Beyond Chutzpah

KPFA radio interview (12.28.2005)

by Nora Barrows
Flashpoints Radio (12.28.2005);

Listen to Mp3.

Israel laid siege to the Northern Gaza strip overnight, attacking roads and fields, shortly after Israeli occupation forces announced that they were implementing the so-called buffer zone after a home-made Qassam rocket was allegedly fired across the border near the Israeli town of Sederot. This attack coincided with Israeli warplanes open firing on southern Lebanon, in an apparent response to two Palestinian-made rockets that were lobbed over the border.

Meanwhile, bulldozers are busy uprooting hundreds of Palestinian olive trees in and around Jerusalem in preparation for the continued construction of the illegal apartheid wall. The Stop the Wall Campaign issued a statement yesterday about the wall, saying, “Completion in early 2006 will leave the majority of Palestinians in and around Jerusalem – around 190,000 people – facing two options. One, To stay in Jerusalem’s ghetto neighborhoods, subjected to high Occupation taxes, imprisoned by Walls and a life under siege, and Second, exile into what remains of the West Bank and Gaza or abroad, and permanent loss of the right to live in the Palestinian capital. Given that Palestinians rely on Jerusalem for employment, basic services and education, the Wall is beginning to depopulate these villages as well as tearing families and communities apart.”

At the same time, settlers are beginning to construct over a dozen new colonies in the West Bank, in plain view and, of course, against international laws. And brand-new so-called terminals are being constructed up and down the West Bank, which will allow illegal settlements to be linked by Jewish-only roads, while turning Palestinian villages into ghettos.

Recently, we spoke with Dr. Norman Finkelstein for perspective and analysis of the developing facts on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories. Finkelstein is a professor of political science at Chicago’s DePaul University, and he is the author of many important books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and, most recently, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.

Flashpoints: Professor Norman Finkelstein, it’s great to have you with us again on Flashpoints.

Norman Finkelstein: My pleasure.

FP: First off, what’s your reaction to the continued attacks on Gaza, from the sonic boom attacks to the open firing on fields and the missiles and bombs dropped on buildings?

NF: Actually, I haven’t followed too closely, but it seems as if the disengagement as of now – the so-called disengagement – hasn’t had much impact. I’m looking forward to seeing exactly how the human rights organizations are going to react to what’s happening now. Immediately, during the disengagement, and immediately before it, the human rights organizations took a pretty principled position stating that the occupation has not ended, on the grounds that if you re-position, as it were, prison guards, on the periphery of the prison, rather than inside the prison, that fundamentally under international law, nothing has changed. On the other hand, there was the agreement worked out on the Gaza border with Egypt – the subsequent agreement on the Gaza border with Egypt – which seemed to give, at least on paper, full control on entry and exit between Gaza and Egypt – it seemed like at that point, the human rights organizations were going to cave in and say that the occupation has ended. But now, it’s still murky, and we’re going to have to wait and see exactly what the ruling is going to be, in fact, it’s not going to make much difference, technically, under international law, if the occupation is over in Gaza, as is clear from recent events, it doesn’t really make much difference for the plight of the Gazans.

FP: Can you talk about the sped-up land steal in the West Bank, after the so-called Gaza disengagement? Israeli groups are talking about redrawing the borders of Jerusalem to include the illegal West Bank settlements. How do you assess this current situation?

NF: Well, first of all, it’s important to bear in mind that there’s a considerable body of documentation now on what’s going on there from very reputable organizations. I would first call your listeners’ attention to a report put out by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, which is very reputable, a report it put out a few months ago entitled “The Jerusalem Powder Keg.” And then, there was a recent report by the E.U., or its missions in the area…unfortunately, for the E.U., in an act of moral cowardice, decided to suppress the report, but I understand that a number of websites have posted it. The E.U. also documents quite closely what’s going on in and around Jerusalem, and that’s well worth reading. So I would want those who are Internet users… it’s well worth reading both reports. And they both reach the same conclusions, incidentally. The head of the E.U., the Foreign Minister Solana, he claimed that he was suppressing the E.U. report because it was “one-sided,” which was completely laughable, because the suppressed E.U. report didn’t reach any different conclusions than the Crisis Group report. And now, let me just run through quickly what both of the reports conclude.

Number one, Jerusalem accounts for about one-quarter to about one-third of the whole Palestinian GNP. So if you annex Jerusalem from an economic point of view, if you annex Jerusalem, it’s effectively rendering the possibility of a viable Palestinian state null and void.

Number two, Jerusalem is not only the financial hub of a future Palestinian state, it’s also the social hub, the political hub, and so forth. And so, the Crisis Group report states, a Palestinian state without Jerusalem would be the equivalent of a chassis without an engine; and that there’s no possibility of a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital.

Number three, the wall that they’re building will extend almost to Jericho by cutting the West Bank in half, and then in the Northern sector, if you cut the West Bank in half, the wall that they’re building around the settlement of Ariel will once again divide the Northern sector into half, so basically, it will be dividing the West Bank…the term they keep using is “cantons,” which I find totally inappropriate – this is not Switzerland – it will be cutting the West Bank into three pieces. As far as Jerusalem itself, about 200,000 Arab Jerusalemites will be caught on one side of the wall, separating them from the West Bank, to which they have many of their ties, and many of the institutions have ties with the West Bank. So, for example, people working in the hospitals, nurses and doctors and so forth, they commute from the West Bank; they’ll be now cut off from it. And on the other side of the wall, immediately, there will be 50,000 Arab Jerusalemites cut off from Jerusalem, and another 50,000 who live in sort of satellite areas of Jerusalem, they’ll have to move out because of the very restrictive building codes that Israel has enacted for Palestinians in Arab Jerusalem, so they’ll move to other neighborhoods, and they’ll be cut out, and it’s quite clear – and nobody disputes it, actually – that the way the wall is being built, it has nothing at all to do with security – the wall around Jerusalem – the route of the wall is simply being built to exclude as many Arabs as possible, in order to solve what they call the “demographic problem” in Jerusalem. That is to say, too many Arabs. And the E.U. report is very clear on that. They call it the main consideration; in fact, it’s the only consideration. The route is being determined not by security concerns, but being determined by how to Judaize Jerusalem. And that’s basically the picture. Both reports reached the same conclusion: that once the wall is completed, any possibility of a two-state settlement will be pre-empted between the bisecting of the West Bank, the annexation of Jerusalem, and the wall tracing a course which will annex the most fertile Palestinian land as well as its most productive water resources. Between those three facts, the annexation of the most fertile land and water resources, the cutting of the West Bank into two, and the annexation of the hub of Palestinian economic, social and political life, namely Arab Jerusalem, between those three facts, there won’t be any possibility for a two-state settlement. Which means, now we’re basically at the end game.

FP: Well, this sounds a lot like ethnic cleansing, ethnic purging…in fact, in a September 2004 article in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, it was reported that Jerusalem city officials unveiled a plan for “thinning out the population in all quarters of the Old City, except the only one restored so far — the Jewish Quarter — as a means of slowing down the rapid population growth.” We see this policy acted out on a daily basis – the social suffocation inside the West Bank and Gaza, and the racism that exists inside the 48 borders against Palestinians — Professor Finkelstein, why is this tolerated, why is this not called ethnic cleansing by the international community, the media?

NF: Well, on the last question, in fact, it is called, if not ethnic cleansing, the references to apartheid abound. If you open up, for example, the most recent – maybe it’s not the most recent, because they put out reports so rapidly – but the Bt’selem report entitled “Forbidden Roads” – on the very first page of the report, it says that the road system, or as they call it, the Road Regime that Israel’s creating in the West Bank, resembles the Road Regime under apartheid. And, you know, if you look through their reports, and many others, if you look, for example, at Gideon Levy, the main Ha’aretz journalist covering the West Bank at the time that Israel was unveiling its new road regime in the West Bank, he referred to it as the Jews-only policy of apartheid road system. So those sorts of references are not exactly – at any rate, in the Israeli press – they’re not exactly obscure; you constantly come across them. As to why it’s tolerated, I think there are two reasons – one, which most listeners will be familiar with and probably agree with, and the second reason, I think, they’re not so familiar with and may not agree with. The first reason is…I think that the campaign that began in the end of the year 2000, the so-called “new anti-Semitism campaign” which was pursued very aggressively – I think it basically did its job. Its main purpose was in Europe, to silence and intimidate and brow-beat the Europeans into silence on the issue of criticism of Israel, claiming that it was contributing to part and parcel of a resurgent anti-Semitism in Europe. That was a completely fraudulent claim, concocted by main Jewish organizations and apologists for Israel. But it did its work – suddenly, the United Nations was holding all of these conferences on the “new anti-Semitism;” Kofi Annan, in an act of painful moral cravenness, started declaring things like “World Holocaust Remembrance Day” and giving speeches about not forgetting anti-Semitism and the resurgence of anti-Semitism…and then the E.U. began playing along with Prime Minister Sharon’s charade of the Gaza withdrawal, knowing fully well that it was being used as a diversion to consolidate Israeli control over the West Bank, and finally, the E.U. buried the report on what’s happening in Jerusalem, and decided to take no action whatsoever on the World Court advisory opinion stating that the wall was illegal, and it was incumbent upon the international community to stop the wall’s construction. The E.U. voted in support of the General Assembly resolution upholding the World Court decision, but after that, it took no action whatsoever. So, that’s one side of the equation. In my opinion, just to reiterate, I think that the fraudulent campaign of new anti-Semitism proved effective in brow-beating and silencing European opinion. And the other side of the equation is the completely ineffective, incompetent, corrupt Palestinian leadership which took no advantage whatsoever of large number of opportunities to lead a struggle to prevent – maybe not to win a full Israeli withdrawal, that’s a tough one – but at least to block construction of the wall, which, in my opinion, they could have won. But these people are just a band of hangovers from the Arafat era. And probably their only accomplishment will be to make Palestinians long for Arafat’s return.

FP: Well, there’s also the argument that apologists for Israeli colonialism have repeated – there’s the claim that Israel has given up so much over the past few decades and Palestinians have consistently refused to cooperate or meet Israel half-way. I’m not sure what is meant by that, since Palestinians are fighting for less than 22% of their original country at this moment. But, people believe the continued rhetoric of Israeli goodwill as opposed to Palestinian concessions. How is this logic skewed, how is this argument played out?

NF: You know, when you say “people believe,” I think that’s a too indiscriminate statement. It’s true that the media echo the claims of the US government and echo the claims of the Israeli government on these matters, but it’s not true that there’s a uniform “people believe.” If you look at what the human rights organizations have been writing, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Bt’selem, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, all of the human rights organizations have been very consistent in deploring what Israel is doing and deploring the construction of the all and asserting its illegality and so forth – and then the responsibility of people who support the Palestinians is to try and bring this information into the mainstream. And it’s not impossible to do so. The problem is that no work is done on the topic on this front, and the principal organization which ought to be leading that sort of struggle, namely the so-called Palestinian Authority, it’s doing nothing whatsoever. But, you know, when you make statements like – and I’m not condemning you, I’m just trying to qualify it – when you make statements like “people believe” as if this were a homogeneous mass, it leads the listeners to become very defeatist. And I don’t think there are any grounds for that sort of defeatism. The problem is not the objective situation. The problem is the subjective will. Objectively, those who support the rights of Palestinians, in my opinion, they have a very formidable arsenal. There’s large numbers of reports, there’s information, there’s very reputable mainstream organizations which have been completely supportive of the Palestinian rights. Not to mention that the International Court of Justice, the most authoritative judicial body in the world, voted on all crucial questions – they voted in support of the Palestinians, Palestinian rights. They declared the settlements illegal, they declared the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, they declared its inadmissible for countries to acquire territory by force, they declared that the wall was illegal, they declared that all member states of the United Nations are duty-bound to enforce the decision of the International Court – I mean, this was a spectacular victory for the Palestinians. Any other movement, any other leadership would have capitalized on it, and probably, I think – you can never prove these things – with sufficient will, they could have stopped construction of the wall. But there was no leadership, there was no mobilization, and there was all of this, I think, unwarranted and self-serving despair and claims that we can’t do anything. In fact, a lot could have been done that wasn’t done. But I don’t think it’s accurate to blame it on objective circumstances, and I don’t think it’s accurate to blame it on a uniform, homogeneous consensus that was against the Palestinians. It’s just not true.

FP: well, let’s talk a little bit more about the media… Today, Linda Gradstein of NPR reported on the alarm within the Israeli government that there are fears that in five, maybe ten years, Iran could be ready to develop nuclear weapons. Can you talk about hypocrisy, what kind of nuclear arsenal should we be concerned with in that region of the world?

NF: well, you know, there’s the obvious hypocrisy of Israel having – I’m not sure of the most recent figures – but, when I studied it fairly closely, the figures usually given were two to three hundred nuclear devices, and there have been points when Israel has threatened to use them in the past, so, obviously, there is that hypocrisy, and on the question of the Iranians, there’s an awful lot of hypocrisy. Actually, what I would recommend to your listeners is to look on the CounterPunch website, the article by James Petros which goes through the Iranian record pretty closely. It shows that even if Iran were on the path to building nuclear weapons, and we don’t know that, it’s still quite a long distance away from being able to do so, at least several years – and that, in part – in part, I’m not saying completely – in part, this may be an electoral ploy to create this hysteria about Iran, just as, for people whose memories go back far enough, the main reason that Begin blew up the Iraqi reactor in
1991 – which, incidentally, was not going nuclear, that’s a complete fraud, and probably it was because of the Israeli attack – that they decided to start going nuclear – here, I’m referring to Iraq – but, if you go back to recall the exact sequence of events, the main reason that Begin did it was an electoral ploy at the time, and it may be that again, though, of course, here, the stakes are much higher. But I would recommend to you to interview Professor Petros, who has written quite informatively on the topic.

FP: Finally, professor Finkelstein, we spoke to you just after your book, Beyond Chutzpah, was released — what kind of media attention, both by the corporate mainstream and the alternative press, has your book received — any surprises, any disappointments?

NF: Well, the answer to that question is very simple (laughs)…there was no reaction at all. I can’t say I was altogether surprised; there were disappointments along the way. The book received, to my knowledge, and my knowledge is (laughs) pretty exhaustive here, I follow it – there wasn’t a single mainstream review of the book…and by “mainstream,” you usually refer to first, second and third-tier newspapers. First-tier newspapers would be the national newspapers like the New York Times, the Post, and you would probably include things like the Wall Street Journal. Second-tier newspapers would be something like the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Boston Globe; newspapers of that sort. Among the first and second tier, there were exactly zero reviews of the book…actually, apart from, I think, one-half of one sentence – literally – maybe six words, even less, maybe five – there wasn’t any mention of the book, anywhere, in the first or second-tier newspapers. The third-tier newspapers would be sort of local newspapers, in my town, New York, maybe the Daily News, the New York Post – the local tabloids – to my knowledge, there wasn’t any mention in any of the third-tier newspapers of the book. In understand that in the Chicago Sun-Times, which is sort of the “junk” tabloid, there was a paragraph mention under something like “lunatic authors;” they mention myself and the Holocaust denier David Irving. So, that was it for third-tier newspapers, so, that was a complete zero. Among leftist publications, it was pretty much totally ignored. The Progressive Magazine — Matt Rothschild, who’s the editor-in-chief – he said the book already had enough publicity, so he wasn’t going to review it, which was kind of odd, because I thought there was a difference between a publicity stunt and a serious book review, but he said no. The Nation magazine never reviewed it. There were a few little publications on the left who reviewed it. But the main, left, liberal publications, no mention of it, nothing, absolute zero. Among media, obviously no television. I think, apart from your program, and a couple of programs that have come from your neck of the woods, there was no radio. Certainly there was no mainstream radio, no NPR, nothing. Absolute zero. And even Democracy Now! didn’t have me on, which was sort of a disappointment. So, altogether, I would say, a complete zero, a complete washout. I wasn’t totally shocked by it, but it was frustrating, and, in some cases, it was a disappointment.

FP: Well, what exactly do you attribute to having almost zero publicity for your book?

NF: There are various reasons. For some people…you know, I talked to people about it and I heard different explanations. My good friend and former editor Sarah Bershtel, who’s the head of Metropolitan Books, a powerful and excellent publisher, they do stuff by Mike Davis, and now they’re doing stuff by Noam Chomsky, they’re very good – Sarah’s opinion was that [Alan] Dershowitz scared them off with all the threats of the lawsuits, people didn’t want to get involved in it. And there’s some truth to that. In my opinion, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that’s the main reason. I think the main reason was two-fold – I think one was the institutional question, that is, professor Dershowitz, he’s the senior most professor at Harvard Law School, and that when you raise questions of the kind that I raised about him, it raises serious questions about the institutions to which he’s connected – Harvard Law School, or the New York Times, which heaped high praise on his book, The Case for Israel, which was the subject of my book, Beyond Chutzpah, trying to demonstrate how successfully readers can decide on their own, but trying to demonstrate that his book, The Case for Israel, was a complete fraud. So, I think that part of it was institutional, that people felt very uncomfortable – not in attacking Dershowitz, who’s not a particularly likable person, but in attacking the institutions of which he represents; and what does it say about our society as a whole if corruption runs so deep at places like Harvard and at the New York Times. And then, there are others for whom they knew that what Dershowitz was writing were lies, but it was sort of like the Stalinist mentality of the 1930s – that there are little truths, but then there is the big truth. And that Dershowitz may have gotten the little truths wrong, and may have even lied about the little truths, just like the Communists in the ‘30s, who in some cases got the little truths wrong and in some cases they lied about what they took to be the little truths. You know, little truths like the purged files, the killings, the deaths, and everything. But there is the belief that aside from the little truths, there is the big truth. There is the big truth about the Soviet Union, that they’re building socialism and they’re on their way to communism – that’s the big truth. And that all the little truths about human rights were just not that important. And I think that a lot of these supporters of Israel – it’s the same sort of mentality: that this is The Cause. And in the name of The Cause, okay, we may lie here a little, we may stretch the truth there, and so on and so forth, but those little truths are of secondary significance next to the big truth. So I think there’s quite a lot of that among the true believers who occupy prominent places in the media. So they fully well knew that Dershowitz was lying, and they fully well knew that everything I wrote was true, but they just didn’t think it was important. And then there was the third issue – the first being the institutional, the second being the ideological – and the third, I think, is the personal issue – namely, me. That you simply cannot validate anything I say as true. Because if I’m right about Dershowitz, well then maybe I’m right about other things. Maybe I’m right about the holocaust industry. Maybe I’m right about the holocaust compensation racket. Maybe I’m right about Israel in general. And so, even though people acknowledged what I was saying privately, acknowledged that what I was saying was true, and in fact, in this particular case, it was very difficult to deny that what I was saying was true, since I was using only mainstream sources, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Israeli human rights organizations, I was using only mainstream sources – and for each claim I made, I used at least two or three of these mainstream sources to document it, and in so doing, documenting that whatever Dershowitz was writing was a lie, it was impossible to dispute what I was writing. But the problem was, if you acknowledge that I was right here, it may raise people’s curiosity – well, maybe he was right about all that other stuff he wrote. It is, after all, the same person. And that was not acceptable. So, in this case, it was not just the message that was at issue – it was the messenger. That you could not validate this messenger even if his message were true. You know, the usual expression of “don’t blame the messenger for the message.” But in this case, the messenger was, in part, the message, which they couldn’t accept. So I think those were the main reasons, there was the institutional, there was the ideological – because we’re basically dealing with ideological fanatics and zealots who have their Cause with a capital C, and the facts are just beside the point – and then you have the personal issue, which is me. And that’s it. As to what happened with people – comrades, so to speak – comrades and friends on the left, I think, frankly, it’s best to ask them what happened. I have my own speculation, and it’s speculation – I think it’s wiser to just ask them why they ignored the book.

Flashpoints is a daily, investigative news magazine heard on the Pacifica Radio Network, broadcasting out of KPFA FM 94.1 in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit our website at

Dershowitz Letters

UPDATE 11.27.2006: Moment of Truth — Will Dershowitz Release the Letters?

PDF originals:
April 13. 2004 |
April 30, 2004 |
June 16, 2004 |
November 19, 2004

HTML transcripts:
April 13. 2004 | April 30, 2004 |
June 16, 2004 | November 19, 2004


April 13,2004
Printable PDF

Mr. Colin Robinson
The New Press
38 Greene Street
New York, NY 10013


Dear Mr. Robinson:

I have received your letter of March 26th with regard to Rohit Goel. I have just retumed
from a trip to Australia. As I told Mr. Goel, I am in the process of obtaining the entire file from
the Israeli authorities, which I am told contains the investigative report of the independent
investigation. I will forward it to him as soon as I have obtained it.

I am, however, somewhat confused by your letter, which indicates that Mr. Goel’s factchecking
is in connection with a book tentatively titled, Everything Old Is New Again: Reflections
on the New Anti-Semitism
. As I am sure you know, Mr. Finkelstein has publicly stated on
numerous occasions that he is writing a very different book for you, namely a personal attack on
me entitled Letters to an Old Shyster. Not only has he made this statement on numerous
occasions, it has been repeated by others on the internet. I don’t know what the situation is, and I
certainly have no interest in trying to prevent the publication of any book, since I believe
strongly in the marketplace of ideas, but I am concerned that any book you publish not contain
false statements about me. That is why I am happy to cooperate with your fact-checker. But
thus far your fact-checker has simply asked me about one false assertion made by Finkelstein
about me. I am aware of numerous other willfully false and malicious statements that
Finkelstein has made in public about me and that he has implied he will publish in his book. For
example, he has told numerous audiences that I did not write The Case for Israel; that it was
ghost-written for me by students; and that I did not even read it. He has asserted that this is
“literally” the fact and that the “evidence is very clear” that I did not write or read The Case for
. As Mr. Finkelstein well knows, I wrote every single word of the text of The Case for
by hand and I have my hand-written manuscripts to prove it, since I do not type or use a
computer. (I did receive assistance on some of the footnotes from student researchers.)
Moreover, I have numerous witnesses who will attest to the fact that every word of the text was
written by me. Yet Mr. Finkelstein persists in making this false and defamatory statement

I do not know what other false and malicious statements appear in the forthcoming book,
but based on Finkelstein’s past record, I can anticipate that there will be many, since he
repeatedly distorts or makes up facts to support his ideological predispositions. Let me illustrate
Finkelstein’s modus operandi with one of many possible examples.

Mr. Finkelstein has repeatedly asserted that I did not care about Israel until after its
victory in the Six Day War and only became a “fair weather friend” of Israel in order to benefit
from its victory in that war. This is a part of a more general, preposterous, allegation that the
“only two prominent American Jewish intellectuals who were identified with Israel before June
1967 were Noam Chomsky and Hannah Arendt,” and that today’s leading American Zionists,
such as Michael Walzer and Martin Peretz, also didn’t care about Israel until after its victory in
June 1967. He claims that I actually say “at the very beginning” of The Case for Israel that I
only “became actively involved in supporting Israel after June 1967.” I urge you to look at what
I actually say, to see how deceptive Finkelstein is. I say that in 1967 — not after
Israel’s victory in June of that year — I began to make the case for Israel on campuses. In fact,
I began to make
that case in early 1967 before the war began. I led the student and faculty campaign at Harvard
in support of Israel during the months, weeks and days leading up to the Six Day War (along with
Walzer and Peretz). Moreover, I have cared deeply about Israel since I was a child in 1948,
though I have been publicly critical of some of its policies, in the early 1960’s with regard to
imposing the death sentence on Eichmann, and since the early 1970′ with regard to settlements
and occupation. Finkelstein knows this because he has read my earlier book Chutzpah in which I
describe my activities on behalf of Israel before the Six Day War. Finkelstein’s demonstrably
and knowingly false statements are all too typical of his modus operandi.

Mr. Finkelstein has made numerous false statements about my use of historical
quotations that appear both in my book and in Joan Peters book From Time Immemorial. I am in
the process of documenting each of Finkelstein’s false statements and will be happy to provide
them to the fact-checker if he tells me what facts he is checking. With regard specifically to the
Twain quote, which he has highlighted in his charge of plagiarism: I have been using that quote
since 1970 — and I can prove it. Moreover, his claim that I use the identical words that were
quoted by Peters is demonstrably false. Two entire sentences that appear in Peters were not
included in my quote of Twain. Moreover, the same quote appears in numerous books about that
historical time period other than Peters. The same is true with regard to my quotations from the
Peel Commission Report, which I have also been using for decades. I use many quotes from that
report which do not appear in Peters. His charge that I have “plagiarized” my book from Peters
is maliciously and demonstrably false. Numerous experts — including the former president of
the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and Dartmouth as well as several experts at Harvard
and other universities — have compared the two books and concluded there is not even an
arguable claim of plagiarism and that Finkelstein’s charges are totally unfounded and false. If
Finkelstein persists in making the false and defamatory claim of plagiarism, it is imperative that
he include the fact that experienced experts have concluded that his accusation is false, as well as
the undisputed fact that every single sentence and phrase that appears in my book and that was
written by others has quotation marks around it. This is essential, since no reasonable person
would conclude that plagiarism can occur unless sentences or phrases written by another are used
without indicating they are not the author’s words. As far as ideas are concerned, I explicitly
state in my book that I do not accept Peters’ ideas or her interpretation of the historical

Finkelstein’s most serious defamation is that based on a relatively small number of
criticisms, focused on a relatively few pages in a 264 page book dealing with nineteenth century
history, he has characterized the entire book as a “hoax,” a “fraud,” and a product of
plagiarism,” and has said that it contains no “facts” or “arguments.” This is simply false and
unfair and displays his ideological bias and malice. The vast majority of the book deals with
contemporary issues and is beyond dispute factually correct and he knows it. Yet he uses words
that suggest that he has proved the entire book to be a fake or fraud of some sort. This too is
typical of Finkelstein’s malicious modus operandi. Nor does he tell his audiences that his sole
basis for leveling the false charge of plagiarism is his claim that I originally came upon several
quotations I use in my book (all within quotation marks) in Peters book and that I cite to the
original sources rather than to Peters. He does not claim that I used even a single phrase or
sentence written by Peters without attribution, or that I use a single quotation from any one else
without attribution. His bizarre complaint relates solely to a disagreement over whether it is
better form to cite the original or to cite the secondary source in which the original quote was
first found by the author. He does not tell his audiences that the minor and trivial disagreement
is the entire basis for his accusation of plagiarism. Instead, he tells his audiences that I lifted two
chapters “practically whole cloth” from Peters. Although he doesn’t challenge the accuracy of
any of the quotes in my book, he complains that I lifted them from “a hoax,” thus implying that I
borrowed Peters’ conclusions or arguments, which he knows I did not. He simply lies — even
about his own accusations!

Finkelstein and others have pointed out several accidental typographical errors, which I
have corrected in subsequent printings. Yet. he persists in repeating them, as if they were
deliberate and remain uncorrected. One in particular discloses his malice. On page 80, I discuss
Benny Morris’ account of a particular phase of the evacuation of Arabs from villages, which
became part of Israel in 1948. During this phase, according to Morris, “Arab commanders
ordered the villagers to leave…” Obviously the more villagers ordered by Arab commanders to
leave, the stronger my argument becomes. Yet, as a result of a secretarial mistranscription, the
figure of two to three hundred thousand Arabs became two to three thousand Arabs, thus
inadvertently weakening my point. Only a person with malice and no intellectual honesty would
claim this self-defeating typo was deliberate, but Finkelstein has persisted in making this
obviously false claim.

I am sure you are aware of Mr. Finkelstein’s personal animus and malice toward me.
Although he has stated that he never engages in ad hominems and that his criticism of me is
purely academic, he has publicly called me an “imbecile,” a “raving maniac,” a “shyster,” “evil,”
a “pathological fraudster,” and a “Nazi” comparable to “Adolph Eichmann.” When criticized for
analogizing Jews to Nazis (he never analogizes them to Stalinists or even Mussolini fascists –
only Nazis) Finkelstein has said: “Nazis never like to hear they’re being Nazis.” He has also said
that he “can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists would be offended by comparison with the
Gestapo.” Finkelstein’s own connection to neo-Nazis has been documented. He drew cheers
from large Nazi audiences in Germany when he invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes, calling Jewish
victims of the Holocaust who seek reparation “greedy,” “cheats” and “a band of crooks and
liars”. He also received sustained applause from Holocaust-deniers when he supported their
denial by calling Elie Wiesel — who has written movingly about his experiences at Auschwitz –
a “liar” and a “clown,” and when he said that most “survivors” are “bogus” and have “fabricated
their pasts.” And he lent support to Holocaust minimizers when he equated the murder of six
million Jews with “other crimes,” characterizing the Holocaust as merely “a Nazi experiment in
demographic engineering.” The only constant in Finkelstein’s life has been a hatred of Zionism,
the Jewish religion, Holocaust survivors and decency. He is prepared to get into bed with
Stalinists or Nazis, as long as they hate Jews, Israel and Holocaust survivors who are seeking
justice. He has been aptly described as a Jew who “supports anti-Semitism.” A German writer
observed “seldom has a Jew been more celebrated by brown propaganda than Finkelstein.” One
neo-Nazi-admirer has called Finkelstein “The Jewish David Irving” — a reference to the
notorious Holocaust denier and Jew-hater who recently lost a defamation suit in England.

His personal animus seems entirely selectively aimed at Jews who either support Israel or
justice for Holocaust survivors. He repeatedly uses the same words to characterize his political
and ideological enemies: “hoax,” “fraud,” “fake,” “plagiarist,” “liar”, etc. He never uses these
loaded words against those who agree with his politics or ideology. It cannot be that Finkelstein
— who claims to be an objective “forensic” analyst — is incapable of finding any fault with the
writings of his ideological soul mates. He is clearly an ideologically selective critic who throw
around these ad homimens knowing that they are false but hoping they will stick nonetheless.

Finkelstein is a failed academic who by his own admission had been fired by several
colleges and universities. I have learned that the reasons for these firings include serious
questions about his academic integrity, his alleged scholarship and biases. I am aware of no
peer-reviewed publication that has ever accepted anything from him after review by
professionals in his discipline. He has repeatedly lied about his academic status, implying that
he is a full professor, when in fact he is a 50 plus year old assistant professor, who was once an
associate professor and has now been demoted.

Again, let me emphasize that I have no wish to prevent the publication of anything
written by Finkelstein, since everything he writes further discredits him and his publishers
among serious people. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry was devastated by The New
York Times
reviewer who called it “indecent,” “juvenile,” “stupid,” “reckless,” “ruthless,”
irrational,” and “insidious.” I fully anticipate similar reactions to this book. But I do
respectfully request that you check each statement he makes about me because of his long track
record of making false and defamatory statements about Jewish supporters of Israel and of
justice for Holocaust survivors. The repeated use of ad hominems against me surely demonstrate
extreme malice and require scrupulous checking of every possibly false statement he makes
about me. I respectfully request that your fact-checker provide me with an opportunity to
provide refutation to every such allegation in the book, and I await the opportunity to correct his
false and malicious defamations before they are published.


Alan Dershowitz

cc: New Press Board of Directors

April 30,2004
Printable PDF


Colin Robinson
New Press
38 Greene Street
New York, NY 10013

Dear Mr, Robinson:

I arn now in a position to answer Mr. Goel’s initial enquiry regarding endnote 9 of
Chapter 18 in The Case For Israel, though I was promised all the fact checks
together. First, some background.

Here is the charge Finkelstein has publicly leveled against me on C-SPAN and said will
be part of his forthcoming book about me:

“Dershowitz simply conjures things up frcm thin air, I’ll give you one example.
There was a famous case in 1995 of a Palestinian who was shaken to death while
in detention. And nobody disputed the facts–the Israeli pathologists’ office, the
forensic pathologists who were brought into the case, eventually it went to the
Israeli High Court of Justic–they all agreed. And I’m quoting now from the
High Court of Justice Judgement: ‘All agree that Harizad (phonetic) died from the
.’ If you go to Dershowitz’s book, he discusses the case and says, quote,
‘An independent inquiry found that he didn’t die from the shaking, but from a
previous illness’ (emphasis added). That was just made up. Now that was literally made

Virtually everything in Finkelstein’s statement is demonstrably false–including
his alleged “quotes.” Let me note first that the statemsnt Finkelstein says I made (he
deliberately misquotes it) appears in an endnote, not even a footnote, though Finkelstein
makes it appear as if the statement was central to the text of my book. Second,
Finkelstein is referring to a different case than the one I describe in the endnote,
and he knows that.

Most important, every word I wrote in endnote 9 is absolutely true and there is
documentary evidence to support it, including the actual autopsy reports, I made nothing up, and
Finkelstein knows it. Several years ago I was told about a case in which a detainee named
Mustafa Akawai died of an unknown, pre-existing heart condition after having been shaken. I
was told about this case by a number of sources, including the doctor who conducted the autopsy
at the request of Boston’s Physicians For Human Rights and the state attorney in charge of the
investigation” I also read about this case in the press. I have spoken publicly about the case for
several years in speeches and lectures. The official conclusion of the Israeli investigation based
on the autopsies was that Mustafa Akawai’s death was caused by a “heart attack” and “no other
reason.” Dr. Michael Baden, among the most eminent forensic pathologists in the world, flew to
Israel to conduct an autopsy on the body of Akawai, who had died following interrogation. The
Israelis were accused of having caused his death by the treatment he received while under arrest,
including shaking during interrogation. Dr. Baden told me, confirming what I had been told by a
high-ranking official in the Israel State Attorney’s Office, that Akawai died from a previously
undiagnosed heart condition. Baden was, however, quite critical of Israeli authorities and did
conclude that their rough treatment of Akawai precipitated the heart attack, but that such
treatment would not have precipitated a heart attack in a person without an extremely sever
heart condition
, and that the Israeli authorities were entirely unaware of his heart
condition.[1] Accordingly, the investigation was ultimately closed on the ground that
“the pathologist’s post-mortem examination did not suggest a connection between the interrogation
and/or its character,
and the heart attack that caused his death.” Nonetheless, the investigator in charge of Akawai’s
interrogation was disciplined because his actions violated accepted standards “although a
connection was not found between his behavior and the death of the deceased.” Reasonable
people can disagree about this conclusion, but there is no doubt that an independent investigation
attributed his death to an unknown pre-existing medical condition, precisely as I wrote.

fn 1; pg2. Baden told me that when he made his
announcement, he was greetcd with derision by anti-Israel activists who
were hoping that he would conclude that Akawai died directly from the shaking. (Another doctor, Derek Pounder,
has been “called in by anti-Israel groups to examine several cases, and had always blamed Israeli authorities,
regardless of the evidence, Dr. Pounder’s reputation was very poor in the community of experts and at least one
prominent forensic pathologist has called him a fraud and a one-sided political hack.) Because Dr. Baden had
previously come to
“a conclusion in an earlier case that supported the Palestinian account, it was assumed that he
would come to a similar conclusion in the Akawai case. But his autopsy revealed the pre-existing coronary
condition and that it was unknown to the Israeli authorities.

fn 2; pg2. I not only wrote every word of the book by hand, despite Finkelstein’s defamation to the contrary’
I also wrote the text of the endnotes. My research assistants did help in finding the authorities
cited in support of the textual endnotes.

When I wrote the text of endnote 9,[2] I was referring to the Akawai case, which had
received considerable publicity around the world. That was “the famous case”” I did not make it
up. It is Finkelstein who has made up his alleged quote from the High Court of Justice judgement
and a quote from me. There is no statement in the High Court judgement that says “all agree that
Harizad [referring to the other case] died from the shaking.” What the High Court said is that
“all agree that, in one particular case, (HCJ 4054/95) the suspect expired after being shaken
(emphasis added). Finkelstein pretended to be making a direct quote and then made up the
words “died from the shaking”. The difference between died fron the shaking and died “after
being shaken” is considerable, especialiy since the sentence in the High Court judgment is
preceded by the following description of the medical literature offered by the state and quoted by
the High Court: “medical literature has not, to date, reported a case in which a person died as a
direct result of having been shaken.” One sentence after saying that the suspect “expired after
being shaken”, the High Court said that “death was caused by an extremely rare complication
which resulted in pulmonary edema.”

Finkelstein then proceeds to distort a quote about me, putting the following words
between quotation marks and in my mouth “an independent enquiry found that he didn’t die
from the shaking, but from a previous illness.” What I in fact said in endnote 9 was the
following: “one person died following shaking, but an independent investigation attributed his
death to an unknown pre-existing medical condition.” Even though the substance is similar, the
very fact that he would falsely describe it as a direct quote is typical of Finkelstein.
Although I
was referring to the Akawai case, and Finkelstein was referring to the Harizad case, my
description — as it turns out — comes much closer to what actually occurred in the Harizad case
than does Finketstein’s, because Finkelstein deliberately distorted the quote from the Israel High
Court to serve his ideological interests.

In any event, the fact is — and I can prove this by external evidence — that I was referring
to the Akawai case when I wrote the text of endnote 9. I have spoken about the Akawai case
repeatedly and saw the documentation in that case. I was unaware of the Harizad case
Finkelstein refers to. Accordingly, Finkelstein’s allegation that I literally made up what I wrote
in endnote 9 is false and defamatory.

After reading my one sentence textual endnote, my research assistant cited to the opinion
of the high court in general {“See Public Committee”, etc.} which includes the language that the
“medical literature has not, to date, reported a case in which a person died as a direct result of
having been shaken” — language that supports my text. According to The Bluebook: A Uniform
System of Citation
(17th ed. 2000), a citation preceded by “see” is designed to indicate that
proposition is not directly stated by the cited authority but obviously follows from it; there is an
inferential step between the authority cited and the proposition it supports,” Where the citation
does not direct the reader to a particular page (as mine does not), it is citing the entire case as
inferential support. In this instance, the proposition is inferentially supported by at least two
statements in the opinion quoted previously.

The opinion also refers to a case by number, not by name, in which a person died after
being shaken. I was aware of only one case involving a death following shaking” the Akawi
case. That is the case I wrote about. To accuse me of making something up on this basis is both
irresponsible and defamatory. If it were anyone else but Finkelstein, I would be prepared to
accept his mistake as an honest one, but because of his pattern of lies, it seems more likely that
he is aware of his error, yet persists in his irresponsible politically motivated accusation.

I am, of cour,se, not surprised that Finkelstein would make this charge in light of other
false and defamatory charges he makes. For example, he alleges that “the first two chapters of
The Case for Israel are lifted practically whole cloth from Peters… ” Yet he knows that I cite
Peters numerous times and explicitly mention that I disagree with her conclusions. There is not a
single idea or phrase in my book that is lifted from Peters. (I did, mistakenly believe that the
word “turnspeak” had come from Huxley. I confused turnspeak with newspeak. This honest
mistake has been corrected in the forthcoming paperback edition, along with several other honest
mistakes of little consequence.) I did originally find several historical quotes used by Peters
in her book and, after checking the originals when I could, I used those quotes, citing them to
the original, as the Chicago Style Manual mandates. Every author who does research finds
useful quotes inother books; it’s called research. No one disputes their accuracy or the fact they are
cited to the original. Whatever one may think of Peters’ conclusions — which I explicitly reject
in my book — no one has questioned the accuracy of the quotes I found in her book. No one says
she made up the quotes I used! Moreover, I checked them independently whenever possible.
What then is the issue? As every responsible person who has been shown this — including the
former president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dartmouth, and the University
of Iowa — agrees, this is not plagiarism; it is scholarship. At most, it is a disagreement about
proper citation styles, a disagreement about which the authorities clearly support me. But under
no conceivable understanding of the term plagiarism, is this even close to plagiarism. What is it
Finkelstein claims I “plagiarized,” if not Peters’ words or ideas — her ellipses? Even those are
different in the major quote from Mark Twain he claims (eroneously) I first found in her book.
(I have been using the Twain quote since before the Peters book was written.)

The proof of the pudding of Finkelstein’s malice and selective criticism only of pro-Israel
writers is his acknowledgement on C-SPAN that “I don’t get too excited about the plagiarism
issue” — except apparently when he can use it to throw mud at pro-Israel writers.

Another example of a categorical and demonstrable lie by Finkelstein is the following,
from his C-SPAN talk:

If you look at it, about three-quarters [of The Case for Israel] is
given over to discussing human rights issues: house demolitions, torture, so on and so forth.
About three quarters is given over to discussing it. And if you look at the
footnotes for the book, he never once — I mean literally, not once
mentions any
mainstream human rights organization. Never a mention of Amnesty’s findings,
never a mention of Human Rights Watch’s findings, never a mention of
B’Tselem’s findings, Public Committee Against Torture, Physicians for Human Rigbts — none.
(emphasis added)

Yet a simple review of my book reveals that I cite Amnesty on at least five occasions,
B’Tselem on three occasions and numerous other human rights groups and individuals (such as
Chomsky, Said and Boyle) who are extremely critical of Israel’s human rights policies.
(Amnesty and B’Tselem even appear in the index!) Again, Finkelstein simply looks his
audience in the face and deliberately lies aftor assuring them that he is purporting to be “literal.”
This is his standard modus operandi, of which you are on notice.

None of this surprises me since I recently learned from one of the several universities that
fired Finkelstein, that he was fired for three reasons: 1) serious questions about his scholarship;
2) his “abuse” of students who disagreed with his politics and 3) his “mental instability”. A
recent incident supports this last conclusion. In a speech at the University of Buffalo, Finkelstein
apparently tried to prove that Israel is a Nazi state because it favors “blue-eyed, blond-haired
Aryan types” (refening to Russian Jews). To support this bizarre point, he said that the lead
character in the novel Exodus was named “Ari” because it was short for Aryan. (Ari is, of
course, short for ancient Semitic names such as Arieh and Ariel, and is common among
Sephardic and Ethiopian Jews). Finkelstein is truly an irresponsible person who will say and
write anything, so long as it is anti-Israel.

You should beware that there is documentary evidence establishing these serious
allegations. If you are not, this is to put you on notice that they exist. You are now also on
notice of his demonstrable lies during his C-SPAN speech. This should place a heavy burden on
you to be certain that every one of his defamatory statements are entirely truthful and are not
motivated by malice or political bias — a malice and a bias he virtually admits.

Once again, let me emphasize that I have no wish to prevent any book from being
published. I insist, however, that every defamatory accusation directed against me be
scrupulously and independently examined, not by an intern for The Nation, which has also
falsely defamed me by repeating Finkelstein’s false charges of plagiarism in a column by
Alexander Cockburn, but by an independent fact-checker with no political or ideological axe to


Alan Dershowitz

P.S. I am enclosing a copy of Dr. Baden’s recent letter [see PDF file for April 30, 2004 letter]
to me confirming what I say. He is still looking for his files in the case. I am also enclosing the
original Hebrew version of a 1993 letter from the Israel State Attorney’s Office, supporting what
I wrote in endnote 9. [see PDF file for April 30, 2004 letter]

Cc: Rohit Goel
Andre Schiffrin

June 16, 2004

Printable PDF

Via Fed Ex

Mr. Colin Robinson
The New Press
38 Greene Street
New York, NY 10013


Dear Mr. Robinson:

I am writing this letter to report a serious breach of publishing ethics committed by Rohit Goel.
You told me that he was working as a fact-checker for your publishing company on a book by
Norman Finkelstein. Last week Goel called Dr. Michael Baden and represented himself as
working for me — Alan Dershowitz. He said he was working on my book for my publisher and
that he was calling to check some facts for me. It was on that basis that Dr. Baden spoke with

Only after eliciting information from Dr. Baden based on his misrepresentation, did Goel clearly
identify himself as working for Finkelstein and against me. He then criticized Dr. Baden for the
conclusions he had incorporated in his letter to me. He claimed that Dr. Baden’s letter
contradicted a report by the Physicians For Human Rights and statements made at a press
conference. Since these events occurred years ago, Dr. Baden understandably asked Goel to
send him the material he claimed contradicted his recent statement. Goel agreed to do so. But
then, according to an email sent by Goel to Dr. Baden, “after speaking with my boss, Norman
Finkelstein, the author of the forthcoming book on Alan Dershowitz and the “new anti-Semitism,”
I will not be able to provide you with the Physicians for Human Rights report or the
Press Conference you gave in 1992 after you conducted the autopsy of Akawi.”

There are several ethical problems implicit in the actions taken by Goel and Finkelstein. First
and foremost, a fact-checker who misrepresents himself as working for me has violated not only
journalistic ethics, but my legal rights. I intend to pursue all legal remedies against Goel and
Finkelstein for this willful and illegal misrepresentation. This misrepresentation may also
constitute a vioiation of criminal law, since it was fraudulently done over the telephone and by
wire. Second, Goel now claims that Norman Finkelstein is his boss. This is completely
contradictory to what he told me. He told me that his only interest was in checking facts for you
and that he was hired by the publisher to protect the publisher from factual errors made by
Finkelstein. He now says that Finkelstein is his “boss.” This demonstrates a clear conflict of
interest in Goel’s role. Finally, it is not the role of a fact-checker for a publisher to threaten a
source, as Goel clearly threatened Dr. Baden in his boss’s name.

All in all, this is conduct totally unbecoming a reasonable publishing company. I do not know
whether you are aware of this pattern of behavior, which is all too tlpical of Finkelstein. If not,
this note, along with the others I have previously sent you, is intended to put you on notice so
that you can take all appropriate action.

As I have previously written to you, I have no interest in trying to prevent the publication of a
book critical of me, since I can adequately defend myself in the marketplace of ideas. I insist,
however, that all the alleged facts in the book be checked in an objective manner, especially in
light of Finkelstein’s long track record of misstating facts and misrepresenting the truth, of which
you are aware. The fact-checking process currently in place does not meet those standards.


Alan Dershowitz

Enclosure: Goel email

cc: New Press Board of Directors

November 19, 2004
Printable PDF

Federal Express

Mr. Niels Hooper
University of California Press
2120 Berkeley Way
Berkeley , CA 94104

Dear Mr. Hooper:

I have just been advised that you are planning to publish a book by Norman
Finkelstein containing false and defamatory information about me. The
book, entitled “Beyond Chutzpah”, (an obvious reference to my book
“Chutzpah”), claims to expose “spurious scholarship” and mendaciousness on
my part. This Letter is to put you on notice that Finkelstein has
repeatedly and deliberately distorted the facts in describing my
writings. I am enclosing, as an attachment to this letter, a draft of an
article I am publishing which summarizes Finkelstein’s distortions, as well
as the letters I previously wrote to the publisher who was originally
supposed to be publishing his book. I don’t know whether Finkelstein
showed you this correspondence before you agreed to publish the book, but
you are now on notice as to its contents.

I have no desire to prevent publication of anything, but I do insist that
anything published about me be factually correct. Finkelstein has a long
documented track record of publishing malicious falsehoods about me (as
well as about others who write favorably about lsrael or about compensation
for Holocaust survivors). I am not speaking about differences of opinion,
but rather, as the attached material clearly proves, demonstrably false
statements of fact that no one can possibly dispute. He claims to quote
material, but he makes up words and phrases in the allegedly quoted
material. He makes up facts from whole cloth. In a recent speech in
Canada, which has even tougher defamation laws than the United States’
Finkelstein repeatedly alleged facts about me (and others) which are
entirely false, including the claim that I did not even write The Case for
Israel. (I don’t type or use a computer, so that the entire manuscript of
my book was written by me by hand. I wrote every single word of the
text.) I note that in your advertisement, you say that Finkelstein’s book
will be “available worldwide”. Finkelstein’s book, as presently written,
contains defamatory material that is actionable not only in America, but in
many other countries in which this book wil] be distributed. I suggest
that you check with lawyers in those countries as well as with American
lawyers, in deciding the nature of the fact checking process that you are
obligated to undertake, especially in light of Finkelstein’s documented
history of defamation against me.

Because of this extensive track record, which is easily accessible to you,
you are under a professional, moral and legal obligation to check every
single claim he makes about me for its accuracy. This check must be
completely independent of Finkelstein. In the past he has hired
fact-checkers (including a man named Rohit Goel) who simply does his
bidding and provides no independent check on Finkelstein’s willful and
malicious distortions. In one case his fact checker willfully
misrepresented himself as my research assistant to Dr. Michael Baden, in an
effort to persuade Baden to change somethlng he had written. You are on
notice of this as well.

You are also on notice of Finkelstein’s demonstrated personal malice toward
me. Although he has stated he never engages in ad hominems and that his
criticism of me is purely academic, he has publicly called me an
“imbecile,” a “raving maniac,” a “shyster,” “evil,” a “pathological
fraudster,” and a “Nazi” comparable to “Adolph Eichmann.” When criticized
for analogizing Jews to Nazis (he never analogizes them to Stalinists or
even Mussolini fascists — only Nazis) Finkelstein has said: “Nazis never
like to hear they’re being Nazis.”

I am confident that when you read the entire file that I am sending you,
you will agree that you hive a heavy burden to check independently every
defamatory statement Finkelstein makes. As of this time, no fact checker
has called me (other than the notorious Rohit Goel, who acknowledged that
he works for Finkelstein, and is anything but independent). Please advise
me as to what steps you are taking to assure that you are not knowingly
publishing defamatory macerial.

I want to emphasize once again that I am not interested in stopping the
publication of anything Finkelstein seeks to write, since everything he
writes further discredits him and his publishers among serious
people. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry was devastated by The
New York Times reviewer who called it “indecent,” “juvenile,” “stupid,”
“reckless,” “ruthless,” “irrational,” and “insidious.” I fully anticipate
similar reactions to this book. My sole interest is in assuring a fair
process for checking the accuracy of defamatory statements he has made in
the past and seems intent on repeating in this book.

I await your reply.

Sincerely yours,

Alan Dershowitz

The New Year Begins

By Steven Plaut

Q: How do you know when America has crossed the line into an oppressive, occupational empire?

A: When DePaul University begins studying it.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at DePaul and its Dean, one Chuck Suchar (a sociologist), have officially announced a “College Theme Series” entitled “Confronting Empire” for the 2005-6 academic year. This is a DePaul faculty initiative involving the participation of various departments and programs throughout the college. The organizers call themselves the “Empire Committee,” sounding like something out of Star Wars. Naturally, the evil empire under examination is the United States.

The “Empire Committee” has invited a Who’s Who of radical anti-Americanism to campus for the series. The roster includes pro-terror communist Tariq Ali, who thinks that 9/11 was caused by American fundamentalism; Bill Goodman from the so-called “Center for Constitutional Rights,” which devotes most of its time to defending the terrorists in Gitmo; and Seungsook Moon from the Department of Sociology at Vassar, who will speak on “Politics of Gender and Sexuality in the Global U.S. Military Empire.” The DePaul “Anti-Empirists” are also featuring an evening of “anti-nationalist” poetry and readings, and an evening of “theater” featuring the play “Guantanamo,” based upon the writings of Gitmo terrorist detainees.

According to the Dean, DePaul hopes through the “Theme Series” to achieve the following objectives:

  1. to engage in a College wide (and broader) conversation about the current state of and developing trends in the global order, not only for the purpose of advancing a theme of great interest to faculty and students but also to significantly enhance the community of intellect and engagement in the University;
  2. to promote a wide range of views and participants in this conversation about empire and opposition in its contemporary and historical dimensions utilizing the increasingly global interests of our faculty and students;
  3. to question the nature of the American role and the role of other nations and interests in the emerging order and consider the forms of appropriate action, engagement and scholarship in light of that assessment.

In other words, it is to be a one-sided campaign of on-campus brainwashing designed to turn DePaul students into Manchurian candidates of radical political correctness. According to one dissident DePaul professor with whom we spoke:

It still amazes me that someone can call a series “Confronting Empire” and believe that it has any pretense of objectivity…The special horror of DePaul is that it is so completely unashamed of its substitution of advocacy for education. I have spent a good deal of time in the last ten years trying to convince my colleagues that they needed to remember that we are a school and not a Marxist sect, a pacifist group, the latest identity fad or what have you. But this is what happens when you have people who are mediocre intellects who think their “correct” political views more than makes up for their intellectual deficiencies. It’s very depressing.

DePaul’s pseudo-academic loopiness is of course not restricted to its jihad against the Amerikkkan “Empire.” DePaul has been at the forefront of the movement to ban military recruiters from campus. DePaul sponsors a group called Cuba Coalition/Junta de Accion Latina, a front for the Communist Party. On August 5, 2004, DePaul sponsored a “Conference on Globalization,” organized by assorted extremist organizations. The “International Studies Program” at DePaul regularly sponsors conferences devoted to Marxism and America-bashing. You would have to look very hard through its departmental webpage to find any course not filled with political indoctrination.

Among those at DePaul building a career on rants against the American “empire” is one Deena Weinstein, Professor of Sociology at DePaul University. Her “specialization” is the sociology of heavy metal rock music. She also is a promoter of Pulp Marxism. She ranted:

The call to empire has come up only because world capitalism has met with opposition from Islamic revolution on the right and the counter-globalization movement on the left. America is at best a would-be empire that is being contested on all sides and could have its pretensions rudely dashed by a deep recession, failures in post-war “nation building,” a pandemic and/or new coalitions of rising military powers. American empire is a very problematic work in progress.

Her course in the sociology department is “SOC 282- ROCK JOURNALISM.” According to the DePaul website, “This course explores the wide variety of rock writings, from album and concert reviews to interviews with musicians. The functions served by the rock press will also be considered as part of the hype machine of the rock industry, as critical information for an audience whose knowledge of rock does not come from formal education.”

Aminah Beverly McCloud, the Director of the Islamic World Studies Program (IWSP) at DePaul, is an apologist for and follower of Louis Farrakhan. Her courses feature anti-American propaganda texts. She was a signatory to a document denouncing the Patriot Act and imploring U.S. authorities to grant Tariq Ramadan permission to enter the country.

Another professor who teaches in the Islamic World Studies Program is Khaled Keshk, who resorts to using biased texts that blithely portray Palestinian terrorism as a justified reaction to Israeli atrocities. Readings in his course on Israel are taken from the late notorious anti-Semite Israel Shahak (who claimed “The Jews worship Satan”).

The DePaul Religious Studies department is full of PC indoctrination courses in “liberation theology,” feminism, and “post-modernism.” Political Science offers “Contemporary Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Politics.” Extremism permeates the entire campus. The DePaul campus library features a large special collection, purchased with campus funds, called the “Venceremos Brigade Research Collection.” It is a mass of pro-Castro propaganda, including many of Fidel Castro’s mind-numbing speeches. The list of materials in this collection alone stretches more than 29 pages.

Another large collection at the library consists of masses of political propaganda produced by Daniel Berrigan, who was once (with his brother) on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. (Berrigan was a close comrade of Howard Zinn. J. Edgar Hoover went so far as to publicly call Berrigan a “traitor.”) DePaul was one of the campuses mentioned by name at a conference sponsored by the American Congress for Truth as guilty of classroom indoctrination in hate.

A few months ago, a speaker of honor hosted at DePaul was none other than Ward Churchill, speaking with open endorsement and support from the DePaul administration. In fact, the administration prohibited the holding of a protest against the Churchill visit by DePaul students. Jonathan Cohen, a math professor at DePaul, described the event in an article for “American Thinker.” Among other notable moments at that event:

The talk turned to his (Churchill’s) favorite bottom line for evil, Adolph Eichmann. He pointed out that even in Israel they were never able to convict him of personally killing anyone…He was a desk murderer. For Churchill the people who were bond traders in the Twin Towers were not innocent because they participated in the corporate system that is responsible for the vast majority of slaughter in the world. Presumably they were desk killers too….

Then the Vice President for Student Affairs, Jim Doyle, got up and made a few comments…Looking over the audience he recounted observing the body language of the audience and noted that it was obvious that some people approved of what Churchill was saying while others did not. Turning his attention to those of us who had not stood or applauded the talk, he admonished us in a scolding manner that we needed to consider seriously the things that Churchill was saying, especially about human rights. Somehow, equating anything Churchill said as advancing the cause of human rights seemed ridiculous, since Churchill had effectively justified the killings at the World Trade Center.

While such wackiness has come to symbolize DePaul’s politicized campus and low academic standards, nothing attests so clearly to the fact that DePaul should not be regarded as a bona fide academic institution than the employment of Norman Finkelstein as an assistant professor of political science. Finkelstein is a pseudo-scholar with an empty academic publication record. His entire career has been devoted to turning out propaganda screeds in the form of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel books and web rants. His books have been dismissed as collections of fraudulent pseudo-research and thinly-disguised Jew-baiting propaganda by nearly every serious historian who has reviewed them. In addition, Alan Dershowitz from Harvard has devoted considerable energies in exposing Finkelstein as a fraud.

DePaul likes to justify Finkelstein’s presence on its faculty as proof of its devotion to academic freedom, protected even for extremist crackpots just as long as they are doing serious academic work. (Never mind that the firing of Thomas Klocek makes a mockery out of such a claim.) But the truth of the matter is that Finkelstein was NOT hired and retained by DePaul because of any “academic research” that he does. Finkelstein does not do any academic research at all. There can be no doubt that Finkelstein was hired precisely because he is an extremist and anti-Semite with no serious academic credentials, one tied to neo-Nazi and far-leftist anti-American hate groups. In short, Finkelstein’s retention at DePaul shows that DePaul has junked all attempts at pretending to maintain academic standards, in its quest to battle the American “empire” and its Israeli ally.

DePaul University hired Finkelstein a few years back to teach courses on the Middle East. A course he teaches in Political Science consists almost entirely of anti-Israel political propaganda written by Bash-Israel radicals and Marxists. (In another course, writings by Noam Chomsky form much of the required readings.) Finkelstein was recruited by DePaul after he had been fired from several colleges in New York, following controversy over his support of holocaust denier David Irving and his abusive attacks against individual Holocaust survivors. While it is possible to find a few other people as openly anti-Semitic as Finkelstein in North American academia, in most cases they have bona fide academic records or were hired before the campus chiefs became aware of their extremist hate activities. Neither was the case with DePaul and Finkelstein.

By the way, when Finkelstein was fired from those New York colleges, it was not because of his political views. He was fired because he has an empty academic publications record. Although a graduate of Princeton (much to the embarrassment of all other graduates of Princeton), Finkelstein has never published any academic research and never engaged in any scholarly inquiry. Not a single paper of Finkelstein’s has been published in a refereed academic journal. Instead, he devotes himself full time to his anti-Semitic propaganda. His curriculum vitae may be viewed here.

The closest Finkelstein ever got to a journal publication was with a couple of propaganda pieces in New Politics, a “socialist” non-academic magazine of far-leftist agitprop, sponsored by – among others – Noam Chomsky. This “journal” states that it “stands in opposition to all forms of imperialism, and is uncompromising in its defense of feminism and affirmative action.” Neutral, scholarly, and objective?

Finkelstein also turns out articles for Palestinian propaganda “journals,” which are less objective yet.

Alan Dershowitz has issued a series of devastating denunciations of Finkelstein, the most recent in response to Finkelstein’s newest anti-Jewish book, Beyond Chutzpah : On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The title is a backhanded slap at Alan Dershowitz’s Chutzpah. Finkelstein’s basic theme there and in his other writings is that just because someone hates Jews and wants to see Jews killed by terrorists and other murderers is no reason to accuse that person of being an anti-Semite. Finkelstein’s screeds appear on every Holocaust Denial and neo-Nazi web site on earth. Neo-Nazis adore him, proclaiming him the heroic Jew who proves that there was never a Holocaust. He also appears regularly on anti-Israel and anti-Jewish websites from the Left, like Counterpunch.

Dershowitz wrote the following about Finkelstein:

Finkelstein has said that he “can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists would be offended by a comparison with the Gestapo”[1] and asserted that Israel’s human rights record is “interchangeable with Iraq’s” when it was ruled by Saddam Hussein. He has said that most alleged Holocaust survivors – including Elie Wiesel – have fabricated their past, are “bogus,” and that those seeking reparations (from Germany) are “cheats” and “greedy.” Because of my support of Israel, he has compared me to “Adolf Eichman [sic],” and accused me of expressing “Nazi moral judgments.” When challenged to defend his frequent comparison between Jews and Nazis, he has responded, “Nazis never like to hear they’re being Nazis.” He is a popular speaker among German neo-Nazis; one, Ingrid Rimland, whose husband, the notorious Ernst Zundel, wrote The Hitler We Loved And Why, even referred to him admiringly as the “Jewish David Irving” (“Jüdischer David Irving”) – a reference to the British Holocaust denier and Hitler admirer. The comparison is apt because Finkelstein has reportedly praised the Holocaust-denying Irving as “a good historian!” and as having “made an indispensable” contribution to our knowledge of World War II.

Commentary Magazine’s editor Gabriel Schoenfeld has labeled Finkelstein’s views as “crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis around the world.” Finkelstein has been endorsed by anti-Semites of all stripes.

The Anti-Defamation League considers Finkelstein to be a Holocaust Denier and a neo-Nazi. The Washington Post described him as “a writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for his Holocaust revisionism and comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany.” Leon Wieseltier from the New Republic wrote, “He’s poison, a disgusting self-hating Jew, something you find under a rock.” Omer Bartov, a noted historian at Brown University, compared Finkelstein’s book to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The eminent historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has dismissed Finkelstein as an anti-Semitic crackpot, as a pseudo-scholar, and as an apologist for the Hamas terrorists. While Finkelstein likes to defend his own anti-Semitic ravings by claiming his parents are themselves Holocaust survivors, Dershowitz recently revealed that Finkelstein’s mother was in fact a collaborator with German Nazis during the war.

Finkelstein has been dismissed as a fraud and an anti-Semite by nearly every serious historian on the planet, even by some far-leftists inside Israel like Professor Benny Morris. Finkelstein’s sources, according to Morris, are “dubious,” and Finkelstein “fails to marshal sources or materials from elsewhere.” The NY Times’ reviewer described Finkelstein as “juvenile,” “arrogant,” and “stupid” (Aug. 6, 2000).

While born to Jewish parents, Finkelstein routinely compares Israelis with Nazis. He is an open cheerleader for the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists. He appeared on the official Hezbollah television station al-Manar, because, he said, “If I’m willing to appear on CNN – the main propaganda organ for America’s terrorist wars – why shouldn’t I appear on al-Manar?” Earlier this year DePaul students heard a speech by Finkelstein, in which he stated unequivocally that the 1948 Arab/Israeli war was an “ethnic cleansing” of the “Palestinians” by the newly created Jewish state. The fact that the destruction of Israel and the eviction of the Jews was the publicly proclaimed goal of the surrounding Arab armies and states that attacked Israel was never mentioned. Jewish community leaders have been increasingly forthright in speaking out against the situation in DePaul, especially regarding Finkelstein.

Finkelstein is coming up for tenure at DePaul within the next few months. The fact that DePaul would even dream of considering him for a permanent academic position there raises serious questions concerning academic standards at DePaul.

DePaul has some bizarre notions about free speech. Its President, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, publicly defends the employment of Finkelstein as a professor, and defends the operation on campus of a Bash-Israel propaganda show dressed up as an art exhibit. Holtschneider has also publicly celebrated the performance on this Catholic university campus of the “Vagina Monologues.” While pretending that it hired Finkelstein because of his “academic credentials,” which turn out to be non-existent, DePaul administrators revealed their real agenda of on-campus political indoctrination and extremism in the now-famous Thomas Klocek Affair.

Thomas Klocek was an instructor at DePaul who was fired when he was found guilty of expressing support for Israel in a chat outside the classroom. (The proliferation of in-classroom indoctrination by the Left at DePaul has already been noted.) Klocek’s courses have ranged from Critical Thinking, to College Writing, to Languages and Cultures of the World. By all accounts, he was a popular teacher and his classes were always full. After 14 years of continuous employment at the Chicago-based college, Klocek was suspended without due process last September, and then stayed suspended – without pay – after that. Klocek was guilty of nothing more than expressing pro-Israel views in the face of extremist Palestinian propagandists on DePaul’s campus, including students and non-students proliferating the usual lies and canards about Israel and Rachel Corrie.

Despite having an unblemished record during that span, DePaul summarily dismissed Klocek from his duties after the school claimed that he had “insulted” and “demeaned” several Muslim students at a campus fair for extracurricular groups. Klocek had publicly expressed his belief that “strictly speaking, right now there is no such place as Palestine on the map. The Palestinian people were simply Arabs who lived in the West Bank and Gaza.” For our part, we seem to recall that Galileo was also persecuted by Church institutions for daring to tell the truth. (Klocek, by the way, is Roman Catholic).

The university contends that Klocek’s case “is not a case of academic freedom, but a situation of inappropriate behavior outside the classroom by a university employee,” according to Denise Mattson, the university spokesperson. Sure, while another DePaul professor has made a career out of insulting Holocaust survivors, promoting and cheering Holocaust deniers, and serving as the darling of neo-Nazi web sites. The “behavior” of Norman Finkelstein, the most openly anti-Semitic Jew on the planet, does not disturb these same DePaul Inquisitors.

DePaul has a large Muslim student population, as noted by the American Thinker. Klocek’s crime was to answer back to outrageous statements being made on campus by a radical Moslem. Klocek responded that there was a “qualitative difference between the Israel Army targeting known terrorists who have killed their own people…and suicide bombers targeting beaches, cafes, and even Seder dinners, killing indiscriminately Israelis, both Jew and Arab alike.” The suspended professor himself gives an excellent summary of the “Klocek Incident” here.

Since that time, Klocek’s firing has become the foremost symbol of the attempt by DePaul to limit free speech on campus and restrict it only to anti-American and anti-Semitic radicals. Klocek’s plight has become a cause celebre for those seeking to defend free speech and pluralism on American college campuses. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has repeatedly denounced DePaul’s behavior in the Klocek Affair. FIRE has given DePaul University a speech code rating of “Red,” the worst rating possible. (You can read more about this institution’s speech code ratings on this page.) Even some leftists have come out to protest the Klocek firing.

Meanwhile, DePaul University is getting sued by Thomas Klocek. Probably the best weblog that follows and documents the political shenanigans at DePaul is Marathon Pundit at (Check for updates on the suit.)

DePaul is an excellent illustration of everything that is wrong in American institutions of higher education in general, and in some church-affiliated schools in particular. In pursuing its crusade to instill campus indoctrination and leftist Newthink, DePaul has abandoned any pretense of protecting academic freedom, while at the same time abandoning any pretense of maintaining standards of academic excellence and scholarship.

If you would like to tell DePaul’s President Holtschneider what YOU think of all this,
his email address is president[at] . The names and emails of the other
officials are here.


[1] Jerusalem Post, Aug 28, 2000

Desch v. Dershowitz in The American Conservative.

Editor’s note: Finkelstein comments at the bottom.

Desch’s review |
Dershowitz letter |
Desch’s reply |
Finkelstein’s comment

Dershowitz v.Desch
The American Conservative | January 16, 2006 | Forum section
Printable PDF of article

In our Dec. 5 issue, The American Conservative
published a review of Norman
Finkelstein’s Beyond Chuzpah by contributing
editor Michael Desch. Alan
Dershowitz, whose scholarship was
critiqued by Finkelstein’s book, objected
at length, attacking both the author and
our reviewer. His complaint, along
with Desch’s reply, follows.

Dershowitz writes:

When a far right-wing magazine embraces
an avowed communist, the topic under
consideration must be Jews and Israel.
It is not surprising, then, that The American
has found a kindred
spirit in Norman Finkelstein. Both have
declared war against “American Jewish
elites,” and both spout wild conspiracy
theories about Jewish influence on
American’s media, culture, government,
and economy.

I am referring to Michael Desch’s purported
review of Finkelstein’s book,
Beyond Chutzpah. It is only a “purported”
review because as the headline
suggests (“The Chutzpah of Alan Dershowitz”)
the majority of the article is
devoted to attacking me. Desch makes
four accusations against me, all of
which are not only false, but so sloppy
and implausible that it would have taken
only a few minutes of fact-checking to
refute them.

(1) Desch parrots Finkelstein’s claim
that I have turned my back on a career
as a civil libertarian by “present[ing] a
brief for torture.” Had he read my book,
Why Terrorism Works, instead of relying
on Finkelstein’s mischaracterization
of my position, Desch would know that
I am a stalwart opponent of torture, that
I have fought hard against torture in
both America and Israel, and that my
proposals are designed to minimize and
hopefully prevent torture.

As I have written: “I am against torture
torture as a normative matter, and I would
like to see its use minimized. I believe
that at least moderate forms of nonlethal
torture are in fact being used by
the United States and some of its allies
today. I think that if we ever confronted
an actual case of imminent mass terrorism
that could be prevented by the infliction
of torture, we would use torture
(even lethal torture) and the public
would favor its use…

“I pose the issue as follows. If torture
is, in fact, being used and/or would, in
fact, be used in an actual ticking bomb
terrorist case, would it be normatively
better or worse to have such torture regulated
by some kind of warrant, with
accountability, recordkeeping, standards
and limitations? This is an important
debate, and a different one from the
old, abstract Benthamite debate over
whether torture can ever be justified. It
is not so much about the substantive
issue of torture as it is about accountability,
visibility, and candor in a democracy
that is confronting a choice of

(2) Desch accuses me of a “partial
reading or misreading” of Benny Morris,
whom I cite several times in The Case
for Israel. Desch concludes that “Finkelstein
documents these charges in
exhaustive detail in Appendix II of his
book and the preponderance of evidence
he provides is conclusive.”

Finkelstein’s “evidence” consists of
empty conclusory statements. Finkelstein
writes that I “significantly [misrepresent]
what Morris writes in Righteous
Victims.” These are easily falsifiable
charges. All one has to do is to ask
Morris himself what he thinks of my
characterization of his scholarship and
findings. Martin Solomon, a professor at
Florida Atlantic University, wrote to
Morris, asking him what are “his feelings
concerning the manner in which Alan
Dershowitz uses citations from ‘Righteous
Righteous Victims‘ in his ‘The Case for Israel‘”
and whether Morris “still hold[s] the
views that Dershowitz attributes to
[him]….” Morris replied that Dershowitz
was “right about [his] views,” even
adding that one could “read [Morris's
books] and arrive at the same conclusions,
bypassing Dershowitz.”

(3) Desch writes that Finkelstein
proves that I violated “the spirit, if not
the exact letter” of Harvard’s plagiarism
prohibition. Finkelstein first claimed
that I did not write The Case for Israel.
As he had with other Jewish writers,
Finkelstein suggested that the Mossad
or AIPAC had written my book for me.
When I revealed the handwritten manuscript–
I do not type or use a computer–Finkelstein changed his story to
plagiarism. Finkelstein’s accusation
boils down to a claim that I “lifted” quotations
from Joan Peters. Yet I cite
Peters eight times, as anyone perusing
my book can easily see. I even stated
that “I do not in any way rely on her
demographic conclusions or demographic

I immediately asked Harvard to investigate
Finkelstein’s phony charge, and
Harvard conducted an independent
investigation by former president Derek
Bok. Finkelstein acknowledges that
“former Harvard president Derek Bok,
‘a scholar of unquestioned integrity,’ had
looked into the charges against Dershowitz
and ‘found that no plagiarism
had occurred.’ The matter was ‘closed.'”
In addition to being fully exonerated by
Harvard University, I have been cleared
by James Freedman, former president
of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, The New York Times, and
numerous professors and librarians.

Desch relies on Finkelstein’s accusation
that I “direct [my] research assistant
to go to certain pages and notes in
Peters’s book and place them in [my]
footnotes directly.” As Finkelstein
wrote, “[I]n the [galley] proofs [of The
Case for Israel], it … says: Copy from
Joan Peters. It does. … There was no
question about it.” He thus alleges that I
instructed a research assistant to “copy”
from another author without citations.
But he simply makes up the word
“copy.” The note says precisely the
opposite: “cite sources on pp. 160, 485,
486, footnotes 141–145.” The instruction
is to be certain that the material is properly
cited, as it was to the original
source. This is not proof of plagiarism;
it is proof of scholarship.

Yet Finkelstein persists in making this
charge since it is part of his long pattern
of leveling personal attacks against
those who support Israel or justice for
Holocaust survivors, rather than engaging
them on the merits of their views. I
fully document this pattern in Chapter 16
of my book, The Case for Peace. Desch
goes even further, suggesting a Jewish
conspiracy involving Harvard’s president
Lawrence Summers, The New York Times,
and other pro-Israel advocates.

(4) Finally, Desch says that I
“launched an extraordinary campaign to
prevent [Finkelstein's] book’s publication.”
But as I wrote to the University of
California Press:

“I have no interest in censoring any
publication. But I do insist that a book,
‘a large part of which is devoted to Alan
Dershowitz’ has been checked for accuracy
and that all appropriate measures
have been taken to assure that its biased
and defamatory author does not include
within it maliciously false information.”

Among Finkelstein’s defamations are
his allegations that I “almost certainly
didn’t write” The Case for Israel, “and
perhaps [he] didn’t even read it prior to
publication.” Finkelstein even suggests
that all of my books are written for me
by the Israeli Mossad: “[I]t’s sort of like a
Hallmark line for Nazis….[T]hey churn
them out so fast that he has now
reached a point where he doesn’t even
read them.”

Finkelstein has attempted to frame
Beyond Chutzpah’s publication as a triumph
for academic freedom. This dispute,
though, has never been about academic
freedom. Nobody ever tried to
prevent Finkelstein from publishing his
bigoted falsehoods. The dispute has
always been about academic standards.
In order to deflect attention away from
their lack of academic standards and
hard-left anti-Israel bias, Finkelstein and
his publisher have lied about the issue of
academic freedom.

Nobody has ever tried to censor
Finkelstein’s drivel. He can always publish
it with presses that acknowledge
their anti-Israel bias. The issue is, and
has always been, one of academic standards:
how could the University of California
Press publish a work so lacking in
standards, so filled with misquotations,
falsifications, and faked data by a failed
academic with a well-deserved reputation
for the “pure invention” of his
sources? No objective university press
would have published this sequel to a
book The New York Times called a “variation
on the anti-Semitic forgery, ‘The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion.'”

The most telling sentence in Desch’s
article comes near the end, when he
concludes: “Even if Finkelstein’s most
serious charges are not true, it is
nonetheless a scandal that Dershowitz’s
sloppy book was widely and favorably
reviewed in many prominent places,
including The New York Times, and
became a national bestseller.”

The sentence construction is typical
of both extremist left-wing (Finkelstein)
and right-wing (The American Conservative)
anti-Israel hatemongers. Even if
the facts aren’t true, Desch believes,
naked animus toward Israel is sufficient
to sustain his arguments. His bigotry is

—Alan Dershowitz

Desch replies:

Alan Dershowitz calls Norman Finkelstein’s
new book Beyond Chutzpah
“drivel.” But that is hardly a fair assessment.
The book was published by the
University of California Press—one of
The Nation‘s leading academic publishers—
after an exceedingly thorough and
scrupulous review process. The manuscript
was sent to six external reviewers
(most academic presses solicit advice
from just one or two), vetted by lawyers
in both the United States and Britain
(highly unusual for a scholarly book),
and then subjected to rigorous factchecking
during the production phase
(also atypical). The reason Dershowitz
is so hostile is that Beyond Chutzpah
argues that in The Case for Israel he misappropriated
and misconstrued other scholars’ work.

On the former charge, Finkelstein
identifies at least 20 instances of nearly
identical quotes and citations in Dershowtiz’s
The Case for Israel and Joan
Peters’s widely discredited From Time
Immemorial that were not properly
attributed (e.g., he directly cited Mark
Twain when he should have indicated
that he was using Twain as quoted in
Peters). In essence, Finkelstein deals
Dershowitz a double blow: for inappropriately
using another scholar’s work
and for doing so from this debunked

Dershowitz’s response is first to build
a straw man, claiming that Finkelstein
contends that he did not write the book.
This charge is not made in Beyond
Chutzpah, but tellingly, Dershowitz
nonetheless devotes much effort to
knocking the stuffing out of it. He then
invokes testimonials to his scholarly
integrity from his ex-boss, former Harvard
president and law school dean
Derek Bok, and his friend, former Dartmouth
president James Freedman,
when it would be more convincing if
they had provided detailed responses to
Finkelstein’s specific charges.

Dershowitz also misconstrues the
work of Israeli historian Benny Morris.
It is irrelevant that the post-al Aksa
Intifada Benny Morris, who has publicly
broken with his former comrades in the
peace camp and now endorses ethnic
cleansing, has come around to agree
with Dershowitz’s position on the
Israel-Palestine conflict. Rather, the question is
whether Dershowitz can base his
defense of Israel on Morris’s earlier scholarly work.

Let me offer one telling example of the
incompatibility of their overarching
arguments. In The Case for Israel, Dershowitz
argues that it is “impossible to
understand the conflict in the Middle
East without accepting the reality that
from the very beginning the strategy of
the Arab leadership has been to eliminate
the existence of the Jewish state,
and indeed any substantial Jewish population.”
In contrast, in his fine book
Righteous Victims, Morris quotes with
approval David Ben-Gurion’s 1938
admission, “When we say that the Arabs
are the aggressors and we defend ourselves—
that is only half the truth. … the
fighting is only one aspect of the conflict,
which is in its essence a political one.
And politically we are the aggressors and
they defend themselves.” Dershowitz
can only rely on Morris the neo-Likudnik
by twisting the evidence and interpretations
of Morris the “new historian” to fit
Dershowitz’s own political agenda of
defending Israel against all critics, as
Finkelstein amply documents.

Unable to win the case against Finkelstein
on its intellectual merits, Dershowitz
apparently tried to block publication
of Beyond Chutzpah. Although
Dershowitz denies this, he so far has not
provided more than selective excerpts
from his pre-publication letters to the
New Press, the University of California
Press, and the governor of California,
and those from the New York law firm
Cravath, Swaine & Moore acting on his
behalf, to buttress his claims that his
extensive letter-writing campaign merely
sought to ensure that Beyond Chutzpah
did “not include maliciously false information.”
Since he has not released the
full texts, the best we can do is judge
these letters by how they were understood
by their recipients.

UC Press Director Lynne Withey, in an
interview with Inside Higher Ed, characterized
them as an effort to “stop publication
of the book.” In an account of
the affair in The Chronicle of Higher
, Finkelstein’s editor concluded,
“the [legal] threat to the press
was real.” The Los Angeles Times quoted
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legal
adviser’s reply to one of Dershowtiz’s
letters soliciting “the Governor’s assistance
in preventing publication of this
book.” If Dershowitz really wants to
clear the air, he should release the full
text of these letters and let the rest of us
ascertain his intent.

Having failed to prevent publication
of Beyond Chutzpah, Dershowitz is now
fighting a desperate, rear-guard action to
discourage people from reading it. His
strategy appears to be to twist the arguments
and impugn the motives of
anyone who endorses the book.

One example of such twisting is his
insinuation that I have not read his book
Why Terrorism Works. Had I done so,
he claims, I would recognize that he is
actually an opponent of torture. In fact,
I have read it carefully but remain
unconvinced that legalizing torture
through judicial warrants will reduce its
frequency and severity. Even with judicial
sanction, any justification for torture
still presents a slippery slope, as
the famous “ticking bomb” rationale has
proven in Israel and the United States in
recent years. I also had trouble taking
seriously his opposition to torture after
reading of his preferred method—sterile
needles under fingernails—and his
cavalier conclusion that “pain is overrated.”

Not satisfied simply to twist my arguments,
Dershowitz then impugns my
character and motives for favorably
reviewing Finkelstein’s book. It is
absurd, on the face of it, to attribute anti-Semitism
to a gentile who favors the
scholarship of one Jew over that of
another. But this is par for the course
with Dershowitz. In The Case for Israel,
he equates most criticisms of the Jewish
state with anti-Semitism. Now he suggests
that criticism of his work is tantamount
to anti-Semitism. The fact that
Dershowitz must fall back on name calling
to defend himself suggests that he
knows full well that he cannot win the
debate in the scholarly marketplace of

—Michael Desch

The American Conservative welcomes letters to the
editor. Submit by e-mail to,
by fax to 703-875-3350, or by mail to 1300 Wilson
Blvd., Suite 120, Arlington, VA 22209. Please include
your name, address, and phone number. We reserve
the right to edit all correspondence for space and

Finkelstein comments:

I would want briefly
to supplement some of Professor Desch’s comments.

Point (1) in Dershowitz’s letter.
Although it might seem that the quote Dershowitz cites in his
letter comes from Why Terrorism Works, it does not. Dershowitz keeps two sets of books. Whenever he gets called on one of his more outrageous statements, Dershowitz rushes into print with
a contrary opinion, and then cites the revisionist account as
the unique and authoritative one. So, after receiving harsh
criticism for what he said in Why Terrorism Works and attendant interviews, Dershowitz wrote an essay for a book edited by
University of Texas Law School professor Sanford Levinson,
from which the cited quote in his letter comes (Alan Dershowitz,
“Tortured Reasoning,” in Sanford Levinson, ed., Torture:
A Collection
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 266).
Apart from what Desch rightly quotes from Why Terrorism Works, compare what Dershowitz was saying at the time Why Terrorism Works came out:

Any reason why you use needles under the fingernails as your torture method of choice?

A reviewer criticized me for that. I purposely wanted to do that. I don’t want to be vague. I wanted to come up with a tactic that can’t possibly cause permanent physical harm but is excruciatingly painful. I agree with the reviewer; he’s right when he said, “different strokes for different folks.” For different people, different kinds of nonlethal torture might be more effective. Obviously, to the experts, having seen the movie “Marathon Man,” drilling the tooth might be better than some. But the point I wanted to make is that torture is not being used as a way of producing death. It’s been used as a way of simply causing excruciating pain.

Aren’t there other forms of torture that would be less painful than that, that you might have considered?

But I want more painful. I want maximal pain, minimum lethality. You don’t want it to be permanent, you don’t want someone to be walking with a limp, but you want to cause the most excruciating, intense, immediate pain. Now, I didn’t want to write about testicles, but that’s what a lot of people use. I also wanted to be explicit because I didn’t want to be squeamish about it. People have asked me whether I would do the torturing and my answer is, yes, I would if I thought it could save a city from being blown up.

Source: target=”_blank”>

Point (2) in Dershowitz’s letter. To figure out who’s telling the truth,
it is a simple exercise to compare Dershowitz’s rendering of Morris with
what Morris actually wrote. Dershowitz never points to a single instance where I have misrepresented this juxtaposition in my appendices. Rather, he gestures to an alleged email correspondence between a FAU professor and Morris. Several weeks ago I requested from this FAU professor a copy of his alleged email correspondence to verify that Dershowitz accurately rendered it. The professor never responded. You will notice that, in Dershowitz’s rendering, two questions were allegedly put to Morris: on the use of citations and on representation of Morris’s current opinions. The alleged reply from Morris (as rendered by Dershowitz), however, seems only to bear on the representation of his views, not on the matter of citation. It is also peculiar that Dershowitz didn’t himself write Morris soliciting a letter of support. (Or did he but didn’t get one?) Before assuming that Morris has confirmed Dershowitz’s scholarship, I would want to see the actual email correspondence. This is an elementary precaution when dealing with Dershowitz. Finally, it is noteworthy that nowhere on his website did Dershowitz post this vindication from Morris, although he had plenty to say about me. Is this because he worried that someone might check up on it?

Point (3) in Dershowitz’s letter. Everyone who has actually examined the evidence that I assemble in Appendix I of Beyond Chutzpah concurs that I make a compelling case. (See, e.g., Jon Wiener in The Nation, Amy Wilentz in the Los Angeles Times, and Neve Gordon in The National Catholic Reporter.)
I am not aware of anyone who still supports Dershowitz in his denials since publication of my book. It is unclear what evidence Bok actually examined, since he never requested from me a copy of the advance proofs, while it is also worth bearing in mind that, scandalously, Bok acquitted Laurence Tribe of plagiarism charges, although the evidence was (again) overwhelming. The testimony of James Freedman is rather underwhelming, given that he and Dershowitz are – by their own mutual reckoning – best friends.

Point (4) in Dershowitz’s letter. The adage, “Where there’s smoke, there’s
fire,” would seem to apply in Dershowitz’s case. Consider what an avowed
admirer of Dershowitz (in particular, his views on Israel) recently wrote
in the Claremont Review of Booksregarding another opus to which Dershowitz’s
name is affixed as author:

The Rights and Wrongs of Alan Dershowitz
By Hadley Arkes

The Claremont Institute | November 4, 2005

A review of Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origin of Rights, by Alan M. Dershowitz

There he goes again: Alan Dershowitz has turned out another book. I know, I know, but look: over the years he has occasionally said sensible and even compelling things on the matter of Israel; and he has been a model of sobriety on dealing with terrorism and detention when compared with other, rather untethered, people on the Left. In fact, back in 1970, he wrote a piece for Commentary on preventive detention in Israel. Without quite intending it, he virtually replicated and amplified Abraham Lincoln’s case for the suspension of habeas corpus, and did it in terms that resonated with our own time.

How could Dershowitz have been so wrong on every aspect of these matters? The charitable answer is that this is not his usual field. He was operating out of the area of his main strength. Of course, with the recent experience of Professor Dershowitz’s colleagues at the Harvard Law School, other explanations suddenly arise: Professors Tribe and Ogletree explained some egregious lapses into plagiarism by reporting that certain books of theirs were written in part by their student aides, with only a cursory review. A mischievous hypothetical: could it be that parts of Dershowitz’s book are in conflict with one another because they were written by different hands? In a curious, telling passage, he refers to the author of the Dred Scott opinion as “Justice Roger Tawney,” and to the author of the Brown v. Board of Education decision as “Justice Earl Warren.” No one familiar with these cases, or the law, would have misspelled the name of Roger Taney; and he would have quickly corrected the text to read, in either instance, Chief Justice Taney and Chief Justice Warren. All of us need proofreaders, but there is a strong temptation to think that these pages were never read by anyone who had more than a passing acquaintance with the subject. The publisher, Basic Books, surely owed their author, and their audience, a better performance than this.

Hadley Arkes is the Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, and a fellow of the Claremont Institute.

An army of advocates, defenders, PR people, marketers, spin-meisters and image-polishers

By Jay Bookman

Jay Bookman is the deputy editorial page editor. His column appears Mondays and Thursdays.

Jimmy Carter may be right or he may be wrong; in fact, like the rest of us, he’s almost certainly some of both.

But Carter is not by any stretch of the imagination anti-Semitic. In fact, merely by making that ridiculous accusation, people such as Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, have proved Carter right about some of the central observations in his controversial new book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

In that book, and in the debate it has inspired, Carter has noted the very narrow range of acceptable opinion in this country regarding Israel and Palestine, and believes that silenced debate has hurt U.S. both the United States and Israel.

“When I go to Jerusalem or to Tel Aviv or Nazareth or anywhere in Israel, the discussions and debates are intense and constant about Israeli policies in the West Bank and whether they are advisable or not,” Carter has said. ” … but in this country, zero.”

He’s absolutely right: The debate about Israeli policies is far more heated and frank within Israel than here in the United States. As one telling example, consider this paragraph by Israeli columnist Larry Derfner, writing recently in the Jerusalem Post:

“Nobody and nothing in the world has an army of advocates, defenders, PR people, marketers, spin-meisters and image-polishers like Israel has. This army isn’t made up just of the government but of Jews and Judeophiles all over the world, especially in the U.S. It includes the entire alphabet soup of American Jewish organizations, right-wing ‘media watchdogs’ like CAMERA and Honest Reporting, hundreds of Jewish newspapers and Web sites, Alan Dershowitz, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Republican Party, the Christian Right, FOX News and an assortment of other forces.”

In Israel, apparently, nobody thought twice about such a statement. But those same words written here in the United States would be prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism.

Even the comparison of the situation in the Palestinian territories to South African apartheid isn’t unsayable within Israel. To the contrary, it has been an undercurrent of debate there for years.

“I’m terribly sorry, while there are important differences between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the former apartheid regime of South Africa, after 39 years of occupation the similarities have come to outweigh the differences,” Derfner wrote recently in another column in The Jerusalem Post.

Top Israeli political figures have made the comparison as well.

“The things a Palestinian has to endure, simply coming to work in the morning, is a long and continuous nightmare that includes humiliation bordering on despair,” said Ami Ayalon, the former head of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency. “Is the option of Jewish democracy with apartheid acceptable? I think not.”

And Yossi Alpher, a former senior adviser in the Israeli government, once warned that with their unwavering support for Israel’s approach to Palestine, neoconservatives in the Bush administration have encouraged Israel to create “an apartheid reality that is the very antithesis of the democratization that they preach for the region.”

Foxman professes to be most outraged by Carter’s assertion that pro-Israeli groups have helped squelch open debate about the Middle East, accusing Carter of peddling “this shameless, shameful canard that the Jews control the debate in this country, especially when it comes to the media.”

There is indeed a shameless, shameful canard to that effect, and it is classic anti-Semitism, attributing to Jews some secret conspiratorial control of world affairs. But that is not the argument that Carter is making. Carter’s point — and Foxman proves it — is that it has become impossible to express sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians in this country without fear of being shouted down as anti-Semitic.

There is no question that anti-Semitism is alive and virulent. It is undeniable fact that Israel is unfairly targeted in the United Nations and other forums, in part because of anti-Semitism and in part because Israel is hated as a creation of the West imposed on the Arab world, a living and enduring symbol of Arab weakness.

However, Israelis also bridle when they believe their country is being held to a higher standard than other nations, and they insist that it be treated like any other normal country.

Normal countries, however, are subject to normal criticism among the community of nations. In Israel’s case, there will always be a danger that such criticism will slide into anti-Semitism, but people of good faith can surely distinguish one from the other.

Radio interview on WNUR 89.3 Chicago (09.17.2005)

Editor’s note: Finkelstein’s segment starts at 1hr 5min. (show total: 3hrs 54min). Show archive from the This Is Hell radio show.

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MP George Galloway, author of the new book, “Mr. Galloway Goes To Washington: The Brit Who Set Congress Straight About Iraq” (New Press).Mr. Galloway is the Respect Party’s Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in London, a seat he won after being expelled from the Labour Party following thirty-six year of membership. The Party expelled George for opposing the war in Iraq. You may remember George from his amazing testimony before the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs relating to his alleged and unsubstantiated involvement in the oil-for-food “scandal.”

Norman Finkelstein, author of “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” (University of California Press), is assistant professor of political science at Chicago’s DePaul University.

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Bait and Switch: The (futile) Pursuit of the American Dream” (Metropolitan Books) as well as a contributor to Harper’s and The Nation. Barbara has also been a columnist for both The New York Times and Time magazine.

Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, discussed the work of his group including their recent report on oil company profiteering. We also touched on FTCR’s work regarding insurance companies and Hurricane Katrina.

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Rush Transcript:

Chuck Mertz: Norman, I have to admit, when covering this topic, whenever I have done it in the past, … when you’re talking about being critical of Israeli policy it doesn’t matter who I’ve talked with on this show or what aspect of being critical of Israeli governmental policy or being critical of the Sharon administration, I’m always a little bit nervous, I’m always kind of uncomfortable with using the words, and I know this is just words, using the words like “Jew” and “Zionist” both from someone… because I’m not Jewish, I was raised Roman Catholic, I’m white so is there some kind of like.. is this kind of like white liberal christian guilt? Is it common place? Is this part of the reason that criticism of Israeli policy is not open for discussion within the public because of even the fear of using words like Zionist within conversation?

Norman G. Finkelstein: Well, I think that you point to an interesting problem and nobody’s ever asked me this question so I think this is a good opportunity to explore it. I think the best way to go about these things is simply not to use those terms. I don’t think being a Jew or being a Zionist has any relevance whatever in trying to examine Israeli policy. Israel is a state and it’s bound by the same rights and responsibilities as any other state in the world. Israel has citizens some of whom are… most of whom, are Jewish but a large number of whom are not Jewish. So raising the issue of Jew, also to my thinking, is irrelevant. The question is whether Israel is acting in a manner that conforms to international law. That’s the only relevant question. Jew, Zionist, those are interesting questions. I wrote a doctoral dessertation on the theory of Zionism and I found that topic interesting. That’s an area of, you know, intellectual exploration. It has nothing whatever to do with applying to Israel the same standards as you apply to any other country in the world.

CM: Norman, when I just started doing this show I was approached by someone who is Jewish in the peace activism network here in Chicago and they wanted me not to do anything on the show, or they warned me, I should say, not to do anything on the show that was critical of Israeli policy. This activist told that I should “be careful about criticizing Israeli policy” and “because knee-jerk supporters of Israeli government policy can cause a lot of trouble for those who criticize Israel.” Now that hasn’t stopped us from allowing this program to be an open forum for those who are critical of Israeli policy, whether it’s Mordechai Vanunu, Mustafa Barghouthi, Uri Avnery, the parents of Rachel Corrie, former members of the Israeli military, or folks from a number of Jewish peace and human rights organizations within Israel or Arab peace and human rights groups within Palestine..

NGF: Oh, I have to just stop you and say, that’s a terrific line up. Rachel Corrie’s
parents, I’ve met them on several occassions, are really wonderful human beings.
Mustafa Barghouthi is a terrific and very smart fellow. I think you should feel
very proud that you brought some exemplary human beings onto your radio program.
They’re tremendous. I have to say one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met
is Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie. She’s a real trooper.

CM: And you know what, just on Mustafa Barghouthi, his opinions and his views of what
the future of Palestine can be are unfortunately views on the future of Palestine that
are being completely ignored here in the United States as far as a different way for
the Palestinian people to go forward rather than embracing something like Hamas or
Islamic Jihad…

NGF: I totally agree with you and he happens to be a very intelligent person.
And that’s why those on the other side don’t want him to be seen. They want it to
look like Israel is just facing a bunch of irrational, fanatical terrorists.
And when you have someone like Dr. Barghouthi on the program it causes one to rethink
those stereotypes. He’s perfectly rational, very intelligent and very reasonable.

CM: So my question is: “was it anti-Semitic for someone, despite being Jewish, to warn
me of the power of pro-Israeli-government organizations in Chicago? Or was the power
pro-Israeli-government organizations simply overexaggerated by the activist?”

NGF: No, I think that’s a real phenomenon. I’m right now trying to get on to a Chicago
television program. Out of deference to the producer I won’t name the program. I was
originally invited to be on enthusiastically. And as always happens, so I don’t fault
this producer at all, I’m told I’ll be on imminently, days elapse, I’m not on, so I
call up curious what happened, but knowing full well what happened. I’m told I’m
controversial. And because I’m controversial, that is I don’t toe the party line on
Israel, because I’m controversial they have to have on somebody who will represent the
other view, to which I say fine, that’s terrific, bring the person on. Nothing happens
for several days. I call up again, so what’s the story? ‘Well, nobody wants to
appear with you from the other side.’ And therefore, the other side effectively has a
veto on all dissenting voices because they simply say ‘he’s controversial, he can’t
be on alone but we won’t appear with him.’ And then the radio station, the television
program, they say, ‘ well, sorry, we can’t let you on alone, you can’t be on.’ And
I’ve had that happen so many times. It still fills me with a mixture of bitterness
and frustration but I can’t say it comes as a surprise for me. That’s how the other
side works. They know perfectly well if they pigeonholed you as controversial then
the station feels the obligation to have the alternative point of view and you never
get on because then they say they won’t come on. The funny thing, the irony of all
of it is, in fact, by any rational standard, I’m not controversial at all. I got
my degrees, my graduate level degrees, from Princeton. I’ve written 5 books, one of
which was named a notable book of the year by the Sunday New York Times Book Review.
Another one of my books has been translated into 19 languages and was an international
bestseller. If you look at my recent book, the one that just came out, Beyond Chutzpah,
which is supposedly the most controversial of all.. if you just turn to the back cover
you’ll see blurbs praising the book from the Chair of the department at the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem, from Oxford University, from Harvard University, from
Berkeley and from M.I.T. And as it happens all of the persons endorsing the book
are Jewish. But notwithstanding, the book came out from a university press, all of the
endorsers are Jewish, all of the endorsers are the leading scholars in the field,
at their respective leading universities in the world (Hebrew University, Oxford,
Harvard, M.I.T.). Notwithstanding all of that, I’m the one that’s deemed controversial.
Whereas, one of the main subjects of my book, namely Alan Dershowitz of Harvard…
Professor Dershowitz has written what I claim and I extensively document to be a fraud.
He plagiarizes from a hoax. And Professor Dershowitz went as far as the Governor of
California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to try to block publication of my book. This
coming from a renowned civil libertarian. Nonetheless, Professor Dershowitz is never
deemed controversial. If he wanted to appear on a television program in Chicago there
would never be the standard that an alternative point of view has to be presented.
Professor Dershowitz last week had a large Op-Ed piece in the Chicago Tribune. Was there
any standard that there had to be a dissenting view on the same page? I submitted
an Op-Ed to the Chicago Tribune, I’m still waiting to hear. I have a very good idea
of what the answer is.

CM: Norman, you know, this made me think about how we have had people on our show
in the past who have said that the public forum, as far as being critical of Israeli
policy, is far more vigorous, there is far more criticism of Israeli governmental
policy, the policies of the Sharon administration in particular, within the Israeli
media than there is within the media here in the United States. I know that there
are probably some people who are listening to this show right now who think that your
opinions, your criticisms of Israeli policy are not being put on the air here
in the United States because of this hateful remark that I’ve heard so many people
say, that “the Jews control the media.” So why do you think that there is… first of all,
do you think that there is a more vigorous debate within the Israeli media and, secondly,
why do you think you are not allowed, or as invited into, the mainstream media here in the
United States to discuss your criticism of Israeli foreign policy or policy in general?

NGF: There was probably more vigorous debate on Israeli policy in the settlements in
Gaza than there is in the United States. I’m serious, I mean this place is pretty
monotonal. It’s really a Johny-One-Note on the question of Israel; “who can be a
bigger cheerleader than the next.” So I think the talk about the range of debate when
it comes to the United States, it’s just… you’re on another planet. Let me just
give you a simple example. In any other country in the world where there are human
rights violations the standard procedure is you go to mainstream human rights
organizations and you ask them ‘what’s going on in Indonesia?’ You ask Human Rights
Watch. What’s going on in Colombia? You ask Amnesty International. That’s the standard.
You go to the human rights organizations and then you also ofcourse go to the reputable
local human rights organizations in those countries. That standard is completely ignored
when you come to Israel and the Palestinians. You’ll never hear what Amnesty International
or Human Rights Watch have to say on the topic or the local human rights organizations. For
2 weeks the media was bombarding us with all of these images of Israel withdrawing anquishly,
withdrawing from Gaza and making a major concession towards ending the conflict. And as
you perhaps know, yesterday Sharon said that ‘we’ve withrdrawn from Gaza’, at the United
Nations, ‘we’ve withrdrawn from Gaza and now it’s time for the Palestinians to make a
major concession.’ However, just go to any human rights organization and see what they
wrote. On August 19th Human Rights Watch issued a statement. The title of the statement
said ‘disengagement does not mean the end of occupation.’ And it stated, that if you
take, I’m now giving you the paraphrase, if you take jailers and you remove them from inside
the prison and put them on the perphery of the prison and the jailers have all control over
who goes in, who goes out — in the case of Gaza, the airspace and the coastline — they say,
it’s still a jail. Nothing has changed from the point of view of international law. All
that happened was, the jailers threw the keys into the cells, told the inmates they’re now
free to walk around inside the jail but we’re shutting tight the gates of the jail. Nothing
changed under international law. Go to B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights
in the Occupied Territories). It’s the main human rights organization in Israel monitoring
human rights in the West Bank and Gaza. It put out a huge report entitled appropriately enough
‘One Big Prison’ about Gaza. And it reached the same conclusion that so long as Israel
controls all of the entry and exit, the movement of goods and people, under international
law, they said, the claim that the occupation is over is questionable. Now, I wonder if
any of your listeners, even one, had heard that point of view? Is that an extremist point of
view? Is that Hamas’ point of view? Is that Kadafi’s point of view? Is that Iran’s point of
view? No. It’s the point of view of completely mainstream reputable authoritative human
rights organizations but in the American media it’s a complete taboo. You can’t hear it.
My latest book, if you skim through it, and just look at the bottom of the page because we
decided to use footnotes instead of endnotes, what you’re going to find is all I cite, all I cite,
are mainstream human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem,
the Public Committee Against Torture in Irael, Physicians for Human Rights in Israel. That’s all
I cite. Is that controversial? Yes, in the United States. But anywhere else it’s not considered
controversial and what’s more… on any other place in the world it wouldn’t be considered
controversial but when it comes to Isreal and the Palestinians you are not allowed to cite
mainstream sources. All you’re allowed to do is the following. You’re allowed to say:
‘the Israeli government says X, the Palestinians say Y, who knows where the truth is.’
We don’t use that standard anywhere else. We go to monitoring groups to find out what’s
going on. But here we can’t do that and there’s a very simple reason. Because what they say is
going on is very much at variance with what our media want to report is going on.

CM: Well, why is it a taboo? Why does the media not want to report on this issue?
I mean, this isn’t the only issue that the media does not have a public forum about, there
are other issues but… and not very many, and certainly not to the degree of criticism of Israeli
policy and especially Israeli, not just internally or domestically, but Israeli policy towards
the Occupied Territories. So why is it that..?

NGF: I think it’s a combination of things, 2 elements and depending on your analysis of it
you attack more weight to one or the other. I can’t tell you which is the more important element
but the 2 elements are clearly that Israel is a strategic asset of the US in the Middle East
and accordingly it enjoys the same sorts of immunities to criticism as American policy generally
does. It will come as no surprise to your listeners to hear that the American media generally
are supportive of US government policy regardless of who happens to be in office. Whether that’s
right or not, I’m not going to judge but I think it’s a fact that any rational person is going to
recognize. And then there is the 2nd component and the second component is a powerful lobby
which can do real damage to those who buck the lobby. I don’t think anybody disputes that
and frankly, in many instances, the lobby itself boasts about its power. Nobody would deny,
for example, the power of the National Rifle Association. They would say, yes, it’s a powerful
lobby. And so why should we be shy from saying, especially when the Israel lobby itself about its
power, why should we be shy from simply echoing their boast and saying yes, they have profound
powers of intimidation, they have lots of money, lots of political clout and people are
afraid of them. And we should be honest, they’re also very well organized. After having me on the
program you’re going to be deluged with letter. You know, that’s not going to be a surprise.
And you’ll be deluged with criticism and they’re going to say ‘how can you have that Holocaust
denier on your program?!’ Nevermind that my late mother and late father passed through the
Nazi holocaust. Nevermind that they were in the Warsaw Ghetto from 1939 to 1943. Nevermind that
my mother was in the Majdanek concentration camp and 2 slave labor camps. Nevermind that my
father was in Auschwitz, in the Auschwitz death march. Nevermind that every single member
of my family was exterminated on both sides. That doesn’t stop these people. You will get a
deluge of calls and emails stating that you had a Holocaust denier on your program and if
there’s any doubt they’re gonna say, ‘go to the Internet, look at what Professor Dershowitz has to
say on the subject, of Harvard University, the Felix Frankfurter Chair at Harvard, he’s even written
that Finkelstein thinks his mother was a Nazi collaborator.’ That’s what Dershowitz writes.
Nevermind that’s a complete fraud and Professor Dershowitz is a very ill liar. That’s all
irrelevant. That’s how they work. They take off the kid gloves. This is, you know, taking out
the wrench and breaking your knee caps. That’s their style.

CM: The name of your book again, we’re sitting with Professor Norman Finkelstein, he’s author of
Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. He’s Assistant
Professor of Political Science at Chicago’s DePaul University and a very good friend of mine,
who I was mentioning earlier on this morning’s show, and he’s going to be one of our
contributing correspondents in the very near future, Danny Muller, who used to work for
Voice in the Wilderness, he said that you are… these are his exact words, he said that he
wants to have your baby, if that’s actually biologically possible. [laughter] So Norman, you know, one of the
things that… I gotta admit that I am not concerned about your criticism but I am concerned about
the concept of anti-Semitism. You talk about how people who are pro-Israeli government, who are
completely uncritical of the Israeli government, who are knee-jerk supporters no matter
what the policies of the Israeli government are, you say that they exploit anti-Semitism
in order to deflect criticism from the Israeli government. But because you’re talking about
the exploitation of anti-Semitism, I think that people imply from that that you either don’t
believe that anti-Semitism exists or that they imply from that the fact that you are
critical of.. or you’re saying that anti-Semitism is being exploited for some political
reasons that there would be the under-estimation of the impact of anti-Semitism
within this country or around the world. Are you concerned when you are critical of
the use of anti-Semitism, the exploitation, by those who support the Israeli government in
order, as you say, to deflect criticism from the Israeli government that it could lead to
people ignoring actual acts of anti-Semitism and actual biggotry and hatred against Jews?

NGF: I think just the reverse is true. The fact of the matter is, when you keep crying
anti-Semitism in the face of its absence and you keep labeling critics of Israel,
legitimate critics of Israel, as anti-Semitic, you’re cheapening the currency. That’s why
Chapter 3 of my book is entitled Crying Wolf. Crying Wolf doesn’t mean that there’s no
wolf out there. Actually I had a debate with my editor whether to call the third chapter,
this alleged New anti-Semitism in the US, wether to call it Crying Wolf or
The Sky Isn’t Falling — the Henny-Penny story, for those of you who remember the childrens’
story — and she said, ‘no, we should call it Crying Wolf, because we’re not denying
the phenomenon exists but we’re talking about the fact that people claiming it in instances
where it’s not there.’ It’s just legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. Everybody knows
from the story, Crying Wolf, what happens when the real wolf comes along. And that’s why
one has to be rational and careful and circumspect and cautious in using terms like that
because, not only is it morally irresponsible to fling that label on people who only want
to abide by international law and the human rights of all people in the area, not only is
it morally irresponsible but it’s politically wreckless because you cheapen the currency,
and if and when that phenomenon does resurface you won’t be taken seriously.

CM: You also write in Beyond Chutzpah that “allegations of new anti-Semitism is
neither new or about anti-Semitism. It’s not to fight anti-Semitism but to exploit
the historical suffering of Jews in order to immunize Israel against criticism.”
In a sense it’s like playing the anti-Semitism card. But the right, the right wing
in this country, has been able to effectively dismiss the question of race by
saying stuff like: “there you go again, playing the race card.” So why isn’t that
considered racist but if someone said “there you go, playing the anti-Semitic card again”
that would be considered anti-Semitic.

NGF: Well, I think that’s a very fair question and then you have to judge in each
individual case whether we’re dealing with a real phenomenon or we’re dealing with
its exploitation. Let’s take the case of
Clarence Thomas.
When he went through the Senate hearings for his confirmation he said that what he was
undergoing was a high-tech lynching. I think it was fair, in that circumstance, to say he
was playing the race card because he was coming under legitimate criticism and real issues
were being raised about his conduct in the past. It wasn’t race, it was whether or not he
was being candid about claims that were being alleged against him. But he decided to drag in
the issue of lynchings and the South. Ok, in that case, I would say he was playing the race
card. In general, if you were to ask me whether Black people who claim they face discrimination
in the United States in all walks of American life are playing the race card, I would say
flat out no. I live in the real world. I know the racism all around me and frankly, to be
perfectly candid, I know the racism within me, not just around me. So I’m not going to pretend
as if it’s not an issue. And it’s an issue that Blacks have to face in every area of life and,
most significantly, in the areas of employment and education, which are the ones which affect
most your right of opportunity. Let’s turn to the Jews in the United States. Do Jews in the
United States face significant or even trivial obstacles any longer in education or employment?
Are law firms any longer not employing Jews? Is the medical field in any way closed to Jews?
Is university life closed any longer to Jews? Yes, there was a time when it certainly was
the case but would anyone in his or her right mind say that Harvard is closed to Jews? Or
Princeton is closed to Jews? Or the faculties are closed to Jews? That’s nonsense. And so
we have to have a realistic assessment of the condition of Jews in the United States now.
You know, you read for example, the current editor of
Commentary magazine,
the main Jewish periodical, his name is Gabriel Schoenfeld. And Gabriel Schoenfeld wrote
a book a year ago, it was called The Return of anti-Semitism, and he begins on a
very portentious note. He says “Jews in the United States are targeted for murder.” Does
that sound like the United States you live in? I don’t walk out of my house with a
bulletproof vest. I’m not looking over my shoulder for snipers and pogromists. Does this
have any bearing on the real world in which you, I and your listeners live? No. But if
you were to say to me “Black people face discrimination in the United States and there’s
a lot of racism in the United States,” that sounds like the world in which I live. So the
question is not whether or not you have the right to use those labels, the question is
whether they’re being appropriately used.

CM: We’re speaking with Norman Finkelstein. He’s the author of Beyond Chutzpah:
on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History
. He’s also Assistant Professor
of Political Science in Chicago’s Depaul University. Just 2 more questions for you Norman and
speaking of your role as Assistant Professor at Depaul University… You recently have been
attacked for your view points in a way that threatened, I believe, your advancement in
your academic career and we touched on
David Horrowitz’
frightening Academic
Bill of Rights
that would basically bring lawyers into the classroom so students can
file grievances against any perceived liberal bias in universities. You know, this could
lead to all sorts of problems but it’s surprising that from Conservatives, who are so
anti-lawyer… that they would embrace a concept that would bring lawyers into the classroom.
You write about these threats to academic freedom using the case of Columbia University,
where there was a perceived anti-Semitic bias, and you say that “the real revelation of
the Columbia episode was not that the claim of anti-Semitism was a fraud but how
defacto agents of a foreign government have, in service to their Holly State, conspired
to muzzle academic freedom in the United States.” If the Academic Bill of Rights is agree to
by universities here in the United States universally, will criticism of Israeli
government policy, even of Sharon administration policy, be stricken from all curriculum?

NGF: I don’t really know the details of the Academic Bill of Rights. What I can tell
you is, well short of the Academic Bill of Rights it is… University life is already
quite carefully, may be for better or for worse, I don’t wanna pass judgement, but it is
quite carefully policed. The notion that a professor can say whatever he or she wants
in a classroom is just sheer nonsense. Careful professors… I’m speaking now of the Social
Studies not of the Natural Sciences, are very careful about what they say in the classroom
because they’re fully aware that all sorts of grievances can be filed against them for
the things they say. So this notion that you need an additional policing of the classroom
I think comes from people who have no concept of what classroom life is like right now.
I don’t think it’s incorrect to say that there is a kind of reign of political correctness
and that political correctness extends across the spectrum. It’s not just being sensitive to
the concerns of minorities and women, and so forth. For example, I often think twice and
three times before — and I don’t mean just at DePaul University, even at secular universities
where I’ve taught — about saying to the class that I’m an atheist. You know when I was
growing up, I’m now 52, when I grew up being an atheist was alsmost what everyone was. But
somehow, some way our culture has changed and being an atheist is now the same as once
saying you’re a communist. And I think twice and three times about saying it and, you know,
people claiming they’re offended by it, so I think already we are pretty politically correct.
And I teach… DePaul is the first university in my entire teaching career that’s allowed me to
teach the Israel-Palestine conflict. I’m very careful about what I teach. You know the internet
is a quite powerful weapon. And so they’ll have up right away on the internet, the other side,
will have up right away, your reading list to try to show there are biases in the books that
you read. This is without any Academic Bill of Rights. And, you know, if they can demonstrate
a bias in your reading list, that’s gonna be a problem for you. The Chair will call you down
on it. And complaints will be filed. so I think there’s a certain amount of — may be it’s
malicious naivete, may be it’s an unwitting naivete, I don’t know — but there’s a certain
amount of naivete that right now it’s pretty much a free-for-all where a professor can
say whatever he or she wants. That’s not what the classroom looks like now.

CM: Norman, one last question for you. We’ve been speaking with Norman Finkelstein. He’s
author of Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. It’s
printed on University of California Press and if you go to our website, you
click on the University of California Press link that we have at our website it’ll
take you to their website and you can purchase the book directly through the website at his
publisher. One last question Norman, it’s what we call our “question fro hell”, the
question we hate to ask, you might hate to answer, who knows how this is gonna work out.
One of the things that I have seen within, as you point out in your book, within
the judicial system, within the justice system of Israel, is what amounts to a kind of a
reflection of a culture of fear within Israel, a fear that the country of Israel will end,
that Israelis will be pushed to the sea. We see it here in the United States, a culture of
fear that the Bush administration embraces, and by embracing this culture of fear you lead
people into thinking that we’re gonna be attacked at any time and that we’re willing to give
up our freedoms in order to make sure we don’t have another 9-11. But you write that
with Dershowitz supporting the infringement on so many different freedoms, supporting
the idea of torture, the idea of hostage taking, stifling of political dissent, the oppression
of the perceived enemies of the State, and those who live, in the case of Israel, within the
Occupied Territories, you write that “Dershowitz has not made a case for Israel. How could
anyone genuinely concerned about the Israeli people council policies certain to sow
seeds of hatred abroad and moral corruption within? What he has in fact written is
the case for the destruction of Israel.” But what you call the “tough Jew” stance would
presumably be that of a constant aggressor… as far as what would happen in Israel if
Dershowitz had his way, of a constant aggressor, of a militrized, freedom-deprived State,
all in the name of the fear of terrorism and actual terrorism as well. So even under this
twisted view of the future of Israel are you feeding.. first of all, is the destruction of
actually a possibility if the Dershowitz plan is being followed? And are you feeding
the same fear of the destruction of the state of Israel in essence but from a different
direction than Dershowitz is?

NGF: Well, let’s start from scratch. Jews are a very, very, very tiny minority
of the world’s population. May be 0.0000001 of the world’s population and when you’re
such a tiny percentage of the world’s population it’s not a wise thing to make
enemies of everybody around you, not just in your region but around the world. And
it’s not a wise thing to link all your fortunes with one country when that one country
acts on its own interests, which may at this moment coincide with yours but tomorrow
may not. But that’s basically what Israel has done. It’s thumbed its nose not just at
all the Arab regimes in the Middle East but it’s thumbed its nose at the whole world.
It goes about its business, ignores all United Nations resolutions, ignores the
International Court of Justice, ignores human rights organizations and it does so
for one simple reason: because it has the impunity of being connected or linked with
the United States. That’s not a wise thing for any country to do. First of all,
because it’s not a wise thing to alienate everyone around you and become the hated
neighbor. And number two, it’s not wise because you can’t always count on this
particular Big Brother. This Big Brother has at its head of state… as its executives,
people who are quite ruthless, very ruthless and act on their interests. And one day
that very very thin chord connecting you and the United States may be cut. So… morally it’s totally wrong and I would say politically it’s not very prudent the kind of strategy that Israel is pursuing. In the case of people like Dershowitz.. I don’t think he cares about Israel. For him it’s all theater. He gets to act out this role of “the Jew with Chutzpah” by putting forth these policies like torture, supporting, as he calls it, “the automatic destruction of a Palestinian village” after every terrorist attack. He’s putting forth these Nazi-like policies because it enables him to play a kind of role. A role, I think [ described..] accurately a moment ago, he gets to play the role of the “tough Jew” but that role is totally independent of and uncaring of the Israelis. It’s a role that suits him and the image that he wants to project — the Jew who doesn’t give a damn what the
Goyim think, (the Goyim meaning non-Jews).
That’s the image he wants to project. That has nothing to do with Israel and that has nothing to do with caring about those people. How could anyone, as I say at the end of the book, the passage you quote, how can anyone who cares about the fate of the Israeli people constantly be counceling policies which are just creating hatred? He goes beyond, incidentally, just counceling policies. There were some courageous Israeli dissenters who said they refused to launch missiles into Palestinian neighborhoods anymore, what was going on during what was called the second Intifada, when the Apache helicopters were launching missiles. And there were several courageous Israeli members of the Air Force who issued a public statement saying that they won’t do it anymore, that it’s in violation of international law and it’s completely immoral, you’re targetting civilians in neighborhoods. You know what Professor Dershowitz did, the great civil libertarian? He went on a special mission to Israel to consult with the Israeli government about how we can combat and restrict the influence of this dissent. Isn’t that a paradox? Isn’t it a paradox when Israelis show the courage to dissent from policies which are clearly immoral and illegal, the great civil libertarian from the United States flies to Israel in order to figure out ways to repress them? That’s… you know, as we say, that’s his schtick, but let’s be clear, it has nothing whatever to do with
concern for Israelis.

CM: Norman, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show. I enjoyed
your book and I really appreciated the fact that it was so thoroughly footnoted through
out the book. There are 2 segments in this book, I just want to point out to everybody,
that there is the segment on the abuse of anti-Semitism and then there’s the
segment on using Dershowitz as an example on revealing what Norman believes is..
and through his documentation seems to support, his view of Israeli history. It can almost
be read as 2 separate books and both sections are very interesting. At the end of the book
when you compare the myth about Israeli history is to what history’s documents say it is..
I think it’s one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen concerning the history of Israel.
I really appreciate you being on the show this…

NGF: Well, you know what? Allow me to say I really appreciate you having me.
I thought you were an excellent interviewer. The questions were not generic. They showed
thought and I appreciate it. And my last words to you are… I wish YOU the best of luck.

CM: Alright yeah, well, hey Norman, by the way, thanks for all of the hate mail
I’m going to get… reeeaaally appreciate it. [laughter] Had I known you were a Holocaust
denier I would’ve never had you on the show..

NGF: [laughter] Oh, I’m not just “a Holocaust denier…” i think
“my mother was a nazi collaborator” [laughter]…

CM: Oooh, well, see, another reason I shouldn’t’ve had you on the show! Alright, Norman,
I really appreciate you being on.

NGF: My pleasure.

BBC News: online audience debate on anti-Semitism as discussed in Beyond Chutzpah

Editor’s note: This debate is now closed.

Controversial Jewish author and historian Norman Finkelstein has argued that many claims of anti-Semitism are used as a tactic by supporters of Israel.

His new book, Beyond Chutzpah, suggests that whenever Israel comes under international pressure, a media campaign is launched alleging an outbreak of anti-Semitism.

But anti-Semitism remains a real problem around the world.

What is anti-Semitism? Is legitimate criticism of Israel stifled by its supporters? Or is there an unhealthy obsession with Israel’s human rights record?”

Read BBC News readers’ comments comments.

Jewish Chronicle (U.K.) on Beyond Chutzpah

by Geoffery Alderman


Earlier this month, I was asked by the BBC to participate in a live radio
debate with Professor Norman Finkel-stein, an American Jew, born in Brooklyn
to Holocaust survivors, who now teaches at DePaul University, Chicago, and
who had come to the UK to promote his latest book, “Beyond Chutzpah”.
After Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, Professor Finkelstein must be regarded as the world’s
foremost Jewish exponent of intellectual (as opposed to religious)

Indeed, I understand that Professor Finkelstein is enthusiastically seen in
some quarters as Professor Chomsky’s ideological heir-apparent.

It’s a claim that I would certainly support.

His bitter invective against the role of Zionism in the recent history of
the Middle East far outstrips that of, say, Avi Shlaim, professor of
international relations at Oxford, or of Professor Ilan Pappe at Haifa
University, while his command of the sources is – at least to the untrained
eye – far wider than that of, say, Professor Steven Rose of the Open
University (whom we must remember is not, alas, a trained historian or
political scientist).

I have previously been invited to debate with Jewish anti-Zionists and,
whenever such an invitation reaches me, I ask myself whether the risk of
giving further publicity to the views of these oddballs is actually worth
running. In most cases, I have turned down the request. In Professor
Finkelstein’s case, I decided to take up the challenge.

University teachers are in a unique position “of influence bordering upon
power” to frame the views of those entrusted to their educational care.
Jewish anti-Zionists who occupy such positions must never be allowed to
assume that they have carte blanche, or that their opinions are in any way
shielded from academic scrutiny.

Professor Finkelstein seems to me to specialise in the writing of
semi-sensational works that attract publicity (which presumably impacts
favourably on their sales) mainly on account of their titles.

Five years ago, he published “The Holocaust Industry.”

This slim volume purported to reveal how American Jewry had become
interested in the Holocaust only post-1967, when, he argues, it occurred to
them that their corporate and class interests could best be defended by
using the historical victimhood of the Jewish people as an argument against
having to share their allegedly privileged position in American society with
other dispossessed and persecuted minorities, such as the blacks.

This is an interesting if controversial argument, and a greater scholar than
Norman Finkelstein might have felt the need to exhibit and deploy the
evidence necessary to sustain it. What Finkelstein did, however, was to
launch an attack on the notion of there having been a Holocaust on the scale
claimed by the Jews.

His specious reasoning has already been authoritatively destroyed by, among
others, Professor David Cesarani of London University (in a masterly review
in the Times Higher Education Supplement of August 4, 2000). As Cesarani
argued there, Finkelstein’s exoneration of the conduct of the Swiss banks
towards Holocaust victims is amazing, not least because of the weight of
historical evidence against it.

In “Beyond Chutzpah”, Finkelstein uses a similar approach and falls into a
similar trap: take an interesting idea (in this case, that supporters of
Israel use the accusation of anti-Semitism to deflect criticism of the
Jewish state and to stifle legitimate debate about that state), but then
support it by evidence that is partial and incomplete.

Israel is no more above criticism than any other state. I myself have
criticised successive Israeli governments in this column. At the same time,
I have no doubt that some criticism of Israel is motivated by Judeophobia,
pure and simple. All the signs are there if only Professor Finkelstein, and
similarly myopic Jews, would look for and be prepared to recognise them.

Both on the right and the left in democratic polities (never mind Islamic
autocracies) we can now find Israel depicted as a state that was born in
original sin (the supposed dispossession and attempted destruction of the
Palestinian Arab “nation”) and that ought not, therefore, to exist.

That it does exist is due to the support of Jews worldwide, and of non-Jews
whom they, the Jews, have corrupted and suborned for this purpose. Israel
is, the argument continues, the major threat to world peace. World peace is,
in short, threatened by a new world Jewish conspiracy.

This is the essence of the “new” anti-Semitism, which, in spite of the
vehement denials of Professor Finkelstein and other like-minded Jews, is, I
am sorry to say, alive and well on both sides of the Atlantic. Those Jews
who deny the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination are,
more often than not, among its most slavish (if unconscious) followers, be
they secular, self-hating anti-religious Jews of the left or religious
self-loving pseudo-Orthodox Jews of the right.

When I debated with Professor Finkelstein, I found him singularly unwilling
to confront or engage with this analysis.

As he mouthed to the microphone the same platitudes that appear on the
publicity literature that accompanies his latest book, I wondered how
effective he might be as a teacher of political science.

I do not know what impact he has on his pupils. His retreat into unthinking
dogma certainly frightens me.

A review that’s actually about the book!

By Mike Marqusee
Red Pepper, January 2006

When celebrity trial lawyer and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz published ‘The Case for Israel’ in 2003, it was acclaimed by leading US opinion-makers, including The New York Times and Boston Globe, and quickly became a best seller. Yet the book is, as Norman Finkelstein comprehensively demonstrates, “among the most spectacular frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict”, a remarkably shabby piece of work whose major contentions are clearly contradicted by the documentary record.

There’s value (and pleasure) in the debunking of a bogus authority, but the import of Finkelstein’s new book goes way beyond that. Dershowitz’s arguments are common currency among those making “the case for Israel”. In meticulously rebutting them, Finkelstein not only challenges an influential school of apologetics but also illuminates many of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

He contends that far from being a case of intractable ethnic antagonism rooted in anicent identities or cultural differences, the conflict is a straightforward one, arising from the disposession of an indigenous people and an occupation by military conquest. Among historians, there is now a consensus about the uprooting of the Palestinians in 1948. Among human rights groups, there is a consensus about the unacceptable nature of Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories. In the UN and the international community, there is a consensus – from which only Israel and the US dissent – that Israel should withdraw to the pre-1967 borders and that a genuinely independent Palestinian state should be established. It is because these matters – historical and moral – are so straightforward that the champions of Israel resort to obfuscation, falsifying history and demonising critics.

In keeping with the slogan of a “land without people for a people without land”, but in defiance of all historical evidence, Dershowitz claims that Palestine was largely unpopulated prior to the arrival of the Zionist colonists in the 19th century. He draws support for this assertion exclusively from Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial, a book published twenty years ago and long since exposed (by Finkelstein and others) as a fake. (One of Finkelstein’s subsidiary arguments is that Dershowitz is guilty of plagiarism in lifting material extensively and without attribution from Peters’ book). Dershowitz proceeds from this mythological starting-point to insist that Israel has been consistently generous in its efforts to reach peace with the Palestinians – a claim Finkelstein rebuts with a useful appendix precisely detailing Israel’s record of intransigence and its responsibility for obstructing a settlement.

To Dershowitz, Edward Said was “a believer in violence and bloodshed” and the (strictly non-violent) ISM are “active supporters and facilitators of Palestinian terrorism”. He thinks ethnic cleansing is a “fifth rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal” and that Israel’s practise of targeted assassinations “strengthens civil liberties, not those of the Israelis but those of the Palestinians”. But perhaps his most extraordinary claim is that Israel’s human rights record in the occupied territories is “generally superb”. Relying exclusively on reports from mainstream human rights organisations and the Israeli press, Finkelstein rebuts this fantasy with a catalogue of ghastly abuses: torture, political liquidations, unlawful and deliberate killings, arbitrary detentions (by the tens of thousands), house demolitions, use of civilians as human shields, attacks on ambulances, and what Amnesty calls “reckless shooting, shelling and aerial bombardment of residential areas”. Here Finkelstein has performed a major service: this is a thorough and scrupulously documented charge-sheet and one that defenders of Israel habitually deny, ignore or downplay.

Regardless of one’s views on the conflict’s origins or solution, Israel’s behaviour in the occupied territories – climaxing with its illegal construction of the wall – ought to be unacceptable from any regime anywhere. Dershowitz and his allies complain that Israel is unfairly “singled out” by critics, but the thrust of their arguments is to exempt Israel from the basic requirements of international law and human decency. What’s most disturbing is that, in the USA and to a lesser extent in Britain, they have succeeded in shielding Israel from the condemnation and sanctions its behaviour deserves. And a key factor in that success has been the wanton abuse of the allegation of anti-Semitism.

In recent years, a band of polemicists enjoying ready access to the media have warned that a “new anti-Semitism” is rampant (especially in Europe) and that Jews are once again in mortal peril. However, their principal evidence for this alarming claim is the growth of opposition to Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. In 2003, for example, what Finkelstein calls a “contrived scandal” erupted around the sensational allegation that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia had suppressed a report showing a frightening rise in anti-Semitism within the EU. In fact, the report was rejected because its methodology was hopelessly flawed. It cited as evidence of anti-Semitism the widespread “assumption of close ties between the US and Israel” (something US politicians routinely boast about), the belief that Israel has perpetrated “ethnic cleansing”, displays of the Palestinian flag, wearing of the kefiyah and calls for a boycott of Israeli goods. The Independent and The Guardian, among other European newspapers, were said to “smell of anti-Semitism”.

Proponents of the “new anti-semitism” thesis go further. They frequently label the anti-globalisation movement and even the global opposition to the Iraq war as anti-Semitic. In the US, they routinely identify what they call European “anti-Americanism” as a veiled form of anti-Semitism. Yet they are willing to embrace Sylvio Berlusconi – whose allies inlude the political heirs of Mussolini – because of his support for Israel.

The agenda of the would-be scourges of “the new anti-Semitism”, Finkelstein notes, is “not to fight anti-Semitism but rather to exploit the historical suffering of Jews in order to immunise Israel against criticism.” That does not mean that all allegations of anti-Semitism are bogus or that they can be dismissed out of hand as the machinations of the Israel lobby. In addition to old-fashioned right-wing Jew hatred, there is also, undoubtedly, what Finkelstein calls “the unjustified yet predictable ‘spillover’ from criticism of Israel to Jews generally.” Here Finkelstein enters territory that will be contentious even among the most dedicated supporters of Palestine. Some will balk at his discussion of the degree to which Jewish support for Israel is to blame for anti-Semitism. But as Finkelstein notes, it is the apologists for Israel who consistently re-enforce the identification of Jews with the state of Israel (and even the Israeli government) and thereby expose Jews world-wide to the anger and resentment provoked by Israeli policy.

The “new anti-Semitism” school of thought is pernicious not only in its demonising of critics of Israel and Zionism, but also in its cheapening of a grave charge and its cynical exploitation of the horrors of the Nazi holocaust. “Those Jews committed to the struggle against the real anti-Semitism must, in the first instance,” Finkelstein argues, “expose this specious ‘anti-Semitism for the sham it is.”

In making his case, Finkelstein constructs a formidable scholarly fortress. If he occasionally indulges in exasperated sarcasm, it’s hard to blame him, given his opponents’ jaw-dropping chutzpah (according to Dershowitz, “The fault for all civilian casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies exclusively with the Palestinian terrorists.”). Most importantly, he guides the reader through this contested terrain with the aid of a detailed map and a universal moral compass. Examining each assertion or argument, he asks whether it is based on ascertainable historical fact and is compatible with a humanist ethic that prizes all human life equally.

Unsurprisingly, a ferocious campaign has been mounted against Finkelstein. Dershowitz repeatedly threatened his publishers with libel actions and appealed directly to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to compel the University of California Press (US publisher of Beyond Chutzpah) to suppress the book. The leader of the Anti-Defamation League – originally founded to protect Jewish civil rights but now largely dedicated to hounding critics of Israeli policy – has labelled him a “holocaust denier”. On his website Dershowitz claims that Finkelstein thinks his own mother (a Holocaust and Warsaw ghetto survivor) was “a Nazi collaborator”.

Pro-Palestinian activists in Britain will be only too familiar with the smears and misrepresentations which are the stock-in-trade of Israel’s apologists. The playing of the anti-Semitism card, in particular, has caused widespread frustration and anguish. (Those of us who are both Jewish and pro-Palestinian, of course, are dubbed “self-haters”). In responding to our accusers, we have to take the greatest care in drawing crucial distinctions – between Judaism and Zionism, between Jews and Israel, between politics and ethnicity – not least because our opponents so often fail to make precisely these distinctions. But we mustn’t allow the Union of Jewish Students or the Jewish Chronicle to set the terms of debate. They may bristle whenever anyone compares Israel to apartheid South Africa or Zionist colonisation to the European conquest of North America. But only those who blind themselves to the realities chronicled by Finkelstein would find such comparisons anything but apposite and indeed necessary.

From the Egyptian Mail

By Emad El-Din Aysha

I had originally intended to write a follow-up on last week’s article about Bush’s alleged plans to bomb Al-Jazeera, having accumulated some new information about the proposed attack. In the meantime, however, I had the very good fortune to watch an interview of the controversial critic of Israel and US foreign policy, Norman Finklestein. Moreover, I
watched it on, predictably, Al-Jazeera. Fortunately, he took up the issue of Bush’s hostility to Al-Jazeera, so I haven’t strayed far from that topic either.

Industrial accident

Finklestein, if you don’t know already, is the author of the ‘infamous’ (should just be famous and celebrated) book, The Holocaust Industry, where he, a Jew himself, catalogues the systematic politicisation and commercialisation of the Holocaust by the Zionist lobby and American policymakers to the benefit of Israel and the detriment of
the Palestinians. He’s not a Holocaust denier, mind you, having suffered personally
from Nazism – they wiped out his extended family of Polish Jews. But it was his
own horrors that paved the way for his moral defence of the Holocaust experience
against those who would seek to bend it to their will.

In the process, he reveals some things we were blissfully unaware of, namely,
the fallacies of what is often said about the all-powerful Zionist lobby in the US.
This lobby only turned virulently pro-Israeli and began using the Holocaust to
wring concessions out of Germany and terrorise dissenters, after the 1967 War.
That is, after Israel proved its usefulness to US foreign policy, at a time when the
US was hard pressed to police its Third World domains, bogged down as it
was in Vietnam. From that point onwards, the Jewish organisations that had been
steadfastly avoiding the ‘embarrassment’ of the Holocaust – the victim status
of the Jews – suddenly found God and became born-again victims.
From then on the exploitation of this historical tragedy became an industry and took
on a life of its own, with even non-Jews hopping onto the bandwagon and claiming to
have been persecuted Jews.

Now practically everyone’s become a victim of the Holocaust industry, including
the Bush clan itself and the US Government, accused of collaborating with the Nazis
during the Second World War and profiteering from Jewish slave labour. (I think that’s
one instance of Holocaust exploitation we can all wholeheartedly approve of!)

Boyish charm

But that’s all beside the point. I’ve read Finklestein before. What really impressed me about seeing him on TV is how different he is in ‘written form’. I had this image of a wise, cynical Central European intellectual, more comfortable with books than people, only to be confronted with a grey-haired teenager with a childlike outlook on life and a very local American accent. As he himself said in the interview, he is ‘old-fashioned enough’ to still believe that truth and justice will win out in the end.
His whole body language gave him away. While healthy-looking and broad-shouldered, he was slouched back in his chair and looked positively ‘demolished’ by all the worries
and injustices in the world. It could just be that the chair was too low for him, but his voice was full of anguish and angst, not to mention having a teenager’s tenor. The fact that he grew up in Israel/Palestine among Arabs no doubt extenuates this, introducing him early on to what was wrong with the world today, not to mention what went wrong in his parents’ generation.

Comparative approach

Which brings me to something else in the interview. While criticising the current Palestinian impasse in the peace process, he said what was wrong with the ‘Palestinians’ is their insistence on accepting breadcrumbs instead of fighting for what is rightfully theirs.

This is a bit unfair since there are plenty of Palestinians who make the exact same criticisms of the Palestinian Authority, which is accepting the breadcrumbs on behalf of
the Palestinians, especially those in absentia. But that’s not what struck me about
the way he talked on this controversy.

He was making a conscious or, more likely, unconscious comparison with the Jews, people who did, admittedly, suffer a great deal more, and not just under the Nazis, but never gave up hope and came out on top in the end. Given what he’s suffered personally,
from losing his family to being harangued by the Holocaust industry himself, Finkelstein is quite justified.

And for what it’s worth, he’s right, even if his criticisms are a bit misplaced. Just surviving, against all the odds, is triumph enough itself and the Palestinians should learn
from other people’s experiences. Prominent Egyptian journalist Mohammad Hassanein Heikal noted a conversation he had with Yasser Arafat, reminding him about Nelson Mandela who spent most of his adult life in prison, something that didn’t sit too well with

Edward Said was also quite aware of this comparison, as he was often called the Arab Mandela himself. Said was someone who believed very strongly that Israel should be dissolved, through exclusively peaceful means, from the inside out, as was the case with
South Africa.

Land of the brave

To finish off on a Bush/Jazeera note, something else Finklestein took up was his call for the international press to be brave, like Al-Jazeera, and use their hard-won freedom to
expose their own governments’ evildoing abroad and at home. I think he especially meant America by this, testament to his patriotism as an American Jew. His accent does bring out his belief in integration and what America represents, a haven to the oppressed (reminds me of Andy Cohen).

I mean, it’s kind of rich for one democracy, the US, to threaten the free press with military retribution while claiming to spread democracy in the Middle East. It’s even lamer for another democracy, that claims to have the mother of all parliaments (the UK), to go out of its way in silencing critics on Jazeeragate.

Once again, the Western media should take heed of the stories of the oppressed peoples of the world, whether Jews, Palestinians or South Africans. However, I have a nasty
feeling that Norman Finklestein’s bravado is going to land him in the slammer and make him, literally, the next Mandela!

The writer holds a PhD in International Studies

[Caption: NORMAN Finklestein reminds the Palestinians never to throw their hands up and lose hope.]

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