The author of 'The Holocaust Industry' and 'Beyond Chutzpah' made the comments today during an interview with the Russian English-language news channel RT (Russia Today).
Commenting on the American reaction to yesterday's
Israeli commando raid on the Free Gaza flotilla, Finkelstein replied "so far there has been a pretty mild statement by President Obama". The carefully worded announcement
made by the White House expressed "deep regret [...] at the loss of life and injuries sustained [...]" but refrained from any direct Israeli criticism, saying it was "[...] working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy".
He went on to dismiss the notion that the Israeli attack was an attempt to "protect Israeli citizens against those who would seek to discredit the state of Israel" by pointing to the illegality of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
Finkelstein mentioned recent condemnation by reputed human rights group Amnesty International
, which called the Israeli blockade on Gaza "a flagrant violation of international law" and the United Nations' Global Elders
, a group comprising notable public figures including Nelson Mandela, Desmund Tutu, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter, which issued a statement calling the Israeli blockade on Gaza "one of the wost human rights violation in the world today" as important examples of this fact.
Finkelstein went on to point to Israel's use of armed commandos to assault a humanitarian aid mission in international waters, which he said could not be justified:
I think everyone can agree that there's no possibility, that there's no way to justify using armed force against what were clearly unarmed humanitarians trying to relieve an illegal siege of Gaza.
Referring to comments attributed to Israeli officials made in the aftermath of last year's invasion of Gaza, Finkelstein said the Israeli military had sought to reestablish its military dominance over the Arab world by demonstrating that they were "capable of acting like a lunatic state and like mad dogs [...] [in order to] restore the Arab world's fear of Israel".
After yesterday's events, you really have to ask the question: is Israel acting like a lunatic state or has it become a lunatic state?
Finkelstein asserts that Israel has indeed become a "lunatic state", one armed with nuclear weapons and regularly threatening its neighbors:
Things are getting out of control, [...] can a lunatic state like Israel be trusted with 200 to 300 nuclear devices when it is now threatening its neighbors Iran and Lebanon with an attack?
Finkelstein's condemnation is part of a global chorus that has emerged in response to the Israeli attack which left dozens of peace activists dead or injured. The pro-Palestinian flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aide to the besieged Palestinian territory.
The events have sparked outrage with ally Turkey who helped sponsor the mission. Earlier today, it convened an emergency United Nations Security council session to discuss the attack.
Israeli officials have defended the raid, saying its commandos were attacked by passengers upon arrival. A YouTube video
released by Israel's IDF shows footage of soldiers being attacked with knives and chairs.
The Free Gaza movement has dismissed this version of events, saying the commandos rappelled unto the boat with weapons in hand shooting indiscriminately.