Power, Politics & Scholarship

Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the politics of anti-Semitism.  He is the author of five books, including Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History; Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.  His work has been praised by many of the leading scholars of the fields he works in, including the late Raul Hilberg, Avi Shlaim, Sara Roy, and Noam Chomsky.  His website is www.normanfinkelstein.com.

The following interview took place on April 15 and 16, 2008, in Providence, Rhode Island.  The wide-ranging discussion touches on the role of the Israel lobby in shaping US policy toward the Middle East, Finkelstein’s forthcoming book on American Zionism, the history and politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Venezuelan politics, Finkelstein’s approach to teaching, the Palestine solidarity movement in the US, and much more. 

JH/ML:  You have described the two-state solution as "The option which is embraced by the whole of human kind, apart from Israel and the United States… that is return to the June 1967 borders, mutual recognition between an Israeli and Palestinian State and some sort of mutually acceptable resolution of the refugee question."  It’s obvious why Israel would reject the two-state solution, but what about the US?


NF:  Well, it’s not really why obvious why Israel would reject the two-state settlement.  That itself is a matter of perplexity, because what does it really have to lose with the two state settlement?  First of all, there are significant forces – for example, among the people who backed what was Shimon Peres’s ‘new Middle East’ notion, that is, ‘Let’s profit from being the dominate economic power in the area, and the way to profit from that is to simply withdraw, end the conflict. Anyhow, this Palestinian state will be completely dominated from one side or the other – by Israel or Jordan – so what do we even need these occupied territories for?’


So, I mean, even the premise of the question of the question is not entirely clear.  Why are they persistent?  There have been basically three theories put forth — two, and then I have my own view on the topic.  One is the ideological one, that these people are Zionists and they’re not going to concede any of Eretz Israel – to which they believe they have title – so it’s

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