Monday, October 29, 2007

What Finkelstein Would Have Said at the Oxford Union

I know I am flogging a dead horse. But Norman Finkelstein's invitation to speak at the Oxford Union in favor of the two-state solution caused an uproar among the supporters of Israel because they assumed he was opposed to the two-state solution. Since his writings do not contain a sustained argument on the question of the final status, the only decent thing to do would be to assume that he would not "throw" the debate, and then to ask him to clarify his position. Luke Tyrell alludes to having done just that when he wrote Finkelstein

"Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. "

So...what would Finkelstein have said? I asked him, and this is what he wrote:

"I would have argued it as a purely pragmatic issue, with Palestinians having the final say on whether they accept the settlement insofar as on the basis of international law all the concessions would be coming from their side. I didn't prepare anything because Tryl never got back to me. I had no idea what was going on."

On Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, Finkelstein said:

Since the mid-1970s, there's been an international consensus for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict. Most of your listeners will be familiar with it. It's called a two-state settlement, and a two-state settlement is pretty straightforward, uncomplicated. Israel has to fully withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem, in accordance with the fundamental principle of international law, cited three times by Mr. Ben-Ami in the book, his book, that it's inadmissible to acquire territory by war. The West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, having been acquired by war, it's inadmissible for Israel to keep them. They have to be returned. On the Palestinian side and also the side of the neighboring Arab states, they have to recognize Israel's right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. That was the quid pro quo: recognition of Israel, Palestinian right to self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Jerusalem. That's the international consensus.

It's not complicated. It's also not controversial. You see it voted on every year in the United Nations. The votes typically something like 160 nations on one side, the United States, Israel and Naru, Palau, Tuvalu, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands on the other side

This would not have been to the liking of the pro-Israel crowd. Finkelstein would have argued for the two-state solution, and at the same would have argued that Israel's policies have thwarted the two-state solution.

Which is what I argued in my previous post...

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