This column began as one on international issues. But due to the irony of things, it also requires a mature review of one’s motives inwardly. It calls for a logical, big-tent alliance to end the violence against Palestinians, but it requires some hard questions on domestic topics that I cannot answer.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues his quest to defile and blaspheme everything held holy to the goyim this year in the name of what Dr. Norman Finkelstein has described as his ego-maniacal Jewish supremacist ideology. After going around President Obama’s back last spring to speak to Congress to spite the most powerful dude on earth, he now has now turned towards the al-Asqa Mosque in Jerusalem, initiating a series of violent clashes between the ever-bloodthirsty colonial settlers and those who pray daily at one of the holiest sites in the Muslim faith. This is just one more violent step closer to the secular Zionist goal of annexing East Jerusalem and the religious Zionist goal of destroying the Dome of the Rock so to build a new Jewish temple.
This series of violent clashes and protests has led many Western activists to hope that this could be the start of a Third Intifada. I can understand this logic very easily. However, there are several factors worth noting that make this instance vastly different in character from the periods leading up to the previous two Intifadas. It is unfortunate to say so, but these factors were key initiators of the Intifadas and they are now lacking.
As Richard Silverstein of the blog Tikun Olam pointed out on Press TV on October 6 (), there is a notable lack of unity within the leadership of the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas, the detestable and ego-centric leader of the Palestinian Authority, is as popular as a ham sandwich in the Muslim world. He hems and haws at the UN for show but continues to cash checks written by the Western powers he collaborates with. The only event of matching violence in Palestinian life when these clashes began was the so-called ‘unity government’, which has descended quickly into Abbas trying to consolidate his authority and be rid of Hamas. Yasser Arafat was corrupt in 1987, when the First Intifada began, but at least he had a level of popularity akin to Mandela or Castro. By comparison, I have belly button lint that has more popularity with the masses than Abu Mazen.
In terms of the international arena, the cause of Palestine has lost the immediacy it once had in the international arena. Iran is in the midst of dealing with ISIS. Saddam Hussein, who the PLO mistakenly allied themselves with during the 1991 Desert Storm operation, is pushing up daisies, a fact which makes him lucky in comparison to those still living in the failed state of Iraq. Yemen is under siege by the Saudis. Syria is in the middle of their own minor catastrophe. Lebanon, who beat the Israelis badly in 2006, is now engaging their own ISIS enemies, who may or may not be getting funding and support from the IDF or Mossad. Saudi Arabia came out in support of the Israelis during Operation Protective Edge. Libya is a mess. Sudan, site of major PLO conferences in the 1970s and 1980s in Khartoum, is now in fact two countries that continue to be wracked by war. These conditions are quite awful and regretful.
Meanwhile, the Western solidarity movement is simply lacking the consolidation necessary to launch an effective united front akin to the support given the Second Republic during the Spanish Civil War. Jewish Voice for Peace, who has a radical sheen but also a nasty record, ousted Alison Weir of If Americans Knew this summer over her speaking engagement agenda. Mind you, that is not her actual ideological agenda, it is her schedule. While there is some merit to a conversation about whether one talks about Palestine on media forums that may include unsavory characters, there is a problematic logic at hand when we deal with excommunications because of guilt-by-association.
Using this logic, is Jeffrey St. Clair supposed to oust Eric Draitser from the CounterPunch fold because Mr. Draitser appears on RT, which also has featured uncritical interviews with the absolutely lunatic and certainly-racist Alex Jones? At a time in history when surveys show the obese experience more discrimination than Jews, the protests by Jewish Voice for Peace seem problematic. Further compounding this problem is the fact that Jewish Voices for Peace boycotts CounterPunch. We shall return to this point in a moment, but I greatly admire and appreciate Mr. St. Clair for pointing these facts out in a moment of doubt on my part. One should understand, above all else, that Ms. Weir, he, and the late Alexander Cockburn will have their names sung in praise across the heavens for eternity as consistent advocates of human liberation. Mea culpa, good sir.
Should the Palestinians choose to embark on a new Intifada, the stakes would be much higher and the results much more dire if they failed. The First led to Oslo, the murder of Prime Minister Rabin, and the ascendancy of Likud while the Second, which ended with Yasser Arafat’s death, gave us Mahmoud Abbas as head of Fatah, a civil war between Hamas and Fatah following the 2006 elections, and the blockade of Gaza. The Palestinians this time tragically have a much more powerful slogan, they can write on their banners WHY MUST MOTHERS IN GAZA GIVE THEIR CHILDREN POISONED WATER. This might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back because it is always darkest before the dawn.
But the operative question truly should not be “will there be a Third Intifada?” The real question is “if there is a new Intifada, will the Western solidarity movement be able to support it?” If we look at the Second Spanish Republic, that struggle was made and broken by the ability of the Republican parties to form a big-tent coalition both domestically and internationally. The Anarchists in Catalonia were able to collaborate effectively with the Basque Catholic Church that stayed loyal to the government. But as soon as the Communist Party of Spain was able to gain standing, they embarked on a minor inquisition that destroyed the united front, targeting the CNT-FAI and the POUM for ‘Bakuninist’ heresies and ‘Trotskyite’ revisionism. Franco did not succeed because of military prowess. He won because the Republic refused to reach out to the Moroccans and grant them independence, which would have severely undermined the Nationalist supply of ground troops. As a result, Spain was ruled for decades by a brutal dictatorship. Is the Palestine solidarity movement willing to risk similar results over squabbles?
If the Israelis were forced to end their subsidy to the settlers (which Americans pay for), the reality is that many of them would pack up and move back to inside the borders of Israel, where they would look for a similar subsidized living arrangement. The Palestinians would then be able to create a contiguous state based on a series of land swaps while forming a democratic government that ousts the quislings in Fatah.
This is a genuine option, at the Annapolis Conference of 2007 Tzipi Livni was shown a map of a proposed state where she said essentially “This is possible, we can work with this, but someone would lose their political career in the process”, probably recalling with clarity the death of Mr. Rabin. This map, never publicly released, has been carefully laid out dunam-by-dunam and would give Palestine control of vital land and water resources while creating a viable state of their own.
BDS supports a one-state solution while others support a two-state dynamic. Leaving aside the debate between various solidarity groups over this issue, it is worth noting that both fail to recognize one key issue, namely, the current one-and-a-half state dynamic that defines the status quo of the Occupied Territories. The Palestinians are given an in-name-only state run by Israeli collaborators and pockmarked by Israeli settlements, creating a Bantustan reality not unlike apartheid South Africa. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority revel in this because it gives them their quisling status. To leave out this dynamic from the conversation is a gap all solidarity activists must overcome.
Another complication in this dynamic is the presence of Max Blumenthal, son of Clinton confidant, journalist, and PR hitman Sidney Blumenthal. The recent Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal has revealed, among other things, that the elder Mr. Blumenthal is a regular correspondent with Mrs. Clinton, advising her about Libya and was on the Clinton Foundation payroll.
We also know that the young Mr. Blumenthal helped Mrs. Clinton design the YouTube video she created regarding the Banghazi attacks and wrote an article (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/egypt-libya-hollywood-film) about the inspiration of the Benghazi attacks (http://dailycaller.com/2015/05/27/left-wing-writer-max-blumenthal-helped-craft-hillarys-youtube-video-benghazi-explanation/), though the fact this point was argued by the right-wing Daily Caller complicates things. We also know that the younger Mr. Blumenthal has previously trafficked in anti-Gaddafi materials on his Twitter. Why attack a historic ally of the Palestinians?
There are still more questions that arise with the younger Mr. Blumenthal that are not being answered. In the much-too-long history of Palestinian oppression, there are really three epochs of international advocacy that can be discerned. First there was the Arab and to a lesser extent Soviet support for the Palestinians, caused by a whole slew of motivations, from immediate border concerns (Jordan or Nasser’s Egypt) to pan-Arabism to international solidarity underwritten by Cold War realpolitik. Second was the early Western advocacy, probably best defined by the work of Dr. Eqbal Ahmed, Dr. Noam Chomsky, and Dr. Edward Said, which can be roughly placed in between the end of the 1967 war and the start of the First Intifada. Then there has been the third wave, beginning with the First Intifada and continuing unto this very day, including the birth of BDS and Jewish Voice for Peace. When I contacted Dr. Norman Finkelstein with questions about Jewish Voice for Peace, he said he was unfamiliar with them. What kind of genuine Palestine liberation movement does not include him?
Dr. Finkelstein occupies a unique position in the advocacy space-time continuum because he began his work in 1982, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, but he also was young when he did so. Mr. Blumenthal knew quite well that if BDS had called Dr. Chomsky a ‘liberal Zionist’ or said that he was a ‘comrade at heart’ with Alan Dershowitz, people would have laughed BDS out of existence. But with Dr. Finkelstein, Mr. Blumenthal had a little better opportunity. Finkelstein is not tenured and has to go to Iran to teach John Stuart Mill. He was forced out of academia before he could generate the level of copy Dr. Chomsky has, meaning he does not have the same aura, pulpit, and prestige. And finally, the idea of a Baby Boomer selling out is not unheard of. If someone were to claim Dr. Chomsky betrayed the Palestinians and became a Republican, that claim would get the speaker checked into a mental institution. But after the tomfoolery of David Horowitz, Christopher Hitchens, and so many other New Leftists-turned-Neoconservatives, there is a level of believability. It fits into the realm of possibilities to claim Finkelstein sold out. As a result, the man who stood up for Palestine at the cost of his tenure bid at DePaul University has now been un-personed by BDS, to the point his speaking engagement schedule dropped in volume so precipitously that his accountant was wondering what happened last year at tax time. One is forced to ask in reading Leni Brenner’s review of Dr. Finkelstein’s Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End if perhaps the Blumenthal-fanned vitriolic fury against Dr. Finkelstein was perhaps motivated by the type of Jewish Voices for Peace hypnosis into nastiness that is signature Sidney. @MaxBlumenthal has trafficked in anti-Finkelstein material previously also.
We also know, thanks to the Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails, that she was being forwarded stories the younger Mr. Blumenthal wrote.
What makes this so much more bizarre is that, even though the elder Mr. Blumenthal was very responsible for the ‘peace process’ his son decries in interviews, there is no schism between father and son. When Paul Jay of The Real News Network asked Max about this, he said the following:
JAY: …So you grew up in a household where your father was a very well-known journalist and became an aide to President Clinton, and with virtue of that became a real insider and very close to Washington power. And if I understand correctly from his writings and his view, you have really diverged in terms of how you see American power, certainly on the issues of Israel, I believe. I don’t really know your father’s views on Israel, but if they’re anything like the Clintonesque views, then you’ve certainly diverged from those. So talk about that arc, about, like, growing up in that house and what gets you to these kinds of–you know, where you start to question just about everything about U.S. foreign policy.
BLUMENTHAL: Yeah. Just to start, you know, me and him don’t really have big arguments about U.S. foreign policy or Israel. It’s not a big issue between us, and I don’t really see what I’m doing as a reaction against the Clintons or anything. I mean, it’s really a–.
JAY: Yeah, I wasn’t really suggesting that. I’m just suggesting that you have come to very different conclusions about the world.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I’ve had to ask myself that question, like, to what extent am I–maybe I’m subconsciously having some psychological reaction, but I really think this is more just a reflection of my own experiences and the kind of time that I grew up in and developed my own political maturity.
Say what? If one reads Blumenthal’s previous book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, he includes in it a passing mention of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin that is not at all complimentary when he profiles Avigdor Lieberman. Why would an ally of the Palestinians be slurring the President of the major superpower that supports them and treats Hamas as a legitimate political party? Furthermore, if one examines Goliath carefully, President Clinton, arguably the grand master of the Oslo years and what Dr. Finkelstein calls an ‘annexation process’, gets treated in glowing terms. Why? If one searches the internet, @MaxBlumenthal has tons of tweets about the problematic nature of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s positions on Israel.
I have previously expressed my disgust as Sen. Sanders on this issue, but also noted that a Jewish President sitting across the table from the Israeli Prime Minister would radically redefine the dynamic of the negotiations room and could result in the end of this mess, if Sen. Sanders has the guts to do that. After watching his performance defending Mrs. Clinton over her e-mail scandal on October 13, 2015 and failing to hammer her over her husband’s bank deregulation, I remain skeptical. But Hillary Clinton has gallons of Palestinian blood on her hands in comparison to Bernie Sanders, why the soft treatment? Mr. Blumenthal went out of his way to mention Sen. Sanders in his talk promoting his newest book, The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza on June 29, 2015 at Town Hall Seattle (https://youtu.be/jljg0-6qYKs?t=54m9s). In fact, he even tells people not to bother with electoral politics at all while his father is helping Mrs. Clinton’s campaign! Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton praises his writing in e-mails with the elder Mr. Blumenthal.
Young Mr. Blumenthal has almost nothing ill to say about his father’s paymasters. He is lightly critical of Mrs. Clinton on Twitter but uses the opportunity to bash Drs. Chomsky and Finkelstein. Why?
When I expressed my doubts about Ms. Weir to Mr. St. Clair, it was because I was alerted to young Mr. Blumenthal’s denunciations of her, using materials from Jewish Voice for Peace.
Here is Ms. Weir’s reply (https://youtu.be/9eGVMwhIN_8) to Blumenthal’s accusations, including documentation. So Max Blumenthal is willing to denounce, smear, and slime Ms. Weir with Jewish Voice for Peace, which also denounces CounterPunch. Ali Abunimah is willing to do likewise regarding Ms. Weir , Dr. Finkelstein, and Dr. Chomsky. This creates just more questions.
Why is Mr. Blumenthal, the champion of the Palestinians all of the sudden, teaming up with Jewish Voices for Peace? Why is BDS so deep with Mr. Blumenthal and Jewish Voices for Peace? (Guilt by association isn’t so fun, is it folks?) To be clear, Louis Proyect has done us all a great favor by publishing an in-depth critique of Jewish Voices for Peace written by NYU Law student Amith Gupta that exposes their failed reasoning:
JVP has taken at least 4 different positions on Zionism, implying a lack of any principle regarding racism and colonialism against Palestine in particular and the Middle East as a whole.
1 Open-Ended: JVP’s guidelines state a refusal to state their beliefs in terms of the word “Zionism”
2 Restricted: JVP’s guidelines state that their chapters are banned from working with organizations that use “anti-Zionist demands or slogans”, presumably including Al-Awda and the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
3 Pro-Zionist: JVP interprets Jews, as a group, to be connected to the Middle East, which is Zionism (see above).
4 Anti-Zionist when condemning anti-Semitism: JVP has recirculated letters that explicitly argue that Zionism is a form of racism in the context of disavowing a British-Israeli author for his apparently anti-Jewish statements. The statement against this man is included in their statement against Weir. The implication is that condemning Zionism as a form of racism is acceptable, provided the condemnation is made while disavowing someone for anti-Semitism.
5 JVP’s statements imply a lack of principled positions regarding racism against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, while taking a staunch position against perceived racism toward the Jewish community. This is a racist double-standard.
For a bunch of charges that are based around racism, that seems pretty bad. Has Jewish Voices for Peace taken on Jewish gentrification of black neighborhoods as part of their outreach to #BlackLivesMatter? Are they going to lobby to prosecute Goldman Sachs for wrecking the economy on the backs of minority and poor victims of predatory lending? Will they take on the elder Mr. Blumenthal’s past race bating politicking and oust the younger if the son dare not rebuke the father?
Why did BDS unperson Dr. Finkelstein and try the same bit with Dr. Chomsky ? Finkelstein arguably has done and lost more because of his activism than Mr. Blumenthal, who is getting published by The Nation. Why is The Nation all of the sudden the vanguard of Palestinians but still anti-Putin? The magazine has a long history of supporting Zionism and fails to take a moral stance on the issue, feigning ‘objectivity’ by featuring articles by both Zionists and writers like Dr. Chomsky. Why?
Near my home, sitting atop College Hill on the East Side of Providence, is the urban campus of Brown University. As an institution that was funded and built by slaves, it has been historically reticent to discuss this topic or make meaningful reparations to African American descendants living in Providence. The school is famous for generating a slew of social justice warriors who say much, do little, and think less. Like clockwork every fall, some noble souls from their perch emerge from nowhere and proclaim to the masses how they intend to lead we dumb Rhode Islanders to the promised land. Of course, they never have the audacity to look inwards and recognize how they are actually the shock troops of a multi-generational gentrification project that has already ethnically cleansed the historic black neighborhoods on the East Side and now are slowly forcing out the minority populations on the West End. When the school opened a new medical building several years ago in the downtown, they re-branded the historic Jewelry District the ‘Knowledge District’ and tried to use this as an excuse to re-draw the voting districts so to split the voting power of the minority populations in South Providence. I, as a woefully stupid Rhode Islander, am supposed to look to these children of the revolution as my guides for social justice in the state?
The University is a historic enclave of metropolitan liberal Zionism, with a solid-brick Hillel building that would be the envy of the Providence NAACP or any labor union (the non-union workforce is paid a monthly paycheck, which should be regarded as a form of human torture).
It is also a longtime finishing school for the Democratic Party, having featured a few notables in their alumni, such as current Congressman David Cicilline, candidate Lincoln Chafee, and the late John F. Kennedy, Jr. A current researcher and instructor is political philosopher Prof. John Tomasi, whose courses feature the textbooks Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs To Know by Jason Brennan, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn “I took Social Security payments” Rand, For A New Liberty by Murray Rothbard, and Why Not Socialism by G.A. Cohen, a title that at a whopping 96 pages must totally convince these Ivy Leaguers to expropriate the expropriators, a.k.a. mom and dad, as well as Thomasi’s own title. His webpage at Brown says the following:
My most recent book, Free Market Fairness (Princeton University Press, 2012), draws on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F.A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls. In Free Market Fairness I develop a hybrid theory of liberal justice, one committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Free market fairness seeks to combine the uncombinables: capitalism and democracy, private property and social justice, free markets and fairness, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Free market fairness, I believe, is social justice, American style.
Yeah, okay. You could just be honest and say “I am the doyen philosopher of neoliberalism”, but Brown does not like honesty.
The Brown Bookstore is a unique operation in and of itself. They have the traditional college bookstore and cafe setup, but textbooks are in the basement while the main and second floors are for selling college paraphernalia and regular titles. They try to pass this off as a ‘community’ business operation, but they did no favors to keep College Hill Bookstore next door from shutting down some years ago. I decided to check out the title selections in both the commercial and textbook stacks to see what they sell. My gold standard of books that should be essential for teaching on the Israel-Palestine conflict is the list Dr. Chomsky, who has taught courses on US foreign policy at MIT, compiled some years ago naming books he thinks activists should read. He suggests the following:
The Absence of Peace: Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Nicholas Guyatt
Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question edited by Christopher Hitchens and Edward Said
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering by Norman G. Finkelstein
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman G. Finkelstein
The Israeli Connection: Who Israel Arms and Why by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
Israeli Foreign Policy: South Africa and Central America by Jane Hunter
My Home, My Prison by Raymonda Hawa Tawil
The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years by Norman G. Finkelstein
The Third Way: A Journal of Life in the West Bank by Raja Shehadeh
The West Bank Story by Rafik Halabi
In the consumer stacks, there were The One-State Condition by Profs. Azoulay and Ophir of Tel Aviv University (what a bastion of liberation and justice), The Two-State Delusion by Padraig O’Malley (a veteran negotiator of South Africa, how encouraging), The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza by Max Blumenthal (a book that fails to mention the Clintons at all), and One Land, Two States by Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg (the latter was a key figure in establishing the backchannel that led to Oslo, even more encouraging). The Holocaust Industry is hidden in an area separate from the Middle East books, but none of the previous titles recommended by Dr. Chomsky are available. Why not include the continually best-selling Dr. Chomsky titles or the vital contributions to the discourse Dr. Finkelstein has made? Is this the free flow of ideas?
In the textbook section, there were three spots to look at, the Middle East Studies books, Judeo Studies, and Political Science. The History section had one title about the evolution of the Left wing discourse on post-colonial Palestinian struggle, but considering Hamas does not fit into the paradigm of a Soviet-backed revolutionary group, it has as much relevance to current events as Morse code. The Middle East section was a single, low-stocked shelf not featuring a single title on Israel-Palestine. Judeo Studies had a fiction title by A.B. Yeshua, Mr. Mani and Anita Shapira’s glowing biography of David Ben-Gurion, as well as a book by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The final title I found in poli-sci was Alan Dowty’s Israel/Palestine, a text which traffics in obscurity and invokes the name of Dr. Said to argue for a one-state paradigm. When I asked at the desk, the clerks said no classes were using Drs. Chomsky or Finkelstein this semester. I wonder why. It was Dr. Finkelstein who said in his Preface to Beyond Chutzpah:
This book posed and attempted to resolve a paradox: How is one to account for so much controversy swirling around a conflict that, judging by the past (historical record), present (human rights record), and desirable future (legal-diplomatic record), is remarkably uncontroversial? The answer I proposed is that the vast preponderance of controversy surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict is a contrivance to divert attention from, and sow confusion about, the documentary record.
Both esteemed professors were very clear in their statements when interviewed by Frank Barat of BDS, the most immediate conclusion of the conflict would be a two-state settlement on the 1967 borders with a just solution of the refugee question. They were shamed and shunned for this, but they remain correct. Furthermore, why is Brown trafficking in this stuff now? Every year the Students for Justice in Palestine group protests the meeting of the Brown Corporation Trustees and urges them to divest from Israel, following the example of previous students who urged them to divest from the Boer regime in South Africa. Why profit from the problem while suggesting a solution that is so fraught?
The two-state solution is almost a done deal, the maps and everything else exist. Ireland was a two-state solution and progress has been made, no one thought they would live to see Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams sharing power like that. Why all of the sudden throw 40 years of building a consensus for a viable Palestine out the window so to start at square one with a one-state solution that is fraught in consequences and could be as big a mess as South Africa? The late Danny Schechter, who was part of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1960’s, in an interview with The Real News Network every genuine solidarity activist needs to watch, explained to Paul Jay what happened and how the ANC went from a vanguard movement of human liberation to the corrupt puppets now in power:
…[A]s the ANC emerges as a potential government in South Africa, they have to decide what model they’re going to, you know, approach and what model they’re going to try to base themselves on. And many of the people in the movement, as well as many of their allies in socialist countries around the world, advised them: do not go in this direction, because you’ll cut off all investment, which you desperately need to create jobs. I think that they sort of bought this argument to try to be pleasers, to please the corporate interests in South Africa and around the world. They were under a lot of American pressure, too. Mandela says the American companies were particularly strong in discouraging nationalization. You know, they had various strategists who were telling them, don’t do this, because if you do this, you’ll lose the allies that you’ve won in this fight for freedom, people like Clinton and Democrats as well. So there was a lot of conflicting information and debate going on, and in the end they opted for a neoliberal type of economy, which I don’t think has served them well.
Fatah has embraced neoliberalism wholeheartedly, creating a petite bourgeoisie that lords over Ramallah in a contingent of single-room NGOs and nonprofits that have no material benefit for the masses. The elder Mr. Blumenthal was deeply involved with creating these situations in both South Africa and Palestine. Now we are supposed to look to his son as the Che Guevara of Palestine?
BDS calls everyone who supports a two-state solution a ‘liberal Zionist’ or a racist or some silliness. Yet they will not concede that their one-state advocacy has increased security concerns and therefore oppression of the Palestinians. Why alienate Dr. Chomsky, Dr. Finkelstein, Ms. Weir, and some of the greatest advocates of Palestinians? Does this not prolong the conflict, the annexations, and brutality? Under a one-state solution, would not Fatah be almost guaranteed at least control of major centers of power, as was the case with the Boers, while Hamas members would be hunted down? Would a one-state solution allow for alliances between Zionist politicians and Iran, Syria, Lebanon, or the Muslim Brotherhood? Would a single state be allowed to have the close alliance with Russia the Palestinians have? Would Abu Mazen face an ouster under a one-state solution, which he almost certainly would under a two-state arrangement? Would the Palestinian Authority be kept as it is under the one-state premise in the name of ‘moderation’ and preventing panic in the Israelis? Would Netanyahu be put on trial for warcrimes or would there be another Truth and Reconciliation Committee, as there was in South Africa, that says much and does little in terms of structural injustice? Did not Dr. Finkelstein say that the major signatories of the BDS call were one-room NGOs headquartered in Ramallah, headquarters also of Fatah? Many on CounterPunch have said Bernie Sanders is a sheep-dog for the Democrats, but could in fact the Clintons have their own team of herders named Blumenthal? What in the world is going on here?
In composing this piece I have reached out in private correspondence to Dr. Chomsky and asked him these very questions, which he felt were worth pondering. Dr. Chomsky is familiar with an instant some decades ago that involved the late Israeli chemist Dr. Israel Shahak, a tireless and vital saint in the pantheon of this movement. He headed a human rights group and the Israelis, panicked by his activism, flooded the membership rolls with plants that tried to oust Shahak and undo his work. Chomsky doubts this can be also said of the BDS leadership (not the members, who are excellent people, the leadership) and I doubt that is the case also. But one is left to wonder about things like this. Why are the Blumenthals, loyal servants of the Hillary “Let’s Bomb Russia” Clinton, involved in this? Why support a one-state solution, which would negate the role of Russia? Doesn’t this schism between activists hinder the movement and prevent justice? Wasn’t there a genuine chance in the wake of Operation Cast Lead and the Arab Spring to end the conflict? How can Omar Barghouti be the leader of a boycott of Israeli universities while studying at Tel Aviv University? There was previously an attempt to get him expelled from the university, why is it that Mr. Barghouti can get a pass and Dr. Finkelstein cannot? Why split the solidarity movement so violently? Did not Stalin have an ultra-left phase? For that matter, is it not an old Southern Democratic Party trick to push issues to either the hard left or right so the moderate can slide in? What if Sen. Sanders is not the sheep-dog, that the real shepherds are the Blumenthals, who have a history of these antics, including, rumor has it, creating the Obama Birther conspiracy theories in 2006-2007?
Many people affiliated with Arafat were compromised and corrupt, but many of them, such as Dr. Said, were not, and they worked long years to reach the point that the consensus around the two-state solution has come to. The only holdouts are the Americans, Israel, and the occasional obedient scoundrels that will follow the bill depending on their governing parties. In my mind, the choice between either two-states or one-and-a-half-states seem like the only immediate options that the UN is willing to act on and is therefore an immediate task to focus on.
I am not saying BDS or any other organizations should sacrifice their principles and give up, I am proposing a multi-stage schematic. First get the Palestinians a state, then work towards the synthesis of the two states into a singular entity. The cessation of the occupation of Palestinian territory and evacuation of the settlements will produce immediate results and fortify efforts to create a better United States of Palestine in the future. Create the allowance for dissent and a big tent dynamic that achieves the immediate goal, ending the annexation of Palestinian land by the settlers. To hold true to a dogma and refuse flexibility while risking everything is not politics, it is religion. And if you look at Roman Catholicism, most historians agree that it made real strides for progress only after the Second Vatican Council created an allowance for inter-religious dialogue that had not existed previously.
It also is vital to emphasize that I do not see the entirety of Jewish Voices for Peace or BDS as a Clinton front. But the Clintons have a history of toying with American Jewish anxieties to win elections, as was the case in 1991. Back then, Mr. Clinton turned President Bush’s genuine peace process into an annexation process. I think most of BDS and Jewish Voice for Peace activists are genuine and honest about wanting to end the conflict yet fail to grasp the complex issues.
But if anyone needs to be asked hard questions, it is not Ms. Weir, it is the Blumenthals. They are both known for being nasty, ruthless, and mean if you get in their way. Could they have ingratiated themselves into genuine advocacy groups? When the father teamed up with the Clintons, he gave neoliberalism a radical edge, having previously been a writer for the now-defunct Boston Phoenix. Now the son has taken up the cause of Palestine, having begun writing for The Electronic Intifada in 2011 and begun his journalism regarding Palestinians with a story on the Mavi Marmara dated June 8, 2010, according to my research of his website. He just discovered this issue when his father was part of the Oslo accords after writing a book, Republican Gommorah, that exposed Republican sexual hypocrisy, which is right up the trail of the ever-hounded, ever-horny Mr. Clinton? Hillary Clinton has not been running for President since the day after Inauguration Day 2009?
The type of cultural and political synthesis we are seeing proposed by a one-state vision is a gradual process that would take generations to actualize, something that philosophically split Marx and Bakunin while destroying the First International in the process. That lack of flexibility and openness also destroyed the Second Spanish Republic. By contrast, the Republican Party was able to get Lincoln re-elected and win the Civil War because they created a big tent party that gave room for everyone from the radical to the moderate. The solidarity movement should agitate and demand the release of the aforementioned Annapolis summit maps so Americans can know exactly what the geography is. WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald’s colleagues at The Intercept have created the forums necessary for a sympathetic leaker. Then they should work towards a genuine two-state solution that ends the occupation with groups like BDS, If Americans Knew, and other groups. From there, a one-state solution would be tenable but would take time. That type of patience of course defines Left activism, Marx knew this from his studies of Hegel. The lyrics of The Internationale include the words “another world’s in birth”. Doesn’t a birth take a long time?
This piece has been one that asks a lot of questions. I look forward to answers from either Mr. Blumenthal, who have done much harm to many in the name of their Clinton-inspired lust for power and who, to paraphrase a witticism of Dr. Finkelstein in Beyond Chutzpah, might be forced to get real jobs. I am sorry to take the wind out of some sails, though I always thought there was something far too smug, glossy, and astro-turfed about some of these “activists”, especially considering how radical their alleged goals were. But if I have a definitive answer to any question, it would be that there are quite a few people who owe Ms. Weir, Dr. Chomsky, and Dr. Finkelstein an honest apology. During his tenure battle with DePaul, the late Dr. Raoul Hilberg said something of Dr. Finkelstein that can be applied to all three aforementioned individuals and others who have been so maliciously insulted for advocating a truly-tenable solution to the conflict, “I would say that his place in the whole history of writing history is assured, and that those who in the end are proven right triumph, and he will be among those who will have triumphed, albeit, it so seems, at great cost.”