Saturday, August 9, 2014

Finkelstein's Critique of "BDS Movement"

Finkelstein credits his political analysis to Gandhi.

But it seems to me a very shallow political/psychological analysis to me.

The first step in reaching people is honesty and openness.  So when someone asks what you think, the worst thing to do is to deflect the question.

I think the right thing would be for Palestinians to have their stolen country returned.  The whole thing, going back to before any zionist violence and aggression occurred.  That's obvious and the minimum degree of fairness because it's not even counting the death, pain, and suffering that has occurred as a result of zionist and Israeli violence and aggression.

Most people can understand and sympathize with people getting their land back.  It's the knowledge that it happened that's been delayed by cold war fears and hasbara distortions, including the basic distortion that somehow it was and is illegal and immoral for Palestinians to resist the original and continuing dispossession.

Now that those distortions are being debunked, and often by people like Finkelstein and Chomsky, it becomes apparent what happened and is still happening, and the fundamentally cruel and murderous character of the whole Zionist project.

If and when Palestinian lands are returned to their rightful owners, I don't care if that means a Jewish State couldn't exist there anymore.  I'm fine with a Jewish state existing or not, I don't care much about that specific fact, though I think all (including Jews) are better off without a Jewish supremacy State, and I especially don't think a Jewish State should exist on stolen land needing endless death (or worse) with USA military backing and deceit to continue existing

That's a dangerous and murderous business for my state--the USA--to be in…militarily and diplomatically defending both the morally indefensible theft of a country, and to be doing so to the hatred of a large fraction of the world's population, if not more.  I rue the day Truman got us into this mess by making the U.S. the first state to recognize the State of Israel on 78% of a stolen country.

So I support BDS.  Others can have their own reasons, like the notion that UN law must be applied.  Generally I think that's a good idea, but one can argue about the details, and here I can argue with all of them, going at least back to the unfair preallocation of 55% of the land (which grew to 78% and now more by aggression) including most of the coastline to a minority Jewish population by the UN in 1947.    That doesn't represent any fundamental notion of fairness.  It happened because of the power politics of the day.  Today the power politics occurs more exclusively in the Security Council, which has kept Israel free of UN sanction and peacekeepers.

Maybe because I know so much about this whole situation, the actual law has been far more fair to Jews than Palestinians.  Let alone the fact that none of what would have been good for Palestinians has actually been done (and maybe that would be correctible with existing states…or maybe not--I think.)

But even if you're not some kind of junkie on this issue, as I am, I honestly don't think that "International Law must be applied" resonates as much as all the various notions of fundamental justice, like that theft is wrong and what is stolen should be returned.

If there's an organization or proto-organization which wants to promote the International Law aspect differently than existing BDS organizations, I'm fine with them existing, in fact I'd love to see that too.  They could consider themselves part of the existing BDS movement or not.  Maybe they'd grow much bigger and ultimately win.

The fact they don't suggests that maybe the International Law aspect doesn't resonate with people as much as the fundamental justice one.

Now what actual Palestinians decide they are willing to accept is not up to me anyway.  The BDS movement creates the pressure for change, not the change itself.  No one should expect anything like fundamental justice can be achieved.

Many have felt that radical thinking and ideas make reforms possible.  Many of Marx's ideas did get adopted in 20th century USA.  Hardly all, of course.  Many credit the New Deal reforms to political success achieved by US Socialists and Communists as well as opportunists like Huey Long.  That created the need for the mainstream FDR to respond with mainstream reform.  If the pressure from the further left hadn't appeared, FDR's achievements would likely have been far less.

Chomsky seems to completely follow Finkelstein in his critique of the BDS movement.  But strangely in most other areas outside the Israel/Palistine war…Chomsky has been reluctant to tell people what to do.  He says something like there are many obvious things to do.

That is actually the correct thing to say, in every case I'd say.

So why is Chomsky himself, at one time at least believer in the one state with equality for all Jews and Palestinians (including when he lived there), so much fine tuning the required goal for action here?  Action occurs as people are moved, not as we would intend them to.

He does tell the compelling story of how once the 2 state settlement became possible, when Arafat of the PLO accepted the outlines of a 2 state settlement according to UN law in 1975…Israel and the US worked to make it impossible.  But it's still not entirely impossible, he says.  Others are not so sure.

Chomsky goes beyond just mentioning international law, but the international community, leading Palestinian authorities, etc.  Pretty much the main thing blocking UN direct action is the vote of USA in the Security Council.  No nation should have veto, and especially the USA.

Anyway, it does seem to me that Chomsky becomes uncharacteristically directing in his response to this issue for the same reason as Finkelstein.  He cares a lot about it, perhaps even personally, for Palestinians to have peace now, and not 100 years from now.  Strangely, however, Chomsky often suggests other issues in the world may be much more important, or at least involve greater death and suffering.

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