[Music] [DA] Good evening, and welcome to a very special episode of DIEM TV, hosted by the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025.
00:33 - My name is David Adler, I’m the general coordinator of the Progressive International, founded last year to unite, organize and mobilize progressive forces around the world.
00:42 - You’re joining us for a special episode in, I think three very different reasons operating at three very different scales.
00:49 - The first is at a global scale. Right now, what’s kicking off in Palestine is not unprecedented, but it is provoking a new global movement of solidarity towards the struggle of the Palestinians, for liberation, for recognition, for dignity and for peace, and so that we’re gathered here to be thinking together about what constitutes solidarity in a moment like this? What is incumbent upon us as people who live thousands of miles away in many cases from this struggle to support these people to dismantle the apartheid state and ensure that we’re not complicit in its crimes against the palestinians? So that’s one level in which it’s special: the global context in which we find ourselves.
01:32 - The second has to do with DIEM25 itself. A moment in which DIEM25, an Internationalist movement, is rethinking its position on the question of Israel and Palestine and what should be the future of this movement’s position vis-a-vis the struggle of the Palestinians for their their liberation.
01:52 - So, right now, there’s an ongoing all members vote on what that position should be and part of the reason that we’re gathered here today as a follow-up to the conversation between Yanis Varoufakis and BDS advocate Omar Barghouti, is to explore what should be that content? What does it mean for a European movement, a pan-European movement like DIEM25, to be taking a stand on this issue? In which direction should it go? And so, part of this conversation will be very much related to the text that is now up on the site and available for an all-member vote for DIEM25 members, and the third sense is a very micro- sense in which it’s special because I’m joined by two really incredible people who have a lot to say and fascinating things to say, very powerful things to say on this question.
02:33 - The first is Mouin Rabbani, whom you will have read in many places, like, he’s a co-editor of Jadalayyia. But of course, he’s written extensively on these questions.
02:42 - He joins us today from the Hague. Mouin, it’s a really a pleasure to have you here.
02:47 - Thanks so much Mouin. Our second guest is Norman Finkelstein, who has written many books, ranging from The Holocaust Industry to more recently on focusing on what solutions are available to us, really relevant to the conversation we’re having here today to this question of conflict in Palestine.
03:04 - Norman joins us from the US. It’s a pleasure to have you here as well.
03:08 - And finally, I’m very pleased to be joined by our very own Arturo, who joins us from Argentina, who’s going to be moderating this discussion, between the three of you.
03:17 - I’ll be kind of hanging out in the in the background, so to speak, making sure that we’re having a nice, balanced discussion between these, various esteemed speakers.
03:27 - So with that in mind, I’ll turn over to Arturo.
03:29 - I want to thank everyone for joining us. If you’re, not a member of DIEM25, consider joining, if only so you can contribute to this fascinating and very urgent debate about what it means to express our solidarity at a critical juncture like this.
03:42 - So Arturo, I pass the board to you. [AD] Yes. Thank you, David.
03:49 - So, Norman and Mouin, welcome on the DIEM TV and we’re very happy, of course, to have both of you on.
03:56 - While our interview will strive to tackle larger questions about the nature of the conflict and the near future, recent events also compel us to ask for your thoughts on the presence both of you for different reasons have described in different publications, as well as interviews…
04:18 - I’ve heard you describe the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza, especially as some form of strategic failure in Israeli military history, as some form of devastating setback for Israeli intentions, which I’m very curious about that.
04:37 - A few days ago Israeli nationalist activists also have announced a massive flag march to be held in East Jerusalem, provocatively, which has the Biden administration worried, while Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, warns that another flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, especially in Jerusalem, could change the face of the Middle East. Why was this recent demolition actually, somehow, a failure according to you? And a follow-up on that question would be “Does the Israeli right, noticing such a failure, have any connection to the very sudden exit of Netanyahu through the revolving door of Israeli politics? [MR] Who was that question for? [AD] For both of you.
05:36 - I’ve heard you both on social media, as well as in podcasts, describe this in different ways, as somehow a devastating…
05:51 - [MR] Well, if, if Norm‘s all right with it, I’ll begin.
05:55 - And, first of all, Arturo, thanks very much to you and for DiEM25 for organizing this discussion and for inviting me to participate in it.
06:06 - I‘ll answer your second question first, because I think that’s the easier of the two, which is that I don’t really think there’s any relationship between the recent events that you raised and the prospective departure of Benjamin Netanyahu from the leadership of the Israeli government. I think that is the result of a entirely different and largely unrelated set of dynamics, except maybe that the Israeli electorate is - is very sensitive to maintaining the support of the United States, and some may have felt that Netanyahu would be an obstacle in that respect, but beyond that, certainly no connection with recent events, particularly because the individual who is expected to replace him, is basically a carbon copy of Netanyahu, but a little more extreme.
07:13 - Now, regarding your first question, I do think it’s valid to characterize Israel’s recent campaign as a strategic failure and to me, I think there are two primary reasons for this.
07:30 - The first is that one of Israel’s greatest successes during the past three decades, since at least the Oslo Agreement, has been the fragmentation of the Palestinian people into kind of isolated geographic and increasingly political, insignificant communities who are all acting like glorified municipalities.
07:56 - So you have,the Palestinians in Gaza, who are almost entirely preoccupied with lifting the blockade of the Gaza strip. You have the palestinians within Israel, who are almost entirely preoccupied with countering the growing racism of the Israeli state.
08:16 - You have the palestinians in East Jerusalem, who I think most of your viewers will be familiar with their situation.
08:23 - Then you have the individual refugee communities, and what’s happened during the past several weeks, is that really for the first time in several decades all these disparate Palestinian communities have come together and once again, operated on a national basis.
08:43 - So, for example, the leadership of the movement to defend Sheikh Jarrah and then, the Al-aqsa mosque was primarily from Palestinians within Israel, rather than from the West Bank.
09:00 - On this occasion, Hamas became involved, not because Israel was tightening the blockade or anything related to Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip, but acted on a national basis, in the sense that they acted to defend Palestinian rights in Jerusalem.
09:22 - And I think the second part of my answer to you would be, “Look what’s happened since then!” This flag march, that you just mentioned, which is kind of, you know, the equivalent of the KKK marching through black communities in the United States, was actually canceled today and the reason it was cancelled, according to the leaders of the march, is because the Israeli government capitulated to the Palestinians, capitulated to Hamas and didn’t want to take the risk of any further disturbances or a new confrontation, because the government and the Israeli police would allow these fanatic extremists to go marching through the Arab quarters of the old city of Jerusalem, and so they cancelled it.
10:15 - Now, for three decades, this march is held every year on exactly the same route, and the diplomatic negotiations and the Palestinian Authority and the PLO leadership, and so on, have been powerless to divert this march by even a millimeter from its expected course.
10:37 - In the past month, it’s now been cancelled twice.
10:40 - I think in a sense that tells you all you need to know, but finally, just very briefly, having said that, I don’t think we should necessarily equate Israeli strategic failure with an imminent Palestinian victory. I think that would be irresponsibly triumphalist at this stage.
11:06 - [NF] Should I begin? [AD] Yes, please.
11:11 - [NF] First of all, I was expecting Mouin to speak on some other matters, because I’ve followed his guidance. So since he didn’t say it, I’ll say what he’s written to me. So, I want to properly credit him on that point.
11:28 - Israel first becomes a strategic asset in the June 1967 war, where it is said in six days they inflicted major military defeats on Egypt, Syria and Jordan.
11:45 - That’s how it came to be the Israel, as we know it today, not just in terms of conquest of Arab lands, as it’s called, though I don’t like that expression, conquest of Arab lands, but also becoming a force to reckon with militarily and politically in the Middle East.
12:09 - What happened between May 10th and May 20th in those 10 days, a place that’s literally - this is not hyperbole - it’s in length the size of… it’s smaller than a marathon.
12:27 - A marathon is 26. 2 miles in American measurements.
12:33 - Gaza is 25 miles in length, so it’s smaller than a marathon in length, and in width, it’s - I’ll use a New York reference point - in width it’s twice the size of Central Park.
12:51 - That’s Gaza! Gaza has also been under a brutal blockade for the last 15 years, beginning in January 2006, when the Hamas won the parliamentary elections, Gaza has been reduced to abject poverty. Gaza‘s population consists one half of children, that is, under the age of 18. And so this hermetically sealed parcel of land the size of a postage stamp was able to fend off an Israeli assault.
13:33 - An Israeli assault in the past was able to humble the major Arab power, namely Egypt, at the time, and two other, neighboring states, Israel was unable to inflict a military defeat on Hamas.
13:51 - When Israel launches its periodic massacres in Gaza, what it calls “mowing the lawn”, though, in my opinion, this was not an example of mowing the lawn, it had a different dynamic, but what it calls “mowing the lawn”, typically has two goals: one clearly military: to inflict a military defeat, in this case on Hamas, and secondly, a psychological defeat by inflicting as much death and destruction as possible to turn the population against the ruling party, in this case, Hamas.
14:34 - Those are its dual goals. One to inflict the military defeat, second to inflict massive death and destruction, and this time around it was not able to inflict that military defeat.
14:48 - As Mouin pointed out to me in correspondence, he said up until the last day, they were able to maintain command and control and to continue firing the projectiles at Israel and so Israel was unable, even as it bombed the tunnels in which Hamas was supposedly ensconced, it was not able to break the command and control. It was not able to stop the projectile fire on Israel.
15:22 - It was not able to assassinate any of the senior leaders in Hamas, even though Gaza is a tiny place, but they were unable with, all of their intelligence and, bear in mind, there’s a huge amount of what they call “human intelligence”, because large numbers are collaborators with the former Palestinian Authority which means, effectively collaborating with Israel, despite their human intelligence and all their technological intelligence, they couldn’t assassinate any of the senior leaders, even though they desperately wanted to at least to display some kind of symbolic victory.
16:03 - The other thing that was very revealing about what happened was, and I don’t want to overplay it, but the fact of the matter is, Israel is still a powerful military establishment.
16:22 - We don’t want to gainsay that fact, but the fact of the matter is it’s no longer a fighting army. A fighting army means the capacity to wage a ground war and to inflict casualties, as you also simultaneously absorb casualties.
16:44 - Israel, the Israeli army, is no longer capable of a ground attack.
16:50 - That became clear in 2006 in the Lebanon war, where they held back, held back, held back, a ground attack until the last 72 hours, when they just swooped through south Lebanon to the Litani for a photo-op.
17:07 - They didn’t want to fight. I’m not faulting them.
17:11 - I always have to be careful about calling other people cowards because frankly, speaking candidly, I don’t have a lot of physical courage, but the Israeli army has become completely westernized and by “westernized” I mean they don’t want to die and they certainly don’t want to die in some mud heap in Gaza, and so, the Israeli army is no longer a fighting force.
17:40 - So in every Israeli attack, whether it’s in Lebanon or in Israel’s operations, it’s impossible to take out - I hate military expressions but I’ll use it now - “to take out” these projectiles unless you launch a ground attack.
17:58 - You can’t do it from the air. And so, at every single Israeli operation, there comes a moment where they have to decide, either they sign the ceasefire, or they launch a ground attack, because that’s the only way you can stop the rocket fire.
18:15 - This time, because in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, 66 Israeli soldiers were killed during the ground attack, and for Israel that’s a large number.
18:29 - And, they weren’t sure of Hamas’s ground capabilities this time.
18:34 - And so, they can’t launch that ground attack because Israel as a society, is no longer able to absorb casualties of combatants and so, again at the risk of sounding inflammatory or incendiary, the fact of the matter is, – and I mean this in a literal sense – I’m not saying it really in a vicious sense, Israel’s is now the most cowardly army on God’s earth! It is! It’s the most cowardly army on God’s earth because it directs from remote control.
It directs from remote control, massive death and destruction on Gaza, but without taking the next step, which is to put your own combatants at risk.
19:26 - So you have in the case of Israel, the fact that technologically, it remains a cutting-edge military, for sure, but it no longer has at its disposal a fighting force until and unless, if Israel itself were faced with an existential threat, I assumed the population would take up arms and would resist, but they won’t take up arms to die in Gaza or to die in Lebanon.
20:01 - That’s over. That era of Israel, the heroic Zionist as they used to call it when I was growing up, the heroic Zionist fighter.
20:10 - You know, the Moshe Dayan with the patch…
20:14 - He looked like a pirate and for Jews this is the real thrill, because up until then, our paradigmatic Jew was Woody Allen, was Franz Kafka and now along comes this Jew who’s wearing a pirate’s patch on his eye.
20:31 - It was so thrilling, but those days are gone.
20:34 - They don’t want to fight anymore. So that was a real awakening.
20:41 - It was a real awakening as to what had changed in the Israeli profile in the Middle East.
20:51 - [AD] It sounds like the kind of cultural change that occurred in the United States with the drone warfare, where the invading or attacking army is at no risk to itself.
21:03 - There are indeed very westernized, very modern values behind that.
21:11 - So in in recent public statements, both of you have discussed what you have described as a milestone: the new report, Human Rights Watch and the B’Tselem report.
21:25 - These mainstream human rights institutions respected in the west, declare they find many recent Israeli policies towards Palestinians analogous to apartheid’s prosecution.
21:41 - The International Criminal Court has proposed significant prosecution and investigation of the recent events in Gaza, where, Norman wrote a book about Gaza and wrote a book about the previous prosecutor’s shortcomings.
21:58 - So a question then that is circulating a lot or related to that: if Western opinion has gravitated, does this mean that ending the occupation now no longer remains the priority? Does the priority become further reaching or more radical than applying international law, past UN resolutions or the two-state settlement? How do you believe solidarity movements in Europe like this pan-European movement, DiEM25, should use this mainstream shift in opinion.
22:34 - If these centrist institutions have come closer to your view of the conflict? [MR] Should I perhaps start again? I think that’s a key question and perhaps in responding to it, it’s useful to distinguish between tactical objectives and strategic objectives, if I can use those terms.
23:03 - So if we’re talking about the solidarity movement in Europe of which DiEM25 is clearly a leading member, I think we have to recognize that we now have a moment of opportunity and that this moment of opportunity needs to be utilized and it needs to be utilized quickly and it needs to be utilized wisely before the moment passes.
23:38 - Now, what do I mean by tactical objectives? Those I would consider several issues: First and foremost is that, as you know, there has been a massive and increasingly effective campaign to delegitimize and to demonize and even to criminalize expressions of solidarity with the Palestinian people and their rights, particularly in several European countries.
24:14 - You have this whole thing about the IHRA, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, with its bogus definition of antisemitism.
24:27 - And, essentially, antisemitism has been redefined.
24:33 - Most people used to understand antisemitism as Jew hatred.
24:38 - Now antisemitism is primarily disagreement with Israel and what you think or don’t think about Jews is becoming increasingly irrelevant to any definition of antisemitism.
24:50 - Most recently, we had this incredibly bizarre statement by the former Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, in which he spoke about “asymptomatic antisemitism”.
25:07 - It seems to me that asymptomatic antisemitism means you don’t do anything antisemitic, You don’t say anything antisemitic.
25:16 - By no reasonable standard can you in any way be characterized as an antisemite, but you are an antisemite because you oppose Israel or its policies.
25:29 - So one thing I think, as an absolute priority, should be to re-legitimize open discussion and debate and criticism and condemnation and denunciation of Israeli practices towards the Palestinian people.
25:51 - The second issue is that active forms of protest need to be legitimized and endorsed.
26:01 - Now, it doesn’t really matter what you think, for example, of the BDS movement, but it’s a perfectly legitimate, peaceful expression of protest.
26:12 - You know, if I decide to buy South African produce rather than Israeli produce, that’s my right.
26:19 - It’s not an expression of antisemitism. I think those kind of issues need to be placed front and center.
26:26 - Secondly, I think we have two examples from the European Union that should serve as models for the Palestinian solidarity movement in other European countries and I’m referring specifically to Sweden’s recognition of the Palestinian states a few years ago and more recently the urging of Sinn Féin - to give credit where credit is due - the Irish Parliament and government adopting the position that Israel’s presence in the West Bank constitutes a case of de facto annexation.
27:09 - Now Norman has written what many legal scholars regard as the most insightful analysis of what this means in political terms, so he can discuss that further.
27:25 - But basically, we need to transition from a phase where Palestinians and those expressing support and solidarity for the Palestinians are constantly on the defensive and being attacked and becoming offensive let’s say, where the main issues on the agenda should not be whether someone denouncing an Israeli massacre is an antisemite or not, but it should be how and where and when will Israel be held accountable for its actions towards the Palestinian people.
28:04 - How can European governments and the European Union be placed under sufficient pressure to end their complicity with Israeli actions and to cease lending Israel impunity for its actions towards the Palestinian people? Here we have, I think, a very clear example.
28:25 - An organization, I forget which, recently published a graphic about the voting patterns of European Union states at the United Nations Human Rights Council when various investigations are proposed.
28:39 - You know when they’re proposed in Myanmar, in Syria, in any African country in other places, the European members of the UN HRC unanimously vote in support of launching such an investigation.
28:56 - So they obviously don’t have any issues with the competence or qualities of such investigations.
29:05 - But when it comes to Israel, they largely either vote negative or abstain.
29:13 - That doesn’t mean that they feel Israel shouldn’t be held accountable for its actions.
29:18 - It’s much worse! That means they feel Israel should not even be investigated.
29:26 - No determination should even be made about its conduct.
29:32 - I think it’s these kind of battles in the short term that need to be fought and that with sufficient organization and determination, can and should be won.
29:47 - Then I think the second part of your question concerns the larger political question and I’ll just be very brief, because I want to give Norman the opportunity to provide his insights as well.
30:03 - I think no one will disagree that a secular, democratic state or a bi-national state, you know, some kind of democratic one-state outcome would be the ideal resolution of the question of Palestine.
30:20 - But the fact of the matter is, that is something - and I’ll happy to get into it elsewhere - that is something that can only be achieved through a decisive military defeat of Israel, because it basically involves dismantling the Israeli state and dismantling the Zionist institutions of that state and transforming them the way South Africa was transformed.
30:49 - Given the very fundamental differences and demography and regional politics, and so on, between South Africa and Israel, this is not something that can be achieved through primarily mass mobilization and will require a decisive military victory and it’s my view that is not an option that’s currently available to either the Palestinians or to the Arab states, assuming that they would be willing to seek such a resolution.
31:25 - Nor is the international community now or ever, going to actively support such an outcome.
31:34 - What we do have is an international consensus that calls for the end of the occupation and the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the occupied territories.
31:51 - Not the Mickey Mouse state that has been proposed at various points in the Oslo negotiations, but a real, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, free of settlements and all the rest of it, throughout the territories occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital and not less importantly, a just resolution of the refugee question.
32:17 - That is the official position of the European Union and of its member states.
32:23 - So what I do think the solidarity movement can and should do, is to put pressure on their governments to elect representatives to their parliaments and to find other ways so that these governments and the European Union replace their complicity with the continuation of Israel’s occupation which, as the Irish have said, constitutes effectively a process of de facto annexation and convert this into pressure on Israel, because it can’t be achieved by bilateral negotiations and certainly not by bilateral negotiations under US supervision.
33:08 - To convert this into pressure to compel Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and that I think, can also lay the basis for a one-state outcome, but that’s perhaps a different discussion and I’ll stop there.
33:28 - [AD] Norman, so you’re… [NF] Sure. There’s no question in my mind that the publication of the B’Tselem organization on human rights petition paper and then soon thereafter, the Human Rights Watch extensive report was a 210 page report and what apparently is going to be the case pretty soon comparable publications from the Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq and from Amnesty International that these publications do mark let’s call it: a change in the political vocabulary of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
34:17 - They use terminology which is unprecedented and it does I think, cross certainly an Israeli red line.
34:28 - It refers to Israel in the case of B’Tselem, it refers to the whole area including Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan river.
34:41 - It refers to that whole area, inclusive of the state of Israel as a Jewish supremacist state.
34:50 - If you turn to Human Rights Watch, it refers to the whole area from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea, inclusive of the state of Israel as a state built on Jewish domination.
35:05 - These are, as I said, unprecedented descriptives of the state of Israel.
35:13 - Furthermore, B’Tselem says the “occupation” is no longer an occupation.
35:21 - There’s not one seamless area. Israel has effectively created one state and that state is an apartheid state.
35:31 - HRW is somewhat more cautious, but not as cautious as I think people think.
35:37 - HRW refers to the occupied Palestinian territories as an apartheid state, but it doesn’t include Israel.
35:47 - However, the HRW Report actually goes beyond B’Tselem, because B’Tselem refers to a current reality.
36:00 - HRW goes back to the beginning, and it says from the very beginning, Israel has tried to create a Jewish Majority state and in order to create that Jewish majority state, it had to confiscate massive amounts of Palestinian land.
36:22 - In addition, it had to expel a large part of the indigenous population,.
36:28 - Now expelling the population, that is under international law, a crime against humanity.
36:38 - Massive confiscation of Palestinian land, that is also a crime against humanity.
36:46 - So, HRW was saying, if you read it literally, it was saying that from Israel’s birth from Israel’s birth, namely creating that Jewish majority and doing it by confiscating massive amounts of Palestinian land, 60 to 80% of the land of Palestinians who were expelled, 40 to 60% of the land of Palestinians who remain, these were from the get-go, from the get-go, these were crimes against humanity.
37:25 - So the vocabulary has changed. It’s now the vocabulary of Jewish Supremacy, Jewish domination and apartheid.
37:39 - Personally, if you were to ask me, I would say it’s much more prudent not to use the “apartheid” term because for most young people, whose historic memories is usually about three tweets ago, it’s not wise to try to conjure up apartheid, which was effectively, as a system of government it was extinguished in 1990, 30 years ago.
38:11 - Secondly, if you read, for example, the Human Rights Watch Report, they have a very technical legal definition of apartheid.
38:22 - According to them, apartheid means domination, plus oppression, plus inhumane acts.
38:33 - You have to meet all three conditions in order to qualify as carrying out “apartheid policies”. As you’re perfectly aware and as Mouin is perfectly aware -his brother is a lawyer - so his brother will tell him that these terms, “domination - oppression - inhumane acts”, they are so vague.
38:59 - They are so nebulous. Especially when there’s no case law for it.
39:04 - So, as Human Rights Watch points out, there has never been a state that’s been prosecuted for the crime of apartheid, which means there’s no case law to define these terms.
39:15 - Why do I mention it? Because what invariably happens is, you get involved in these theoretical, abstract debates about: Is this apartheid? Isn’t this apartheid? But isn’t that different and isn’t that different? And you end up in these digressions of which eventually, you get so far away from Israel and Palestine, that the other side wins because you’re not talking about Israel-Palestine anymore.
39:45 - So, even though I understand, as a legal body, Human Rights Watch, it wants to get Israel prosecuted for the crime of apartheid that you have to have these legalistic definitions in order to pursue a prosecution and HRW does recommend to the ICC that beyond its current charge sheet, it should include “the crime of apartheid”.
40:17 - So I can understand that as a legalistic issue, but I think for a political campaign, it makes much more sense to home in on Jewish supremacy and Jewish domination, which resonate for a broad public and for which it’s very easy to adduce evidence.
40:38 - You say Israel is a Jewish supremacist state based on Jewish domination.
40:44 - Yeah, that’s what they say. Well, prove it! Well, it’s not difficult to prove.
40:48 - 93% of the land in the state of Israel is reserved for Jews only.
40:53 - That sounds like Jewish supremacy to me, or there are 900 towns in Israel where you are legally allowed to deny a Palestinian Arab residence.
41:05 - Well, that sounds like Jewish supremacy to me, so I think that’s the vocabulary we should use.
41:10 - That’s a personal opinion. Now to the practical ramifications.
41:16 - The practical political ramifications to me are the following: I think the situation is in flux - politically.
41:24 - There isn’t at the moment a representative Palestinian national body, and I don’t think it’s the job of solidarity movements to decide for Palestinians what should be their goals? That’s a job, that’s self-determination! I mean the most basic principle of self-determination is people should be able to decide their future.
41:46 - So right now, some people are talking, as they have for a long time.
41:50 - They’ve been talking about this democratic secular state and with all due regard to my friend, comrade over a long time, Mouin says, nobody would disagree that the most desirable outcome is a democratic secular state.
42:13 - Well, I would say to Mouin, based on what Mouin has told me, I mean I learned it from Mouin.
42:19 - In fact, everybody would disagree. Among Palestinians, certainly Hamas doesn’t support a democratic, secular state.
42:27 - There’s no evidence of that. The Palestinians, as Mouin keeps telling me, their whole national ethos has been for a Palestinian state, not a democratic, secular state.
42:41 - What the Palestinians in Israel support, frankly I don’t know.
42:46 - I don’t know what their position is. So I don’t think if you really respect the principle of self-determination, you, as Europeans, shouldn’t be deciding for the Palestinians what should be the desirable goal and outcome.
43:04 - I would also want to say I don’t see any evidence that a movement committed to a democratic secular state is going to emerge anytime soon,.
43:17 - So the other day I happened, or I was reading a book, and it reminded me of what Nelson Mandela said at the famous Rivonia trial, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment for being a terrorist, the leader of the military wing.
43:36 - The famous quote, -if you allow me, just a couple of sentences to read.
43:41 - He says: “During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.
43:48 - I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
44:09 - It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve, but if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.
44:15 - That whole language, or to use a phrase I happen to despise, the whole discourse, it’s completely alien to Palestinian society.
44:25 - You couldn’t find very many people, yes, there were the old communist party.
44:29 - I would agree. The old communist party would say I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
44:42 - That’s not been an aspiration. And so, I feel it’s like Europeans trying to impose on Palestinians a European ideal that’s in many ways for better or for worse, it’s alien to the whole Palestinian national struggle.
45:03 - It’s always been conceived, Mouin can disagree with me on this and I’m really, I’m happy to be contradicted, but whatever ideal, even in the PLO Charter, the original charter in 1964 and in the revised charter, it was always seen as a, even in the formulation of a democratic secular state which they had, it was always seen within the context of: This is an Arab country.
45:33 - This is an Arab society. That was not the vocabulary of the South African congress.
45:40 - It just was not. And so, I do believe that the two-state settlement has to take into account a new factor.
45:56 - The new factor is, it has what you might call a theory side and a practice side.
46:02 - The theory side is what HRW and B’Tselem are saying: that the state of Israel as it’s presently constituted, namely a Jewish Supremacist, or Jewish dominated society, has become problematic.
46:22 - In order to solve this conflict, we have to address that issue of Israeli Jewish Supremacy and Jewish domination.
46:31 - That’s the theoretical, but by the strange concatenation of events, the weirdest alignment of the planets. two weeks after these reports come out, suddenly, there’s an eruption in Israel of Palestinian Israelis effectively saying in their actions what B’Tselem and HRW said in the Report.
46:59 - They were rebelling against a state that was discriminating against them.
47:05 - So the old version of the two-state settlement, which basically said Israel as is. And beside it, a Palestinian state, Israel as is, and the Palestinian state beside it, that I think that I don’t want to call it tweaks.
47:28 - I would have to say that formulation in light of the reports and the reality of a restiveness among Israel’s second-class Palestinian citizens, that goal, I think, will be called into question.
47:48 - It can no longer be Israel as is. They have to address this problem of Jewish supremacy and Jewish domination inside Israel.
48:01 - But beyond that, I don’t know where things will go.
48:05 - I can’t predict that. One last point and I’ll stop. You’ll excuse me.
48:09 - One last point: if you read the literature on self-determination, a people have the right to self-determination for sure.
48:19 - If you qualify as a people and that’s a very complicated question in international law.
48:24 - But if you qualify as a people, you have a right to self-determination, but self-determination can take three forms: One, it can take the form of just becoming a citizen of your state.
48:38 - That is like a full-blown assimilation. That’s one form of self-determination.
48:44 - Another form of self-determination is having some kind of national rights within a democratic, secular state, a kind of federalism based on person or based on geography.
48:59 - And the third possibility, obviously, is an independent state.
49:04 - Those are three different kinds of self-determination.
49:08 - They are all self-determination,. And so, that’s a objective the Palestinians have to decide.
49:20 - Do they want to become citizens, in the democratic secular state without any national recognition? Do they want to be part of a federalized state? Do they want to become an independent entity of their own? Those are determinations which, if you’re respectful of the principle of self-determination, Palestinians should decide.
49:43 - It shouldn’t be Europeans or anybody else who makes that determination.
49:49 - So it sounds Norman, like you’re saying that the two state settlements and these UN resolutions are still only remaining next step.
50:00 - However, it must be modified to at some point to include that Israel become a state of all of the citizens without this kind of systemic discrimination.
50:13 - [NF] You know, if you Read James Crawford, he was the world’s leading authority on international under, what’s called the creation of states under international law He died a few days ago and he has this huge volume.
50:28 - This huge volume, “The Creation of States Under International Law” and the thing you learn most from reading that volume - it was just an amazing book.
50:37 - It was breathtaking, I have to say it’s like he was up 24 hours a day for the last 50 years.
50:43 - Just reading about how states are created, it was almost freakish the book, but one of the things that was most revealing to me was how many different permutations and combinations there are of states.
50:55 - The Vatican is a state, Andorra is a state You know these things called Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, they’re states. You know these states can fit in my apartment, [MR] Aruba [laughing] and there’s virtually no autonomy, really they’re controlled by other powers in the legal sense, not just the reality or actual sense.
51:22 - So I don’t know where things will go, but what I do know for sure is it’s not our job to resolve those questions.
51:33 - I happen to agree with Human Rights Watch, which is probably the first time on God’s earth I’ve ever, I’ve ever agreed with Human Rights Watch at the end of their report, they have recommendations, so they have recommendations to Europe, recommendations to Israel and then, they have one set of recommendations. Recommendations to the PLO.
51:52 - Imagine Kenneth Roth, giving recommendations to the PLO.
51:56 - It’s almost comical, but the first recommendation actually made sense to me.
52:02 - Essentially, with the first recommendation was: “forget about political objectives for now, focus on realizing the full human rights of Palestinians”, and I think that was a sensible thing to say, because I don’t want to get bogged down now, Mouin talked about, he said we have to act quickly, we have to act wisely, quickly and wisely – and I don’t want to get bogged down now in these debates – about one state, two-state, bi-national state, democratic, secular state.
52:35 - Why not focus for now on two things which I think are realizable goals.
52:41 - One, lifting the blockade of Gaza and, two, ending the land confiscations in the west bank.
52:49 - Those are uncontroversial issues, or should be, within the current climate.
52:54 - I think they’re politically feasible and winnable - not easy, because the issue of the Hamas quote-unquote rockets, which are not rockets but we’ll call them that because that’s the terminology right now that will come up for sure.
53:10 - So it’s not an an easy win. It’s not a slam dunk, as they say, but those are within reach and we shouldn’t try to accelerate, as outsiders, we shouldn’t try to accelerate or catalyze the process whereby Palestinians on their own, form a representative institution, because the PLO is de facto dead, which has its exchange of papers, conferences until it arrives at a new consensus on how to press forward we’re not part of that process. We can’t accelerate that process and I’m going to be a little bit brutal here.
We shouldn’t engage in the radical chic of coming up with the most radical position.
54:11 - You know, I wish these people who advocate for a democratic, secular state in Palestine, I don’t see them advocating for a democratic, secular Europe.
54:21 - I don’t see them calling for the dissolution of Greece, the dissolution of Spain, the dissolution of France.
54:30 - I don’t see that, but for Palestine, “democratic, secular state”, but for Europe, no! they’re very cognizant of the national rights of each of the component parts of Europe.
54:43 - So I think we should stay away from what’s fashionable, what’s ‘radical chic’ and stick to what’s possible, winnable, but still requires a lot of commitment and effort in order to achieve [AD] Interesting, that you mentioned Spain, which was a theocracy a very short time ago. In the 20th century, a pseudo-theocracy So recently, we had a public live event, in a live debate, which was public in DIEM25 and some people iterated what I have heard also before when discussing the conflict and though, as you say, it is bogged down to one state, two state, one state, two state and one argument I heard which surprises me always is how they take the presence of the half and nearly half a million settlers now in the West Bank as a de facto effect as they like to say it’s on the reality on the ground that the settlers are there, though, subsidized and someone, more than one person suggested that settlers in the West Bank, for example, would violently resist? Let‘s say if a moderate Israeli government came under pressure or came into existence and came under western pressure to adhere to international law and evacuate the settlements in some process.
56:14 - The counter argument is that the settlers that I’ve heard often that settlers would resist violently and refuse to open to the Israeli army, I’m wondering, how? How do you account for the logic that those who demand the one secular, democratic state implementation, which is very very hard to achieve, cannot imagine, dismantling or disengaging the settlements? which seems to me like a contradiction.
56:51 - And what do you say to them? [NM] I’m not going to address the question I’m just going to make one sentence.
57:02 - Ask yourself a simple commonsensical question: Are Israelis more likely to give up the settlements or give up the Jewish state? Which is a more likely outcome? Will Israelis sooner give up the settlements or give up the Jewish state? That to me is the most basic elementary question and I think the answer is almost a rhetorical question. But, go ahead, Mouin.
57:38 - [MR] Thanks - my camera fell out, but it’s back now.
57:43 - I listened as always very carefully to Norm’s detailed response to your last question and maybe just a few points.
57:58 - He is right when, he says that for the majority of Palestinians, and certainly for the Palestinian national movement, historically, self-determination has trumped democracy in the sense that, given the choice, I think it’s fair to say that most Palestinian movements and leaders have preferred a state in which they can express their national identity over one in which, from their point of view, their ability to exist as a national people is, let’s say, diluted by democracy or by nationalism, or what have you.
58:52 - When I said that it’s the preferable outcome, I meant for people like us, rather than necessarily for the Palestinian national movement as it has existed.
59:09 - A second point is that I do think it’s valid to make comparisons between the situation in Palestine and South Africa, and southern Africa during the period of the white minority regimes, not only by looking at similarities between systems of oppression, but also looking at comparisons of their respective liberation movements, about which Norm spoke in some detail.
59:37 - I’d like to make an additional comparison, which is, as I was explaining to Norman in correspondence not too long ago: I would be the last person to question the sincerity of Nelson Mandela or his fellow militants or of the ANC, but the fact of the matter is that they were representing, if I’m not mistaken, something like 90% of the people of South Africa.
60:08 - Not 50%. And the question I’ve always asked myself is: if the whites in South Africa constituted half the total population of the country, I wonder, first of all, would the ANC have maintained its political program as represented by the Freedom Charter? Probably, but would it then have had the same kind of popularity or would, for example, the pan-Africanist Congress and AZAPO and others, have gained considerable considerably more currency than they did under under the situation? So I think these are things that need to be borne in mind and I had a few other points that that now escape me, but I think, and, in general, I would very much agree agree with with the points that Norman raised.
61:06 - Now, I think there are two categories of people who support a one-state outcome, whether as a bi-national or a secular democratic state.
61:22 - There are those who support it as a matter of principle, in other words, they recognize that a one-state outcome is much more difficult than a two-state settlement, but they’re devoted to it as a matter of principle rather than as a practical matter.
61:44 - And then there are those who support a one-state outcome because in their view the two-state settlement has failed or is no longer achievable or has been overtaken by events.
62:03 - So if we look at the second group, the short response is: there is no evidence that the two-state settlement has ever been seriously tried.
62:14 - Oslo is all of three pages long. Read it! It doesn’t include the words: occupation - self-determination - 1967 borders - Palestinian state.
62:26 - Oslo was a process for the consolidation of Israeli rule, rather than the termination of Israeli rule.
62:34 - So, Oslo cannot be used as evidence. A second point, just a very brief comparison: “we’ve passed the point of no return”, the settlements and so on.
62:48 - Well, the example I like to give is about French Algeria.
62:53 - In 1950, Algeria legally was not a French colony.
63:01 - It was a French province! It was an integral component of France.
63:06 - Its “départements” were French administrative regions.
63:12 - And the annexation of Algeria by France was recognized internationally, like the integration of Eritrea into the Ethiopian state.
63:28 - So, basically, France had a level of control over Algeria and the recognition of its domination of Algeria that far exceeds anything Israel has ever been able to achieve in the occupied territories.
63:46 - And, if in 1950 you would have suggested that Algeria needs to be an independent state and separate from… you would have been…
64:01 - I guess people would have offered you another drink and said, you know, “Maybe you need to get some sleep!” because the idea that this country could successfully separate itself from the state of which it was an integral part, sounded like madness in 1950.
64:17 - Yet it was achieved within eight years, between ‘54 and ‘62.
64:23 - So, the practical argument against the two-state settlement is not one that I think holds water.
64:39 - And that applies equally to the point you raised about the settlements and the settlers.
64:45 - And the the phrase I like to use is that: “Politics, or Physics?” If it’s a scientific issue where you can identify a point of no return, then: how did Algeria become independent? You know, how did Eritrea become independent? How did East Timor become independent? [AD] Of course, such a person who has such a position will say: “Ah, but Algeria then descended into civil war!” And you are that you’re advocating the same thing in Israel-Palestine! [MR] Well, no, because, to get back to the point I was making earlier, I do not believe there is a political pathway to a one-state solution.
65:29 - I think that can only be achieved through a decisive military defeat of Israel, for which, in my view, an option does not currently exist.
65:40 - I think there are military options to deter Israel.
65:43 - I think there are military options to weaken Israel.
65:46 - But I don’t think there are at present military options that could lead in its decisive defeat and the dismantling of the Israeli state and its transformation.
65:57 - Getting back to the point of: if Israel is given a real and genuine choice between the existence of the state and ending the occupation on account of mass mobilization by the Palestinian people everywhere, on account of measures of political and legal coercion, you know, by European governments, including by the solidarity movement, the International Criminal Court, and all the rest of it…
66:35 - There, I think, perhaps in certain cases augmented by armed force, but I think there there is an option relying primarily on political mobilization that could result in the end of the occupation.
67:00 - Finally, for those who refuse to accept a two-state settlement as a matter of principle rather than because they think it is more difficult or has become impossible, I fully understand those who believe either that all of us should live together in a state of peaceful coexistence, or that Palestinians have the right and a just cause to retrieve what was taken from them.
67:42 - But, having said that, my view is that if there is going to be a primarily political pathway to a one-state outcome, it goes through the transformation of the political realities that a two-state settlement could produce.
68:07 - I’m sorry, that’s very brief, that last point, but I I believe we’re running out of time, so I won’t elaborate on it.
68:15 - [NF] I just want to elaborate on the point that Mouin made.
68:21 - It’s not a contradiction or disagreement. The United States was a white republic for most of its history.
68:32 - It was a republic that began by wanting to stamp out the non-white population because it was not white.
68:41 - And it was also begun with enslaving another non-white population, not the native population, but the African population.
68:52 - It took a very long time, many steps along the way, to try to achieve what’s called the democratic secular state.
69:00 - Along the way there was a civil war, half a million Americans were killed.
69:06 - It’s a large number. It was by far - there’s no comparison - by far the bloodiest war that America ever fought, the one that fought against itself.
69:17 - Then after the Civil War, a next step was the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
69:25 - The 15th Amendment gave black people the right to vote.
69:29 - That was a very tough step. And then there was the backlash: the end of reconstruction, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the creation of a de facto second class citizenship and worst than second class, namely, what came to be called the Jim Crow system in the American South.
69:50 - That was dismantled during the Civil Rights Movement and there were major legal, legislative changes: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1965.
70:04 - And the reason I mentioned all this is because Mouin, I think correctly, says Israelis are not going to give up that Jewish majority.
70:15 - I would just amend that to say they won’t give it up in the short term.
70:23 - There are many steps along the way. Our country, the United States, it’s islated to become a white minority state.
70:35 - in the near future, it will be a white minority.
70:39 - Now, you know what’s the most interesting thing about that fact? People don’t really think about it.
70:46 - You know, they hear we’re going to become a white minority, yes, you’re going to say, “What about the Trump people?” and all that.
70:53 - My personal opinion: I don’t think it’s about white minority.
70:57 - It’s about the fact that it’s an economic disaster and people are played, exploiting that economic disaster with a kind of white indentity politics, meaning you’re not only poor and you’ve not only lost your home but you’re losing all the benefits of being white in our society because you’re becoming a white minority.
71:22 - But had the economy been reasonably stable people don’t really think much about no longer being the majority, because the issue, it happened incrementally, slowly, through immigration, through various other factors, the fact that white people don’t reproduce much, which is a big problem in Europe - if you consider it a problem.
71:47 - So I personally believe, assuming that Israelis are more or less like all other peoples that if the process occurs incrementally.
71:58 - It does require struggle. It does require a struggle, no question about it.
72:04 - The Civil Rights Movement was a struggle, but it can happen that Israeli Jews will relinquish the right to a Jewish majority, just as white Americans relinquish the right to be a white majority.
72:26 - So I see it as possible, I just don’t see it in my lifetime.
72:34 - Your viewers who can think: “Well yeah sure, because he only has 10 years left so who gives a darn what he has to say!” But for practical political purposes, I don’t see the point of homing in now on a democratic secular state which will require , if you look at American history, could take 100 years of evolution, of incrementalism, with a lot of struggle.
72:59 - And I say incrementalism, a lot of battles, a lot of struggle, but I could see it, over time, Israelis will relinquish that right to the Jewish majority in the same way as white people have resigned themselves the fact, you hear it all the time in the news now, by the year 2030 or 2050, it’s going to be a white Minority State, the United States.
73:27 - [AD] Well, hopefully, it will also be speaking Spanish in the United States.
73:34 - [NF] Actually, I can think of a bigger issue that we’re going to be speaking Chinese.
73:39 - It’s going to be American takeout, not Chinese takeout, it’s going to be American take out! [AD] Well, I think that this is a wonderful way to close on this message for the future.
73:53 - I was going to ask you about China-US tensions in the Middle East using this conflict, but unfortunately, we’ve run out of time.
74:01 - I wish I could announce the intermission! My webmaster, she’s Palestinian, Sana Kasim, and she teaches chemistry in Athens, and she commented to me, she said: “Now the second language in the school - it’s the International Baccalaureate School - “The second language”, she said, “now is Chinese”.
74:24 - They’re teaching in Chinese. And she said the top students in that school? All Chinese.
74:30 - [AD] I knew it wasn’t you running that Facebook page! It’s a Palestinian young woman, so now, let’s bring in David…
74:41 - [DA] –to wrap it up. It’s been a pleasure to basically bear witness to this wonderful, informative debates, obviously, with these two great minds and one great moderator! And of course, on behalf of DiEM25 and the Progressive International, we’re very grateful for your time here.
75:00 - I’ve got a lot to think about. And the historical comparisons are just are so potent and so challenging and requiring so much interrogation.
75:11 - Many of the things that were put on the table here are just not things that we can often compare, and even if they do feel like apples and oranges, it’s worth holding them to the light and wondering what are the lessons that we can glean from these comparative histories.
75:24 - So anyway, I just want to thank you again on behalf of Democracy in Europe Movement, not just the two of you, but also Arturo for compering the session today.
75:32 - Also everyone who’s listening, who’s watching , who’s about to move their mouse and hit the subscribe button, about to go to DiEM25. org to become a member of this movement and contribute to this debate.
75:43 - As I’ve mentioned the introduction, this is a very live debate.
75:48 - There’s a motion that is up for an all-member vote in DiEM25.
75:51 - The deadline for voting is the 10th of June.
75:54 - That’s in three days, if you’re watching this live, so we hope you’ll get involved and speak up, weigh in, on these critical issues.
76:03 - Norman would say don’t actually don’t trample over the popular sovereignty of Palestinians, but that’s part of the debate that we’re having here.
76:12 - And I hope it’s not the last time that we’ll be together.
76:15 - Mouin and Norman, it’s really a pleasure, so I want to thank you again, thank you, Arturo, and sign off for the evening.
76:22 - [All] Thank you. .