Finkelstein on Gaza
"The era of the "beautiful" Israel has passed, it seems irrevocably, and the disfigured Israel that in recent years has replaced it in the public consciousness is a growing embarrassment. It is not so much that Israel's behavior is worse than it was before, but rather that the record of that behavior has, finally, caught up with it. The truth can no longer be denied or dismissed."
"For a long while Israel's "supporters" deflected the impact of this accumulating documentary record by wielding the twin swords of The Holocaust and the "new anti-Semitism"... if 'another flare-up in the region, similar to the Gaza operation, will probably lead to an even more severe out-break of anti-Semitic activity against communities worldwide' (quote from the Israeli Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism), then an efficacious method to fight anti-Semitism would appear to be for Israel to stop committing massacres."
In his book analysing the Israeli invasion into Gaza, Norman Finkelstein takes a clear and uncompromising position. It is a well researched and referenced polemic that does not shirk from pointing the finger at those responsible for what the UN Goldstone report (whose author is both Jewish and a self-declared Zionist who "worked for Israel all of my adult life") clearly termed war crimes, stating that "the Israeli assault on Gaza constituted "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability." Anybody still in doubt about the justification of this characterisation should read Finkelstein's book as the testimony of a Jew who speaks out against crimes committed in the name of people who used to keep quiet about it, but now, he asserts are increasingly coming off the fence whilst Israel grows more and more distant from its alleged support amongst the Jewish people in the diaspora.
In a brief history of the Israel-Palestine conflict Finkelstein explains the rationale for Israel to have broken a ceasefire with the Hamas-led Palestinian government after first ensuring that both that government and its people were weakened by a prolonged economic blockade: After the blunders in the Lebanon, where Israel also stands accused of having committed widespread war crimes, the Israeli governing elite felt the need to restore Israel's "deterrence capacity", and that could only be achieved by showing unrestrained and disproportionate force against a defenceless civil population. Israel's two major concerns which it hoped to deal with by its Gaza invasion were that its enemies were less afraid of it than they once were, and that any future peace initiative might succeed in forcing Israel to concede in a compromise what it never had any intention to concede, the existence of a Palestinian people with sovereignty over any territory of their own.
Dealing with "Operation Cast Lead" as Israel termed the invasion, Finkelstein takes apart any attempt of Israeli apologists to justify the carnage it unleashed and describes minutely the progression of the military operation, based on testimonies from Palestinians, independent observers and human rights organisations as well as Israeli soldiers themselves, leaving no doubt that the intended humanitarian disaster was not by accident but by design. As a fan of Mahatma Ghandi he tries to show that Ghandi's advocacy for non-violent protest did not extend to a call for oppressed people to take oppression lying down but instead supported resistance in the face of impossible odds as "a refusal to bend before overwhelming might in the full knowledge that it means certain death", and he quotes Ghandi's response in 1947 to what might be the most acceptable solution to the Palestinian problem as "The abandonment wholly by the Jews of terrorism and other forms of violence".
Finkelstein supports a two-state solution of peaceful coexistence for Palestine. He is hopeful that after the Israeli propaganda has had to take a serious dent when the extens of Israel's crimes became known, the Palestinian position of only asking for what the International Court of Justice and the United Nations General Assembly repeatedly stated as their inviolable right - freedom from occupation and self-determination - might gradually shift public opinion and, with it, policy makers. I am not that optimistic since in my understanding Israel is only a stepping stone on the road to world government (as predicted by Ben Gurion in 1962), with Israel's designs not being limited to controlling and subjugating people on the territories occupied so far. Nor do I support an artificial two-state solution: Israel claims to be a democracy yet gives favoured status to a set of people perceived as genetically Jewish. A single-state solution with "one person, one vote" is what democracy would demand instead. In spite those differences, Palestinians do have a strong advocate in Norman Finkelstein, and I highly recommend his passionately written book in their support.
Norman G. Finkelstein's book "This Time We Went Too Far. Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion." is published by O/R Books, New York.