Contentions: The Norman Finkelstein Roadshow


[Hat tip to Contentions]

Noah Pollak

“The Norman Finkelstein Roadshow”

Norman Finkelstein, freshly liberated from the humdrum of academic life by way of being denied tenure at De Paul University, has taken his hate-Israel routine on the road. He has gone to Lebanon to give lectures and to “hold two workshops in Palestinian refugee camps.”

At a press conference on Friday — Finkelstein must surely savor having the kind of attention lavished on him in Lebanon that few can be bothered to provide in America — he channeled Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizballah, in describing the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war:

However, it is also true to say that the Lebanese resistance inflicted a historic and well-deserved military defeat on the invading foreign army and its chief supporter.

He continued:

It should also be mentioned that after the war the US-based organization Human Rights Watch whitewashed Israeli war crimes and made false accusations against Hizballah. This cowardly and mercenary act deserves contempt.

Ah yes, Human Rights Watch, that steely defender of the Jewish state.

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7 responses »

  1. Hezzbollah’s indiscriminate firing into Israel has to do with its Islamist and nationalistic politics. If you see the world as nation vs nation, as both Hezzbollah and Zionism do, it doesn’t matter where bullets land.

    I don’t know enough about Finkelstein to defend his views. I know enough to defend his right to tenure. In particular after a local experience in Minneapolis, where Zionist groups pressured a local college to uninvite Desmond Tutu, for making the Hitler analogy toward Zionists. They might have had an argument, except he never did make that statement.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you return.

  2. “Zionist groups pressured a local college to uninvite Desmond Tutu, for making the Hitler analogy toward Zionists. They might have had an argument, except he never did make that statement.”

    He said this:

    “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa … I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about …

    “I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?

    … The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust. Injustice and oppression will never prevail.”

    !st paragraph: a description of terrible Palestinian suffering.

    2nd paragraph: Admonishing Jews for forgetting their own past suffering.

    3rd paragraph: A list of historical world genociders, headed by the arch genocider Hitler, with a warning that all parished .

    A parallel is drawn between suffering Palestinians and past suffering of Jews. Who is responsible for Jewish suffering? Hitler. Who is responsible for Palestinian suffering? Zionists. Is there any other way of reading this statement?

    Et la voila, an analogy is made in such a way as would leave the speaker some leeway to pretend later that he did not actually mean that, he did not say that, he just spoke about suffering Palestinians and PAST suffering of Jews and a few genociders who thought they could get away with oppression and injustice. All clearly unconnected and irrelevant to each other.

  3. “If you see the world as nation vs nation, as both Hezzbollah and Zionism do, it doesn’t matter where bullets land.”

    I’m not clear what this sentence means. If you are implying, as I think you are, that both Hezbollah and “Zionists” i.e. the IDF share a policy of indiscriminately targeting civilians or not caring if they kill civilians this is completely disingenuous. Terrorists intentionally target civilians. The IDF does not.

    Re: Finkelstein. He was denied tenure for all the right reasons. Conservative critics correctly noted that Finkelstein, who presents himself as an expert on Israel and the Middle East, knows neither Hebrew nor Arabic. Further, he uses his classes as a bully pulpit rather than providing students a complex and nuanced understanding of history and politics. It’s fine to have a wing-nut as a member of the adjunct faculty but he’s certainly not the sort of scholar (and I use that word loosely) that De Paul wants on their permanent faculty. But don’t feel bad for the guy, I’m sure he’ll land on his feet at the University of California at Berkeley of some other bastion of leftist groupthink.

  4. Boo hoo hoo to Finkelstein. I am sure there is another university that will pick him off his ass and give him a cushy job to spout his bullshit. Now he can go on a speaking tour across Europe claiming he was brought down by those evil Zionists and make bank doing so.

    And anyone who claims Hezbollah and the IDF are morally culpable is an idiot. That means you Renegade.

  5. “If you see the world as nation vs nation, as both Hezzbollah and Zionism do, it doesn’t matter where bullets land.”

    It’s not clear to me what this sentence means, either — I’d appreciate some dilation from Renegade Eye. The huge “practical” difference Newcentrist noted — that the IDF doesn’t deliberately target civilians — reflects huge ideological differences between Hezbollah (which is an organization) and Zionism (which is a comparatively diverse movement, though it does have structures).

    The IDF isn’t a Zionist paramilitary; the IDF are the defense forces of a democratic nation-state. Hezbollah has a far narrower agenda and calls for the destruction of Israel. Hassan Ezzedin: “The Jews who survive this war of liberation can go back to Germany or wherever they came from.”

    So how exactly is this “nation against nation,” Renegade Eye? Modern nations aren’t tribal. Hezbollah is not the LAF; it has the support of many Lebanese, especially Shi’ites — but it’s hardly the army of the Lebanese nation. Is there a Lebanese nation?

    The world does consist of nation-states in an international system, with between-spaces, imperial relics, unrecognized statelets, gray areas, etc. Even if you are highly critical of Zionism — and I can be, too — I still don’t understand what you’re trying to say… how is a terroristic Shi’ite paramilitary a “nation”?

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