For those of you who don't know me,
I'm Alice Bach, the Hallinan Professor of Catholic Studies,
and the Director of the Hallinan Project.
Let me remind you before I say anything else,
there's no eating or drinking in this auditorium.
Oh, yeah, no smoking, no weed, no nothing, but basically,
what they really care about is no drinking, and no food.
I'm delighted to welcome you today
to the Hallinan Project for Peace and Social Justice
final lecture of 2008.
First of all, I want to thank a few people
without whom the Hallinan Project would be even more
rickety when we try to bring together
people of different viewpoints than it is.
One person who is truly amazing is Bassam [? Quom-- ?]
hey babe-- who manages to bring people together
who don't even know they might have things in common
until after Bassam has brought them all together, and said,
give it a try, go ahead, do it.
He is an outstanding person and knows more about networking
Then, I would also like to thank my Associate Director Rebecca
Rebecca is going to Ramallah, in shallah,
around the middle of January.
We're very proud of her that she will be on the ground aiding
in the work.
But we also eagerly await and pray for her safe return.
She will be writing to us, and we will spread the word
about what she's finding in Ramallah and the refugee camps
Today is an auspicious day for this lecture that
ends events-- to end our series of events concerning
the Israel-Palestine conflict and the occupation
of Palestine, which has lasted for more than 40 years.
As our final speaker, we have invited Norman Finkelstein,
known for his passionate defense of Palestinian rights.
And today happens to be the 60th anniversary of the United
Nations General Assembly passage of Resolution 194,
which officially recognizes the right of return
for the Palestinian refugees who were expelled and dispossessed
of their homes and their land during Al-Nakba,
The Catastrophe, the name given by the Palestinians
to the systematic expulsion of their people
during the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.
For many years Norman Finkelstein
has been a vocal critic of Israeli policies concerning
the treatment of Palestinians.
His earliest major writing was the international best seller,
The Holocaust Industry, in which he
wrote of an iconoclastic interrogation
of the new anti-semitism.
In 2007, Raoul Hilberg, most distinguished historian
on the Nazi Holocaust and member of the American Academy of Arts
and Sciences until his death in late 2007-- in August
I believe-- said in reflection on Professor Finkelstein's
seminal work, "When he published this book, he was alone.
It takes an enormous amount of academic courage
to speak the truth when no one else is
out there to support him.
And so I think that given this acuity of vision
and analytical power, I would say
that his place in the entire history of writing history
And that those who in the end are proven right triumph.
And he will be among those who will have triumphed, all be it
so it seems at great cost.
In his work image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict,
Finkelstein critically engages the earlier influential studies
of Joan Peters, Benny Morris, and Anita Shapira.
In this work, Finkelstein proves himself
to be one of the most radical and hard hitting
critics of the official Zionist version
of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the historians who support
and uphold that version.
As my students can all tell you, the introduction
to the second edition of Image and Reality
of the Israel-Palestine Conflict provides the most succinct
If you read this introduction about six times
before the final exam, you will succeed with flying colors.
Finally, and perhaps most important
for our understanding of the occupation of Palestine
in Gaza today, Finkelstein compares
at the end of the new edition of this book, Israeli policy
in the occupied territories against South
It is not easy being Norman Finkelstein.
He was denied tenure at DePaul University,
because of a vicious campaign set up
by those who were afraid of his words and his speaking
truth to power.
In May 2008, Doctor Finkelstein was
detained when he arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv,
and interrogated by the Shin Bet for 24 hours, deported,
and banned from entering Israel for 10 years."
And this is what Doctor Finkelstein
said to an Israeli newspaper following
his deportation to Amsterdam.
"I've always supported a two state solution
based on the 1967 borders.
I'm not an enemy of Israel.
I did my best to provide absolutely
candid and comprehensive answers to all the questions put
Doctor Finkelstein has just completed
a new book entitled A Farewell to Israel:
The Coming Breakup of American Zionism, which will
be published next year, 2009.
There's another book of Doctor Finkelstein's that I
would like to point out to you, a lesser known book published
by the University of Minnesota in 1996.
And I'd like to single it out, because it
is an amazing connection of personal experience,
historical data, and political analysis,
very hard to coalesce all of those things.
Finkelstein's parents were survivors of the Nazi holo--
And in this book, he focuses on the daily lives
of the Palestinians, to whom he had
become very close during his time spent in the Middle East.
And he focuses upon two very different Palestinian families,
one from the Christian Palestinian village
of Beit Sahour outside of Bethlehem,
the other from the Fawwar refugee camp
outside of the Hebron.
And throughout this book, for those
who have been into those areas and those who have not yet
seen them, Finkelstein provides unique insight into the names
and the faces beyond the conflict,
and the human toll of that so-called negotiated peace.
And since we don't hear very much in the United States
about the people's lives.
Even though this book is 12 years old,
it will open a lot of doors to you
in hearing the words from the souls of the people who
live under occupation.
Norman Finkelstein received his doctorate
1988 from the Department of Politics
at Princeton University.
For many years he has taught political theory
in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
He's currently an independent scholar who
lives in Brooklyn, New York.
He's a tireless crusader activist for the rights
of Palestinians and Israelis in the land that stretches from
the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea,
a land that maybe divided politically,
but cannot be divided physically.
I am proud and honored to introduce Doctor Norman
We have to wait three seconds.
Can you hear me in the back?
Raise your hand if you hear me.
OK, we're set.
Can you speak louder or more directly into the microphone?
Well, I'm not using this microphone.
I'm using the hand micro-- the portable one.
I think, actually, that might be too loud.
Well, thank you for inviting me.
And that was a very generous introduction.
I would almost feel sorry for the person who's described,
but alas it's me.
And it's not been a bad life.
In fact, I think it's been a wonderful life.
I have no complaints that I can think of at any rate.
It happens that yesterday is the 60th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
And I thought that that should be the theme for this evening's
The main human rights challenge now facing the Palestinians
is in the Gaza Strip.
And so I'll, at least at the beginning of my remarks,
focus on what's going on there.
Most of you know that about 1.5 million Palestinians
have been under a relentless and brutal siege for quite
long time now.
It's hard to date exactly when the siege began, but certainly
in the last couple of years, it's escalated significantly,
and the deprivations have been significantly exacerbated.
The head of the UNWRA, United Nations Relief
and Works Agency, which is the main United Nations
agency working in the refugee camps,
marked the 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration
with a statement which was reprinted in the British
And I'll just briefly excerpt it.
Her name is Karen Abuzayd.
And she wrote, "As we approach the 60th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the steadily rising death toll in Gaza
highlights the painful gap between its-- meaning
the declaration's peaceful rhetoric--
and the desperate reality for the Palestinian people."
And then, she goes on to quote what distinguished human rights
personalities have to say about what's going on now in Gaza.
So she says, "The former high commissioner for human rights,
Mary Robinson, has said that, 'In Gaza,
nothing short of a civilization is being destroyed.' Desmond
Tutu, the South African Nobel Laureate for Peace has called
what's going on in Gaza 'an abomination.' The humanitarian
coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
Maxwell Gaylord said that in Gaza there was a massive
assault on human rights.
And most recently, the European Commission Louis Michel
described the blockade of Gaza as 'a form of collective
punishment against Palestinian civilians,
which is a violation of international humanitarian
And then, she goes on to look at the most salient aspect,
the most outstanding aspect of the human rights violations,
namely the casualty figures.
Fatality figures for the occupied Palestinian territory
must surely make us question our commitment
to upholding the right to life, the most basic of human rights.
More than 500 Palestinians, 73 of them children,
have been killed this year alone as a result of the conflict.
11 Israelis have lost their lives this year.
So the kill ratio of this year is about 50 to 1,
50 Palestinians killed for each Israeli killed.
To my knowledge, I think one Israeli child has been injured,
I could be mistaken.
I think it's one has only been injured, not killed.
73 Palestinian children have been killed in the past year.
Well, those are the raw figures.
And some may say, yes, what's happening there is awful.
What's happening there is an abomination.
But isn't it true that Hamas, the Islamic movement,
is responsible-- the cause of the violence?
It's a little difficult now to go
through the whole record of cause and effect in the Gaza,
and its relations with Israel.
But we do have at least for the most recent period, a statement
by these Special Rapporteur of the UN,
Special Rapporteur in Palestine, namely
the statement by Richard Falk which he issued
two days ago on December 9.
And he refers specifically to the most recent turn of events.
And he says as follows, "It should
be noted that the situation worsened in recent days
due to the breakdown of a truce between Hamas and Israel
that had been observed for several months by both sides.
The truce was maintained by Hamas
despite the failure of Israel to fulfill its obligation
under the agreement to improve the living conditions
of the people of Gaza.
The recent upsurge of violence occurred
after an Israeli incursion-- incidentally
the incursion occurred purposely on November 4, election day,
on the assumption that people's attentions would be riveted
elsewhere in the US-- the recent upsurge of violence
occurred after an Israeli incursion that
killed several alleged Palestinian militants
That's been the picture for the past couple of years.
Again, time doesn't allow me to look at cause and effect.
But each time Hamas has introduced or agreed
to a truce, at some point Israel has attempted
to sabotage the truce and to instigate Hamas
Now a reasonable question obviously would be,
why does Israel do that?
Why is it so dead intent on sabotaging
these truces, these temporary truces, if one would assume
they're interested in peace and they're
interested in preventing rocket attacks
on their southern cities of Sderot and elsewhere?
And in fact, just in the past couple of days--
this is actually yesterday-- the Foreign Minister of Israel,
Tzipi Livni, she gave a very clear explanation
of why they do what they do, why they keep sabotaging
these truces, and why they keep trying to instigate Hamas
She said that, when Israel accepted the truce,
it wanted to create a temporary period of calm.
And she added that, an extended truce or long-term calm--
an extended truce or a long-term calm
harms the Israeli strategic goal,
empowers Hamas, and gives the impression
that Israel recognizes the movement.
And that is in fact an accurate statement
of the problem for Israel.
Israel is worried.
Israel only wants a temporary truce.
It does not want an extended truce,
because it's a fearful that it may in some way
That is to say, people will begin
to say-- international pressure will begin to build--
and people will say, well, it seems
that Hamas can be trusted.
You can negotiate a truce with them.
They keep to the truce, and therefore, we
have what seems to be the basic precondition for negotiations.
And that's exactly what Israel fears, that pressure will
be built. Pressure will be brought
to bear on it to negotiate a settlement.
It's what Israeli political scientist--
he's since passed away, his name is Avner Yaniv--
he called the threat of the Palestinian peace offensive.
That's his expression.
The fear that the Palestinians were becoming too moderate, too
reasonable, and therefore Israel will not
have a pretext or an alibi, an excuse,
for not negotiating with them.
So you have to keep instigating violence in order
to show the international community
that these people can't be negotiated with,
and you can't reach a settlement with them.
The main problem for Israel, as it's
been for probably now three or more decades,
the main problem for Israel has been that Palestinians
have been too reasonable.
They've been too moderate.
They've been too willing to negotiate a settlement.
And that's not a rhetorical device on my part.
It's not simply a propagandistic declaration,
but has an ample documentary record
to support this statement.
In fact, the record is remarkably unambiguous.
The record is remarkably uncontroversial.
And this is that record which I would
like to look at right now.
It's the foundation of that dreaded Palestinian peace
offensive, which as the foreign minister put,
always conflicts with Israel's strategic goal.
Well, what does the record look like?
Since we began with the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, which was ratified on December 10
by the United Nations General Assembly,
the obvious place to begin in examining
the record, the obvious place to begin
is the United Nations General Assembly.
And as it happens, the UN General Assembly each year
votes on a resolution entitled Peaceful Settlement
of the Question of Palestine.
And coincidentally, that resolution
was just deliberated on and voted on about a week ago.
It's every year on November 29.
And I checked the resolution for this year.
Each year the text is roughly the same.
It's a long resolution now because it's
been added onto over a period of 20 years,
but the essence is fairly straightforward.
I'll read you the crucial excerpts.
"Affirming the principle of the inadmissibility
of the acquisition of territory by war.
Reaffirming the illegality of the Israeli settlements
in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967
including East Jerusalem.
Reiterating it's-- meaning the UNs demand--
for the complete cessation of all Israeli settlement
activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Reaffirming its commitment in accordance
with international law to the two state solution
of Israel and Palestine, living side
by side in peace and security, within recognized borders
based on the pre-June 1967 borders.
The withdrawal of Israel from the Palestinian territory
occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem.
And finally, the need for justly resolving
the problem of the Palestinian refugees in conformity
with its resolution 194 of-- as Professor Bach said-- 11
December 1948" namely 60 years today.
That's the resolution.
And each year, naturally, there is a vote on it.
The vote this past year was 164 to 7, with 3 abstentions.
The whole world on one side, 164 countries, and the other side
voting against-- Israel, the United States, Australia,
the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.
For those of you who don't know, Nauru and Palau,
they're South Sea atolls.
Their combined populations can fill
the empty seats in this room, and there would still
be room left over.
Actually, we add on the populations of Micronesia
and Marshall Islands, we'd still have a few seats left over.
So it's basically the United States and Israel.
The vote this year is representative of the vote
for the past 20 years.
Time doesn't allow me to go through all the votes.
I'll go back as far as 1989, the same basic resolution
as everyone in this room knows, calling
for a two state settlement on the June 1967 border,
a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza, and East
Jerusalem, and a just resolution of the refugee question
based on the right of return and compensation.
If you take 1989, the vote was 153 to 2-- 153 to 3-- 155
to 3, excuse me.
It was the whole world on one side.
And other side was the United States, Israel, and the island
state of the Dominica.
If you move up to more recent years, the vote in 1997
was 155 to 2, 2002, 160 to 4, 2003, 160 to 6, 2004, 161 to 7,
2007, 161 to 7.
And as I said earlier, this year the vote was 164 to 7.
Obviously, these are not very close votes.
In fact, they are remarkable in the consensus they draw on.
And they are remarkable in how lopsided
and how overwhelming they were.
Well, some people may wish to make the argument
that it's the General Assembly.
It's a political body.
And therefore almost by definition,
the votes are politicized.
There's an argument, obviously, that
can be made on those grounds.
But in my opinion at any rate, it's
not a particularly credible argument,
because these are votes that have
been consistent over a sustained period of time.
And they're also overwhelming, regardless of which governments
have been in power in the various states that have voted
on this resolution, whether it's a left wing
government, a right wing government,
or centrist government.
Regardless of the governments that have been in power,
the vote has been very consistent.
And it's been consistent for a fairly obvious reason, namely
the principles, the principals that
form the basis of this resolution
are remarkably uncontroversial under international law.
They're grounded in tenets of international law,
and or grounded in the United Nations charter.
And that brings me to the second venue.
As I said, some people would want
to make the argument that we can't trust the General
Assembly, because it's a politicized body.
Well, then the next obvious place to look,
instead of looking at the most representative political body
in the world, let's turn to the most respected body
in the world, namely the International Court of Justice,
the supreme legal body in the world today.
And as it happens in 2004, the International Court of Justice
was asked by the General Assembly
to render what's called in the technical literature
an advisory opinion on the wall that Israel has
been building in the West Bank.
And in order for the International Court
to render an advisory opinion on the legality of the wall,
as it happened, they have to first
to render an authoritative opinion
on the fundamental legal questions
bearing on the Israel-Palestine question,
namely those issues which we're told
are so controversial, so intricate, so complex,
that they have to be deferred to the final stages
So most of you have heard of this phenomenon
called the peace process.
And then, a subdivision of this peace process
is this thing called the final status issues.
How many people have heard of the final status issues?
Who here is clever enough that he or she can name all four?
Now, yesterday, I was at Sarah Lawrence
and there was a clever young man who named three.
So you have your challenge for you.
Who can name four?
Technically, there are five, but one has sort of
been cast aside.
Who can name the four?
There must be somebody courageous enough
to make a fool of him or herself,
to humiliate and embarrass him or herself,
to demean and degrade--?
I'll give it a shot.
I'll say refugees, East Jerusalem, the settlements.
And I was thinking the final resolution of the minor border.
That was a good showing.
Let it not be said to students at Case Western
are complete imbeciles, no.
That was very good.
The four main final status issues
are borders, settlements, Jerusalem, and the refugees.
It used to be the fifth main issue was water.
But water has now been pretty much subsumed
under the question of borders.
And those are the issues which we're
told are so complicated that we can't even
begin to discuss them until there are what's sometimes
called in this lexicon, confidence building
measures between both sides.
Well, the International Court of Justice, the highest
judicial body in the world, they have
to address three of four of those final status issues.
Well, first of all Israel is building this wall well
inside the West Bank.
It will ultimately appropriate about 12% of the West Bank.
And so the question obviously arises, to whom
does the West Bank belong?
If it were true that the West Bank were disputed territory--
were it true-- then obviously the legal status of the wall
would also be disputed.
Similarly, the wall takes this circuitous route,
or as the International Court of Justice put it,
the wall takes a sinuous route-- that
means a winding route like a snake--
takes a sinuous route that incorporates about 60%
of the settlements and 80% of the settlers.
Now, were it true that the legal status of their settlements
were disputed, then once again obviously,
the legal status of the wall would be open to dispute.
And finally, the wall cuts right through East Jerusalem,
basically in such a way as to put
the Arabs on one side and Jerusalem on the other side.
And the question again arises, what's
the legal status of Jerusalem?
Were it true that Jerusalem was disputed territory, then again,
the legal status of the wall would be open to dispute.
And so before the court was able to render its opinion
on the legal status of the wall, it
had to render an opinion on all these final status issues.
What did it find?
Number one, the International Court of Justice
stated under international law, in particular Article 2
of the United Nations Charter, it's inadmissible for countries
to acquire territory by war.
Israel acquired the West Bank and Gaza
in the course of the June 1967 war, ergo,
it has no legal title to the West Bank and Gaza.
Those are-- and the International Court
is very clear-- those are Occupied Palestinian
Territories-- uppercase O, uppercase P, upper case T.
And you'll find in many human rights supports now,
they refer to OPT, Occupied Palestinian Territories,
using the nomenclature of the International Court.
Israel has no legal title to one part
of one inch on the West Bank or Gaza.
Those are not disputed territories,
says the highest judicial body in the world.
Those are Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Number two, the question of Jerusalem, well,
how did Israel acquire East Jerusalem?
It acquired East Jerusalem in the course of the June 1967
war, but under international law it's
inadmissible to acquire a territory by war.
Ergo, Israel has no title whatsoever
to any of East Jerusalem.
It's Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The court is a very emphatic on that point.
It refers to the West Bank comma including East Jerusalem comma
and the Gaza as Occupied Palestinian Territory,
so as not to leave any ambiguity about the legal status of East
Number three, what's the legal status
of the settlers in the settlements
in the occupied territories, the 480,000 Jewish settlers now
inhabiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
or residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territory?
Again, the court is very clear.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states,
it's inadmissible for an occupying power
to transfer its population to occupied territory.
Therefore under international law,
all 480,000 settlers are illegally
residing in Occupied Palestinian Territory.
That's only half the story, however.
The other half of the story is what the vote was.
Now remember, bear in mind, we're
told these are controversial issues.
We're told that these are complicated issues.
We're told that they're so controversial and so
complicated, that they have to be
deferred to the last stage of negotiations.
You would think, one would infer,
that the vote would be close.
But the vote was 14 to 1.
It was not a close vote.
It wasn't a close vote for a simple reason,
because the issues on which they were deliberating
are the most fundamental principles
of international law-- the inadmissibility
of acquiring territory by war, the illegality of settling
your population in occupied territory.
The vote was 14 to 1.
The one negative vote was cast by the American Judge Thomas
But even Judge Buergenthal was very careful in how
he qualified his negative vote.
In the nomenclature of the International Court of Justice,
you can deliver a dissent, a declaration,
you can join the majority, or you
could agree with the majority and write a separate opinion.
Judge Buergenthal chose not to write a dissent.
He instead chose to write what he called a declaration.
And in his declaration, he began by saying,
I agree with much in the majority opinion.
And then, he concluded his declaration
by stating, on the fundamental question,
namely the question of the settlements,
Judge Buergenthal said, I agree with the majority.
There can't be any question but that under Article 49
of the Fourth Geneva Convention the settlements
are illegal under international law.
And so what you find?
On these allegedly complicated questions, the vote is 14 to 1
on all the issues.
And on the core issue, namely the question
of those settlements, the vote is 15 to 0.
Now, it's very difficult to make an argument
that the court also is stacked against Israel.
The British Judge Rosalyn Higgins, she's Jewish by birth.
She married an Irishman.
And her legal articles on the conflict
tend to be quite pro-Israel.
In fact, I think she goes over the line.
But she voted with the majority.
Why did she vote with the majority?
Because these are not complicated
questions under international law.
Thomas Buergenthal, he's a Nazi Holocaust survivor.
He's the real McCoy.
But on the fundamental question of the settlements,
he had to vote with the majority.
All this talk we hear in the United States
about these being complicated questions, controversial,
the West Bank being disputed territory,
Jerusalem being Israel's eternal and undivided capital,
have no bearing whatsoever on the actual documentary
record, the political record, as registered
in the General Assembly, and the legal record,
as registered in the International Court of Justice.
Now, it's true that the International Court
didn't rule on the refugee question for the simple reason
that it had no bearing on the question of the wall.
But here we have organizations of equal stature,
which have registered opinions.
So if I were to ask somebody in the audience
arbitrarily, if I were ask you-- one, two, you--
if I were to ask you what's the most respected human rights
organization the world, you would respond?
Well, I'm talking about a global organization.
The most respected human rights organization the world is?
Yeah, most people would say Amnesty International.
And then, after Amnesty, most people
would say, Human Rights Watch.
Yeah, those are the two most respected.
I didn't plant those answers in the audience.
Most people would I think-- familiar with the field--
would cite them immediately.
And it happens that both Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch, the two most respected and very
far from radical-- in fact, Human Rights Watch you can say
is quite conservative-- the two most respected human rights
organizations in the world did render judgments
in the question of, or did render position papers,
on the questions of the refugees.
So in 2001, Human Rights Watch stated,
"We urge Israel to recognize the right
to return for those Palestinians and their descendants who
fled from territory that is now within the state of Israel
and who have maintained appropriate links
with that territory."
Then, Amnesty International a few months later issued
its own statement which read, "We call for Palestinians
who fled or were expelled from Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza
Strip, along with those of their descendants
would maintain genuine links with the area,
to be able to exercise their right to return."
As you can see, even though these
are separate organizations, autonomous organizations,
and very independent organizations,
the language is almost identical.
Both contain the phrase right to return.
And the reason the language is almost identical,
the reason why both use the language right to return
is once again, because these are basic principles
of international law, as it happens,
first enunciated in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
By coincidence, the declaration was passed in December 10,
and their first practical application of the Universal
Declaration was that UN Resolution 194, namely
the resolution in December 11 '48,
ratifying the Palestinian right to return.
It's not something that dropped from the sky.
They were simply reiterating the principal
which was first inscribed in the Universal Declaration of Human
Well, that's a survey of the global organizations.
Some of you say, well, but what about those Arab organizations.
Just as a mention before I get to them,
I mentioned to you earlier that the vote this year in the UN
General Assembly was 164 to 7, in favor of that two state
settlement June '67 border and so forth.
I have the list here.
If there were an overhead projector, I would show it.
Among the countries which signed on were Iran and Iraq.
The perfidious Iranians, the anti-Semites
who want to comment a Holocaust, when
it came to the General Assembly vote,
they join the whole of humankind,
apart in the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau,
and so forth.
What about the more local initiatives?
Well, there is an Arab League.
And in March 2002, the Arab League
put forth a two state settlement of
the Israel-Palestine conflict, exactly the same terms
as the General Assembly.
Except remarkably enough, the Arab League
went one step beyond the General Assembly.
Because under international law, you're
formally required to recognize under Article 2,
the right of any member state to live free
from threats or use of force.
That's the statement.
But the Arab League went further.
It said if Israel agrees to these terms for resolving
the conflict, we will not only recognize Israel,
Arab League said, we will normalize relations
We'll have economic relations with Israel.
We'll have trade relations with Israel.
We'll have tourism relations with Israel.
They went beyond the international consensus,
beyond what they are legally bound
to do under international law.
What was the vote in the Arab League?
Once again, the vote was unanimous.
Every member of the Arab League voted for the two state
settlement on the June '67 border,
and a just resolution of the refugee question.
The Arab League then kept reiterating it's offer up to
and including last year, 2008.
Well, that then just leaves the main protagonists
in the conflict apart from Israel whose position has been
clearly stated, namely rejecting all these terms
for resolving the conflict.
The Palestinian Authority has been
on record supporting the two state settlement now
since the mid 1970s.
And in more recent years, you can
say in the last year, or last year and a half,
Hamas as well has come on board.
Of course, this is a disaster for Israel.
It's that dreaded Palestinian peace offensive.
With Hamas now on board, how do you explain your refusal
to settle the conflict?
And so whenever Hamas appears to becoming too legitimate,
and whenever it appears as if the pressure is going
to build on Israel to finally resolve the conflict in terms
of international law, in terms of the opinion of enlightened
humankind, Israel does what it can to break the truces,
to instigate violence, and to create a new pretext
and excuse to avoid a negotiate and diplomatic settlement
of the conflict.
In my view, our main challenge now-- the main challenge
is to make known, to publicize, what the actual record shows,
because so many people are so completely ignorant of
or confused by the record.
People recognize there's a problem there,
and they recognize, many do, that Israel's
committing significant human rights violations and crimes
in the occupied territories.
But there still remains this perception
that the conflict is unresolvable.
And it's unresolvable either because
of Palestinian terrorism, because
of a clash of civilizations, because
of a clash of religions, because of ancient enmity,
and so forth.
But in fact, the only reason the conflict is unresolvable,
it's because the United States and Israel refused
to resolve the conflict.
That's the obstacle.
And our job is to show, the conflict is resolvable
and what the Palestinians are asking
is not the stars, the moon, and the sky.
They're asking for their minimum, basic, uncontroversial
rights under international law, which
have been repeatedly certified in all
the main political, and legal, and human rights
bodies in the world.
And here I have to say, at any rate in my own opinion,
we've been those who are trying to achieve
a just and lasting peace.
We've been severely delinquent in our responsibilities.
And there's a lot that we can learn from the history
of the Zionist movement.
Because the Zionist movement understood that
in order to achieve its goal, you
have to win over public opinion.
You have to reach the people.
And the way you win over public opinion,
the way you reach the people, is by holding up
high your certificates of legitimacy.
You show public opinion that what you're requesting,
what you want, what you desire, what you aspire to,
And that's what the Zionist movement did.
So 90 years ago this obscure foreign minister of England
named Arthur Balfour issued a declaration.
It was one sentence.
It wasn't a short sentence.
There were many subclauses, but nonetheless, it
was one sentence.
But if I were to ask the people in this room, how many of you
have heard of the Balfour Declaration, raise your hand.
And if you look around, we could say nearly 100%,
which is an impressive showing.
In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly
issued in November '47 it's famous partition resolution
allowing for the creation of an Arab
and a Jewish state in Palestine.
And I were to ask you, how many of you in this room
have heard of the partition resolution,
how many hands would go up?
Basically the same, nearly 100%.
Now, you might ask yourself how did that come to pass?
A one sentence statement by a obscure foreign minister
nearly a century ago, and the middle
of Cleveland, Ohio, nearly 100% of the people have heard of it?
Or a General Assembly resolution, one of thousands,
and in the middle of Ohio, 60 years later,
nearly everyone in the room has heard of it.
Well, the reason you have heard of it
is because the Zionist movement did its homework.
And it did its footwork.
It made sure you heard of it.
Because exactly as Abba Eben said, Israel's most famous
foreign minister, he said that referring to the partition
resolution, he said it was Israel's birth certificate.
And he was exactly right.
Because the partition resolution ascertained
that the state of Israel is not a bastard child.
It's the legitimate offspring of the international community.
It was a certificate of legitimacy.
It said to the world, what we want,
we are legitimately entitled to.
How do we know?
Because the birth certificate was
issued by the highest political body in the world,
the United Nations General Assembly.
That's the way to win over public opinion.
But then now, let's look at our side.
This is a reasonably informed audience.
If I were to ask you, how many of you
know that every year, every year for the past 20 years
and more, the United Nations General Assembly
issues yet another birth certificate
for the state of Palestine, how many of you know that?
Look around the room.
It's not an impressive showing.
If I were to ask you, how many of you
know that in 2004, the International Court of Justice
issued an opinion in which all of Israel's official positions,
all of Israel's official positions,
were resoundingly rejected, how many of you know that?
Look around the room.
One of your speeches is on the internet.
That's how I know.
That's the problem.
That, I think, is the problem.
In fact, the partition resolution, as some of you
know, just barely passed in 1947, 33-13-10, 33
for, 13 against, 10 abstentions.
And they got the 33 votes, basically the Zionist movement,
through bribes and arm twisting.
The General Assembly vote the past 20 years
has not been a bare 2/3.
It's been the whole world.
The body is much more representative.
In '47, it was 60 countries.
Now, the UN General Assembly is 192.
It's a much more representative body.
And the vote is not close.
And anyone has to agree that a ruling by the International
Court of Justice carries a lot more moral and legal weight
then a statement by the foreign minister of England
at the turn of the century in 1917.
So the certificates of legitimacy
for the Palestinian rights to self determination
and statehood are much greater than the certificates
of legitimacy of the Zionist movement.
But nobody knows.
That I think is the main problem.
And I want to just leave off, because the time is limited,
to addressing several other questions briefly.
I spoke this afternoon with Professor Bach
and several others.
And they gave me some sense of the issues
I should be addressing.
So I want to just briefly go through them quickly.
In my view, it's not possible to win this case, which
happens to be a very strong case, in fact
it's an uncontroversial case.
But you can't win the case if you
try to defy international public opinion,
if you try to defy the political opinion
as registered in the General Assembly,
if you try to defy the opinion of the International
Court of Justice.
That is to say, these occasional cause
calls for eliminating the Zionist entity
or embracing a one state solution, which
has exactly zero support in the international community.
Those kinds of slogans, those kinds of demands,
they can't possibly succeed in achieving a just and lasting
peace within our lifetime.
Now, some of you may say, well, that's the problem.
The problem is that international community
has fallen behind the times, that we
have to now aim towards, strive towards, aspire to a one state
In my view, if you look at the record,
it's very difficult to change international public opinion.
It's a very slow and long march.
All of international law, as the lawyers in this room will know,
it's always built on precedent.
You have to find some antecedent to rest your case on.
And so for example, in November 1988,
when the then chairman of the Palestine Liberation
Organization, Yasser Arafat, when
he declared a state in Algiers in November '88,
he was very careful in making his declaration
or founding it on the partition resolution.
He said the partition resolution called for two states.
Where is the Palestinian state?
He looked for a precedent.
And the same thing if you're following the latest remarks
by the current General Assembly President d'Escoto
Brockmann from Nicaragua.
Yes, he's been very aggressive in his denunciations
of Israeli policy, but he's always very careful
to couch his denunciations in precedent, saying,
the 1947 resolution called for two states.
And we have some unfinished business here.
There's one state that's yet to be born.
And so if you want to argue for one state,
you have to be honest.
Honest enough to tell the Palestinians who
are languishing under a brutal and inhuman occupation,
that probably for this and several more generations,
they will have to continue to endure that occupation.
Because it's at least several generations that
will be required, before we can change
international public opinion and change the consensus
for resolving the conflict.
And I'll leave you my own view on how to press ahead.
I was recently, beginning in August of this year,
I began reading in a fairly conscientious way Gandhi.
He's an interesting fellow.
As human beings go, he's very inspiring, very decent.
When Ghandi went to speak, he did not
charge $40,000 speaking fees.
Gandhi was very careful about the people's money.
I mean so careful that it would be breathtaking
for anyone who reads him.
I was reading the other day some--
I'm going through his collected works now, which is a chore.
It's 100 volumes.
And somebody asked him to purchase a watch, W-A-T-C-H.
And Gandhi replies, why do you need a watch?
It's obvious when it's morning.
It's obvious when it's afternoon.
And it's obvious when it's night.
What more do you need?
I'm not sure how good he was about keeping appointments,
And he also could be kind of cruel, I have to say.
I know it's a strange thing to say about the Mahatma.
But in his later years, I think he got a little bit crabby.
Somebody would write a letter to him saying, Mahatma,
my daughter just got married.
We're going to have a wedding.
And he replies, weddings, life, death, it's all the same.
Yes, and then somebody wrote, my son died.
And he said, well, birth, death, it's the cycle.
I don't know.
As young people used to say, that's very cold.
But he's very inspiring to read.
And his movement to try to free first the South African--
Indians in South Africa from their bondage,
and then to free the Indians from the British occupation,
he called his movement satyagraha.
And I always liked the translation.
There was a whole debate about what to call it,
and Gandhi never liked the term passive civil disobedience.
Because he thought what he was involved in was very active.
It wasn't passive at all.
And so he rejected that term.
And finally somebody recommended he call it satyagraha.
And satyagraha is translated as hold on to the truth.
And I think, if I were to choose a motto for the movement
we're involved in, and also for decent movements
generally, I think the principal we should be satyagraha, hold
onto the truth.
And that's our challenge, to hold on to the truth
that what Israel has done to the Palestinians is wrong,
to hold onto the truth of Israel's refusal backed
by the US to respect international law
and the considered opinion of humankind
is the sole obstacle, the one and only obstacle,
to ending the suffering of the Palestinian people.
And as we hold on to the truth, I
think we should also try to bear in mind the wisdom
of the African American spiritual, the one that
says to keep our eyes on the prize and hold on.
Keep our eyes on the prize and hold on.
And what does that mean?
How many people know that spiritual?
There are some older people in here.
I think it's a great song.
Unfortunately, one of the people who sang it best just
passed away last week, Odetta.
How many people have heard her sing it?
Yeah, she was good.
She was very good.
And she may be one of the first persons I heard sing it.
What was it originally before keep your eyes on the prize?
Keep your hand on the plow.
Keep your hand on the plow, yeah.
But it changed to keep your eyes on the prize.
And anyone have a good enough voice for those young people
who haven't heard it?
Good, let's hear it.
Eyes on the prize, or hand on the plow?
Keep your eyes-- just the chorus.
Keep your-- go ahead.
[SINGING] Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on, hold on.
Hold on, hold on.
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.
You have a great voice.
I regret not being on the picket line with her.
But I'll tell you something, you wouldn't
regret not being on the picket line with me,
if you heard how I sang it.
That was beautiful.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
And we should remember what the prize is.
The prize is not a theoretical [INAUDIBLE].
It's not to be intellectually provocative.
It's not holier than thou, radical posturing.
The prize is much more humdrum, prosaic by comparison.
The prize is freeing the Palestinian people
from their bondage.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Remember what it's about.
And then, to hold on-- and hold on
means being ready for sacrifice and for the long haul.
Keep your eyes on the prize and hold on.
A little sacrifice, a long battle,
we should always bear in mind for almost everyone
this audience, unless you're a member of a targeted minority,
you live in a very free society.
We're pretty much able to say what we want.
The consequences are trivial as compared
to elsewhere in the world.
I wasn't happy when I was denied tenure,
and I have my bouts of self-pity.
And that's why I have friends to chew their ears off.
But a moment's objectivity-- I have a very good friend
who's one of the greatest people in the world.
Most of you won't know him, because he's not here anymore.
He's elsewhere in the world, Allan Nairn.
He was a great investigative reporter on Guatemala,
on East Timor, and elsewhere.
And during my tenure battle he was a source of both solace,
and more importantly, guidance.
And he said to me at some point, you know Norman,
let's be honest.
It's small change, what happened to you.
And that's true.
We have to be honest about those things.
In most parts of the world today, you
advocate for your most basic elementary rights,
you don't lose a job, you lose a body part.
You lose a limb.
You lose your nose.
You lose your tongue.
You lose your ears.
You lose your eyes.
That's what it's mostly like in the world.
You also lose your head in many parts of the world.
And you lose your life.
So we're not talking about big sacrifices.
And hopefully, possibly, the haul won't be that long either.
Keep your eyes on the price and hold on.
And then, always to remember the Caribbean poet,
a fellow named Aime Cesaire, he had a very nice line.
It was poetic, and meaningful at the same time.
He said, "There's room for everyone
at the rendezvous of victory."
There's room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory.
And the late Edward Said, in the last years of his life,
he liked to quote that line.
And we should also bear in mind.
We want to nurture a movement and not to create a cult.
The victory to which we aspire is inclusive.
It's not exclusive.
It is not at anyone's expense.
Not at the expense of its Palestinians,
and not at the expense of Israelis.
It's to be victorious without the vanquishing.
No one is a loser.
No one is a loser.
And we are all gainers, if together we
stand by truth and justice.
You stand by truth and justice, if anyone does, you don't lose.
We all gain.
"I am not anti-English," said Gandhi.
"I am not anti-British.
I am not anti any government.
"But," he said, "I am anti-untruth.
I am anti-humbug.
And I am anti-injustice."
And I think we should say the same thing.
We're obviously not anti-Jewish.
We shouldn't be anti-Israel.
And in my opinion, we shouldn't be anti-Zionist either.
The prize on which our eyes should be riveted
is human rights, human dignity, and human equality.
We should not be asking questions like, are you now,
or have you ever been, a Zionist?
Those are meaningless questions, in my opinion.
Instead, we should be asking, are
you for or against ethnic cleansing?
Are you for or against torture?
Are you for or against house demolitions?
Are you for or against Jews only roads,
and Jews only settlements?
Are you for or against discriminatory laws?
And if the answer comes against, against, and against,
shouldn't we then say, keep your ideology whatever it might be.
There's room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory.
And may we all, seekers of truth, fighters for justice,
yet live to join the people of Palestine, the godforsaken
people of Palestine at the rendezvous of victory.
Well, now comes the time that I get
to engage with the people of, not Palestine,
but the people of Cleveland.
So I usually enter one caveat.
And the caveat is, since people, as always, we're
very respectful of my person, didn't jeer--
and I allow for jeering, actually--
but weren't distracting, I prefer
that the first questioners, the first questioners,
should be dissenters, those who sharply disagree, but were
respectful of me, endured what I have to say.
And now, those who wish to dissent
should have at least the first two or three questions,
and then it's opened up for everyone.
Let me just say, and re-- first of all,
we're very grateful to you.
Anybody is welcome to ask a question.
Keep your question short, respectful, and civil.
That's all we ask.
And since Professor Finkelstein has
asked for people who have questions that are
from other viewpoints, is that?
I prefer those who were respectful, but found
it difficult to digest what I have to say,
they should be allowed to go first.
We prefer if you come up and speak into the mic please.
Mr Finkelstein, I'd like to ask you a question about something
that you have said in a past lecture.
You say in May 8, 2005 lecture at the University of Illinois,
that Alan Dershowitz's book, The Case for Israel is sheer
unadulterated from the first uppercase letter
the last period, a complete fraud.
However, the New York Times said about the same book
that Dershowitz knows how to construct
an argument, especially effective
at pointing out the hypocrisy of many of Israel's critics.
This book is also praised by the Washington Post, London Times,
Jerusalem Post, and [INAUDIBLE].
Can you please explain how you and the Times
came to such different conclusions
about the same book?
Well, that's a perfectly reasonable question.
And here, I would say that each person
has to use his or her own judgment, his or her
own reasoning faculty.
I reached my conclusion after reading the book
carefully several times.
I probably read it more times than Professor Dershowitz read
And I examined the sources, checked his citations.
And I reached the conclusion the book was a complete fraud.
And I said as much when I publicly
debated him on Democracy Now.
I agree with you, or what would be implicit in your question,
had I limited myself to simply declaring the book of fraud
or a fake from the first uppercase
letter to the last period, had I limited myself to that,
you would have probably excellent grounds
for questioning my judgment.
But I recognized that a responsible person cannot limit
him or herself to simply an ad hominem attack or an epithet.
You have a responsibility to document it.
On Democracy Now, I debated him up for approximately two hours.
And I tried to cite some of the documentation.
You can watch the program and decide for yourself
how effective he was in rebutting my claims.
But then, I went one step further, which is I sat down,
and I wrote a book approximately 320 pages in length
in which I literally went through each and every one
of his claims, literally.
I know it sounds boring, and it sounds tedious.
And what I did was, I juxtaposed his claims,
not against what Professor Finkelstein says,
not against what the Palestinian Authority says,
not against what the Arab League says,
I simply took each and every one of his claims
and juxtaposed it against what mainstream human rights
organizations have to say, most importantly,
the Israeli human rights organizations.
So I quote what B'Tselem, the Israeli Center for Human Rights
in the Occupied Territories has to say,
what PCATI, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel
has to say, what Physicians for Human Rights in Israel
has to say.
I juxtaposed the two.
And I show that in each and every one
of his claims from the first to the last,
he's completely falsified what the documentary record shows.
Again, you have to use your judgment.
And that means, if this issue is important enough to you--
and we all have 1,000 things in our life--
but if it's important enough to you,
you sit down, read the book, juxtapose
when I say or the citations I use against Dershowitz's, and
decide for yourself.
But bear in mind, there's one very big difference
between Professor Dershowitz and myself.
Well, many, but one thing that's germane here this evening.
The big difference was, I have complete faith
in the reasoning faculty of ordinary human beings.
We're not talking about particle physics here.
We're not talking about rocket science.
Most ordinary people, having the abilities
of Cartesian logic, elementary reasoning, and evidence,
can judge for themselves.
So I proceeded to write a book.
The big difference between Professor Dershowitz and myself
is, I did not try to suppress his publication.
I'm not afraid of the truth.
I'm happy to throw my book out there, and let
people decide for themselves.
It was Professor Dershowitz who mounted a campaign threatening
in his words.
He said, if University of California Press
publishes his book, I'm quoting him now,
"I will own that publishing house."
He then went as far as the terminator.
He went to Arnold Schwarzenegger,
the Governor of California, to try
to block publication of the book.
And to the credit of Governor Schwarzenegger,
he formally replied that this was
a freedom of speech issue and academic freedom,
and he wasn't going to intervene.
Whether Schwarzenegger knew was talking about, I don't know.
But it was still a victory.
I'm not afraid to test my claim against what the record shows.
And I might add, my publishing house was very cautious.
My book went through nine outside readers, and five libel
lawyers, because they were very fearful of Professor
Dershowitz's libel threats.
Not because they thought they would lose the case,
that wasn't the problem.
The problem is with most libel cases,
they're never settled in court.
They're settled out of court.
And they're very expensive.
And so my publisher said, if Professor Dershowitz sues us
in New York-- they're in California-- they said,
we don't even have enough money to fly our staff out
to New York.
You know, it's a university publishing house.
I now have to sort of-- not sort of-- I
have to throw the ball in your court,
and say, you read the book.
You look at the evidence, and to do what I think
is the right thing to do.
The right thing to do is not to believe me.
I don't believe in that.
You shouldn't believe me.
I always like the credo that Karl Marx-- he was once asked,
what's the credo you live by?
And he said, de omnibus dubitandum--
to doubt everything.
And I grew up in a generation where a lot of people
liked to wear this black button with the words, two
words, question authority.
And I think that's a wise way to conduct one's life.
So you shouldn't believe the New York Times.
You shouldn't believe Dershowitz.
And telling you, coming straight from me, don't believe me.
Use your own brain.
Go read the sources and decide for yourself.
I missed part of your speech, so I
don't know how much I disagree and how much I agree.
But just to give you a background,
I'm a Jewish Zionist, and at the same time,
I don't feel that the issue needs
to be as polarized as you experience it, people
like Dershowitz and perhaps yourself.
In that, a lot of what you say, I very much agree with.
And if we're looking at where I think
there is an area of cognitive dissonance for me,
and my question really is, is it an area for you as well,
has to do not with two state solution,
because most Jews in the United States
and Israel are for that, or even the boundaries.
It has to do with the right of return for Palestinians.
And obviously the cognitive dissonance
is that there is grave injustice that I can see,
and a lot of people can see in expelling Palestinians.
At the same time, we imagine what
it would be like were Israel to open the gates
and have a tremendous influx of non-Jews.
It would eventually become a non-Jewish state.
There's my cognitive dissonance.
And I would ask of you, because you were presenting it as this
is all very simple situation.
But I wondered if you had cognitive dissonance
on any of this as well.
Well, first of all, I know people in the audience
may disagree with me.
And I'm not trying to-- I'm not out to win a popularity
I want to settle the conflict.
And settling the conflict means trying to honestly deal
with these questions.
I think that's a reasonable question.
I'm not sure if I would use a fancy term
like cognitive dissonance.
You know, I try to steer away from this terminology, which
tries make this conflict sound more complicated than it is.
It is a difficult question.
One has to make a distinction, however, my opinion,
between what is your legal right, and then,
how do you resolve the question Practically what does
that mean for our purposes?
If you'll allow me a small illustration.
I'm not comparing-- please bear in mind--
I'm not comparing magnitudes of suffering.
I'm trying to simply illustrate a point.
Magnitudes of suffering, there's no comparison, obviously.
I was, as you know, I was denied tenure at DePaul.
DePaul's case was not very strong.
In fact, DePaul's case was preposterous.
And my lawyers said-- I had wonderful lawyer who's
a close friend of mine, Lynne Bernabei-- and she said,
you know, Norman, you go to court, you can win the case.
And you'll win your right of return to DePaul.
See, that's an open and shut case.
DePaul acknowledged you are an excellent teacher and scholar.
How can they deny you tenure?
But she said, Norm, do you really
want to spend the next six years in court?
Because you'd have-- that's how long tenure cases usually take.
By the time I got tenure, I'd be already too late.
I'm not a spring chicken anymore.
And it would also mean consuming valuable time for me.
And I rather work on my political commitments
than on this academic freedom issue,
because I never believed in academic freedom.
I just think it's nonsense.
It's a myth.
So she said, OK, if you don't want to go to court--
and she said, I agree with you-- then we
have to aim for a settlement.
And we got a settlement.
And the settlement had to have two components.
Number one, our settlement have to have a public recognition
They had committed an injustice against me.
They dragged me through the mud the last year, maligned
my name, slandered me, character assassinated me.
They have to acknowledge, no, Professor Finkelstein was
an outstanding professor at this school.
And they did.
The statement said, we acknowledge
Professor Finkelstein was an outstanding teacher
and a prolific scholar.
And then the second component was a financial component
to the settlement.
Now, I never gave up my right to return.
I still think I had the right.
But all things considered, I was willing to reach a settlement,
which I thought under the circumstances was reasonable.
And I say the same principle with the Palestinians.
They have the right.
It is incontestable.
I can tell you from personal knowledge.
As I said earlier, Human Rights Watch
is a conservative organization.
And when the issue of the right of return came up,
a member of the board of directors for the first time
hired a private lawyer to try to prove the Palestinians didn't
have a right of return.
And it created a huge schism in the organization.
But at the end of the day, they researched
a dozen other examples of refugee generation in the war.
And they said, there can't be any question.
The Palestinians have the right to return.
So we can't contest that right.
Acknowledge the right, and then, if you
think that it's unfeasible, you believe, then
you have to make the Palestinians an offer which
they're willing to accept.
Nobody has the right to tell the Palestinians
they have no right.
If you think that Israel can't meet that demand,
then you have to make an offer to them, a settlement
offer, which just like myself, they're willing to accept.
But what I will not accept is anybody
telling the Palestinians as a precondition for negotiations,
that they have to give up the right.
That's their right.
At one of the schools where I taught, at Brooklyn College,
when I was fired in 1992, some students who were upset.
And they went to one of the radical professors on campus,
and said, you know, don't you think
you should fight for Norm's right to stay?
And he said, well, I think Finkelstein would be happier
And I thought to myself, hey, I thought
I was supposed to be the one to decide that.
We have no right tell other people
what to do with their rights.
Our responsibility is to support their rights.
And then, if somebody thinks, the other side thinks,
it can't work, OK, make them an offer.
And I can't say I'm fully cognizant of the Arab
or the Palestinian mind, whenever that means.
But my experience has been, Palestinians
are perfectly reasonable.
Make a reasonable offer, and let's see what happens.
But let's just be clear, the Israeli position
now is a nonstarter.
The official Israeli position is to quote Ehud Barak in Camp
David, "We will not accept any moral, legal,
or historical responsibility for what
happened to the Palestinians."
That's like DePaul refusing to acknowledge
what happened to me.
No, that's a nonstarter.
I can tell you from personal experience,
I'm not allowed to discuss the terms of my settlement,
but had DePaul not issued that statement,
we're going to court.
Yes, I want my dignity restored.
I want my humanity restored.
And the Palestinians have that right as well.
You can't tell them they have no historical to be in the country
where they were born, and where all of their ancestors
And now, you're going to come along and say
they had no right to be there.
No, you're not.
Be respectful of other people's feelings and sufferings.
My closest friend in the occupied territories,
and one of my closest friends for life,
Musa Abu Hashhash, he's the Hebron field representative
for B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center
for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
And he grew up in Fuwwar Camp.
And he said to me, you know Norm,
I'm conservative on the refugee question.
And he took me to the room where his family grew up.
The room is about a little bigger than this podium.
And no, he's not going to accept that you're simply
going to abolish the whole history,
and pretended it didn't happen.
That's a nonstarter.
Respect other people's dignity.
Respect their suffering.
And I'm fully confident that you could achieve a settlement
with the Palestinians.
But not under terms that Israel's now presenting,
namely, we don't even begin negotiations
until the Palestinians give up their rights.
No, they don't.
Nobody has to give up their rights.
And nobody has the right to tell them to give up their rights.
Our responsibility is to defend their rights,
and then see what happens.
Mr. Finkelstein, in 1948, the UN approved the partition
of the state of Israel into a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Jordan to the west and Egypt to the south
had both previously been created, and attacked first
upon the creation of the state of Israel.
Egypt and Jordan had the opportunity
between 1948 and 1967 to create a Palestinian state.
Why was there not the same response
when the region was under Jordanian and Egyptian control?
You know I won't just say-- young man, I'm not in any way
trying to be insulting.
I'm way past that.
I want to end the conflict.
And I want to be reasonable.
But it does trouble me.
And I'm want you to think about it.
You come here with canned questions.
I gave a lecture.
You know, I spoke for around an hour.
And there was a large amount of material in what I had to say.
You don't even listen.
You just come in here with a prepared question
that has nothing whatsoever to do
with what I was speaking about.
It's as if I were giving a lecture on particle physics,
and you're coming here and talking about botany.
You don't even listen.
You really have to-- my opinion-- open your mind
You're not looking at an enemy here.
And you shouldn't come in-- my opinion--
you shouldn't come in with these canned questions which
Hallel gives you, or some other organization, to prepare you.
Listen, and think for yourself.
And then, I think we can make some progress.
Think for yourself.
Where was I unreasonable?
What statement of mine was factually untrue?
What did I misrepresent?
How did I try to pull the wool over the eyes of the audience?
I could sit down here now and speak to you
at great length about what happened
in 1947 and thereafter.
But I didn't provide any background material
to give an answer to a question like that.
I didn't lecture on the topic.
It's absolutely meaningless now for me to answer that question.
Most people in the room don't even
know what you're referring to.
I don't understand how you engage in a dialogue that way.
Do you want me to start telling you
that in 1947, Israel had already struck a deal with Jordan
to absorb the West Bank?
Do you want me to tell you that Egypt never annexed the Gaza?
Egypt never annexed the Gaza.
That between 1947 and 1967, the position of the Arab world
was still to restore the rights of the Palestinians
to the whole of Palestine.
After 1967, when that became an unrealistic demand,
the Arab League's, or the Arab countries,
beginning in the early 1970s then in concert
with the entire international community,
came to accept the two state settlement.
And that's the genesis of what we have now today.
I could go through the whole history.
With all due respect, from well before you were born,
I was reading about it.
And the number of books I read sometimes I think
could fill this whole room.
It's actually rather depressing.
The world is a very big place, and my entire adult life
was devoted to learning about one tiny corner of it.
But I don't see the purpose of doing that now.
First of all, I doubt you even know the scholarly literature
on the topic.
It's easy for me to make rings around you.
I could cite a 1,000 difference resources.
I could make you look foolish.
I don't see the point of it.
Why don't you listened to what I have to say, and answer?
With all due respect, it's a very pertinent question.
I'm not sure.
Why is it pertinent?
Explain to me why it's pertinent.
Since 1967, the world has been on a constant onslaught
against Israel, stating that they
must give back the 1947 creation of the state of Palestine.
However, in 1947, when the original partition plan
had been approved, there was just as much opportunity
to create a second state in the region.
Why was there no pressure at that point
to follow through with what the 1947 partition stated?
Well, I told you why.
From between 1947 to 67, the Arab states
did not accept the legitimacy of the state of Israel.
And now that as it were, progress has been made,
it seems you want to turn the clock back,
to when they didn't accept.
I acknowledge, progress has been made.
The Arab world, all 22 members of the Arab League,
Now, are you upset by that fact?
Would you rather they deny Israel's existence?
Would you rather they call for the elimination
of the state of Israel?
Do you prefer that?
I don't understand why.
If you're truly interested in resolving the conflict, not
looking for pretexts, not looking for excuses,
not looking for alibis, it seems to me
you would welcome a change of heart,
and a change of heart which has now
endured for nearly 30 years.
That would seem for those who seek
a diplomatic settlement, that would seem to me grounds
But if you don't want a diplomatic settlement,
if you're looking for all sorts of excuses,
because you want to steal other people's land,
because you want to control their lives,
because you want to render lives so intolerable
and so unbearable that they'll finally pack up and leave
and go wherever they can.
If that's your goal, then yes, more
than anything else in the world you're
going to dread the record I've just
gone over, because that record is your big problem.
The problem is, for whatever reason,
the Arab world, the Palestinians,
have expressed the willingness to accept
the international consensus and resolve the conflict.
And unfortunately, that's what Israel dreads.
And that's apparently what you dread.
Because you don't want to talk about the last 30 years.
You want to go back.
I could go back too.
I can go back and say, well Israel's top historian now,
Benny Morris, he says, quote that "Expulsion--
what he calls transfer-- was built into Zionism."
It was built in.
It was inevitable.
And then he goes and says, that the chief motor
of Arab resistance to Zionism was
the fear of territorial dispossession and territorial
Well, I ask you, why should the Palestinians
have accepted a movement, accepted a movement,
which according to Israel's leading historian now, built
into it was their expulsion.
He says it was inbuilt into Zionism.
It was inevitable.
It seems to me then, the Palestinian position
was perfectly reasonable.
Does anyone think any country has--
any people has the responsibility
to commit to politicide?
And they resisted why?
Exactly what Morris said, the fear of territorial expulsion,
That seems to me reasonable.
And the Palestinian position was completely reasonable.
But time has passed, and now there's a formula available.
You have to ask yourself the question, why
do Israelis and the Israeli government, and their alleged
supporters, why did they dread that record so much?
Why is it I'm talking about 1967 to the present,
and you don't want to hear from it?
You want to go back to '48.
You don't want to hear that the other side is
willing to settle.
Why don't you want to hear that?
I don't understand that, unless you don't want a settlement,
a negotiated settlement.
And then, the only alternative is to annihilate them.
Only two more questions [INAUDIBLE]
I think you were next.
An Israeli historian has said that Israeli state was modeled
after the-- the Israeli state of society
was modeled after America pioneers.
Now, he meant that in a benign way, but in your opinion,
do you think-- is it a part of a manifest destiny
that Israel is a settler, illegal settler colonial state?
And we know America's not going to give back the land
to it's indigenous people.
And that now, tt the whole critique of what he wrote
was that America sees the state of Israel in its own eyes
as being some sort of people being dispossessed,
and architects of Zionism [INAUDIBLE], and so
forth, people returning.
Go to a land because they've been oppressed,
and these programs and whatnot.
Now, do you see-- it's a long question-- do you see
Israel, the state legal of Israel,
in a two party state nation living side by side with people
Who, Obama's chief of staff, who I think has dual citizenship,
father was in a terrorist, I forget, Irgun or whatever was--
Do you actually believe-- and I'm
justi-- I'm not opposed to what you are saying--
but realistically, do see them ever living side by side
peacefully, harmoniously, egalitarianly,
with people they despise as the American settlers despised
the indigenous people and looked at them as savages?
And one more question, in the same line, Obama recently
in doing his campaign, went to APEC, promised $30 billion
to the anti-Zionist for the action committee.
$30 billion to the state of Israel over 10 years.
Now, Biden wrote a thing called a greater Zion,
I don't know if it ever passed-- basically,
where Israel would control the whole so-called Middle East.
What's your question?
Hold on, I'm getting to it.
I've got the mic.
Now my question is do you realistically believe--
you really realistically believe that the legal state of Israel
will live peacefully side by side?
And would America will allow that?
And what does America and the state of Israel have with Iraq?
What are their roles with Iraq?
And what role does Israel, the legal state of Israel,
play in that?
Thank you for your question.
Actually, I happen to think those
are legitimate and important questions.
On the first question, namely, can I actually conceive
them living side by side, as you said
in an egalitarian fashion, mutual respect, and so forth,
Right-- excuse me?
You know, there are two aspects.
So I'll speak now as an American--
American in our own history.
There was once a point when Martin Luther
King was agitating, sit downs, sit ins, civil disobedience.
And somebody said to him, you know, you keep this up,
you're going to alienate all these white people.
And how do you expect to get along with them
and live with them in peace when you're constantly
creating all of this ruckus and creating all of this mayhem?
And he replied that-- he says, you'll
never get white people to love you
that way, it was said to him.
And he replied, that first I want white people
to stop lynching me.
And then I'll worry about them loving me.
That seems to me--
Put the mic on.
Allow me just-- that seems to me the right sequence.
The first thing is to resolve this problem of the occupation,
to restore the legal rights of the Palestinians
and to end Israel's illegalities,
its gross violations, and criminal acts,
many criminal acts in the occupied territories.
Once we've solved the legal question,
then we move on to the question of love.
And I think it's fair to say, you might want to disagree,
but I think it's fair to say, OK,
white people and black people in the United States
don't love each other.
But there have been in a relatively short
historical period, say 50 years, in terms
of interpersonal relations, leaving aside
the legal questions, there have been improvements
in the United States.
You have to acknowledge, however cynical you
are about the Barack Obama impending presidency--
and nobody is more cynical than I
am on that score-- it nonetheless
has to be acknowledged that it's a tremendous testament
and tribute to the American people,
when you consider what the United States was
like 50 years ago, that they could see it
in themselves to vote for an African American as president.
When Rodney King after the LA riots, he famously said,
why can't we all get along?
When I first heard that line, I thought, my god,
talk about insipid lines.
This is like Dorothy in Oz, or Kansas.
But then after I thought about, I
thought that was really the right line.
Can't we all get along?
And I think the answer is, I retain
the faith, I preserve the hope.
We can all get along.
But I agree with you.
It's got to be get along on mutual respect, mutual honoring
of each other's human dignity.
Anything else, in my book, is unacceptable.
And it's a struggle.
It's a struggle to get the other side to recognize you,
not just in a patronizing way, not just in a condescending
way, and not just in the way of a liberal philanthropist,
but as an equal who has something equally
to contribute to this world.
It's a struggle.
But I think it's possible.
And I think our own experience here
should tell us it's possible.
And I also agree with you, however,
that if Israel continues to carry on
as it does, a murdering and marauder state which treats
the Arabs like fish in a barrel, that goes on these expeditions
periodically in places like Lebanon,
and every time the Lebanese people build up
their country after another onslaught from those vandals
and marauders, Israel goes in again and levels the country.
When you have pathological creatures
like the current leaders of the state of Israel
who now refer to what they call the Dahieh concept--
Dahieh refers to the part of south Beirut
where it was in the last war completely leveled.
It's a moonscape.
That's where the Shia live, the Hezbollah supporters.
It was simply level.
I was in the Dahieh less than a year ago.
And now these Israeli vandals and marauders,
they talk about in the next war, they're
going to turn all of Lebanon into Dahieh.
No, you can't live with people like that.
You can't coexist with people like that.
These people need to be stopped dead in their tracts.
But if they behave respectfully, and they honor and respect
their neighbors, I'm optimistic you can achieve a settlement.
This is the last question.
On the question of the one state solution, I mean,
as you eloquently bring out in your books, et cetera,
exposing the state of Israel from the very beginning
in it's establishment of actually forcing 100s of 1,000s
of Palestinians, killing them and forcing them out
of their country.
And you made a statement that the one state solution
has no international support.
I guess what I would say is, I think the people of the world
want to see the end of the Israel,
just as they want to see the end of US occupation in Iraq.
And many people want to see the end of the US state.
I would just want to say, I think international support,
for example in Vietnam and the struggle
of the Vietnamese people, they got
a lot of international support, especially when they actually
defeated US imperialism.
And I do think that if we look at the question of,
you can't have any kind of commonality
until you get rid of the state of Israel,
and then just establish a democratic state.
That's the question.
With all due respect, I doubt there's
anyone in this room who's more sensitive, cognizant of,
and appalled by, the crimes of the state of Israel.
However, let's maintain our proportions.
What Israel does in a year, the United States
does in the world in an hour.
And so if you want to eliminate states because of the murder,
mayhem, and all the other horrors
they inflict on the world, let's talk about the United States
We want to--
I do want to talk about it.
When you agree with the destruction and elimination
of the American entity, and after that's done,
OK, we can move on to Israel, until then, I
think it's very presumptuous of Americans
to talk about all the crimes that Israel commits.
I mean, go to 9/10 of the world, they're
not talking about the crimes of Zionism.
They're talking about the crimes of the US government.
And yet I myself would say I'm not
supporting the destruction of the United States.
I wouldn't mind, you know, if we take some of those leaders
and do what happened to those folks in Nuremberg.
That's why lampposts were created.
But the destruction of the United States, forget it,
you lost me.