Norman Finkelstein on Israel and the Occupation of Palestine

Norman Finkelstein speaking at the University of Texas at Austin. Photo by Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog.

His theory on Israel’s attack on Gaza was that Hamas had become too moderate, too reasonable, too willing to make a deal. His most damning evidence was contained in quotes from Israeli politicians saying that if the cease fire went on too long it would give Hamas credibility.

By Alan Pogue / The Rag Blog / April 29, 2009

[Norman G. Finkelstein is an independent scholar with a doctorate in political science from Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict and is the author of five books that have been translated into many languages. He is a consistent critic of Israel’s role in the Middle East. Finkelstein spoke to an overflow crowd Tuesday night at Welch Hall on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.}

I went to hear Norman Finkelstein last night and am glad I did. He is Jewish and the child of parents who were in the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz but he understands one cannot be moral only within one’s group. The invasion of Lebanon in 1982 opened his eyes to what the government of Israel was doing. He turned his formidable intellect on the lies told to justify the suppression and removal of Palestinians.

He invited the Zionists to field someone to debate with him but they demurred. No one came to heckle him. There was a standing room only crowd at Welch Hall, UT Austin. He reminds me of Noam Chomsky in that his delivery is so smooth and coherent, so well researched, that it sounds simply like sweet reason. His key theme was international law and the international consensus that Israel is breaking international law. Being the scholar that he is he gave plenty of names, dates, places, and quotes with referenced sources.

His theory on Israel’s attack on Gaza was that Hamas had become too moderate, too reasonable, too willing to make a deal. His most damning evidence was contained in quotes from Israeli politicians saying that if the cease fire went on too long it would give Hamas credibility. If Hamas gained credibility then Israel would be forced to make a deal. Israel has no intention of leaving the West Bank so Hamas had to be provoked into firing more ineffectual rockets so that Israel could then unleash the massacre of the Gazans that it had been planning for six months.

Norman also linked the attack on the helpless civilian population in Gaza to the Israeli military’s poor showing against Hezbollah in Lebanon which had caused a lack of sufficient fear of Israel among the general Arab population. Norman also quoted many Israeli military leaders in making his case. He spoke about the use of white phosphorous by the Israeli military, all made in the USA. He quoted the Red Cross, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on their reactions to the white phosphorous and the bombing of the U.N. schools, headquarters, food and medical supplies.

He spoke at length about the effects of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the war crime that it is. Norman prefaced his remarks by defining the invasion of Gaza as a massacre. He pointed out that there were no battles since Hamas had no army in the same sense that Israel has an army. No Israeli war plane was shot down.

Norman asked that anyone present who wished to dispute anything he had to say to please come up and take the microphone. One student asked about the Marionites in Lebanon who asked for Israel’s aid against those inside Lebanon who were attacking them. Norman spoke about the factions within Lebanon for a minute but said that was not the subject of his lecture and that in any case there is ample evidence that Israel was not interested in the general welfare of the Lebanese people. He invited the young man to continue the discussion of Lebanese political parties later which he did.

Visit Norman Finkelstein’s website here.

To order books by Norman Finkelstein, go here.

The Rag Blog

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3 Responses to Norman Finkelstein on Israel and the Occupation of Palestine

  1. Norman Finkelstein is an exceedingly articulate and knowledgeable scholar. It is our great fortune that he is also a man of integrity.

    Here he is speaking at Binghamton University, his alma mater:

  2. Paul Beckett says:

    Norman Finkelstein has been willing to pay any price (and they have been very high indeed) to speak the truth and pursue honest scholarship. He should inspire us all.

    Thanks for the article about his appearance.

    Paul Beckett

  3. cal says:

    Oh, I see you do not believe in freedom of speech except when it suits your bias agenda, according to your rules, what hypocrites.
    I viewed Mr. Norman Finkelstein’s documentary in Montreal in Nov 09, I walked out due to him telling the Arabs in Lebanon that the Hezbollah were there only hope! He is encouraging hate in order to eradicate the Jewish people from their homeland. This is the same tactic Hitler used. Mr. Finkelstein accusess the State of Israel as being much like the Nazi’s when in fact Mr. Finkelstein’s hatered toward Israel is more in line of the attitude Hitler took in wiping them out. The man did not deserve his tenure for I personally have seen his contempt for truth, factual truth concerning the history of the Jews and their homeland Israel. True academia seeks out truth, and documents why they have come to certain conclusions. Mr. Finkelstein, did not do this once in the documentary, it was all emotional diatribe, false accusations, yelling and cursing anyone who asked him certain questions why he compared Israel to Nazis Germany from an emotional stance. His response was discompassionate, course, rude, and filled with anger which only revealed to me that he is dishonest is his so-called truth. People who scream and yell do not impress me one bit, only proves their immaturity in facing certain issues due to their want of facing truth, therefore they become verbal bullies, and bullies have no courage whatsoever. He hates being a Jew, for he is a confirmed Atheist.

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