Skip to comments.Academic Witch-Hunt at Depaul University
Posted on 03/22/2005 6:23:21 PM PST by Alouette
Depaul University is a large, if not particularly academically renowned, Catholic college in Chicago. Until recently, the main cause of controversy surrounding Depaul was its insistence on employing notorious anti-Semite Norman Finkelstein as an assistant professor in its political science department. But now, Depaul took a giant step in implementing Orwellianism and anti-democratic suppression of political incorrectness on its campus.
The immediate target of Depaul's campaign against political incorrectness was Thomas Klocek, a part-time adjunct professor at DePaul University's so-called "School for New Learning". ("New learning" evidently is not something Depaul confuses with "learning", as the events there show.) Klocek's crime? He was guilty of expressing support for Israel. Evidently Holocaust denial is okay at Depaul, but not expressing support for Israel.
After 14 years of continuous employment at the Chicago-based college, Klocek was suspended with pay last September, and then stayed suspended - this time without pay - through the winter quarter. Klocek is guilty of nothing more than expressing pro-Israel views in the face of extremist Palestinian propaganda on Depaul's campus, including students and non-students proliferating the usual lies and canards about Israel and Rachel Corrie. 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.
Despite having an unblemished record during that span, DePaul summarily dismissed him from his duties after the school learned 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." 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).
With no current income, and facing the possibility of losing the health insurance he desperately needs for a serious kidney condition, Klocek, the 21st century Galileo of Depaul, decided to go public with his fight. The Chicago Jewish News ran a large expose of Depaul's auto da fe against Klocek this week.
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 Mattson, the university spokesperson. Yeah, right, while another Depaul professor has made a career out of promoting and cheering Holocaust deniers and serving as the darling of neo-Nazi web sites. His "behavior" does not disturb the Depaul Inquisitors.
Large numbers of bloggers have come out in favor of Klocek and against his Inquisitors from Depaul. The university itself has been forced to acknowledge the growing outrage over its conduct.
Depaul's sudden horror at the supposed "unprofessorial behavior" by Klocek (they allege he made an impolite hand gesture to Muslim students who had been calling him names) stands in sharp contrast with the university's record regarding Norman Finkelstein, the most openly anti-Semitic Jew on the planet. Depaul employs Finkelstein as an assistant professor in political science, after Finkelstein got fired from two New York-area adjunct teaching jobs (at New York Uiversity and Hunter College) because of his pseudo-scholarship and fraudulent rantings against Jews and Israel.
Finkelstein is a disciple of Holocaust denier David Irving and claims Irving is an authoritative historian. Finkelstein refers to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis as the "Six Million" in quotation marks, and says that nearly every Holocaust survivor is a fraud, a thief and a liar. (Finkelstein's own parents are Holocaust survivors and Finkelstein has long tried to capitalize on this as a way to legitimize his own anti-Semitism. The psychiatry department at Depaul might have interesting things to say about this.)
Finkelstein routinely libels Holocaust survivor, philosopher and writer Elie Wiesel in scurrilous terms. Finkelstein is the star on every Holocaust denial neo-Nazi web site on earth, serving as the "Jew who proved there was never any Holocaust." He has been denounced as a fraud and anti-Semite by Alan Dershowitz, by historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, by Dennis Prager, by Professor Omer Bartov, by the World Jewish Congress, and by just about everyone else on earth, gentile or Jew. The New York Times compared Finkelstein's book to the old czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, ever popular with Saudis and Counterpunch columnists. Last year, Alan Dershowitz made wienerschnitzel out of Finkelstein in a public debate. So, naturally, Norman Finkelstein recently became the poster boy for the anti-Semites over at Counterpunch.
Given the sensitivity of the Church today to charges of anti-Semitism and the sincere attempts by the Vatican to atone for centuries of Church persecution of Jews, the employment of Finkelstein by Depaul as an "academic" is an open outrage and insult to the world, and especially to Catholics. Depaul would never hire a "professor" who claimed that it was actually Jesus Christ who had crucified Pontius Pilate, so what is a buffoon like Norman Finkelstein doing on its faculty?
[To tell the officers at Depaul what you think, a list of them and their emails is available at http://directory.depaul.edu/executive_officers/index.asp.]
WARNING: This is a high volume ping list
WARNING: This is a high volume ping list
Please add me to the list. I am pro-Israel, and have several friends who live in the Tel Aviv area.
Alouette, I hate to break the news to you, but Depaul is not particularly Catholic, either. Their theology department employs one John Dominick Crossan, of the "Jesus Seminar," whose contribution to Christian theology is to assert that Jesus was not resurrected, but probably eaten by wild dogs.
Given that they're openly blasphemous to their own faith, I wouldn't expect them to treat the ancestor of that faith any better. In a perverse way, I'd have to say honestly that for Depaul to be anti-Semitic is a high compliment to Jews everywhere.
Look! It's a pattern! Depaul has anti-Catholic Catholics on the theology department, an anti-Semitic Jew in the political science department ... if they can get Salman Rushdie, an anti-Muslim ex-Muslim, to teach literature ... they'll go three for three!!!
I heard Depaul issued a Fatwah against Rushdie.
Why do I have the depressing feeling that the NYT meant that as a compliment...? :)
If G-d spoke at Sinai, then the Jewish/Israeli position is the staid, orthodox, fogey position from which everyone else has deviated. Why then this continuing need of so many to present the Jewish claim to Israel as something radical, daring, "dangerous," and inherently opposed by . . . well, for the lack of a better word . . . the sane?
You're a good man, Mr. Plaut, but please . . . enough with constant invocation of the Jews as "the Canaanites of chr*stendom." It's time for the Jews to be the Israelites of Israel!!!
An Inquisition at De Paul is long overdue, but against DePaul, not against Mr. Klocek. :-)
I wonder what causes Jews like Finkelstein and Bobby Fischer to become antisemites?
or Irish Catholic.
Depaul has a decent basketball team though. (or at least they used to)
This article would be better if it did not include historical boners like this one.
I always wonder why I see the term anti-Semitic, when the author refers to anti-Jewish people and ideas.
'Semitic' also describes Arab muslims, while some Jews don't fall into that category.
Paleo Conservative wrote: "I wonder what causes Jews like Finkelstein and Bobby Fischer to become antisemites?"
Although Finkelstein is so accused, I'm not sure that it's true. I saw him once on a British talk show attacking the "holocaust industry" and his arguments were solid and provocative. I don't know all of his academic work, to be sure, but he's very bright, that much I know.
It was curious to see, in the article above, the following statement:
"Last year, Alan Dershowitz made wienerschnitzel out of Finkelstein in a public debate. "
Well, I read the transcript of that debate (it took 30 seconds to find it via a Google search). I encourage Freepers to read it -- it's Dershowitz who is pounded into wienerschnitzel, IMHO. Here it is:
Scholar Norman Finkelstein Calls Professor Alan Dershowitz's New Book On Israel a "Hoax"
Why don't we start with you laying out the thesis of your latest book, The Case for Israel.
I wanted to write a progressive liberal case for the two-state solution, which I think that most Israelis favor and have favored for a long time. I dedicate the book to professor Aaron Barak, the president of the Israeli Supreme Court and for a reason. Because I argue in the book that no country in history faced with comparable threats both external and internal has ever tried to hard to comply with the rule of law. I compare Israel favorably to the United States. In this regard: its court intervened actively in support of Palestinian rights. Even during fighting in war time during the Jenin events the Israeli courts enjoined the Israeli military from engaging in certain actions which in its view violated the rule of law, The Israeli Supreme Court had banned the kind of rough interrogation techniques that are now being employed by the United Nations in Guantanamo Bay. Israel is the only country in modern history that has never deliberately and explicitly retaliated against those who attack its civilian targets. For example, during the Six Day war in 1973 war, the 1948 war, it's own residential areas were bombed by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, 1600 shells lobbed into west Jerusalem. Israel never bombed Aman, Damascus or Cairo, they have of course bombed areas of Beirut in the process have killed innocent civilians. That is deliberately targeting civilians and going after the way the United States did in Iraq, which I am very critical, but nonetheless with the United States did going after military targets, knowing that they're going to kill civilians in the process. And so myself, I oppose the settlements, always opposed the settlement since 1967 I opposed the occupation. I think Israel made in my view a terrible view in my view what it should have done is made border adjustments pursuant to U.N. resolution 242 which I actually consulted with Justice Goldburg, he was the ambassador to the U.N. was involved in the process of that 242 resolution, which presupposed some territorial adjustments. The problem is Israel should never have occupied people. Land is different from people. And today I think unilaterally what it ought to do eventually is if it can't kind the peace partner to make some unilateral changes, small ones. End the settlements, in fact my peace proposal is that Israel ought to have schedule for ending settlements. That is a schedule for saying on so and so date the settlement ends conditioned on best efforts by the Palestinians to end terrorism. That would create incentive to ending terrorist acts. By the way you never condition anything on the end of terrorism, that gives terrorists a veto. What you condition it is on making good faith efforts and if we can get Israel to end the settlements and occupation and Palestinian leadership to stop using terrorism as a tactic, I think finally something could have happened in 1917, two-state solution, in 1937 when the commission recommended noncontiguous Jewish homeland and Israelis accepted it and the Arabs rejected it. In 1947 when the U.N. allocated that portion of Palestine that had majority of Jews in it to a Jewish state, and the portion of Palestine that had Palestinian majority in it to an Arab state, could have had a two state solution. Could have had a two state solution in 2001 and 2000 when Barak and President Clinton offered to be sure noncontiguous state on 90% of the west bank and capital and Jerusalem with the 35 billion dollar refugee package. When Arafat responded by violence, came back to the table maybe we'll negotiate for more. The two-state solution is inevitable. It's going to happen. The only question is how long it takes to happen. My hope is that we can have a reasonable serious debate about the future; about the rights and wrongs I think the rights and wrongs on both sides. But I'm nervous because I heard from my debating partner in the beginning what sounded like it was going to be simply an ad hominem attack on me as to whether I'm qualified to teach at Harvard. I would hope we could elevate the discussion keep it on the merits. I won't attack Mr. Finkelstein on his merits of his position; let people read his book and judge for themselves. And if he would refrain from personal attacks on me, let people judge the book on the merits I think we can move the ball forward have a reasonable serious debate. I think it would be interesting to know where we agree and disagree. What facts we share in common, what facts we have different views on and whether they're empirical and could be subjected to reasonable resolution, where we have moral disagreements, I really think that in the end today you read the news about Israel is other good news. There is a prisoner exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel which Israel would get back one person, civilian who was captured by Hezbollah in exchange for Israel giving back 400 or so prisoners. There's movement forward. Let's not destroy that movement forward by getting involved in meaningless ad hominem discussion, let's see if we can elevate the debate see if we can really move forward to the two state solution that I think virtually everybody in the world today wants.
Professor Alan Dershowitz author of The Case for Israel Norman Finkelstein, your response.
I appreciate Alan Dershowitz's seriousness at least in these remarks. I have no intention whatsoever of getting involved in an ad hominem debate with Mr. Dershowitz. I'm interested in the facts. I was asked to come in and discuss his new book. I went home, purchased one copy, in fact I purchased two copies. I read the book very carefully. I did what someone serious does with a book. I read the text, I went through the footnotes. I went through it very carefully. There's only one conclusion one can reach having read the book. This is a scholarly judgment, not an ad hominem attack. Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud. In fact Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud which amazingly in large parts, he plagiarized from another fraud. I found that pretty shocking, shocking coming from a Harvard professor. I find it shocking coming from any professor.
We have to cut off I just want to warn everybody here that although I'm not a litigious person when you make allegations . . .
I'm proceeded to . . .
When you make allegations of plagiarism that's a . . . It has great legal implications. And I can't obviously sit quietly by and . . .
You shouldn't. I agree. Well that's Let's look at the evidence.
. . . of plagiarism . . .
Let's look at the evidence. In the first two chapters of your book you extensively reproduce all of Joan Peters' pages in her book. I read it carefully. In 1984 . . .
Show me one sentence.
I am going to show you I think I have . . .I made available the charts to you.
You've shown me nothing. Let's start with that. That's a categorical lie. What you're hearing now on radio is a claim that Mr. Finkelstein made available to me certain charts. That is a lie.
Mr. Dershowitz, I think you had about five minutes' time I wasn't looking at the clock. If we're going to have a civil debate you're going to have to remain . . .
It's not going to be about me let me be very clear about that.
I have no interest in you, Mr. Dershowitz. None at all. I'm interested in the scholarship, I'm interested in the facts, I'm interested in your book. In 1984 one Joan Peters published a book called From Time Immemorial the book was universally recognized by serious scholars to be a fraud. Without wanting to toot my own horn I'm widely recognized as the person who exposed the fraud. I know that book inside out. I read it at least four times, I went through all 1854 footnotes. I started to read your book, Mr. Dershowitz, I then came to chapter one footnotes 10, footnote 11, footnote 12, footnote 13, footnote 14, footnote 15, footnote 16, all of the quotes are from Joan Peters. They're so from Joan Peters that you have a long quote here from Mark Twain on pages 23 to 24. I turned to Joan Peters page 159 to 60, identical quote from Twain with the ellipses in the . . .
Is the Twain quote wrong?
. . . with the ellipses . . . let me finish sir. They're in the same places. The identical quote from Twain with the ellipses in the same places.
It's been quoted, as you know.
Mr. Dershowitz I . . .
What's your point?
Let me finish . . .
I would ask you a question. Is it a direct quote? Is it an accurate quote of Twain? Did Twain say . . .
Professor Dershowitz the way we can have a civilized discussion here is that each person will get a chance to make their point and won't be cut off.
You have a nearly full page quote from one William Young a British consul from May 1839.
Is it an accurate quote?
I'm going to finish, sir. On page 18 of your book. I turn to Joan Peters page 184, the identical quote with the ellipses I'm holding it up for the camera perhaps they can see this is the length of the quote.
Is it an accurate quote?
It's in the identical place. Last point. I'm not going to go through chapter two where there are 29 plagiarisms from Joan Peters.
To be very clear, it's not plagiarism to quote Mark Twain correctly.
Except that you cite Mark Twain not Joan Peters. I'm a professor, sir. I know what plagiarism is.
And plagiarism is . . . What is your definition of plagiarism?
We're not going to get involved [ ] in that now.
You're using a word you're not going to tell us what you mean by it?
The documentation, you know what we'll let everybody else decide for themselves because documentation one last example. I want to make it very clear, in Joan Peters' book From Time Immemorial she coins a phrase. The phrase is "turn speak".
She borrows it from . . .
Sir, I'm sorry she coins the phrase, you see you don't know what you're talking about that's pretty terrible. She coins the phrase, "turnspeak," she says she's using it as a play off of George Orwell which is all listeners know used the phrase "newspeak." She coined her own phrase, "turnspeak." You go to Mr. Dershowitz's book he got so confused in his massive borrowings from Joan Peters that on two occasions I'll cite them for those who have a copy of the book, on page 57 and on page 153 he uses the phrase, quote, George Orwell's turn speak. Turn speak is not Orwell, Mr. Dershowitz, you're the Felix Frankfurter chair at Harvard, you must know that Orwell would never use such a clunky phrase as "turnspeak."
I like it.
Well, maybe you like it. Evidently Joan Peters liked it. But George Orwell never heard of it to the best of my knowledge.
We have to break for stations to identify themselves. 60 seconds. When we come back Professor Dershowitz can respond. We're talking to Professor Alan Dershowitz author of a new book it's called The Case for Israel and debate with Norman Finkelstein. You're listening to Democracy Now! Stay with us. [Music Break]
More music here from the late Frank Lowe as we continue our debate on Alan Dershowitz's new book called The Case for Israel. Alan Dershowitz is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. In discussion with Norman Finkelstein who teaches at DePaul University in Chicago. His book Image and Reality: Israel Palestinian Conflict and The Holocaust Industry professor Dershowitz your response to this very serious charge of plagiarism.
It's a frivolous charge, of course. What happened was this. Of course I read the Peters book, anybody writing a book on the Middle East anybody would. I also read The Myths and Facts a book put out originally by AIPAC then published separately and independently probably 30 or 40 other books which use the same quotes, they're very extensively used quotes by Mark Twain because Mark Twain traveled to Palestine, Mark Twain is a very prominent American writer. What he saw in Palestine is very relevant to the debate. He saw barren lands, didn't see a Palestinian community. He saw empty roads and he writes extremely vividly and one scholar is entitled to read a book as I did, Peters' book and to find quotes in the book and check them against the original quotes. And find them to be accurate and then do what I did, I don't know whether or not Mr. Finkelstein read footnote 31 that appears on page 246 which says, the research of French Cartographer Vital "Cuinct" relied on for the I may have mispronounced it.
No, you misspelled it.
See Joan Peters from Time Immemorial then Peters' conclusions and data have been challenged and then I quote from Said and Hitchins, I do not in any way rely on them in this book. In other words, what I did, and it's very common for scholars to do that. Is I read her books, I read Mr. Finkelstein's criticism of them I came away from enough doubt about the conclusions that although I don't regard the Peters' book in any way as a fraud, I think it was well intentioned effort to recreate and very difficult to recreate the very difficult to recreate events that existed in 1890 and 1900. Did I find her quotes which have been as I said used extensively by Facts and Myths and other publications, to be quite compelling. This book and none of my writing, I don't purport to be independent historian who goes back to the Middle East and reads original documents. I am making a case. I'm doing what a lawyer would do and what lawyers do is they find sources, they check the sources, I had a research staff that obviously checked the sources. I haven't heard a word from Mr. Finkelstein suggesting that the quote from Mark Twain is not an accurate quote. If Peters had made up a quote that hadn't existed. Mark Twain had never written and then somebody borrowed the quote without going to check back on whether Mark Twain had said that, obviously that would be a serious charge. I've done nothing like that. The vast majority of my book deals with current situations. In fact I start my book by saying there has to be a statute of limitations on grievances. I don't try to base The Case for Israel on the fact that Jews lived in Palestine before the birth of Jesus or the fact that Jews were expelled from what is now Israel in 72 A.D. and I argue that Palestinians can't really make the case against the two-state solution based on historic claims that go back 100 years but first couple of chapters which are quite brief, I recount never purporting to be creative or original in the recounting, I recount what has been accepted as traditional history. That includes the fact that the land particularly what is now what would be western Palestine, what was the part of Palestine allocated to Israel in the 1947 division was land that before the Jews got there in the first aliyah in1880 in the beginning of the 20th century was land that was coming into disuse. Now these are controversial, by the way, there are some Palestinians who say you shouldn't trust Mark Twain. Some Palestinians say you shouldn't trust the various English travelers. Reasonable people could disagree about that. I quote those sources, I lay them out there for people to read so that they can evaluate the claims that Israel was established on the basis of colonialism. I make the following argument which I'd love to hear Finkelstein rebut. You can't be a colonialist country unless another country sent people there as soldiers to take over that country. For example, France sent its settlers to Algeria. England sent settlers to India. Dutch and other countries sent their settlers to parts of Africa with guns to take over. What did the Jews do during the first and second aliyah. They escaped from countries that were persecuting them. They escaped from Russia and Poland, Lithuania. They didn't come at the request of those countries, if you claim people were colonialist you have to say on whose behalf they were working. The Jews weren't working on behalf of Russia or Poland or Lithuania. They came as refugees, much like American Jews came as refugees to America. The ones who went to Palestine went with rakes and hoes to try to build the land, to try to join collectively with the local population. They did in fact improve the land as the result of work projects in western Palestine many Arabs from eastern Palestine moved there, I cite statistics, Peters cites the same statistics in fact showing that in various the fact that I can't remember the exact numbers, Jews moved there attracted 300 or 400, you may disagree with it. But those are the data that I presented and we can reasonably disagree with that. Now, I just want to make one point about Mr. Finkelstein's research. I don't want to get ad hominem I don't want to get into this debate. But for example I do quote Mr. Finkelstein at one point I think only once in the book. That is he makes an argument in Edward Said's collection that to judge the 1947 partition the only fairway to do it is to look at either all of Palestine, which I don't know whether he needs to include what became Jordan, trans-Jordan or not or you have to look at what became of Israel after the 1948 war. I disagree with that. What I say respectfully in the book is that when you look at the fairness of the 1947 petition, you only look at the land that was allocated to the state of Israel. In that land Jews were clearly a majority according to the U.N. census to be sure once the Arab nations attacked Israel, once the Palestinians attacked Israel there was a war and Israel secured more land which was regularized by a crease fire in 1949. What Mr. Finkelstein does is he counts that land and says, look how much they got and look at the proportion of Jews and Palestinians that's not the correct demographic to look at. So we can have reasonable . . .
Let's get the response to that.
Stay away from the ad hominems and get to the merit of the case.
Professor Dershowitz, I'm not a professor at Harvard but I do . . .
You seem to resent that a lot.
I do teach elsewhere. And when we discuss issues like falsifying information, plagiarizing, lifting whole cloth from other books I've never heard that called ad hominem for a serious scholar and a serious academic, those are very fundamental issues.
But when they're false . . .
If they're false then you dispute them. To characterize them as ad hominem seems really out of court for a professor . . .
You said I don't deserve to teach at Harvard that sounds pretty . . .
Professor Dershowitz let Norman make his case.
You raise that issue then I'll address it then returning to the substantive issues of your book.
First, tell me why I shouldn't be teaching at Harvard.
On page 207 of your book you say that "to deliberately misinform, miseducate, and misdirect students is a particularly nasty form of educational malpractice."
Of which I accuse Noam Chomsky and others.
I consider what you have done in the book to be a paradigmatic example of misinforming, miseducating and misdirecting. Allow me to finish.
Let him make his point.
Allow me to finish Mr. Dershowitz I've been very respectful of your time. On page 213 you discussed Holocaust fraud by Robert Faurisson and you write, quote, "There was no extensive historical research" referring to his book.
"Instead there was the fraudulent manufacturing of false antihistory".
That's right. And Chomsky wrote as you . . .
Please don't bring in Mr. Chomsky. He can defend himself. We're talking about you and your book. It was the kind of deception referring to Faurisson's book that let me quote clearly, "for which professors are rightly fired".
I stand by that.
"Not because their views are controversial," let me underline this again, "but because they are violating the most basic canons of historical scholarship."
Let me respond to that. You compare me to Faurisson . . .
I didn't ask . . .
You made up the story that the Holocaust . . .
I'm referring to your standards. I have no interested in Faurisson now I'm talking about your standards. "To miseducate, misinform and misdirect to violate the standards of historical scholarship are grounds for expulsion."
It's not an ad hominem argument it's using your standards.
No, it's an ad hominem. . .
I'm going to interrupt here because I want to get to some of the main points of your book. Also we were intrigued watching Scarborough Country when you debated Sam Husseini, the offer that you made. Let's play it for a moment.
(On Scarborough Country:)
Tell you what. I will give $10,000 to the P.L.O. in your name if you can find historical fact in my book that you can prove to be false. I issue that challenge, I issue it to you, I issue it to the Palestinian Authority, I issue it to Noam Chomsky to Edward Said, every word in my book is accurate and you can't just simply say it's false without documenting it. Tell me one thing in the book now that is false?
Okay. Let's go to the book. The Case for Israel $10,000.
Let me tell you what he came up with. This is really fascinating if you show the rest of the clip. He said on television, I saw a photograph or a videotape of Israeli soldiers aiming their guns at that, whatever 12-year-old boy who was caught in the cross fire and killed and I actually upped the offer to $25,000 if he could produce a photograph or if he could produce proof that he had seen that. Why was I so confident? Because German television did a very thorough study of that one particular incident. Let's just spend one minute on that. What happened is when that child was killed in his father's arms, the nation of Israel went into almost universal mourning, it was as if they were sitting Shiva on one of their own children. A child had died it looked as if possibly Israeli soldier might have shot him. When you contrast that to how Palestinians respond to a child dying in Israel from terrorism dancing in the streets, it's a very striking comparison. Then German television did a study they found out that the Israeli soldiers were positioned in a way that it was physically impossible for the bullet from Israeli soldier to have hit that Palestinian child and it was virtually certain that the bullet had come from a Palestinian gun. In my view that's not particularly relevant when a child is caught in cross fire it's a tragic death resulting from the crossfire. Which bullet actually hit I am was not relevant. But that was the answer that he came up with.
Well, first of all I want to clarify the monetary issue. Is it now $25,000?
$25,000 on that issue.
Just on that issue. In general $10,000.
Let me be clear...
We just saw the tape. I think it's clear.
I made it very clear I said afterward a material willful distortion. . .
I don't want afterwards. Professor Dershowitz it's on tape. We just saw it.
We're not talking about a spelling mistake. We're not talking about a minor . . .
All right. Let's talk about . . .
Serious material. Let's start. Number one, I'm going to first deal with just concrete facts which are not particularly controversial, which can easily be confirmed. On page 80 of your book you write, according to Benny Morris between April and June. . .
Benny Morris is an Israeli historian.
I have a copy of his book here, which I'll hold up. 2,000 to 3,000 Palestinians were made refugees during the second stage of the flight. Here is the book in front of you. Page 256, can you read what the sentence says.
Let me read you what I say in my book, in some areas Arab . . .
Please don't read the whole paragraph.
Let me put in the context. Chomsky says that Morris does not believe that any Arab leaders told the Palestinians to leave. I say, in some areas I quote from Morris," in some areas Arab commanders ordered . . .
I'm not disputing that.
. . . to clear the ground for military purposes to prevent surrender. More than half dozen villages, et cetera, were abandoned during these months as result of such orders. Elsewhere in east Jerusalem in many villages around the country, the Arab commanders ordered women, old people and children to be sent away out of harm's way. Indeed psychological preparation for the removal of the dependents had begin in 1947-48 when the Arab high command and Arab League periodically endorsed such a move in contemplating the future of Palestine." And I say therefore, Chomsky is simply wrong when he says that there's no evidence, he says again in another point, nobody today believes that any of the refugees were told to leave. And so I dispute that by quoting Morris himself.
You seem to have an obsession with Mr. Chomsky but he's not here. I'm here. Let's look at the next sentence. . .
Actually, I thought I was going to be debating Chomsky today. I was surprised . . .
Let's be serious.
I agree with you.
Read the next sentence. Morris estimates in your book I have right in front of me. Next sentence.
Morris estimates that between 2,000 and 3,000 Arabs fled their homes during this phase of the Arab initiated fighting.
Can you please read what Mr. Morris wrote?
You're talking about . . .
Please read what he wrote?
If I have the whole book I will find for you if you want to take time.
Can you read the sentence?
I'm looking at page 256 of Benny Morris book, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict.
He is referring to phase two now same one as you. Go ahead.
"Altogether about 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs fled their homes".
There is a big difference between 2,000 and 3,000 and 200,000 and 300,000. You could check this many times, Mr. Dershowitz. But you are really going to have to pay the $10,000. I hope you allow me to earmark it for Jenin. I would like to give it to Jenin.
We're talking about a variety of . . .
This is not the O.J. trial. This is not the O.J. trial. We're not going to play a game.
Is your point... what you are saying Norm Finkelstein is that in Alan Dershowitz's book The case for Israel he says 2,000 to 3,000?
It's 200,000 to 300,000.
Your response to that?
I argue that 700,000 Arabs . . .
Don't change the subject, Mr. Dershowitz.
I'm not changing the subject.
We're talking about phase two. April through June. Please don't play this game.
Obviously, the phrase 2,000 to 3,000 Arabs refers either to a sub-phase or is a typographical error.
This is why lawyers have a bad reputation. Because you are playing a game now. I've read the book twice. In fact I've read the book six times because I've read Peters four times and yours twice that makes six times.
Did she make this point?
I'm going to interrupt a second because stations have to make their point which is they have to identify themselves. We'll come back if you can stay with us for the show, we will continue this discussion our next guest we'll ask him to wait. We'll do the interview after the program I think this is too important. We're talking to Alan Dershowitz. His new book is called The Case for Israel he is debating Norm Finkelstein his books are the The Holocaust Industry and the Israel-Palestine Conflict. Stay with us. [MUSIC BREAK]
AMY GOODMAN:: I'm Amy Goodman and we're talking with Professor Alan Dershowitz his new book is called The Case for Israel. Mario Cuomo writes, "Alan Dershowitz's detailed and penetrating analysis of the issues that fuel the continuing war in Israel should be read by everyone."
Norman Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry has a recommendation on the back by Raul Hilberg who is the leading Holocaust historian in this country. And he says, "When I read Finkelstein's book at the time of the appearance I was in the middle of my own investigations. I came to the conclusion he was on the right track I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against Swiss banks." I'm jumping ahead. He says, "I am by no means the only one who in the coming months or years will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough."
ALAN DERSHOWITZ:: Let me focus on the 2,000 or 3,000. This is such an obvious point. What is the context I'm arguing. I'm arguing that lots and lots of Arabs in distinction to what Chomsky said were told to leave by their Arab commanders. Obviously it's in the interest of that argument to maximize the number who would leave. Only an idiot would deliberately minimize the number who'd leave.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's refrain from ad hominem attacks.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ:: I'm talking about myself now. I would have been an idiot had I used 2,000 when actual number was 2 to 300. If you wanted to make an accusation you would say instead of saying 2 to 300. He said 4-500,000. Remember the argument, the argument I'm making is that lots of the Palestinian refugees left, left as the result of orders from their leaders during this period of time. So my incentive if we take Mr. Finkelstein would be to exaggerate the number. Now he accuses me of reducing the number by 100 fold. Obviously there are only two possible explanations.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You asked me for factual errors.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Why would anyone make a factual error...
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I don't know.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ:: That would hurt their position. It's the stupidest allegation.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz with all due respect with all due respect I cannot understand for the life of me why someone with your reputation and with your accomplishments would cobble together a fraud. That to me is the most perplexing question.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me ask you a direct question.
AMY GOODMAN: We only have ten minutes. We want to go to content.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Am I right or am I wrong that it would serve the interests of my argument to over state rather than to understate that figure?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz there is no argument there. There are no arguments in your book. Your book is a collection of fraud, falsification, plagiarism and nonsense.
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to close both microphones.
We're going to go through this in a civilized way over the next ten minutes. You have laid out a challenge Professor Dershowitz on Scarborough country the program on MSNBC you said if anyone can find factual error in the book we're not talking spelling errors, that you will give $10,000. Sorry?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I'm prepared to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: Now I'm going to interrupt. This is a major challenge You put it out on television. Norman Finkelstein you have laid out one error. Whoever is interest it served you did respond. You said 2 to 3,000 quoting /citing Benny Morris, the Israeli historian in fact he said 2-300,000 Arabs.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me make the point that I do make an argument.Here is the argument I make. I make the argument that the issue is a complex one of the refugees that in fact many of the refugees of the 700,000.
AMY GOODMAN: But, you're citing Benny Morris. He made a different point than you did.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: He made a point that strengthens my argument.
AMY GOODMAN:: But it's wrong in your book. Whether or not it strengthens.Whether or not it serves your argument.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me be very clear.
If you make- I do make an argument. My argument it's very serious, that many of the Palestinians were told to leave by the commanders. If in fact 200,000 were told to leave instead of 2,000, that strengthens my argument. That is the argument that I make. If the book says 2,000 to 3,000 there were only two explanations. Either it is a typographical error or I have to check the book obviously, I was referring to a smaller phase. But it would be ridiculous for anybody to understate when the purpose would be to overstate.
AMY GOODMAN: Okay. Let's leave that and go to another point.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What I'm going to do for the interest of time and trying to be respectful of Professor Dershowitz is I'll simply quote your statements in the book one after another slowly. You can simply stop me and say, I can prove that or I have the evidence. Okay? Simple. Page 206 you write, "Israel is the only country in the Middle East to have abolished any kind of torture in fact as well as in law."
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let's start with that one. The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories has a website. I follow it quite closely. I went to the website and I checked under the heading for torture. I would ask again Amy Goodman rather than myself to simply read the first sentence for the latest issue of that and if she wants to continue down.
AMY GOODMAN:: It's called B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Occupied Territories.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Please keep in mind he said, Mr. Dershowitz said "in fact as well as in law".
AMY GOODMAN:: The first headline says, "Torture. Interrogation by torture is absolutely prohibited by Israeli and international law. Despite this, Israeli security forces breached the prohibition and torture Palestinians during the interrogation."
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I don't agree with that. We have a reasonable dispute about that. What Israel does and what Israel did until 1999 was what the United States is now doing on Guantanamo Bay. That is they put people in uncomfortable "shabach" positions, they put hoods over their head, often foul smelling hoods, they play loud music, there's a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly this month which talks about rough interrogation techniques. It describes what the United States is doing and it says that Israel used to do that, some possibility it continues to do it. That's simply not the kind of torture that international law prohibits and in fact my point is, in Jordan torture is routine, in Egypt it's routine.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Definitely.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: The Israeli Supreme Court already took an extraordinarily courageous decision in 1999, it's online, in which Justice Aharon Barak said that as democracy we must try terrorism with one hand tied behind our back but in the end we have the upper hand. Because we comply with the rule of law. Israel is to be commended for its attempt to regulate and control the torture of ticking bomb terrorists.
AMY GOODMAN: You stand by your statement that they do not torture. Norman Finkelstein....
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: And that the Supreme Court has abolished it and if anyone were to engage in an act that gave the possibility of torture they would be in contempt of court
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz.
AMY GOODMAN:You have six minutes. Less than six minutes to go.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Amnesty International, whom I know you think is an untrustworthy source, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem they all reach the same conclusion.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: and they're wrong.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Israel still continues to practice law.
You can say they're wrong but let's be clear. Sir, I'm not going to debate-
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: What do you define as torture?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I'm not an an expert in the topic.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Certainly not. Yet you're making accusation.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I don't make the accusation, Mr. Dershowitz you're confusing things. I go to the mainstream respected human rights organizations and I look at what they say.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me talk about Amnesty.
AMY GOODMAN: You have a number of points here. We have five minutes to go.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I need to respond...
AMY GOODMAN:: You did respond. You have 30 seconds to respond.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Amnesty international-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I am quoting B'Tselem.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: ...recently said that Aharon Barak should not receive an international prize because he doesn't believe in human rights.
He is one of the greatest advocated of human rights, they also-
AMY GOODMAN: Alan Dershowitz let me ask you a question.
I'm going to interrupt because you're on another point. B'Tselem, you just think it's wrong. Norman Finkelstein, next point. We have four minutes to go.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Number two, you write on page 126 "there is no evidence that Israeli soldiers deliberately killed even a single civilian in Jenin."
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Now, Mr. Dershowitz, I looked carefully at your book. You don't like Amnesty International.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I'm a member and contributor to Amnesty International.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: and you don't particularly like B'Tselem
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If I were an Israeli I'd belong to B'Tselem. So don't characterize my views, you don't know my views.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I read your book. Or the book you purport to have written.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Now you claim somebody else wrote it?
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I hope so. For your sake I truly hope you did not write this book.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I proudly wrote it.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I think the honorable thing for you to do would be to say I didn't write the book, I had no time to read it. I'm sorry.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I wrote every word of it.
AMY GOODMAN: Okay, you made the point about Jenin and whether or not the Israeli soldiers-
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Deliberately shot a civilian.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Let's quote Human Rights Watch. They put out an extensive report on Jenin. Now, Human Rights Watch, you no where in the book mention, no where - Let's see what Human Rights Watch concludes, quote, "there's prima facie evidence that Israel committed, quote, war crimes in Jenin." Further, quote, I want everyone to listen carefully, "many of the civilian killings documented by Human Rights Watch are mounted to unlawful or willful killings by the IDF." Please listen to the words. Willful killings. And then ...and then...
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: I've listened to the words and I deal with this very directly in my book.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Then Human Rights Watch copiously documents multiple cases of willful killings by Israel. What did Mr. Dershowitz write? "There's not a single case of" -
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: There's not a single case of- Not only in Jenin
Let me tell you why I make my point. Because there is absolutely no incentive for the United States or Israel or for any other democracy ever willfully to kill an innocent civilian. Every time an innocent civilian is killed it hurts Israel, hurts it domestically and-
Let me finish my point, It hurts it internationally. Every country engaged in urban guerilla warfare will inadvertently kill civilians. But the very idea that an Israeli soldier who are trained in the idea of the holiness of arms, who get better training about avoiding civilians-
AMY GOODMAN: We have one minute.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Who are punished for civilians...
AMY GOODMAN: Let Norman Finkelstein respond, you are making the point that in general you wouldn't think they would-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: A very lovely Bar Mitzvah speech.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: That's a little ad hominem, I would think.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Human Rights Watch wrote, quote, "among the civilian deaths were those of Kamal Zgheir" listen carefully "a 57-year-old wheelchair bound man who was shot and run over by a tank on a major road outside the camp on April 10 even though he had a white flag attached to his wheelchair." That sounds pretty deliberate to me, Mr. Dershowitz.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: If it's true.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: If it is true? The whole world is lying only Joan Peters tells the truth.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: First of all, Joan Peters has never written about this issue. This issue is one where not only Israeli military but United States has investigated Jenin, the United Nations has investigated Jenin.
Some of the-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Did they make up that example? Let's get this clear. Did Human Rights Watch make up that example?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: No, that was-
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Mr. Dershowitz this is disgraceful. You're shaming your institution.
Not a single one!
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Did Human Rights Watch make that up?
Did it make it up!
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Let me continue.
AMY GOODMAN: On that note, we're wrapping up the program. Professor Dershowitz let me ask this question. Did you investigate the human rights watch report?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Of course I did. I read it.
AMY GOODMAN: You found that to be incorrect.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Not only that the United States government found that to be incorrect.
AMY GOODMAN:: On that note we have to wrap up the show.
Thank you both for being with us. Alan Dershowitz The Case for Israel Norman Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry. You decide. Our website www.democracynow.org. I'm Amy Goodman, thanks for joining us.
I used to enjoy watching their basketball teams from the 80s.
Here's another piece on the Finkelstein-Dershowitz fight: and note, there's a link to a FreeRepublic discussion:
Shortly after the publication of the book The Case for Israel, Norman Finkelstein accused its author, Alan Dershowitz, of what Finkelstein called fraud, falsification, plagiarism and nonsense."
Specifically, Finkelstein noted that in twenty instances that all occur within about as many pages, Dershowitz's book excerpts the same words from the same sources that Joan Peters used in her book From Time Immemorial, a book about the history of Israel that several critics have accused of distortion, and which Finkelstein had labeled a "monumental hoax."
Several paragraph-long quotes that the two books share have ellipses in the same position, Finkelstein pointed out; and in one instance Dershowitz referenced the same page number as Peters, although he was citing a different edition of the source, in which the words appear on a different page.
Dershowitz has responded that all of the excerpts were at least compared to, if not directly drawn from, authoritative texts, and that they are accurate; a claim that Finkelstein has chosen not to dispute. Dershowitz has also characterized the excerpts as quotations that historians and scholars of the region cite routinely, such as Mark Twain and the reports of government commissions.
The conclusion Finkelstein drew from the similarities was that Dershowitz had not researched his sources directly, but instead in twenty instances had used Peters' book and without crediting her. Finkelstein found a mis-attribution that he said supported this conclusion. In writing his book, Dershowitz had attributed an Orwellian neologism to Orwell himself, when actually Peters had coined it in her book in an allusion to Orwell, in which she mentioned him by name (her neologism "turnspeak" resembles the 1984 author's "Newspeak"). The mistake by Dershowitz, Finkelstein said, fit a pattern of cribbing from Peters while not crediting her. Academic propriety demanded that she be credited, he said.
On the basis of Finkelstein's comparisons, acerbic left-wing political commentator Alexander Cockburn joined him in concluding that Dershowitz had drawn his excerpts directly from Peters' book. This he characterized as unscholarly. Noting a footnote in which Dershowitz referred to the controversial status of Peters' book and said that he did not "rely" on it for "conclusions or data," Cockburn assessed Dershowitz furthermore as having more or less lied about what Cockburn and Finkelstein concluded he had done. Echoing Finkelstein's charge of plagiarism, Cockburn called on Harvard to fire Dershowitz as a professor.
Dershowitz replied to the various charges of academic impropriety at length (see ). Among various points of contention, he wrote that in fact he had not been reticent to credit Peters. "I cited her eight times in the first eighty-nine pages (Ch. 2, fn 31, 35; Ch. 5, fn 8; Ch. 12, fn 34, 37, 38, 44, 47)." He also disputed that in the twenty instances identified by Finkelstein the proper practice would have been to credit Peters, instead of the original source as he had done.
It appears that Harvard intends to take no action.
The $10,000 challenge: Finkelstein & Dershowitz on Democracy Now!
In a related dispute, Finkelstein rose to a challenge that Dershowitz had issued previously, where in defending his book Dershowitz had offered to donate $10,000 to the PLO in the name of anyone who could find a factual error anywhere within its 264 pages. In a confrontation that was broadcast on the radio, Finkelstein showed that a reference Deshowitz had cited for a count of between 2,000 and 3,000 emigrant Arabs actually gave the range as between 200,000 to 300,000. Dershowitz replied that the mistake could not have been intentional on his part, because he had used these numbers to counter a claim that no Arabs at all had emigrated during the interval he had been addressing, and because it would only have served his argument better to have gotten the numbers right. "Obviously, the phrase '2,000 to 3,000 Arabs' refers either to a sub-phase [of the emigration] or is a typographical error," Dershowitz said. Finkelstein was not persuaded.
Other accusations and replies
Dershowitz has asserted that Finkelstein's and others' accusations of plagiarism are insincere and that the real motivation is a dislike for his political advocacy for Israel. He linked the attacks on his reputation to accusations against Elie Wiesel and others, saying they represented an organized and well-funded effort. He also characterized them generally as baseless.
In particular he cited Finkelstein's accusation against Wiesel in the book The Holocaust Industry. Finkelstein called Wiesel a liar for claiming to have read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in Yiddish. Finkelstein said no translation of the work existed in Yiddish at the time. Dershowitz responded that this was not so, asserting that one had been published in Warsaw in 1929. "The Harvard Library has a copy and Wiesel did read it," Dershowitz wrote.
Finkelstein describes this latter claim as false and inept, writing that the only Yiddish Kant text the library owns is a single-chapter of the Critique of Practical Reason--a different and far less renowned work than the one referred to by Wiesel and Dershowitz.
Similarities between Dershowitz's and Peters' references 
The Case for Israel p.17
* In the sixteenth century, according to British reports, "as many as 15,000 Jews" lived in Safad, which was a "center of rabbinical learning."
Source cited: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12.
From Time Immemorial p.178
* Safad at that time, according to the British investigation by Lord Peel's committee, "contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the 16th century," and was "a centre of Rabbinical learning."
Source cited: Palestine Royal Commission Report, pp. 11-12.
Note both excerpts are somewhat misleading and commit the same error:
Palestine Royal Commission Report (i.e. the document that both books cite)
* Safad, which according to Jewish tradition contained as many as 15,000 Jews in the sixteenth century, became a centre of Rabbinical learning..." (emphasis added)
Occurs on p.11, not pp.11-12 as cited.
The Case for Israel p.20
* Several years later, the same consul attributed the plight of the Jew in Jerusalem to "the blind hatred and ignorant prejudice of a fanatical populace," coupled with an inability of the poverty-stricken Jewish community to defend itself either politically or physically.
Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Canning, January 13, 1842.
From Time Immemorial p.188
* In Palestine, [it] was reported: "It is a fact that the Jewish Subjects... do not enjoy the privileges granted to them. This Evil may in general be traced...: I. To the absence of an adequate protection whereby they are more exposed to cruel and tyrannical treatment. II. To the blind hatred and ignorant prejudices of a fanatical populace....IV. To the starving state of numerous Jewish population." (Peters's emphasis)
Source cited: Wm. T. Young to Viscount Canning, January 13, 1842.
* The Dershowitz Hoax Finkelstein's website including links to coverage of the controversy.
o Finkelstein's chart of the similarities between the two books
o Finkelstein's picture of the only book by Kant in Yiddish at the Harvard library
* Finkelstein's list Article on Finkelstein in British paper The Observer
* Alan Dershowitz, Plagiarist Alexander Cockburn's Counterpunch magazine article on alleged plagiarism
o Dershowitz's letter of reply and response from Cockburn
* Democracy Now Transcript of debate between Finkelstein and Dershowitz on Democracy Now radio program
* Free Republic.com Another copy of transcript, with responses by various readers
* Letter by the ADL detailing allegations against Finkelstein
* Norman Finkelstein 'Ambushes' Alan Dershowitz (Part I)
He's a Jewish author - but his accusation that Zionist groups profit from hijacking the history of the Nazi genocide has made him a hate figure. Tomorrow he's at a conference in Britain
Sunday July 16, 2000
As Norman Finkelstein's flight from New York touches down tomorrow morning in London, it lands the Brooklyn-born writer and Holocaust academic in the middle of a major storm.
As he arrives, one of Finkelstein's many enemies in the Jewish Establishment, and one of many targets in his latest book, will be addressing a major international Holocaust conference in Oxford.
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, the Nobel-prize winning author whose book Night is held as one of the most important of Holocaust texts, is one of the major speakers at the Remembering for the Future conference. So is Finkelstein, who says Wiesel is a hypocrite, responsible for the 'sacralisation of the Holocaust ... for his standard fee of $25,000 (plus chauffeured limousine)'.
It is believed the fierce foes are unlikely to come face to face in Oxford, but Finkelstein will sail into a storm of controversy there as his new book The Holocaust Industry is published in the UK.
Last week, it was condemned here as 'nauseous'. Some columnists branded him 'extreme' and a 'conspiracy theorist'. Others damned him for giving succour to anti-Semites and manipulating the facts.
Norman Finkelstein, the son of concentration camp survivors, has launched a personal pogrom with The Holocaust Industry, attacking almost every orthodox tenet of the study of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.
And an awful lot of people now hate him for it.
'His approach is totally destructive,' says Greville Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust. 'I find it revolting.' Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in New York, agrees. 'I believe he is pathetic. I simply don't accept him as a researcher.' That his arrival coincides with the beginning of the Remembering for the Future conference, one of the largest gatherings of international Holocaust scholars ever held, will only add a searing heat to the argument.
His incendiary book, published in the US last Thursday and here this week, argues that interest in the Holocaust arose after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war not because survivors found a voice but because an all-powerful American Jewish lobby realised it could now be used to lend a kind of moral victimhood to an Israeli state engaged in criminal acts against the Palestinians. Further, he says efforts have been made to stress the 'uniqueness' of the genocide of the Jews, not for any moral reason, but simply to protect its power as a symbol.
Most recently, he says, it has been used to extort money from Germany, Switzerland and others in the name of Holocaust survivors who do not need it, the funds staying with Jewish institutions and not those very few living survivors who might need it. He adds the number of Holocaust survivors has been grossly inflated, and that there are now more survivors than at the end of the war.
'The current campaign of the Holocaust industry to extort money from Europe in the name of "needy Holocaust victims" has,' he writes, 'shrunk the moral stature of their martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino.'
What really defines the short, footnoted text is its style. Intoning the memory of his Holocaust survivor parents, and raging about the paltry $3,500 compensation that his mother received, Finkelstein lashes out in all directions with a torrent of invective. He has many targets: the World Jewish Congress, the Claims Commission, the Israeli government and almost every other academic in the field of Holocaust study.
Intriguingly, the day Finkelstein lands in London, Wiesel will be in Oxford for the opening session of the Remembering for the Future conference. Although Finkelstein will later be part of a debate at the conference, there is, according to the organisers, no likelihood of the two meeting.
The Holocaust Industry began its turbulent life as a review in the London Review of Books of a highly regarded work by Peter Novick, an academic at Chicago university, called The Holocaust in American Life . Novick was trying to explain why the Holocaust suddenly became a subject for discussion and study in the late Sixties after so many years of silence. He concluded that the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 had led to concerns that a second Holocaust could occur and that there was a duty to remember the events of the Second World War to stop such an atrocity occurring again. In his review, Finkelstein argued his entirely opposing thesis that it was a reaction to Israeli strength.
'I saw the piece in the LRB ,' says Colin Robertson, managing director of Verso books, publisher of the Finkelstein volume, 'and I thought there could be a book in it.' Did he not think it might cause a row? 'We're an unashamedly radical publisher. It's our stock in trade. But our main thing was that, as a left-wing publisher, we should not be seen as anti-Semitic. With Norman's background as the son of Holocaust survivors, we could refute any such allegations.'
Finkelstein is more than used to taking on the Holocaust establishment. In the mid-Nineties he published a scathing critique of Hitler's Willing Executioners, a book by Daniel Goldhagen, Harvard Professor of Jewish History, which claimed the entire German nation had, through ingrained anti-Semitism, been eager accomplices in the genocide of the Jews.
As Finkelstein gleefully recounts, he became the target of abuse and hate mail. At one point in The Holocaust Industry he even quotes a letter from Leon Wieseltier, influential literary editor of the US magazine New Republic, to his publisher. 'You don't know who Finkelstein is,' Wieseltier wrote. 'He's poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock.'
While Finkelstein's style is unique, the arguments in his book are not. This newspaper echoed his views on the problems of over-stating the uniqueness of the Holocaust when the Imperial War Museum opened its permanent Holocaust Exhibition a few weeks ago. Likewise journalist Tom Bower, who has written extensively on attempts to get compensation from the Swiss over the Holocaust, says some of what Finkelstein claims about the machinations of the international compensation process are correct.
The idea of a Holocaust racket surfaced years ago when Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban quipped: 'There's no business like Shoah business' ('Shoah' is Hebrew for 'Holocaust').
Rabbi Julia Neuberger says: 'There is a sort of industry going on around the Holocaust which grows on itself. Elie Wiesel does charge a fortune and do the wide, sad eyes thing. But because Finkelstein does it as a rant, the validity of those points get lost.
'He's so angry with the American Jewish establishment that he doesn't listen to real people. You can't just think in terms of systems with the Holocaust.'
Others are more vicious. 'The language he is using is anti-Semitic,' says Steinberg of the World Jewish Congress. 'His facts are wrong. His language is intemperate. He quotes me but he never spoke to me.'
Deborah Lipstadt, the US expert on Holocaust denial and a defendant in David Irving's recent failed libel trial has similar complaints. 'In the book he says that by writing about Holocaust deniers I give them credence. That's ridiculous. I didn't create them.' At one point he accuses Lipstadt - also in the UK for the Oxford conference - of saying that doubting the testimony of survivors is a form of Holocaust denial. 'I never said that,' she said. 'It's ridiculous. It makes me wonder how accurate he is on other things.'
It is certainly true that Finkelstein only emphasises that which suits his case. He mentions repeatedly that his mother received only $3,500 by way of compensation, but buries in a footnote the fact that his father received a monthly pension of around $600 for years.
Indeed, gripes about money, and the Byzantine compensation claims that procured it, appear to lie at the very heart of Finkelstein's argument. In 1998, Swiss banks agreed to pay $1.25 billion in settlement of a class action brought by Jewish claimants.
Finkelstein complains that no money reached the victims. Tom Bower, who has written extensively on Swiss compensation to the Jews, disagrees. 'None of the Swiss's $1.25bn has been transferred to any Jewish organisation,' he says. 'So far, the American courts have not approved a system for distributing the money and no money has been transferred from Switzerland.' Finkelstein claims that the World Jewish Congress now has a fund of $7bn. 'The $7bn fund is a myth,' says Bower. Finally Finkelstein states that half a $200 million fund set up for immediate distribution to victims has not been handed out and will end up going to Jewish groups and lawyers. Elan Steinberg of the WJC says this is rubbish. Only on one claim, that there are tens of millions of dollars in German compensation funds languishing in bank accounts, does Bower say that Finkelstein's account come anywhere near the truth. Even so he says Finkelstein's interpretation of those events is 'flawed'.
Finkelstein is unrepentant. 'When I want to invoke the memory of my parents I am accused of using it. There is something plainly revolting going on. There are people claiming to be working in the name of Holocaust victims, getting money on false pretences and then not distributing it.
'I was probably unusually close to my parents so I do what I can now to preserve the integrity of their memory. The Holocaust deserves to be remembered.' He just hates the way the remembering is done.
Claim and counter-claim about the Holocaust
Finkelstein's claim: If, as is agreed, there were only 100,000 Jewish survivors of the concentration camps at the end of the war, many of whom died shortly afterwards, there cannot be hundreds of thousands of survivors still living deserving to be compensated by the Swiss and the Germans.
Counter-claim: The definition of a survivor has moved to take in not only those who were in the camps but also those who were forced to flee their homes and their country, those who lived out the war in the forests and, in some cases, victims' descendants who suffered psychological and/ or financial problems.
Finkelstein's claim: Jewish organisations are sitting on $1.25 billion paid over by the Swiss banks, none of which has been distributed to Holocaust victims.
Counter-claim: Although a settlement has been agreed no money has yet left Switzerland because the US courts have still to approve its distribution.
Finkelstein's claim: Most of the money will never go to individuals but to Jewish organisations.
Counter-claim: The division of the funds is yet to be agreed.
Finkelstein's claim: Nobel prize-winning writer Elie Wiesel is a fraud saying that, after liberation from the camps at 18, he read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in Yiddish. Finkelstein says it was never published in Yiddish.
Counter-claim: It was published in Yiddish in Warsaw in 1929.
Finkelstein's claim: US academic Deborah Lipstadt said that to question the testimony of a survivor was Holocaust denial.
Counter-claim: Lipstadt denies having said any such thing.
Finkelstein's claim: Lawrence Eagleburger earns $300,000 a year as chair of the International Commission on Holocaust-Era Insurance claims, money that should be going to Holocaust victims.
Counter-claim: His salary is paid by the insurance companies not from compensation money.
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