Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles
Paris, 26 March 2004
Norman Finkelstein, the American author of “The Holocaust Industry”, and his publisher, are being sued under French law against libel. The French edition (based on the English-language original) is considered actionable and replete with Holocaust revisionism and incitement to antisemitism.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Liaison, Dr. Shimon Samuels, who three years ago publicly debated Finkelstein when the book was first published in London, presented the following testimony for today’s Paris hearing:
“‘The Holocaust Industry’ presents a great danger. Mr. Finkelstein’s thesis is an extremist attack on Jews in general, and American Jews in particular, accusing them of exploiting the suffering of the Shoah as ‘a pretext for their crimes in the context of the Middle-East conflict.’
This thesis, so close to that of Roger Garaudy [a condemned French Holocaust denier and anti-Jewish hate-monger] today constitutes the principal credo of modern antisemitism.
With particularly acute intellectual perversity, Finkelstein exploits his own Jewish antecedents in order to attack, as ‘racist,’ specific Jewish leaders, their organizations and the Jewish people.
I am convinced that, as in the aforementioned Garaudy trial, only a judicial penalty will contain the damage wreaked by this particularly offensive libel.”
“die jüdische” 25.03.2004 20:17
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:
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” 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 http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/. (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]DePaul.edu . The names and emails of the other
officials are here.
 Jerusalem Post, Aug 28, 2000
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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
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.]
posted by Alex Joffe
What are we to make of University of Arizona Middle East Studies professor Leila Hudson’s defense of David Irving?
The Forward has noticed a European crackdown on those who question not just the occurance, but also various aspects – number of victims, methods of extermination – of the Nazi holocaust. Most alarming is the detention of British revisionist historian David Irving in Austria. His work – which I have not read first hand – has been a lightning rod for vicious and costly debates about the meaning of the holocaust in academia and in the British courts. He faces up to 20 years in Austrian prison for the crime of holocaust denial.
She rises to the defense of the well-known Holocaust denier after criticism of her father Michael Hudson’s institution, Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, decided to have clownish Holocaust (and newfound Middle East) “historian” Norman Finkelstein speak on – of all things- anti-Semitism and its “misuse.”
Apparently, along with any of Irving’s work, Hudson did not read Irving’s full Wikipedia entry or else she would have discovered that his many “controversial” activities include not only Holocaust denial but forgery of historical documents. Perhaps both are, in her view, usefully transgressive activities; after all, they challenge the “Holocaust industry.” And the “vicious and costly debates” which she finds so upsetting had to do with Irving having sued historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a British court, a suit which Lipstadt won, hands down.
Having stated clearly that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, Hudson steps in a little deeper:
In light of these developments, attempts not just by Alan Dershowitz but by the mainstream US academic community to silence Norm Finkelstein for daring to write about “the holocaust industry” are particularly disturbing. For now, the US is still safe for everyone from loonies to controversial academics to air the results of their mental labors in the “marketplace of ideas” without fear of legal sanction but the climate in Europe and the noisy Campus Watch and “academic freedom” campaigns are a real threat to this legacy of free speech and debate. Gotta back Charles Glass in the Independent when he defends the right to write and speak (not the views) of Irving, saying Free speech is for everyone – even David Irving. Freedom of speech is worthless if it doesn’t guarantee the right to unpopular speech.
The “mainstream US academic community” she links to is a letter from her father to the Georgetown college paper, in which he accused the university’s Program in Jewish Civilization of not only refusing to co-sponsor Finkelstein, but criticizing the CCAS decision! But that “community,” when defined outside her own family, has indeed repudiated Finkelstein again and again as a hate-filled, pseudo-scholar, and his own words demonstrate why. Of course Hudson throws Campus Watch for good measure, since the noise apparently interrupts her deep researches into matters such as David Irving. But her phrase “air the results of their mental labors” is really pretty funny.
But all this indicates a far more serious problem, the inability (or unwillingness) to recognize bad or non-existent scholarship, and worse, to defend it as merely “controversial.” No one in this country is restricting Norman Finkelstein’s free speech, but many people exercise their own free speech to criticize him, and to criticize the poor judgment shown by institutions like Georgetown (and University of California Press) which give him a podium. No one is has a right to speak at a university just because they have a bunch of degrees. And in fact, no one has a right not to be disinvited. Universities are supposed to be about judgment, not simply about controversy, especially cheap controversy.
The cheap controversy that Finkelstein generates says more about the institution, in this case Georgetown continuing its blatant trend of showcasing anti-Israeli professors, than about the presumed substance of the speech. Meanwhile, Leila Hudson’s studied cluelessness about David Irving – and resulting defense – speaks volumes about her own judgment and historical acumen. Perhaps for an encore she can explain why Ernest Zundel is misunderstood.
Read the Arabic transcript online: AlJazeera.net
PROGRAM: Without Frontiers
PLACE: Al Jazeera, Westminster Towers, Lambeth Bridge, London
Watch the video of the interview
Dear Professor Finkelstein,
Arabs on the whole did not know Norman Finklestein, but after the Jazeera interview, I assure you, your name will spread far and wide. Jazeera is watched and trusted by millions of Arabic-speaking people, the world over, and your words in the interview with Ahmad Mansour will have been received with respect and gratitude. Though so many of us are poor and uneducated, but now we are also very aware of what is going on, and deeply resentful of the bias against us, the lies spread about us , the very negative image we are given, and the unbalanced reporting by the Western media. All Arabs and Muslims are terrorists, and all are violent fundamentalists. Islam is a religion of strife and it is not possible to have a dialogue with Islamic countries.This bias is one reason for the popularity of Jazeera, because Jazeera can teach a lesson or two in objectivity to many of the Western media. Ask Mr. Bush why he wants it bombed!! The other reason, of course, is the highly professional performance of that channel.
We, in the Middle-East, knew little of what was going on in Europe before and during WW II. There was no television, no satellite channels, no Internet, and the man in the street was not very well informed. We did know, however, that hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in our countries, very peacefully, and in excellent harmony with the people of other religions. We all had Jewish friends, who were our neigbours, went to the same schools, the same clubs, owned many of the stores in the cities, which incidentally, are still called Shemla and Ben Zion(!!), and there was absolutely no feeling of exclusion towards the Jews, and the many other foreign communities that were thriving in Cairo, Beirut, Damascus, Bagda, and others. Though I was very young then, I look back with great nostalgia to the pre-60s era. Perhaps that is why Middle-Easterners are so bitter about what has happened to them in Palestine. But, I am digressing!
I want to congratulate you for the marvelous job you are doing. This is not the first time I watch you and listen to you, on TV, and I have followed your writings closely on the Internet. I have your first book, The Holocaust Industry, and learned much from it, and I have ordered Beyond Chutzpah. I am shocked that any man, be he a simple man or a scholar, should be penalised. even indicted, for even discussing the holocaust, the conditions surrounding it, the historical and social consequences. Voltaire once said: ” I may not agree with what he said, but I will fight to the finish to let him say it”. I cannot understand how people, in the countries of the West, fall for such fraudulent arguments. You are a man of courage, and I really raise my hat high to you and say thank you for risking so much to have the truth come out. My best regards.
From: Cherifa Sirry
To: norman finkelstein
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 8:26 PM
Subject: a comment from Egypt
Dear Professor Finkelstein,
I have watched your program today on Al Jazeera TV and I would just like to take this opportunity to express my deep admiration for you and for your courage in speaking out… and in speaking the Truth. It is not the first time I hear you and I do try to keep up with your excellent books, writings and interviews. As an Arab, I am very happy that you have spoken on Al Jazeera TV because millions and millions of Arabs needed to listen to what you had to say. They also need to know that people of integrity like you, still do exist. The Arab “moral” if I may say, is very very low due to the present situation the Arab world finds itself in. As far as I personally am concerned, hearing you speak today…, did my moral quite some good.
Again, I thank you for your courage and I also thank you for just being who you are and for sharing your thoughts with us Arabs.
I wish you all the best,
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 2:08 PM
Subject: Regarding your interview with Al-Jazeera
I wanted to commend you on your brilliant interview with Al-Jazeera. Lately (actually, for a while) I have been sickened by the lack of disregard our government has regarding foreign policies and many other issues. Last nights interview gave me hope that more people like yourself will have enough courage to come forward and admit the awful atrocities that many people in this country commit in our name. You were right on with all the issues. My husband saw the previews for your interview a few days ago on Al-Jazeera and was very excited to watch the complete interview. I was fortunate enough to hear your responses, due to the fact that Al-Jazeera still allowed your voice to be hear while translating in Arabic.
Once again, thank you for being so brave and taking a stand. I want you to know that you have the support of many people and not all of us believe everything that is published in the media and in other document regarding your character. I will do my best to pass along your information to others who are as open minded as you and I.
From: Ayed Shideda hew_up[at]yahoo.com
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2005 05:13:21 -0800 (PST)
i did not know any thing about you before, you are a great man.
now i know about you and thats because of the arabic channel news Al Jazeera.
well i wish you luck and keep going to teach people about the truth, thats what we people in this earth need for this time.
Editor’s note: Finkelstein’s opening statement in English. Questions in German. Answers in English (uninterrupted), repeated by a German interpreter after the English version for each question.
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
Editor’s Note: Finkelstein will respond below to readers’ queries on the factual accuracy of this article. Please email your questions to normangf [at] hotmail.com. Read reader letters here.
by Deborah Passner
Campus anti-Israel activists copy many of their arguments from two main sources – MIT professor Noam Chomsky, and his acolyte Norman Finkelstein, a DePaul University political science professor who never misses an opportunity to inform readers that his parents were Holocaust survivors. For example, following the Palestine Solidarity Movement’s conference in October 2004 at Duke University, the student paper published a column that included anti-Semitic slurs such as “Jews must own up to their privilege in America, and use it more wisely” and “‘the Holocaust Industry’ uses its influence to stifle…the Israeli-Palestinian debate.” The student supported these canards by citing Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry.
Anti-Zionists and anti-Semites often reference Finkelstein’s books despite the fact that they are marred by factual inaccuracies, omissions and selective mention of fact. Much of his work is seemingly shaped by his antagonism toward the Jewish establishment and his avowed anti-Zionism. Thus, he routinely accuses pro-Israel writers of being “frauds” and “plagiarists,” and labels their work “hoaxes.”
In his controversial book The Holocaust Industry, Finkelstein argues that “Jewish elites” have created an “industry” to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust as a ploy to extort money and to gain influence, as well a tactic “to crush any dissent, any criticism, of the State of Israel.” The New York Times’ review of the book described its premise as a “novel variation” of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the fraudulent essay concocted in the late nineteenth century by the Czarist secret police which purports to uncover a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Accordingly, the Times’ reviewer described Finkelstein as “juvenile,” “arrogant,” and “stupid” (Aug. 6, 2000).
In Finkelstein’s portrayal no one “unerringly articulates” the Holocaust “dogma” more than Nobel Laureate and human rights activist Elie Wiesel, who is himself a Holocaust survivor. Finkelstein mockingly describes Wiesel as the “resident clown,” and charges he is responsible for creating a “meaningless version of the Nazi Holocaust” and for only exposing “genocides that serve the interest of the US and Israel” (Salon.com, Aug. 30, 2000). While Wiesel’s work on behalf of those suffering around the world is generally well-respected, Finkelstein denounces his lack of “humanitarian commitments,” and his “shameful record of apologetics on behalf of Israel.” A more mainstream view was expressed by Ted Koppel of ABC’s Nightline, who called Wiesel “one of the most compassionate human beings alive.” Koppel specifically praises Wiesel for showing as much compassion for other people as he does the Jews (April18, 2002).
Other Jewish leaders are similarly slandered by Finkelstein. For example, he calls Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, “the Grand Wizard,” a term typically reserved for a leader in the racist Ku Klux Klan.
FINKELSTEIN ON ISRAEL
Finkelstein tries to convince readers that the “Holocaust Industry” exists as an ideological weapon to gain unqualified support for Israel against the Palestinians. He unconvincingly argues that both the Holocaust and Israel became important to American Jews only in 1967 because:
Israel now becomes the United States’ strategic asset in the Middle East. It’s safe to be pro-Israel. And suddenly American Jewry, Jewish intellectuals and so forth, become fanatical towards the State of Israel. It’s one of the enduring ironies of the whole conflict. That of all the Jewish intellectuals who are now fanatical stalwarts of the State of Israel, until 1967 there were only two public Jewish intellectuals who are publicly identified as supporting Israel. There are only two. And they were Hannah Arendt … the second one was Noam Chomsky.
Finkelstein’s assertions are simply bizarre. In fact, many Jewish intellectuals supported the Jewish state before 1967.
Thus, Albert Einstein, perhaps the preeminent intellectual of the 20th century, co-wrote an article in the 1944 Princeton Herald strongly supporting a Jewish state:
In speaking up for a Jewish Palestine, we want to promote the establishment of a place of refuge where persecuted human beings may find security and peace and the undisputed right to live under a law and order of their making. The experiences of many centuries have taught us that this can be provided only by home rule and not by a foreign administration. This is why we stand for a Jewish-controlled Palestine, be it ever so modest and small. ( Jews Among the Nations , pg. 137)
Several American-Jewish intellectuals were deeply involved in the Zionist movement even before the Holocaust. In 1915, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote about the importance of a Jewish state for the Jewish people:
The glorious past [of the Jews] can really live only if it becomes part of a glorious future; and to this end the Jewish home in Palestine is essential. We Jews of prosperous America above all need its inspiration. ( Menorah Journal , January 1915)
Even before Brandeis became chairman of the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs, he proclaimed in a 1913 speech that “we should aid in the efforts of the Jews in Palestine. We should all support the Zionist movement.” In many of his speeches in that period he stated “to be good Americans we must be better Jews and to better Jews we must become Zionists.”
Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter also actively promoted the establishment of a Jewish homeland. In an article for the April 1931 Foreign Affairs magazine, he wrote that he supports a Jewish state:
not only as a Jew. But as one who believes in the wisdom of the policy embodied in the Palestine Mandate for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Finkelstein in particular singled out Norman Podhoretz, the former editor-in-chief of Commentary , as a Jewish intellectual who did not support Israel before 1967:
What is very striking is everyone says, everyone says Israel played no role in my life up until ’67. . . . Take the editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz. . . . He writes a famous memoir called Making It . I reread Making It . Israel gets exactly four words in the whole book, it’s nothing.
Finkelstein is once again sloppy in his research. A full 10 years before the Six Day War, Podhoretz wrote a well-known article for the Zionist magazine Midstream about the importance of American Jews making the case for Israel. He wrote:
Failing active restraint by America, the Arabs will continue to provoke, and Israel, under the inalienable right of self-preservation, will be forced to move. It is in the interest of the United States to insure that justice is to be done to Israel, and American Jews, who should be alerted by their interest as Jews to the special danger of the situation in the Middle East. . . are the ones to make that point clear to their fellow Americans.
Support for Zionism by such luminaries as Brandeis, Franfurter, Einstein, and Podhoretz, all apparently missed by Finkelstein, exposes his shoddy research and proves just how unreliable he is when it comes to Zionism and its history.
Just as inaccurate as the Holocaust Industry is Finkelstein’s book Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Dedicated to the proposition that Israel and Zionism are illegitimate, the book relies largely on anti-Israeli secondary sources and virtually ignores contrary evidence.
For example, Finkelstein’s chapter “Born of War, Not by Design,” about the 1948 Palestinian refugees, relies almost exclusively on Benny Morris’s book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, which has been seriously challenged by mainstream historians for selectively using Israeli archival material. Finkelstein relies on information found in The Birth, but often distorts already questionable material. For example, Morris claims in one of his endnotes that Ben-Gurion said:
[a return] is out of the question until we sit together beside a [peace conference] table…and they will respect us to the degree that we respect them and I doubt whether they deserve respect as we do. Because, nonetheless, we did not flee en masse. [And] so far no Arab Einstein has arisen and [they] have not created what we have built in this country and [they] have not fought as we are fighting…We are dealing with a collective murderer.
Rather than checking the original source, Finkelstein distorts the secondary source. In order to demonstrate Ben-Gurion’s “extreme” “racis[ism],” he shortens Morris’s citation to read, “Arabs were not entitled to the same respect accorded to Jews because ‘so far no Arab Einstein has arisen…We are dealing with a collective murderer.’ ”
Benny Morris himself has long been critical of Finkelstein’s scholarly research as it relates to his [Morris's] work. He criticizes Finkelstein for “selectively quot[ing]” from his book and for not knowing “anything …beyond what is found” in his books. His sources, according to Morris, are “dubious,” and he adds that Finkelstein fails to marshal “sources or materials from elsewhere that could serve to contradict my findings” ( Journal of Palestine Studies , Autumn 1991). According to Morris, “for Finkelstein the only good Israeli is an evil Israeli.”
Finkelstein routinely compares Israelis with Nazis and told the Jeruslem Post that he “can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists would be offended by the comparison” (Aug 28, 2000).
While Finkelstein expresses nothing but contempt for Israel, he lavishes praise on the terrorist group Hezbollah. In a letter posted on his Web site he states, “I did make a point of publicly honoring the heroic resistance of Hezbollah to foreign occupation …Their historic contributions are…undeniable.” He appeared on the official Hezbollah television network 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?”
Al Manar’s expressed mission is to wage “psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy.” Al Manar producers boast of creating programming to recruit Palestinian suicide bombers. In addition, Ibrahim Mussawi, director of English-language news for al Manar, in an interview with the New Yorker ‘s Jeffrey Goldberg, labeled Jews “a lesion on the forehead of history.” Al Manar TV was banned by European Union satellites for airing racist programming such as the series “The Diaspora” based on The Protocols .
ATTACKS ON PRO-ISRAEL WRITERS
Finkelstein routinely calls those he disagrees with “frauds” labeling their work “hoaxes.” Alan Dershowitz, a renowned Harvard lawyer and author of the best selling book The Case for Israel, is his latest target. Finkelstein claims Dershowitz’s book is “sheer, unadulterated, complete, total, comprehensive, from beginning to end, from the first uppercase letter to the last period, a complete fraud” (March 8, 2005, lecture at the University of Illinois Law School). He accuses Dershowitz of plagiarism and has said that Dershowitz “almost certainly didn’t write the book and perhaps didn’t even read it prior to publication.” The allegations were investigated and rejected by former Harvard President Derek Bok. In an upcoming book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Finkelstein was going to accuse Dershowitz of plagiarism, but, under threat of lawsuit, he was forced to omit the allegation from his book.
In March, CAMERA asked Dershowitz why he thought professors are reluctant to publicly defend Israel. He said they fear:
Finkelstein going all over campuses of the world making up stories about them. The whole Finkelstein-Noam Chomsky-Alex Cockburn attack team has succeeded in intimidating many young professors around the country and around the world. Because if you write a pro-Israel article or book, they will call you a plagiarist…They will make up quotes about you…The hit team claims that they already prevented and destroyed the reputations of two pro-Israel writers.
It’s hardly surprising that Finkelstein’s fabrications and attack strategy intimidate. All the more reason that the facts about his reckless charges be widely disseminated. Finally, the grossly flawed writings of the DePaul “professor” point to yet another example of the failure of the academic world to uphold genuine standards of scholarship–such as accuracy, truthfulness and rigorous sourcing.
From: Tamu info[at]freedombin.com
Subject: CAMERA claim on innaccuracy of Benny Morris
Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006
That CAMERA article’s saying that the Benny Morris book you’re referencing in
Image & Reality is inaccurate and is “disputed:”
Would you respond to this charge:
“Just as inaccurate as the Holocaust Industry is Finkelstein’s book Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Dedicated to the proposition that Israel and Zionism are illegitimate, the book relies largely on anti-Israeli secondary sources and virtually ignores contrary evidence.
For example, Finkelstein’s chapter “Born of War, Not by Design,” about the 1948 Palestinian refugees, relies almost exclusively on Benny Morris’s book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, which has been seriously challenged by mainstream historians for selectively using Israeli archival material. Finkelstein relies on information found in The Birth, but often distorts already questionable material. For example, Morris claims in one of his endnotes
that Ben-Gurion said: [a return] is out of the question until we sit together beside a [peace conference] table…and they will respect us to the degree that
we respect them and I doubt whether they deserve respect as we do. Because, nonetheless, we did not flee en masse. [And] so far no Arab Einstein has arisen and [they] have not created what we have built in this country and [they] have not fought as we are fighting…We are dealing with a collective murderer. Rather than checking the original source, Finkelstein distorts the secondary source. In order to demonstrate Ben-Gurion’s “extreme” “racis[ism],” he shortens Morris’s citation to read, “Arabs were not entitled to the same respect accorded to Jews because ‘so far no Arab Einstein has arisen…We are dealing with a collective murderer.’ ”
Benny Morris himself has long been critical of Finkelstein’s scholarly research as it relates to his [Morris's] work. He criticizes Finkelstein for “selectively quot[ing]” from his book and for not knowing “anything …beyond what is found” in his books. His sources, according to Morris, are “dubious,” and he
adds that Finkelstein fails to marshal “sources or materials from elsewhere that could serve to contradict my findings” ( Journal of Palestine Studies , Autumn 1991). According to Morris, “for Finkelstein the only good Israeli is an evil Israeli.”
Subject: RE: CAMERA claim on innaccuracy of Benny Morris
But where is the misquotation? I said that Ben-Gurion was an extreme racist, and quoted the Morris statement in support. Is my version
of the original quote from Morris misleading in any way? (No one disputes that Ben-Gurion stated the part of the quote I cite.)
From: Tamu info[at]freedombin.com
Subject: RE: CAMERA claim on innaccuracy of Benny Morris
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006
yeah, Deborah Passner’s elaboration and a fuller inclusion of Morris’ quote only makes your point stronger. i.e., he didn’t only say “no Arab Einstein” & “collective murderer” but also said x,y,z. it’s amazing how much Ben Gurion is making a Hitlerian argument along the lines of “we’re the superior, more scientific race and thus THEY don’t deserve respect as we do.” that Dostoyevsky book you taught in class — Notes From Underground — says it well in the part about western “Civilization” being primarily technological progress, not moral progress. “The most refined shedders of blood have been almost always the most highly civilized gentlemen,” to whom all the official terrorists “could not have held a candle.”
on a side note, i’m more curious about this claim: “…Benny Morris’s book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, which has been seriously challenged by mainstream historians for selectively using Israeli archival material.” She’s not using any sources on this, so it’s hard for me to double check. do you know what she means here?
Subject: RE: CAMERA claim on innaccuracy of Benny Morris
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2006
Exactly one quote of Morris’s was shown to be wrong. Given that his books contain THOUSANDS of references, I would say it’s a VERY IMPRESSIVE record if he made only one mistake.
by Aida Edemariam
Norman G Finkelstein is no stranger to controversy, and he is stirring it up again. In The Holocaust Industry (2000) he argued that Jews should not elevate the Holocaust as in some way sacred, should not elevate their suffering above the suffering of others, should be careful about participating in a “memory” industry; in A Nation on Trial, he and Ruth Bettina Birn challenged, in detail, Daniel Goldhagen’s bestseller Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Now he has written Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, which is, according to Finkelstein’s comprehensive official website, “a meticulously researched expose of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
This time Finkelstein has in his sights Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and his bestseller The Case for Israel. Dershowitz has hired lawyers. And “he’s been sending us some letters,” says Lynne Withey, director of University of California Press, which is to publish the book in the US. “He’s not too happy about this, as you can imagine.” The book was meant to appear this spring, but is delayed until August. They’re doing “a lot of copyediting”. And factchecking? Yes. And they have decided not to publish it in England themselves, as they feel the book, which has “major sales potential in Europe”, should be taken on by a UK publisher. As yet, there are no takers.