Professor Norman Finkelstein’s admirers are familiar with his views, which they share to one degree or another. His critics are unhappy with the ‘tone’ in which he criticises Israel. As for his foes, they charge ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘self-hating Jew’ – but backed by little evidence.
However, the newly released documentary film American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein sheds much light on the true character of the man who is often found in the middle of controversies.
He is seen as controversial because of the issues he raises and the way he raises them. Finally; a documentary that tells us why.
From early on in his academic life, he challenged the faulty conventional wisdom regarding the Middle East conflict in the US, by showing Joan Peters’s widely praised best seller, “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine”, to be not much more than a work of fiction.
After reading Finkelstein’s long and detailed review of Peters’s book, Professor Noam Chomsky told the then young Norman: “[This article] is very solid. It’s a very good topic to study. But if you go into it, do it with eyes open. You are not only going to undermine this book and show that it’s a fraud but you’re going to undermine the whole US intellectual community.”
A pretty controversial start from the outset, one would argue. But why the harsh tone when criticizing Israel?
The answer is in the fact that both of his parents were Holocaust survivors, whose family members were exterminated by the Nazis.
I phoned Rami Elhanan the other day. We had not spoken for six years and much has happened in Israel and Palestine. Rami is an Israeli graphic designer who lives with his family in Jerusalem. His father survived Auschwitz. His grandparents and six aunts and uncles perished in the Holocaust. Whenever I am asked about heroes, I say Rami and his wife Nurit without hesitation.
Soon after when we met, Rami gave me a home videotape that was difficult to watch. It shows his daughter Smadar, aged 14, throwing her head back, laughing and playing the piano. “She loved to dance,” he said. On the afternoon of 4 September, 1997, Smadar and her best friend, Sivane, had auditions for admission to a dance school. She had argued that morning with her mother, who was anxious about her going to the centre of Jerusalem. “I didn’t want to row,” said Nurit, “so I let her go.”
Rami was in his car when he turned on the radio to catch the three o’clock news. There had been a suicide bombing in Ben Yehuda shopping precinct. More than 200 hundred people were injured and several were dead. Within minutes, his mobile phone rang. It was Nurit, crying. They searched the hospitals in vain, then the morgue; and so began, as Rami describes it, their “descent into darkness.”
“Settlers attack West Bank mosque and burn holy Muslim books” was a London Times headline on December 11, 2009.
These attacks, together with the demolition of Palestinian homes, the uprooting of Palestinians’ olive groves, the innumerable checkpoints that prevent Palestinians from accessing schools, work, and medical care, the Israeli Wall that denies Palestinians access to the land stolen from them, and the isolation and blockade of the Gaza Ghetto, are part of the Israeli government’s policy of genocide for the Palestinians.
Note that nearly 10 years of aggressive land grabbing by Israel has taken place since this map was last updated. The question is: Who is really wiping who off the map?
The Israel Lobby has such power over America that even former President Jimmy Carter, a good friend of Israel, is demonized for using the polite term–apartheid–for the genocide that has occurred over the decades during which American “Christian” preachers, together with bought-and-paid-for politicians, justified Israel’s policy of slow genocide for Palestine.
Israelis who still have a moral conscience–a small part of the population–endeavor to use moral protests against the inhumanity of the Israeli government. Israelis Jeff Halper and Angela Godfrey-Goldstein lead the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD), a non-violent, direct-action group established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories.
Under international law an occupier by military force is forbidden to steal the occupied land. The US, however, has protected Israel’s violation of international law for decades by vetoing UN resolutions. Israel has been able to steal Palestine from the Palestinians, because the US government used its power to prevent Israel from being held accountable under international law.
By Paul Craig Roberts
Hat tip: “Information Clearing House”
On June 30, the government of Israel committed an act of piracy when the Israeli Navy in international waters illegally boarded the “Spirit of Humanity,” kidnapped its 21-person crew from 11 countries, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead MaGuire, and confiscated the cargo of medical supplies, olive trees, reconstruction materials, and children’s toys that were on the way to the Mediterranean coast of Gaza. The “Spirit of Humanity,” along with the kidnapped 21 persons, is being towed to Israel as I write.
Gaza has been described as the “world’s largest concentration camp.” It is home to 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven by force of American-supplied Israeli arms out of their homes, off their farms, and out of their villages so that Israel could steal their land and make the Palestinian land available to Israeli settlers.
What we have been witnessing for 60 years is a replay in modern times, despite the United Nations and laws strictly preventing Israel’s theft of Palestine, of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century theft of American Indian lands by US settlers. An Israeli government spokesman recently rebuked the President of the United States, a country, the Israeli said, who stole all of its land from Indians, for complaining about Israel’s theft of Palestine.
I knew the “Spirit of Humanity” would fall to Israeli piracy the minute I received on June 25 from an official of an Israeli peace organization a “public advisory” that the government of Cyprus had withheld permission for the “Spirit of Humanity” to leave for Gaza. The US State Department had advised that “The Israeli Foreign Ministry informed U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel still considers Gaza an area of conflict and that any boats attempting to sail to Gaza will not be permitted to reach its destination.” The “Spirit of Humanity” obtained permission to leave Cyprus when all aboard signed a waiver absolving Cyprus of all responsibility for the crew’s safety at the hands of the Israelis.
As President Obama has called for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, and as the International Red Cross has damned the inhumanity of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the question that immediately comes to mind is why did not the United States send sufficient US Navy escort to see the “Spirit of Humanity” safely through international waters to Gaza? We send ships against Somalian pirates, why not against Israeli ones?
Pope in Bethlehem endorses independent Palestinian state
Hat tip: AP
May 13, 2009
Standing in the cradle of Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI told Palestinians on Wednesday that he understands their suffering and offered his strongest public backing yet for an independent Palestinian state.
To get to Jesus’ traditional birthplace of Bethlehem, Benedict had to cross through towering concrete slabs, part of a separation barrier Israel has erected to wall off the West Bank’s Palestinian areas.
Bethlehem, West Bank (AP) — “Mr. President, the Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders,” the pontiff said upon his arrival, standing alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
It was the third day of Benedict’s Holy Land pilgrimage meant largely to boost interfaith relations. But so far, it has been fraught with political land mines. Israelis have criticized the German-born pope for failing to adequately express remorse for the Holocaust, while the Palestinians are pressing him to draw attention to the difficult conditions of life under Israeli rule.
The pope also called for a Palestinian homeland when he arrived in Israel on Monday for the five-day visit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in the audience, says Palestinians are not ready to rule themselves and he has resisted international pressure to endorse the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
In Bethlehem, Benedict delivered a special message of solidarity to the 1.4 million Palestinians isolated in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. He has no plans to visit Gaza.
Israel recently waged a three-week war against Gaza militantsmen, women and children that killed more than 1,000 people and badly damaged thousands of homes. The war compounded suffering already caused by an Israel and Egyptian blockade of Gaza’s borders since Hamas wrested control of Gaza two years ago.
“In a special way, my heart goes out to the pilgrims from war-torn Gaza: I ask you to bring back to your families and your communities my warm embrace, and my sorrow for the loss, the hardship and the suffering you have had to endure,” the pope told thousands of Palestinians who packed an open-air Mass in Manger Square, some hoisting Palestinian and Vatican flags and pictures of the pontiff and Jesus.
“Please be assured of my solidarity with you in the immense work of rebuilding which now lies ahead, and my prayers that the embargo will soon be lifted,” he added.
Renowned US intellectual Noam Chomsky says Barack Obama did not comment on Israel’s war on Gaza, as it was part of the “premeditated” plan.
We have been informed by an Israeli source that the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip was completely premeditated, Chomsky said in an interview with the French Al-Ahram daily.
The plan was to deliver the maximum blow to Gaza before the new US president took office, so that he could put these matters behind him, added the famous intellectual, referring to Obama’s pledge to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
According to Chomsky, while Israel was pounding the Gaza Strip — during which over 1300 Palestinians were killed –, Obama excused his silence by saying that “There’s only one president at a time.”
Many Americans will soon realize we do not know everything about this world in which we live…
You hear the news, but do you have any idea WHERE they are talking about?
Click on the “learn more” link below. Once you are there, drag the country’s name onto the map where you think it belongs. There is no score nor time limit, but rather this exercise is a learning tool.
Don’t be afraid to make an error; and once you finish the puzzle, you will be far more educated about this very intense part of our world.
I was brought up as an orthodox Jew and a Zionist. On a shelf in our kitchen, there was a tin box for the Jewish National Fund, into which we put coins to help the pioneers building a Jewish presence in Palestine.
I first went to Israel in 1961 and I have been there since more times than I can count. I had family in Israel and have friends in Israel. One of them fought in the wars of 1956, 1967 and 1973 and was wounded in two of them. The tie clip that I am wearing is made from a campaign decoration awarded to him, which he presented to me.
My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed.
The Era of American Leadership Is Over By Paul Craig Roberts
February 02, 2009 “Information Clearinghouse” — -Vast numbers of people in the United States and abroad are hoping that President Obama will end America’s illegal wars, halt America’s support for Israel’s massacre of Lebanese and Palestinians, and punish, instead of reward, the shyster banksters whose fraudulent financial instruments have destroyed economies and imposed massive sufferings on people all over the world. If Obama’s appointments are an indication, all of these hopeful people are going to be disappointed.
James Petras examines Obama’s foreign policy appointments and finds the largest collection of Zionist militarists outside of Avigdor Lieberman’s far right political party in Israel.
Petras concludes that Obama’s “diplomatic” team has Iran in its sights, an hostility that meshes with Israel’s own intent. Not realizing that a member of the press had been mistakenly invited to a selected audience, the Israeli ambassador to Australia said that Israel’s attack on Gaza was a dress rehearsal for a major attack on Iran. Netanyahu, the expected winner of Israel’s March elections, has again declared that Israel will not permit Iran to have a nuclear energy program as it would provide the basis for developing nuclear weapons.
It makes no sense for Israel to baldly state its intention to attack Iran if Israel does not mean it. What if the Iranians believe the Israelis and decide to strike first with their long-range missiles?
Obama’s economic appointments are just as discouraging. Obama chose as his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the man who helped Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, engineer the $700 billion dollar rip off of the US taxpayer, money that was gifted to the crooked banksters who destroyed Americans’ pensions, jobs and health care coverage.
These banksters, and the negligent federal regulators that enabled them, should be put in prison, not handed hundreds of billions of dollars.
Numerous members of the public have written to us expressing their bewilderment at the violence of Israel’s 22-day attack on Gaza killing upwards of 1,300 people and wounding 4,200. To many witnessing the onslaught on their TV screens (especially Al Jazeera) this appeared to be an act of state sadism.
Israeli forces repeatedly bombed schools (including UN schools), medical centres, hospitals, ambulances, UN buildings, power plants, sewage plants, roads, bridges and civilian homes.
On January 15, Helpdoctors.org reported that Al Quds hospital had been “again the target of bombing”. Some 50 patients, 30 in wheelchairs, fled as the burning hospital was “totally destroyed”.
The hospital’s medical director said, “My heart is crying,” as he described how intensive care patients and premature babies in incubators were wheeled onto the street in the middle of the night.