I agree with these guys when they say Finkelstein is a polemicist, and as such a lightning rod for attacks. Chris Hitchens is a polemicist, but he’s not in academics. In fact most polemicists aren’t. Most academics write (or are forced to write) in a cold rational style. In general that’s changing, though I don’t know if it’s for the good or not. Having not read any of his academic writings, far be it for me to judge. But it seems like he wants to have his cake and eat it too by writing editorial style attacks and having the authority of an academic. Everyone criticizes Bush’s belief that “you’re either with us or against us” black and white attitude, but it seems Finkelstein seems to embody the same attitude, except towards Israelites.
Finkelstein asked for it by throwing out these plagiarism charges in public. It seems like he was the only one doing so.
All that being said, he’s worked pretty hard at it and can back himself up (though I haven’t scrutinized his academic writing). I think the WSJ Opinion page (which, like one of Finkelstein’s defenders, I read regularly), did itself a disservice by running Dersh’s attack piece in this highly personal battle. It really played into some unhealthy stereotypes about the WSJ. I thought the NY Times was more even-handed in it’s coverage.
I really, really don’t like either one of these guys that much.
One question though. Dersh quoted Finkelstein as saying, “Just like American Jews keep the Blacks in their place, Israeli Jews keep the Palestinians in their place”. Izzat true?
dershy has attributed many things to finkelstein which he has never said actually, so first point is do not put stock into what a known plagiarist says.
secondly, for someone who has read 3 of normans books, 2 of them twice, i can tell you that the finkelstein detractors grossly distort his arguments and attack those distortions ; straw man
in fact, beyond chutzpah explains why this is done in great detail
as far as casting finkelstein as a polemicist, i have to disagree with you completely
in his most recent book, he compared dershowitz’s beginning chapters with joan peters “from time immemorial” and he demonstrated that dershy plagiarized by omitting to cite the text in which he found certain quotes (peters) while not attributing the quotes to peters
the main point is that dershy recycled debunked arguments from the book to begin with. finkelstein was the original scholar who debunked “from time immemorial” , and i guess you think that the chair of harvard law should be able to plagiarize freely with no consequences?
finkelstein’s second main argument ties in with anti-semitism ; what he does is compare the yearly reports (and other reports) from amnesty, human rights wacth, b’tselem, physicians for human rights-israel who all criticize israel with comments that dershy and mainstream pro-isral mouthpieces produce. since the arguments by the pro-israel mouthpieces in our media are not tenable given the findings of the mainstream human rights groups, he discusses how the charge of anti-semitism is used to distract from, rather than to enlighten, the key issue of israeli contravention of international law, geneva conventions, ruling from the world court, un resolutions etc.
now to characterize this research and conclusions as polemic in nature is way off.
it seems you accept on blind faith what the detractors say instead of reading his arguments for your own.
i would suggest delay forming an opinion until you have considered his arguments yourself, and not accept some person’s critique, who certainly has some axe to grind, namely shielding israel from further criticism and scrutiny.
I guess if Daniel Pipes can get tenure, so should Finkelstein. Pipes supports moderate muslims and doesn’t like the sort of islamic theocracies that hardliners out there support. Critics say he’s anti-Islam, he says he’s anti-Islamist.
Finkelstein doesn’t support the state of Israel. He views the Palestinians as oppressed people that need their own sovereignty. Critics say he’s anti-semitic, he say’s he’s anti-Zionist.
Both of these guys thrive on this conflict by selling us books or, in Pipes’ case, trying to influence policy.
Both of these guys have a lot of evidence to back themselves up. It’s easy to find fault in any society, I guess I’m more interested in solutions that don’t require the fanning of flames….
I’m always willing to throw the likes of Dershowitz under a bus. That he lends his special, um, abilities to attempt to support Israel is bad for Israel. I don’t know how the Christian right feel about guys like Dershowitz acting as an American mouthpiece for Israel. One would think it would give them pause.
my response was in response to characterizing finkelstein as a polemicist
you are refereeing, by the way
and to finish here, what would you call it johnny b when 240,000 illegal israeli settelers exist in the west bank, in opposition to some 66 un resolutions (sc and ga) , and 200,000 illegal israeli settlers live in east jerusalem, and the idf lords over the gaza (today they fired missiles into the gaza again) and the west bank has a n apartheid wall built around it, and palestinian homes are bulldozed by the thousands to make way for new illegal israeli settelements, when the palestinians are used by israeli army as human shields, when the roads connecting the settlements can only be used by the illegal israeli settlers, when the idf has killed some 5,000 palestinians since 2000, some 85% are innocent women and children, while the toll on the israeli side is less than 1,000?
when the palestinians voted for hamas in a free election, they got punished by the US in the form of devastating sanctions.
look guys, i feel like ive said all this before (many times over actually)and i feel like im spinning my wheels on this issue. there is an ideological divide here on this issue, and despite my rants, i dont think i can change your attitudes.
i would challenge you to read “beyond chutzpah” for yourself, buy the audio book and listen to it in your car. if you feel that the finkelstein detractors are accurate in their rendition of his arguments after you read his book, then i wont ever blog on this issue again.
but when its all said and done, you guys comepletely missed the point of the post :
raul hilberg and avi shlaim discussed the merits of finkelstein’s work, and these are 2 historians with impeccable records, and the media uses the statements of people like dershowitz and pipes and horowitz, known plagiarists, israeli-apologists, and clear bigots.