Few mates for Alan

Norman G. Finkelstein is an American academic always guaranteed to generate debate and controversy. His insights into the Israel/Palestine issue have made him, in the words of Avi Shlaim of St Antony’s College, Oxford University: “…one of the most radical and hard-hitting critics of the official Zionist version of the Arab-Israeli conflict and of the historians who support this version.”

When he accused Harvard celebrity Alan Dershowitz of deception and plagiarism over his best-selling The Case for Israel, Finkelstein moved from notoriety to infamy. By early this year, Dershowitz was harassing Finkelstein’s publisher and threatening legal action. A new publisher was found, University of California Press, and the book, “Beyond Chutzpah”, should be released in August. Dershowitz even sent letters to the office of Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger because UC Press receives state funding as part of the California school system. Publisher’s Weekly (PW) recently revealed: “A response from that office to Dershowitz obtained by PW shows that it reads, in part, that the governor ‘is not inclined to otherwise exert influence in this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents.'”

The past weeks has seen this issue explode. The New York Times covered it and Dershowitz hit back at Finkelstein, claiming that Noam Chomsky, journalist Alexander Cockburn and Finkelstein himself were conducting “literary McCarthyism” in their attempts at discrediting him.

“The mode of attack is consistent,” Dershowitz wrote. “Chomsky selects the target and directs Finkelstein to probe the writings in minute detail and conclude that the writer didn’t actually write the work, that it is plagiarized, that it is a hoax and a fraud. Cockburn publicizes these ‘findings,’ and then a cadre of fellow travellers bombard the Internet with so many attacks on the target that these attacks jump to the top of Google.”

Dershowitz’s suggestion that his voice is being marginalised is ludicrous. He appears regularly on TV and in newspapers around the world. His pro-Zionist agenda dominates the American mainstream media. To feel seriously challenged by three prominent leftist writers suggests a man not comfortable with scrutiny.

“The Case for Israel” is a book for people who like to be told that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy that behaves humanely towards the Palestinians. Let them live with these delusions.

Finkelstein is a brave soul determined to challenge the region’s cliches. Don’t believe me? Read his Holocaust Industry and discover the ways in which the Jewish genocide has been used and abused by Jewish individuals and groups to further their bigoted agenda towards Israel.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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