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Norman Finkelstein : Interview


Jul 2, 2013
Reaction score
Toronto, Canada
Political Leaning
A great interview.

I posted his comments concerning BDS, but the complete interview is well worth reading.


Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment
By Scott Roth and Phil Weiss
April 27, 2016
Norman Finkelstein on Sanders, the first intifada, BDS, and ten years of unemployment – Mondoweiss

In fact, BDS has proven to be a bonanza for Israel. First, if you look at the genesis of Israel’s current BDS hysteria, it’s illuminating to pinpoint exactly when it began. It started right after Netanyahu was defeated on the Iran issue. Netanyahu and his cronies thrive on conjuring up enemies who allegedly want to destroy Israel. So they manufactured this hysteria about Iran, but it didn’t work because the West wanted to cut a deal. I wasn’t surprised it didn’t work. I’ve said many times, when it comes to critical US foreign policy interests, the Israel lobby is impotent. On Iran, the lobby couldn’t even count on the African-American senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, who was a darling of the lobby and one of the founders of Yale’s Jewish society. When Iran was off the agenda, Netanyahu needed a new Great Satan that was bent on Israel’s destruction. So he grasped at BDS. It became the new pretext for Israel to play victim.

Second, Israel was getting nervous as international public opinion turned against it. What did it do? It claimed that all criticism of Israel was at heart BDS, and that BDS was about destroying Israel. By inflating the threat posed by BDS; and by redefining BDS to encompass all opposition to it, including European Union and church initiatives wholly divorced from BDS; and by subsuming under the rubric of BDS the campaigns in the West that only targeted the settlements and the occupation—by exaggerating the reach and potency of BDS, Israel could delegitimize even its most tepid but also most ominous critics. It could now allege that even they were really, whatever they might avow, seeking Israel’s destruction. The irony is, while Netanyahu wails that BDS wants to delegitimize Israel, in fact, he is manipulating BDS to delegitimize principled criticism of the occupation and settlements.

Third, once Israel began to lose Western public opinion, it had one strategy: change the subject. If it talked about human rights, it couldn’t win. It’s not going to win on human rights, it’s not going to win on the occupation. So, whenever you talk about human rights, Israel wants to talk about anti-Semitism. Whenever you talk about the occupation, it wants to talk about double standards—What about Darfur, What about Syria? Keep changing the subject. That’s its strategy. Now with BDS, it’s been really brilliant. You have to give credit where credit is due. Nobody talks about the blockade of Gaza anymore, it’s all about BDS: Is BDS anti-Semitic? Does BDS want to destroy Israel? It gets to play the victim card again. It has succeeded in changing the subject. But it must also be said that BDS made it very easy for Israel, by refusing to recognize its legality as a state within the pre-June 1967 borders. BDS enabled Israel to wrap itself in the cloak of victimhood. When the New York Times opens its columns to debates on Zionism, Mondoweiss says it’s a historic breakthrough. But the Israelis actually relish it. Let’s talk about Zionism. Let’s talk about BDS. Let’s talk about everything, everything—except what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.
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