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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Monday, May 30, 2005

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: " 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.


Blogger Aaron Lane said...

If Israel is not the Middle East's only democracy, what is? Perhaps you could specify which country in the region you feel to be more democratic?
Why, also, do you single out Israel for criticism when the criticisms you level could be just as validly applied to other nations? For instance, you support you academic boycott of Israel, but have made no intimation that you would support similar action if taken against any other country whose institutions could be seen to in some way support political regimes to which you are opposed. If someone were to single out an Arabic state in the same way you single out Israel, you would loudly and repeatedly denounce them as racist. What makes you repeated denunciations of Israel any different?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Bruce M Warrington said...

I must say I find this "singling out Israel" claim tiresome. I don't seem to recall a similar demand for Bush, Blair, Howard, etc. to "balance" their criticisms of Saddam's regime; nor has there ever been a concern that anti-Palestinian criticism be "balanced" with denunciation of the occupation.

It is also worth remembering that, while anyone can criticise acts they have no hope of controlling or influencing, true moral courage requires a focus on one's own actions; a point Chomsky repeatedly makes. Israel is part of the West, and receives huge amounts of military aid, especially from the US. It is thus far more susceptible to our pressure than a hostile Arab regime like Saddam's. Consequently, it is a greater moral imperative for Westerners to stop Israeli abuses than Arab ones (and even more imperative of course to stop abuses by our own governments).

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:43:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Israel and the other Arab states are very different, in terms of US aid received, running an illegal occupation etc.
I denounce human rights abuses in the Arab world (god knows why that makes pro-Israelites feel better). This blog talks constantly about a lack of press freedom in the region.
Israel calls itself a democracy. For Jews, it certainly is. For others, less so. Why do supporters of Israel feel so uncomfortable with the true facts of Israeli oppression? Oh, I forgot, Jews can't commit oppression, that's only for the Arabs...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 9:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Jenny Cockburn said...

Your comments and put-downs do nothing but stifle debate in a time when it should be encouraged. Rather than deal with facts you see the situations as purely black and white. In this regard you are as bad as G.W. Bush when he said "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists."

You think you can get away with calling books like "The Case for Israel" dillusional? How about actually coming up with a counterpoint to some of his arguments then.

People as ignorantly blinded as yourself will never be part of the solution. You breed hatered through ignorance to further your own career.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Saturday, June 04, 2005 9:02:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I should be ashamed? I don't offer solutions? Er, I'm writing a book about just this subject out early 2006. I'm not offering solutions? What, and Dershowitz is, by simply being incapable of finding fault with Israel at all?
If you call people like Finkelstein or myself ignorant, chances are you simply don't know the facts or prefer to bury your head in the sand re Israel.
Dershowitz? Bigot. There, accept that.
And please do keep reading....

Sunday, June 05, 2005 10:37:00 am  
Anonymous Jenny Cockburn said...

And so you prove my point by not offering counterpoints but reverting, yet again, to name calling.

I mentioned nothing about Finkelstein. You, on the other hand, truly are ignorant if you believe there is 100% innocence and guilt on either side of the line.

How would you know if Dershowitz ever found fault with Israel. You wouldn't even give him the chance to answer. Have you spoken to him? I have.

He, unlike you, has the qualifications and skills to launch a convincing argument. Is his book titled "An Unbiased and Completely Non-Partisan Approach to the Situation in Israel"? No, it is called "The Case for Israel". His bias is stated in the title. I read his book to discover an argument I had never heard in the media.

This last couple of weeks I have seen how the media eats its own bullshit with the Schappelle Corby trial. Lies are reported and then accepted and repeated until they are assumed to be the truth. Dershowitz's book has shown the same thing has happened with a lot of the reporting regarding Israel.

I don't know where your bias comes from but the mere fact of its existence shows that you know a lot more about showboating and getting your name published than you do about actual journalism.

People like you give a wonderful profession a terrible name.

Sunday, June 05, 2005 1:00:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Jenny, thanks for your insights.
If you find the Case for Israel compelling and unlike anything you've ever read before, perhaps that's because you've been more than willing to accept Dershowitz's distortions on the subject. Both sides have fault, of this there is no doubt.
I breed hatred through my work? Oooook then. I'll take that on board.
Then realise that questioning Israel's behaviour is actually acceptable and should be encouraged. Then again, depends if you'd prefer to bury your head in the sand. The world is turning against Israel. And we wonder who is to blame...?

Sunday, June 05, 2005 7:13:00 pm  
Anonymous B. Rutherford said...

I have to agree with Jenny on this one. Your arguments are ill formed and similar to those found in a children's playground.

From reading your responses it seems to me you use the age old technique of putting words in someone else's mouth. I've searched through her comments to find where she says Dershowitz's book is "compelling". It's not there.

Also, at no time does she mention a reluctance to question Israel's actions. I think you are one of those argumentative types who prefers to keep the argument going rather than come to a solution.

Sunday, June 05, 2005 11:28:00 pm  

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