Hilberg on the first edition of The Holocaust Industry: “When I read Finkelstein’s book, The Holocaust Industry , at the time of its appearance, I was in the middle of my own investigations of these matters, and I came to the conclusion that he was on the right track. I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor. I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results. I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein’s breakthrough.” [Finkelstein:] Not bad. [audience laughter & applause]… Just as a matter of the factual record, Hilberg is a Conservative Republican — I’m at the other end of the spectrum, certainly… but we both have one quality in common: we respect facts, we respect truth and it was a meeting ground for us. He told me, I met him subsequently, he said he was getting calls literally every week from Ellie Wiesel and from the Holocaust Museum in Washington, begging him to remove his endorsement from my book… And he said he wouldn’t because what I wrote was true. And I think that’s an insightful episode. It tells you that however much people differ on ideologies, if you’re respectful of facts and truth, there’s a lot more common ground than you would imagine. A month ago I debated Israel’s former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami on Amy Goodman’s program Democracy Now!. You’d be very surprised, there was no rancor, hardly any disagreement, except at the very end. Why? Because Shlomo Ben-Ami is firstly, professionally, he’s a historian. His field of expertise is the Spanish Civil War. And he’s secondly a diplomat. He respected facts. He respected truth. For those of you who’ve watched the tape… how many of you’ve watched it, just out of curiosity?… Notice, not one time did he say “you’re lying, that’s not true.” He never said it. He never even brought up issues like “anti-Semite,” “Holocaust Denier…” He’s serious. He was serious about facts. And that’s a validation of the main thesis of my remarks this evening: among serious people, among honest people, among peopel who studied the record, whether you’re a conservative Republican or you’re on the far left like myself, there’s very little controversy. There really is very little disagreement. It’s only when you drag in all of this nonsense about “holocaust deniers” and the other one… it’s kind of funny… I’m charged with two things, the same two things all the time… “I’m either exploiting the fact that my parents passed through the Nazi holocaust” or I’m accused of being “a Holocaust Denier.” Now, how can you be both? [audience laughter]. People say “oh Finkelstein always brings up the fact that his family was exterminated by the Nazis,” yes I do. But then they say “Finkelstein, he’s a Holocaust Denier!” How can it be both? Because none of these labels mean anything anymore. They’ve been turned into the verbal equivalent of spittle. [audience laughter] There’s only a matter of time before “Holocaust Denier” enters the Dictionary of American Slang as an equivalent of the F-word. So probably in around ten words people will be saying “Holocaust you!” [audience laughter]… Or “Mother Holocauster…” It doesn’t mean anything! [audience laughter]…
Questioner: [poor audio quality] out of time… thanky you…[audience applause]
Editor’s note: See also How MEMRI doctored Finkelstein’s interview to portray him as a “Holocaust denier”.
MEMRI video posted on YouTube.com:
Democracy Now! interviews Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D – NY) about his attempt to bar the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations. In May, Weiner infamously stated the delegation “should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags.” Weiner says Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not represent the PLO and that the group is listed as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. Author and Professor Norman Finkelstein says he’s wrong on both counts. [includes rush transcript] Democracy Now! had a chance to interview Congressmember Anthony Weiner (D – NY) yesterday in New York. In May, Weiner successfully added an amendment to a House bill banning aid to the Palestinian Authority. The amendment would outlaw the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations and kick them out of the United States.
But is Rep. Weiner’s information accurate? Not his point of view – the facts. We speak with author and professor, Norman Finkelstein.
AMY GOODMAN: After I spoke with [Congressmember John Murtha], I talked to New York Democratic Congressmember Anthony Weiner. In May, Weiner successfully added an amendment to a House bill banning aid to the Palestinian Authority. The amendment would outlaw the Palestinian delegation at the United Nations and kick them out of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: You called for the Palestinian delegation to the UN to pack their bags, or more specifically, to pack their “little Palestinian terrorist bags.”
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Right, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Why?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, for the longest time, the Palestinian — the PLO Mission — PLO hasn’t been an accepted voice of the Palestinians for the longest time. Congress has said very clearly back in the 1980s, as recently as the middle of the 1990s, that they were not welcome here in the United States. And frankly, the PLO is an organization that, frankly, no longer seems to represent anyone, but they’re still considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
AMY GOODMAN: So would you call the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a terrorist?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: No.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, the people who are at the UN —
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Not the Mission of the Palestinian Authority. This is the PLO Mission. Mahmoud Abbas does not represent — I hope he doesn’t represent the PLO. He certainly doesn’t say he does. He represents the Palestinian Authority. The PLO is a terrorist organization. It’s acknowledged it’s a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. And the only reason that they’re still there is because a court ruled that they were an adjunct of the United Nations, and thus there were two conflicting laws that are in place about — one that says the PLO has to leave the United States and the other that says that missions to the United Nations may stay. And so, frankly, I think that what I tried to do with the amendment you’re referring to is just clarify the PLO is not welcome in the United States, nor should they be.
AMY GOODMAN: They represent the Palestinian government. The Palestinian government is led — the president is Mahmoud Abbas.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Not true. The PLO Mission, the PLO Mission. The Palestinian Liberation Organization is a terrorist organization and is acknowledged that by the United States government. The Palestinian Authority, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas — arguably that doesn’t represent the Palestinian people anymore since the election either, but that’s a whole different story. But the PLO is a terrorist organization, and I believe that they should lose their quasi-diplomatic status, as they no longer represent anyone — any of the Palestinians, and they are considered a terrorist organization.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Anthony Weiner. He called for kicking the Palestinian delegation out of the United States. But is his information accurate? Not his point of view, just the facts. Norman Finkelstein joins us in our Firehouse studio, professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The facts, Professor Finkelstein?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: The facts can become a little technical, because there are multiple organizations now operating in the Occupied Territories, but Mahmoud Abbas was the successor to Yasser Arafat, when Arafat passed away and he became the chairman of the Palestinian — PLO chief — chairman of the PLO Executive. So he’s clearly a member of the PLO. That, I don’t think, is a matter of dispute.
AMY GOODMAN: And the issue of the PLO being on the list of terrorist organizations of the Justice Department?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: My recollection is — I don’t want to be — I’ll be as precise as I can. The PLO was on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations until 1988. In 1988, there were these famous words that George Shultz had made Arafat recite in public.
AMY GOODMAN: The Secretary of State under Reagan.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, Secretary of State George Shultz. And at that point, he was — the PLO was removed from the list of terrorist organizations, and the United States openly had diplomatic relations or ultimately was able to meet with the PLO. I’m sure your listeners will recall, before then there was the incident with Andrew Young having met with the PLO when it was a terrorist organization — officially a terrorist organization. But afterwards, it was removed from the list.
AMY GOODMAN: So, for almost 20 years, it’s been removed and the PLO has had a mission to the United Nations.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the PLO Mission to the United Nations began, if my memory serves, in 1974. The PLO Observer Mission began at the UN. Some of your older listeners will recall that’s when Arafat gave that famous speech at the United Nations, “The Gun or the Olive Branch.” So the Mission, I think, began in 1974, and right now the PLO is pretty much considered an ally of the United States against Hamas. So it’s kind of peculiar that Mr. Weiner should be venting his ire at the PLO. Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO are considered U.S. allies. We work with Dahlan, who’s the main PLO representative in Gaza. He heads up their security forces, works with the CIA, works with Israel. These are our people.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break. And then we’re going to come back to the conversation with Congressmember Weiner. And then we’re going to Lebanon to play comments of a member of parliament in Lebanon about whether Israel should be accused of war crimes. Finally, we’ll speak with an Iranian dissident about the situation in Iran now and particularly about U.S. policy. We’re talking to Professor Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue with my conversation with New York Congressmember Anthony Weiner.
AMY GOODMAN: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the New York Times has called for an investigation of Israel for the use of cluster bombs on Lebanon. What are your thoughts?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, first of all, a lot of those organizations, Amnesty International in particular, has always had bias against Israel, and frankly I would argue that in many cases, the New York Times has, as well. You know, Israel didn’t choose to have a war. Israel — this is not about land. Hezbollah hasn’t said, “We want this sliver of land.” They’ve essentially crossed over an international border. They are an organization who, their avowed purpose is to eliminate Israel. Frankly, they’re the enemies of the United States, as well.
In times of war, bad things happen, and it is tragic when there is any innocent loss of life. But when the — when Hezbollah chose to declare essentially — violate an international border, a UN-recognized border, a border that was agreed to by Israel and, theoretically, the nation of Lebanon. When they chose to invade Lebanon and essentially take over by creating a government within a government, they, to some degree, chose the war, and Israel, you know, they’re a sovereign state. They have to prosecute it the way they think it’s best.
AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. government is now investigating whether Israel’s use of cluster bombs violated their relationship with the United States, in terms of getting cluster bomb technology. Your thoughts on that?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: Well, look, I certainly think that the United States government should make sure that all laws were followed, but we mustn’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. This was a horrible thing that happened. Why did it happen? It happened because the Iranians have armed Hezbollah to be a surrogate army for them, to essentially occupy the — occupy Lebanese territory, to then invade Israel. None of these things were chosen by Israel, and Israel, frankly, has to be able to defend herself, just like we do.
AMY GOODMAN: Last question, do you think the New York Times is anti-Israel?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER: I think that there have been times it is — that the New York Times has shown bias, but, you know, the — I’ve heard many of my friends who support the Palestinian position say the same thing about the New York Times on that side. So perhaps that’s the definition of a — of someone who’s the middle ground. But I do think that they are — that the New York Times has shown a bias in its reporting.
AMY GOODMAN: That is New York Congressmember Anthony Weiner. Our guest is Norman Finkelstein, professor at DePaul University in Chicago, professor of political science, author of Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The issue of Human Rights Watch — I guess he’s talking about Amnesty International — and then to the New York Times of being anti-Israel.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, it depends on what standard you’re using. Throughout most of the world, I think American media, generally, and the New York Times, in particular, are considered very pro-Israel. I suppose in certain extreme fanatical corners of the universe, they’re considered anti-Israel, but if you look at — you know, you take an ordinary incident, and it’s useful to look at ordinary incidents.
Take the case in June of this year when there was the killing of the Palestinian family in Gaza Beach, and there was the famous scene of the ten-year-old girl wailing beside her father. Now, there were two ways the story could have been reported. There was the official Israeli version. They claim they had nothing to do with the killing of the family and the firing of the shell. And then you had the version of Human Rights Watch, which is one of the leading human rights organizations in the world. They sent over an expert to examine all the available evidence. He concluded that the evidence was overwhelming that the Israeli government was responsible for the deaths of that family.
What did the New York Times do? It reported the Israeli government version. Then it reported the Human Rights Watch version. And then, a few days later, the Human Rights version disappeared, and the New York Times stated that the deaths that occurred on Gaza Beach, we don’t include as among those for whom Israel is responsible. Why? Because the Israeli government said it wasn’t responsible.
Now, that kind of reporting you haven’t found in the United States since the days of the Daily Worker, when it reported on the Stalin purge trials to take the word of a government against the word of a human rights organization, and then to simply deposit the findings of the human rights organization in Orwell’s memory hole. Human Rights Watch disappeared. Israel wasn’t responsible. Why? Because the Israeli government said it wasn’t responsible.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to this issue of criticizing organizations or people who criticize Israeli military policy, calling them “anti-Israel,” and then there’s always the step beyond, “anti-Semitic.” Your comment.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, first of all, it has a long history [See Beyond Chutzpah]. Every time Israel comes under international pressure, as it did recently because of the war crimes committed in Lebanon, it steps up the claim of anti-Semitism, and all of Israel’s critics are anti-Semitic. 1974, the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, puts out a book called The New Anti-Semitism. 1981, the Anti-Defamation League puts out a book, The New Anti-Semitism. And then, again in 2000, Abraham Foxman and people like Phyllis Chesler, they put out these books called The New Anti-Semitism. So the use of the charge “anti-Semitism” is pretty conventional whenever Israel comes under attack, and frankly it has no content whatsoever nowadays.
If you open up, like, Phyllis Chesler’s book, The New Anti-Semitism, she says Jewish feminists are anti-Semites, NPR is anti-Semitic, BBC is anti-Semitic, Los Angeles Times is anti-Semitic, New York Times is anti-Semitic, Washington Post is anti-Semitic. Everybody is anti-Semitic. The term is devoid of any content. Anyone who ever criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic.
What does the evidence show? There has been good investigation done, serious investigation. All the evidence shows there’s no — there’s no evidence at all for a rise of a new anti-Semitism, whether in Europe or in North America. The evidence is zero. And, in fact, there’s a new book put out by an Israel stalwart. His name is Walter Laqueur, a very prominent scholar. It’s called The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism. It just came out, 2006, from Oxford University Press. He looks at the evidence, and he says no. There’s some in Europe among the Muslim community, there’s some anti-Semitism, but the notion that in the heart of European society or North American society there’s anti-Semitism is preposterous. And in fact — or no, a significant rise in anti-Semitism is preposterous.
The people who write this stuff — you know, you just quoted Mr. Weiner that Mr. Abbas is not a member of the PLO. If you read these people — Phyllis Chesler, her book The New Anti-Semitism had lots of praise by serious intellectuals like Paul Berman. She keeps saying in the book that India is an Arab country, and she’s very emphatic about this, that India is an Arab country. That’s the level of intellectual, you know, debate and discussion in this country when it comes to the Arab world.
AMY GOODMAN: Didn’t the ADL come out this week with a statement about Amnesty International?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, the ADL came out with a statement that Amnesty International is borderline anti-Semitic, and that’s pretty conventional from the ADL, that these organizations are anti-Semitic or then, you know, in other cases, they accuse individuals or organizations of being Holocaust deniers. None of this — first of all, as I said, it’s pretty commonplace in these organizations. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently issued a statement condemning the United Church of Christ for being not borderline anti-Semitic, but functionally anti-Semitic, because they oppose the wall that Israel is building in the Occupied Territories.
Anyone who’s a critic of Israel becomes an anti-Semite. And the truth of the matter is, the real anti-Semites, they don’t really care about — or the real Holocaust deniers, which is their other favorite epithet to hurl at people or expectorate at people who are critical of Israel —
So you take the case, you know, now there’s a lot of discussion about the Iranian president’s statements denying the Nazi Holocaust. Whether he actually did or not literally, I’m not going to get into now. It’s not so important. For argument’s sake, let’s say he did do it. He denied the Nazi Holocaust. Now, you heard Mr. Weiner. He’s very fond of Abbas. He says Abbas has nothing to do with the PLO. Now, you take Abbas. Abbas is an authentic Holocaust denier. He wrote his doctoral dissertation denying the Nazi Holocaust. He published it as a book in 1982. He said less than a million Jews were killed during World War II. He denied the Nazi gas chambers. Now there you have a real Holocaust denier. You don’t have to really probe the meaning of his words. It’s pretty straightforward. Well, he’s the American favorite now. Everybody loves Mr. Abbas, because he does the American bidding. So they don’t care that he’s a Holocaust denier.
|Let me just give another pretty indicative example. Take the case of Ronald Reagan. Nowadays many people are fond of Reagan. You listen to rightwing radio, which I listen to all the time, and you listen — everyone loves Reagan. Everybody forgets Reagan was the one who went to Bitburg, gave the speech saying that the Nazi soldiers, including the Nazi — the Waffen-SS, were victims, just like the Jews in the concentration camps. That was his famous statement at Bitburg. The ADL, which claims to be so vigilant about Holocaust denial, the ADL gave him their Torch of Liberty Award.
Then, just this past — two years ago, Berlusconi, the president [prime minister] of Italy —
AMY GOODMAN: Former.
[cartoon: ADL head Abraham Foxman gives Reagan award after the latter said that Waffen SS officers burried at Bitburg cemetary were “victims of the Nazis just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”]
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Former president of Italy, gave this speech praising Mussolini and saying all the charges against Mussolini were false, he was basically a good guy. Three weeks — three weeks after he gave his speech — and remember, Mussolini passed the Anti-Semitic Laws, at the end of his regime, sent Jews to their death. Three weeks after he gave his speech, the ADL, Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, who is now accusing Amnesty of borderline anti-Semitism, they gave him the distinguished Statesman of the Year Award, had a big gala for him, and even fairly conservative economists like Robert Solow, Paul Samuelson, Modigliani — okay, they’re not conservative by conventional standards — mainstream economists. They wrote a very irate letter to the New York Times: Why is the ADL giving this guy an award? Well, the answer was simple. Because at that point, he was the only European leader who was very pro — he was very pro-Israel. They don’t care about Holocaust denial. They have no interest in it.
Let me give you one example, just —
AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, one example, just from what you were airing a moment ago. You heard the speech by Rumsfeld, where he says that Iraq is like the Nazis in the 1930s. Now, remember, the tenet of the Holocaust industry is, never compare the Holocaust to anything else. Never compare, and if you compare, they say you’re a Holocaust denier. But that side is always comparing. The Mufti of Jerusalem was Hitler. Nasser was Hitler. Saddam Hussein was Hitler. Hezbollah is now Hitler. Iran is Hitler. Hamas is Hitler. Iraq is Hitler. They’re the worst Holocaust deniers in the world, by their own definition. They’re always comparing.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, I want to thank you for being with us, professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. His new book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.
To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.
“Jewish Community Relations Council, You Do Not Speak For Us!”
POSTED: 4:05 pm PDT August 22, 2006 | KTVU.com / Bay City News
SAN FRANCISCO — Police arrested 14 men and women Tuesday after
they blocked the doors of the Jewish Community Federation in
downtown San Francisco in protest of U.S. involvement in Middle
Bound together by ropes and metal tubing, six of the protesters
sat directly in front of the building’s glass doors, which had
been covered by adhesive posters and handbills.
Sparks flew when a firefighter lowered a handheld power saw onto
the piping connecting the arms of each protester. Once they were
separated, officers escorted, carried or dragged each protester
into a police van while onlookers cheered.
According to police Captain Denis O’Leary, the protesters were to
be transported to the Southern Police Station and booked on
misdemeanor counts of disturbing a business and lack of proper
The protest did not turn violent, O’Leary said.
Several of the activists, a few wearing traditional yarmulkes,
screamed that they were, “Jews against Israel’s siege of
“I am a U.S. Jew and a taxpayer,” one protester yelled as police
carried her into the van. “And I am against the Israeli
occupation of Palestine and Lebanon.”
Inside the building, as the posters were ripped down, men in
suits watched as the demonstrators were carted off.
Yitzhak Santis, a spokesman with the Jewish Community Relations
Council, a public affairs organization representing the Jewish
Community Federation, said the protesters were part of a “tiny
fringe of the Jewish community.”
“The Bay Area Jewish community overwhelmingly supports Israel and
stands with Israel against terrorist organizations, such as
Hezbollah and Hamas,” Santis said.
He also said that the Jewish Community Federation, which
represents 80 different Bay Area groups involved with charity and
fundraising, supports sending a multi-national force into
Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from rearming.
But Samantha Litman, a spokeswoman for the demonstrators, said
they were disputing a claim that all Bay Area Jewish
organizations promote a blanket policy of supporting Israeli
“We’re appalled by what we’re seeing happening in Lebanon and
Palestine,” Litman said. “Killing civilians, attacking government
institutions and destroying the infrastructure of modern
society is an immoral course of action that will ensure security
for no one.”
08-09-06 Aasif Mandvi “interviewed” on the situation in the Middle East.
Jul. 30 – An Israeli air strike in Qana, Lebanon has prompted the country to tell U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice she is unwelcome in Beirut before a ceasefire.
The death toll is at least 54 – 37 of which were children.
Distraught people in Qana screamed in grief and anger amid wrecked buildings as others scrabbled at slabs of concrete with their hands to try to reach people buried in the debris.
Natural sound only, with Arabic speech.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MOHAMAD SHELHOUB FROM QUANA SAYING :
“We were about 50 people in the room, about 30 children. Most of the children died. I’m not a fighter, neither is my wife. We are disabled people. We were sleeping in the shelter. My brother, my sister died and also my daugther who was six years old. My wife is here, she was wounded too.”
© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.
Editor’s note: MEMRITV.org‘s video clips are hosted by CastUp.net, a company whose clients also include:
|*||Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs||*||Israeli Broadcast Authority|
|*||Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive||*||Taglit – Birthright Israel|
|*||Israel Youth Movement|
MEMRI.org Press Release:
Lebanon’s New TV: ‘Contradictions, Lies, and Exaggerations’ in Number Killed in ‘Jewish Holocaust’
06.29.2006 | MEMRI.org
On June 21, 2006, Lebanon’s New TV aired an interview with U.S. author Norman Finkelstein, who wrote the book The Holocaust Industry. In the introduction to the interview, the New TV narrator asserted, “Never has there been an issue subject to as many contradictions, lies, and exaggerations regarding the number of victims as the issue of the Jewish Holocaust.” In his interview, Finkelstein stated that the number of the Jewish survivors from the Holocaust had been grossly inflated by the “Holocaust industry” in order to blackmail Europe.
TO VIEW THIS CLIP: http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1180>
The following are excerpts from the interview:
New TV: “Never has There Been an Issue Subject to as Many Contradictions, Lies, and Exaggerations Regarding the Number of Victims as the Jewish Holocaust”
Report: “The ‘Holocaust’ is the Jewish term for burning the sacrificial offering to ashes. Never has there been an issue subject to as many contradictions, lies, and exaggerations regarding the number of victims as the issue of the Jewish Holocaust. The number of people killed in the Holocaust was estimated, in the film Night and Fog by the French director Alain Resnais, to be between eight and nine million, on the basis of documents invented by the Jews. The number dropped to four million Jews in the Soviet report to the Nuremburg trials. The figure dropped further, to 300,000 victims, according to British historian David Irving, and reached only 50,000, according to Raul Hilberg the Jew.
“Given the statistical contradictions in the number of Holocaust victims, the French intellectual Roger Garaudy asks how the truth can be determined. The Holocaust Industry, by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, recounts how the Jews of the world have turned Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis into a political and ideological industry in order to garner support for Israel, and into a source of economic extortion, which has yielded inconceivable sums for the Jews and their organizations, using as a pretext the so-called victims of the Nazi annihilation operations.”
Finkelstein: I Wrote My Book Because “The Nazi Holocaust Was Being Used as a Political Weapon in Order to Silence Criticism of Israeli Policies in the Occupied Territories”
Norman Finkelstein: “The main reason I wrote the book is because I thought that the Nazi Holocaust was being exploited by Israel and its supporters in the United States against the Palestinians and against basic principles of justice. That is, the Nazi Holocaust was being used as a political weapon in order to silence criticism of Israeli policies in the occupied territories.
“There are also other reasons for writing the book. Obviously, there was a personal reason – namely, my parents passed through the Nazi Holocaust. Every member of their families was exterminated during the war, and I felt it was important to accurately represent what happened to them during the Nazi Holocaust.”
“My book is mostly about the misuse or exploitation of the Nazi Holocaust for political purposes. The main claims I make in the book are, first of all, that this notion of Holocaust uniqueness – that is, no group of people in the history of human kind has suffered the way Jews have suffered.
“This notion of Holocaust uniqueness has no basis in historical fact and is an immoral doctrine, because it ranks human suffering, saying some suffering is better and some suffering is worse. The main purpose of this claim of Holocaust uniqueness is to immunize Israel, protect Israel, from criticism.”
“There has Been a Gross Inflation of the Number of Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust… All the Historians Have Shown [That] Hitler’s Extermination of the Jews was Very Efficient”
Finkelstein: “Well, one of the points I tried to make in the book is that there has been a gross inflation of the number of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. In fact, as all the historians have shown, Hitler’s extermination of the Jews was very efficient. It was like a factory, an assembly line. Jews were processed to be murdered. When you have such an efficient system there can’t be very many survivors. In fact, the best estimates show that by May 1945, that is, at the end of World War II, about 100,000 Jews had survived the death camps, the ghettos, and the labor camps. If 100,000 Jews survived the camps and ghettos in 1945, then 60 years later – that is, roughly around now – there can’t be more than a few thousand survivors still alive.”
The Holocaust Industry Claimed Hundreds of Thousands of Survivors to Blackmail Europe
Finkelstein: “But the Holocaust industry wanted to blackmail Europe in order to get compensation moneys. And in order to blackmail Europe they said there were hundreds of thousands of needy Holocaust victims who were still alive, and they started to inflate the number of survivors in order to blackmail Europe.”
“I do not believe that the Nazi Holocaust is unique, and I do not believe that the suffering of Jews is unique. I think there is no basis in the historical argument for the uniqueness of the Nazi Holocaust. There are aspects, features, of the Nazi Holocaust which are unique, just as there are aspects and features of other genocides that are unique, but that does not mean that the Nazi Holocaust belongs in a seperate category, apart from all the other sufferings in the history of humankind. I do not agree with that.
“On a moral level, it’s simply an abomination to rank suffering, and say one people has suffered more than another. How can you say it is more painful to die in a gas chamber than it is to die when your flesh is incinerated by napalm? Who is to decide which is a more painful suffering? That, I think, is absurd.”
“And there is something wrong when the United States has a museum devoted to what Germany did to the Jews, but it does not have a museum devoted to what America did to its native population – the expulsion and extermination of the Native Americans. It does not have a museum devoted to what was done to Africans brought over here as slaves, yet it has a museum about what happened in Europe. What would Americans think if Germany, in its capital, were to create a museum commemorating slavery in the United States, commemorating the extermination of Native Americans, but no museum devoted to the Nazi Holocaust? Of course, Americans would say that’s pure hypocrisy. Well, we are now guilty of the same hypocrisy.”
“No Evidence at All That Swiss Banks Ever Kept Billions of Dollars That Belonged to Jews During WW II, or Before”
Finkelstein: “There is no evidence at all that Swiss banks ever kept billions of dollars that belonged to Jews during World War II or before World War II. The basic facts are as follows: Number one, most Jews before World War II were very, very poor. They lived in little villages in Eastern Europe. The villages were called shtetls. They were little villages in Russia and in Poland. Most Jews were poor.
“Number two, beginning in the early 1930s, there was a worldwide depression, which means even if you had money, you lost it during the depression.
“And number three, if you had the money, and you were… and you kept the money, then you managed to escape during the Nazi Holocaust. That’s one of the advantages to being rich. You have enough money to buy your way out.
“So those Jews who had money and kept it after the depression – they used the money to get out, and then they withdrew their money from the banks after the war.”
MEMRITV.org Press Release:
Lebanese TV Channel Questions Number of Holocaust Victims and Hosts Norman Finkelstein, Author of “The Holocaust Industry”
MemriTV.org | 6/21/2006 | Clip No. 1180
Following are excerpts from an interview with Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, which aired on New TV on June 21, 2006.
Report: The “Holocaust” is the Jewish term for burning the sacrificial offering to ashes. Never has there been an issue subject to as many contradictions, lies, and exaggerations regarding the number of victims as the issue of the Jewish Holocaust. The number of people killed in the Holocaust was estimated in the film “Night and Fog,” by the French director Alain Resnais, to be between eight and nine million, on the basis of documents invented by the Jews. The number dropped to four million Jews in the Soviet report to the Nuremburg trials. The figure dropped further, to 300,000 victims, according to British historian David Irving, and reached only 50,000, according to Raul Hilberg the Jew.
Given the statistical contradictions in the number of Holocaust victims, the French intellectual Roger Garaudy asks how the truth can be determined. The Holocaust Industry, by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, recounts how the Jews of the world have turned Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazis into a political and ideological industry in order to garner support for Israel, and into a source of economic extortion, which yielded inconceivable sums for the Jews and their organizations, using as a pretext the so-called victims of the Nazi annihilation operations.
Norman Finkelstein: The main reason I wrote the book is because I thought that the Nazi Holocaust was being exploited by Israel and its supporters in the United States against the Palestinians and against basic principles of justice. That is, the Nazi Holocaust is being used as a political weapon in order to silence criticism of Israeli policies in the occupied territories.
There are also other reasons for writing the book. Obviously, there was a personal reason – namely, my parents passed through the Nazi Holocaust. Every member of their families was exterminated during the war, and I felt it was important to accurately represent what happened to them during the Nazi Holocaust.
My book is mostly about the misuse or exploitation of the Nazi Holocaust for political purposes. The main claims I make in the book are, first of all, that this notion of Holocaust uniqueness – that is, no group of people in the history of human kind has suffered the way Jews have suffered.
This notion of Holocaust uniqueness has no basis in historical fact and is an immoral doctrine, because it ranks human suffering, saying some suffering is better and some suffering is worse. The main purpose of this claim of Holocaust uniqueness is to immunize Israel, protect Israel, from criticism.
Well, one of the points I tried to make in the book is that there has been a gross inflation of the number of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. In fact, as all the historians have shown, Hitler’s extermination of the Jews was very efficient. It was like a factory, an assembly line. Jews were processed to be murdered. When you have such an efficient system there can’t be very many survivors. In fact, the best estimates show that by May 1945, that is, at the end of World War II, about 100,000 Jews had survived the death camps, the ghettos, and the labor camps. If 100,000 Jews survived the camps and ghettos in 1945, then 60 years later – that is, roughly around now – there can’t be more than a few thousands survivors still alive.
But the Holocaust industry wanted to blackmail Europe in order to get compensation moneys. And in order to blackmail Europe they said there were hundreds of thousands of needy Holocaust victims who were still alive, and they started to inflate the number of survivors in order to blackmail Europe.
I do not believe that the Nazi Holocaust is unique, and I do not believe that the suffering of Jews is unique. I think there is no basis in the historical argument for the uniqueness of the Nazi Holocaust. There are aspects, features, of the Nazi Holocaust which are unique, just as there are aspects and features of other genocides that are unique, but that does not mean that the Nazi Holocaust belongs in another category, apart from all the other sufferings in the history of humankind. I do not agree with that.
On a moral level, it’s simply an abomination to rank suffering, and say one people has suffered more than another. How can you say it is more painful to die in a gas chamber than it is to die when your flesh is incinerated by Napalm? Who is to decide which is a more painful suffering? That, I think, is absurd.
And there is something wrong when the United States has a museum devoted to what Germany did to the Jews, but it does not have a museum devoted to what America did to its native population – the expulsion and extermination of the native Americans. It does not have a museum devoted to what was done to Africans brought over here as slaves, yet it has a museum about what happened in Europe. What would Americans think if Germany, in its capital, were to create a museum commemorating slavery in the United States, commemorating the extermination of native Americans, but no museum devoted to the Nazi Holocaust? Of course, Americans would say that’s pure hypocrisy. Well, we are now guilty of the same hypocrisy.
There is no evidence at all that Swiss banks ever kept billions of dollars that belonged to Jews during World War II or before World War II. The basic facts are as follows: Number one, most Jews before World War II were very very poor. They lived in little villages in Eastern Europe. The villages were called shtetls. They were little villages in Russia and in Poland. Most Jews were poor.
Number two, beginning in the early 1930’s, there was a worldwide depression, which means even if you had money, you lost it during the depression.
And number three, if you had the money, and you were… and you kept the money, then you managed to escape during the Nazi Holocaust. That’s one of the advantages to being rich. You have enough money to buy your way out.
So those Jews who had money and kept it after the depression – they used the money to get out, and then they withdrew their money from the banks after the war.
We host a debate on the situation in Gaza with Norman Finkelstein, a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and author of “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” and Josh Block, the Director of Media Affairs for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). [includes rush transcript]
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
Donate – $25, $50, $100, more…
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our coverage, we’re joined now by two guests. Here in our Firehouse studio, Norman Finkelstein, Professor of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago. His latest book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. And on the telephone, we’re joined by Josh Block, Director of Media Affairs for AIPAC — that’s the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — speaking to us on the line from Connecticut. Josh Block, let’s begin with you. Your response and the latest, the last thing that Chris McGreal said, saying human rights groups, the Palestinian leadership, Mahmoud Abbas talking about this as collective punishment and a crime against humanity.
JOSH BLOCK: Well, clearly the concern is the reaction from those same folks when it comes to the murder and kidnap of Israeli citizens. From many perspective, American or otherwise, an attack inside Israel, unprovoked, that resulted in the murder of two Israelis and not the capture, Amy, but the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier is, in and of itself, an act of war.
And clearly the Israelis tried for several days, 48 hours, 36 hours, of intense diplomacy with the aid of the United States, the French — and I should add that this young man who has been kidnapped is also a French citizen — to secure the release from Hamas, the terrorist group that has him. And by the way, in high irony, the government of the Palestinian Authority, run by the same terrorist group, so a government that’s charged with fighting terrorism is itself a terrorist group that’s responsible for his kidnapping. So after 48 hours and 36 hours of difficult and unproductive diplomacy, clearly the Israelis felt that they needed to act in their own defense.
And I think the question is what is the reaction from these same human rights groups when it comes to the condemnation of terrorism or other acts? And clearly — and I don’t speak for the Israelis, but they must have felt that this was an important thing to do to help isolate and prevent the movement of this terrorist groups from moving the captive or kidnapped Israeli soldier around the Gaza Strip.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Finkelstein?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think it is useful to begin with what the human rights groups have to say about this. Let’s leave aside the background for a moment and look narrowly at the incident that triggered the Israeli invasion. Let’s see what Hamas did not do, what the Palestinian militants did not do. Number one, they did not liquidate the corporal, which Israel routinely does, namely its political assassinations. That’s a war crime under international law. Israel routinely does that. Hamas did not do that to the corporal.
Number two, they didn’t kill the corporal while trying to arrest him. Israel routinely does that. If you look at July 2005, B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, they put out a very hefty report entitled “Take No Prisoners.” And the report shows Israel routinely, during so-called arrest operations, kills Palestinians, documents a case of a Palestinian who was wounded, on the ground, no weapon. Israel killed him. Hamas didn’t do that to the corporal.
It said by this – by [inaudible], it said that they took him hostage, they kidnapped him. Okay. Israel routinely takes Palestinians, Lebanese hostage. In fact, Israel was the only country in the world, in 1997, which legalized hostage-taking. The liberal head of the Israeli High Court, Aharon Barak, he said it’s legal, legitimate, under international law to take what he called bargaining chips in order to get prisoners, Israeli prisoners being held by the Lebanese. The decision was reversed in 2000, but Israel continued to hold Lebanese hostages until 2004. So, at worst, Hamas is being accused of what Israel legalized and routinely does.
And finally, let’s talk about those 9,000 Palestinians who are effectively hostages being held by Israel. 1,000 of them are administrative detainees.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about prisoners.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yes. Administrative detainees who are being held without any charges or trial. And the other 8,000 are being held after military courts have convicted them, almost always on the basis of confessions which were extracted by torture. So if we’re going to look simply at the numbers, we have one hostage on the Palestinian side, and effectively we have about 9,000 on the Israeli side.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break, and then we’ll get a response from Josh Block of AIPAC. Dr. Norman Finkelstein is Professor at DePaul University in Chicago.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the siege in Gaza. Our guests are Josh Block, a spokesperson for AIPAC, which is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, speaking to us from Connecticut; and Professor Norman Finkelstein, teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, is in our Firehouse studio. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ:Josh Block, before break, Norman Finkelstein was talking about the lack of proportionality in looking at the issue of prisoners and hostages on both sides. Your response to that?
JOSH BLOCK: Well, I think the first thing that he said was that we should ignore the context in which this attack took place, and I think that’s a major flaw with his commentary over time. I’m not surprised to hear him talk about things in those terms, considering he’s called Hezbollah, which is the number one killer of Americans outside of al-Qaeda, a heroic organization.
You know, ultimately, the question for Israel is, what is its responsibility as a government? And any government, whether it’s our or theirs, has the duty to protect its citizens. Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, other terrorists groups, have been conducting an unremitting campaign of terrorism against Israeli citizens. Hamas is an organization that fundamentally believes, deep in its core, that Israel does not have the right to exist. When they talk about an occupation, they’re talking about Tel Aviv. That’s why when this terrorist attack took place, it took place not in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank, but inside Israel itself.
They infiltrated Israel, digging a tunnel from underneath a home into the country of Israel, where they attacked soldiers who were not engaged in an offensive operation against any Palestinian. They murdered two of them, and they kidnapped one of them. And they’re holding him captive, hostage. That is an act of war. It’s a provocation. And it comes as a culmination of months and months of terrorist attacks and rocket attacks against Israeli citizens, who were not engaged in any offensive effort, who are simply going ahead and living their lives. And that kind of terrorism is unacceptable, and forces a response from any responsible government.
The Palestinian Authority has the responsibility to secure the release of this individual, this soldier. And failing that, the international community has to continue to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill those obligations. Again, Hamas is the government of the Palestinian Authority, and it is sanctioning and conducting terrorism. That’s not an acceptable situation, and it cuts against the entire grain of fundamental international conduct.
AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, I’d like to you respond to that and also the timing of this operation, coming hours after Fatah and Hamas announced that they had agreed on a document that implicitly recognized Israel within its 1967 borders.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, I want to first take note that Josh didn’t respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, about 9,000 –
JOSH BLOCK: That’s because they’re ludicrous claims. They don’t merit a response.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I respected your time, Josh. I respected your time. Please do the same for me. He didn’t respond to any of my claims about Israel taking hostages, routinely killing Palestinians taken prisoner, and so on and so forth.
So let’s turn to the issue that Josh wants to address, namely the context. I’m very happy to do so. Let’s look at the context. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005 ’til today, the estimates run between 7,000 and 9,000 heavy artillery shells have been shot and fired into Gaza. On the Palestinian side, the estimates are approximately 1,000 Kassam missiles, crude missiles, have been fired into Israel. So we have a ratio of between seven and nine to one.
Let’s look at casualties. In the last six months, approximately 80 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza due to Israel artillery firing. Now, on the Israeli side, we hear all of these terrible things about these Kassams. Even Shlomo Ben-Ami, yesterday on your program, who I respect, he said what’s Israel to do about these Kassams? What does the record show? I mentioned a moment ago, 80 Palestinians killed in six months. There have been exactly eight Israelis killed in the last five years from the Kassam missiles. Again, we have a huge disproportion, a huge discrepancy.
Now, Josh says Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens. I totally agree with that. But Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinians. They have a responsibility to protect their citizens. They have a responsibility to get back their 9,000 hostages. They have a responsibility to protect their Palestinian civilians, who are being daily attacked by Israel. Josh says that the —
JOSH BLOCK: If I might, Amy, I’m ready to respond to that.
AMY GOODMAN: Josh Block of AIPAC.
JOSH BLOCK: Yeah, first of all, the folks that have been arrested for participating in terrorist activity against innocent Israeli civilians have been arrested for criminal activity. They were not kidnapped because they were doing their responsible civic duty and no offensive position against the Palestinians. In fact, those who, again, are in Israeli jail are there for conducting terrorist activity. Among the people that he mentions that have been killed, were killed because they were participating in terrorist activity, shooting missiles, planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Those folks were not innocent civilians who were killed in suicide bus bombings or have had missiles fall on their kindergartens. There’s a moral equivalency that your guest is drawing that is fundamentally out of proportion.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh a question?
JOSH BLOCK: It’s totally disproportionate and fundamentally incorrect.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: May I ask Josh — I’d like to ask you a question, Josh. 1,000 of those Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, according to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, 1,000 of them are administrative detainees. That is, there have been no charges leveled against them. How do you know what they’re being held for?
JOSH BLOCK: Fundamentally —
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, answer that question. There have been no charges and no trials.
JOSH BLOCK: I’m about to, if you would give me a second to answer —
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what they’re being held for?
JOSH BLOCK: But instead you’re trying to filibuster the question. Fundamentally, the Israeli army and the Israeli government arrest Palestinians who are engaged in terrorist activity. That’s a proven fact.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: No, I don’t think that’s a proven fact. It would be a proven fact if there were court trials.
JOSH BLOCK: It is. It is a proven fact.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: How do you know what administrative detainees are being held for? Israel doesn’t say, so how do you know?
JOSH BLOCK: I fundamentally understand the facts, which clearly you do not, which are that Israel takes fundamental legal action to arrest individuals who are engaged in terrorist activity directed against its citizens. There is no moral equivalency to be drawn between a country acting in defense of its citizens and those engaging in terrorist activity in an effort to stabilize and destroy that free and peaceful society.
Look, Amy and Juan, as a Liberal Democrat who is a long-time listener of this program, I fundamentally believe that the audience and you are in a position to understand that liberal fundamental values, which are celebrated in Israel — freedom of the press, women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion — are denied to those living in Palestinian areas and throughout the rest of the Arab world. There’s an asymmetry that’s involved in the Middle East, which is a country of Israel that is based on fundamental free values, that is not replicated in the Arab world, where education systems inculcate children with hatred and teach them that martyrdom and death is preferred over science and math and education.
And fundamentally, after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza less than a year ago, when the Palestinian people and the Authority that leads them had the chance to build a better life for their citizens, they chose not to do that. They destroyed the greenhouses, the economic infrastructure that was provided. They then took the opportunity not to fight terrorism and to provide security for their people and went the other direction. That’s why when these attacks take place through the very arteries, the crossing points and the cargo points that benefit the Palestinian people, Hamas is intentionally harming their own society. That is the fundamental dynamic, none of the other speciousness that we’re hearing from our other guest today.
JUAN GONZALEZ:But, Josh Block, I’d like to ask you, on the targeted assassinations that Israel has often participated, has often executed in Palestinian territories, we hear repeatedly of innocent civilians. Putting aside the fact whether the people who were targeted were actually terrorists or not, because we have Israel’s reporting that they are, but the innocent civilians that are inevitably killed in these missile attacks, how is that justified as not terrorism against a civilian population?
JOSH BLOCK: You’re absolutely right. Those incidents are deeply regrettable. I think any one of us would say that. And I think any American, any Israeli, would say that innocent people who are killed as a result of a military action unintentionally, that’s a tragedy. But there’s, again, a moral difference between an army — Israel’s military goes to great lengths to prevent those kinds of incidents, and if you look at the number of preventative attacks that Israel has carried out with the number of those who have been incidentally and unfortunately killed in those incidents, there’s a tremendous preponderance of occasions when, in fact, Israel has gone to great lengths not to harm innocent civilians.
AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute. We gave Josh Block the first word. Professor Norman Finkelstein, the last.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, the question is whether or not there is a significant difference between what Israel does and what the Palestinians do, apart from the fact that Israel does it in a much higher proportion than Palestinians. If you indiscriminately fire on a civilian population, which Israel routinely does, under international law — and here I can quote the president of Tel Aviv University, Yoram Dinstein, who’s one of the leading international experts on these matters; he says, “There’s no difference whatsoever between intentionally targeting civilians and indiscriminately firing into a civilian crowd.”
JOSH BLOCK: Fair enough.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: He says both of them are terrorism. So if Hamas —
JOSH BLOCK: If terrorist were attacking —
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: So if Hamas blows up a bus, as it used to do in Tel Aviv, that’s terrorism. If Hamas were to say, “We didn’t intend to kill the civilians. We intended to blow up the bus,” people would laugh. But if Israel drops —
JOSH BLOCK: If terrorists attack —
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Allow me to finish. Allow me to finish. If Israel drops a one-ton bomb on a densely populated neighborhood in Gaza, as it did in July 2002, and it said, “Oh, we didn’t intend to kill the civilians. We can just intended to kill a Palestinian terrorist —
JOSH BLOCK: And later apologized for the incident.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It would be considered as preposterous as if Hamas said “We only intended to blow up the bus.”
JOSH BLOCK: I’m sorry. First of all, there has been no apology from Hamas for those incidents. Israel apologizes when things like that happen.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Israel didn’t apologize. As a matter of fact, Ariel Sharon hailed the bombing of Gaza City —
JOSH BLOCK: That’s another specious lie.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: — that time as one of the greatest acts in Israeli history.
JOSH BLOCK: Again, a lie.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Josh Block, for joining us, spokesperson for AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Connecticut; and Professor Norm Finkelstein, here in New York, teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His book is called Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.
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In German with Finkelstien’s responses in English audible below the German interpreter’s voice.
7 February 2001 panel discussion on The Holocaust Industry with live audience of 1,000 at Urania, Berlin.
Discussion included audience members shouting out their points, young protesters holding banners, and a couple of Nazis chanting slogans. The Nazis were immediately kicked out by a handful of activists, and shouted down by the audience who told them to get out (chanting “Nazis raus! Nazis raus!”).
– Dr. Johannes Willms, presenter (Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist)
– Stan Nadolny (author and historian)
– Dr. Rafael Seligmann (historian)
– Prof. Dr. Peter Steinbach (historian, Freie Universität Berlin)
– Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein (author of The Holocaust Industry)
The screen caption throughout the program reads:
“Berlin Diskussionsrunde zum umstrittenen Buch Die Holocaust-Industrie” (“Berlin discussion round on the controversial book, The Holocaust Industry”)