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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Norman Finkelstein - Israel and Palestine

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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

than AT&T.

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

around Ramallah.

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

is assured.

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

overview available.

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

African apartheid.

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

to me."

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--

death camps.

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,

none killed.

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

within Gaza."

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

into retaliating.

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

into retaliating.

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

legitimize Hamas.

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

of negotiations.

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--?


Go ahead.

I'll give it a shot.

I'll say refugees, East Jerusalem, the settlements.

Thank you.

And I was thinking the final resolution of the minor border.

Very good.

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

with Israel.

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,

is legitimate.

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?

Let's see.

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.

It's overwhelming.

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?

Who knows?

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.

Thank you.


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.

Mic on.

Let me just say, and re-- first of all,

we're very grateful to you.

Wonderful evening.

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.


Hi, Professor.

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

by DePaul.

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

were born.

And now, you're going to come along and say

they had no right to be there.

No, you're not.

Be reasonable.

Be reasonable.

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.

Be reasonable.

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

and listen.

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,

have agreed.

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

for rejoicing.

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,

territorial dispossession.

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

they despise?

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.

Hurry up.

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.

Things change.

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.

Good night.


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