Saturday, March 19, 2011

Norman Finkelstein's claim that right of return is "complicated"

Is it true, as Norman Finkelstein claims, that the right of return for Palestinians is a ‘complicated problem’ – so complex that it justifies him (and the Zionists) saying, “Now, I am not arguing now for a right of return”? [This is what Finkelstein does indeed say on his web at and you can see a video of him saying he doesn't call for right of return at ]

No, it is not true. I have debunked this ‘it’s complicated’ (or ‘not practical’) notion in two articles: here (pdf) and here. The only thing that makes people say that right of return for the Palestinian refugees is ‘complicated’ is the fact that if lots of the refugees returned then there might not be a majority of Jews inside the green line and this would essentially make it impossible for the Zionists to continue referring to the territory inside the green line as a Jewish state, unless they were to openly admit that their Jewish state is a state of only a minority of the population and risk disapproval of everybody in the world who supports the idea of democracy. In other words, what makes right of return ‘complicated’ is that it is incompatible with the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine—a state that is officially a state of the Jewish people and not a state of all its inhabitants (or even of all its citizens) equally.

For anybody who says, ‘There should not be a Jewish state in Palestine,’ it is very easy and uncomplicated to call for the unconditional right of return of every single Palestinian refugee. As my second linked article above discusses in some detail, there is no economic or political reason why all the refugees should not be allowed to return and be fully compensated for all the property that Zionists stole from them.

If Norman Finkelstein would agree that there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine, then he would be calling for the right of return, and he would be an anti-Zionist. Instead, however, he joins the Zionists in his refusal to say there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine, and he follows the logic of that refusal by saying that he doesn’t call for the right of return because it is ‘complicated.’

In the debate between Finkelstein and the former Israeli foreign minister (see the link above to Finkelstein’s webpage for this debate) the overtly Zionist foreign minister and Finkelstein agreed on the fact that the Palestinians, under international law, had a right of return. Asserting this fact does not make one an anti-Zionist. Calling for the right of return does make one an anti-Zionist. The very essence of Zionism is denying the right of return, no matter what the particular Zionist’s excuse is for denying that right, be it ‘God gave the land to the Jews’ or ‘Jews can only be safe in a state that ethnically cleanses most of the non-Jews because non-Jews are innately anti-semitic’ or ‘The UN gave the land to the Jews’ or ‘Might makes right’ or even ‘It’s complicated.’ I wish Norman Finkelstein were an anti-Zionist.


At 12:07 PM, May 17, 2011, Anonymous sewa mobil said...

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At 8:12 AM, July 20, 2011, Blogger Abu al-Sous said...

Same goes for Chomsky & to Abraham Burg, all their arguments makes sense until the issue comes to the Palestinian right of return.

I came to the conclusion that liberal Jews do such a a thing for few reasons & none of them has to do with common sense or facts:

The first reason is that they don't wanna cut off the last thread they have with the Jewish community? Especially their relatives? If they do; that will be a BIG price to pay.

The second reason that they thing that they owe something to other Jews because of the Holocaust,

The third reason is that they still need to be employed and they don't wanna piss off many people. In that regard you can add many well known Palestinian professors and thinkers to name one of them is Prof. Rashid Khalidi. If you see his interviews with Charlie Rose

At 1:03 AM, February 25, 2013, Anonymous C. Bendavid said...

What kind of logic is that?
Are you part of maoist or trotskyist sect, or are you just deceitful?
Don't you know that the overwhelming majority of the countries on the face of the Earth are colonial settler-states, created by violent and destructive conquests, inclunding most Arab countries?
Ask the Berbers and the Kurds,they can tell you a great deal about Arab colonialism.
Has anyone ever invoked the fact that Arab states were created by force, conquest and violence to call for their destruction?
Hence, yes, the right of return is a complicated issue for a very simple reason, Israel does have the right to exist, and Israeli Jews do have a right to self-determination. This is clearly stated in Resolution 181, which has no less value than Resolution 194.
Thus, since there is no hierarchy between the rights of the Israelis and those of the Palestinians, and since both resolutions must be taken into account equally (Resolution 181 which asserts the rights of the Israelis and Resolution 191 which grants the Palestinians a right of return), a compromise must be reached in order to respect as much as possible both resolutions.
I'm sorry to dissapoint you, but Resolution 194 does not supersede Resolution 181. This is why Arafat accepted to limit the number of refugees being allowed to go back to Israel, insisting however on adequate compensations(paid on behalf of Israel) for those who would not be allowed to go back to Israel proper.
It's the only way to reconcile both the rights of the Israelis and the rights of the Palestinians.
Otherwise, you just hide your malicious intention to destroy Israel by invoking a Human rights discourse, which is both deceitful and ineffective.

By the way, the PLO has accepted Resolution 181, in 1988.
So please, don't pretend that your unelected BDS movement has the legal authority to rescind it.
That would be both a violation of international treaties and it would destroy the credibility of the Palestinians.

At 10:10 AM, February 25, 2013, Blogger John Spritzler said...

To C. Bendavid from John Spritzler,

You rest your case on two premises;

1. The UN is the source of moral legitimacy.
2. Arab nations and others, not just Israel, were created by "violent and destructive conquests.

I reject the first premise. You will note I do not base my case on any UN resolutions. The UN in fact committed a grave immoral act when, in its partition of Palestine, it gave away what it had no right to give away in the first place.

Regarding the 2nd premise of yours, you apply to it the logic of "If they did it so can Israel." Even little children, however, know that "Two wrongs don't make a right." Refugees who are not allowed to return to their homeland should be allowed to return, regardless of what the homeland in question happens to be. If you are truly concerned about refugees, then you should embrace this principle and apply it to every homeland/refugee situation, INCLUDING THE PALESTINIANS. Otherwise you are just using the misfortune of others as an excuse to commit an injustice against Palestinians.

Your "reasoning" is typical of those who defend the Zionist project--specious.

At 7:54 PM, February 25, 2013, Anonymous C. Bendavid said...

John, it's not a matter of ''everone did it, hence, Israel can do it too''.
What I am saying is that historically, nearly every nation was created by dispossessing a native population. Thus, it would be unfair to single out Israel, and to penalize Israelis only, for something done by every other people as well.
By the way, had the Jews colonized as much as the Arabs, today, the sate of Israel would stretch from Irak to Morocco!

As for the rights of the Palestinian refugees, I never denied them. What I said is that they do not supersede the self-determination right of Israeli Jews.

If you think I'm wrong, no problem. But please, be consistent.
If ALL the Palestinian refugees must be given a right of return to Israel, then, ALL the descendents of the Arabs who were expelled from Spain, should also benefit from the same right.
Would you really argue in favor of a right of return to Spain for the Arabs, knowing that it would turn Spain into an Arab country once again?
Be careful, if your answer is yes, nnot only will people make fun of you, but it would also destroy the very little credibility BDS has.

Zionism corresponds to the Jewish national movement. If Jewish nationalism is racist, the same should be said for every other form of nationalism, including Arab nationalism.
Dear John, I'm sure that if you dare say that Arab nationalism is ''racist'', your ''BDS friends'' will boycott you as well!

Be careful!

At 9:08 PM, February 25, 2013, Blogger John Spritzler said...

To C. Bendavid from John Spritzler,

You refer to "nearly every nation" having been created by "dispossessing a native population." Would you please identify the present day refugees, from this dispossession of the native population, who are demanding their right of return. It should be easy since, as you say, it was "nearly every nation."

Once you identify these refugees who are demanding their right of return, I will support their right of return and call any regime--Arab or otherwise--racist if it denies them their right of return.

The ball is in your court. Identify the non-Palestinian native population refugees who are demanding their right of return.

And yes, since you raised the point, nationalism--as I have written about elsewhere--is reactionary, poisonous and (if the word is used broadly) racist, whether it is Jewish or Palestinian or any other variety.

At 11:24 PM, February 25, 2013, Anonymous C. Bendavid said...

The Chams are calling for a right of return to Greece.
Sudetenland Germans are calling for a right of return to the Czech republic and German poles are calling for a right of return to Poland.
Furthermore, Germans have also expressed their desire to go back to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
All these people have been denied this possibility.
Does it mean that Greece, Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia are ''apartheid'' states.
By the way, it's not a matter of demanding or not a right of return.
There must be universal laws for everyone.
Thus, according to your logic, if millions of Moroccans call for a right of return to Spain, and if Spain refuses, Spain would become an ''apartheid state''.

Your definition of ''racism''seems very shallow.
Resolution 181, clearly specifies that there must be two states in which the respective minorities enjoy equal rights.
If that is not enough for you, then you should be more forthcoming and specify clearly that your only goal is the destruction of Israel.

Frankly,I'm just waiting for the day you guys will launch a BDS campain against Spain for refusing the right of return of the Arabs. It will make everyone laugh, and it will expose the true colors of the BDS movement, which is nothing less than a 2.0 version of the late 1960's, Trotskyist and Maoist New left.

As for the inherent ''racist'' nature of nationalism, you should know that most people identify as nationalists or patriots, (which is a variety of nationalism).
So tell most Americans who celebrate the 4th of July that they are racist, and I can guarantee you that you will reach a borad audience!

At 12:02 AM, February 26, 2013, Blogger John Spritzler said...

To C. Bendavid,

If the people you cite are truly native populations seeking right of return, then by all means they should be granted their right of return, and it is indeed racist to bar them from returning. Call me shallow if you want, but i prefer to think of it as being principled.

So, if you think it is ok to drive people off their land and bar them from returning because they are not of the "right" ethnicity, then I guess that makes you a supporter of ethnic cleansing. I oppose ethnic cleansing.

When Arabs descended from those who were kicked out of Spain launch a BDS movement (it's their call) for right of return to Spain I'll support it.

You can praise nationalism all you want, but it is still a reactionary ideology because it says that the important thing about a person is their nationality, not whether they support the values of equality (regardless of race or nationality or religion) and mutual aid.

You build your movement and I'll build mine. We just don't share the same values. I'm ending the discussion now.

At 1:04 AM, February 26, 2013, Anonymous C. Bendavid said...

No John, nationalism is not in contradiction with liberalism.
Human beings live in communities, and they want their communal identity to be represented adequately.
Why do you think the Algerians fought to become independent instead of calling for equal rights within the French republic?
Because they don't identify with the symbols, the history, the culture and the identity of France.
This is not in conflict with liberalism or civic equality.
It's rather the opposite.
Having two national groups that are not equals because of a demographic imbalance, is what creates second class citizens, not national consciousness.
By the way, most national minorities, including in the Western world, complain about indirect discrimination.
No wonder why Scotland, Quebec, Corsica and Catalonia have strong separatists movements.

And please, don't conflate nationality and ethnicity.
Americans and Canadians look alike to the rest of the world. You guys speak the same language, with more or less the same pronounciations, you have the same lifestyle and yet, you belong to different nations.

By the way, the Jews are not a race. 50% of Israeli Jews, are ''ethnically Arabs'' (like myself), and yet, we belong to the same people as Ethiopian Jews and Russian Jews as well.
A nation is not an ethnic group. It is a group of people who identify with a given identity, and who want to live in a polity belonging to this given community, period.
Thus, those who identify as Jews must have a state, the same way as those who identify as Palestinians (including those who identify as Palestinian Jews), should also have a state of their own as well.

And please, once again, be consistent. If nationalism is racist, why don't you ask for the suppression of all the countries in the world and their replacement with a global republic?
Once again, this idea might seem attractive, but as long as other countries will have the right to exist, there is no reason why Israel should not benefit from this right as well.

John, a modern Liberal democracy is required to grant equal rights to all its citizens, not to reject national pride. And guess what?
This is exactly what Resolution 181 calls for (two states with equal rights for the respective minorities).

Of course, you can disagree.
But let us assume that nationalism is evil (which is not the case in my opinion). Don't you think that it would be unfair to dispossess and penalise Israelis born after 1948, or those who were still children in 1948, for a crime perpetrated before they were born?

Finally, let me remind you that the Palestinian Arabs fought Jewish immigration in the 1930's (with the consequences that we know), because they did not want to become a minority.
Would you agree with the foolish idea that the first Arab uprising in 1936, was racist?
If your answer is no, then what do you imply? That wanting to be a majority is good for the Jews but not for the Arabs?
This is a sophistic argument.
According to your reasoning, the 1936 revolt was racist, since the Jews were denied the possibility to go back to their ancestral homeland (and free, just because they were not of the ''right''ethnicity.

That's all I had to say, I'm done.

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