Thursday, March 12
Educational Science Building, Room 204
UW-Madison Campus [Map]
Dr. Norman Finkelstein, well known speaker and scholar, will address recent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the future of Palestine. All students, faculty, and guests are welcome to attend.
Sponsored by UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Union Directorate Society and Politics Committee and support from Associated Students of Madison.
For more info: Facebook — UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine
Major Givers Reportedly withholding Funds from School, Sparking Fierce Free-Speech Debate on Massachusetts Campus
Larry Cohler-Esses, The Jewish Week (New York), February 16, 2007
Major donors to Brandeis University have informed the school they will no longer give it money in retaliation for its decision last month to host former President Jimmy Carter, a strong critic of Israel.
The donors have notified the school in writing of their decisions–and specified Carter as the reason, said Stuart Eizenstat, a former aide to Carter during his presidency and a current trustee of Brandeis, one of the nation’s premier Jewish institutions of higher learning.
They are “more than a handful,” he said. “So, this is a concern. There are evidently a fair number of donors who have indicated they will withhold contributions.”
Brandeis history professor Jonathan Sarna, who maintains close ties with the administration, told The Jewish Week, “These were not people who send $5 to the university. These were major donors, and major potential donors.”
“I hope they’ll calm down and change their views,” Sarna said.
Sarna indicated he knew the identity of at least one of the benefactors but declined to disclose it. He said only that those now determined to stop contributing include “some enormously wealthy individuals.”
Eizenstat said his information came from discussions Tuesday with university administrators, who did not disclose to him who the donors in question were, or how much was involved.
Kevin Montgomery, a student member of the faculty-student committee that brought Carter to Brandeis, related that the school’s senior vice president for communications, Lorna Miles, told him in a meeting the week before Carter’s appearance that the school had, at that point, already lost $5 million in donations.
Asked to comment, Miles replied, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.”
Miles said that university President Jehuda Reinharz was out of the country and unavailable for comment. The school’s fundraising director, Nancy Winship, was also unavailable, she said.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, Truthdig, DECEMBER 28, 2006
As Jimmy Carter’s new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid climbs the bestseller list, the reaction of Israel’s apologists scales new peaks of lunacy. I will examine a pair of typical examples and then look at the latest weapon to silence Carter.
No aspect of Carter’s book has evoked more outrage than its identification of Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with apartheid. Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post called it “foolish and unfair,” the Boston Globe editorialized that it was “irresponsibly provocative,” while the New York Times reported that Jewish groups condemned it as “dangerous and anti-Semitic.” (1)
In fact the comparison is a commonplace among informed commentators.
From its initial encounter with Palestine the Zionist movement confronted a seemingly intractable dilemma: How to create a Jewish state in a territory that was overwhelmingly non-Jewish? Israeli historian Benny Morris observes that Zionists could choose from only two options: “the way of South Africa”–i.e., “the establishment of an apartheid state, with a settler minority lording it over a large, exploited native majority”–or “the way of transfer”–i.e., “you could create a homogeneous Jewish state or at least a state with an overwhelming Jewish majority by moving or transferring all or most of the Arabs out.” (2)
During the British Mandate period (1917-1947) Zionist settlers labored on both fronts, laying the foundations of an apartheid-like regime in Palestine while exploring the prospect of expelling the indigenous population. Norman Bentwich, a Jewish officer in the Mandatory government who later taught at the Hebrew University, recalled in his memoir that, “One of the causes of resentment between Arabs and Jews was the determined policy of the Jewish public bodies to employ only Jewish workers.This policy of ‘economic apartheid’ was bound to strengthen the resistance of Arabs to Jewish immigration.” (3)
Ultimately, however, the Zionist movement resolved the dilemma in 1948 by way of transfer: under the cover of war with neighboring Arab states, Zionist armies proceeded to “ethnically cleanse” (Morris) the bulk of the indigenous population, creating a state that didn’t need to rely on anachronistic structures of Western supremacy. (4)
After Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 the same demographic dilemma resurfaced and alongside it the same pair of options. Once again Zionists simultaneously laid the foundations for apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory while never quite abandoning hope that an expulsion could be carried off in the event of war. (5)
After four decades of Israeli occupation, the infrastructure and superstructure of apartheid have been put in place. Outside the never-never land of mainstream American Jewry and U.S. media this reality is barely disputed. Indeed, already more than a decade ago while the world was celebrating the Oslo Accords, seasoned Israeli analyst and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti observed, “It goes without saying that ‘cooperation’ based on the current power relationship is no more than permanent Israeli domination in disguise, and that Palestinian self-rule is merely a euphemism for Bantustanization.” (6)
If it’s “foolish and unfair,” “irresponsibly provocative” and “dangerous and anti-Semitic” to make the apartheid comparison, then the roster of commentators who have gone awry is rather puzzling. For example, a major 2002 study of Israeli settlement practices by the respected Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem concluded: “Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa.” A more recent B’Tselem publication on the road system Israel has established in the West Bank again concluded that it “bears striking similarities to the racist Apartheid regime,” and even “entails a greater degree of arbitrariness than was the case with the regime that existed in South Africa.” (7)
Those sharing Carter’s iniquitous belief also include the editorial board of Israel’s leading newspaper Haaretz, which observed in September 2006 that “the apartheid regime in the territories remains intact; millions of Palestinians are living without rights, freedom of movement or a livelihood, under the yoke of ongoing Israeli occupation,” as well as former Israeli Knesset member Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel, South African Archbishop and Nobel Laureate for Peace Desmond Tutu and “father” of human rights law in South Africa John Dugard. (8)
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN, CounterPunch, NOVEMBER 13, 2006
The historical chapters of Palestine Peace Not Apartheid are rather thin, filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations. But few persons will be reading it for the history.
It is what Carter has to say about the present that will interest the reading public and the media (assuming the book is not ignored). It can be said with certainty that Israel’s apologists will not be pleased. Although Carter includes criticisms of the Palestinians to affect balance, it is clear that he holds Israel principally responsible for the impasse in the peace process. The most scathing criticisms of Israel come in Chapter 16 (“The Wall as a Prison”). One hopes that this chapter (and the concluding “Summary”) will be widely disseminated.
Below I reproduce some of Carter’s key statements.
Most Arab regimes have accepted the permanent existence of Israel as an indisputable fact and are no longer calling for an end to the State of Israel, having contrived a common statement at an Arab summit in 2002 that offers peace and normal relations with Israel within its acknowledged international borders and in compliance with other U.N. Security Council resolutions. (p. 14)
Since 1924, Shebaa Farms has been treated as Lebanese territory, but Syria seized the area in the 1950s and retained control until Israel occupied the Farms–along with the Golan Heights–in 1967. The inhabitants and properties were Lebanese, and Lebanon has never accepted Syria’s control of the Farms. Although Syria has claimed the area in the past, Syrian officials now state that it is part of Lebanon. This position supports the Arab claim that Israel still occupies Lebanese territory. (pp. 98-9)
The best offer to the Palestinians [at Camp David in December 2000]–by Clinton, not Barak–had been to withdraw 20 percent of the settlers, leaving more than 180,000 in 209 settlements, covering about 10 percent of the occupied land, including land to be “leased” and portions of the Jordan River valley and East Jerusalem.
The percentage figure is misleading, since it usually includes only the actual footprints of the settlements. There is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and “life arteries” that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from five hundred to four thousand meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnecting conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiple fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan Valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About one hundred military checkpoints completely surround Palestinians and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an unaccountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with large concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks.
There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive, but official statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful in placing the entire onus for the failure on Yasir Arafat. (pp. 151-2)
It’s a dispute that involves just about every emotive issue you can think of – Israel, Palestine, human rights, freedom of speech. Gary Younge dissects the academic battle that has gripped America
Gary Younge, The Guardian, 10 August 2005
In his landmark book, Democracy in America, the 19th-century French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the fever pitch to which American polemics can often ascend. In a chapter entitled Why American Writers and Speakers Are Often Bombastic, he wrote: “I have often noticed that the Americans whose language when talking business is clear and dry … easily turn bombastic when they attempt a poetic style … Writers for their part almost always pander to this propensity … they inflate their imaginations and swell them out beyond bounds, so that they achieve gigantism, missing real grandeur.”
When it comes to a duel between DePaul university political science professor Norman Finkelstein and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz over Finkelstein’s upcoming book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, gigantic bombast feels like an understatement. It is a row that has spilled on to the pages of most of the nation’s prominent newspapers and gone all the way to the desk of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Like the two professors in Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House who abandon their high-minded theoretical clashes for a drunken brawl in a car park, Finkelstein and Dershowitz hover between principle and raw verbal pugilism in which the personal and the political are almost indistinguishable.
Finkelstein says Dershowitz is a “total liar”, adding that “If a true word were to leap out of his mouth he would explode.” Dershowitz eschews direct personal attacks only to ascribe his jibes to others. “Many people have thought he was unstable … he is like a child … he makes up facts.”
But beneath the vitriol lie many vital issues: namely Israel, Palestine, human rights in the Middle East, anti-semitism, academic freedom and intellectual honesty. Not to mention the scope for discussing these subjects in the United States, Israel’s greatest ally, where the parameters for debate are relatively narrow compared with the rest of the western world. “The atmosphere for publishing critical stuff on Israel here is very intimidating,” says Colin Robinson, who as publisher of the New Press initially intended to publish Finkelstein’s book.
Finkelstein billed his book as “an exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict,” but essentially it is an attack on Dershowitz in general and his bestselling book, The Case for Israel, in particular, which Finkelstein describes as “among the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
This is fighting talk. But then both of these writers come to this subject and each other with some form.
Finkelstein is best known for his book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering. The book, serialised in the Guardian, argued that the Holocaust should not be treated as a sacred event to be exploited by a huge “memory industry” but understood as one of many genocides. Translated into 17 languages, it drew widespread criticism from many Jews for playing to an anti-semitic gallery in both its tone and tenor. It is “filled with precisely the kind of shrill hyperbole that Finkelstein rightly deplores in much of the current media hype over the Holocaust”, wrote historian Omer Bartov, who holds a chair at Brown university. “It is brimming with the same indifference to historical facts, inner contradictions, strident politics and dubious contextualisations.” Other experts believe he has a point.
Two emails from Beshara Doumani
June 28, 2005
I want to alert you to a disturbing development on the academic freedom front: It is possible that the University of California Press might not, after all, publish the long-awaited book by Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. The reason is that UC Press, under pressure from outside political forces as well as pressure from inside the UC administration, has asked Norman Finkelstein to make further changes despite and in violation of an earlier commitment to publish the final galleys without any further changes.
This commitment came after a very long and tortuous editing process during which Norman has bent over backwards in accommodating queries by editors, reviewers, and several (nine is the figure I heard) libel lawyers that UC Press consulted. As the article by Jon Wiener that appears in the current issue of the Nation magazine shows, the book has received excellent reviews by eminent scholars and has been cleared by several lawyers. The new demands seem to be the result not of scholarly concerns, but of intensive lobbying by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard professor and author of the book The Case for Israel, which Norman tears apart by showing that every substantive claim the book makes is false. Norman also makes a strong case that Dershowitz is a plagiarist.
My understanding is that the core of the new demands by UC Press is the deletion of any references to plagiarism on the part of Alan Dershowitz, primarily in order to avoid being sued. That is a dangerous abdication of the right of academic freedom and the consequences go well beyond Norman Finkelstein and his book. If the heavy handed tactics succeed in muzzling UC Press and Norman Finkelstein, university presses in general will become very wary of publishing any book critical of Israeli policies or of the apologists for these policies, of which Dershowitz is a prime example. The capitulation of the President and Provost of Columbia University when it comes to what ME professors can teach now may have its publication equivalent.
There is no doubt in my mind that Norman’s book would have been published by now if the normal procedures of peer review were followed. The folks at UC Press, if left alone to do their work freely, would have seen this book through. But peer review procedures and academic freedom do not always apply when it comes to critical academic works about Israel. What we have before us here is a naked in-your-face attempt to exercise political muscle in support of bankrupt intellectual arguments.
The article by Jon Wiener was written before these new developments, hence the assumption that the book will be published in its current form. I should also note that despite claims to the contrary, the letters sent by Dershowitz and his lawyers unequivocally aim at suppressing the publication of the book.
It is ironic that when Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, was asked to intervene on behalf of Dershowitz and prevent the publication of this book, his office replied that it cannot do so, for this is a clear case of academic freedom. I think it is very important that UC Press and the UC administration and lawyers be reminded that this core principle is at stake and they should not allow outside pressures to dictate the political boundaries of what can or cannot be published.
Below is a link to yet another article on Norman’s book. This one is by Scott Jaschik, “First Amendment Furor,” and is available at the following link: http://insidehighered.com.
It includes a wonderful quote from Lynne Withey, editor of UC Press, contradicting Dershowitz’s claim that he has not tried to suppress the publication of the book and rejecting Dershowitz’s charge that it is anti-Semitic:
“But Lynne Withey, director of the University of California Press, said in an interview Friday that Dershowitz had tried to stop publication of the book. “He doesn’t want the book published,” Withey said, adding that it was “outrageous” for Dershowitz to charge the book with being anti-Semitic. “To say that the book is anti-Semitic is to say that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic,” she said.”
As I mentioned in my last email, the folks at UC Press, if left to their own devices, would have seen this book through. They have been sitting on a very hot seat ever since they “dared” to publish Norman Finkelstein’s book and few would trade places with them. The threat of lawsuits is real and the financial consequences can be severe. At the same time, the threat to academic freedom is also very real, as is the chilling effect of scare tactics on honest and reasoned discussions of Middle East issues in this country. It is vitally important for the UC administration and UC Press to muster the political will and allocate the resources to defend the principle of academic freedom and fulfill their already agreed on agreement with Norman Finkelstein. If they do, I expect that they will receive strong support from the academic community and from the informed public.
Alan Dershowitz is on the defensive over his research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Jon Wiener, The Nation, JUNE 23, 2005
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.)