The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Posts tagged finkelstein
Finkelstein: The US and Egypt one year after the coup

Norman Finkelstein his usual acerbic self:

The first thing to note is the oddity of a democratic transition that begins with an anti-democratic coup. It’s not every day that the overthrow of a democratically elected government, the jailing of the democratically elected president, and the mass slaughter of the unarmed supporters of the democratically elected governing party constitute stepping stones to democracy.

. . .

To assess Egypt’s recent election, it might be useful to conduct a simple thought experiment. As is well known, President Barack Obama’s popularity has plummeted among the American people. A majority do not approve of the job he’s doing, and many among them positively detest him. Let’s imagine if the Republican party, capitalizing on this popular discontent, orchestrated an army coup to remove Obama from office, slaughtered his unarmed supporters in a series of bloodbaths, declared the Democratic party a terrorist organization, banned it and jailed its leading members, then arrested the other opposition leaders and prohibited any and all public dissent. Finally, to appease international opinion, Republicans held an “election” in which the only other candidate was Jesse Jackson. 

Jesse Jackson? Surely one would choose a unelectable Republican rather than an unelectable Democrat – Ron Paul perhaps?

It's a pretty shallow piece but US policy certain gets the skewering it deserves. 

Finkelstein on the Arab revolts and Israel

From Counterfire:

Mr Finkelstein, looking at the present situation in Gaza and the occupied territories, what hope do you have for a realistic and 'just' peace settlement – even in the next thirty years?

It all depends on whether the people in the Occupied Territories find the inner strength and courage to duplicate what's been done in neighboring Arab-Muslim states. So far Palestinians are just watching, but from conversations I've had they appear to be hopeful. If mass demonstrations break out, Israel might be forced to withdraw to the June 1967 border. Certainly, Israel will have trouble firing on nonviolent demonstrators without looking like Gaddafi.

The present triumphant scenes in Cairo have got a lot of people in Israel worried about the Muslim Brotherhood gaining ascendancy in Egypt. A friend in Israel, a Zionist, told me that the current leadership in Egypt have begun to cut off gas supplies to Israel, an apparent act of "aggression". Do you think the Muslim Brotherhood are a force for good in supporting Palestinians, or are they counter-productive in that they will destabilise the region (to borrow a much-abused term)?

I do not believe that Israel fears the Muslim Brotherhood because it is Muslim. It is just as fearful of a secularist such as el-Baradei coming to power. Israel dreads the prospect that a new government will respect the will of the people and will be committed to preserving the dignity of Egypt. This has always been Israel's biggest fear. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, frequently said that the biggest disaster for Israel would be if an Arab Ataturk came to power and restored the spirits of the people.

You famously said that in Lebanon 'Hezbollah are the hope' (in terms of standing up to American political influence and Israeli aggression). This elicited much condemnation from the usual quarters. Can you expand on this statement – how do Hezbollah offer 'hope', and to whom?

Hezbollah demands that the ordinary principles of international law be applied to Israel as well. Israel must stop treating neighboring countries as long- or short-term parking lots. It must stop indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. This is Hezbollah's message and I agree with it. When Ehud Barak recently threatened, "Maybe we'll have to occupy Lebanon again," Sayyed Nasrallah said the next day, "Maybe we''ll have to occupy the northern Galilee." What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

There's a lot more there so read the whole thing. On that last point I think Finkelstein's is too reductive of Hizbullah, which after all did conduct or tacitly back an assassination campaign in Lebanon. Just because its domestic enemies may be objectively pro-Israeli does not mean it should get away with that.

Finkelstein, Finkelstein, Finkelstein

I pre-ordered my copy of This Time We Went Too Far at O/R Books.

I also highly recommend watching the documentary about Finkelstein, American Radical. Finkelstein is an incredibly courageous figure, he has payed dearly for his engagement on the Palestinian cause and against those who manipulate the Holocaust for political purposes. It's really heart-wrenching to see what this principled and stubborn man has endured at the hands of powerful academics and pro-Israel activists like Alan Dershowitz, who appears to have single-handedly orchestrated the campaign to get him fired from DePaul University.

Finkelstein also appears briefly in Defamation, an Israeli film about the ADL, at his best: intense, scathing about the likes of Abe Foxman, and almost self-destructively forthright. Defamation is excellent, by the way, at showing the manipulation Israeli children endure. One of my favorite lines was from a rabbi arguing that an unreasonable obsession with anti-Semitism was the secular Jews' way of being Jewish.

Links December 19th and January 5th

Automatically posted links for December 19th through January 5th: