Norman Finkelstein challenges the conventional line on Israel

Ilan Pappe in Bookforum:

FinkelsteinWhy is the history of modern Palestine such a matter of debate? Why is it still regarded as a complex, indeed obscure, chapter in contemporary history that cannot be easily deciphered? Any abecedarian student of its past who comes to it with clean hands would immediately recognize that in fact its story is very simple. For that matter it is not vastly different from other colonialist instances or tales of national liberation. It of course has its distinctive features, but in the grand scheme of things it is the chronicle of a group of people who left their homelands because they were persecuted and went to a new land that they claimed as their own and did everything in their power to drive out the indigenous people who lived there. Like any historical narrative, this skeleton of a story can be, and has been, told in many different ways. However, the naked truth about how outsiders coveted someone else’s country is not sui generis, and the means they used to obtain their newfound land have been successfully employed in other cases of colonization and dispossession throughout history.

Generations of Israeli and pro-Israeli scholars, very much like their state’s diplomats, have hidden behind the cloak of complexity in order to fend off any criticism of their quite obviously brutal treatment of the Palestinians in 1948 and since. They were aided, and still are, by an impressive array of personalities, especially in the United States. Nobel Prize winners, members of the literati, and high-profile lawyers—not to mention virtually everyone in Hollywood, from filmmakers to actors—have repeated the Israeli message: This is a complicated issue that would be better left to the Israelis to deal with.

More here.