Finkelstein

This time I give credit to Doc for attempting some level of rationality in his treatment of Professor Finkelstein.  While obviously I’m going to disagree with his picture of the man, at least this time his response was somewhat measured.

First off on a personal note, I stayed at Professor Finkelstein’s apartment in Brooklyn for several nights while I attended graduate school in New York City.  A friend of mine knew Finkelstein from Chicago and was subletting his place for the semester … Norman was in Chicago teaching at DePaul at the time so I never met him.  [shameless name-dropping I admit].

All of Doc’s references to communism and radical leftist systems of thought are positive attributes in my opinion.  If by communism one means the thought that humans would benefit from international cooperation, valuing equality and working towards the elimination of national boundaries I too am a communist.  This is the sense in which Finkelstein considers himself a communist, not a Leninist, Stalinist or anything like that.

The Joan Peters book when it first came out received the usual praise from the usual suspects of pro-Israel commentary and was generally well-received in a superficial way.  It was not until Finkelstein unleashed his meticulous critique of the book’s methodology, sourcing and so forth that it was recognized as the fraud that it is.  After Finkelstein revealed his findings to Middle East scholars here and in Europe, widespread praise turned into universal condemnation.  Today the Peters book is a punchline representing the most vulgar form of pro-Israel propaganda.

Finkelstein did the same critical analysis of Alan Dershowitz’ book The Case for Israel.  Amy Goodman’s news program Democracy Now hosted a debate between Finkelstein and Dershowitz in which it’s very clear that Dershowitz concocted a fraud.  But Dershowitz has powerful friends at Harvard, Elena Kagan, Derek Bok and so forth and their "official investigation" exonerated Dershowitz of plagiarism.  If you’re interested I suggest you research the matter yourselves.  There isn’t much doubt that the Dershowitz book is in fact plagiarized, largely from Joan Peters incidentally, and Finkelstein was correct.  Powerful interests aided Dershowitz in his campaign against Finkelstein’s tenure.  Middle East scholars and Finkelstein’s own colleagues at Depaul supported his bid for tenure; his denial was a political decision and a shameful one at that.

Please see the following links for a primer on these issues:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeTpKASahAc
https://archive.org/details/DemocracyNowNormanGFinkelstein

http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/02/11/the-case-against-alan-dershowitz/

In closing, Doc’s various other claims that Finkelstein has expressed support for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Second Intifada :  Finkelstein supports the idea that Palestinians and Lebanese have the right to resist Israeli violence and occupation.  He supports the democratic principle that the people of Palestine and Lebanon have the right to choose their representatives even if those representatives have distasteful religious-based ideologies (much like the people of Israel have the right to choose Likud, Jewish Home, and Yisrael Beiteinu as right-wing extremist parties governing the State of Israel).  For Finkelstein’s own comments on Hezbollah please see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDe65-nF3FQ

And Finkelstein wasn’t the only left-wing Jew denied entry into Israel.  Noam Chomsky was also denied entry to speak at a Palestinian university in the West Bank:  http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/noam-chomsky-denied-entry-into-israel-and-west-bank-1.290701

These are examples of the increasingly repressive nature of the Israeli state as chauvinistic, right-wing elements take over its government and body politic.  The denials of entry reflect poorly on Benjamin Netanyahu and his associates, not on professors Chomsky and Finkelstein.

Peace

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