Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finkelstein. Transcript. SarahMontague. BBC HARDtalk. 08 May 2012.

  A series of stupid questions or stupid objections as is usual with this cunt on BBC.

1.      American Presidents have long been criticised for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US Foreign Policy, and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel. So what happens if American Jews fall out of love with Israel? That is what the Jewish American academic Norman Finkelstein claims is happening. But then he is nothing if not controversial. After all, he is famous for accusing Jews of exploiting the Holocaust. And his actions have so incensed Israel, it has banned him from entering the country. Could he be right, and if he is what does that mean for Middle East policy? [Very noisy music.] Norman Finkelstein, welcome to HARDtalk.
2.      Thank you so much for having me.
3.      What is the evidence that American Jews are falling out of love with Israel?
4.      There are two kinds of evidence. There is the survey, polling evidence. Jews are heavily polled. And the evidence shows that American Jews, the technical term that’s used is American Jews are distancing themselves from Israel. And that’s particularly true of the younger generations, under 40, under 35. There is serious concern in the Jewish community because of the distancing of American Jews. Then there is what you might call the anecdotal evidence. For example, [] David Remnick, he has, in recent months in the last year, been expressing strong disapproval of Israeli policies. There is the former senior editor of the New Republic, Peter Beinhardt, who just came out with a book called, the Crisis of Zionism. And there is a large number of public testimonials by Jews, again mostly in the younger generations. You would say the 40s cohort and younger, are expressing extreme dismay to the point of, you might say, verging on disgust with the way Israel is carrying on.
5.      Given Israel’s troubled History, you are arguing that there is something more significant going on than has been previously gone on. Because Goodness knows that there’s been a sort of, there is a waxing and waning in any relationship. That has happened throughout America-Israel relations in History.
6.      There is a waxing and waning, there’s no question about that. But there is something significantly different in the last 10 or 15 years. And that is American Jews know a lot more about what is happening in Israel in relationship in particular to the Palestinians, but also internally. There was a time where you could call yourself liberal, which is what most American [Kikes] do. About 80% of American Jews voted for []Obama, which is the highest of any ethnic group in the US except African-Americans. American Jews are generally liberal. There was a time when American Jews could call themselves liberal and say they were pro-Israeli, because it seemed like Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East. It was practising purity of arms in Wartime. It was the light unto the nations. Many American Jews believe that. But in the last 10 or 15 years a lot more has been known, particularly by the way, because of the research of Israeli historians, the research of Jewish historians, because of the revelations and reports of Human Rights organisations, many of which are staffed by Jews. And the leadership is Jewish. Because of all of this information from authoritative places. There was a time in the past when this information was known, but it was known by people who were pretty marginal. Now mainstream people are saying this. American Jews have a big problem saying they are both liberal and support the way Israel carries on.
7.      But even if you were to accept the argument that they no more. It’s quite a difficult argument to accept, given over the decades of awful lot of close relasionship. But even if you were to accept that argument, you look at some surveys, Brandeis University did a survey where they questioned 1,200 predominantly young Jewish Americans, and they found that basically, their conclusion was Jewish attachment to Israel was unchanged over 25 years.
8.      Yeah, I am familiar with that survey. When you’re dealing with evidence, there is a huge amount of evidence. You cannot focus on one or focus on two polls. Jews are very heavily polled. There is a huge amount of survey evidence. You take, for example, the most recent authoritative poll that was done just about two months ago, they asked American Jews, What is most important to your Jewish identity? About half of American Jews said, The most important thing to their Jewish identity was working for Social Equality, liberal causes. [Noshit?] Only around 20% said Israel was important to their Jewish identity. Surprising.
9.      In the survey I am quoting, when they ask these similar similar questions, they found 75% agreed that caring about Israel was an important part of Jewish identity. What they found was that, Tes, in the young, there wasn’t a closeness, but as Jewish Americans got older, that attachment got stronger.
10.   That is the usual argument called the life cycle argument, [Man, these fucking cunts, there’s no end to surprise.] that when you’re younger you feel more distance from Israel, and as you get older you returned your roots and you discover your heritage and you feel closer to Israel. But the evidence seems to show, I do not want to be polemical about this. It is true what you say, that there is some evidence on the other side. That is why I added when I said, it is not just surveyed evidence, but there is an awful lot of anecdotal evidence. Let me give you a simple example. 06 June 1982 was when I first got involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s literally 30 years ago next month. It’s three decade anniversary. When I first got involved in that conflict, when you went on college campuses, a person like myself, it revoked complete pandemonium and evoked complete hysteria. There would be shouting in the audiences, and there would be huge demonstrations outside, and there would be distributing all these defamatory leaflets about myself, and so on and so forth. Now when I go to college campuses, very few Jews even bother showing up. Because if you are young and you are Jewish and in a college campus, you are idealistic. That is what most Jews are. They are liberal, Jewish, idealistic.
11.   You are putting forward this argument, which seem to be suggesting they have changed. The argument is, You are not so taken seriously.
12.   I don’t think it’s correct to say I am not taken seriously. I am not afraid of those sorts of arguments. If they were valid, I would be open to them. Just last week I spoke at the Jewish Society at Yale University. Tonight I’m speaking of the Oxford Union. I don’t think it is not accurate to say I am not being taken seriously.
13.   But you have a reputation. You have a reputation for being difficult, and people discount you in a way that wouldn’t, less polemical. You say you don’t want to be polemical. But less vitriolic academics.
14.   There’s a possibility of that. One has to be open to those interpretations. [Accurate.] But how do you account for the fact that people like David Remnick, [] which basically serves to a largely Jewish audience, or a former senior editor of the New Republic, Peter Beinhardt? The New Republic was rabidly pro Israel. Peter Beinhardt himself is an Orthodox Jew. They, too, are now speaking out in quite strong terms. I have read Peter Beinhardt’s book, the Crisis of Zionism. They had been quite critical of Israeli policy.
15.   Why does it matter? There is the argument actually, So what?
16.   The reason it matters is, the nature of the Israel lobby, it has two features to it. There is the hardcore, which is a lobby. They are paid agents of a foreign country, and their job is to try to sell the foreign country’s policies to the United States. So like the Cuba lobby, there’s the Israel lobby. But beyond the hardcore, what makes the lobby so powerful is the periphery of large numbers of [Kikes] in influential places, in Magazines, Newspapers, on Television, in Film. A large periphery of [Kikes] who also have deeply felt, heartfelt feelings for Israel. And that periphery is now being lost. American Jews.
17.   What you’re arguing is, you’re left with this hardcore. You say they are being with paid by the Israeli Government to get what they want in Washington?
18.   They’re lobbies. That’s their job.
19.   And you are saying that they are paid by the Israeli Government to get what they want in Washington?
20.   I would say that’s what the lobby does. A Cuban lobby lobbies for Cuba. An Ireland lobby lobbies for Ireland. And this lobby.
21.   But they’re not, they’re not. AIPAC would say that they’re not paid by the Israeli government?
22.   That is the nature of how American Society works. You have got lobbies.
23.   Are you saying they are paid by the Israeli Government? I just want to.
24.   To tell you the truth, I don’t even know how they are paid, and it’s not particularly important. As an American, that’s the way our system works. Our system works through lobbies.
25.    And it’s very important. You make certain claims and you make people angry. They wonder if they should listen to the next thing that you say.
26.   If you read their statements, they freely say, We work for Israel. Israel is our cause. As an American, you are allowed to do that. That is the nature of the system.
27.   Let’s go to, what you’re suggesting is happening as a result, that actually you seem to be suggesting that those who would be interested are no longer caring, and you’re left with is hardcore of passionate people who from what you are suggesting are basically doing the Israeli government’s bidding in Washington.
28.   Right. I think they will have less sway, less Power if the periphery begins to distance itself from Israel.
29.   But if the periphery don’t have, then the American President isn’t going to care.
30.   If the periphery doesn’t care. There is the issue there of whether people are going to fall silent, because Jews like other ethnic groups, they do believe it is not good to air your dirty laundry in public, or whether you can actually reach these Jews and try to get them to support a Just and reasonable settlement of the conflict.
31.   There’s another thing. You’re talking about Israel here. Country that is democratic, that decides who is on its Government through elections. Really, it is down to the Israeli people to elect whom they want to run their Government. If they want,  they can keep them out.
32.   Right, but the problem is, it is not because of the Israeli people, it is because of American veto and because of American Power that Israel gets to carry on the way it does. Were it not for the American veto and were it not for the fact the United States blocks any kind of international action when it comes to Israel.
33.   So you’re saying Jews would criticise about Israel, like settlements, for example. You are saying it is President Obama’s fault?
34.   Is it [] Obama’s fault? I would say, in the case of the Israel lobby, in the case of Israel-Palestine conflict, I do think it is basically the lobby. If you were to ask me, If tomorrow Binyamin Netanyahu were to announce, we’re no longer building settlements in the occupied territories.
35.   If they make an announcement of freeze?
36.   Would Obama be unhappy? Of course, he would be happy. He would be thrilled at that announcement.
37.   Exactly.
38.   If Obama goes along with it when they build settlement, it must be because of the lobby. That is just common sense.
39.   So your argument is, despite Obamas saying from the word go and being absolutely clear that Israel should stop all settlements.
40.   He has not done that.
41.   But he has.
42.   No. He has consistently backed down. Everything the lobby has gone into action, he’s consistently backed down.
43.   He has made clear so publicly the American position.
44.   What you’re saying is exactly correct. He has repeatedly stated he does not support the actions and then pressure is applied by the lobby and he is repeatedly backed down.
45.   Back down from what? From are you saying he’s backed down to Israeli Prime Minister, it is all right?
46.   Obviously, the President of the United States has the power to tell Israel, You are going to have to stop building settlements in the Occupied Territories, because if you don’t stop, we will not exercise our veto in the Security Council. He can tell them that, obviously. He is the President of the US. If he doesn’t tell them that, it must be because of the lobby.
47.   Okay. So it what you are saying is true, we then have an diaspora that does not care so much about Israel, how will that change things?
48.   It depends. If that diaspora get behind a reasonable settlement of the conflict, and obviously a reasonable settlement of the conflict would have to include not just the freezing of settlements but the dismantlement of the settlements. If they get behind that, that would put new kinds of pressure on the President in the opposite direction, and that would be a positive development. That is a big if. I agree with you. I anticipate your question. It’s a big if, because most American Jews, like most ethnic groups, they prefer not to air their dirty laundry in public. But it you can win them over to a reasonable settlement of the conflict, I think it would actually improve significantly the prospects for achieving at Just and lasting settlement.
49.   You say they don’t care, and the argument seems to be that, if they didn’t care, it might be better. And yet you are trying to win them over?
50.   I’m saying that there are three possibilities. Number one, up until now, they have been very forceful defenders of the State of Israel. And that’s been basically a disaster, not only for the Palestinians, it’s been a disaster for Israel as well, because they’re supporting the most militarised policies of Israel, the most intransit policies of Israel. And obviously that’s been terrible obviously not only for the Palestinians, it’s been a nightmare, but it’s not been good for Israel, either. The second possibility is, They are going to distance oneself and fall silent, because they do not want to air  their dirty laundry in public. The third possibility is, They will become vocal critics of Israeli policy and they will become a pressure group in the other direction.
51.   This is your dream scenario. You have a problem there, because here you are. [] You have a History, you have a History, ever since you wrote about the Holocaust [in] the Holocaust Industry. You said, There is a fixation on the Holocaust that has exacerbated paranoia, It’s a lucrative and tendentious industry, The [propagandist] is lurking in the heart of Evil in the gentlest of gentile as a homidical anti-Semite. Even where Jews feel safe, they still face danger. Now, you’ve faced a huge amount of criticism for why you said in that book. You were labeled a Holocaust denier. Your own parents were in the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camps. You went too far, and you can see some may you consistently go too far, and people say that as a result, your style, it is self-defeating. Your argument isn’t heard.
52.   I think it is just the reverse. Most of I said in the Holocaust Industry, which already came out 10 years ago, it is not even considered controversial any more. Quite the contrary, the one who has gone too far is the Israeli, it’s []Netanyahu. These past couple of weeks, he kept talking about Auschwitz, he kept talking about Auschwitz, he kept talking about Auschwitz. Finally even the Israelis said, Mr. Netanyahu, stop talking about Auschwitz. Even [FuckingWeasel] said, Mr. Netanyahu, don’t compare Iran to Auschwitz. So they have gone too far, not me.
53.   Actually what you’re saying isn’t new. There are plenty of people who make exactly that case, Peter Novik’s book about the Holocaust. But there is something about the way they, Peter Novick for example, made the case was more powerful, because they had an understanding, a sensitivity that was absent in your book. And as a result, your book came across as a rant. And that is the suggestion about a lot of the arguments you make. And as a result, you have people like Jonathan Freeland, accusing you of doing the works of anti-Semites for them, and because you see the Jews as the villains or victims, he said that, “I fear that it takes him closer to the people who created the Holocaust than to those suffered in it.”
54.   Mr. Freeland is entitled to his judgement, but we can also quote the judgement of [] [HilbergTheBulldog] []. Now, [HilbergTheBulldog], he praised my book. He actually said, I didn’t go too far. He actually called it, I’m quoting him now, he said, my “findings were at conservative.” He said he went through the same records as I did, and he said I understate the case in my book. So between the two critics, Jonathan Freeland, who is a modestly talented columnist and [HilbergTheBulldog] [], I think the judgement of [HilbergTheBulldog] is higher.
55.   I could quote so many other people to you who have been critical of your work and known as an expert of the Holocaust.
56.   Nobody is in the same rank as Mr. Hilberg.
57.   The point is your style, it ends up being self-defeating. The argument that, for example, you feed the anti-Semites. Do you have any qualms that you are doing, that you could be doing their work for them?
58.   There is a problem there, and one has to be honest about those things. [Accurate.] We can end up being useful to people you do not particularly like. Everybody has those sorts of problems when you’re trying to deal with a controversial subject, that you do not want to give fodder to your enemies. You have to think through what is saying, and you have to carry on responsibly.
59.   Do you ever hold back? [This is not about Finkelstein.]
60.   Excuse me?
61.   Do you ever hold back? Do you ever self-censor?
62.   The Holocaust industry is an old book now.
63.   Yeah, I appreciate.
64.   When I wrote the book, I can say to you metaphorically, my parents had already passed away, but metaphorically my parents were right behind me. They were looking over my shoulders, they were looking at every word.
65.   But I ask you. You make the point that was ten years ago, and I appreciate that. But recently, you’ve said that Israel is like a junkie, every few years they go to War, they need their fix, they are lunatics, American Jews don’t want to defend that.
66.   Israel is carrying on in a lunatic fashion. I would like to ask you.
67.   And Hizbollah [whom] you went to meet?
68.   I would like to ask you, Name me another country in the world, 2003, Israel was the cheerleader for the War on Iraq, 2006, it went to a War in Lebanon, 2008-2009, it attacked Gaza, now it talks about attacking Iran. If you read the Israeli paper every day, they talk about Should we attack Gaza, Should we attack Lebanon, Should we attack Syria? Name me one another country that falls into that category. That’s a lunatic State.
69.   Israel would point to a number of its neighbours, and say exactly the same thing?
70.   You show me how many countries has Iran planned to attack? That’s a fair question. How many countries in the last ten years has Iran attacked?
71.   When you look.
72.   No, that’s a fair question.
73.   When you look at the History of Israel, do you not have some sympathy, or understanding people would ask, why they feel threatened?
74.   We’re not talking about why they feel threatened. We’re talking a country that every two or three years goes to War. If you follow the presses as I do, every day they talk about Let’s attack this country, Let’s attack that country. That is not normal.
75.   Why is it that Israeli People vote in the Government that you say are responsible for that?
76.   I think it’s a regrettable fact. I don’t say these things with glee. I’m not happy about that fact. As [CocksuckerKrugman] put in the New York Times last week, he said it is perfectly obvious that Israel is heading towards national suicide. It has become a craze State. He says it is not good for Jews, it is not good for the world, or where Israel is headed.
77.   It’s still seen as the safe haven, the homeland for the Jews. You have a right to leave there, although you are banned. Would you go back? [This is not about Finkelstein.]
78.   I think that’s a contradiction in terms, but we’ll leave that aside.
79.   Would you go back?
80.   Would I go to Israel? I think there is a misunderstanding here. I do not have any particularly hostile feeling towards Israel nor feelings of Love towards the State of Israel. It’s just not my thing. My thing is, I want to achieve a lasting peace for the Palestinians and fought the Israelis.
81.   It is very hard to reconcile that statement about lack of feelings towards the country, the fact that it has been the centre of your work for decades.
82.   It’s sort of like you may have strong feelings about that your Media. That is your work. And for the past 30 years, that’s where I devoted my energies.
83.   And the question of identity? I asked you about whether you would go back?
84.   I cannot go back. America is my home.
85.   Every year you used to go to Israel. Do you feel any connection to it as a Jew?
86.   I don’t want to put on false pretences. I am not going to start beating my breast. No, I’m an American. I was born in the US. My parents were from Eastern Europe. There is no connection with Israel. I have some American friends who emigrated to Israel, and I will remain touch with them. We remain friends. But beyond that, I have no more special connexion with Israel than I have with any other part of the world, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.
87.   Thank you for coming to HARDtalk.
88.   Sure, my pleasure.

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