UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper LXXI: February 2, 2009, 7:00 p.m. Norman G.

Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Verso Press, 2003). [Originally published 1995.]
Acknowledgments. Noam Chomsky was responsible for the title and overarching structure, and read and commented on all chapters. Introduction to the Second Edition [December 2002]. When the Zionist project was conceived, its only “strategic options” were apartheid and expulsion (xixii). “Zionists from early on were in fact bent on expelling [Arabs]” (xii). Arabs, naturally, resisted forceful expulsion (xii-xiv). Transfer was regarded as an acceptable policy in the post-WWI years, legitimated by the history of colonization and the progress of civilization (xiv-xv). Zionists anticipated expansion in stages (xv-xvi). Israel has defied the international consensus on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242’s call for a two-state solution; the U.S. only joined it in that position in the Nixon-Kissinger administration (xvi-xviii). Israel sought, in dealing with Palestinian politicians, domination and Bantustanization, including in Oslo (xviii-xix). Israel’s settlement policy “points up the real content of the ‘peace process,’” creating an apartheid system in the Occupied Territories; the notion that there was “a maximally generous Israeli offer” in July 2000 is a “fraud” (xix-xxi). Sept. 11 led the U.S. to approve of use of Israel’s military superiority, and through assassination Israel provoked Palestinian acts that were used as a pretext for ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in the West Bank in 2002, which was “largely a replay” of the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon (xxiixxvi). Israeli forestalled a Palestinian “peace offensive” in July 2002 with an airstrike in Gaza (xxvi-xxvii). Expulsion seemed to return as a possibility after 9/11 (xxvii-xxxii). A “non-violent Palestinian civil revolt creatively building on the lessons of the first intifada and synchronized with international —in particular, American—pressure” (including a divestment campaign) is the most promising approach to averting expulsion of Palestinians (xxxii-xxxviii). — The 2003 edition adds a new chapter on the ‘peace process’ and an appendix critically analyzing a study of the July 1967 war (xxxviii). Introduction [September 1994]. Summary of book (1-2). Michael Walzer’s changing views on war’s morality are symptomatic of “the etiology of apologetics for Israel” (2-3). “The great offense of the Palestinians was that they refused to commit auto-dispossession; they balked at ‘clearing out’ for the Jews. . . . the people of Palestine have fallen victim to a colossal injustice” (34). PART I: THEORY AND HISTORY Ch. 1: Zionist Orientations. This chapter argues, while critiquing Yosef Gorny’s Zionism and the Arabs, 1882-1948: A Study of Ideology (1987), that Zionism is “a kind of Romantic nationalism fundamentally at odds with liberal values” (xxxix). “[P]olitical Zionism’s point of departure was the presumed bankruptcy of the democratic idea” (8). Its sources were in romantic German nationalism (8; cf. “Zionism replicated the reasoning of the anti-Semitic political discourse” [13]). Labor Zionism aspired to reconstitute the Jewish working class (8-9). Cultural Zionism was primarily preoccupied with overcoming the threat of secularism (9-10). All regarded a Jewish majority as a sine qua non, though BenGurion denied this implied domination of the minority (10-11). Dissidents within the Zionist movement (including Martin Buber) denied that achieving a majority was necessary; Hugo Bergmann of Brit Shalom specifically said that the mainstream Zionist “viewpoint is borrowed from Europe at the time of its decline” and is “based on the concept of a state which is the property of one people” (12, emphasis in original; 1112). Early Zionists had no illusions about the fact that this would require imposing a Jewish state on the Arab population, but believed they had an “historic right” to do so, and also to impose “population transfer” (12-16). Their approach to the problem of coping with Palestinian resistance presumed (1) that the

acquiescence of the Palestinians was neither to be expected nor sought; (2) that success depended on Great Power(s) support—first Ottoman Turkey, then Great Britain—with Israel as “strategic asset” as quid pro quo; (3) that regional alliances must be subordinate to a framework in the interests of the Great Power(s) (16-20). Zionism has failed: “What is the raison d’être of Zionism in the contemporary world save as an outpost of [in Gershom Scholem’s words in the 1930s] ‘reactionary and imperialist forces against the resurgent East’?” (20). Ch. 2: A Land Without a People. Joan Peters’s From Time Immemorial was a “threadbare hoax” supported by “the American intellectual establishment” (xxxix). The book “is among the most spectacular frauds ever published on the Arab-Israeli conflict” (22; 21-45; “The weight of the evidence suggests that Peters’s demographic ‘study’ is a carefully contrived, premeditated hoax” [39]). An account of its reception; it was widely praised and promoted in the U.S., and lost its status only when British reviewers began to pan it—but Americans have rarely repudiated it (45-50). Ch. 3: ‘Born of War, Not by Design.’ A critique of Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 (1988), which argues that the Palestinian exodus was an inadvertent unplanned result of war and mutual fear (52). Morris does not regard his sources sufficiently critically (5356). He is right to dismiss the argument that Arab broadcasts urging Palestinians to flee to clear the battlefield, of which there is no evidence whatsoever, but does not go far enough (56-60). His own evidence indicates Palestinians were systematically and premeditatedly expelled, particularly statements from members of Mapam (United Workers Party), who in 1948 were saying that “Jews too have committed Nazi acts”— pace Morris’s argument to the contrary that they were not expelled (60-80). Morris’s emphasis on military events motivated by “security” obscures the aggressive ideological motivations that motivated the “politics” of the actors (80-87). Ch. 4: Settlement, Not Conquest. This chapter is principally a critique of Anita Shapira’s Land and Power (1992). Like other

conquerors, Zionists claimed they were occupying land that was, essentially, deserted (89-98). Like other conquerors, they have reinterpreted their own aggression as self-defense (98-110). Like other conquerors, they mystified the use of force as tragically necessary but supposedly executed with humanity and efficiency (11016). Ironically, Zionist ideology pervasively resembles Nazi ideology (116-20). PART II: WAR AND PEACE Ch. 5: To Live or Perish. This chapter examines the background to the June 1967 war, with a focus on the interpretation of events by Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Abba Eban [1915-2002]. He justifies Israel’s conduct in the war by effacing Israel’s provocation of Egypt and Israel’s responsibility for failed diplomacy (124-30). Israel’s claim that it faced destruction was a false (130-37). In the aftermath of the war, opinion was divided between those who saw Israel as the aggressor and those who thought blame was shared; the claim that Israel was attacked in force in June 1967 is false and a myth; in fact, Israel preemptively attacked (137-41). Israel’s purposes were: to avoid a diplomatic breakthrough; to diminish Nasser’s standing and forestall “Arab ‘radicalism’—i.e. independence and modernization”; and to “fulfill its territorial destiny”; and to “recover its spent élan” (141-44). Eban’s interpretation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is not sustained by the record (144-49). Ch. 6: Language of Force. The background to the October 1973 war. Contrary to the standard depiction, “Egypt (and Jordan) desperately sought a negotiated settlement after the 1967 war. Israel, however, refused to budge from the conquered territories in exchange for peace. With all diplomatic options exhausted, Egypt went to war, displaying impressive—and unexpected—military prowess. Israel accordingly agreed after the war to the same diplomatic settlement Sadat had offered it before the war. In a word, it was Israel, not Egypt, that ultimately bowed to force” (151; 150-71). Ch. 7: Oslo: The Apartheid Option. Oslo II (300 folio-size pages) gave the Palestinians

nothing (173-76). Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza is the “identical strategy” of apartheid used earlier by South Africa; detailed comparison to the Bantustans Transkei and KwaZulu (177-80). Edward Said was wrong, in Peace and Its Discontents (1996), to believe that the issue of Palestinian statehood is crucial; rather, Oslo II is the illegitimate because unequal imposition of constraints on the use of natural resources—but the Oslo peace process purported to legitimate this (18081). Separation as a solution is a chimera: “the inevitable if very distant future is one in which Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, enjoying reciprocal communal and individual rights, coexist within a unitary entity” (183; 182-83). APPENDIX: ABBA EBAN WITH FOOTNOTES. Critique of Michael Oren’s Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2002) as “basically reiterat[ing] the official Israeli version of the June war” (184; 184-98). “Whenever Israel faces a public relations crisis in the US—i.e., a jot of the reality of its brutal policies manages to break free of ideological controls —a new propaganda initiative is launched to lift the spirits and close the ranks of the Zionist faithful” (197). Notes. 82 pp. Index. 7 pp. [About the Author. Norman Finkelstein was born on Dec. 8, 1953, and grew up in New York City, the son of two survivors on Nazi concentration camps. His undergraduate degree is from SUNY Binghamton, and he earned in 1988 a Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton University. He has taught at Rutgers, NYU, Brooklyn College, Hunter College, and DePaul University. In June 2007, he was denied tenure at DePaul and placed on administrative leave; in September 2007 he resigned from DePaul after reaching an undisclosed settlement that involved the university issuing a statement praising him as “a prolific scholar and outstanding teacher.” He was refused entry to Israel in May 2008 and has been banned from the country for ten years. Finkelstein describes himself as a “forensic scholar.” He is also the

author of The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years (1996); A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (coauthored with Ruth Bettina Birn, 1998); The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (2000; rev. eds. in 2001 and 2003); and Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (2005). He has just completed a new

book entitled A Farewell to Israel: The coming break-up of American Zionism, to be published in 2009. See Wikipedia and
web site (www.normanfinkelstein.com) for abundant documentation.]

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