Friday, May 10, 2024

By Daled Amos

In 2012, a video of Norman Finkelstein made the rounds. It was touted as a rebuttal of the BDS movement by Finkelstein, which is odd since he makes it very clear  he fully supports BDS.

Here is what Finkelstein had to say:

YouTube provides a transcript of the video, here edited for brevity and clarity:
I've earned my right to speak my mind, and I'm not going to tolerate what I think is silliness, childishness, and a lot of leftist posturing.

I mean we have to be honest, and I loathe the disingenuous. They don't want Israel. They think they are being very clever; they call it their "three-tier":
We want the end of the occupation,
o  We want the right of return
o  We want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. 
And they think they are very clever because they know the result of implementing all three is what, what is the result? You know and I know what is the result. There's no Israel! 
Finkelstein's first point is that the BDS movement's claim of using peaceful, non-violent means toward an equitable solution is just a front, a lie. The goal of BDS is not a two-state solution; the goal of BDS is the elimination of the state of Israel, 

How successful has the BDS movement been in spreading its false narrative? According to Finkelstein, not very. But he has a solution:
Israel says no, the BDS movement is not really talking about rights. They're talking about how they want to destroy Israel. And, in fact, I think Israel is right; I think that's true. I'm not going to lie. But this kind of duplicity and disingenuous by BDS, "Oh, we're agnostic about Israel." No, you're not agnostic! You don't want it! Then just say it!

But they know full well: If you say it, you don't have a prayer reaching a broad public. Because that's where the public is right now. I support the BDS. But I said it will never reach a broad public until and unless they're explicit on their goal. And their goal has to include the recognition of Israel or it's a nonstarter...They won't mention it because they know it will split the movement. Cause there's a large segment of the movement that wants to eliminate Israel.

The BDS movement's dishonesty is their refusal to admit their goal to eliminate Israel. They know that broad public opinion supports Israel, its defense, and its security. Coming out publicly and calling for Israel's destruction -- back in 2012 -- would have been absurd. As Finkelstein saw it, the only option for the movement was to acknowledge the two-state solution. BDS would have to actually recognize Israel's right to exist. But like Finkelstein, Omar Barghouti -- the face of BDS -- admitted that the two-state solution is "the big white elephant in the room...a return for refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state."

Times have changed.

In 2024, just twelve years after Finkelstein's video, those who seek Israel's destruction don't seem to care about public opinion. They are emboldened, aggressive, and well-funded. They protest openly with their chants, tents, and increasingly violent attacks on Jews both on university campuses and on city streets.

They are more brazen.

But the fact that these protestors don't care about public opinion is not because they are changing it. An article in the Wall Street Journal last week made it clear that US opinion still favors Israel:
A CAPS/Harris survey finds 80% of Americans side with Israel against Hamas. Pollster Mark Penn told the Hill that figure has “not budged” since campus protests began. Seventy-eight percent say Hamas must be removed from running Gaza; 67% say Israel is trying to avoid casualties; a majority in every group 35 and up says a cease-fire should happen only after Hamas has released hostages and been removed from power. Few Americans feel a connection to indulged college students directing invectives at Jews and erecting “intifada halls.”
And where is Norman Finkelstein?

Finkelstein can be found advising the protestors, just like he did when he offered his advice to the BDS movement back in 2012. And he thinks times have changed:
[He] advised the protesters to reconsider the use of slogans that can be used against them. Finkelstein went to Columbia to praise the students for raising public consciousness about the Palestinian cause but he advised them “to adjust to the new political reality that there are large numbers of people, probably a majority, who are potentially receptive to your message.
Norman Finkelstein at Columbia (YouTube screencap)

Finkelstein is still going around giving advice on how to fine-tune the anti-Israel message. But now, he is no longer concerned with sounding more accepting of Israel and its existence. Contrary to the CAPS/Harris survey, Finkelstein thinks public opinion is now more open to the anti-Israel message than it was twelve years ago. And because of that possibility, he advises that the students eschew chants that advocate outright for the destruction of Israel.

And how was Finkelstein's advice about toning down the chants received?
Once Finkelstein has finished speaking, a protester took the microphone and led a chant of “from the river to the sea”.
A student protestor explained that he respected Finkelstein, but “this is not a top-down movement. We cannot dictate slogans from the top down. We can’t tell people you can say this, you can’t say that."

Based on what we have seen of students who don't know what "from the river to the sea" means, of students who cannot explain what they are protesting for, of non-students who are organizing the protests and left-wing groups providing funding -- we know that the idea that this is a grassroots movement is absurd.

But the degree of violence and willingness to harass Jews on a personal level seem to put this new agenda beyond what Finkelstein can influence.

Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

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