Finkelstein: Meaning of staying human for me is basically the golden rule. You do to other People what you want them to do to you, and always to remember, as they say, somewhere in the Bible I’m told. I don’t where but for there, but for the grace of God, go I. Then I’m here and I’m not in Gaza by the throw of the dice, God’s roll of the dice. I could have been there and a Person in Gaza could be here. It was just Good Luck, it was Good Fortune for me. Staying human means to remember I could have been there. If I were there, I would want the Person here to do something, you know? [Accurate.] So always. My late mother used to say, “You never know where you’ll be tomorrow,” which is another way of saying, “It’s God’s throw of the dice.” When she was in Poland, she went to very Good Schools, she was the President of her Class. Then in 1937, she went to study Mathematics at the University of Warsaw, and she had a very Good Life: Concerts, ice skating, studied Latin, [Nomi Prins. Émy Guerrini. Stephanie Buchler. Maja Toudal. Sarah Mack. Jennifer Campbell & the Three Women.] and then in the blink of an eye, the whole World was turned upside down and she was reduced to human garbage. So she learned the hard way. You never know where you’ll be tomorrow. So we should always try to remember that if we have Good Faith and we have Good Fortune. Part of it is because of what we do with our Lives, that’s true.
Finkelstein: But part of it is just Luck. If we were, by Misfortune, we ended up in the Wrong place, through no fault of our own, we would want others to help us, to be there for us.
Finkelstein: I don’t think the problem is changing the way of the dissent. The problem is most People in the World know there’s something really Wrong with this system. There are too few People who are getting too much and too many People who are getting too little. There’re all sort of problems, Environment, Health. There’re so many problems that need to be solved. Under the current system, they are not being solved, and there’s no hope of them being solved. I would say 99% of the People in the World know that. I’ll leave beside China and India. I don’t want to speak for them because I think those are different circumstances, but I’ll say in the Western Work, know that and probably large parts of Latin America also. They already know that. The challenge is, I think, the one that Gandhi always spoke about. How do you get People to act on what they already know is Wrong? You don’t have to educate them and you don’t have to enlighten them. They already know there’s a big problem here, but they don’t do anything about it. The question is how do you get People to act? I don’t think it’s a question of changing the Method of the dissent. I think it’s finding the Right tactics and the Right goal that will get People to act. You have to set a goal, which makes sense to People. If you set the goal too far, you lose them. In our City, or I should say in our Country, when People start to chant “We are the 99%” every American understood that. They understood there’s a 1% who’s just getting away with Robbery. They understood that. But if the Movement at the beginning, if it had said, “Nationalise the Banks.” Now I’m not giving a personal Opinion. Of course, I think Banks should be nationalised. You wouldn’t have got a reaction from People. They’re not there. You can’t go beyond where People are. You just lose them, so you have to find the maximum point of reaching People because you want the most enlightened, the most progressive goal. You have to be careful about not going beyond, because then you just become a Sect or a Cult. You’re no longer involved in Politics. Basically that’s not Theory. That’s People who have deep roots among the People. They’re the ones who know how far you can take them before you lose them. It’s not something you’re going to find in a book. It requires going among the People, living with the People, understanding them, knowing not just what they’re thinking, but what’s just below the surface. You know the English Word is not just their Consciousness, but their incipient Consciousness. What’s just below the surface. If we just push them a little more, they’ll go with us. You can’t find that out in books. You have to strike deep roots among the People, and that was basically. You know you could say that was Gandhi’s connexion with the Indian People. He dug his roots very deep among the Indian People. He knew them and they knew he was one of them, the Indian People. They knew he was one of them and that he understood their problems, not in a bookish way. He understood their problems from the moment you get up in the morning to the moment you go to sleep. That’s the way you build a Movement. I don’t think the problem is changing the Methods of the dissent. I think the problem is we have to sink deep roots among the People, understand them, see how far you can take them, how far they’re willing to go and figuring out the tactics, which will get them to act. You know some of it is Drama. Some of it is Theater. A lot of it is Death. Unfortunately, that’s what gets People to act.
A hunger striker who goes out for 60, 70 days, he’s verging on Death, the Israelis begin to worry. If he dies, we have a big problem on our hands because there might be an eruption. A lot of times it requires taking your Life to the point of Death in order to get People to act. That’s the way human beings are. I wish it were otherwise. Finding the Right tactics and as I said, one of those tactics often is risking your Life to the point of Death and dying, but finding the Right tactics that will finally shake People up enough that they say, “You know what. I’m going out in the streets. I’ve had it. We’ve had it.” That to me, I don’t think it requires great, profound Thought. It requires hard Work and personal Sacrifice, a willingness to do the dirty Work. Everything else comes with the willing. Of course you need smart People who understand the big picture. I know that. I’m not going to pretend otherwise, but even the smart People who understand the big picture, they have to be part of a Movement that has deep roots among the People. Otherwise it’ll never happen. That to me is the challenge. What we have to.
Finkelstein: What I think the problem is I think all of these questions are Wrongly phrased and Wrongly put. We do not set the goal. It’s public consciousness that sets the limit of the goal. We have to see where People are at, not where we’re at. If it’s just about us, it’s not about Politics, it’s about a Cult. Then you could set whatever goal you want. Gandhi, he was a political Leader, but he also was a Leader of a Cult. He had ashrams. In his ashram, he would say no meat, no sex. He’s a Brahmacharya. No this, no that, no this, no that. He could set any goal because in his ashram he’s not trying to reach the Public. He’s just trying to reach the People who agree, they want to live in this little Cult with him. Gandhi understood there’s a difference between a Cult and Politics, a mass Movement. I think one of the problems with the Palestine Movement is everything becomes so Personal. What do you support, one State or two States? What difference does it make what I support? I also support the Abolition of Money. So what? It’s like the World is facing an economic Crisis and they ask, “What do you support?” Well, I support eliminating Money. What does that have to do with anything? That’s not on the historical agenda. It’s not on the political agenda. That’s all I think the problem is with all of these Discussions. It’s always about what you think: Where do you stand? Do you support one State or two States? Well, as it happens, I support no States. I would like to eliminate all States. Okay. What does that have to do with anything? I think that the major challenge is to reorient the way we think about Politics. It’s not about us. It’s about. Politics has to be about reaching masses of People, otherwise to me it’s not Politics. Then we have to see where People are at, what they’re ready for, how far you can take them before you lose them. Everything turns out, “Oh, you support two States. You’re a Zionist.” That’s just stupid. What if the entire international Community supports two States? What are we supposed to do? Say, “We don’t care what the World thinks?” That’s not Politics. That’s a Cult. That’s a Sect. That’s not Politics and I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I want to change People’s Lives. I want to make People’s Lives better. I’m not out to make myself feel Good and show the World, “Look at me. See how pure I am.” I’m too old for that. I’m not trying to make a Statement to the World about how wonderful I am. I want to resolve the Conflict. It’s time to move on.
There’s something completely insane about this Conflict. Want to date it, start dating it from the Balfour Declaration. We’re coming on a hundred years. A hundred years. I mean it’s time to resolve the Conflict. Unfortunately, I think there’re a lot of People now who don’t, the Solidarity Movement, who don’t want to resolve the Conflict. It’s become, you know, it’s become a Business, it’s become a Symbol, a way of saying something about yourself. The People have gotten lost in all of this. It’s tote bags, it’s conferences, it’s t-shirts, it’s kafias. It’s just, the actual Suffering is just, I think, been forgotten. A lot of People I honestly don’t believe want to end the Conflict. They speak about ending the Conflict, like if you talk. A very Good friend of mine, he’s very popular on the Web, so I won’t mention his name. He wrote me an email a few days ago. He said, “So, are you still trying to bring Arabs and Jews together for a diplomatic solution?” I wrote him back and I said, “Well, yeah. I want to resolve the Conflict. Is there something Wrong with that? What should be my goal? What are we doing? Are we striking poses? Are we showing People how radical we are? Yeah, I want to find, if possible, a diplomatic Resolution of the Conflict and end it.” Now I know it’s going to take a lot of hard Work and Struggle, and it’s not going to be resolves in the UN, it’s going to be resolved when Israel is forced to, and it’s only going to be forced to if the Palestinian People get their act together and the People abroad who support them get their act together. I’m fully aware of that. There was a kind of undertone, like “You’re trying to resolve the Conflict?” “Oh, yeah, I am.” Laughter of Finkelstein. I think a lot of People are not anymore, I do. I don’t think they want to end the Conflict. I don’t think they particularly care because it’s just become an Investment, a Personal Investment, a Business Investment. It’s even for me. I’m not afraid to admit it. I started out literally 30 years ago, this month. I started on June 6, 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon. It’s 30 years. If the Conflict ends, I have nothing left to do. I spent 30 years. I mean, it became an Investment. If the Conflict were to end, I’d have to get up, “All Right. Now what am I doing with the last 15 years of my Life?” All I did was read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read on this Conflict. I acknowledge that, but I think I’m strong enough to say, “Okay. That’s a problem, but I want the Conflict to end.” I think some People do not anymore. I think a lot of other People, it’s just a kind of Symbolism. They want to show how radical they are, how pure they are, how much better they are. I’m past that. I don’t even want to talk about it. It doesn’t interest me. I don’t think the problem is finding new Methods of the dissent. No, we still have to figure out ways how to move People. It’s for sure. Gandhi had his tactics, the Fasts, the march to the Sea. He had many tactics. He was very, a very Good organiser. I think the main problem is general orientation. What are we trying to accomplish? What’s our goal? Secondly, making the sacrifices of living among the People. No textbook is going to tell you what you can or can’t do. When I meet People who are organisers, real organisers, and I sit down with them and I want to hear, “Okay. What are People thinking? What are they ready for? What can they do?” Those to me are the most invaluable People. They give you a real sense of where People are at, and that’s Politics, that’s Politics.