Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finkelstein, BDS and the destruction of Israel

Norman Finkelstein's views on the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement may be somewhat shortsighted.

By Ali Abunimah

"Chicago, IL - In a recent and highly controversial interview, Norman Finkelstein, long a scourge of Israel, turned his guns on Palestinians and their supporters. He accused the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement of being a "cult", and claimed that its achievements were mostly exaggerated.

But what exercised Finkelstein most was his conclusion that if implemented, the demands of the2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS, would amount to "the destruction of Israel".

Finkelstein lay into the three "tiers" of the BDS call: that Israel end its occupation of Arab lands conquered in 1967; that it end all forms of discrimination and guarantee equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and that it respect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees, including the right of return.

"They don't want Israel," Finkelstein declared, "They think they're being very clever. They call it their three tiers... We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What's the result? You know and I know what's the result: there's no Israel."

Finkelstein demanded that Palestinians drop this programme, "Because, if we end the occupation and bring back six million Palestinians and we have equal rights for Arabs and Jews, there's no Israel." He also insisted that a "two-state solution" was the only outcome supported by international law.

Putting the BDS call to the test

For the sake of argument, let's put Finkelstein's thesis to the test. But before I do that, let me make clear where I stand. As is well known, I support, and believe, that the eventual outcome in historic Palestine will be a single state.

Many supporters of the BDS movement, including some of its founders are on record calling for the same. But the BDS call itself is agnostic, focusing on the rights of Palestinians, not on state arrangements - something Finkelstein insisted was mere deception.

Here, I am going to do what I normally never do. Argue the case for a two-state solution that meets all the demands of the BDS call. Moreover, it should meet fully with Finkelstein's approval as well, because it will be based on a solution that he himself endorsed....."

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