October 25, 2007

More on Finkelstein as Tatchell queers the pitch

I love him, I love him. Peter Tatchell my hero. I never said a word against him (not). He's lovely, wonderful! He's just blown Harry's Place and Engage out of the water on the Gharda Karmi article in Comment is free today (well, yesterday) . Actually, I've been quite horrid to Comrade Tatchell. I probably still could be but we are where we are. Peter Tatchell has just blown the whistle on what actually happened to get Finkelstein barred from the Oxford Union. It was Dershowitz wot dunnit. Not on his own of course but this was an Israel lobby job and Tatchell isn't exactly an uncritical or even unconditional anti-zionist. Hell, I'm not even sure if he is any kind of anti-zionist. Oh get on with it. What happened? Well Gharda Karmi has a Comment is free piece. Gharda Karmi is one of the Guardian's resident anti-zionists. That means she gets to write an article in the Guardian about once every five years. Anyway here's a piece from the piece:
The newest and least attractive import from America, following on behind Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Friends, is the pro-Israel lobby. The latest target of this US-style campaign is the august Oxford Union. This week, two Israeli colleagues and I were due to appear at the union to participate in an important debate on the one-state solution in Israel-Palestine. Also invited was the American Jewish scholar and outspoken critic of Israel, Norman Finkelstein. At the last minute, however, the union withdrew its invitation to him, apparently intimidated by threats from various pro-Israel groups. The Harvard Jewish lawyer and indefatigable defender of Israel, Alan Dershowitz, attacked the topic of the debate as well as the Oxford Union itself. In an article headlined "Oxford Union is dead", he accused it of having become "a propaganda platform for extremist views", and castigated its choice of what he termed anti-Israel and anti-semitic speakers. Yet Dershowitz could have restored the balance as he saw it; he was the first person invited by the Oxford Union to oppose the motion but he declined due, as he put it, to "the terms of the debate and my proposed teammates".
Ok, the gruesome spectre of the lobby appears. So look at the comments. The zionists are all over Cif so skipping tens, if not hundreds, we come to David t of Harry's Place:
Except that, unfortunately, Karmi is wrong.

What seems to have happened is this:

"Trimble demanded that Finkelstein be dropped from the panel as a precondition for his participation; when the Union accepted Trimble's argument, Shlaim, Pappe, and Karmi decided to withdraw in protest. Clearly, they felt that without Finkelstein on the other side of the floor, there was now a chance the debate might be fair."

So it was Trimble who caused the cancellation.

Quite fairly, he refused to participate in a debate alongside a nut; particularly one who is not much of a supporter of a "two state" settlement!

If you've got a problem with that, take it up with Lord Trimble.


Follow the link by all means but the idea that someone, anyone, would be dropped by the Oxford Union (you know, the same Oxford Union that is to host holocaust denier, David Irving and the fascist BNP leader, Nick Griffin, for someone who most people who visit here have never even heard of is ludicrous even by Harry's Place standards. I haven't followed the link and I probably won't but I see the name Ottolenghi on there and I'm thinking, oh never mind what I'm thinking. Trimble couldn't get a flight cancelled if there was a Drumcree Brethren bomb on board. But not according to David t. For David t the Drumcree Brother was the man who made the Good Friday Agreement (the peace agreement between the Irish republican movement and the UK) work. Honestly, he said that look. The very next comment on the Cif thread is David t again:
What is more plausible?

That the Oxford Union caved following an article published in a foreign newspaper published by a US academic?

Or that the Oxford Union invited Finkelstein, having misunderstood his views on the subject, only to disinvite him at the instigation of Lord Trimble.

Hmm. Let's see. Who would be a more prestigious and relevant speaker for the "two states" side.

(A) A hysteric ex-academic, beloved by nutsy "anti-Zionists", but known by almost nobody else; or

(B) The man who made the Good Friday Agreement work, bringing to an end decades of sectarian bloodshed.

It is a difficult one, isn't it!
"beloved by nutsy "anti-Zionists", but known by almost nobody else." Finklelstein is known only by anti-zionists? David t knows who he is. Dershowitz knows who he is too. The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland has lied about him. I can't be bothered to dig up my post on that. Name a high profile zionist and then google their name by "Norman Finkelstein". See what happens. Lots of sites appear because every high profile zionist is terrified of Finkelstein and has misrepresented his work in writing to exorcise their fears. David Trimble was a here today gone tomorrow politician who just happened to be around for the Good Friday Agreement which couldn't have worked without the assent of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Either of them could have been invited in place of Trimble. They would have been invited in place of Trimble But there are more (and more and more and more) comments. The zionists have this megaphone system to alert their people to criticism of Israel. You download it to your pc and while you email your auntie Sadie, the megaphone flashes up an action alert. That's why you see so much zionist comment in any thread where Israel is an issue.

Ok so let's see what Peter Tatchell has to say.
I was also due to speak in the Oxford Union debate on Israel-Palestine but withdrew because of the dis-invitation of my fellow guest speaker, the US Jewish academic, Norman Finkelstein.

I was astonished that the Oxford Union is prepared to host Nick Griffin and David Irving in an up-coming debate - in the name of free speech - but not Norman Finkelstein.

I was not the only one to feel this way. All three main speakers in support of the motion had already withdrawn from the debate in protest at Norman's exclusion. Without Norman and the three distinguished proponents of the motion, the debate could not proceed with any credibility or legitimacy.

Norman Finkelstein is critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. I concur with some of his criticisms. I don't agree with Norman on certain things. But I know of nothing that he has said to justify his invitation being withdrawn by the Oxford Union. The ban on Norman Finkelstein goes against the principles of free speech that the Oxford Union claims to defend.

We were due to debate the following motion last Tuesday, 23 October 2007:

"This House believes that one state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."

While I agree that one state based on peace, justice, equality and security for all Jews and Arabs would be the ideal solution, I do not agree that it is the only solution - nor do most Palestinians, who now support a two-state solution.

The priority is to establish some form of independent Palestinian state - however imperfect - as soon as possible. A two-state solution is more likely than a one-state solution.

On a positive note: The Oxford Union has sought to make amends by agreeing to host a further debate on Israel-Palestine early next year, where Norman Finkelstein and pro-Israel advocate, Alan Dershowitz, will be invited to speak.

Regarding the Oxford Union's up-coming free speech debate:

The decision to invite Nick Griffin and David Irving is a big mistake. Those who peddle hatred and historical distortions should not be rewarded by being feted by acclaimed institutions. I don't believe the defence of free speech requires the Oxford Union to proactively offer these hate-mongers a prestigious platform to secure respectability for their odious views.

I say this as a human rights campaigner, and as the Green Party's candidate for Oxford East.

That ought to have been the last word but no, there are more, many many more. Go on, go read them all but pay particular attention to David t and David, woops, Shachtman, and weigh up who you think was responsible for having Norman Finkelstein pulled from the agenda of the Oxford Union, one of the most prestigious debating societies in the world today, but possibly not tomorrow.


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