Rene — Finkelstein — SEEING THROUGH THE LIES

Topic(s): Palestine / Israel | Comments Off on Rene — Finkelstein — SEEING THROUGH THE LIES

By Norman Finkelstein
January 13, 2009
The record is fairly clear. You can find it on the Israeli website,
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Israel broke the ceasefire by
going into the Gaza and killing six or seven Palestinian militants. At
that point—and now I’m quoting the official Israeli website—Hamas
retaliated or, in retaliation for the Israeli attack, then launched
the missiles.
Now, as to the reason why, the record is fairly clear as
well. According to Ha’aretz, Defense Minister Barak began plans for
this invasion before the ceasefire even began. In fact, according to
yesterday’s Ha’aretz, the plans for the invasion began in March. And
the main reasons for the invasion, I think, are twofold. Number one;
to enhance what Israel calls its deterrence capacity, which in layman’s
language basically means Israel’s capacity to terrorize the region
into submission. After their defeat in July 2006 in Lebanon, they felt
it important to transmit the message that Israel is still a fighting
force, still capable of terrorizing those who dare defy its word.
And the second main reason for the attack is because Hamas was
signaling that it wanted a diplomatic settlement of the conflict
along the June 1967 border.
That is to say, Hamas was signaling they had joined the international
consen sus, they had joined most of the international community,
overwhelmingly the international community, in seeking a diplomatic
settlement. And at that point, Israel was faced with what Israelis
call a Palestinian peace offensive. And in order to defeat the peace
offensive, they sought to dismantle Hamas.
As was documented in the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair by the writer
David Rose, basing himself on internal US documents, it was the United
States in cahoots with the Palestinian Authority and Israel which were
attempting a putsch on Hamas, and Hamas preempted the putsch. That,
too, is no longer debatable or no longer a controversial claim.
The issue is can it rule in Gaza if Israel maintains a blockade and
prevents economic activity among the Palestinians. The blockade,
incidentally, was implemented before Hamas came to power. The
blockade doesn’t even have anything to do with Hamas. The blockade
came to—there were Americans who were sent over, in particular James
Wolfensohn, to try to break the blockade after Israel redeployed its
troops in Gaza.
The problem all along has been that Israel doesn’t want Gaza to
develop, and Israel doesn’t want to resolve diplomatically the
conflict, both the leadership in Damascus and the leadership in the
Gaza have repeatedly made statements they’re willing to settle the
conflict in the June 1967 border.
The record is fairly clear. In fact, it’s unam biguously clear.
Every year, the United Nations General Assembly votes on a resolution
entitled “Peaceful Settlement of the Palestine Question.” And every
year the vote is the same: it’s the whole world on one side; Israel,
the United States and some South Sea atolls and Australia on the other
side. The vote this past year was 164-to-7. Every year since 1989—in
1989, the vote was 151-to-3, the whole world on one side, the United
States, Israel and the island state of Dominica on the other side.
We have the Arab League, all twenty-two members of the Arab League,
favoring a two-state settlement on the June 1967 border. We have the
Palestinian Authority favoring that two-state settlement on the June
1967 border. We now have Hamas favoring that two-state settlement on
the June 1967 border. The one and only obstacle is Israel, backed by
the United States. That’s the problem.
Well, the record shows that Hamas wanted to continue the ceasefire,
but only on condition that Israel eases the blockade. Long before
Hamas began the retaliatory rocket attacks on Israel, Palestinians
were facing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza because of the blockade. The
former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, described
what was going on in Gaza as a destruction of a civilization. This
was during the ceasefire period.
What does the record show? The record shows for the past twenty or
more ye ars, the entire international community has sought to settle
the conflict in the June 1967 border with a just resolution of the
refugee question. Are all 164 nations of the United Nations the
rejectionists? And are the only people in favor of peace the United
States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and
Australia? Who are the rejectionists? Who’s opposing a peace?
The record shows that in every crucial issue raised at Camp David,
then under the Clinton parameters, and then in Taba, at every single
point, all the concessions came from the Palestinians. Israel didn’t
make any concessions.
Every concession came from the Palestinians. The Palestinians have
repeatedly expressed a willingness to settle the conflict in accordance
with international law.
The law is very clear. July 2004, the highest judicial body in
the world, the International Court of Justice, ruled Israel has no
title to any of the West Bank and any of Gaza. They have no title to
Jerusalem. Arab East Jerusalem, according to the highest judicial body
in the world, is occupied Palestinian territory. The International
Court of Justice ruled all the settlements, all the settlements in
the West Bank, are illegal under international law.
Now, the important point is, on all those questions, the Palestinians
were willing to make concessions. They made all the concessions. Israel
didn’t make any concessions.
I think it’ s fairly clear what needs to happen. Number one, the United
States and Israel have to join the rest of the international community,
have to abide by international law. I don’t think international law
should be trivialized. I think it’s a serious issue. If Israel is
in defiance of international law, it should be called into account,
just like any other state in the world.
Mr. Obama has to level with the American people. He has to be honest
about what is the main obstacle to resolving the conflict. It’s not
Palestinian rejectionism. It’s the refusal of Israel, backed by the
United States government, to abide by international law, to abide by
the opinion of the international community.
And the main challenge for all of us as Americans is to see through
the lies.
Norman Finkelstein is author of five books, including Image and
Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Beyond Chutzpah and
The Holocaust Industry, which have been translated into more than
40 foreign editions. He is the son of Holocaust survivors. This
article is an edited extract of the views of Finkelstein given at
DemocracyNow.org. His website is www.NormanFinkelstein.com