Beyond Chutzpah

Dershowitz Redux

Editor’s note: Finkelstein comments after Dershowitz’s article.

Here’s the Irish Times article Dershowitz mentions.



By Alan Dershowitz

Fifteen years ago I said in an interview that the typical American Jewish leader “is moderate in his politics, successful in his business or profession, exercises considerable restraint in criticizing the powers that be, [and] is slow in seeing anti-semitism.”

In fact, while we are regularly among the first to identify and combat any sort of injustice or bigotry against other groups, many Jews are typically reluctant to stand up and make a fuss in our own self-defense.

And so it is especially perverse when hate-mongers harboring Jewish conspiracy theories try to insulate themselves against criticism by preemptively claiming that “Jews are too sensitive” or that “Jews are too quick to cry anti-Semitism.” The truth is often quite the opposite.

Has anything changed since I encouraged the Jewish community to be more assertive and to demand that it be treated with the same respect to which all Americans are entitled?

The perfect test case came last month, when the academic dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a political science professor at the University of Chicago jointly published a “working paper” that parroted virtually every conspiracy theory ever articulated against Jews. Dean Walt and Professor Mearsheimer wrote that Jews control the media and the government; that we are loyal to Israel rather than to our “host” country; and that we dupe non-Jews, against their best interests, into fighting and dying for our interest. All that was missing from the Walt-Mearsheimer screed was the “blood libel”: the medieval accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make Passover matzo. (They came close by asserting another blood libel – namely, that Israeli citizenship is based on “blood kinship,” a claim which is demonstrably false.)

I promptly wrote a response to the Walt-Mearsheimer paper exposing the authors’ shoddy scholarship, their misstatement of “facts” (which are actually well-trafficked lies), and their blatant errors in logic. I also made a point of questioning the authors’ motivation for writing the article in the first place. As I wrote in the introduction:

In essence, the working paper is little more than a compilation of old, false, and authoritatively discredited charges dressed up in academic garb. The only thing new about it is the imprimatur these recycled assertions have now been given by the prominence of its authors and their institutional affiliations. As [former Ku Klux Klan leader] David Duke observed: “The Harvard report contains little new information. I and a few other American commentators have for years been making the same assertions as this new paper.” It “validates every major point I [Duke] have been making.” It should have been easily predictable – especially to “realists” – that their “Harvard report” would be featured, as it has been, on neo-Nazi and extremist websites, and even by terrorist organizations, and that it would be used by overt anti-Semites to “validate” their paranoid claims of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.

For responding to Mearsheimer and Walt’s false charges, I was accused by The Nation contributer and Huffington Poster Philip Weiss of being a “vigilante” and by Dissident Voice as being one of “the attack dogs of the lobby.” So much for the marketplace of ideas! Free speech for me but not for thee!

Though I have issued an open invitation to Walt and Mearsheimer to debate me, both on the merits of their article and on their motivation, neither has taken me up on my challenge. In fact, as soon as their article appeared, Walt and Mearsheimer hid themselves away and refused to speak on the record. A rare published interview response came out just this past Monday in the Irish Times, and it offers a revealing look into their article’s sourcing.

Mearsheimer is quoted in the article as saying, “as for David Duke, we have no control over who reads our work but I can say that both of us abhor and condemn what Duke stands for.” Fair enough. It is understandable that he would want to disassociate himself from the former Klan member. But immediately after the Duke quotation comes Norman Finkelstein, who says, “There is credible evidence for the claim that the Iraq war was a Jewish war.” He then suggests that “the evidence is superficial but, nonetheless, there is evidence for it.” It is his conclusion, therefore, that is most revealing: “So if, as the situation gets worse in Iraq, if Jews are scapegoated, it is in part a disaster of their own making.”

Mearsheimer cannot disavow Finkelstein the way he did Duke, because he approvingly cited Finkelstein three times in his article. Let’s look more closely, then, at precisely what it is Finkelstein said, in order to see the sort of worldview that Walt and Mearsheimer endorsed in their article by relying on Finkelstein and his ilk.

First, Finkelstein does not say “Israel war,” but rather, he says “Jewish war.” And he does not say that Israeli or Zionists are scapegoated; it is “Jews” who are scapegoated.” Finkelstein is very explicitly talking about Jews. He cannot claim – as he often tries to do – that his overt anti-Zionism is being confused with anti-Semitism. Second, Finkelstein’s claim that “there is credible evidence that the Iraq war was a Jewish war” is easily falsifiable. As even Walt and Mearsheimer acknowledge in their paper, Jews were “less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large.” How could this be a “Jewish war” if so many Jews were opposed to it? Moreover, many of those opposed to the war in Iraq – like me – are supporters of Israel and, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, members of “the Lobby.” Finally, notice the way Finkelstein blames Jews for provoking anti-Semites into their bigotry. Finkelstein implicitly acknowledges that the Walt-Mearsheimer paper is a form of scapegoating, but instead of condemning scapegoating as a pernicious form of hate, Finkelstein says it is the Jews fault that they are scapegoated! This is bigotry plain and simple, and it is a favored claim of neo-Nazis and reactionary white supremacists such as David Duke. They recognize that lots of people hate Jews, but they blame it on the victim, just as Hitler did.

Nor is this the first time Finkelstein has blamed anti-Semitism on the Jews. Mearsheimer was on notice that Finkelstein regularly blames Jews for anti-Semitism, as he did in a Tikkun Magazine article last year, and in the very book to which Mearsheimer cites, in which one of Finkelstein’s major theses is that “[a]longside Israel, [American Jewish elites] are the main fomenters of anti-Semitism in the world today….They need to be stopped.”

So far the response to the Walt-Mearsheimer paper has been encouraging. Many prominent professors and writers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, have spoken out strongly against Walt and Mearsheimers false and conspiratorial account of Jews in America. Nearly every major newspaper and political magazine in the country has published condemnations. I compile and quote from many of these sources in my response paper. More recently, Professor Eliot Cohen addressed the anti-Semitism issue head-on in The Washington Post:

Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information — why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic.

I am proud of the way the Jewish community has responded to the Walt-Mearsheimer paper. Jews should not be ashamed to stand up for themselves and decry the sort of people who would blame all their own problems, or all of America’s problems, on Jewish “power,” “influence,” and “manipulation.” Those attitudes are indisputably anti-Semitic. It is doubly anti-Semitic to justify this sort of Jewish scapegoating by saying; that it is “of [the Jews] own making.”

I continue to issue my challenge to my colleague, Dean Walt, “to look me in the eye and tell me that because I am a proud Jew and a critical supporter of Israel, I am disloyal to my country.”

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His latest book is Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways (Norton, 2006).



Finkelstein comments:

Several correspondents have queried my statement in The Irish Times. Their concerns seem genuine, which means a serious reply is warranted. The quote in question reads:

There is credible evidence for the claim that the Iraq war was a Jewish war. I happen to believe that the evidence is superficial but nonetheless there is evidence for it. So, if as the situation gets worse in Iraq, if Jews are scapegoated, it is in part a disaster of their own making.

(I would have preferred if the reporter had put Jewish war in quotation marks; otherwise it’s accurate.) The context of this statement was the controversy swirling around the Walt-Mearsheimer paper on the Israel Lobby. I observed that the paper’s broad resonance, as well as the excited response from Israel’s apologists, was due not only to the academic pedigree of its authors but also the Iraq debacle.

To their credit W-M highlight that American Jews were less supportive of going to war than Americans generally. However it’s impossible to escape the impression that Jews, whether in Israel or those taking their marching orders from Jerusalem, played an instrumental role in triggering the war. W-M quote statements by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum (Barak, Peres, Sharon, Netanyahu) exhorting the U.S. to attack; recall that “as President Bush attempted to sell the…war in Iraq, America’s most important Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense” (quoting the Jewish Forward); and list the many prominent Jewish neo-conservatives inside the Bush administration (Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz) and outside it (Bernard Lewis, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, William Kristol) who “played especially critical roles in persuading the President and Vice-President to favor war,” ostensibly because they were “deeply committed to Israel.” Indeed W-M might have noted that the incitement of mainstream Jewish organizations for attacking Iraq was especially conspicuous in light of the strong opposition voiced by the Vatican, World Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, and so on.

As I told The Irish Times, I neither believe that the main impetus behind the war was the Israel Lobby nor do I believe that the first loyalty of Jewish neo-conservatives is to Israel. It nonetheless remains true that a self-declared Jewish state pushed hard for the war; that powerful Jewish organizations faithfully doing Israel’s bidding pushed hard for the war; and that prominent Jewish neo-conservatives who parade their love of Israel pushed hard for the war. Is it really a shock if Americans might now wonder whether Iraq wasn’t a “Jewish war,” and don’t those who created this disastrous impression bear some culpability for it?

04.15.2006


Harvard Crimson on Dershowitz, Walt, Mearsheimer & Finkelstein

By PARAS D. BHAYANI

Crimson Staff Writer

The debate over a Kennedy School administrator’s paper criticizing pro-Israel activists in the U.S. is heating up, with both sides accusing each other of manipulating and misusing sources.

The debate has academics and activists questioning the integrity of two prominent Harvard professors’ scholarship.

The Kennedy School of Government (KSG) website is the field of battle, with Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz posting a 46-page rebuttal Wednesday charging that his opponents have assembled a “collage of misinformation.”

The furor stems from a paper written last month by Kennedy School Academic Dean Stephen M. Walt and the University of Chicago political scientist John J. Mearsheimer claiming that American foreign policy toward the Middle East is controlled by the “Israel Lobby,” a “loose coalition” of politicians, journalists, think-tanks, and Jewish leaders.

Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood ’75 announced last week that he will allow full-time members of other Harvard faculties to post responses to KSG professors’ “working papers” on the school’s website. The announcement came after Dershowitz sought to post a rebuttal to the Walt-Mearsheimer paper on the site.

SOURCES OF CONTROVERSY

Dershowitz charged that “Mearsheimer and Walt rely heavily on discredited allegations and out of context quotations found on extremist, disreputable sources, including well-known hate websites.”

Walt and Mearsheimer assert that “the creation of Israel involved crimes against…the Palestinians,” an assertion that Dershowitz attacks.

They say that “the mainstream Zionist leadership” never intended to accept a resolution in which Jews and Palestinians would share control of a single state, or in which Palestinians would have an independent nation.

To prove their claim, Walt and Mearsheimer quote Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as having said at a meeting in the late 1930s: “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”

Dershowitz says that quote was taken out of context. He cites the work of former Harvard visiting professor Efraim Karsh, who reprinted a transcript of a July 1938 Jewish Agency meeting at which Ben-Gurion made the remark that Walt and Mearsheimer quote.

But Ben-Gurion makes clear, according to the transcript, that he does not support the forcible transfer of Arabs, saying that such population movements should occur only “through mutual understanding and Jewish-Arab agreement.”

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE

Dershowitz’s paper, in addition to criticizing the Walt-Mearsheimer take on Ben-Gurion, also assails the professors’ quotation of journalist Max Frankel’s memoirs.

Walt and Mearsheimer write: “In his memoirs, for example, former [New York] Times executive editor Max Frankel acknowledged the impact of his pro-Israel attitude on his editorial choices.” They cite Frankel as saying: “I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.”

Dershowitz takes issue with that quotation, alleging that Walt and Mearsheimer “did not read Max Frankel’s autobiography, but rather came across the quotation somewhere far less reputable.”

Walt and Mearsheimer identify Frankel as the “executive editor” of the Times, a position in charge of the paper’s news operations. An executive editor who inserted his own political viewpoint into news commentaries would be widely accused of flouting journalistic ethics.

But in the section of Frankel’s memoirs that Walt and Mearsheimer quote, Frankel is writing of his prior experiences as the Times’ editorial page editor, a position entirely separate from the paper’s news operations. In the period of Frankel’s life to which the quote refers, his job was to draft opinion pieces.

PUNCH AND COUNTERPUNCH

Dershowitz himself came under fire yesterday from a longtime critic, DePaul University professor Norman G. Finkelstein, who questioned whether his own words were taken out of context in Dershowitz’s paper.

Dershowitz charges that Finkelstein blamed the U.S. for the Sept. 11 attacks. “[W]e [the U.S.] deserve the problem on our hands because some things Bin Laden says are true,” Dershowitz quotes Finkelstein as having said. Dershowitz says the quote comes from website counterpunch.org, which is heavily critical of Israel and which posted an interview with Finkelstein in December 2001.

In a phone interview yesterday, Finkelstein pointed to the full quotation provided at counterpunch.org.

On the website, Finkelstein says he agrees with Bin Laden’s assertion that Americans cannot be secure until the non-Western world is as well—not that the he agrees with Bin Laden’s overall agenda or terrorist tactics.

According to the website, Finkelstein told counterpunch.org: “Frankly, part of me says—even though everything since September 11 has been a nightmare, ‘you know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things Bin Laden says are true’. One of the things he said on that last tape was that ‘until we live in security, you’re not going to live in security’, and there is a certain amount of rightness in that.”

Finkelstein said last night: “Here you have people like Dershowitz who make me out to be a lunatic. And he has the audacity, really the chutzpah, to denigrate [Walt's and Mearsheimer's] sources?” Finkelstein asked: “Is there no shame?”

But Dershowitz said last night: “I’ll stick with my sources.” He called for the debate to move away from its focus on sources and back to the merits of the arguments.

Walt and Mearsheimer did not return repeated requests for comment.

Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@fas.harvard.edu.


Charley Reese on Finkelstein, Walt & Mearsheimer.

by Charley Reese

April 1, 2006, The first weapon of choice for the Israeli lobby when someone with prestige publishes a soundly researched paper or book critical of Israel or its powerful lobby is silence. If it’s a book, it rarely gets reviewed; its author doesn’t get interviewed. If it’s a paper, there are no news stories in the big corporate press, no interviews with the authors, no television appearances.

For the average American who depends on the press to tell him what’s going on, it’s as if the criticism never existed. The second weapon is, of course, to launch vicious personal attacks.

Both methods are being used against an astounding paper titled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” It was written by two renowned academics, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

So far as I’ve been able to determine with the help of Google, while the paper and talk about it are all over the Internet, they are missing from the big corporate press as of this writing. It was published in the London Review of Books, and you can read it or download an edited version at www.lrb.co.uk. There was one news story about it in the Christian Science Monitor and an attack on it by David Gergen in U.S. News & World Report. Gergen is editor at large of the magazine, which is owned by an ardent Zionist, Mortimer Zuckerman. Gergen is a professional spinmeister who has always served the people who have the butter for his bread.

The essence of the paper, which is thoroughly footnoted, is that Israel’s lobby has so skewed American foreign policy in the Middle East that the U.S. places the security of Israel ahead of security for the United States.

“This situation has no equal in American history,” the authors state.

The Anti-Defamation League was quoted in a Jewish publication as saying that if the paper gained the attention of the mainstream media, then a “more vigorous attack” would be launched. So far, it has not, though in the Christian Science Monitor story one of the attack dogs of the Israel lobby branded these two esteemed academics from prestigious universities as “incompetents.”

This paper isn’t the first to criticize the Israeli lobby. There have been lots of papers and books written by distinguished individuals, none of which you’ve probably ever heard of. They Dare to Speak Out, by former Rep. Paul Findley, and The Passionate Attachment, by George W. Ball, one of America’s most distinguished diplomats, are two that come to mind. It was the late Sen. William J. Fulbright who first called Congress “Israeli-occupied territory.”

What the authors of the current paper hope to do is start a sensible public debate about the Israeli lobby and America’s policy in the Middle East. Of course, avoiding an honest debate is one of the primary objectives of the lobby. That’s why it uses silence and, if that doesn’t work, vicious personal attacks. It has certainly buffaloed Congress and most of America’s news media.

Another author given the silent treatment as well as vicious personal attacks is Norman Finkelstein, a professor at DePaul University. He’s written three outstanding books you’ve probably not heard of: The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and his latest, which got not a line of review, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Finkelstein, by the way, is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors.

This is a most serious issue and deserves an honest public debate. Whether you agree with any of the above authors and academics, you should read what they have to say and not be deterred by cheap ad hominem attacks.

You’ve heard the same message from me, of course, but I’m only a country boy turned journalist with no fancy degrees. If you’re impressed with credentials, Finkelstein, Findley, Walt, Mearsheimer and Ball have them up to their armpits.


Die Zeit reviews Beyond Chutzpah

Editor’s note: German original below the English translation. German edition of Beyond Chutzpah.





Hans-Martin Lohmann, “Wenn Antisemitismus politisch instrumentalisiert wird,” Die Zeit, 30 March 2006.

When Anti-Semitism Is Used For Political Gain

DieZeit.de

Don’t worry. Unlike Norman Finkelstein’s polemic against “the Holocaust industry,” published a few years ago, this book will not elicit a storm of protest. The facts regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict and its historical background are so well known by now that surely no one can reasonably contest Finkelstein’s arguments, even though his style is extremely polemic. The books by Noam Chomsky, Michael Warschawski, and Ziauddin Sardar/Merryl Wyn Davies, among others, have widely publicized, including in this country, that the constant sabotaging of a mutually acceptable two-state settlement — that is, the coexistence of a Jewish state in its 1967 borders, alongside a Palestinian state — is due in no small part to machinations by Israel and its main ally, the United States.

As the German title indicates, the purpose of the book is to deplore the misuse of anti-Semitism for political gain. The charge of anti-Semitism, Finkelstein says, is thrown into the debate by the United States and Israel any time criticism of Israeli policies is growing louder, for example, with regard to the construction of the wall in the West Bank, or the militant land grab by Jewish settlers on Palestinian territory. Finkelstein argues, and copiously documents, that this criticism is always immediately stigmatized as anti-Semitism and thus silenced. He emphasizes that, whenever allegations of a “new anti-Semitism” are brought into play, a scrupulous distinction has to be made between sheer fabrication, legitimate criticism of Israel, and real anti-Semitism — the existence of which Finkelstein does not at all deny. To conflate these different categories, however, is nothing but chutzpah, Finkelstein maintains in his book, which in its original version is entitled Beyond Chutzpah. Quoting Palestinian writer Edward Said, Finkelstein reminds German readers that, for understandable historical and moral reasons, for Germans it is especially difficult to fend off allegations of anti-Semitism, just as it is especially difficult for them to take an unbiased look at the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s occupation and repression, and then come to regard this struggle as legitimate: the Palestinians are, after all, the victims of victims.

According to Finkelstein, Israel’s human rights record, too, is worse than is commonly suggested, for example by prominent spokesman Alan M. Dershowitz, a leading advocate of American Zionism whose latest apologia of Israel is also available in German translation. Finkelstein’s conclusions regarding Israel’s incessant attacks, not least by its army, in the occupied territories, but also inside its prisons, are congruent with the condemnations human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been issuing for a long time: they lament the fact that Israel deliberately ignores boundaries which, one would have thought, a “western” oriented state would feel compelled to respect, even in times of crisis. Israel is as much the object of Finkelstein’s criticism as is the United States, and he vigorously refutes the attempts by Dershowitz and others to gloss over the true situation.

No scandal, then. The reader may, of course, consider it unfortunate that Finkelstein does not have a single word to say about those whom he only sees as victims of Israeli aggression. For, even if one deems his findings reliable, it nonetheless remains an undisputable fact that parts of the Arab-Islamic world continue to deny Israel’s right to exist, and do not rule out an “exterministic” solution. Whatever the extent of the historical wrong that has been, and continues to be, inflicted on the Palestinian people — this wrong cannot be wiped out by another wrong.

Hans-Martin Lohmann

(Translation: Maren Hackmann)

Norman G. Finkelstein, Antisemitismus als politische Waffe: Israel, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der Geschichte. Translated by Maren Hackmann; Piper Verlag, Munich, 2006; 387 pp., EUR 19.90.




Wenn Antisemitismus politisch instrumentalisiert wird

Norman G. Finkelstein klagt den Missbrauch an.

Von Hans-Martin Lohmann | DieZeit.de

Keine Sorge. Dieses Buch wird keinen Entrüstungssturm auslösen, wie es Norman Finkelsteins Polemik gegen Die Holocaust-Industrie vor ein paar Jahren tat. Denn allzu bekannt sind inzwischen die Fakten und historischen Hintergründe des Nahost-Konflikts, als dass noch irgendjemand auf die Idee käme, die von Finkelstein allerdings höchst polemisch vorgetragenen Argumente ernsthaft infrage zu stellen. Die Bücher beispielsweise von Noam Chomsky, Michael Warschawski und Ziaudin Sardar/Merryl Wyn Davies haben auch hierzulande hinreichend publik gemacht, dass Israel und sein Hauptverbündeter USA maßgeblich dazu beitragen, dass eine einvernehmliche Zwei-Staaten-Lösung – die Koexistenz eines jüdischen Staates in den Grenzen von 1967 und eines palästinensischen Staates – permanent sabotiert wird.

Wie der deutsche Titel des Buches signalisiert, geht es dem Autor um die Anklage eines politisch instrumentalisierten Antisemitismus. Dieser werde in den USA und in Israel immer dann als Verdacht in die Debatte geworfen, wenn sich Kritik an der israelischen Politik regt, etwa am Bau der Mauer im Westjordanland oder an der militanten Landnahme jüdischer Siedler auf palästinensischem Gebiet: Diese Kritik, so Finkelsteins gut dokumentierte Behauptung, werde stets und sofort als antisemitische Haltung stigmatisiert und auf diese Weise mundtot gemacht. Der Autor legt Wert auf die Feststellung, dass, wenn der Vorwurf eines »neuen Antisemitismus« ins Spiel kommt, es zu unterscheiden gelte zwischen reinen Fantasieprodukten, berechtigter Kritik an Israel und tatsächlichen antisemitischen Einstellungen, deren Existenz Finkelstein gar nicht bestreitet. Nichts als Chuzpe – Beyond Chutzpah lautet der Titel des Originals – sei es indes, wenn alles in einen Topf geworfen werde. Der deutsche Leser wird mit einem Wort des palästinensischen Schriftstellers Edward Said daran erinnert, dass es aus begreiflichen historischen und moralischen Gründen gerade hierzulande besonders schwierig sei, den Antisemitismus-Verdacht abzuwehren und die Berechtigung des palästinensischen Kampfs gegen die israelische Besatzungs- und Repressionspolitik unvoreingenommen wahrzunehmen – seien die Palästinenser doch Opfer von Opfern.

Auch die Menschenrechtsbilanz Israels fällt Finkelstein zufolge schlechter aus, als es gern suggeriert wird, prominent etwa von Alan M. Dershowitz, einem führenden Anwalt des amerikanischen Zionismus, dessen jüngste Apologie Israels auch in deutscher Übersetzung vorliegt. Finkelsteins Urteil über die permanenten Übergriffe Israels, nicht zuletzt seiner Armee, in den besetzten Gebieten, aber auch in seinen Gefängnissen, deckt sich mit dem, was Menschenrechtsorganisationen wie amnesty international oder Human Rights Watch seit langem beklagen: dass Israel gezielt Grenzen ignoriert, von denen man glaubte, dass ein »westlich« orientiertes Land sie auch im Konfliktfall zu respektieren sich genötigt fühlt. Finkelsteins Kritik trifft Israel wie Amerika gleichermaßen und weist die Schönfärbereien eines Dershowitz energisch in die Schranken.

Also, kein Skandal. Bedauern mag der Leser freilich, dass Finkelstein kein Wort über jene Seite verliert, die er ausschließlich als Opfer israelischer Aggression sieht. Denn auch wenn man seine Befunde für seriös hält, bleibt die nicht zu leugnende Tatsache, dass Teile der arabisch-islamischen Welt nach wie vor Israels Existenzrecht bestreiten und eine »exterministische« Lösung nicht für ausgeschlossen halten. Wie groß immer das historische Unrecht sein mag, das der palästinensischen Bevölkerung zugefügt wurde und wird – dieses Unrecht kann nicht durch ein anderes Unrecht getilgt werden.

Norman G. Finkelstein: Antisemitismus als politische WaffeIsrael, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der Geschichte; a. d. Engl. von Maren Hackmann; Piper Verlag, München 2006; 387 S., 19,90 €Antisemitismus als politische WaffePolitikIsrael, Amerika und der Mißbrauch der GeschichteNorman G. FinkelsteinPolitisches BuchEnglischBuchPiper Verlag2006München19,90387Maren Hackmann

DIE ZEIT 30.03.2006 Nr.14

14/2006


Dershowitz promotes free speech at Columbia

Editor’s note: Reader letters below article.



By Wendy Francois

March 28, 2006

No matter where you fall in the political realm, the recent talks that took place on campus provide useful insight into the current state of affairs at Columbia. There is a clear and frightening absence and rejection of healthy dialogue even in classrooms.

I am not someone who holds a stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I attended the controversial Finkelstein event to hear a different perspective and the Dershowitz event to express dismay about his stance on torture. At the Finkelstein event I witnessed peaceful protests, and I chose to parallel those protests. In response to my peaceful decision to protest, Dershowitz walked up to me, took my sign out of my lap, ripped it, and called it (and me, I suppose) idiotic, among other patronizing acts. I cannot begin to explain what I felt when my fellow students were laughing and clapping at Dershowitz’s immature and disrespectful reaction to my lawful and human right to dissent peacefully.

The students, however, are not completely at fault. There are systemic things in this University, such as the curriculum, that allow dissent to be suppressed. The fact that the Dershowitz talk was not as heavily monitored or attended by the administration as the Finkelstein event was so disheartening. It raises questions of the reality of the “freedom of opinion and dialogue” that Columbia’s administration purports to encourage and ensure for all opinions and students. I could feel rifts fermenting between the student body as I listened to the talks; they allowed their personal political views to condone disrespect and pre-emptive judgments.

The lack of safeguards to ensure a safe and respectful debate suggest that if you have certain political views on this campus, you have more power, more chances to receive the benefit of the doubt, and more freedom to pursue events that will promote your opinions. It is very scary to think that the Columbia community is becoming one in which treating someone with decency and respect is contingent upon his or her political views or opinions. The reaction by students is created by the culture of the things we are taught in unbalanced classes from the Core, such as CC.

As the hate crimes in Ruggles and EC demonstrate, people’s hearts and attitudes require more than peaceful protest or even education to convince them that certain people with whom they disagree have a right to be at an Ivy League school, in this country, and this world.

So, what can be done and where are we headed? There is no simple answer. There is no magic solution that will soften all hardened hearts, resolve all land disputes, and eliminate contentious politics. But, Columbia is in a unique position to foster tolerance and cooperation through classes like CC.

The purpose of CC is, according to the Core’s Web site, to “introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities—political, social, moral, and religious—that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities.” This means that CC can be a mechanism that challenges people to think beyond the perceptions with which they enter Columbia concerning the rights of individuals and the rights of individuals in a community or society. I question to what extent this class is living out its mission.

After all, how can you really become more accepting of homosexuals in your community when their perspective is not represented in a mandatory class concerning “a wide range of issues”? How can you be more accepting of black people in your community if you read only two books from the black perspective? How can you be more tolerant of Muslims in your community when you barely skimmed through the Quran, a book your teacher wasn’t even really prepared to teach, and when there were no Muslim students in your class to make the discussions more substantive and personal?

All too often, the Core reinforces dominant narratives without presenting dissenting views. Too often CC is about showing what we know through two-minute soliloquies regurgitating what the author wrote instead of about putting theories in Western civilization in dialogue with a reality that includes the perspectives of minorities. Too often our university fails to promote and encourage tolerance by failing to adequately represent differences through course material. Denouncing disrespect and intolerance starts in the classroom.



Reader letters

From: Tanweer Akram
To: normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: Letter to Columbia Spectator
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 19:55:52 +0000

************

Dear Editor:

I am quite shocked to learn that Mr. Alan Dershowitz “in response
to” Wendy Francois’s decision to protest, grabbed her sign out of
her lap and then proceeded to “ripped it.” (Columbia Spectator,
March 28, 2006).

This is completely unworthy of a gentleman. Indeed, it resembles
the behavior of a thug, a party hack, or a occupation soldier. No
doubt Dershowitz is an assorted combination of all three, despite
his pretension to be a law professor.

Sincerely,

Tanweer Akram, PhD

Graduated from Department of Economics, Graduate School of Arts and
Sciences, Columbia University in 2004


WIKIPEDIA WAR

Editor’s note: Update: The Wikipedia entry was corrected, then returned to the pro-Dershie version, then back again several times since 03.29.2006. This will likely go on for a little while until the sysop in charge of the page gets tired of it.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry in question: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Finkelstein.



From 03.28.2006:

Professor Finkelstein,

You might be interested to know that one section of the article about yourself on Wikipedia.org, the world’s largest Encyclopedia, is completely slanted against you. The section of that article pertaining to your conflict with Alan Dershowitz used to be more objective, and perhaps even in your favor, but now it is blatant, pro-Dershowitz propaganda, attempting to discredit your criticism of The Case for Israel. Check it out.

Esben


Israeli civil libertarian’s introduction to German edition of Beyond Chutzpah

Preface to the German edition of Beyond Chutzpah

by Felicia Langer

It was high time a book on the misuse of anti-Semitism as a political weapon got written. Now it has found its author: Norman Finkelstein. He is no stranger to daring challenges, and as this book clearly shows, Finkelstein has got what it takes. The precision and meticulousness of his research and analyses are admirable.

In the first part of the book, Finkelstein focuses on the misuse of anti-Semitism by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and Europe, in support of Israeli policies. Any time there is a real risk that the international community will increase pressure on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories as required by international law, a new anti-Semitism campaign is launched: “yet another meticulously orchestrated media extravaganza alleging that the world is awash in anti-Semitism.”

With their allegations of anti-Semitism, American-Jewish elites seek, above all, to convince everybody that critics of Israel are really anti-Semites in disguise. Reports on what it is like for Palestinians to live under occupation, reports on their oppression and their suffering must remain taboo – only Israel is entitled to victim status. Thus reality is being inverted, in order to make sure that Israel enjoys immunity.

The hysteria about a “new anti-Semitism” serves not only to silence legitimate criticism of Israel, but also to deflect attention from violations of international law and elementary human rights. So, for example, the refusal to participate in a war of aggression against Iraq was equated with hatred of Jews. Writer Elie Wiesel, a survivor of Auschwitz and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, told US-President George W. Bush on 27 February 2003 that Iraq was a terrorist state, and that there was a moral imperative for intervention. Had the West intervened in Europe in 1938, Wiesel observed, World War II and the holocaust could have been prevented. “That was a meaningful moment for me,” Bush said later, “because it was a confirming moment.”

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Paul Spiegel vehemently denounced the German opposition to the war on Iraq, making arguments similar to Elie Wiesel’s. Alas, his words had a very bad ring to them in the light of the millions who marched to protest the war, in Germany and all over the world, among them many Jews.

It is appalling to see what kind of allies this lobby has attracted on the right end of the political spectrum: Silvio Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini from the neo-Fascist National Alliance in Italy, Jean-Marie Le Pen in France… As for the Christian fundamentalists in the United States, the lobbyists argue that the fundamentalists’ proverbial intolerance is not too harmful nowadays, and that what really counts is their favorable attitude toward Israel.

I want to share with the reader my experience of living in Germany, both as an Israeli Jew and as a holocaust survivor. My husband, Mieciu, went through five Nazi concentration camps. He is the only one from his family to have survived the holocaust, and was himself on the brink of death. My mother and I survived, in the USSR, but all the rest of my family were murdered. My husband and I have been living in Germany for fifteen years now, and it has become our beloved home. In all those years, we, personally, have not experienced any anti-Semitism. This merits emphasis because my husband has been talking about his Nazi era suffering for years, and those who have heard him speak at German schools now number in the thousands. I do not, however, want to deny that anti-Semitism and xenophobia exist in Germany. Our first experience in this regard was the following:

One day in 1990, I noticed a black swastika on the wall of a mall in Tübingen. All the beauty of the enchanting summery scenery surrounding it could not cover up this blemish. My husband and I decided to go and remove the swastika, and we went there that same night. However, we discovered that someone had already painted it over, apparently just a couple of minutes before we arrived – someone who, just like us, had been disgusted by the Nazi symbol. This was my first encounter with an anonymous protester in Germany.[1]

These protesters are our allies in Germany: in our fight against xenophobia and the real anti-Semitism, as well as in our fight against war and the devastating Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinian people – the policies which are the subject of this book. Norman Finkelstein deplores the misuse of the holocaust by those who use anti-Semitism as a political weapon. His concern is to restore the victims’ dignity and to do what their real legacy requires us to do. My husband, Mieciu, and I share Norman Finkelstein’s concern, and I would like to repeat here what I’ve written elsewhere about this legacy:

Over the years, Mieciu and I have internalized the legacy of those who were murdered, and this legacy, as we see it, is this: never to be silent in the face of any crime or injustice, but to fight relentlessly against each and every form of racism and anti-Semitism, and to defend the dignity and rights of all human beings, whoever they may be. This will be the obligation of the German people for all times, but it is not an exclusively German obligation. In honor of the memory of all those victims and in the spirit of their final legacy, which is humanity, I denounce the decades-long oppression of the Palestinians by Israel, and the wrong that was done to them and that still persists to this day.[2]

Norman Finkelstein says, rightly, that those Jews who want to fight the real anti-Semitism must first of all expose the alleged “anti-Semitism” as the sham it is:

Tell the truth, fight for justice: this is the time-tested strategy for fighting anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of bigotry. … A full Israeli withdrawal from the territories conquered in 1967 would … deprive those real anti-Semites exploiting Israel’s repression as a pretext to demonize Jews – and who can doubt they exist? – of a dangerous weapon, as well as expose their real agenda. And the more vocally Jews dissent from Israel’s occupation, the fewer will be those non-Jews who mistake Israel’s criminal policies and the uncritical support (indeed encouragement) of mainline Jewish organizations for the popular Jewish mood.[3]

A clear and unambiguous statement.

In the second part of this book, we read about the human rights situation in Israel/Palestine. Israel’s human rights record is “generally superb,” Harvard Law School professor and lawyer Alan Dershowitz claims in his book, The Case for Israel. “The purpose of this book,” he writes, “is to help clear the air by providing direct and truthful defenses to false accusations.” Dershowitz’s book became a best seller in the United States. American-Jewish organizations widely distributed it on college campuses; and the Israeli Foreign Ministry bought thousands of copies, in order to distribute them.

Having devoted 23 years (1967-1990) to defending the Palestinians in the occupied territories and having been the first Jewish lawyer to do so, I have many things to say about the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories and Israel’s flagrant violations of these rights. I want to thank Norman Finkelstein for exposing Alan Dershowitz’s lies in this book and for making available to the reader important information from the various Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights organizations, who have – ignored by Dershowitz – unanimously and vehemently deplored Israel’s human rights violations, many of which amount to war crimes. I, too, deplore them, and I do so both as a witness to an era and as an eyewitness. I denounce the various Israeli governments.

Those pages of this book dealing with Israel’s crimes during the Al Aqsa intifada – crimes which, according to Dershowitz, did not happen – are deeply distressing. Reading these pages, the German media’s reluctance to cover Israeli crimes, and their concealment of the actual scale of the Israeli repression in the Palestinian territories, becomes glaringly obvious.

One chapter is devoted to the so called liquidations (a Nazi terminus, incidentally), i.e., Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian “suspects,” which Dershowitz justifies. Already during the first intifada (1987-1993), the undercover units made frequent use of their license to kill. In the course of the second intifada, these assassinations have become official Israeli policy. Extrajudicial executions are not only acts of state terrorism but quite simply, according to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, war crimes.

During a 21 August 2002 talk I gave in Vienna, I spoke, inter alia, about Israel’s criminal invasion of the occupied territories, which Norman Finkelstein, too, discusses in his book, and which was euphemistically referred to as Operation Defensive Shield. I spoke about the executions, and the crimes in Jenin refugee camp, but also about a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Vienna’s Jewish Community had sent their members to disrupt the talk, to defame me both as an anti-Semite and a traitor, to stage tumultuous protests, to shout “Nazis out!” etc. Things very nearly got physical, and the event had to be broken off. The Austrian branch of the Jewish lobby could not bear to hear the truth and used the allegation of anti-Semitism as a weapon.

The chapter entitled “Israel’s Abu Ghraib,” on torture, is of particular significance for me. When I saw the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq, on the TV screens, I thought of my tortured Palestinian clients, and publicly declared: “These are the Israeli methods to break the detainees. It’s just that there are no photographs and, regrettably, our torturers enjoy immunity.” I thought about Sami Esmail – Norman Finkelstein reports his case – and about Dershowitz who already in 1978 had been willing to lie in order to whitewash Israel’s methods of ill-treatment and torture. I saw my clients’ wounds, resulting from torture, with my own eyes. I petitioned the Israel Supreme Court. To no avail. In some cases, the torture led to permanent psychological disorder; some of my clients – for example, Auad Hamdan from the West Bank who died in July 1987, and Mahmud El Masri who died in the General Security Service’s wing of Gaza prison in March 1989 – even lost their lives.[4] I would suggest to read this especially important chapter very carefully, for Israel has resumed its routine torture of Palestinian detainees, and inside the prisons the horrors depicted in this book are very real.

In addition, Norman Finkelstein writes about house demolitions as collective punishment. During the second intifada, Israel began using this cruel measure on a massive scale. Thousands of Palestinians have been rendered homeless, many of whom not for the first time in their lives. This policy is in contravention of international law and has been condemned by the international community. Yet Dershowitz justifies it. Basing himself on human rights reports, Finkelstein documents that Palestinians have been buried alive in the rubble of their homes. I cannot stress too much that, in all those years, my attempts to get the Israel Supreme Court to abolish or at least halt this collective punishment, illegal under international law, were futile. Finkelstein also writes about the destruction of “illegally” built homes. I hereby declare that I tried for many years, mostly without success, to obtain building permits for Palestinians. Israel pursues a clear policy of strangulation, and Norman Finkelstein has reached the same conclusion as I have: the aim of this policy has been to maximize the land available for Jewish settlement and to make it impossible for Palestinian towns and villages to expand.

“[Israel's] Supreme Court is among the best in the world, and it has repeatedly overruled the army and the government and made them operate under the rule of law,” Dershowitz avers. Basing himself on human rights reports and Israeli expertise, Norman Finkelstein proves this absurd thesis to be wrong.

I agree with Finkelstein that, instead of seeking justice, the Israel Supreme Court has all too often legitimized injustice, and that singing paeans to it is absolutely unwarranted. I testify to this as the first “pioneer lawyer” who has had 23 years of experience with petitioning the Israel Supreme Court on behalf of Palestinians, against the occupying forces. Many Israeli colleagues of mine can testify to this too. No matter what the issue – house demolitions; settlements and land grab; deportations; torture; denial of family unification; administrative detention – the Supreme Court routinely rejected my petitions, and it did so mostly in violation of wholly unambiguous maxims of international law. It was to protest these many years of the Supreme Court’s pursuit of injustice as well as the brutal military justice system of the occupation that, after 23 years, I shut down my lawyer’s office in Jerusalem. This does not mean, however, that I admit defeat. Rather the contrary. I continue to take every opportunity to bring the truth to light.

Norman Finkelstein seeks to disentangle, historically and politically, the artificial web of complexity woven around the Israel-Palestine conflict, and demonstrates how the conflict may be solved in accordance with international law. He describes the “two-state settlement.” The Palestinians have declared long ago that they would be willing to make do with roughly twenty percent of historic Palestine, while it remains to be seen how the refugee problem will be solved in accordance with international law. Israel, on the other side, continues to illegally settle the occupied territories, builds an apartheid wall encroaching deeply into the West Bank, and refuses to accept any responsibility for having caused the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees.

Norman Finkelstein calls upon his readers to get politically involved and to commit themselves to the truth, “so that, together, we can achieve a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.” By deploring the wrong done to the Palestinians, he reaches out to the dispossessed, thus building a bridge of peace between Israel and Palestine. Finkelstein’s is an important voice, a conscientious and human voice – a different Jewish voice, a blessing both for the Palestinians and the Jews.

10 May 1976 was a memorable day for me. I gave a talk at Harvard University’s Science Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Due to massive threats, the event and I were under police protection. The disruptions, shouts, and boos were immense. The rowdies, Jewish-Zionist students, yelled, “She won’t speak here!” Afterwards, a woman came up to me and handed me a portrait she had made of me. The drawing was entitled:

“Blessed are the peacemakers”

For me, this gift proved that the rowdies had not gained the upper hand. I would like to say to the author of this book:

“Blessed are the peacemakers!”

Tübingen, Germany, October 2005
Felicia Langer

(Translation: Maren Hackmann)



1. Felicia Langer, Miecius später Bericht: Eine Jugend zwischen Getto und Theresienstadt, Lamuv Verlag, Göttingen 1999, pp. 136-7.

2. Ibid., pp. 127-8.

3. Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, University of California Press, Berkeley 2005, p. 85.

4. See Felicia Langer, Zorn und Hoffnung (autobiography), Lamuv Verlag, Göttingen 1991, pp. 388-98.


German edition of Beyond Chutzpah

German edition of Beyond Chutzpah published 22 March.

Antisemitismus als politische Waffe: Anhang (German translation of the Appendices; PDF)

Reviews:

- Book cover (540×887; 41KB)

- English translation of Israeli civil libertarian Felicia Langer’s preface to the German edition.


Local press & organizer on March 15, 2006 Santa Cruz talk

Editor’s note: 05.09.2006, latest article on Santa Cruz talk here.

Santa Cruz Sentinel articles below (03.22.2006), organizer’s post mortem, reader letters (03.27.2006) & photo (03.24.2006). See Real Axis of Evil at it again on ACLU observers for 03.15.2006 talk.



Norman:

I thought you might like to see the cartoon in our “alternative” weekly newspaper, Metro Santa Cruz. DiCinzo regularly bashes our Center and me, so don’t take it too personally!

Take care,
Scott Kennedy



As we see it: Protest backlash
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 22, 2006

Last August, the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Alliance protested an upcoming appearance by a reggae artist named Sizzla who was booked at the Catalyst.

The singer was known for his anti-gay lyrics, and a spokesman for the GLBT reacted this way: “The Catalyst has a right to have him on stage, but they have a choice in who they bring in here.”

We don’t recall any sort of anti-gay backlash after the protest. In fact, much of the Santa Cruz community supported the gay groups, and said, essentially, that if the minority group was offended, then perhaps Sizzla shouldn’t appear.

Now, in the aftermath of Israel critic Norman Finkelstein in Santa Cruz, it’s a different story. A diverse group of Jewish community members protested his appearance, but many in the community have reacted differently.

“The fact of the Holocaust does not give Jews a carte blanche for perpetuity,” said one.

Another said: “The placards lettered with, ‘hate speech’ and ‘anti-Semitism’ are overweening, showing a level of maturity most often found with freshmen girls.”

Is this Santa Cruz’s famed sensitivity?

The issue is complex. It begins, perhaps, with some people’s confusion between Israel and Judaism. Finkelstein, who is Jewish, is a critic of Israel and its policies — as well as the support that the country receives from some American Jews.

If we understand the protesters’ point, it’s not his criticism of Israel that they are protesting. In fact, Finkelstein during his talk made some fair points — and we agree that he has every right to make them.

What they were protesting was something else. Finkelstein in his writing has also chosen words that have offended a number of people in the Jewish community. He has accused many Jews of somehow “using” the Holocaust to their own selfish ends. He did that in his book, “The Holocaust Industry.”

Some of our letter-writers have commented that Finkelstein didn’t say anything insulting about Jews, so why, then, should people have been protesting?

Here’s the issue: the protesters are offended by Finkelstein’s writings and previous speeches, and they feel that having him speak in Santa Cruz puts them in an awkward spot. Jews, like gays or other minority groups, have been the victim of horrible discrimination for centuries — long before and long after the Holocaust.

In other words, it’s not Finkelstein’s criticism of Israel that’s at issue. What is the issue is his comments that the protesters feel could elicit an increase of anti-Semitism.

We don’t take that concern lightly. But apparently some in Santa Cruz do — including the sponsors of the speech.

Last August, a Catalyst spokesman pointed out that Sizzla had performed there in 2003 and had not preached hatred of any kind. But the gay community protested anyway.

That’s what the Jewish community did at the Finkelstein speech.

At no time did the protesters say that Finkelstein didn’t have a right to speak. But they did say that his presence here offended them.

That’s no reason for them to be called overweening and immature.

Apparently, in this liberal community of Santa Cruz, it’s reasonable for minority groups to protest — with no criticism. Unless those protesters are Jews.



Clarification: Clearing up Finkelstein’s message
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 21, 2006

A Sentinel story published March 16 about a talk by author and academic Norman Finkelstein incorrectly stated that he compared the Holocaust with apartheid in South Africa and the killing of Native Americans by European settlers.

During the speech to an audience at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Cruz, Finkelstein spoke about the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis.

Finkelstein, whose comments have been criticized by local Jewish leaders as hateful toward Jews, said staunch supporters of Israel believe the Israeli-Arab conflict is so unique, comparisons cannot be made.

But if the conflict were compared with apartheid in South Africa or the killing of Native Indians by European settlers, Finkelstein said, Israel would come out on the “wrong side.”

Finkelstein also spoke about how Jewish people have used the atrocities of the Holocaust as a way to gain current political and financial support. Though the Holocaust was horrific, he said, Jews are not the only humans who have suffered in the history of the world.

He said the idea for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict — sovereign states for each — is strongly supported by almost every nation in the world but the U.S. and Israel, which makes the ongoing controversy “illegitimate and concocted.”

Sentinel staff report



Post mortem of event organizer
03.16.2006

We had a great event with Norman Finkelstein last night. In almost every regard, it couldn’t have been better for the Center. There was a large demonstration outside — the Sentinel said 150 people or more, holding a candlelight vigil and protest circling in front of the Vets Hall. Some good friends on that side of the line, and that was strange. But subdued without verbal confrontations. We had to ask a couple of people to quit leafleting outside and inside the doorway of the Vets Hall, to blow out their candles when entering the packed auditorium, etc.

Inside, standing room only. 400+ people. Almost as many as at the Lerner event, though we charged more for Finkelstein, while still giving away a lot of comps to volunteers, etc. The Sentinel featured the event with a front page story and color photo.

And Finkelstein was superb — articulate, friendly, self-effacing, funny, and on point with a strongly supported rationale argument for positions he took. Spoke for about an hour and a half. If you are going to take him on, you had best know your stuff. Or, better yet, just keep him from getting venues, because he offers a clear and compelling argument on those points he has studied. As for those outside and others protesting about the Center sponsoring “hate speech” — I think you’d have to be pretty hyper-perceptive to find support for that position, because the “hate” was so subtle so as to appear non-existent to most of us there. I think many outside would have been embarrassed (should have been?) for trying to stop such a
presentation from being made and heard. I expect it won’t influence those who objected — for the time being at least they’ll feel the need to rationalize their stand, regardless of what Finkelstein said or how he said it.

The ACLU had a presence and Women in Black vigilled outside and then joined the program inside. Even using the Resource Center as a unifying factor won’t prove easy over time as the splits within and among those who signed the letter are nearly as if not more profound than those between them and theCenter. And those divisions are across the board, not just on a single important issue as with RCNV.

The crowd was alert, attentive and enthusiastic, outwardly expressive in support of RCNV holding the event. One guy came up to me afterwards and said that my role in hosting Finkelstein was so great that it “almost” offset everything that he objected to that I had done on the Council. He smiled and gave me a strong hand
shake.

Just an off the head assessment for the time being.

Travel safely.

Scott



Packed Finkelstein talk draws ‘real outrage’
March 16, 2006 | Santa Cruz Sentinel
By SHANNA McCORD, Sentinel staff writer

The suffering of Jewish people during the Holocaust is really no different than apartheid in Africa or the slaughtering of Native Americans by European settlers, Norman Finkelstein told a standing-room-only crowd at the Veterans Memorial Building on Wednesday night.

Finkelstein, the son of two Holocaust survivors who teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, spoke about his views of the “fabricated, concocted, illegitimate” Israeli-Arab conflict, while outside at least 150 members of the local Jewish community quietly protested the event.

They held candles and signs that read “Hate speech breeds violence” and “Say no to hate.”

“There’s real outrage in the community that the Resource Center for Nonviolence would sponsor such despicable hate speech,” Rabbi Rick Litvak of Temple Beth El said. “It’s a real stain on the Resource Center.”

Finkelstein was invited to speak in Santa Cruz by the Resource Center for Nonviolence, a 30-year-old local peace group that promotes nonviolence through social change. One aspect of the center’s work has been Middle East peace and support for a resolution to the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.

Finkelstein, who cracked light-hearted jokes about his own Jewish heritage, is known for a pro-Palestinian stance and criticism of Israel.

Wednesday night he cited several Israeli scholars, including historian Benny Morris, when talking about the Palestinians getting kicked out of their homeland in 1948 by the Jews and what he says has been the “illegal” occupation of the land by Israelis.

“The Palestinians were ethnically cleansed,” Finkelstein said. “It was not an accident of war.”

Finkelstein supports a two-state solution to the ongoing Middle East conflict that would include “full Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories” and Palestinians recognizing the right of Israelis to live in security and peace with their neighbors.

Finkelstein criticized Israelis for currently building a wall that would annex a majority of the West Bank, saying, “Israel is destroying Palestine.”

He’s written several books, including “The Holocaust Industry,” which explains his view of how Jewish people have exploited suffering by the Nazis during World War II for political and financial gain, and “Beyond Chutzpah — On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.”

Finkelstein has drawn fiery reaction from American Jews for calling Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel the “resident clown” of the “Holocaust circus.”

Local Jewish members had called for the center to cancel Finkelstein’s talk, based on what they say is hateful and inflammatory speech.

Max Hoff of Felton came to hear Finkelstein speak in Santa Cruz because he wanted to hear a different side of the issue.

“I feel his minority views need to be heard and broadcast far and wide,” Hoff said. “He does represent a minority view that is perhaps stifled in this country.”

For years, many area Jewish leaders have criticized the Resource Center, saying it is anti-Israel, and that its stated push for peace in the Mideast is actually thinly veiled support for Palestinians.

Center backers say Finkelstein’s talk was merely a chance to hear an underrepresented viewpoint.

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.



Protest planned at Resource Center for Nonviolence speech tonight
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 15, 2006

The local Jewish community is expected to unite tonight at a silent, candlelight vigil during the speech of Norman Finkelstein, known for inflammatory comments of Jewish people and support for Palestinians.

Finkelstein has been invited by the Resource Center for Nonviolence to speak at 8 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St.

“We do not believe that the Resource Center is serving our community and the interests of nonviolence by bringing a speaker known for his promulgation of hate,” Rabbis Rick Latvik and Paula Marcus and Gil Stein wrote in a statement.

Tonight, Finkelstein is expected to talk about his support for sovereign states for Israelis and Palestinians.

Of 400 votes in a Sentinel Readers Poll, 56 percent agreed that free speech protects Finkelstein’s right to his opinion, and 44 percent oppose his appearance in Santa Cruz.



Finkelstein expected to attract crowd
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 14, 2006 | Coast Lines: santa cruz

Norman Finkelstein, known for inflammatory comments of Jewish people and sympathy for Palestinians, will speak Wednesday in Santa Cruz.

Hosted by the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Finkelstein is expected to talk about his support for sovereign states for Israelis and Palestinians.

Several members of the local Jewish community have expressed concern about Finkelstein’s appearance and plan to stage a “quiet protest” during Finkelstein’s speech.

The event begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Santa Cruz Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St.

Results from the Sentinel Readers Poll show a majority of respondents are in favor of Finkelstein’s appearance at the Resource Center for Nonviolence event. Of 400 votes cast by 4 p.m. Monday, 56 percent agreed that free speech protects Finkelstein’s right to his opinion, regardless of how inflammatory, with 44 percent of the respondents voting against his appearance.



Norman Finkelstein talk: No hate in our community
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 12, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following opinion essay was signed by nine local rabbis, as well as nine other people from the Santa Cruz Jewish community.

Last month, Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked and tortured in a Paris suburb after having been kidnapped for ransom because he was Jewish. He died shortly afterward. Last week, three Jews were beaten in the same neighborhood.

In the United States, we don’t often feel the same fear that Jews experience in other parts of the world. But there are times when our sense of security is destabilized and we wonder about our own environment.

This month, the Resource Center for Nonviolence is bringing an inflammatory and divisive speaker, Norman Finkelstein, to our community.

In his writings, lectures and interviews, Finkelstein has attacked Jewish leaders for their work to educate the world about the Holocaust. He has referred to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as a “clown” and a “liar,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center a human rights organization dedicated to promoting tolerance and preserving the memory of the Holocaust as “a gang of heartless and immoral crooks,” and accuses Israelis of “acting like Nazis.”

Despite the notable presence of Jews in movements for civil and human rights, and the response of Jewish organizations to world crises from the tsunami to Sudan, Finkelstein has characterized the Jewish community as callous to the suffering of anyone else, and asserts that Jews view indigenous victims of oppression as ‘savages.’ “

Outrageously, Finkelstein states that, “The honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah.” We find it the height of hypocrisy that a community-based organization with a mission of nonviolence has chosen to sponsor a speaker who supports a terrorist organization committed to violence.

While we believe that everyone has a right to free speech, the Resource Center is not serving our community by sponsoring a speaker known for the promulgation of hate.

The Resource Center dismisses our concerns as unreasonable. Their leaders claim that we are accusing Finkelstein of being anti-Semitic because of his positions on Israel. We know that criticism of the state of Israel does not necessarily equal anti-Semitism. But neither should we tolerate anti-Semitism merely because it is masked in criticism of Israel.

Criticism of Jewish leaders or the state of Israel is not the only problem. Finkelstein’s own mentor, Professor Peter Novick, characterizes Finkelstein’s work as “the hate campaign of a zealot,” and a “21st century updating” of the fraudulent 19th century anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Novick states that Finkelstein distorts facts to the point of “pure invention,” and “displays a paranoid belief” in a global Jewish conspiracy.

The fact that Norman Finkelstein is a Jew does not legitimize his anti-Semitic rhetoric. The hateful nature of his message has united the full spectrum of the organized Jewish community in Santa Cruz left, right and center in its condemnation of the Resource Center’s shameful sponsorship.

Unlike the Resource Center’s event, which divides the community, the Jewish community offers real opportunities for dialogue and peace through Sulha gatherings of Jews, Christians and Muslims, for forgiveness and reconciliation in the tradition of Middle Eastern communities and through events such as the upcoming “Islam and Judaism, Common Threads,” in which Muslim leaders dedicated to peace and understanding will be guests at Temple Beth El.

Why does the Resource Center so obsessively single out issues of justice in Israel while so many other ares of the world, which deserve equal if not greater attention, go virtually ignored? If the Resource Center cannot act respectfully toward the Jewish community in Santa Cruz, how can it be a force for nonviolent change in the Middle East?

This event is entitled “Israel & Palestine: Misusing Anti-Semitism, Abusing History.” It is ironic that noted scholars in the field point out that it is Finkelstein who misuses anti-Semitism and abuses history to propagate his rage against Israel and to promote a dangerous theory of a world Jewish conspiracy.

Hosting the Finkelstein event is an indication to our local Jewish community that the Resource Center does not understand the nature of how anti-Semitism works. We look forward to a time when the Resource Center will be a force for positive dialogue and true commitment to nonviolence. When the Resource Center truly examines its motivation for bringing this speaker, and accepts responsibility for fostering fear of anti-Semitism in our community, that time will have arrived.

Those signing this essay are Rabbi Richard Litvak, Rabbi Paula Marcus, Rabbi Beth Janus and Rabbi Shifra Weiss-Penzias, all of Temple Beth El; Murray Baumgarten of UC Santa Cruz; Howie Schneider, Tikkun Community; Rabbi Eli Cohen and Rabbi Lori Klein of Chadeish Yameinu Jewish Renewal; Rabbi Shalom Bochner and Rick Zinman of Santa Cruz Hillel; Shlomo Vilozny and Ilian Benjamin of Congregation Kol Tefilah; Gil Stein, past chair, United Jewish Appeal; Rabbi Ychanan Friedman and Rabbi Shloime Chen of Chabad of Santa Cruz; Helen Bryce of Kolaynu, Progressive Jewish Voice; Liz Alpert of Hadassah and Irene Reti, a writer.



Norman Finkelstein talk: All views should be heard
by Scott Keneedy
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 12, 2006

[SC Sentinel's] EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a letter written by Scott Kennedy of the Resource Center for Nonviolence that was posted on the official Web site of Norman G. Finkelstein.

Dear Friends:

I have been hesitant to send this message out of concern for prematurely or unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult situation. But the situation has come to the point that I must provide you an update.

Spokespersons speaking on behalf of the Jewish community of Santa Cruz, including several and perhaps all of the rabbis of local congregations, have demanded that the Middle East Program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence cancel the March 15 presentation by Norman Finkelstein.

Those objecting to Finkelstein’s visit have referenced offensive quotes from Finkelstein’s Web site and/or that they view his work as anti-Semitic.

I have been told directly that the Resource Center will face “grave repercussions” if we provide Finkelstein a local platform to present his views.

Offers for representatives of the Resource Center to meet with those demanding cancellation of Finkelstein’s visit have gone without response.

Typically Resource Center staff is responsible for program decisions such as scheduling speakers. At this point, as coordinator of the RCNV Middle East program, I am proceeding with the program as planned.

I realize that you may be subject to some of the same pressures and demands so I want you to know what is happening.

One of my real concerns is the serious lack of reciprocity in discussion about who is invited to speak and who deserves to be heard on issues related to Israel and Palestine. The demands for “balance” and “fairness” seem to run in one direction. The same people and organizations threaten those inviting Finkelstein, wouldn’t support Rabbi Michael Lerner’s recent visit, but lend their name and support to Dennis Pragar’s talk at UCSC.

In his work, Finkelstein describes a broad consensus among historians and human rights organizations on the factual record and the international consensus in support of a Two State solution to settle the conflict.

Why is it so difficult to bring those facts before the U.S. public? Finkelstein points to a veil of “contrived controversy” that shrouds the Israel-Palestine conflict. This contrived controversy prevents rigorous debate in the United States about the nature and severity of Israel’s human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and prevents our country’s needed support for a sustainable political resolution to the conflict.

As for what Finkelstein has to say, I recommend that you listen to the “Democracy Now!” debate with Finkelstein and former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. Audio and transcript can be found at normanfinkelstein.com. Finkelstein has written that this debate was “remarkably civil, free from rancor and vituperation, and provides, I think, grounds for hope that honest people respectful of facts can agree on many things despite political differences.”

Let’s continue to prepare for Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Santa Cruz keeping in mind that goal of honest people respectful of facts agreeing on many things despite political differences!

Should you decide to rescind your endorsement/sponsorship of the event, let me know and we will correct it on publicity, the RCNV Web site, etc.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions, concerns or suggestions.

Scott Kennedy is coordinator of the Middle East Program Resource Center for Nonviolence.



Controversial anti-Israel speaker to take stage in S.C.
Santa Cruz Sentinel
By SHANNA McCORD
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — A simmering debate between local Jewish leaders and a Santa Cruz peace group they say unfairly promotes Palestinian causes has reignited.

Prominent Jewish community members don’t want the Resource Center for Nonviolence to host next week’s scheduled speaking engagement by Norman Finkelstein, a hard-hitting critic of Israel they call hateful. In a letter dated March 3, nine Jewish community leaders asked the center to reconsider holding the event, calling it “offensive” and unlikely to “promote rational inquiry and responsible scholarship.”

But organizers say Finkelstein’s views should be heard and refuse to cancel the March 15 event.

The two sides have a history. For years, many area Jewish leaders have criticized the center, saying it is anti-Israel, and that its stated push for peace in the Mideast is actually thinly veiled Palestinian boosterism. Center backers say they are simply presenting an underrepresented viewpoint.

Jewish leaders in the community say inviting Finkelstein pushes the debate too far.

“If the Resource Center wants a dialogue for reconciliation or to find common ground, this is not the guy to do it. It’s like throwing a match on gasoline,” said Gil Stein, a local attorney and chair of United Jewish Appeal for Santa Cruz. “We would prefer he had never been invited because he doesn’t add much to the debate.”

Finkelstein, now a political science professor at DePaul University in Chicago, is the son of two Holocaust survivors who has sided with Palestinians and expressed support for the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah. He was relatively unknown outside pro-Palestinian circles until the release of his book “The Holocaust Industry” in 2000. Critics say the book attacks Jews as perpetual victims who have exploited abuses endured during the Holocaust, turning it into an industry to “shake down” money from Europe and justify what Finkelstein says is their illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Scott Kennedy of the Resource Center for Nonviolence said Finkelstein’s speech is a much-needed opportunity for people to hear a side of the issue that’s not often talked about.

“It’s really hard to get a fair hearing or any hearing at all on the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said. “The conversation often gets shut off and people are not willing to have an open, frank debate.”

Too often, Kennedy says, the Jewish opinion goes unchallenged because of strong U.S. support for Israel.

The Resource Center invited Finkelstein to Santa Cruz after he spoke in the San Francisco Bay Area last summer. At the time, his latest book, “Beyond Chutzpah — on the misuse of anti-Semitism and abuse of history,” was under attack by prominent Jewish attorney and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to stop the publication of Finkelstein’s book.

“I thought the concerted effort to deny his book to be published was a good reason to bring him here besides his message,” Kennedy said.

The 30-year-old center has sent many delegations to the Middle East, and supports a settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict that includes sovereign states for both Israel and Palestine.

Local Jews say Finkelstein’s speech won’t do anything to help the two sides agree on a resolution.

“He has a very extreme point of view, and his speech is divisive,” said Shlomo Vilozny, vice president of Congregation Kol Tefilah in Santa Cruz. “The Resource Center for Nonviolence is an organization that’s not supposed to promote violence, and that’s what they’re doing by bringing a hate speaker to the city.”

Members of the Jewish community say they’ll stage a “quiet protest” outside the Veterans Memorial Building without disrupting the event.

“We’re not going to burn down an embassy,” Stein said. “We feel it’s part of our responsibility to inform the public about who they’re dealing with.”

Local Jews have protested several past events sponsored by the Resource Center. A few months ago, several Jewish people gathered outside the Nickelodeon theater on Lincoln Street in Santa Cruz to oppose the film “The Concrete Curtain,” which dealt with Israel’s construction of its so-called “security barrier.”

Contact Shanna McCord at smccord@santacruzsentinel.com.

if you Go

WHAT: Norman G. Finkelstein speaks.

WHEN: 8 p.m. March 15.

WHERE: Veterans Memorial Building, 846 Front St., Santa Cruz.

DETAILS: Call 423-1626. Advance tickets recommended.



As We See It: Resource Center has right, but also responsibility
Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 9, 2006

The Santa Cruz-based Resource Center for Nonviolence has every right to bring Norman Finkelstein to speak.

Sometimes, however, having the right does not mean it’s the right thing to do.

We would suggest this is one such instance.

Finkelstein’s scheduled appearance has caused an intense reaction in the local Jewish community, one that we find understandable, if only because Finkelstein’s published thoughts and ideas are so inflammatory.

This reaction, to summarize, is that bringing such a speaker to town, while totally within the constitutional free speech rights of the Resource Center, is destructive and hateful to many Jews. They say Finkelstein’s rhetoric is anti-Semitic.

Who is Norman Finkelstein?

Well, he’s a Jew, whose parents were Holocaust survivors. He’s an academic and author, whose newest book, “Beyond Chutzpah — on the misuse of anti-Semitism and abuse of history,” raised so many calls for the book not to be published that it spurred Resource Center founder Scott Kennedy to invite Finkelstein to speak March 15.

Finkelstein is pro-Palestinian and has expressed support for the Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah: “To my thinking the honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah as the U.S. and Israel target it for liquidation.”

In a previous book, “The Holocaust Industry,” he wrote that Jews have used the Holocaust as a means to exploit guilt feelings to “extort” money from Europe and to illegally occupy the West Bank and formerly Gaza.

“It is very hard to sink much lower than to turn the colossal suffering of the Jewish people during World War II into an extortion racket.”

Finkelstein has described mainstream Jewish organizations as “hucksters,” “gangsters” and “crooks,” and famed Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as the “resident clown” for the Holocaust “circus.”

He has said Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories is much worse than apartheid in South Africa he calls it “a military occupation, and that has to end” and that the United States is the main terrorist government in the world today.

One side note, which might help explain Finkelstein’s rage against many Jewish organizations, is that he also has expressed bitterness over the paltry $3,500 compensation that his mother received as a concentration camp survivor.

Finkelstein has said his criticism of the mainstream Jewish worldwide community and Israel have made him a pariah, cost him a university job, and made him the target of insults and attacks.

Kennedy has said that allowing Finkelstein to speak will give a “fair hearing” and “open, frank debate” for another side of the Palestinian-Israeli issue.

Kennedy said Finkelstein has not been invited to speak on the Holocaust, but on the issue of how accusations of anti-Semitism have been used to silence dissenting opinions, of which the current reaction is a case in point.

Kennedy said the Jewish community has never sought the Resource Center’s advice or consent when it has presented speakers with opposing viewpoints.

Still, says Kennedy, he is “pained” by the angry opposition to the impending event; that it was not his purpose to inflame people; and that the Finkelstein speech should be looked at in context of all the work the Resource Center does.

Local Jews, including many rabbis, say there are far better ways to have such a debate than bringing in such a polarizing speaker.

Moreover, they wonder why the Resource Center, which promotes peaceful solutions, would further antagonize a community that already has had trust issues over what many Jews view as its overtly pro-Palestinian position. How, they ask, can the Resource Center be a force for nonviolent solutions when it cannot even act respectfully toward the Jewish community in Santa Cruz County?

Again, the Resource Center has every right to invite Finkelstein, just as newspapers and other publications had the right to run the cartoon satirizing the founder of Islam, Muhammad.

Yes, they have a right, but they also have a responsibility.

Just don’t be surprised if the aftermath to the Finkelstein appearance is not peace, but more discord and mistrust in an issue that feeds on both.



Reader letters

From: Katowang2[at]aol.com
To: normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: letter to Santa Cruz Sentinel
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006 01:09:56 EST

I have enjoyed both Finkelstein’s books and his appearances at 2 universities in the Southland.He is a champion of the rights of the Israeli abused Palestinians. Israel has a horrible record bordering on genocide against the indigenous population of ancient Palestine. It is a shame that a country that has taken in so many Jews who have been mistreated because of bigotry and racism would use the methods used by Russia and Germany in their abuse of Christians and Muslim Arabs in Israel. Israel has wiped out much of Palestine and continues to take Palestinian land, destroy Palestinian property and kill and injure Palestinian civilians including children.

Jews like Finkelstein take risks to expose Israeli policies because Israel has powerful forces in this country that limit the truth about Palestinian suffering and cause problems for anyone like Finkelstein who speak the truth. Right now Israel has left Gaza but is keeping food and goods from entering the cities of 1.3 million people. Relief agencies are fearful of increased malnutrition and medical emergencies.

I’m glad that Santa Cruz allowed people to hear his important and scholarly work in spite of the false and outrageous accusations that accuse him of hate speech. He supports justice and peace for the region. Israel and its supporters can’t handle the truth he brings us.

Kathleen O’Connor Wang

*****

From: “John McGlynn” jmcgl[at]gol.com
Subject: RE: As we see it: Protest backlash
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 10:18:45 +0900

Your “As we see it: Protest backlash?” editorial says local Jewish community members who protested Norman Finkelstein?’s talk shouldn’t be criticized for their act of protest. The protestors can criticize, but in turn cannot be criticized? When was this dividing line drawn through free speech?

Furthermore: ?”[T]he protesters feel [Finkelstein's criticism of Israel] could elicit an increase of anti-Semitism.?” Norman Finkelstein is Jewish. Why on earth would he want to say something that would increase hatred toward himself (and his concentration camp-surviving Jewish parents, now deceased)? The idea is complete lunacy, or Finkelstein is a lunatic. Which is it? The simple way your editorial could have resolved this was to cite any passage in Finkelstein?fs writings that can be construed as inciting anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, no minimal effort was made to weigh evidence to find the truth. Your readers have been poorly served.

John McGlynn
Tokyo

*****

From: Kevin Weaver
To: mevans[at]santacruzsentinel.com, thonig[at]santacruzsentinel.com,
dmiller[at]santacruzsentinel.com
CC: normangf[at]hotmail.com
Subject: As I See It: Media Distortion
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 11:14:39 -0800 (PST)

Once again, the Santa Cruz Sentinel distorts facts concerning
Professor Finkelstein’s speech and the nature of those who protested his speech.

It’s easy to see why you have a letter policy that limits each
submission to only 150 characters, since the only type of letter
suitable for printing in your paper is simplistic and incapable of making a
coherent point, eerily, much the same as Professor Finkelstein’s detractors.

So, as I’m sure you’ve done before, you can ignore this letter
since it doesn’t fit your criteria.

But if you are still reading, I would like to say that as someone
who is gay, who has been the recipient of anti-gay harassment and violence,
and who lives in a world where gays are murdered and vilified as a
matter of course in every country, I find great offense that you would compare
our protests of an influential, anti-gay rapper who has made death
threats against us to the protests of the censors and book burners who
showed up outside of Professor Finkelstein’s lecture.

Professor Finkelstein, unlike this homo-hating rapper, isn’t
advocating the murder of anyone. Professor Finkelstein isn’t advocating
discrimination against anyone. Professor Finkelstein isn’t
threatening to take someone’s children away because they’re gay or lesbian.

Yet you cynically, callously, and – frankly – stupidly, compare the
appearance in Santa Cruz of someone who openly incites the murder of
gay men and lesbians to a Jewish professor and child of Holocaust
survivors who rightly criticizes other Jews for their abuse of the Holocaust for
political and financial gain.

The only thing that can be said about that is that you people are
either incompetent frauds masquerading as journalists or stark raving
lunatics.

Perhaps you’re both.

And I suspect that if these were Christians protesting the movie
“Brokeback Mountain” or Muslims protesting the Prophet Mohammed
cartoons, not nearly as much newsprint in the Sentinel would be devoted to
them as to Professor Finkelstein. I also suspect the coverage wouldn’t be so
kind to those protestors as it has to these.

Frankly, I would venture to say there is also a bit of internalized
homophobia at play here, because by elevating the (non)victim status
of heterosexual American Jews to that of gays and lesbians, you
minimize the fact that American Jews can freely walk hand-in-hand down any street
in the US without fear of harassment or murder, while we gays and lesbians
cannot.

Unlike American Jews, we cannot marry. Unlike American Jews, we
cannot adopt children in most states. And unlike American Jews, hateful
epithets against us can be heard everywhere, on television, radio, from the
pulpit, and in every community, including the Jewish community. And finally,
the children of Jewish parents disowned from their families are not done
so because of anti-Semitism, but because they are gay or lesbian.

By comparing the supposed offending of Santa Cruz rabbis – who
support the war crimes of the Israeli Army and the theft of Holocaust
survivor money to fund anti-Arab thug settlers in the West Bank – to the
offending of gays and lesbians of an anti-gay rapper who comes from a country
where gays are routinely murdered, you show how transparent your
understanding of both issues are.

I would say “shame on you”, however I have good reason to doubt you
would understand why.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weaver
San Francisco, CA




Photos

Dorah Rosen and Norman Finkelstein 3-15-06 Santa Cruz, California
(photo by Scott Kennedy)


NY Newsday/AP articlepre-Columbia talk

Editor’s note: complete coverage of Columbia talk here (video of event & articles)



By KAREN MATTHEWS
Associated Press Writer

March 7, 2006, 3:21 PM EST

NEW YORK — Columbia University students including the College Conservatives and campus Democrats plan to protest a speech Wednesday by a professor who has written that Jewish organizations exploit the Holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel and to extort European banks and governments for compensation.

Norman Finkelstein, an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago, wrote in his 2000 book “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering” that some Jews have used the Holocaust as an “extortion racket” to get compensation payments, and he has referred to Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel as the “resident clown” of the “Holocaust circus.”

His most recent book, “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,” is largely an attack on lawyer Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel.” In it he argues that Israel uses the outcry over perceived anti-Semitism as a bully weapon to stifle criticism.

In a telephone interview, Finkelstein said he speaks about once or twice a week at campuses around the country, and while audiences don’t always agree with him, dissent is “usually nothing beyond a couple of hecklers.”

“On two out of three occasions I get a standing ovation,” he said.

But some Columbia student groups are planning a less friendly reception.

Chris Kulawik, president of the College Conservatives, said students are planning to leaflet the speech and then attend if possible and “ask tough questions.”

Asked if anyone would heckle Finkelstein or try to prevent him from speaking, Kulawik said, “There’s always a possibility that there are going to be some people who are going to be pretty angry about his coming to campus.”

Kulawik and College Democrats membership director Josh Lipsky denounced Finkelstein in the campus newspaper last week, calling him “an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-America Holocaust revisionist and terrorist sympathizer.”

A spokeswoman for Columbia did not return a call seeking comment about Finkelstein’s appearance.

The controversy comes a year after a committee investigated claims that Columbia professors made anti-Semitic statements to intimidate Jewish students in classes.

The group identified one instance in which a professor “exceeded commonly accepted bounds” of behavior when he angrily implied a student should leave his classroom after she defended Israel’s conduct toward Palestinians.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.