Highs and lows in debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

July 28, 2012

Two recent debates on Democracy Now (here and here) regarding the BDS movement really stand out as remarkable in the history of debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In both of these debates, opposition to the BDS movement comes from Rabbi Arthur Waskow.  While he is opposed to a BDS movement against Israel, he clearly acknowledges Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and insists that the brutal occupation of Palestinian territory must be brought to an end. For him the only question is how best to do it. Because of this common ground, there is a level of civility and mutual respect in these debates that gives one some hope that Jews and Palestinians can work together ultimately to find a solution to this crisis.

These two debates stand in stark contrast to a long list of other debates in which there is absolutely no common ground at all. Without this fundamental acceptance of the illegality and immorality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, there is no hope for any progress towards a resolution of this conflict. Here are three debates that illustrate perfectly how the absence of a shared common ground on this issue leads to nothing more than incoherent verbal battles that lack civility, respect, and serve no productive purpose. 

1. (2012) A debate between Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine, and Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada on Israel’s self-proclaimed right to build settlements throughout the occupied West Bank.

2. (2010) A debate between Norman Finkelstein and Danial Pollack on the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

3. (2006) A debate between Norman Finkelstein and Josh Block, a representative of AIPAC, on Israel’s 2006 assault on Gaza.  (Part 2 is here).

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