Exclusive Interview with Dr. Norman Finkelstein

Dr. Norman: I found it very encouraging that there were so many people there, that they stayed and listened; they were serious.  So it makes you hopeful that we’re finally having an impact on public opinion and that we can say we’re winning, which is a nice thing to say after years of constantly having to say we’re losing.

Oday: I just want to get this on camera.  Dr. Norman has fought so long for this cause, would you do it again?

Dr. Norman:  of course, there’s no better life than the life where you can say you believe and you can be part of something bigger than yourself, something good.

Reporter, Shaima: can you describe the moment you decided to do this for the rest of your life?

Dr. Norman:  I always knew I was going to be involved in trying to make the world a better place.  But the only reasons I’ve been involved in this for so long is it never ended. I didn’t expect it; I’ve been doing this for 30 years.

Reporter, Shaima: did you have another plan for your future as you were growing up?

Dr. Norman:  no, I can say that as a young person I was involved in the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam.  I was actually quite active in the Farm Workers, you know Cesar Chavez Farm Workers Union which was a movement here in Arizona.  I just stumbled on this issue in Palestine when the war began in June ’82, the Israeli attack in Lebanon.  I became involved, then I made friends there when I went over in ’88.  And I thought I could never face them if I said I quit because they don’t have the option of quitting.  So if they don’t have the option, why should I have the option?  That’s not fair.  If he has to endure the occupation, then I don’t have the right to say I’m bored.  It’s a very personal thing now.  I could never face them and say I’m moving on.  I won’t move on until this thing is resolved.

Report, Aseel: obviously a lot of people think you’re very knowledgeable.  What would you say to someone who is trying to get to your level and to understand the situation rather than just what they hear on the media and what’s on the surface?

Dr. Norman: Well, I think the best thing you can do is become part of the network where people are constantly forwarding to you information.  I don’t look for information, every morning I open up my inbox and I have 300 people saying ‘you have to read this, you have to read that’. So if you people in SJP, if you can form a national organization and then have a n information clearing house w here people are in charge of forward to every SJP member nationally, the important news each day and then that will spare most of you the agony of having to look for it yourself.  And that’s what I do; I don’t have to look for anything.  I can barely keep up with what’s sent to me each day.  It’s a huge amount.  And books are important.  There’s a lot of good scholarship out there. I think you can, overtime, see what’s reliable and what’s not serious.

Reporter, Shaima:  one more question: how does it feel to not be allowed in your country [Israel], if you consider it your own at all?

Dr. Norman:  I don’t consider it my country.  My country is here.  That’s why I consider this whole notion of saying Israel is the state of the Jewish people. It’s completely ridiculous. This is my country, you know?  This is where I live, this is where I work, this is where I pay taxes and this is where I’m a citizen.  English is my native language and you know, if I were to parachute into Israel, I couldn’t walk six steps without getting lost.  How can you say that’s my country? That’s just basic.

Exclusive Interview with Dr. Norman Finkelstein