06 September 2009

norman finkelstein, my hero, quits the gaza freedom march

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Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition:

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law. I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march. During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed "the political context" was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months. Because it drags in contentious issues that--however precious to different constituencies--are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal. It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition's statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration. In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition's work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction. I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza. In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal. Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties. However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events. It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.
My heart is heavy for him. No one has worked as hard and sacrificed so much for peace and justice where the bloodstain of aggression and oppression grows ever wider.

On the one hand, how could he be so falsely modest as to trust the leadership of this to passion-addled others, but on the other, he was right to want to concentrate on getting the people to this because he's the one most of us trust in this. I just can't stand that once again something with such a huge potential for changing the world has been ruined by our good old standard greed, hate and delusion.

It's like quicksand here... or a cosmic pit full of glue and grease.


  1. I don't think you know what you are talking about. It is pretty disgraceful that he should sabotage the event just because the Palestinians also demanded a voice.

  2. No. No. I do know what I'm talking about. Norman Finkelstein has given everything for justice for Palestine, and the ONLY way this couldn't be ruined if it was the whole world, everyone BUT the Palestinians, breaking that siege. His very life has been on the line here, and certainly would have been a sniper's first target in the march. The man is about as close to a saint as we get in this world, brilliant, and with great humility, and, I repeat, he's given everything for this cause. He cannot be expected to give so much to have his vision, his life's work, and even his life itself if the transcendental success he was bringing to life is being turned into a disaster. It was/is crucial the Palestinians have no part in it. That cannot rightfully be argued by ANYONE with eyes and a heart.

    I am positive that Norman is right and he has done the right thing. If he were not so heavily identified with this movement, I could see that it would have been better to remain mute, but, as it is, in reality, he was the one with the perfect vision and everything at stake, and this is the ONLY way to live to fight another day.

    You seem to be thinking with your emotions and Norman is thinking with the true mind.

    No contest.

    No contest.

    He's right and you are wrong.

    I hope you change your mind, whoever you are.

    I would appreciate it if you would sign your comments if you are going to use the "anonymous" function on the comments here. It gets too confusing if you don't. Thank you.

  3. "No contest.

    No contest.

    He is right and you are wrong."

    This is hardly intelligent debate, and furthermore is false. You've offered no argument to substantiate this.

    The bare assertions that "...the ONLY way this couldn't be runined if it was the whole world..." and that "It was/is crucial the Palestinians have no part in it." don't amount to argument, just inexplicable, and rather noxious statements of opinion.

  4. I can see how you might take it that way if you hadn't read the first part of my response to you.

    Since you can't bring yourself to attach even a screen name to your pissy allegations and self righteous figments of your IMAGINATION, I'd appreciate it if you didn't blot my blog with your smog.

  5. The 2nd comment was mine, not the first. It was made anonymously only for the sake of expediency. There was nothing underhand about it.

    The same cannot however be said for your response.

    Rather than address the points I made (something which clearly you are in no position to do), you have chosen to go on the offensive, launch an ad hominem attack, and entered the realm of course schoolyard insults.

    On reflection, it is also quite disingenuous to suggest that there's anything amiss with my anonynimity. Anonymity is the standard on the internet - there's nothing unusual here, and certainly nothing that would in any way be significantly changed by the inclusion of a screen name, or even any old email address. Moreover, having briefly searched your blog for your identity, I am at a loss. Am I missing something, or is not this blog just an anonymous soapbox. Not that I'm necessarily suggesting that there's anything wrong with such a thing. Hypocrisy however is another matter.

    As to my "pissy allegations" - they were considered, and clearly expressed criticisms of your posts. The still stand in need of an adequate response.

    Furthermore, if anyone is being self-righteous here, it is you. If you will recall, it was you who stated;

    "No contest.

    No contest.

    He is right and you are wrong."

    If nothing else, I'm rather impressed just quite how self-righteous, and obnoxiously dismissive that you have managed to appear in just so few words. As I was saying before, this is not debate, and amounts to a particularly crude attempt at "responding" to the assertion that Norman Finklestein's beef was with the Palestinians demanding a voice (whatever the truth there is in that).

    Aside from all of this however - your contemptuous attitude, and your preference for bullshit rather than actual dialogue - I take issue mostly with what still remains your bare assertion that

    "It was / is crucial that the Palestinians have no part in it."

    and with your incredibly pompous remark

    "That cannot rightfully be argued with ANYONE with an eyes and a heart"

    Your attitude smacks of colonialism, and all others who would likewise sideline the Palestinians (and your post has given us little reason to think otherwise). The Palestinians have been resisting a brutal occupation for decades now. What the hell now gives you (or anyone else) the right to decree that they cannot participate in this action? Pray tell how you envisage such an action would be either possible or desirable without at least the express invitation of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip?

    Perhaps you would be so kind to furnish me with an intelligent response rather than what appears to be your standard "yaa boo sucks"?

  6. Okay. You just showed why the anonymous thing for expediency doesn't work if you don't sign some sort of name. No way to tell with whom you are interacting. And I gave the reason above in response to the first comment.

    The psychosis governing the Israeli stance with their neighbors can ONLY be broken without the obliteration of either Palestine or Israel or both or even all of us in WWIII if it is an impeccably non-partisan movement that comes in to physically break the siege. Israel might not mow down all of the marchers if it IS partisan, but they WILL outlast the marchers, and they WILL continue with their psychotic justifications of the unjustifiable.

    The ONLY chance of such an endeavor working is if it is EVERYONE, the whole world, saying No! This ends here. This ends now. It cannot be borne another moment, and NOT because Israel is wrong and Palestine is right. Not because we think Palestine has more rights or Israel more rights. There CANNOT be the remotest tinge of revenge about it, OR THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE OF SUCCESS.


    Anyone can tell that sixty years in... just as soon as they drop their own hatreds, resentments, ideas about who's right and who's wrong, what's right and what's wrong, and looks at the bald facts of this situation.

    Finkelstein has devoted his entire adult life to this and has suffered much to clarify this awful mess for the world. He sees the ONE way to end it for good, and it is the FIRST ray of real light on the real situation and the real way out of hell. People may THINK they have the salvation of Palestine in mind while dissing the snot out of him for being man enough to do the right thing, but they are just filled with utterly beside-the-point delusions that simply becloud the truth, the fundamental truth, the actuality where change CAN be made by real humans.



    There isn't an ion of insult in what I just said, and if you STILL cannot see, please don't belabor me with it. It's up to you to seek and find your understanding now.

  7. Revenge, empowerment, winning and losing, none of that stuff can be any part of it... for Palestinians or Israelis. It's everyone else on earth stopping it with no more excuses -- BEYOND any justifications for feuding and murdering, no matter how righteous -- or it's street theater in Rafah... deadly street theater... whether or not the participants view it as such.

    If you're a Palestinian, ask yourself if you'd rather make Israel look as bad as it is or if you'd rather have your country and your freedom and your life and your people back.


    It's outright psychotic to bring racism into this on any side or for any reason. We ALL must say NO. Palestinians have to say NO by standing down while this gets handled.



  8. I was just wondering whether you were present at any of the organizational meetings held at the Brecht Forum regarding the Gaza Freedom march.
    I attended the first and couldn't attend the second. I was a member of the international outreach committee together with Norman on this and was underway in trying to mobilize international support for this march.

    I too am a great admirer of Mr.Finkelstein, but I must say that the latest development (his pulling out of the march) confuses me.
    Which brings me to my question to you: How do you know exactly what the reasons are for Mr. Finkelstein's non participation in this march?
    I've read his statement, but it's quite vague, especially for a man who's rhetoric is usually refreshingly concrete.
    In the first organizational meeting (co-hosted by Media Benjamin from Code Pink), there was a general consensus that Palestinian participation in this event is exactly what was needed (especially logistically) for this thing to truly fly. Spokespeople from several international organizations (including a Palestinian organization I believe) expressed their excitement in Norman's vision, and Norman seemed delighted that the Palestinians would participate in this event. There was also a representative from an Israeli organization who was enthusiastic about rallying support in Israel for this march.
    Norman Finkelstein seemed truly pleased that so many embraced his vision.

    So I'm confused. Did something change in the second organizational meeting?
    Were you there to document this change?

    You seem so sure and supportive of Mr. Finkelstein's decision that I can only wonder if you've got the inside skinny.

    Do you?

    I'll be attending the 3rd organizational meeting this evening (Sept. 8) at 7pm at the Brecht Forum where one of the items on the agenda is 'Norman Finkelstein's resignation'. I would urge you to do the same.
    I'm sure I'll be enlightened further as to why he quit the march, but I thought I'd ask you beforehand of the details since you seem to have the inside scoop.

    Scott Voloshin

  9. oh my god

    i just lost a very long and perfect response to you.


  10. It must not have been perfect.

    I must have needed to do a better job.

    The problem is, now, I may have to go deal with my father, who is in great extremis, before I can get a proper response to you.

    I will do it as soon as I can, but it may be hours, or even many hours, there is so much on my plate.

    My email is neufx2@yahoo.com if you want to get your response via email instead of having to check back.

    Bottom line: No, I do not have inside information, but I nonetheless have very good reason to state this stuff.

    More as soon as I can.

  11. All day with my dad.

    All night moderating a radio show chat room.

    Haven't forgotten.

    Just gotta get back my Norman thing....


  12. I'm listening to this interview again and after I'm done I'll do another post on this, and link you to it here.


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