Saturday, December 29, 2018

Flaunting wealth and power in face of their victims

Ivanka and Jared vacationing at Mar-a-Lago,Florida
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are taking the brunt of the partial shutdown, going without paycheck in this holiday season, 380 thousand federal workers have been furloughed with no guarantee that they will be payed retroactively after the shutdown, 420 thousand employees deemed essential are working without pay, including 41 thousand law enforcement and correctional officers, not to mention tens of thousands of customs and border protection agents and customs officers.And, this is likely to continue for quite some time.

Not affected by the shutdown are, among other, Trump’s senior adviser/daughter Ivanka Trump and her White House fellow employee husband Jared Kushner, both government employees in the Trump administration. With a shocking disregard for the feelings of those impacted by the actions of her father, Ivanka and Jared chose to flaunt their wealth and power by taking a vacation, along with their three daughters, in Trump’s Florida estate at Mar-a-Lago.
It may be mentioned that they were being looked after by their secret service detail which is NOT being paid!

By the way, according to the White House, Kushner was a critical part in negotiating the shutdown

Photo courtesy Vanity Fair
Facts:  courtesy Don Lemon, MSNBC.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"Making America Great". By giving a free pass to murderous ruler?

Questioned by reporters as to why he was not taking a firm stand against the Saudis for the grizzly and gruesome murder of Khashoggi, an American resident and journalist who wrote in Washington Post, Trump replied, “It’s America first to me. It’s all about America first”. That is what he wants us to believe. However, the real reason was apparent in the words that followed.

“We are not going to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in orders and let Russia, China and everybody else have them. Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them I think your oil prices would go through the roof………It’s a very simple equation for me. I am about making America great again. America first.”

We all want America to be great. The question is whether president Trump’s handling of the Saudi murder of Hashoggi Is making America great or is it bringing shame on the nation.
It is essential to remember relevant details. Khashoggi, an American resident, entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey to get some paperwork attended to. He never exited therefrom. On enquiries being made, the Saudis denied all knowledge. Later they said Khashoggi left the consulate and they had no knowledge as to where he went. Later a video was put out showing the back view of a man of the same height and weight as Hashoggi and wearing what appeared to be Hashoggi’s clothes emerging from the Saudi consulate and walking away. Yet later it was admitted that Hashoggi was killed in a scuffle that broke out in the consulate. Finally it was admitted that he was murdered and that the murder was premeditated. But, it was claimed, it was a rogue operation about which the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had no knowledge. A hasty “investigation” was held and five high ranking officials were sentenced to death.

During this entire period Trump said there was no evidence that the Crown Prince was responsible. Ultimately the highest investigative body in USA, the CIA, announced its conclusion that “it had high confidence” that the murder was ordered by the Crown Prince himself. President Trump bent backwards and belittled CIA’s finding by saying “Maybe he (MBS) did, maybe he didn’t”.

Worse, he went on to smear the murdered Khashoggi by saying, without any evidence, Khashoggi was an "enemy of the state" and "a member of the Muslim Brotherhood." Implying that therefore it was of no consequence if he was murdered!”

Agreed that thus is a complex situation. Agreed that holding the Crown Prince accountable or condemning him or imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia may result in the alleged “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth of orders being cancelled or even Saudi Arabia breaking away from us. Is that enough reason to prevent our government from doing the right thing? From upholding the long held reputation of America putting honor above price?

Also consider this. Thelorders would be for military hardware. True that this would bring in a lot of money and would provide a large number of jobs. It also would result in us exporting weapons of war -- planes, drones, tanks, missiles, bombs et al. It would facilitate raining of death and destruction, large areas being devastated, whole cities being flattened. It is often pointed out that America needs wars to keep its economy going. Must we continue down this road?

Just as Saudi Arabia is trying to wean its economy from oil to other ventures we also must try to wean our economy away from manufacturing weapons of war to other venues.
It is time to pay heed to the words of Dwight Eisenhower: “Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed"

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Anti=Semitism, Zionists, Jews, Israel -- and I !

 By: Gulamhusein A.Abba

Note:There is a lot of confusion about this subject and questions have been raised about where I stand. I hope this clarifies not only my position but also helps clarify the larger issues.

Am I anti-Semitic?
Certainly not. There are among Jews, as among people of other faiths, millions of good, kind, loving, sympathetic, generous and helpful people. If anything, I have great sympathy and compassion for the Jews who have suffered so much. And I notice the similarity between the way they recite their Torah and the Muslims their Quran, their burial rites and those of Muslims, the dietary laws in both faiths. There are so many other similarities. For Muslims, Jews are people of the Book

Am I anti-Zionists?
Yes I am anti-Zionists, whether Jews or Christians, for one reason and one reason alone. Before I proceed further, please understand that not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews. A sizable section of Zionists are Christian Evangelicals, perhaps more influential in the US than Jewish Zionists. I am anti-Zionists not anti-Semitic. There is a big difference.

Why am I anti-Zionist?
Because their sole reason for existence, their sole aim and goal is to reclaim the Biblical Israel of old and replace not only the British Mandatory Palestine but all of Palestine with "Eretz Yisraeel", including Judea and Samaria. This inherently involves taking, by force, Palestinian land from Palestinians who have lived there for centuries and replacing the Arab Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) with Jews brought in from foreign countries. There is no justification for this and it is clearly against International Law.

Furthermore, this goal is in the process of being achieved through unimaginable cruelty and violation of Human Rights, property rights and International law.

All peace and justice loving people, all those who believe in and respect International law cannot be other than anti-Zionists.

Am I against Jews having a homeland, a nation of their own?
Certainly not. Indeed I have for long felt that the Jews should have a homeland of their own where they can feel safe, in control of their own destiny and practice freely, openly and publicly their faith and rites and customs. After all, the Hindus have Hindustan (India, nominally secular but with a commanding Hindu majority increasingly clamoring for renaming India as Hindutwada), Buddhists have Burma (Myanmar) and Muslims have several well-known homelands. But it would have been preferable for the Jews to have stuck to their original plea of “A land without a people for a people without a land”.

Am I against the Jews having a homeland in Palestine?
I think it would be preferable for the Jews themselves to have a homeland in a region more friendly and accepting towards them and that has more in common with them than the Mideast. As for having it in Palestine, no one would have any objection provided it was done with the consent and goodwill of the Palestinians. Though the Palestinians initially objected to the Jews establishing a homeland in any part of Palestine (a perfectly legitimate objection under International law), currently the Palestinians, those in control of the West Bank (PA) as also those in control of Gaza (Hamas), have agreed to the Jews having their homeland in 88% of the land the Palestinians had (far more than the 55% envisaged in the UN Partition Plan). Instead of accepting this most generous offer Israel is refusing to end its illegal, brutal and continuing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, is demanding more land from the 22% of the land the Palestinians have agreed to accept and are putting more conditions for the Palestinians to accept before they end their illegal occupation and recognize a sovereign, independent state of Palestine in the meager 22% of the land the Palestinians had.

It is this that those wanting peace with justice and those who believe in the rule of law and International law object to and are critical of.

In conclusion.
I honestly believe just as Muslims all over the world condemn and oppose ISIS and its cruel and barbaric acts, the time has come for the Jews to condemn, oppose and publicly denounce Israel’s continuing illegal occupation of the West bank and Gaza and its cruelty and injustice towards the Palestinians.

The righteous Jews owe this to themselves.

Israel, as it exists today, is disgracing the Judaic faith and Jews in general and is a clear and serious danger to the Jews all over the world.  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Pittsburgh shooting emphasizes need to combat anti-Semitism

                                          By Gulamhusein A, Abba

I was ten years old when I saw in the Illustrated Weekly of India (a Times of India publication which my family got every week) a photograph of a store with its glass font window smashed. In the caption below the photo I came across the word Kristallnacht. I was horrified at seeing the window smashed like that and mystified at Kristallnacht. It didn’t sound English. I did not know what it meant. In the days that followed I kept asking about it and was told that the Germans were angry at the Jews and were expressing their anger by destroying Jewish property and doin g violence against the Jews. Even at that young age I was very angry at what the Germans were doing and felt great compassion for the Jews.

This compassion for the Jews grew as I learnt more about the subject and has remained with me ever since. It multiplied a hundredfold when I learnt about the Holocaust. Later in life I made friends with many Jews and found most of them to be friendly, kind and helpful. I will never forget that after my wife-to-be and I got secretly married against the wishes of both families, not sure where to go, we ended up having our first meal as husband and wife with Jewish friends at their house!

I am sure there are, among Jews, as with people of all faiths, millions of very fine human beings. There is no reason, much less any justification, for the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. I, along with millions all over the world, condemn it in the strongest words possible

Following the attack, groups are now using it to push their own agenda. Fingers are being pointed. 
Some blame Trump for inflaming an atmosphere of hate and anger. Others decry lack of needed gun control laws. Yet others tout stationing of armed guards at schools and places of worship.        

Being ignored is the fact that we have this inexplicable phenomenon of RISING anger and hatred towards Jews and, with it, acts of violence against them and against their property. Growing anti-Semitism is not only confined to America but is worldwide. The reasons for the rise being touted may apply but they cannot and do not apply to other parts of the world where tis violence is also on the rise.

The fight against anti-Semitism will be better served by trying to find the root cause why it has flared up so horribly in recent times and then trying to deal with it effectively. Responsible for it are certainly not the Jews. Then who or what is responsible? All of us must dedicate ourselves to finding this out.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Who violated international law on the high seas?

         By Gulamhusein A. Abba

On Sunday, July 29 Israel seized a ship named Al Awda (The Return) bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. On the final leg of the trip there were about 22 people representing 16 or 17 nationalities, Swedish, Norwegians, Americans, even Israelis, of diverse backgrounds. Most of those on board were Europeans.  The cargo consisted of medical supplies to be donated to Gazans to meet the increasingly dire medical situation in Gaza.

This is not the first time an attempt has been made by international activist to deliver badly needed supplies to Gaza which is under Israeli blockade. Gaza's 2 million inhabitants have been living under this blockade since 2007.

Activists have tried to reach Gaza in Freedom Flotillas more than once. From 2008 through 2016, international activists sailed 31 boats to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.  The most well-known challenge was the attempt by Mavi Marmara on May 22, 2010 that left nine Turks dead at the hands of Israeli naval commandos

According to Israeli sources, this time the takeover of the ship was without incident. Israel navy said that it informed the passengers they were “violating the legal naval blockade” and that if they had humanitarian aid to deliver they could deliver it to Gaza through the port in nearby Ashdod. They were warned that if they did not turn around and persisted in attempting to go to Gaza, the ship would be seized and towed to Ashdod. And, according to Israel, this is what the Israeli navy did.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition, a charity umbrella group which organizes these attempts, reported it slightly differently. It wrote that the Israeli navy claimed that the ship was breaking international law and threatened that it would use 'any measures necessary' to stop the ship.

Was Al Awda ‘violating the legal naval blockade’?

Under international law Israel, as every other country, has rights over its territorial waters. These rights extend to 12 nautical miles. Beyond that the oceans are international waters, also known as the high seas.

It is important to remember that the Al Awda bore a Norwegian flag. It was around 60 miles out of Gaza city when it was warned by the Israeli navy, boarded and ultimately seized. It was in International waters. It was not illegally crossing any internationally recognized border. The only “border” it was crossing was the border Israel had unilaterally set up in international waters, without any right or authority to do so.

According to the 1982 convention, each country’s sovereign territorial waters extend to a maximum of 12 nautical miles (22 km) beyond its coast. Even in this zone foreign vessels are granted the right of ‘innocent passage’. There can be nothing more innocent than carrying medical supplies to those who need them badly.

The high seas lie beyond the zones described above. The waters and airspace of this area are open to use by all countries, except for those activities prohibited by international law (e.g., the testing of nuclear weapons).

The Mavi Marmara seizure by Israel was discussed in the UN. A 2011 report to UN Human Rights Council by five independent UN rights experts states that Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip violates international law.

An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same UN forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report that the blockade violated international law. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the blockade violates the Geneva Conventions.

It can be argued that even if Al Awda was within 12 nautical miles of Gaza, it would still not be breaking any international law, having a right under the ‘innocent passage’ clause to be there. Besides, Israel says again and again that it has pulled out of Gaza and given it to the Gazans. Gaza, according to Israel, is no longer Israeli territory. If that be so, the sea abutting Gaza would be the territorial waters of Gaza not Israel.

This is not all.  Just a few days after seizing Al Awda Israel turned its attention on another Flotilla boat, a 100% wind powered sailing vessel named Freedom, sailing under a Swedish flag. It was to be a gift for the Palestinian fishers and was carrying a cargo of medical supplies. It was surrounded in international waters about 40 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza, was boarded and seized by Israeli naval commandos.

These ongoing apparently illegal hijacking of ships and acts of piracy by Israel in international waters need to be stopped. It is high time this matter is raised in the UN. These two issues must be settled once and for all.

Israel may have the right to close its borders with Gaza but does it have a right to blockade Gaza? And, more importantly, does it have a right to seize vessels in International waters, board them, brutalize and even kill their passengers and rob them of their possessions?

The organizers of the vessel Freedom have asserted the right of ‘innocent passage’ guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 and called upon international authorities to protect the small yacht.

I leave untouched, for now, the claim of Israel that the seizure of Al Awda was without incident but I cannot refrain from commenting that Israel has learnt well from those that gifted Palestine to them for their ‘homeland’. The British are past master at ‘drawing a line in the sand’ and carving up nations, replacing large entities with smaller ones, easier to control and dominate. That is what Israel is doing in international waters, drawing lines that other vessels belonging to other nations cannot cross.

And that is what it has done in Gaza. Within Gaza, which it claims is no longer Israeli territory, it has set up a three mile deep ‘security zone’ running the entire length of the border between Gaza and Israel, a zone which no Gazan can enter without risking being shot dead by Israeli forces while still in Gaza!

Lines have been drawn by Israel even in the West Bank carving it into small ghettos which cannot be entered or left by Palestinians without permission from checkpoints set up by Israel!

As for Israeli Navy’s threat that it would use 'any measures necessary' to stop ships in international waters, the only 'necessary measures' would be to end the blockade of Gaza.

From what is known, one cannot but conclude that it was Israel that was violating international law by intercepting and seizing a ship in international waters

Sunday, July 29, 2018


A tribute to her dad by Marilyn Lourdes

Today the amazing man who I have the privilege of calling my father will be laid to rest in England.

My dad was a quiet achiever. He left India for England in 1965, two years later joined the National Gallery in London as a Warder and within 6 years was promoted to Chief Warder – which was an incredible achievement for an Indian migrant in the 1970s.

In 1975 he and my mother Thelma were presented to the Queen of England on the opening of a new gallery wing. In 1977 he was presented with the Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal and again in 1988 was awarded the B.E.M. on the Queens New Years Honours list, both amazing achievements for mail driver from India.

We re incredibly proud of his achievements and of the man that he was. He leaves behind so many wonderful memories and I will miss him terribly.

Rest in peace my wonderful dad.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

FINKELSTEIN: Traitor or Pragmatist?

In 2012 Finkelstein undertook a lecture tour in England and talked extensively of the Israel-Palestine situation. What he said in one of his lectures drew loud and bitter criticism, not from the supporters of Israel but, strangely, from the supporters of Palestinians! Some even called him a traitor to the Palestinian cause which he has been defending all his life, at great risk and cost to himself. I examined the issue and here is what I wrote.
This was published widely by several media outlets including VIEWZONE.COM.
My article was submitted to Finkelstein for response and that appears here just after my article
This 2012 article and Finkelstein’s response are as relevant today as they were in 2012. They contain very interesting and informative facts.  

March 27, 2012
FINKELSTEIN: Traitor or Pragmatist?
Palestinians at a crucial juncture
By: Gulamhusein Abba
It is all very well for us, sitting in the comfort and security of our homes, to be purists. We do not live with drones flying over our heads 24/7, we do not experience any difficulty travelling from one place to another, we do not live in fear of bombs falling on our homes.
Neither I nor the talking heads nor the pundits and pen pushers and keyboard warriors operating from the comfort and security of their homes, nor the Finkelsteins of this world, nor anyone else can tell the Palestinians what they should do or not do. It is for them to decide how to shape their destiny."
After receiving several e-mails forwarding bitter attacks against Finkelstein for his pronouncements at several colleges and in private interviews during his recent lecture tour in UK, I read, in full, the posts sent to me. I then hunted out several reports and videos about Finkelstein's UK lecture tour and, though it took hours spread over several days, read all the reports and saw all the videos.
It became clear to me that the attacks on Finkelstein were based on the single 30 minute interview he gave to a private person in the confines of a small private room. I feel that if those on the attack had heard the long and detailed speeches Finkelstein gave to large audiences in University Halls and at other places, they would change their mind.
I find that Finkelstein has not changed a bit on fundamentals. In his lectures during his recent tour, he came out very hard on Israel and recounted and described in graphic language several horrible acts Israel has committed. And he affirmed very clearly and explicitly that according to the International Court of Justice, UN resolutions, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to mention just a few entities, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem are Palestinian territory, the transfer of Israelis to these parts is against international law, the Israeli settlements are illegal.
In his lectures he also mentioned atrocities committed by Israel elsewhere too.
He made no attempt to justify any of Israel's acts with reference to Palestine. To the contrary he has condemned them unequivocally.
Israel's right to exist
Regarding Israel's right to exist, he ridiculed Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize its right to exist and said that Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state had no legal basis. Indeed, he indirectly admitted that Palestinians are entitled to claim that Israel, whether Jewish or secular, has no inherent right to exist though it can claim that it has acquired the right to have its existence accepted. And indeed that is the current position of Hamas and Fatah also. Both deny Israel's right to exist but accept the fact of its existence.
Right of return
As for the refugee question, Finkelstein, in his London tour lectures, never denied the right of return. To the contrary, he has ridiculed the Israeli suggestion that an international fund be set up and the refugees be compensated from that. He said that Israel cannot disclaim any responsibility for the refugee problem and he insisted that Israel must accept the principle of the right of return. He pointed out that the figures projected by Israel are imaginary. The real number of refugees wanting to return to Palestine would be far less. The refugee problem is not insurmountable and can be worked out through negotiations.
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions
Nor did he express any objection to the means the Palestinians are using to achieve their rights. In fact he said he fully supports the BDS campaign. His criticism was of those behind the BDS campaign claiming that they are agnostic about the existence of Israel. He pointed out that people are not fools. They see that the demands made by the Palestinians will mean the end of Israel's existence as it is constituted at present.
The question, he said, is of tactics, of politics. He maintains that if the Palestinians want to present themselves as ones who are reasonable, ones who are rights-based, ones who just want the UN resolutions enforced, then they cannot ask for a one state solution, simply because an Israeli state is part of the UN resolution. One cannot ask for selective enforcement.
One state or Two state solution
He has admitted that if the facts on the ground have been changed by Israel to such an extent that it is now no longer possible to have a contiguous and viable Palestinian state, then it would be quite legitimate for the Palestinians to ask for a one state solution. But, he claims, that position is not true. And he showed, by using maps, that by giving up just a little more than one percent of the West Bank, and insisting on retaining the entire West Bank other than the said one percent, Palestinians could have a viable and contiguous state. That, according to him, knocks out the one valid argument for a one state solution.
His argument is that though it might be right morally to insist on a one state solution, that demand cannot be based on the argument that a two state solution is no longer possible on account of the demographics having been changed so completely by Israel.
As I understand it, the demand for a one state solution is based on the fact that Israel has so carved up the West bank that, even if it withdraws completely from the West Bank, it will not be a contiguous state, especially if the proposed land swap is accepted.
There can be no question that Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens amounts to apartheid. One can denounce that and demand suitable action against Israel for that. But one cannot, on that basis, demand that the occupied territories be combined with what is now Israel to form a single democratic and secular state.
Idealism versus pragmatism
Finkelstein has been criticized for advocating a pragmatic approach rather than one based on human rights, international law, justice, morality and ethics.
It cannot be denied that moral action, such as human rights campaigns, should never be guided by "mainstream public". Their very task is to change mainstream public opinion.
Nowhere do I find Finkelstein denying this. All that he says is that changing public opinion on the issue of one state versus two states is going to take a very, very long time. Palestinians will be able to get their legitimate demands met more quickly if they abandon the demand for a single state and stick to a demand for an end to the occupation, a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state in the borders contained in the UN partition resolution and the right of return for the legitimate Palestinian refugees.
Either the Palestinians say it loud and clear that the UN partition resolution itself is unjust and morally wrong and on that basis they aspire to end a Jewish state and create in its place a democratic and secular state with equal rights for all its citizens OR they demand the full implementation and enforcement of the UN resolution, which includes having Israel as a state (though not as a Jewish state).
What Finkelstein is saying is that if the Palestinians stick to the first position, they will be morally right, but it will take many, many years to achieve their goal. If they choose the second course, which does not in any way contradict their three layered demands, they stand a better chance of achieving their goal, a better chance of bringing to an end the misery and deaths being inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis, a better chance of allowing the Palestinians to get on with their lives.
He further argued that though it has taken years of hard work to do so, the world is at last ready to listen sympathetically to the demands of Palestinians, ready to admit that what Israel is doing is unjust and contrary to international law. It is ready to see the establishment of a two state solution. It is NOT yet ready to accept a one state solution.
He argued that rather than go on fighting for a demand which may be morally right but which will entail years and years of waiting and many, many more Palestinian lives lost, purely from the tactical point of view, it would be better for the Palestinians to grasp this opportunity and adhere to the demand of full implementation of the UN resolutions (which include the state of Israel).
On whose side is Finkelstein?
If one listens carefully to all the videos, one begins to see that what he is saying is not that the demand for a one state solution has no moral underpinning or that it is not based on the rights of Palestinians. He is merely stating that there is an alternative solution, a two state solution, and it would be easier and quicker to get that rather than ask for a one state solution.
The impression one gets after listening to all the lectures is that his main concern is not preserving the state of Israel, as those who are now criticizing him claim, but rather to suggest to Palestinians a tactic that would more quickly bring an end to the Israeli occupation and all that comes with it, and allow them to get on with their lives. Implicit was that the final choice, of course, rests with the Palestinian people (as opposed to ideologues or so called leaders who have their own personal agendas to pursue).
Is Finkelstein trying to "ease his guilty conscience"?
All this talk about Finkelstein being concerned about how the world, and specially the Israelis, remember him after he delivered his lectures  and his lectures being an attempt to ease his conscience and his not wanting to be remembered as an anti-Semite who advocated Israel shouldn’t exist at all, all this is pure conjecture, quite baseless and wholly undeserved. I found no evidence of any such concern and desires. I saw no trace of a guilty conscience trying to redeem itself.
An exception to Finkelstein's "swap" suggestion
I must confess that even I, who am so outraged by the atrocities of Israel and by the UN carving up Palestine and giving more than 50% of it to a foreign entity to establish a state of their own thereon -- even I have often urged what Finkelstein is now suggesting. With one exception. Though it is going to be an uphill task, the demand, I feel, should, at the very least, be for the entire West Bank to be restored to the Palestinians, including the one percent that Finkelstein believes the giving up of which would lead more quickly to the Palestinians achieving an independent state of their own. Presenting the Israelis with this one percent would amount to rewarding an invader with a part of his spoils to make him disgorge the rest. Apart from it being unjust, it would set a bad and dangerous precedent for future invaders. Truth to tell, I personally feel that the Palestinians should demand the full implementation of the UN partition plan and all the relevant UN resolutions thereafter, as Finkelstein now suggests. But, the demand should be for Israel withdrawing fully and completely, to the borders delineated by the UN in its original partition plan, not the 1967 borders.
Of course, it can be argued that even if Israel withdraws completely from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it would be impossible for these areas to live in peace because of the Israeli settlements and connecting roads that Israel has dotted these areas with and on that basis, a two state solution is no longer viable and the only solution is a unified, single, democratic and secular state.
Finkelstein not free from criticism
Is Finkelstein completely free from criticism? Certainly not. His downplaying the achievements of the BDS campaign is most unfortunate, disturbing and contrary to facts. Many trade unions have participated in it. Several artistes have cancelled their appearances in Israel. Divestment has taken place. Products and companies have been boycotted. More important, as pointed out by Finkelstein himself, in solidarity marches and protests all over the world, those taking part are no longer just Palestinians. The majority of them are non-Palestinians. And, again as pointed out by Finkelstein himself, the perception of the world about Israel has changed. It is being increasingly isolated. While it is true that Finkelstein himself has played not a small part in making this change occur, the BDS campaign can rightfully take full credit for this phenomenon.
Similarly, his constantly repeating that Palestinians should adopt a tactic based on what the mainstream public worldwide is ready to accept was, initially very disturbing and jarring. But I listened, over and over again, to what Finkelstein was trying to convey and I realized that he was not saying that what he is proposing is the right stand, in terms of what morality and ethical norms demand. He was merely presenting this as an alternative choice. What are the advantages and disadvantages of adopting this stance?  And what are the costs of adopting a strictly morality based stand?. One has to choose. Clearly Finkelstein feels that sticking to a two state solution and, while insisting that the right of return be accepted by Israel in principle, being flexible on the way it is implemented -- this is, in the present circumstances, the better choice for the Palestinians.
He was also dead wrong in suggesting that Palestinians should stop criticizing Israel for the way it treats its minorities, particularly the Arab citizens of Israel. Not only Palestinians but anybody and everybody in the world has a right and a duty to condemn this apartheid. On this question, I fully agree there can be no question that Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens amounts to apartheid. One can and should denounce that and demand suitable action against Israel for that. But, I submit, one cannot, on that basis, demand that the occupied territories be combined with what is now Israel to form a single democratic and secular state.
On the whole
On the whole, my sense of the situation is that if it is put to the vote, whether Palestinians should continue to fight for a single state solution or accept the realities and agree to a two state solution within the parameters of UN resolutions, -- if this is put to the vote, the majority of the Palestinians would say that they have had enough of fighting, enough of the hardships inflicted on them, enough of deaths, and want to move on with their lives. I feel they would say they are now willing to accept a two state solution, provided it includes a fully independent, sovereign, viable and contiguous state of Palestine within the borders of the UN partition resolution and the right of return for the Palestinian refugees.
We all know that Israel accepted only that part of the UN resolution which authorized the Jewish entity setting up a state of its own in Palestine. It never accepted the BORDERS. Israel has never defined its borders. And there is a reason for this. Zionists, from the beginning, were bent on extending Israel's borders to all of Palestine west of the Jordan River. Indeed, their ultimate goal was, and remains, extending the borders to include Jordan. But it "accepted" the state that was given to it, to use it as a step to achieve its final goal.
Ultimately it is for the Palestinians to decide
Perhaps the Palestinians should learn from this. Perhaps the wise thing to do would be to accept the two state solution, get it set up and recognized, build it economically, politically and in all other ways, and then, when they are in a position to do so, campaign for one single, democratic, secular state, on the ground and with the argument that it would benefit both, the Israelis and the Palestinians.
On the other hand, one can be an idealist, a purist and go on insisting that the UN had no right to carve up Palestine, no right to impose a foreign government on the Palestinians, and go on insisting on a one state solution on that basis alone.
Ultimately, I feel that it is for the Palestinians to decide what they want to do. It is all very well for us, sitting in the comfort and security of our homes, to be purists. We do not live with drones flying over our heads 24/7, we do not experience any difficulty travelling from one place to another, we do not live in fear of bombs falling on our homes. Palestinians do.
A personal note
First, about Finkelstein. He is clearly no traitor of the Palestinian cause. He has been at the forefront advocating for Palestinian rights. For more than three decades he has been telling the world about Israel’s oppressive policies. He did this again and again in his lectures in UK recently. His commitment to ending Israel's oppressive policies remains as strong as ever and he continues to be an important and forceful critic of Israel and supporter of the Palestinian cause.
This has not been easy for him nor is it easy for him now. He has paid a very heavy price for his public denunciation of Israeli actions. There is no need to repeat what he has borne. The record is known to all.
Quartering him and throwing him to the dogs is height of ingratitude and is folly exemplified.
What Finkelstein deserves from the Palestinians and the supporters of their cause is not vilification but praise, continued support and yes, gratitude.
I have written this with a very heavy heart. Here are my innermost thoughts, beliefs and feelings:
*The Jews did not really need a state of their own.
*The European powers decided to set up a separate state for the Jews in Palestine not out of compassion for the Jews or to fill a perceived need for them to have a state of their own but for their personal ulterior motives, namely to provide a salve to their guilty conscience (for not doing what they could have done to prevent the holocaust), keep the thousands upon thousands of refugee Jews from their own shores, and, to have a paw in the Middle East.
*The UN had no right to practice charity at the expense of the Palestinians. The UN erred grievously in agreeing to partition Palestine and imposing a foreign government on the Palestinians against their expressed wishes.
*The UN added insult to injury by giving more than 50 per cent of Palestine to this foreign entity.
*Israel being the creation of the UN, the UN has a duty and an obligation to see that Israel respects international law. It is the duty of the UN to take necessary action, such as imposing sanctions and taking any and all other necessary actions, to compel Israel to end its illegal and brutal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights instead of leaving the defenseless Palestinians at the mercy of the Israelis and forcing the Palestinians to negotiate a peace deal with them.
*What is needed is not negotiations between the powerful aggressor and the helpless victim but implementation and enforcement by the international community of UN resolutions on record.
I personally am for the eventual establishment of a single democratic and secular state on all of the land west of the Jordan River which comprised Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel.
For the present, I feel, the best strategy would be to focus on getting the UN to enforce the UN partition resolution and all the subsequent UN resolutions on the subject.
Simultaneously, the BDS organizers should strengthen the campaign, proposing neither a two state or a one state solution but concentrating on calling for BDS against Israel solely on the grounds of it violating international laws and human rights and practicing discrimination against its Arab citizens and other groups.
The BDS campaign is an inclusive one, embracing all human rights advocates including Palestinians, Israelis, American Jews, and American Palestinian Christians and Muslims who together hold Israel accountable for its horrendous policies and actions and call for an end to its illegal and brutal occupation.
These are just my personal thoughts. What strategies should the Palestinians adopt? I firmly believe that neither I nor the talking heads nor the pundits and pen pushers and keyboard warriors operating from the comfort and security of their homes, nor the Finkelsteins of this world, nor anyone else can tell the Palestinians what they should do or not do. It is for them to decide how to shape their destiny.
Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s response:
UPDATE: This article was sent to Dr. Norman Finkelstein with a request that if there be any statement, argument, belief attributed to him in the article to be untrue or incorrect, he should let me know. He has responded and made only the following clarifications:
He has stated:
"I am not aware of any authoritative statements by jurists or legal bodies that equate Israeli policies vis-a-vis its own Palestinian-Israeli citizens as constituting Apartheid. No sane person denies the discriminatory nature and policies of the Israeli state, but Apartheid under the Rome Statutes constitutes a 'crime against humanity', and so it requires crossing a very high threshold before one equates a State's discriminatory policies with Apartheid."
With regard to my suggesting that he urges the Palestinians to accept a two state solution and agree to swap about 1.9 per cent of existing West Bank for a land equal in size and value, he has stated categorically: "I do not believe that Palestinians should accept anything less than the full 100% of their territory."
The article refers to a map he showed at the lectures with the 1.9 percent of West Bank that was being asked for a land swap. The implication was that this was a map drawn up by Finkelstein. With regard to this he has clarified that the map was actually a map that had been presented by the Palestinians in 2008.
About Palestinians recognizing Israel, while not denying what he said at the lectures that Israel was not entitled to insist on the Palestinians recognizing its right to exist as a state, much less entitled to insist that they recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, he has stated, "If one wants to anchor a resolution of the conflict in international law, I do not agree that the decision is the Palestinians to make whether or not they recognize Israel. The law is the law; and according to the law Israel is a member state of the United Nations and has the same rights and duties as any other state." It must be emphasized that the purpose of this article is neither to endorse or reject any of the statements, claims, arguments, beliefs, suggestions presented by Dr. Finkelstein in his recent UK lectures but merely to present a true and correct picture of what was said.
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