Monthly Archives: May 2014

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CRITIC OF ISRAEL AND BDS, SPEAKS IN LONDON

nwi chairing norman finkelstein nov2011 credit brian robinson

Norman Finkelstein debates BDS at SOAS, November 2011

Norman Finkelstein, both celebrated and reviled for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda, will be launching his latest book in London on May 31 at an event hosted by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.  Full details below.

Finkelstein’s views on the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign have made him a controversial figure in the BDS movement. In November 2011 he debated with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, on a J-BIG platform at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The event, pictured above, exposed disagreements between Finkelstein and BDS activists who he accused of building a “sect”.  As the JfJfP notice below says, his May 31 book launch could prove “a bumpy ride”!

LONDON BOOK LAUNCH

Old Wine, Broken Bottle:
Ari Shavit’s Promised Land

Saturday 31 May 2014 *  6.30 for 7pm start
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

Norman Finkelstein is a strong speaker celebrated for his brilliant demolitions of Zionist propaganda and full-tilt attacks on the American Israel Lobby.

His new book is a take-down of Ari Shavit’s “My Promised Land”, which he finds is an attempt to repackage Zionist propaganda and win back Diaspora Jews. “Old Wine, Broken Bottle” is a devastating and very entertaining critique that concludes that Shavit will not succeed, and that a broad-based mass movement is now growing that can pressure the Israeli government to withdraw to the 1967 borders.

But Finkelstein is nothing if not controversial: having defied the Zionist establishment, he now stands apart from the mainstream of Palestine solidarity by denouncing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as a marginal “cult”. His vehement insistence on the Two State Solution has also been widely challenged.

Professor Finkelstein will open with a conversation with JfJfP signatory Stephen Marks.
Then fans and critics alike can put their own questions to him. All are welcome.

Expect a bumpy ride!

Free event, but please help towards costs: £3 donation suggested
Apologies for Saturday timing; this was the only slot available”Old Wine, Broken Bottle” reviewed by a member of the JfJfP Exec http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1939293464/ref=sr_cr_hist_5?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addFiveStar&showViewpoints=0

 

 

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US ACADEMICS REPLY TO ANTI-BOYCOTT CRITICS

In this piece published recently in the Los Angeles Review of Books, three distinguished academics take apart a comprehensive attack on BDS from one of their colleagues.  It is long but well worth reading. Apologies for the delay in posting it here.

AMONG THE FOUR ESSAYS recently published in the Los Angeles Review of Books opposing the academic boycott of Israel (“Academic Activism, Israelis, Palestinians, and the Ethics of Boycott”), one stands out for both its length and its comprehensiveness: Russell Berman’s “The Goal of the Boycott.” Berman’s essay aspires to explain the “real” goals of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and the “real” motives of those who support it while providing a history lesson. We argue that “The Goal of the Boycott” is based on bad history, bad conceptualization, and bad argumentation.

The three of us — Joel Beinin, a historian of the modern Middle East and former elected president of the Middle East Studies Association; Hilton Obenzinger, a longstanding Jewish critic of Israeli policies, author, academic, and member of the American Studies Association; and David Palumbo-Liu, literary and cultural critic, a member of the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies, the academic organization that first endorsed the academic boycott of Israel — are Berman’s colleagues at Stanford. This makes the task of rebutting his claims at once more difficult and more necessary. We feel it especially necessary to respond precisely because of the stature Berman enjoys (and in most respects, deserves) at Stanford and in the American academy, and because the views he puts forward will likely appear highly attractive and worth repeating exactly because they seem so comprehensive and thorough. Yet careful scrutiny reveals a dismaying level of misstatement, historical inaccuracy, wild hypothesizing, and overblown rhetoric — not the best example of argumentative writing for our students.

We critique Berman’s faulty historical narrative, his imprecise and inflammatory terminology, and his false contextualization of BDS, especially the academic boycott — presenting first Berman’s key statements and then our response. Unsupported by the historical record, much of the critical and conceptual argument of Berman’s essay falls apart. Moreover, he reveals a disappointing ignorance of the entire scholarly field of settler colonial studies, indeed of the meaning of the term. Finally Berman mischaracterizes BDS — what it is, what it calls for, and how an academic boycott works.

THE ARGUMENT CONTINUES HERE.