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Professor Finkelstein speaks up on Gaza

THE LEVANT – Professor Norman Gary Finkelstein, a fierce American Jewish critic of the Israeli government for its acts of genocide against the Palestinians, has slammed the international community for its silence on Gaza.

Finkelstein, who is the author of “The Holocaust Industry” and is himself the son of Holocaust survivors, spoke to Daily Sabah about the latest Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip, which has killed almost 2,000 people since July 7, and the military coup which ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi last year.

‘I don’t think anyone cared about people of Gaza,’ he said, adding ‘everybody was happy to see Hamas defeated’ besides Turkey and Qatar.

Calling the siege a ‘complete and total disaster,’ Finkelstein said: ‘Nobody cared. Did the Arab League care? Did the Saudis care? Did the Emirates care? Did Egypt care? Nobody cared. It was not Hamas; the people of Gaza were isolated…a horror just occurred. Nobody cared.’

Finkelstein also said that he was not surprised at the rise of anti-Semitism in countries like France and Great Britain, blaming Israel’s actions.

‘Here is a state, it calls itself a Jewish state and it claims to be acting in the names of the Jewish people, so when a state calls itself a Jewish state and claims to act in the name of Jewish people and it’s incinerating babies every day, it is going to give a rise to anti-Semitism. If there is a rise in anti-Semitism, there is a simple solution. The solution is stop killing Palestinians and let them live a normal life and the anti-Semitism would diminish,’ he said.

Stating that the attack on Gaza was all about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear that Gaza’s Hamas government, which is listed as a ‘terrorist’ organization, would be legitimized and put more pressure on Israel to sign an agreement ending the occupation, Finkelstein said that Netanyahu was looking for a pretext to provoke Hamas, which was found in the abduction of three Jewish settlers in the West Bank, even though he knew it had nothing to do with Hamas.

He also went on to criticize the Egyptian regime, which came to power after a military coup led by then-general now-president Abdal Fattah al-Sisi against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013, thus ousting Egypt’s first elected leader after just one year in office.

However, he denied that Israel was behind the coup, even though it has benefitted from the regime change in Egypt as they as it resulted in the reinforcing of the blockade on the Gaza Strip by closing the Rafah border crossing.

‘It was not Israel. It was the old elites of Egypt, which didn’t like the fact that, after 50 years of controlling everything, they had lost power. They worked behind the scenes to make sure the Muslim Brotherhood would fail. And once it failed they were back in power,’ he said.

Finkelstein also dismissed the US having any role in the coup, pointing out that Morsi’s Egypt was also the negotiator during the 2012 Gaza crisis and the US was willing to work with him then, but he couldn’t deny that the US is just as happy to work with the new regime because they had worked with them under Hosni Mubarak for 30 years beforehand.

However, at the same time he admitted that Egypt’s new president Abdal Fattah al-Sisi is not behind the Egyptian efforts to mediate a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians of Gaza, saying that al-Sisi was just going along with the aims of the Quartet on the Middle East’s Special Envoy Tony Blair, who was seeking to ‘present Hamas with an ultimatum that it couldn’t accept so that it will give Israel pretext to attack Gaza’ and ‘legitimize al-Sisi and turn him into a statesman.’

Concluding his interview, Finkelstein said that he did not expect US president Barack Obama to change his policy on the Gaza-Israel conflict.

‘Obama is completely devoted to his sponsors, his backers, the ruling class. He looks out for US national interests. He is not going to suddenly change because it’s his last term of office. Obama is behaving like every other president,’ he said.

‘When a ruling class chooses a candidate to run for office they are very careful about who to choose and they knew that this guy (Barack Obama) would do what they wanted him to do,’ he added.

On July 29, Finkelstein was as arrested during a protest against the siege on Gaza that he has organized outside the Israeli Consulate in New York, along with Corey Robin, a Jewish professor of political science at Brooklyn College, who was also at the protest.

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