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Prof. Norman Finkelstein on Gaza Civilian Massacre
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joined with Norman Finkelstein, leading scholar and author of a new book. In fact, he's written a new book called Gaza, an inquiry into its martyrdom. How are you? Normal? I'm fine. It's an inquest into an inquest into his martyrdom. Thank you very much the correction. Excellent. So I wanted to really just get your opinion first and foremost on what's really happening now, in terms of
in terms of what's going on in in the Palestinian border. It's really interesting, because it's the first time you could say, in quite a long time where Israel doesn't really have a pretense or a pretext for attacking the civilians on the border.
Some Some people say about 60 people have been killed, although there may be conservative estimates. What what's your take on all of this?
Well, first of all, it's about 110 people who have been killed since March 30 12,000, who have been wounded. And many of the wounded pattern, current life changing injuries, which is to say permanent injuries, journeys will never heal.
Israel was using weapons, which apparently inflict these kinds of
injuries that require amputations
and other sorts of injuries, which you'll never hear.
My take is not I
think it's not novel at this point. First of all, I think it's important to attend to language that's not a border.
That's a prison gate. It's a concentration camp fence. It's a
a ghetto fence when it's not a border, or at least suggests that there are sovereign states and either side of it. That's not the case. And
on the case, in the Palestinians, they've reached the do or die moment.
The accumulation of another really 770 years, has now reached a point such
either and they break out, or they will have to slowly but surely, die silently.
The process began 70 years ago,
this month, with the mass expulsion of Palestinians from what became the State of Israel, large numbers of them ended up in Gaza were fled or driven into Gaza.
And that explosion was then compounded right now about 70% of Gaza's population comprises refugees, and future Gen and subsequent generations of refugees.
In 1967, the explosion was then compounded by the occupation of Gaza, as well as the West Bank in East Jerusalem. And the case of Gaza, it was an unusually grew occupation.
Massive atrocities were carried out by Ariel Sharon, in Gaza in the late 1960s, and early 70s.
Then in 2016, the explosion and the occupation compounded by a brutal blockade that is imposed on Gaza,
effectively denying it everything short of downright outright
Put on this minimalist, caloric guided by Israel. And
then that was compounded by Israel's periodic massacres
on Gaza since 2004. And up until the great march of return on May 30, March 30.
Israel had inflicted
what they call us operations on Gaza, causing massive death and destruction.
And so you have the explosion, the occupation, the blockade, and the massacres and each compounding of the other, each exacerbating the other and so at some point,
It's not altogether surprising that the situation and goes on become literally unlivable. And beginning in 2012, the United Nations started putting up reports asking the question will gossip be livable in 2020?
By 2017, Robert Piper,
a senior UN humanitarian official, responsible for the West Bank in Gaza, stated that Gaza had crossed the liveability threshold A long time ago. And so Gaza is now a literally uninhabitable place and unlivable place. What does that actually mean? If we were to actually kind of concretely define that? What when we say something is unlivable? What do we actually mean by? Well, let's take the most
basic, essential, wooden mentary.
Index water is 7% of the water is gone. So it is contaminated is 97.
Yes, so 97% Sarah ROI of Harvard University, the world's leading authority and Gaza, put it in the latest edition of her Standard Work. She said innocent, innocent people, mostly young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink.
That's not politic language. And that's not hyperbole. And that's not embellishment. That's a literal fact.
So the bottom line is, you have 2 million people, half of whom, more than half of whom are children under the age of 18. They are trapped by Israel in an unlivable space. And they're slowly being poisoned. And it was bs
eventually culminated in the Palestinian decision.
You know, we do what we're going to die. And that's the great march of return. What do you think the solution is now? Because I think there have been different things I've been proposed in terms of what Palestinians in Gaza can actually do. Some of it has been physical military solutions. Other other things maybe that you suggested in the past, may have gone more down like a non violent kind of protest. Now that we're seeing people try the non violent route and still being killed on mass, do you think, do you think is still a good option?
premature to say,
rock cave, it's 11 years.
It's a protracted struggle. The question is, in my opinion, we're looking at people, the quality and the leadership, and the
I'm Bill Gates of the equal of Gaza, to galvanize and mobilize international public opinion,
brain crusher in Israel. I don't think it's easy. Obviously, the current occupant of the White House doesn't make it easier.
first of all, I don't think we have any other options. And second of all, I think the past six weeks, have significantly isolated Israel,
if they can persist, and if they show real leadership
if the leaders show real leadership, and it's not easy, navigating these treacherous waters of the Gulf states, each
of the Palestinian so called authority and these are people who are ready to stab you in the back. The moment you know, moment you
leave yourself open to being stabbed in the back. So these are very treacherous waters to navigate. And Hamas has made many errors in judgment.
And chakra the matter is, the most experienced levels of leadership have been wiped out by Israel. Israel is now contemplating and quite likely will wipe out the current level currently
ship. And then inevitably, inexperienced people come into power. And people who are hell bent on dungeons, which of course they're entitled to, that's a normal human emotion. However, you need experienced people and people who can demonstrate maximum discipline and self control in order to navigate these treacherous waters.
So I can't predict I felt a certain they don't have any other option would be what's called armed resistance has not produced any results, where everybody can agree the so called diplomacy is just a fig leaf for Israel's gradual annexation of the West Bank, and its destruction of Gaza. So that's not an option. And then the third and only option that remains is nonviolent resistance. So this fails, the people of Gaza will expire.
And so we have doing this, everything we have been trying to make this work.
I mean, when we think about kind of oppression, cost, lead and Protective Edge 2008 2014 respectively, I think the pretense has always been from Israel that has been Hamas soldiers that have been armed and have been trying to attack and these things and so they've had the right to self defense. Here. Obviously, there's been this kind of mass protest, which has been non violent by civilians, most of which have all of which i'm not i'm not armed. So the question really is, is Israel deliberately targeting civilian people,
always deliberately targeting civilians? That's not a that's not a it's not a question.
His answer was always able to use the Hamas quote, unquote, rocket attacks, as pretext and as a facade. But our critiques of millions, what makes this situation different, is they don't have that pretext and facade anymore. And so even though the number of civilians killed the past six weeks 110 is roughly the number that is will kill them a typical morning, during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge, the outcry from the international community was much louder this time, even as the number of NGOs killed was far fewer, because Israel couldn't use the pretext of self defense from Hamas rocket attacks. And in fact, the past six weeks, Israel has been desperately
trying to evoke those Hamas rapid attacks. That's why kill the Hamas person in Malaysia. Then it killed six Hamas militants. Then it started to kill children and journalists playing in plain sight, hoping it would evoke enough rage and anger such that they would resume those rotting attacks. Israel is praying for them, because that then gives them the pretext and a shot to go in and to commit mass death and destruction of the magnitude inflicted say joint Operation Protective Edge.
Yeah. So why is the West being very acquiescent is I mean, why is the United States for example, I'm in what can be as it Israeli lobby all we are overestimating the power of the Israeli lobby.
Complete critic ruins the world news, Mr. Trump, Mr. Netanyahu,
they both hate foreigners. Next to Trump. It's Mexicans and
Muslims. It's been Netanyahu, it's Africans and Muslims. They both like to build walls. They both like to struggle across the world stage. Like these macho dictators.
They're, I don't think they have a intellectual or even a political worldview. These are both narcissists thrive on
Mr. Netanyahu is a kind of PT Barnum. of the
Barnum Bailey Circus is a kind of circus character, a PT Barnum from hell. And Trump is shown as a kind of
freakish character. But it's very hard to believe that he cares much about around. Or he cares much about anything except himself. I doubt he could even find, I think it would be, it would be very surprising if he could find around on a map on his map just consists of the locations of his hotels.
So, um, I don't think has the one should read a grand geopolitical vision and all this, at the proof of my point is maybe take, for example, the agreement with Iran, that was just torn up by Trump with encouragement of Mr. Netanyahu.
In both cases, in the case of Trump, and Netanyahu,
all of their respective senior military and security advisors, told them Don't do it. It's a very good deal.
In math, this the Secretary of Defense, he said, don't do it. All of Israel's security and military people said, don't do it. It's a very good deal. And then you have to ask yourself, and why did they do it? You can't convince me that Trump has greater geopolitical insight. And all the members of the military and security establishing the US who embraced endorsed the deal, and ditto for delta now. And then the answer, it's not a particularly comforting answer, especially for those who like to deal with the big picture of geopolitics, in the great forces at work in human history, it's a little bit painful, to have to swallow the fact that a lot of what's going on now, is due to two
profoundly pathologically narcissistic characters who are not in all respects. For example, the determination to crush gossip is a
an undertaking a chaired by most not all of the Israeli political establishment. There are some in the Israeli military political establishment, who have called for allowing Gaza to rehabilitate. So it's not uniform. But I'm enlarge areas, you can even talk about Israel or the United States, it's really one. In each case, a demented individual who happens to be the head of state
could be over exaggerating the power of that essay, because obviously, in an American context, you've got, you know, checks and balances separation of powers, you've got different interests being represented. Is it just one man? Could we just reduce it to that, in some cases, executives, a very powerful office, and now have a very idiosyncratic, eccentric, positively weird person who's occupying the highest seat of power. And there's just no getting around the fact that that single individual wields a lot of power. Now, in the case of Iran,
it's true. His two recent appointees pompeyo and Bolton both talked about shredding the agreement. But that wasn't the opinion of his previous appointees. So even if it's three who share this opinion, it's still not really representative. On the case of Gaza.
I would say it's more representative because they're basically under mentioned, there are some humans and the great scheme of things they don't count. Because as people like Netanyahu, and
Trump struck across the world stage, they only for them, the only thing that counts is people with power. They're imitations of Modi in India, of early on in Turkey, of
Putin in Russia.
The fellow's name just slips my mind in the Philippines. These are just
phones who are in power. And it's a scary phenomenon for sure. These songs.
On the other hand, I'm not so convinced that at the end of the day, they're going to prevail. They're having their moment in the sun right now. Yeah. But expression, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And what goes around comes around right now. And the mission accomplished stage of
george bush's attack on Iraq, right, mission accomplished stage. As we already know, there are many stages that come after Mission accomplished. And I'm not convinced that these people are going to fall very hard.
Just for the sake of making the argument Now, going back to kind of the crimes are being committed against the guns. I wanted to ask you specifically, how does for example, in international law, for example, how is how a war crime is defined? And how is Israel actually committing war crimes? And in these cases? Well, there are two ways to approach it. One is to go through the
applicable international law, and then to make a judgment about whether his meal is guilty, having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and so forth. The other way to approach it is to just clear away all the legal jargon, and make it a
mechanism choice to render a judgment based on one's common sense.
Common Sense asks you,
does Israel have the right to poison 1 million children?
If you don't think it has that right, and it has no right to use any force in this kind of debate about whether Israel's using disproportionate force as if it's allowed to use proportionate force that Israel is using excessive force, as if it's a route allowed to use moderate force? The question of whether Israel's applying what's called the International Humanitarian laws of war, when it shouldn't be applying the international human rights law, it seems to me all of these questions are academic to the point of being obscene. How could anyone let's take a simple example, if Auschwitz at Auschwitz concentration camp abutted, the German border was right on the German border. And the
people in Auschwitz organized to non violently break the border. Okay, bridge to border with Germany.
with anyone back there have even posed the question. What degree of force Germany or the Nazis are allowed to deploy to prevent them from breaching a concentration camp in which they're slowly being poisoned? with that question, even arrived? wouldn't even be a question that any sane person would tunder there's a kind of complete
insanity. When I read in the BBC, or I read in the pages of Harvard's, or I read all of these lawyers debating what degree of force is Israel allowed to use? Those are rapists
have a right to self defense. If the victim resists by scratching him,
have a right to self defense.
How can you claim that Israel has any right to use force against an overwhelmingly non violent population that's trying to breach and unlivable space in which they are slowly being poisoned? I personally find obscene the kinds of debates I see going on about what is the relevant body of law and what is the standard of force Israel has to abide by
He has no right to use any force, any more than people trying to break out of Auschwitz
have to apply a certain level of force before they're accepted by the international community. Everyone's saying, the people of Gaza have to be more non violent. Really, that's the problem. They have to be more non violent. Would anyone have dare to say that to the inmates of Auschwitz? If you're going to break out, you really have to lower the threshold of violence. It's so completely insane. The kind of debate that unfolds now, in the papers in the media, of the so called Western civilization, it's very painful to be home. Yeah. Well, I mean, you made the comparison between kind of Auschwitz, and what's going on now and in Palestine. It's a concentration camp in which the death
was in a more accelerated pace. In the case of gods, it's at a slower pace. Is that a significant difference? Is that a significant moral difference? You want me to say the pace was faster? Because they sent 10,000 people into gas chambers a week? Yes, it was faster. You want to tell me the magnitude and the American amount of magnitude greater? Yes. I agree, agreed to that. Is that really so consoling? Does that console your heart to know that the 1 million children in Gaza are being poisoned at a slower rate?
Yeah. unspeakable, what's going on now? And we shouldn't play these verbal games. Right, right. No, I mean, do you reckon that there could even be a parallel between
kind of what you would see as a Zionist ideology and
about scientist ideology, that's not tracking extraneous factors or extraneous issues? Israel is a crazy state. It's a completely lunatic state. In fact, most of the funding scientists, if they came back, and they saw that Netanyahu was the head of their state, I'm sure a lot of them would have wondered whether it was worth it.
So I don't think it's a question of Zionism. I wish people would just drop that. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Zionism. I know a lot about Zionism. But I never invoke it nowadays, because it's completely irrelevant. It's not Zionism. It's a state that's gone, man. It's a racist, Jewish supremacist, obnoxious, self righteous, morally corrupt state that has very little to do with Zionism.
Norman Finkelstein, thank you very much for your interview. I thank you very much for your time.
Thank you. Bye Bye. Take care.