Category Archives: Norman Finkelstein

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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Finkelstein says international law is powerful weapon for boycott

Professor Norman Finkelstein stormed UK campuses in the week to November 11, lecturing to packed auditoriums in London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham on How to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

His main message was that since Israeli settlement, occupation and denial of rights to Palestinian refugees are all acknowledged as illegal under international law,  the campaign on these points is as good as won.

Norman Finkelstein addresses boycott activists. Photo: Brian Robinson

He said that Tzipi Livni, when serving as Israel’s foreign minister,  had declared:

“I’m a lawyer – and I’m against the law, international law in particular.”

She had good reason for saying that because under international law “Israel loses, on Jerusalem, on the West Bank and Gaza, on settlements and right of return for refugees,” said Finkelstein.

The relevance of this to the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) was teased out in discussion between Finkelstein and Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) on Friday afternoon, Nov 11, at UCL.

BRICUP chair Jonathan Rosenhead at the BDS discussion. Photo: Brian Robinson

Rosenhead opened with a review of the history of boycott as a weapon available to the weak oppressed by the strong, as in Ireland in the 1880s and in South Africa in 1960s-90s.

He said boycotts targeting Israel, begun in  2004, combine “symbolic protest, material intervention and political action.”  The overall aim was ending the Israeli system of oppression,  as called for by Palestinian civil society.

Rosenhead said freedom of expression in academia was a vital principle, but it was not absolute and could conflict with a higher principle, such as freedom and self-determination for an oppressed people.

Finkelstein said he supported the BDS campaign as a legitimate and potentially effective tactic. But he locked horns with Rosenhead and many in the audience when he argued that to go beyond goals that were enshrined in international law was to lose the possibility of reaching a broad public.

If your target is all Israeli institutions and your goal is an amorphous “system of oppression”, he said, the campaign may be morally pure, but it will be politically useless – a sect.

“The public will want to know, you are asking us to boycott until when? Until the Occupation ends, as defined in international law, or until Israel ends?  If the latter, you will have no possibility of reaching beyond the people in this room,” Finkelstein said.

From the audience, Naomi Foyle of British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWISP)  referred to the principles laid down by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), setting out the aims of BDS based on international law and human rights and including “dismantling the Israeli system of apartheid”.

She argued that Israel fits the United Nations definition of apartheid and that far from this position distancing us from the public, explaining the many ways in which Israel behaves like an apartheid state resonates within huge numbers of people.

Frank Barat, coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, read out the findings of the Tribunal session held last week in Johannesburg. The judgement said that Israel’s “rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.”

Abe Hayeem, of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, said the boycott campaign laid considerable stress on the legal arguments when taking its message to the public.  “But governments don’t uphold the law, so civil society has to pressure Israel to come to its senses,” Hayeem said.

Tony Greenstein, anti-Zionist blogger and founding member of J-BIG, wrote later that Finkelstein’s focus on international law and institutions was misplaced.

Analysing Finkelstein’s evening lecture, Greenstein said: “Not once in his speech . . .  did Norman Finkelstein mention the word ‘Zionism’. It is as if Israel magically appeared. As if its behaviour towards Palestinians is some form of aberration. As if the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is out of character. And as if Israel, once it hands back all the 1967 territories, will become a normal state.”

“The real task ,” Greenstein wrote, “is to de-Zionist Israel and the creation of one unitary, secular and democratic Israel/Palestine.”

The full BDS discussion can be heard in an audio recording by Brian Robinson here and on video from InMinds here.

 The BDS discussion took place as part of Finkelstein’s lecture tour organised by students at University College London, supported by the Palestinian Return Centre and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
The tour was targeted by Zionists attempting to prevent Finkelstein’s trenchant pro-Palestinian message from reaching a wide audience.
University authorities in Manchester threatened to cancel his lecture there unless non-students were denied access, forcing the Action Palestine organisers to find an off campus venue at short notice.
University head of governance Martin Conway, responding to a letter of complaint from J-BIG,  insisted that they were simply following protocols to safeguard “the safety and security of our students and visitors.”
He denied there had been any pressure on the administration, but Action Palestine said the Jewish Society had alleged that Jewish students could be in danger if an open meeting was held.
Finkelstein said such suggestions were absurd. ” I have spoken at Manchester on at least two previous occasions without any incident,” he said.
On the day the tour ended, the pro-Zionist weekly Jewish Chronicle filled its front page with a hysterical outburst alleging that Finkelstein was one of “a wave of hate speakers” on UK campuses.
But as anyone who attended any of his lectures or has read any of his works will know, his learned, critical and challenging analysis of Middle East history and politics illuminates an area be-fogged with pro-Israel bias.
Click here for Brian Robinson’s audio recording of Finkelstein’s lecture at the Logan Hall, Institute of Education, on Friday evening, November 11.
See also comment from Tony Greenstein and Naomi Foyle.

STOP PRESS: FINKELSTEIN BOYCOTT DISCUSSION VENUE

 
Prof Norman Finkelstein will be in conversation with BRICUP chair Prof Jonathan Rosenhead
at 2 pm Friday November 11
in the Christopher Ingold Lecture Theatre
UCL Chemistry Building, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1 6BT
This is opposite the Bloomsbury Theatre.
To reserve your place please email  jews4big@gmail.com
 
Finkelstein and Rosenhead will discuss the proposition:
The Palestinians having being denied justice for 63 years, those who support their rights must endorse their call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
 
This is in addition to Finkelstein’s lecture at 7 pm in the Logan Hall, Institute of Education for which booking is required. 
http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787
 
After lecturing to packed houses in Leeds and Manchester on Monday and Tuesday, Finkelstein’s tour continues with dates in Birmingham and Nottingham before concluding in London on Friday.
 

Protest builds over Manchester University interference in Finkelstein tour

Manchester University is facing growing protests after caving in to Zionist pressure and forcing students organising a speaking tour by Professor Norman Finkelstein to move his planned lecture off campus.

In a letter to university Head of Governance, Martin Conway, J-BIG said it was astonished “that a respected university should collude with Zionist attempts to suppress open discussion of Prof Finkelstein’s views on campus.”

Students from Manchester Action Palestine said the university management and Union “capitulated to pressure from JSOC [Jewish Society] to limit attendees of the event to students only, depriving the public of seeing one of the world’s foremost commentators on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”

JSOC members alleged that the safety of Jewish students would be endangered if the public were allowed in, even though they had made clear their own intention to attend and hold a picket. Administrators issued an ultimatum saying that the lecture would have to be closed to non-students or be cancelled. Action Palestine was therefore obliged to find a new location in the city.

Abe Hayeem, Chair of Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine, told Conway he was “appalled to hear that Manchester University had created impossible conditions that would prevent Professor Norman Finkelstein from speaking at a meeting that was open to both students and the public.”

“Your action smacks entirely of bias, pre-emption and censorship that does not enhance the reputation of such an important University, by caving into pressure of a determined minority who wish to deny anyone presenting the realities of Israel and the situation in the Middle East,” Hayeem wrote.

Manchester Action Palestine is asking supporters to send protest letters to Conway (martin.conway@manchester.ac.uk) and to Pat Sponder (pat.sponder@manchester.ac.uk) Head of the Office of Student Support and Services.

Finkelstein’s lecture in Manchester on November 8 is one of several planned around the UK as part of a speaking tour organised by students from University College London, supported by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and the Palestinian Return Centre.

It will include lectures on the Israel Palestine conflict and a discussion in London on Friday November 11 with Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine, which leads the campaign for academic and cultural boycott of Israel.

The Manchester lecture will now take place at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, M2 5NS at 6 pm on November 8.

Other tour dates:

Leeds – 7 pm Monday November 7
University of Leeds, Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building
Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9JT.  Arrive early or reserve your place in advance  irial@hotmail.co.uk

Nottingham – Wednesday November 9
University of Nottingham, Coates Auditorium, University Park                   Nottingham – Thursday Nov 10, 1pm-3pm open Q&A                                              Tickets for both events from Students Union box office in Portland or telephone 07411 430873

Birmingham – 5 pm Thursday November 10
University of Birmingham, Vaughan Jeffreys Lecture Theatre, Education Building                                                                                                                                                Book your ticket: http://www.guildtickets.co.uk/event/How-to-solve-the-IsraelPalestine-conflict-by-Norman-Finkelstein

 

London – 2 pm Friday November 11 – BDS discussion                                        Bloomsbury venue to be announced

London – 7 pm Friday November 11
University of London, Logan Hall, Institute of Education                                      Reserve your place at http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787

 

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN SPEAKS IN UK ON “HOW TO SOLVE THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT”

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods is supporting the Nov 7-11 tour of the UK  by Professor Norman Finkelstein whose work straddles political theory, the Israel-Palestine conflict and American policy towards the Middle East.
He has authored six acclaimed books including Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering.
Finkelstein has been at the centre of a storm of controversy about academic freedom in the United States. In 2007 an award of tenure and promotion at the university of DePaul was overturned after enormous outside pressure from the Israel lobby.
The following year he was invited to lecture at California State University, Northridge, which then, resisting a vitriolic campaign targeting the university as well as Finkelstein himself, offered him a post. This was vetoed by the CSUN president despite testimonials from eminent scholars.
Khaled Abou El Fadl, Professor of Law at UCLA wrote:
“To describe Professor Finkelstein as a towering intellectual figure—masterful, brilliant, meticulously methodical, precise, eloquent, and exceedingly gracious and polite—does not begin to describe him as a writer and lecturer. . .”
Norman Finkelstein’s tour of five UK cities November 7-11 is supported by J-BIG and the Palestinian Return Centre
DISCUSSION ON BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS
In addition to the lectures advertised on the flier, Prof Finkelstein will be in discussion with Prof. Jonathan Rosenhead, chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), at University College London at 2 pm on Friday November 11. They will consider the following proposition:
The Palestinians having being denied justice for 63 years, those who support their rights must endorse their call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Tickets can be purchased online for the London evening event from http://www.eventsbot.com/events/eb253345787 .
See the tour page on Facebook