Thursday, October 25, 2007
Disinviting Finkelstein to Speak at the Oxford Union
Last week I posted a statement about the academic boycott in which I said that I am not ready to support it. Well, I am still not ready, but I am one step closer after I read about the antics of UK Friends of Peace Now on jews sans frontieres. It turns out that one of the co-chairs of this organization, a Paul Usiskin (this according to the Jerusalem Post), pressured the Oxford Union to drop Norman Finkelstein from a debate on the one-state/two-state solution. You can read about it on Finkelstein's blog. People are accusing Alan Dershowitz of derailing the invitation to Finkelstein -- hardly surprising, if true -- but from what I read, Usiskin is the culprit. Finkelstein has long been a proponent of the two-state solution, along with his intellectual pere, Noam Chomsky. Chomsky has been attacked by one-staters for that. As I have said before on this blog, Finkelstein's views on Israel are quite moderate -- he does not demand a dismantling of the Zionist regime, or a return of all the refugees, but merely an end to the occupation. He is no Zionist, and he thinks that the founding of the state in 1948 was a mistake. Big deal. The question was not "Do you support Zionism," but "Do you support a one- or a two-state solution?" This is a question that is endlessly debated among the left, and it would have been a brilliant strategic coup to get a known critic of Israel to argue for two states. After all, many of us think that a one-state solution shafts the Palestinians because it fails to address the question of Palestinian national aspirations. I have continually preached the importance of forging coalitions with the so-called Zionist left. I am a wimpy liberal -- I want to make a difference, and I know you have to cooperate. I am not expecting Friends of Peace Now to go out on a limb in favor of Norman Finkelstein. But if it is true that they helped derail the Oxford Union debate -- which would, admittedly, have involved a lot of Israel-bashing -- then they should be roundly condemned for it. I hope somebody from there reads this blog and explains.