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Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein

Norman Finkelstein Makes an Astonishing Admission

Norman Finkelstein

This video has to be seen to be believed. Longtime pro-Palestinian apologist Norman Finkelstein seems to have had it with the “cult” of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is great news in itself, but it gets even better. Although clearly still no friend of Israel, Finkelstein does make the crux of the case for Israel, conceding that the BDS Movement and similar organizations really just want to wipe out Israel.

He cautions that some of the BDS activists are merely deluded about the true nature of the movement’s aims, but states that the vast majority of the activists just want to do away with Israel, period. And while this majority thinks they are right to make the case for the Palestinians and not a case for Israel as well, they are instead just building a cult among themselves because they will get no traction in the public with this strategy. If they are serious, and want to win in the court of public opinion, he says, then they have to be serious about the rights of Israel and the Jews as well.

Finkelstein emphatically points out that they are not serious about Israel’s existential rights, and he, having already followed the ineffectual cult of Maoism as a youth, is not about to follow a cult again. He says that as it stands the BDS Movement and all the seemingly high-minded organizations like it are a cult that has few successes and mostly talks to itself. The Movement thinks success will come through time and hard work, but the public will never accept a political formulation that does not accept the State of Israel as legitimate. He thinks there is an historic opportunity to actually resolve the question of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, with both sides making undesired concessions, but this goal can never be achieved through the Movement’s current line of argument.

What an admission! Someone important within their own movement has made it clear that the BDS Movement and its like-minded sister organizations are not about helping the Palestinians so much as they are bent on destroying Israel. In this recent interview, Finkelstein makes the arguments noted above, but there are also interesting counter-arguments made by a BDS leader against Finkelstein’s points. His critics are clearly not qualified to answer Finkelstein and their arguments are contorted. Finkelstein has plainly just had enough of their sophisms and cult operations.

Stepping back a bit, this is also a good look at J-Street and organizations such as B’tselem and even Peace Now. Include here intellectuals such as Peter Beinart and Tony Judt and author Tony Kushner. The issue is not their opposition to the Israeli government, the issue is their tacit support for such organizations as the International Solidarity Movement. By not criticizing these entities, openly and publicly, by only directing their “fire” at Israel, they too bring themselves under suspicion of being part of the cult Finkelstein criticizes.

Here is the New Israel Fund’s (NIF) contorted explanation of its approach to the BDS Movement in 2010:

NIF supports an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories as a central tenet of the strategic framework in which we operate. The tactics known as ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) are designed to pressure Israel to end the occupation, but NIF believes these tactics to be unproductive, inflammatory and ineffective because of the difficulties in defining an approach that is not overly broad, does not delegitimize Israel and will achieve the long-term goal.

Although we will continue to communicate publicly and privately to our allies and grantees that NIF does not support BDS as a strategy or tactic, we will not reduce or eliminate our funding for grantees that differ with us on a tactical matter. NIF will not fund BDS activities nor support organizations for which BDS is a substantial element (JSJ emphasis) of their activities, but will support organizations that conform to our grant requirements if their support for BDS is incidental or subsidiary to their significant programs.”

Here is its 2012 position now on its website regarding any boycott of Settlement goods and services:

NIF opposes the occupation and subsequent settlement activities. NIF will not exclude support for organizations that discourage the purchase of goods or use of services from settlements.”

Finkelstein knows that the BDS Movement is a “wink-wink” for the destruction of Israel, and even though the New Israel Fund over the years has changed and moderated its position and become less formally supportive of BDS, it refuses to break with it.

OK folks, I think we have our smoking gun.

Click here to view the interview.

About Stan Kreis

Stan Kreis
Stan Kreis has degrees in sociology, economics and accounting. Therefore he is wise, literate, financially sound and married to Kathryn Bernheimer (she would never marry anyone without such credentials). Grave marker: "the world was his oyster, unfortunately, he ate it and got stomach cramps."

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  1. Bruce Shaffer

    You'll find me nowhere near Norman Finkelstein, but my friend Stan Kreis' consistent want to put my Facebook friend Peter Beinart in the same boat is matched by my want to bail him out. Not that he needs me to. PB broke the NF story to his 3245 Facebook friends on Feb 14, with this comment: "NF (rightly) cr itiques BDS movement for 1 state. Not too late to get him for the AIPAC conf!". That may be how, indirectly, Stan knows about the interview, too. Why do I care? Because PB's deeply informed and well reasoned criticism and concern for Israel is from a place of love, care and attachment, and he is better able than Stan or I to constructively instill such among the Gens XYZ etc — as well as a fill in some information gaps for current leaders of the American Jewish community.

  2. Generations xyz are faced to learn the truth for themselves because us baby boomers and our Rabbis failed to provide factual information to our people.

    Instead we focused on political correctness, afraid to stand up for our historical rights to our homeland.We have had such a need to fit in to the general society we bend over backwards with Tikkun Olam. We needed to show our compassion for others such as Palestinians and forsook our own people. Most American Jews cannot make a case for Israel, and many have internalized the BDS b.s.
    Its time to stand up tall for Israel and her achievements in the face of outright propaganda designed to cutoff American support.

    Sure we can criticize but that's different than failing to defend her when she is so hypocritically singled out……cont

  3. ….cont…. What synagogue teaches our young about the modern state of Israel? Instead our Rabbis teach compassion for others assuming somehow our own children will know how to respond to the hate of the BDS movement. We send our young to college campuses illequiped to respond to the hate mongers. Shame on us. Its time to demand more from our synagogues and Rabbis who we employ.
    It's time the Rabbis learn the case for Israel and lead congregations instead of being sheep afraid of the politically correct crowd.

  4. Dear Editors of BJN:
    Can we have some balance here? I don't know anything about the details of what Stan Kreis talks about, but it is clear that he is a very right wing,"Israel at all costs and for all reasons" kind of guy. If you are going to publish articles by him, can and will you publish articles – that is, opinion pieces, which are most of what Stan writes about – in counterpoint to him?

  5. Why is it when confronted with factual information people resort to labels? Do you support the concept of a Jewish state, called Israel?
    If so, we are inside the same tent. Right, left is all ok. Right wing is not your enemy.

  6. What counterpoint? That the BDS movement and their desire to end Israel's existence is a good thing?

    • Noah, I am not a BDS member, but I just read their official mission statement. So explain to me why asking Israel to obey established law is equal to a desire to destroy the state of Israel? I know it's an old question, but I simply cannot follow how you come to your conclusion stated above.

  7. Here's a thoughtful response to Norman Finklestein's claim arguing that BDS goals can be achieved through a two state solution:

  8. Palestinians and Isrealis needs to have a seperate states and cohabitation it's the key to a peace in that region i dont see any other options to their 60 years nigtmare for both side .