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Audio of Norman Finkelstein & John Dugard at UC Berkeley, 10/15/08
Norman Finkelstein's talk in Berkeley on Feb 13, 2008* generated much controversy because of his arrogant dismissal of the moral cause for a secular *re-unified* state in Palestine, and his support for Western imperialism's apartheid 2-state "solution" and an 85% territorial fait accompli for Israel. This time, 8 months later, Finkelstein arrogantly tells the oppressed, the Palestinian people, that they and their human rights supporters shouldn't even mention -- let alone criticize, condemn or debate -- Zionism, the racist European Jewish colonial ideology that has brutally attacked, oppressed and displaced millions of indigenous families in Palestine, Lebanon and now, in part, even in Iraq (Israel is there too). Some of NF's Q&A answers were, as before, much more negatively revealing, to anyone beyond a liberal, than his lecture itself.
[The audio quality is again unfortunately only fair, and may require a higher playback volume due to the placement of the recorder [I'll get it better next time], but fortunately it's almost fully comprehensible.]
So, there you have it: "Zionism" the newest "taboo" word (after "Israel lobby") -- for everyone but Jewish & Christian Zionists. Finkelstein quotes Gandhi (who called Zionism "a crime against humanity") at the beginning of his lecture, but ironically doesn't see how Gandhi's quote about not giving up fundamental principles applies directly to Finkelstein himself these days, amazingly *since* his firing from DePaul University. Or, is it that Norman Finkelstein (like, especially, Noam Chomsky and most other *such* Jewish "progressive" national lecture circuit icons), who also opposes any *practical* (even nonviolent) means, support and tools of resistance (like anti-Zionist boycotts, divestments and sanctions movements) for the indigenous Palestinians against Israeli Zionism, now even opposes the *practical* terms and tools of debate?
Finkelstein, in his 'MY WAY IS THE *ONLY* WAY' arrogance, calls even mentioning the word Zionism -- as well as, before, mentioning terms like Apartheid and Jim Crow -- as "stirring up some sort of demagogy", sloganeering, unrealistic (yet what bearing on Palestinian *reality* has his suddenly new approach had?), not being serious, no way to reach people, only talking to yourselves, untimely, and engaged in leftist cliches (projecting his self-confessed behavior, "back when I was a young man", as well as his hypocritical rudeness)! Furthermore, Finkelstein, a white man of his age, unbelievably and unembarrassingly proclaimed, with all his intellectually racial/racist callousness or dishonesty, "I never for the life of me understood what the expression 'Jim Crow' meant!"
So, I guess Finkelstein thought that Martin Luther King, in condemning American "Jim Crow" apartheid, and Nelson Mandela, in condemning South African apartheid, were "stirring up some sort of demagogy", sloganeering, unrealistic, not serious, didn't reach anyone, and were only talking to themselves.
Or, as I said, prefacing my question to Finkelstein, "The KKK, from the right, cursing white liberals as race traitors did not prevent Martin Luther King, from the left, criticizing white [Christian and Jewish] liberals when appropriate". White liberals who -- especially like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky today -- even opposed nonviolent direct action and then called even King's direct language unwise, untimely, and his goals unrealistic, and the liberals always said, "now is not the time", like Finkelstein says today. King said that, "the white moderate preferred order, over justice".
And that's why the liberal so-called "peace movement" in Israel is called "Peace Now", but not "Justice Now!" And like all liberals, Finkelstein wants to criticize the *symptoms* of brutal Zionist racism, but not the *disease*: he doesn't even want us to *name* the *disease*! The disease that explains all the symptoms -- and explains, for all those who don't understand, *why* this virulent disease does what it does. Switching metaphors, now that Israel's house of inequality has been constructed in Palestine, they can take down the scaffolding (how it was built) and the house remains: the Zionist liberals/apologists want it prettified, and Finkelstein wants, now that it's safely built, its new tenants to not only settle down, but to stop being so ugly.
And he wants the Western imperialists who fund Israel to tell the IDF and the armed-to-the-teeth Jewish fundamentalists to stop hoo-ridin' through, and bombin' and shootin' shit up in, the Palestinian ghettos: to be happy with 85% of the land, 95% of the resources, and a hyper-squiggly trifurcated so-called "Palestinian state" on what's left over, and call it "fair & square" & a day! After all, Finkelstein has declared that he is "fundamentally loyal to the state of Israel" as a Jewish state -- which the Zionist morons who protest him don't understand, that he, Chomsky, Avnery, Halper, Bennis, Palast and other such 'progressive Zionists' (a contradiction in terms) are trying to *save* from white apartheid South Africa's fate: political and ideological decolonization (although not the end of *economic* apartheid there), and geographical reunification.
King said that, "Shallow understanding from people [supposedly] of good will [like those who applauded NF's most inane and intellectually non sequitur answers] is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." He said that milquetoast white liberals were "the greatest stumbling blocks" of all, and I'd bet that he said that true justice and direct speech were *always* "untimely" and "unrealistic" to them. (See, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", by Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and that'll tell Finkelstein what Jim Crow was, since he still doesn't know.) And King said that, "Peace is not merely the absence of violence, but the presence of justice!" Now, I could quote Malcom X too about getting justice -- because he really didn't pull any punches -- but I know that liberals prefer Martin over Malcolm. (Btw, 'they' shot Martin too.)
Finkelstein poo-hoo'd the idea of a reunified Palestine, back in his February lecture, as the call of outlandish utopian Berkeley Marxist armchair purists. Interesting epithet. Back during American slavery, the conservatives said, "Keep slavery the way it is"; the liberals said, "Abolish slavery?: that's unrealistic, a nonstarter, now's not the time -- keep slavery but don't make it quite so brutal"; but the "purists" demanded, "Abolish slavery all together, forever!"
Finkelstein said that "the Zionists succeeded because they were more hardworking, disciplined, and committed in their message to the people" -- totally ahistorical, rather than that the imperialists found them happily useful at the time. But this is the guy who said his lawyer said that he would probably win Finkelstein's tenure denial case -- [a case that would have been the tenure equivalent of Brown vs. the Board of Education! -- a victory that would go wayyy beyond one person -- a victory that would have been *a major defeat* against the Israel lobby, the greatest domestic enemy of justice for the Palestinian people] -- but it would take about 6-8 years, or you (NF) could take a financial settlement, take the money and run, now -- suddenly, then, abandoning his tenure supporters (including his university student supporters).
Would Finkelstein say that people should have stopped protesting -- or the Vietnamese stop fighting -- the Vietnam War 6-8 years after it began? Would he have said that the Palestinian people should have stopped resisting 6-8 years after Zionism took over Palestine? Would he have said that Blacks should have stopped resisting slavery, Jim Crow or Apartheid 6-8 years after they began?
Isn't it obvioius?: anyone who says that progressives should stop critcizing Zionism, or minimizes or dismisses the Israel lobby (which Prof. Dugard told me was a critical impediment), is not (at least not any longer) an anti-Zionist.
Finkelstein, always lecturing us "unrealistic utopian purists" about discipline, commitment, doing the hard work, and principles, went for the money, because he didn't have the stomach for 6-8 years in such a tenure case of such major implications (and it's not like he would have been in prison; he'd have been an international progressive cause celebre the whole time, writing and being invited to speak all over the world, that much more!) -- in a case he said that his lawyer said he probably would have won!
My good lefty attorney housemate said, "You'd be surprised how many people who always talk the most about principles just quickly take the money and run."
(At least then Prof. Marcy Wong, denied tenure at UC Berkeley in the 1990's, fought 6-8 years for a cool $1 Million Dollars plus attorney fees! -- didn't suddenly abandon her supporters in the meantime -- wouldn't even sign a secrecy agreement about the amount! -- and wouldn't take a penny less! -- while it sent a major public message to the university!)
And one person later said, "And to think that we ["progressives"] are still arguing about the use of the term Zionism? Egads...! Is there some rule that the term can only be used within the boundaries of greater Israel? The term is ubiquitous there among Jews, as well as among Jews in pro-Israel lobbies in the US."
A Black progressive grassroots media activist friend of mine said it best and most succinctly: "White liberals get offended anytime you directly identify the *root* of the problem."
Or, as one Arab American said, "Why did Norman Finkelstein sacrifice his university career just to become a Zionist apologist?"