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.