Has Alan Dershowitz Got Chutzpah or What!

Historians/History




Mr. Wiener, a columnist for the Nation, teaches history at the University of California, Irvine; his latest book is Historians in Trouble: Plagiarism, Fraud and Politics in the Ivory Tower (The New Press, 2005).

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Response by Alan Dershowitz

What do you do when somebody wants to publish a book that says you're completely wrong? If you're Alan Dershowitz, the prominent Harvard law professor, and the book is Norman Finkelstein's Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, you write the governor of California and suggest that he intervene with the publisher--because the publisher is the University of California Press, which conceivably might be subject to the power of the governor.

Schwarzenegger, showing unusual wisdom, declined to act. The governor's legal affairs secretary wrote Dershowitz,"You have asked for the Governor's assistance in preventing the publication of this book," but"he is not inclined to otherwise exert influence in this case because of the clear, academic freedom issue it presents." In a phone interview Dershowitz denied writing to the Governor, declaring,"My letter to the Governor doesn't exist." But when pressed on the issue, he said,"It was not a letter. It was a polite note."

Old-timers in publishing said they'd never heard of another case where somebody tried to get a governor to intervene in the publication of a book."I think it's a first," said Andre Schiffrin, managing director at Pantheon Books for twenty-eight years and then founder and director of the New Press. Lynne Withey, director of the University of California Press, where she has been for nineteen years, said,"I've never heard of such a case in California."

But if you're Alan Dershowitz, you don't stop when the governor declines. You try to get the president of the University of California to intervene with the press. You get a prominent law firm to send threatening letters to the counsel to the university regents, to the university provost, to seventeen directors of the press and to nineteen members of the press's faculty editorial committee. A typical letter, from Dershowitz's attorney Rory Millson of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, describes"the press's decision to publish this book" as"wholly illegitimate" and"part of a conspiracy to defame" Dershowitz. It concludes,"The only way to extricate yourself is immediately to terminate all professional contact with this full-time malicious defamer." Dershowitz's own letter to members of the faculty editorial committee calls on them to"reconsider your decision" to recommend publication of the book.

Why would a prominent First Amendment advocate take such an action? Dershowitz told Publishers Weekly that"my goal has never been to stop publication of this book." He told me in an e-mail,"I want Finkelstein's book to be published, so that it can be demolished in the court of public opinion." He told Publishers Weekly his only purpose in writing the people at the University of California Press was"to eliminate as many of the demonstrable falsehoods as possible" from the book before it was published.

Everyone knows who Alan Dershowitz is--the famed Harvard professor, part of the O.J. Simpson defense team, author of the number-one bestseller Chutzpah, portrayed by Ron Silver in the film Reversal of Fortune, about his successful defense of accused wife-murderer Klaus von Bülow. He's also one of the most outspoken defenders of Israel, especially in his 2003 book The Case for Israel; it reached number twelve on the New York Times bestseller list. That's the book Finkelstein challenges in Beyond Chutzpah.

Norman Finkelstein is not so famous. The son of Holocaust survivors, he is an assistant professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago. He's the often embattled author of several books, of which the best known is The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering--an exposé of what he calls"the blackmail of Swiss banks." It was originally published by Verso in 2000, with an expanded second edition in 2003, and has been translated into seventeen languages. The book was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review by the distinguished Holocaust historian Omer Bartov, who holds a chair at Brown University; he wrote that the book"is filled with precisely the kind of shrill hyperbole that Finkelstein rightly deplores in much of the current media hype over the Holocaust; it is brimming with the same indifference to historical facts, inner contradictions, strident politics and dubious contextualizations; and it oozes with the same smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority." (A positive review, written by Neve Gordon, appeared in these pages on November 13, 2000.)

Finkelstein's Holocaust Industry, however, has some prominent supporters, and not only leftists like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn. Most significant is Raul Hilberg, the semi-official dean of Holocaust studies and author of the classic The Destruction of the European Jews, who wrote of The Holocaust Industry,"I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy.... I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough."

Dershowitz did not see the manuscript for Beyond Chutzpah before writing his letters, which were based instead on statements Finkelstein had made in interviews and lectures. Dershowitz's attorney objected first of all to Finkelstein's statements that Dershowitz"almost certainly didn't write [The Case for Israel], and perhaps didn't even read it prior to publication." He also objected to the charge that Dershowitz is guilty of plagiarism--more on that later--and that"every substantive sentence" in the Dershowitz book"is fraudulent." Finkelstein has been telling this to anyone who will listen, and wrote as much in an e-mail to me:"I devote some 200 pages to documenting that every substantive fact in the book is a flat-out lie." (Emphasis in original.)

Now that the"uncorrected pages" of Beyond Chutzpah are being sent out to reviewers, it's possible to see what Finkelstein's book actually says. (Disclosure: A senior editor of The Nation served as a freelance editor of Beyond Chutzpah.) The claim that Dershowitz didn't write The Case for Israel has been removed--the UC Press explained in a statement accompanying review copies that"Professor Finkelstein's only claim on the issue was speculative. He wondered why Alan Dershowitz, in recorded appearances after his book was published, seemed to know so little about the contents of his own book. We felt this weakened the argument and distracted from the central issues of the book. Finkelstein agreed."

But the rest of the claims Dershowitz and his attorney railed against are still there: Beyond Chutzpah describes Dershowitz's Case for Israel as"among the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict." In Dershowitz's book,"It's difficult to find a single claim...that's not either based on mangling a reputable source or referencing a preposterous one, or simply pulled out of the air." He charges that Dershowitz"plagiarizes large swaths" of his book from Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial, whose scholarship Finkelstein had debunked in an earlier book. The introduction concludes by calling The Case for Israel"rubbish."

The body of Beyond Chutzpah shows Finkelstein to be an indefatigable researcher with a forensic ability to take apart other people's arguments. The core of the book challenges Dershowitz's defense of Israel's human rights record by citing the findings of mainstream groups, including Amnesty International, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch.

The most important part of the book examines Israel's treatment of Palestinian civilians during the second intifada, which began in September 2000. Since then Israel has killed three Palestinians for every Israeli killed. Dershowitz tries to defend this ratio, writing that"when only innocent civilians are counted, significantly more Israelis than Palestinians have been killed." But Finkelstein cites Amnesty International's conclusion that"the vast majority of those killed and injured on both sides have been unarmed civilians and bystanders." That means Israel has killed something like three times as many unarmed civilians and bystanders as Palestinians have.

Dershowitz has a second argument: While Palestinian terrorists have targeted Israeli civilians intentionally, the killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israel Defense Forces is"unintended,""inadvertent" and" caused accidentally," because the IDF follows international law, which requires the protection of civilian noncombatants. For example, Dershowitz writes, the IDF tries to use rubber bullets"and aims at the legs whenever possible" in a policy designed to"reduce fatalities." But Finkelstein's evidence to the contrary is convincing: Amnesty International reported in 2001 that"the overwhelming majority of cases of unlawful killings and injuries in Israel and the Occupied Territories have been committed by the IDF using excessive force." Amnesty cited the use of"helicopters in punitive rocket attacks where there was no imminent danger to life." As for the rubber bullets, Amnesty reported in 2002 that the IDF"regularly" used them against demonstrators who were children"at distances considerably closer than the minimum permitted range...and the pattern of injury indicates that IDF practice has not been to aim at the legs of demonstrators, as the majority of injuries suffered by children from rubber-coated bullets are to the upper body and the head."

Another of Dershowitz's examples of Israeli protection of Palestinian civilians concerns Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh. Dershowitz writes that on several occasions, the army passed up opportunities to attack him"because he was with his wife or children." But in July 2002 an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on Shehadeh's apartment building in Gaza City, killing Shehadeh and fourteen Palestinian civilians, nine of whom were children.

Most of Beyond Chutzpah consists of these kinds of juxtapositions--arguments by Dershowitz on Israeli practices of torture, assassinations, treatment of Palestinian children, and water and land rights, refuted by documentation from human rights organizations. The cumulative effect is a devastating portrait of widespread Israeli violations of human rights principles and international law.

Finkelstein has won support for his book from leading scholars, whose statements appear in the book's publicity materials: Baruch Kimmerling, who holds a chair in sociology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and whose book on Palestinian history was published by Harvard University Press, calls Beyond Chutzpah"the most comprehensive, systematic and well documented work of its kind." Sara Roy of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard, whose book on political Islam in Palestine has just been published by Princeton University Press, calls Beyond Chutzpah"a vigorous, intelligent, succinct and powerfully argued analysis." Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at Oxford, calls it a work of"erudition, originality, spark, [and] meticulous attention to detail." Daniel Boyarin, professor of Near Eastern studies at UC Berkeley, calls the book"accurate, well-written, and devastatingly important."

The argument about plagiarism, which has figured prominently in the pre-publication controversy over the book, has been relegated to an appendix. Finkelstein's evidence has already been presented in these pages by Alexander Cockburn and debated by Dershowitz in letters exchanges with Cockburn [October 13, October 27 and December 15, 2003]; thus it can be summarized here briefly. In the Dershowitz book, twenty-two out of fifty-two quotations and endnotes in the first two chapters"match almost exactly" material quoted in Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial--including the placement of ellipses in quotations. Beyond Chutzpah has an eleven-page chart comparing these quotations. They are virtually identical. But Dershowitz never acknowledges Peters as the source for these quotations; instead, he cites the original sources that appear in Peters's footnotes.

The official policy on plagiarism at Harvard, where Dershowitz teaches, is clear on this issue:"Plagiarism is passing off a source's information, ideas, or words as your own by omitting to cite them." Dershowitz in an e-mail made three arguments in his defense: first, for three of the quotations in question,"I have incontrovertible evidence that I was using those quotations in the 1970s in debates," and thus"I did not originally find them in the Peters book." Second, although he did not cite Peters for the quotations listed by Finkelstein, he did cite her as the source of"at least eight" others. As to why he failed to cite Peters for the quotations in question, Dershowitz acknowledges that he found them originally in Peters, but"I then went to the Harvard library, read them, and cited them in the original," without indicating that he found them first in the Peters book--a citation practice that he (and some of his defenders) regards as proper.

But Finkelstein somehow obtained a copy of the uncorrected page proofs of The Case for Israel containing some devastating footnotes, which he reproduces in Beyond Chutzpah--including one that says"Holly Beth: cite sources on pp. 160, 485, 486 fns 141-145." Holly Beth Billington is credited on Dershowitz's acknowledgments page as one of his research assistants; the pages to which he refers her are from Peters's book. The note doesn't tell Holly Beth that Dershowitz is going to the Harvard library to check the original sources, nor does it tell Holly Beth that she should go to the library to check; it says she should" cite" them--copy the citations from Peters into his footnote, presumably to give readers the impression that he consulted the original source. That's not plagiarism in the sense of failing to put in quotation marks the words of somebody else, and the Harvard administration has taken no action in response to Finkelstein's charge. But it's clearly dishonest for Dershowitz to have passed off another scholar's research as his own.

The Finkelstein book was originally under contract to the New Press, and Dershowitz claims he succeeded in persuading the New Press to drop it. He told me in an e-mail that after he wrote the New Press pointing out"numerous factual inaccuracies in Finkelstein's manuscript, New Press cancelled it's [sic] contract with him." New Press publisher Colin Robinson says that's not true:"We did not cancel the agreement to publish Norman's book and never wanted to do so." Finkelstein said the same thing in an e-mail:"I was the one who pulled out of the contract when publication was delayed due to Dershowitz's letters. In fact, Colin urged me to reconsider the decision and stay with New Press."

Now, despite Dershowitz's best efforts, UC Press is publishing the book--to the great credit of director Withey and history editor Niels Hooper. The book is appearing in August rather than June--because, according to the press statement,"editing and production took longer than we hoped." Hooper explained that California published the book not as part of a personal feud between Finkelstein and Dershowitz but because the chapters on human rights"show what is going on in the Occupied Territories and Israel." Dershowitz is relevant as a prominent defender of Israeli policies and practices.

Will Dershowitz now sue for libel in federal court in Boston, or in London, where the law makes it easier for libel plaintiffs to win--as his attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore has threatened? That would be another shameful act by a man who claims to be a defender of free speech.

Response by Alan Dershowitz

The following statement was written by Alan Dershowitz on June 27 as a posted comment on a news story published by InsideHigherEd about the controversy.

Jon Wiener, like his friend Norman Finkelstein, is simply lying about the contents of my letters. I repeatedly said that, “I have no interest in censoring or surpressing Finkelstein’s freedom of speech” and that I am not trying “to prevent the publication of Finkelstein’s book.” The purpose of my letters was two-fold: to encourage the University of California Press to give “serious consideration” to their decision to publish a clear, willful and defamatory lie, namely that I did not write The Case For Israel and “did’t even read it prior to publication.”

My letters were stimulated by an email Finkelstein sent to the Dean of Harvard Law School several days earlier in which Finkelstein said that he was “completing a book manuscript for the University of California Press” which will “demonstrate that he [Dershowitz] almost certainly didn’t write the book, and perhaps didn’t even read it prior to publication.” Finkelstein has gone even further, asserting that I didn’t write any of my books:"[Dershowitz] has come to the point where he’s had so many people write so many of his books...[I]t’s sort of like a Hallmark line for Nazis...[T]hey churn them out so fast that he has now reached a point where he doesn’t even read them." This was after he compared me to Adolf Eichmann.

The other purpose of my letter was to inform them of what Finkelstein’s own muse — Professor Peter Novick, whose work stimulated Finkelstein’s book on the Holocaust — had said about Finkelstein’s reliability as a scholar:"As concerns particular assertions made by Finkelstein concerning reparations and restitution, and on other matters as well, the appropriate response is not (exhilarating) “debate” but (tedious) examination of his footnotes. Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention.[....] No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites." Novick also concluded that the book as a whole, with its concoction of an international Jewish conspiracy, is a “twenty-first century updating of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and a piece of “trash".

I questioned whether a university press should be lending its imprimatur to a sequel to what the New York Times also characterized as: “...a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which warned of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world...."I pointed out that Finkelstein will have no difficulty having his defamatory bigotry published “by the kind of publisher who specializes in this kind of material, and whose imprimatur will not be misused by Finkelstein, as the University of California’s imprimatur is already being misused by him."

My office was advised today that Finkelstein is threatening to pull his book from the University of California Press because they are insisting that he make changes in order to satisfy standards of truthfulness. Finkelstein is trying to bully the press into not making the changes by putting the following fraudulent statement on his website: “Dershowitz wins: University of California Press will not publish Beyond Chutzpah.” This lie is typical of Finkelstein’s modus operandi. The editor of the University of California Press told my office today that they intend to publish his book.

Finkelstein’s lie persists on his website. His book will be published but without his willfully false statement that I did not write The Case For Israel. Now that Finkelstein’s false statement about my authorship of The Case For Israel has been removed from the book, I welcome a comparative judgement of our substantive arguments in the marketplace of ideas. In my forthcoming sequel to The Case For Israel — entitled The Case For Peace to be published in August 2005 — I demolish all of Fineklstein’s claims, proving that he has made up quotes and facts. I challenge your readers to read my book and then judge. As any reader of my book will immediately see, I do not equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. I welcome criticism of Israel and I, myself, have been quite critical of many of its policies. I devote many pages of my new book to distinguishing between criticism of Israel, which is not anti-semitic, and the kind of statements that Finkelstein makes (for example comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, comparing Jewish supporters of Israel to Adolph Eichmann, blaming anti-semitism on the Jews, generalizing about the Jews, (such as his statements that “American Jews... put unruly Blacks in their place"), espousing a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, and supporting Hesbolah’s overtly anti-semitic policies and its terrorism against innocent Jewish civilians.) In my book I set out 30 criteria for distinguishing criticism of Israel from anti-semitism. I also challenge anyone to quote a single prominent Jewish leader who has ever equated mere criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. It is a false charge and it lies at the center of Finkelstein’s false book. Let the marketplace of ideas judge and condemn Finkelstein’s despicable ideas.

Related Links

  • Scott Jaschik:"First Amendment Furor" (InsideHigherEd)
  • Alexander H. Joffe:"'Outside Groups'and Academe" (Campus Watch)

  • Reprinted with permission from the Nation. For subscription information call 1-800-333-8536. Portions of each week's Nation magazine can be accessed at http://www.thenation.com.




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    Frederick Thomas - 7/13/2005


    "destroyed, just as any racist state should be."

    I have googled that "destroyed" phrase, with "Finkelstein" and "Canada", and scanned the transcripts of all Canadian speeches and responses on the NF website. On the entire internet, the only place it appears is in your response.

    Mr. Ramirez, Finkelstein did not use that phrase, or a far as I can see, anything remotely like it.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/13/2005

    Mr. Friedman,

    Final comments:

    "1. Assuming that Dershowitz and Goldenhagen made up facts from thin air or plagerized their entire books, why should that cause antisemitism?"

    These are two prominent Jews performing the most dishonest and improper of falsification to favor Israel, with imagined blood libel toward Germans on the one hand, and fraudulent race hate against Palestinians on the other, then resorting to the most horrific ad hominem attacks at Norm for pointing out the facts. Anti-semites will sieze on that like manna from heaven, Mr. Friedman. It reflects as poorly on Israel as on the Jewish community.

    "2. I do not see how the material you quote from Finklestein has demonstrated plagerism or error or anything of the sort."

    To the contrary, each Peters quote was twisted from the original text, and copied with the twist intact, almost word for word into Dershowitz' version. Reminds me of a high school kid who copies something from the internet and changes the first few words. Attribution, Mr. Friedman.

    "3. I note the reviews. What is your point?"

    At some point one must distinguish between dishonest and even criminal acts to support Israel, and honest support based upon real scholarship. More of the later, please.



    N. Friedman - 7/9/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    I note that Antisemitism does not include Arabs despite the sound of the word. According to the dictionary:

    1. Hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.
    2. Discrimination against Jews.


    The word was coined by one Wilhelm Mahr in late 19th Century Europe. He evidently hoped to give hatred of Jews a more scientific character.

    As for a better term, some writers use "judeophobia." Others use "Jew hater."

    I note that we lose track of things by concentrating on words. If, as I have seen, your "Norm" is anti-Zionist, he is, in practice, worse than an Antisemite.


    N. Friedman - 7/9/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    I note that Antisemitism does not include Arabs despite the sound of the word. According to the dictionary:

    1. Hostility toward or prejudice against Jews or Judaism.
    2. Discrimination against Jews.


    The word has coined by one Wilhelm Mahr late 19th Century Europe. He evidently hoped to give hatred of Jews a more scientific character.

    As for a better term, some writers use "judeophobia." Others use "Jew hater."

    I note that we lose track of things by concentrating on words. If, as I have seen, your "Norm" is anti-Zionist, he is, in practice, worse than an Antisemite.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/9/2005


    Mr. Friedman:


    Agreed that such creatures exist. A larger example may be the atheistic Pale Jews who became the major ethnic group in the thought police and state killers of the Soviet Union, as commissars and state security police. I understand that thier favorite target was observant Jews.

    Norm's not one of either group, by the way.

    By the way, is there not a better term than "anti-semitic?" That expression includes arabs and in some definitions hamitic peoples-a little imprecise. In addition, most American and European Jews are largely European themselves, genetically.

    I have enjoyed this interchange although I find myself a little frustrated at having been unable to convince you. Opinions can be quite resilient things. I wish you well.




    N. Friedman - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    You write: "I say again that when the face of Judaism is presented to the world, it would be better if it were not Dershowitz. On the other hand, ignore him and he will probably go away. One can only hope."

    I am not aware of anyone who is the "face of Judaism." In what way is Mr. Dershowitz the "face of Judaism"? And, frankly, who care what face Judaism has? No one I know, Jew or gentile, cares? Why does the "face of Judaism" matter to you?

    What of consequence has Dershowitz said in his book which is incorrect? Please do not quote Mr. Finkelstein. Doing so is, in my book, evidence in favor of Dershowitz. Tell me in simple English specific errors of consequence. Again: the issue is significant errors of fact, not errors of attribution.

    I await your effort to enlighten me.


    N. Friedman - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    There are, in fact, Antisemitic Jews. I note that Antisemitism is as much a visceral hatred as it is an "intellectual" position. There have been numerous persons of Jewish lineage who were rather Antisemitic including, by way of example, Marx.


    N. Friedman - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    Mr. Dershowitz speaks for himself. As I said, there is very little in his book that is remotely contraversial. After reading your examples, I can well understand why dershowitz would be angry at the allegations of plagerism.

    You write: "You might as well ask the Times to say something nice about Bush. They hear any criticism of any Jew, then they circle the wagons without waiting until the facts are established. Do they have a problem?"

    Let us hear some specific examples of circling the wagons.


    N. Friedman - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    Three points:

    1. Assuming that Dershowitz and Goldenhagen made up facts from thin air or plagerized their entire books, why should that cause antisemitism?

    2. I do not see how the material you quote from Finklestein has demonstrated plagerism or error or anything of the sort. The so called plagerism amounts to criticizing a book for including facts that appear widely in a variety of sources. So what? In the law, such copying is termed scenes a faire and is considered but legal and fair and, necessary to a reasonable presentation of the subject being discussed. In common sense, what you have presented is less than trivial.

    3. I note the reviews. What is your point? Am I supposed to be persuaded by the likes of Chomsky, Shlaim, Hobsbawm and The Guardian, etc.? Why should I follow their views over that of Max Frankel? Why should I trust Finklestein over, say, Michael Oren or Ephraim Karsh? Please enlighten me.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/8/2005


    Mr. Friedman:

    Thank you for your comments, and links.

    I am afraid that the NY Times has bankrupted itself in credibility trying first unsuccessfully to defend Peters, then Dershowitz.

    You might as well ask the Times to say something nice about Bush. They hear any criticism of any Jew, then they circle the wagons without waiting until the facts are established. Do they have a problem?

    That took care of two of the links. I did a search on the second link and got "nothing found," to "finkelstein," etc. Perhaps they purges the article.

    Please see my other post for the "triviality" of Dershowitz plagiarism. It is pervasive - I gave you about 30 gross examples.

    I say again that when the face of Judaism is presented to the world, it would be better if it were not Dershowitz. On the other hand, ignore him and he will probably go away. One can only hope.

    By the way, did you read the last paragraphs of the article? Dershowitz actually personally attacks the author of the HNN article, and accuses him of conspiracy! But of course, he will never actually sue, because he will very publicly lose that suit-very bad for PR!

    Thanks again.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Ramirez

    Thank you for your remarks. I appreciate that when one of us misses a quote, which we all do, he have the intellectual honesty to admit it.

    I do not think that NF is anti-semetic. I mean could he hate his own blood, his own mom and dad? He may believe that Israel, as it was founded, was a mistake, but he does not say that. His theses are so carefully drawn that they really do not lend themselves to such mischaracterization.

    Help me with the Canadian quote. I was concerned by it, it did not sound like him. So I hit every combination of words I could think of on Google, and searched NFs web site, especially his Canadian speech transcripts. Nothing. Zero, zip, nada.

    Could this be deliberate misinformation? NF draws a lot of that. You may wish to ask your source why he believes that such a temperate soft-spoken guy as Finkelstein would suddenly step so far out of character as to say something so damaging to himself as this? It don't make no sense.

    Thanks again.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Friedman,

    Thank you for your comments.

    Perhaps we will agree to politely disagree on this subject, but this is all being done publicly, and if not to you, Mr. Finkelstein has credibility to very many, judging by how his books sell. This is particularly so in Europe, but also here, despite Dershowitz' frantic efforts at censorship. People are watching him.

    If I were in your shoes I would believe I had a serious PR problem with the whole Dershowitz-Goldhagen-Peters-etc propaganda gang. Together, they present to the public a Jewish face which is disreputable, dishonest, bullying, greedy, and entirely unattractive. Isn't that the sort of situation that fans anti-semitism? That must concern you, whether you wish to admit it publicly or not. (I am not asking you to.)

    Israel does not need these yeshiva dropouts. At best, they do more harm than good. I found your comments above about Zionism, democracy and the dhimma a bit of a non sequitur, frankly, but interesting nonetheless.

    You asked for an argument based upon Finkelstein's claims. I will let him do that, as follows:

    Dr. Finkelstein's article excerpt lists major false citations from Dershowitz, then the false citation from Peters which Dershowitz plagiarized. I think you will be troubled. If false, Dershowitz knows he can sue for libel on the basis of this article and others. He won't because he will lose, and losing will publicize the loss. QED

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Alan Dershowitz Exposed: What if a Harvard Student Did This?

    In the introduction to The Case for Israel, Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School asserts that his account is supported by "facts and figures, some of which will surprise those who get their information from biased sources" (p. 2). Yet, the evidence Dershowitz adduces will surprise no one familiar with the most notorious source of historical bias on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ever published in the English language.

    The charts below document Dershowitz's wholesale lifting of source material from Joan Peters's monumental hoax, From Time Immemorial. Dershowitz not only copies Peters shamelessly, but knowingly does so from a book serious scholars have uniformly condemned. (For details on the Peters hoax, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and Yehoshua Porath, "Mrs. Peters's Palestine," The New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.) He is effectively no different from a professor lifting sources wholesale from a leading Holocaust revisionist in a book on the Holocaust.

    On a note both humorous and pathetic, Peters, in From Time Immemorial and claiming to be inspired by George Orwell, coins the term "turnspeak" to signal the inversion of reality (pp. 173, 402).

    Dershowitz, apparently confounded by his massive borrowings from Peters, credits the term "turnspeak" to Orwell, accusing critics of Israel of "deliberately using George Orwell's 'turnspeak'" (p. 57) and "Orwellian turnspeak" (p. 153). Is this scandalous scholarship, or is it plagiarism, or is it both?

    Norman G. Finkelstein

    (Note: the Peters false attribution follows Dershowitz' plagiarized version in each case below.)

    D:

    In the sixteenth century, according to british reports, "as many as 15,000 jews" lived in safad, which was a "center of rabbinical learning." (p. 17)

    source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.

    P:

    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." (p. 178)

    source cited: palestine royal commission report, pp. 11-12.


    [a]ccording to the british consul in jerusalem, the muslims of jerusalem "scarcely exceed[ed] one quarter of the whole population." (p. 17)

    source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.



    in 1858 consul finn reported the "mohammedans of jerusalem" were "scarcely exceeding one-quarter of the whole population." (p. 197)

    source cited: james finn to earl of clarendon, january 1, 1858.

    by the middle of the nineteenth century […] jews also constituted a significant presence, often a plurality or majority, in safad, tiberias, and several other cities and towns. (p. 17)

    source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.



    meanwhile, the jewish population had been growing. they were the majority in safed and tiberias by 1851. (p. 199)


    source cited: james finn to viscount palmerston, november 7, 1851.



    in 1834, jewish homes in jerusalem "were sacked and their women violated." (p. 18)


    source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.




    [i]n 1834, […] "forty thousand fellahin rushed on jerusalem…the jews were the worst sufferers, their homes were sacked and their women violated." (p. 183)

    source cited: jacob de haas, history of palestine (new york: 1934), p. 393.



    the british consul, william young, in a report to the british foreign office […] painted a vivid and chilling picture of the life of the jews in jerusalem in 1839: "i think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a proclamation issued this week by the government in the jewish quarter - that no jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished - such as want to pray are to go into the synagogue… there has also been a punishment inflicted on a jew and jewess - most revolting to human nature, which i think it is my duty to relate. in the early part of this week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery was committed - the house was in quarantine - and the guardian was a jew - he was taken before the governor - he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. in order to compel him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he still declared his innocence. he was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the lower parts of his body to the extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him the following day the poor creature died. he was a young jew of salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service. a young man - a jew - having a french passport was also suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…. i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor could have acted so savage a part - for certainly what i have seen of him, i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity - but it was a jew - without friends or protection - it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 18)






    source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.




    in may 1839, for instance, the complaints registered with the british foreign office by consul young in jerusalem were appalling. in one day, in one report: "i think it is my duty to inform you that there has been a proclamation issued this week by the government in the jewish quarter - that no jew is to be permitted to pray in his own house under pain of being severely punished - such as want to pray are to go into the synagogue… there has also been a punishment inflicted on a jew and jewess - most revolting to human nature, which i think it is my duty to relate - in the early part of this week, a house was entered in the jewish quarter, and a robbery was committed - the house was in quarantine - and the guardian was a jew - he was taken before the governor - he denied having any knowledge of the thief or the circumstances. in order to compell him to confess, he was laid down and beaten, and afterwards imprisoned. the following day he was again brought before the governor, when he still declared his innocence. he was then burned with a hot iron over his face, and various parts of the body - and beaten on the lower parts of his body to that extent that the flesh hung in pieces from him. the following day the poor creature died. he was a young jew of salonica about 28 years of age - who had been here but a very short time, he had only the week before been applying to enter my service. a young man - a jew - having a french passport was also suspected - he fled - his character was known to be an indifferent one - his mother, an aged woman, was taken under suspicion of concealing her son - she was tied up and beaten in the most brutal way…. i must say i am sorry and am surprised that the governor could have acted so savage a part - for certainly what i have seen of him, i should have thought him superior to such wanton inhumanity - but it was a jew - without friends or protection - it serves well to show, that it is not without reason that the poor jew, even in the nineteenth century, lives from day to day in terror of his life." (p. 184)


    source cited: wm. t. young to colonel patrick campbell, may 25, 1839.





    nor could the jew seek redress, as the report observed: "like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 20)

    source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.




    [t]he life for jews described in 1839 by british consul young: "[…] like the miserable dog without an owner he is kicked by one because he crosses his path, and cuffed by another because he cries out - to seek redress he is afraid, lest it bring worse upon him; he thinks it better to endure than to live in the expectation of his complaint being revenged upon him." (p. 187)
    source cited: wm. t. young to viscount palmerston, may 25, 1839.





    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. (p. 20)


    source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.




    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." (p. 188; peters's emphasis)
    source cited: wm. t. young to viscount canning, january 13, 1842.





    mark twain, who visited palestine in 1867, offered this description: "stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more. there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent - not for thirty miles in either direction. there are two or three small clusters of bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. . . . come to galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village of tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we reached tabor safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole route. nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the savior's presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men,' is untenanted by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 23-4)




    source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (new york: 1996), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.




    mark twain […] visited the holy land in 1867. in one location after another, twain registered gloom at his findings: "stirring scenes . . . occur in the valley [jezreel] no more. there is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent - not for thirty miles in either direction. there are two or three small clusters of bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. one may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. […] come to galilee for that . . . these unpeopled deserts, these rusty mounds of barrenness, that never, never, never do shake the glare from their harsh outlines, and fade and faint into vague perspective; that melancholy ruin of capernaum: this stupid village of tiberias, slumbering under its six funereal palms. . . . we reached tabor safely. . . .we never saw a human being on the whole route. nazareth is forlorn. . . . jericho the accursed lies in a moldering ruin today, even as joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; bethlehem and bethany, in their poverty and their humiliations, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the savior's presence, the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, `peace on earth, good will to men,' is untenanted by any living creature. . . . bethsaida and chorzin have vanished from the earth, and the `desert places' round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the savior's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes." (pp. 159-60)

    source cited: mark twain, the innocents abroad (london: 1881), pp. 349, 366, 375, 441-442.





    a christian historian has reported that several villages throughout palestine "are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the turkish empire within the nineteenth century. there are villages of bosnians, druzes, circassians and egyptians." (p. 26)

    source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.




    "in some cases villages [in palestine] are populated wholly by settlers from other portions of the turkish empire within the nineteenth century. there are villages of bosnians, druzes, circassians and egyptians," one historian has reported. (p. 156)

    source cited: james parkes, whose land?, p. 212.





    the 1911 edition of encyclopaedia britannica described the population of palestine as comprising widely differing "ethnological" groups speaking "no less than fifty languages." it was daunting therefore to "write concisely" about "the ethnology of palestine," especially following the influx of population from egypt "which still persists in the villages." in addition to arabs and jews, the other ethnic groups in palestine at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century included kurds, german templars, persians, sudanese, algerians, samaritans, tatars, georgians, and many people of mixed ethnicities. (p. 26)



    source cited: no volume or page number cited.




    another source, the encyclopaedia britannica, 1911 edition […] finds the "population" of palestine composed of so "widely differing" a group of "inhabitants" - whose "ethnological affinities" create "early in the 20th century a list of no less than fifty languages" - that "it is therefore no easy task to write concisely . . . on the ethnology of palestine." in addition to the "assyrian, persian and roman" elements of ancient times, "the short-lived egyptian government introduced into the population an element from that country which still persists in the villages."… "there are […] persians […] kurds…german `templar' colonies […], a large algerian element […] sudanese, […] the samaritan sect." (pp. 156-7)

    source cited: encyclopaedia britannica, 11th ed., vol. xx, p. 604.





    an 1857 communiqué from the british consul in jerusalem reported that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 26)

    source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.




    the british consul in palestine reported in 1857 that "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." (p. 159)

    source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.





    it also noted that although the arabs tended to leave and not return, the jewish population was more stable: "[w]e have jews who have traveled to the united states and australia," and "instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 26)


    source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.




    finn wrote further that "[…] we have jews here , who have been to the united states, but have returned to their holy land - jews of jerusalem do go to australia and instead of remaining there, do return hither." (p. 485)


    source cited: james finn to the earl of clarendon, september 15, 1857.





    four years later, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 26)


    source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.




    in the 1860s, it was reported that "depopulation is even now advancing." (p. 159)

    source cited: j.b. forsyth, a few months in the east (quebec: 1861), p. 188.





    and four years after that, it was noted that in certain parts of the country "land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing . . . and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 26)

    source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.




    h.b. tristam noted in his journal that "the north and south [of the sharon plain] land is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing […] and the stationery population extirpated." (p. 159)

    source cited: h.b. tristram, the land of israel: a journal of travels in palestine (london: 1865), p. 490.





    other historians, demographers, and travelers described the arab population as "decreasing," and the land as "thinly populated," "unoccupied," "uninhabited," and "almost abandoned now." (pp. 26-7)

    sources cited:
    samuel bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409. cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875," middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.
    edward wilson, in scripture lands (new york: 1890) p. 316. cited in gottheil
    w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113. cited in gottheil.
    william thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1871), p. 466. cited in gottheil.




    report followed depressing report, as the economist-historian professor fred gottheil pointed out: […] "wretched desolation and neglect"; "almost abandoned now"; "unoccupied"; "uninhabited"; "thinly populated." (p. 160)

    sources cited:
    s.c. bartlett, from egypt to palestine (new york: 1879), p. 409. cited in fred gottheil, "the population of palestine, circa 1875," middle eastern studies, vol. 15, no. 3, october 1979.
    w. allen, the dead sea: a new route to india (london: 1855), p. 113. cited in ibid.
    w.m. thomson, the land and the book (new york: 1862), p. 466. cited in ibid.
    e.l. wilson in scripture lands (new york: n.d.), p. 316. cited in ibid.





    the plain of sharon […] was described by reverend samuel manning in 1874 as a "land without inhabitants" that "might support an immense population." (p. 27)



    source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london: 1874), pp. 14-17.




    many writers, such as the reverend samuel manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the sharon plain […]: "this fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is […] `the land […] without inhabitants'." (p. 160)

    source cited: reverend samuel manning, those holy fields (london: 1874), pp. 14-17.





    j.l. burkhardt [sic] reported that as early as in the second decade of the nineteenth century, "few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born. families are continually moving from one place to another…in a few years…they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 27)


    source cited: john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy land (new york: 1983), p. 299.




    john lewis burckhardt graphically described the migratory patterns he found in the early 1800s: "[…] few individuals…die in the same village in which they were born. families are continually moving from one place to another […] in a few years […] they fly to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are better treated." (p. 163)

    source cited: john lewis burckhardt, travels in syria and the holy land (london: 1882), p. 299.





    a study of the jewish settlement of rishon l'tzion, first established in 1882, showed that the 40 jewish families that settled there had attracted "more than 400 arab families," many of which were bedouin and egyptian. these families moved into areas around the jewish settlement and formed a new arab village on the site of "a forsaken ruin." the report observed a similar pattern with regard to other settlements and villages. (p. 27)


    source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldot hibbat ziyyon ve-yishshuv erez yisra'el (writings on the history of the hibbat ziyyon and the settlement of the land of israel) (odessa, tel aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.




    [i]n the jewish settlement rishon l'tsion (founded in 1882), by the year 1889 the "forty jewish families" settled there had attracted "more than four hundred arab families," most of them "bedouin and egyptian." they had come to "surround the moshava" (settlement) in a "now-thriving village" that, before the founding of rishon l'tsion, had been sarafand - "a forsaken ruin." the report from rishon pointed out that many other arab villages had sprouted in the same fashion. (pp. 252-3)

    source cited: a. druyanov, ketavim letoldoth hibbat ziyyon ve-yishshuv erez yisra'el) (odessa, tel aviv, 1919, 1925, 1932), vol. 3, pp. 66-67.





    according to one historian, "at least 25% of [the muslims who lived in all of palestine in 1882] were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after [the egyptian conquest of 1831]." (p. 28)


    source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london: 1943), p. 127.




    one historian deduced that of 141,000 settled muslims living in all of palestine (all areas) in 1882, "at least 25% of those 141,000…were newcomers or descendants of those who arrived after 1831 (egyptian conquest)." (pp. 196-7)

    source cited: ernst frankenstein, justice for my people (london: 1943), p. 127.





    a british official reported in 1937 that "the growth in [the numbers of arab fellahin] had been largely due to the health services combating malaria, reducing infant death rates, improving water supply and sanitation." (p. 28)


    source cited: report to his britannic majesty's government to the council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.




    an official 1937 report found that "the growth in their numbers [arab fellahin-peasants] has been largely due to the health services, combating malaria, reducing the infant deathrate, improving water supply and sanitation." (pp. 223-4)

    source cited: report to his britannic majesty's government to the council of the league of nations on the administration of palestine and trans-jordan for the year 1937, colonial no. 146, pp. 223-224.




    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Raul Hilberg comments on the first edition of The Holocaust Industry:

    "When I read Finkelstein's book, The Holocaust Industry , at the time of its appearance, I was in the middle of my own investigations of these matters, and I came to the conclusion that he was on the right track. I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor. I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results. I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough."


    Praise For The 2nd Edition, “Image and Reality”

    "Norman Finkelstein is 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. ... The book makes a major contribution to the study of the Arab-Israeli conflict and deserves to be widely read, especially in the United States."
    Avi Shlaim,
    St Antony's College, Oxford University


    "Anyone interested in seeing justice brought to the Middle East must read 'Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict'."
    Charles Glass,
    former ABC News Middle East correspondent.


    "...this thoroughly documented book is guaranteed to stimulate and provoke. It will be required reading in the continuing war of the historians."
    William Quandt,
    FOREIGN AFFAIRS


    "...the most revealing study of the historical background of the conflict and the current peace agreement."
    Noam Chomsky,
    The GUARDIAN


    "... a thought-provoking work which calls into question many of the accepted 'truths' associated with the Israel-Palestine conflict."
    THE MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL


    "...both an impressive analysis of Zionist ideology and a searing but scholarly indictment of Israel's treatment of the Arabs since 1948."
    THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

    ENDORSEMENTS

    "Among the dozens of reviewers of Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ruth Bettina Birn and Norman Finkelstein stand out for the seriousness and thoroughness with which they have undertaken their task. Even if I do not embrace every aspect of Finkelstein's conclusions concerning the politicization of the Holocaust historiography, I am grateful for these writers' courageous, conscientious and labour-intensive efforts."
    -- Christopher R. Browning
    Author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police
    Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland


    "No serious student of history can afford to ignore these well-reasoned and withering reflections on the perils of pseudo-scholarship."
    -- Arno Mayer
    Author of Why did the Heavens Not Darken?


    "All readers of Goldhagen's controversial book should take note of these much-needed studies, which, in line with serious historians, convincingly and authoritatively dismantle its arguments."
    -- Eric Hobsbawm
    Author of The Age of Extremes


    "Finkelstein and Birn provide a devastating critique of Daniel Goldhagen's simplistic and misleading interpretation of the Holocaust. Their contribution to the debate is, in my view, indispensable."
    -- Ian Kershaw
    Author of Hitler


    "Highly recommended to the many readers of Goldhagen's controversial book, especially those who were mesmerized by its hypotheses. Fortunately, in an open society all scholarship is subject to public scrutiny, and the advance of historical knowledge cannot do without rigorous criticism of the kind of provided in this important and courageous collection."
    -- Volker R. Berghahn
    J.P. Birkelund Professor of European History, Brown University


    N. Friedman - 7/8/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    You might care to read some of the reviews regarding Finklestein's contribution in the book written with Ruth Bettina Birn, regarding Goldenhagen's thesis. What I have seen is complementary to Ms. Birn but views Finklestein's contribution as, to be polite, polemic. See e.g.

    http://slate.msn.com/id/3143/
    http://www.holocaust-history.org/~rjg/book-reviews/index.shtml
    http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/28/reviews/980628.28fran.html

    I have not studied Professor Goldenhagen's thesis. We are, it is to be noted, living in a period where the Antisemitism bug has resurfaced and, in particular, has resurfaced in Europe. It is, I think, a good period to re-examine the WWII period with the insight of what is, today, occurring all over Europe.

    I note also that Ms. Peters' book is widely considered to include flaws. That is a very different thing from claiming the book is fraudulent. And, as I mentioned, the main thesis that Jews were a major factor in the migration of large numbers of Arabs to what is now Israel is not only plausible but rather likely. While the theory does not explain all, it does explain some of what occurred. The problem, however, is that proving any thesis about population movement is, to say the least, fraught with difficulties and, with respect to Ms. Peters, she has made, in some instances, some mistakes that evidently detract from the point she hoped to make.

    As for the attack on Professor Dershowitz, the allegations of plagerism are rather trivial, even if true. Do you have any reason to believe that what Professor Dershowize argues is incorrect? The truth quotient of the book, at least to me, is rather more important. Does the truth matter to you?

    You might care to read some perspectives other than Finklestein.


    Sergio Ramirez - 7/7/2005

    Mr. Thomas: You said that
    "Israel will survive without a gaggle of frauds writing libelous stories about it for greed. Peters and Dershowitz undermine Israel, and do not support it. In my view, NF is as ethical as any Jew can be, and for Israel’s sake I pray that he prevails.

    Finkelstein said in a speech last year in Canada that he wants Israel "destroyed, just as any racist state should be." Care to clarify?


    N. Friedman - 7/7/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    I gather that you are a fan of Finklestein. I am not. I have not seen anything he has written that suggests that he has really debunked anyone. He makes a lot of noise but I think he is, by and large, mostly hot air. And I think that the NY Times position on his writing is rather sound.

    I, in fact, read Dershowitz's book. Most of what Dershowitz claims about Israel is not really subject to serious scholarly dispute. Which is to say, his basic account of Israel's creation is in accord with the view of major scholars such as as Ephraim Karsh.

    I have, moreover, read Finklestein's views regarding Israel. I think your characterization of his position is erroneous. I think Finklestein is basically anti-Zionist, a position as bad or worse than being Antisemitic.

    In the context of the Middle East, to be anti-Zionist is, moreover, to be anti-egalitarianism as, in fact, equality is not an accepted notion in the Muslim regions with reference to the treatment of Jews (or Christians for that matter).

    Jews, if they wish to live in the Muslim regions, traditionally had to submit to a dhimma (until the Europeans temporarily broke up the dhimma system). The dhimma system is, to be polite, less egalitarian than apartheid in South Africa. And, the dhimma system is based on religion and, moreover, interest in reinstating the dhimma has arisen in much of the Muslim world.

    Even apart from the dhimma, the basic notion of justice in the Muslim system requires Muslim rule. And, in the end, Muslim rule requires Shari'a (i.e. Muslim law). Muslim law may be ok for Muslim but for non-Muslims it is, for today's world, a nightmare that would make one wish to live in apartheid South Africa.

    Make an argument regarding Finklestein's claims rather than providing me with testimonials and lists of debunked people.


    Sergio Ramirez - 7/7/2005

    I take the correction on the specifics of Hilberg's terms--he did, however, distance himself from the anti-semitic and anti-Israel thesis of Finkelstein's work. His own words.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/7/2005

    Mr. Friedman:

    I have much enjoyed your often nuanced comments on this site. Normally I listen and learn from you. Perhaps in this case I can provide you some usable perspective.

    Perhaps you are unaware of some of the complex background of this matter.

    Dr. Finkelstein is currently taking on Mr. Dershowitz, but has previously debunked Joan Peters, Benny Morris, Anita Shapira, and Daniel Goldhagen in his various books, assisted by Dr. Ruth Bettina Birn, a Canadian Holocaust prosecutor and German document expert.

    Finkelstein, an egalitarian leftie, is outraged that a club of often ultra rich are actively exploiting the real past suffering of their brothers for personal gain, and that they are grossly lying.

    A patient, courageous and capable academic, NF is appalled at this dishonesty and greed. He was particularly incensed that reparation payments for slave labor and the Swiss Bank shakedown which were due to his parents among many others not well connected, but deserving, went instead into the pockets of Bronfman, Eagleburger, et al. as huge consulting fees, who would not know Auschwitz from a wet lunch at Sardi’s. NF is very good at following the money.

    In each of the books he challenges, Finkelstein effectively proves by painstaking reference to every one of the original documents cited, that each and every reference is cited wrongly, opposite to its meaning, with the citation coming down favorable to Israel, or to the author’s bias, such as Goldhagen’s orgy of hate speech.

    In every case, the rich malfeasants sic their media buddies on poor Norm, full of crass personal attacks in lieu of intelligent argument. I do not put your comments into that category.

    Israel will survive without a gaggle of frauds writing libelous stories about it for greed. Peters and Dershowitz undermine Israel, and do not support it. In my view, NF is as ethical as any Jew can be, and for Israel’s sake I pray that he prevails.

    Have you wondered why one of the gang of five which includes Mr. Dershowitz of OJ fame, has not simply sued Dr. Finkelstein for libel?

    It’s because they would lose. What else?

    I am not holding my breath, but I hope to have convinced you to at least read both sets of books, NF’s and his adversaries’, and evaluate fairly.


    FT


    N. Friedman - 7/7/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    The problem with Mr. Finklestein is that he has, thus far, said nothing that appears to be very important. Whether or not Mr. Dershowitz has made errors in his citations or borrowed from Ms. Peters does not tell us whether or not Mr. Dershowitz is correct or incorrect. And citing scholars who, in turn, are more political than scholarly does not change my view.

    I note that some of the best papers from students are plagerized. Plagerism is disreputable but it does not affect the truth quotient of the claims made in a paper and, moreover, by Mr. Dershowitz or Ms. Peters - assuming, for purposes of argument, that they have crossed some line (an allegation that I tend to doubt) -.

    And nothing I have seen from Mr. Finklestein appears to add much to the our knowledge of historic Palestine, to Israel and its history, to what happened to Europe's Jews, to what happened to the Jews of the Arab regions, to what happened to the Arabs in what is now Israel and to why Jews have reacted as they have since WWII.

    So, argue the merits of the claims rather than repeat accusations which, so far as can be discerned, are not very important even if true - and I doubt the accusations are true -.


    N. Friedman - 7/7/2005

    Mr. Thomas,

    I challenge your assertions regarding the thesis from Ms. Peters' book whether or not she has made some minor errors - termed fraudulent by those of a contentious bent -. Much has been written on the topic and, in the main, there is very good reason to believe that the presence of Jews in historic Palestine did, in fact, spur non-Jewish immigration and, further, improved living standards for all involved.

    You will note that all over the world, Jews are accused of having extraordinary business talents. The one exception to that accusation is, evidently, to Jews who chose to settle in historic Palestine. Yet, in fact, Jews brought whatever talents they had or did not have, just as their brethren who left Europe for America did during the same era. By contrast, the Arab regions were, by any standards, economically backward and certainly benefitted, at least economically, from the presence of people with some acquaintance with modern science and modern business techniques. And, in an economically backward region, people tend to move where there are more opportunities.

    Which is to say, whether or not there are flaws in Ms. Peters' analysis, the sum and substance of what she writes is a rather likely proposition. And that would be the case whether or not she plagerized or even committed fraud.

    I might add that there are other factors involved in the Muslim immigration to the region. In particular, the 19th Century brought substantial decline to the Ottoman Empire and there were very violent revolts by dhimmi demanding their freedom. As a result, a very large numbers of Muslims fled from the violence in, among other places, Ottoman Greece and were re-settled by the Empire all along Asia Minor and in parts of what is now Israel. Millions of people were re-settled, by the way.


    Frederick Thomas - 7/7/2005


    Mr. Ramirez:

    Please note below what Hilberg actually said. As you can see, contrary to your characterizations,

    -Hilberg is indeed a supporter of NFs scholarship, saying "He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results."

    -His comment deals not just with the shakedown of Swiss banks by Bronfman, et al, but also to the shakedown regarding "forced labor", yet another huge scam. But isn't a multibillion dollar shakedown enough by itself?

    It is dangerous to misquote in the age of the internet, sir. Voltaire said that historians must neither slander nor bore. That may be good for you to keep in mind.

    FT

    QUOTE:

    Raul Hilberg comments on the first edition of The Holocaust Industry:

    "When I read Finkelstein's book, The Holocaust Industry , at the time of its appearance, I was in the middle of my own investigations of these matters, and I came to the conclusion that he was on the right track.

    "I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor.

    "I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results.

    "I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein's breakthrough."


    Sergio Ramirez - 7/6/2005

    Among the many lies and distortions that Finkelstein/Weiner perpetuate, one in particular should be addressed. The "dean" of Holocaust studies, Raul Hilberg, is hardly a defender of Finkelstein's scholarship. He has in fact distanced himself from the Israel and Jew-bashing in Finkelstein's book, and his quotation refers (quite specifically) only to those parts of Finkelstein's manuscript that dealt with the Swiss banks--he had not seen the rest of the book.
    Looks like Dershowitz isn't the only one who plays with quotations for his own benefit!


    Frederick Thomas - 7/5/2005


    Mr. Soloman

    Dr. Finkelstein's books are the since qua non of documentation and research, and he is surely not a demonizer of Jews generally. Both his parents were in the camps, and that fact appears to be much with him.

    He is simply an academic with integrity, unwilling to allow the real sufferings of the past to be mis-used by anyone for cheap propaganda, sympathy (or financial) extortion or any other unjust action, which in the end can only hurt the cause of justice.

    By the way, NF's thesis, detailed painstaking by 100% primary references and side by side text comparisons, is that Dershowitz' plagiarized a book called "From Time Immemorial" (Peters) which is well-established as fraudulent, and in hundreds of cases misquoted sources.

    In other words, he chose a lie to paraphrase from. Can you imagine if a Harvard law student did that? What a klutz! I wouldn't want this guy as my lawyer, and neither should you, in my opinion.

    Sample this yourself:

    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/


    leo solomon - 7/5/2005

    A large number of Jewish intelectuals devote their efforts toward the demonisation of Israel,in particular,and the Jewish people,in general and I wonder why,beyond the vanity of these individuals and the publics ready appetite for their contrariness,they do it?