Norman Finkelstein

The Rise and Fall of Palestine

Awful as it is, nothing can so deepen wisdom and build character as bearing personal witness to evil. 7

So huge was the rift separating the two sides of the Green Line (the pre-June 1967 border) that, traversing it, one felt like a traitor. Besides attending the demonstration at Ketziot detention center in the Neger, my only physical [?] with Israel was a stroll along Ben Yehudah Street in West Jerusalem. What I saw could easily have passed for a scene from Greenwich Village in New York City, with the idle café chatter and art exhibitions, teenagers romancing...Given the regime of terror I had just witnessed a few hundred yards away, I could perhaps have been forgiven for finding the gaiety and carefree indifference of Ben Yehudah Street an obscenity. 15

Education was every Palestinian youth's first priority. Hence Israel's decision early in the intifada to close the schools. Indeed, the damage inflicted on Palestinian morale by the school closing was considered so devastating that Israel was willing to price of leaving the shebab with more free time to stone the soldiers. 29

The irony couldn't have been more perfect. The United States bankrolled the torture of Palestinians, yet the cream of the Palestinian youth, fleeing the torture, eventually enrolled in American universities, many remaining and enriching US society with their skills. Who said you couldn't have your cake and eat it too? 32

The Holocaust Industry

My mother always compared. No doubt historical distinctions must be made. But to make out moral distinctions between "our" suffering and "theirs" is itself a moral travesty. "You can't compare any two miserable people," Plato humanely observed, "and say that one is happier than the other." In the face of the sufferings of African-Americans, Vietnamese and Palestinians, my mother's credo always was: We are all holocaust victims. 8