by Norman Finkelstein on March 1, 2010 · 134 comments
normanThis month OR Books publishes Norman Finkelstein’s important new book about the Gaza conflict, ‘This Time We Went Too Far.’ What follows is an excerpt from the book, Chapter 5, “Inside Gaza.” (all rights reserved to Finkelstein and OR Books.)
To preserve my sense of purpose, and keep the Palestine struggle from becoming a lifeless abstraction, I need periodically to recharge my moral batteries by reconnecting with the actual people living under occupation and by witnessing firsthand the unfolding tragedy. From each trip I invariably carry away a handful of stark images that I fix in my mind’s eye to dispel the occasional hesitations about staying the course. When the memories begin to fade I know it is time to return.
And so, in June 2009, six months after the invasion, I joined a delegation that journeyed to Gaza for a brief visit. Though I had been to Gaza before, most of my time during previous trips to the region was spent with friends in the West Bank. Israel has prohibited me from entering the country for ten years, thereby making it impossible for me to visit the West Bank, allegedly because I am a “security” risk. An editorial in Haaretz titled “Who’s Afraid of Finkelstein?” cast doubt on the decision’s premise—“Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution”—and went on to argue against banning me. Nonetheless it is unclear if or when I will be able to see my Palestinian friends again. In the meantime, going to Gaza via Egypt at least enabled me to get some feeling for developments on the ground.