Forbidden Zone: Finkelstein, “American Conservative” (?!)

Hi Professor Finkelstein,

I admire you very much. You are a role model and among those who have
inspired me to pursue serious research and activism, to travel to the West
Bank and work with local NGOs, and to dedicate myself to PhD studies back
in Canada. You are an exemplar of political and ethical clarity. So thank


I am writing to express my gratitude specifically because you are under
considerable fire from those who owe much to your example and would do
well to review your recent works and talks carefully. Quite simply, you
are correct about public consensus and political feasibility. However,

these may prove more fungible than you suggest, and the one-state /
two-state debate may yet resolve itself. Pursuing one may not mean
precluding the other. For example, calling for one state may not drain the
reservoir consensus for ending the occupation and may even provide counter
leverage to finally achieve a two-state solution. Or, the two-state
consensus in the international sphere may be readily transferable to an
alternative option (i.e., one democratic state) if such continues to gain
support. Besides, in addition to his shrewd understanding of consensus and
political will, Gandhi also seemed to think that fixating on the end goal
was less important than focusing on the proper way to struggle: “I have
often said that if one takes care of the means, the end will take care of
itself.” In other words, if we focus on educating the public and drawing
attention to the ongoing nakba, it may be enough.

I do not think you are wrong, however. The international consensus for a
two-state solution, grounded in international law, remains the  strongest
asset in the struggle for justice in Israel/Palestine. And I think that if
every activist and organization involved were to clearly and unequivocally
call for implementing the two-state solution, the conflict might be
resolved within a matter of months. However, this is unlikely to happen,
as many important actors, including, most importantly, many Palestinians
and Palestinian groups, have moved on, and set their eyes on a single
democratic state. So while you are right about the power of consensus,
your prognosis about the one-state / two-state split may yet prove too
pessimistic (at least, I hope it does).

Nevertheless, I think we all depend on strong, consistent positions such
as yours, so please do not lose heart as your critics on the Left say
unfair things. And as the conservative obstructionist establishment elites
finally begin to move toward your position, that does not mean that you

are becoming one of them, but that you have won!

You have made a great deal of difference, Dr. Finkelstein — please do not

Take care, sincerely,

M J Carpenter
Victoria, Canada
Age 35