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Finkelstein - Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2nd ed. (2003) - Synopsis

Finkelstein - Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2nd ed. (2003) - Synopsis



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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Verso Press, 2003). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on February 2, 2009.
Synopsis of Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, 2nd ed. (London and New York: Verso Press, 2003). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on February 2, 2009.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on May 26, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper LXXI: February 2, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Norman G. Finkelstein,
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 
, 2
ed. (London and New York: Verso Press, 2003). [Originally published1995.]
Noam Chomsky wasresponsible for the title and overarchingstructure, and read and commented on allchapters.
Introduction to the Second Edition[December 2002].
When the Zionistproject was conceived, its only “strategicoptions” were apartheid and expulsion (xi-xii). “Zionists from early on were in fact benton expelling [Arabs]” (xii). Arabs, naturally,resisted forceful expulsion (xii-xiv). Transferwas regarded as an acceptable policy in thepost-WWI years, legitimated by the history of colonization and the progress of civilization(xiv-xv). Zionists anticipated expansion instages (xv-xvi). Israel has defied theinternational consensus on U.N. SecurityCouncil Resolution 242’s call for a two-statesolution; the U.S. only joined it in thatposition in the Nixon-Kissinger administration(xvi-xviii). Israel sought, in dealing withPalestinian politicians, domination andBantustanization, including in Oslo (xviii-xix).Israel’s settlement policy “points up the realcontent of the ‘peace process,’” creating anapartheid system in the Occupied Territories;the notion that there was “a maximallygenerous Israeli offer” in July 2000 is a“fraud” (xix-xxi). Sept. 11 led the U.S. toapprove of use of Israel’s military superiority,and through assassination Israel provokedPalestinian acts that were used as a pretextfor ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in the WestBank in 2002, which was “largely a replay” of the June 1982 invasion of Lebanon (xxii-xxvi). Israeli forestalled a Palestinian “peaceoffensive” in July 2002 with an airstrike inGaza (xxvi-xxvii). Expulsion seemed toreturn as a possibility after 9/11 (xxvii-xxxii).A “non-violent Palestinian civil revoltcreatively building on the lessons of the firstintifada and synchronized with international—in particular, American—pressure”(including a divestment campaign) is themost promising approach to avertingexpulsion of Palestinians (xxxii-xxxviii).  The 2003 edition adds a new chapter on the‘peace process’ and an appendix criticallyanalyzing a study of the July 1967 war(xxxviii).
Introduction [September 1994].
Summary of book (1-2). Michael Walzer’schanging views on war’s morality aresymptomatic of “the etiology of apologeticsfor Israel” (2-3). “The great offense of thePalestinians was that they refused to commitauto-dispossession; they balked at ‘clearingout’ for the Jews. . . . the people of Palestinehave fallen victim to a colossal injustice” (3-4).
PART I: THEORY AND HISTORY Ch. 1: Zionist Orientations.
This chapterargues, while critiquing Yosef Gorny’s
 Zionism and the Arabs, 1882-1948: A Study of Ideology 
(1987), that Zionism is “a kind of Romantic nationalism fundamentally at oddswith liberal values” (xxxix). “[P]oliticalZionism’s point of departure was thepresumed bankruptcy of the democraticidea” (8). Its sources were in romanticGerman nationalism (8; cf. “Zionismreplicated the reasoning of the anti-Semiticpolitical discourse” [13]). Labor Zionismaspired to reconstitute the Jewish workingclass (8-9). Cultural Zionism was primarilypreoccupied with overcoming the threat of secularism (9-10). All regarded a Jewishmajority as a
sine qua non
though Ben-Gurion denied this implied domination of theminority (10-11). Dissidents within theZionist movement (including Martin Buber)denied that achieving a majority wasnecessary; Hugo Bergmann of Brit Shalomspecifically said that the mainstream Zionist“viewpoint is borrowed from Europe at thetime of its decline” and is “based on theconcept of a
state which is the property of one people
” (12, emphasis in original; 11-12). Early Zionists had no illusions about thefact that this would require imposing a Jewishstate on the Arab population, but believedthey had an “historic right” to do so, and alsoto impose “population transfer” (12-16). Their approach to the problem of coping withPalestinian resistance presumed (1) that the
acquiescence of the Palestinians was neitherto be expected nor sought; (2) that successdepended on Great Power(s) support—firstOttoman Turkey, then Great Britain—withIsrael as “strategic asset” as
quid pro quo
;(3) that regional alliances must besubordinate to a framework in the interestsof the Great Power(s) (16-20). Zionism hasfailed: “What is the
raison d’être
of Zionismin the contemporary world save as anoutpost of [in Gershom Scholem’s words inthe 1930s] ‘reactionary and imperialist forcesagainst the resurgent East’?” (20).
Ch. 2: A Land Without a People.
From Time Immemorial
was a“threadbare hoax” supported by “theAmerican intellectual establishment” (xxxix). The book “is among the most spectacularfrauds ever published on the Arab-Israeliconflict” (22; 21-45; “The weight of theevidence suggests that Peters’s demographic‘study’ is a carefully contrived, premeditatedhoax” [39]). An account of its reception; itwas widely praised and promoted in the U.S.,and lost its status only when Britishreviewers began to pan it—but Americanshave rarely repudiated it (45-50).
Ch. 3: ‘Born of War, Not by Design.’
Acritique of Benny Morris’s
The Birth of thePalestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949
(1988), which argues that the Palestinianexodus was an inadvertent unplanned resultof war and mutual fear (52). Morris does notregard his sources sufficiently critically (53-56). He is right to dismiss the argument thatArab broadcasts urging Palestinians to flee toclear the battlefield, of which there is noevidence whatsoever, but does not go farenough (56-60). His own evidence indicatesPalestinians were systematically andpremeditatedly expelled, particularlystatements from members of Mapam (UnitedWorkers Party), who in 1948 were saying that“Jews too have committed Nazi acts”—
Morris’s argument to the contrary that theywere not expelled (60-80). Morris’semphasis on military events motivated by“security” obscures the aggressiveideological motivations that motivated the“politics” of the actors (80-87).
Ch. 4: Settlement, Not Conquest.
Thischapter is principally a critique of AnitaShapira’s
Land and Power 
(1992). Like otherconquerors, Zionists claimed they wereoccupying land that was, essentially,deserted (89-98). Like other conquerors,they have reinterpreted their own aggressionas self-defense (98-110). Like otherconquerors, they mystified the use of forceas tragically necessary but supposedlyexecuted with humanity and efficiency (110-16). Ironically, Zionist ideology pervasivelyresembles Nazi ideology (116-20).
PART II: WAR AND PEACECh. 5: To Live or Perish.
This chapterexamines the background to the June 1967war, with a focus on the interpretation of events by Israeli Ambassador to the U.N.Abba Eban [1915-2002]. He justifies Israel’sconduct in the war by effacing Israel’sprovocation of Egypt and Israel’sresponsibility for failed diplomacy (124-30).Israel’s claim that it faced destruction was afalse (130-37). In the aftermath of the war,opinion was divided between those who sawIsrael as the aggressor and those whothought blame was shared; the claim thatIsrael was attacked in force in June 1967 isfalse and a myth; in fact, Israel preemptivelyattacked (137-41). Israel’s purposes were:to avoid a diplomatic breakthrough; todiminish Nasser’s standing and forestallArab ‘radicalism’—i.e. independence andmodernization”; and to “fulfill its territorialdestiny”; and to “recover its spent élan”(141-44). Eban’s interpretation of U.N.Security Council Resolution 242 is notsustained by the record (144-49).
Ch. 6: Language of Force.
Thebackground to the October 1973 war.Contrary to the standard depiction, “Egypt(and Jordan) desperately sought a negotiatedsettlement after the 1967 war. Israel,however, refused to budge from theconquered territories in exchange for peace.With all diplomatic options exhausted, Egyptwent to war, displaying impressive—andunexpected—military prowess. Israelaccordingly agreed after the war to the samediplomatic settlement Sadat had offered itbefore the war. In a word, it was Israel, notEgypt, that ultimately bowed to force” (151;150-71).
Ch. 7: Oslo: The Apartheid Option.
OsloII (300 folio-size pages) gave the Palestinians

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