Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Anti-Semitism and the Finkelstein Tenure Case

Dan Drezner put up a really interesting post on an e-mail he recieved in response to his post on DePaul's University's denial of tenure to political scientist Norman Finkelstein. Apparently, Finkelstein's not well known (I've never heard of him), and he's got a super thin record of scholarship, which would normally preclude the granting of tenure to a professor at a research university. Finkelstein's case is discussed at length in this article at Inside Higher Ed.

I'll say more about Finkelstein in a moment. But first, take a look at the letter Drezner received in response to his original Finkelstein post, which Drezner described as "a typical e-mail":

Anyone questioning the intellectual scholarship of Mr. Finkelstein really needs help. to simply say that he is accomplished does not do service to his record of superior scholarship which is there for everyone to see. Were he not a critic of Zionism he would be feted from on high for his academic achievements. I was not surprised that a Catholic Priest made a mealy mouth decision not to grant tenure on such a political decision and then lied in my opinion making matters even more suspicious by saying that ouside influence had no...who makes up these lies? Father H.'s phone lines are still blazing with threats from ADL Mr. D., Foxman, et.al. considering the Blackmail that Zionism has put on the Catholic Church for their so-called non assistance to the Jews in peril and their perceived coziness with the Nazis during the second W.W. However the Zionist have no quarter from which to truly attack Finkelstein on and they are now in helter skelter mode drunkenly flailing at any thing that Finkelsteins, ala J. Carter. Finally for the record and for sometime now ANTI-SEMITISM has not intimidated the investigators or human beings from observing what Israel is doing in Palestine and condemning them for what it is, genocide. a legitimate personage has "pulled the covers" off that cat(Zionism/Racism)and Zionist apologist are schreeeching to high heaven at being exposed. Dan's bullshit piece about Finkelstein is just another attempt at cover. he admits that he dosen't know what he's talking about when it comes to Finkelstein. I suspect that he really does but has no response to the truth thats printable. If he believed that Finkelstein got a raw deal then he should have stated that instead of listing all the negatives in his text about Finkelstein which makes Dan suspect to the reader. Israels murderous policy of theft of land,lies,targeted killings,walls, racist highways,killing of international observers,and unjust occupation against the Palestinian(short list) People is an international crime in the exact same way that the German Administration under Adolph Hitler and what he did to European Jewry was a crime. Liars such as Dershowitz and loonies such as David Horowitz only expose the Israeli desperate attempt to promote transparent false propaganda. The arrogance of how one should criticize newish people what words one can say and not say is a first in the history of mankind and will not stand. And now comes Dan, with a kinder gentler "objective" detachment The People of the world are united in their condemnation of Zionist blackmail by accusatory designation and use of the term anti-semitism to try and stop the debate concerning the Palestinian genocide committed by Israel since 1948 and continuing. The truth will be told whether Zionist like the way it is told to them or not. The world must unite to bring all the mass killers from the U.S. and Israel to the world court of Justice for their mortal sins against humanity.
That is one long anti-Semitic ramble. What prompts these kind of views is interesting, however. Drezner, in the original post, links to a New York Times review of Finkelstein's writings. Here's what the reviewer, Omer Bartov, notes about Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry, which is a book out to illustrate the "ideological representation of the Nazi Holocaust":

In order ''to truly learn from the Nazi holocaust,'' he asserts, ''its physical dimension must be reduced and its moral dimension expanded.'' Whatever that might mean, it comes as no surprise that his views about the origins, nature and implications of the genocide of the Jews are but a series of vague, undocumented and contradictory assertions. Thus, for instance, in one place he writes that the ''historical evidence for a murderous gentile impulse is nil,'' and rejects the notion that there might have been an ''abandonment of the Jews'' by the United States government. But in another place he charges that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ''mutes the Christian background to European anti-Semitism'' and ''downplays the discriminatory U.S. immigration quotas before the war,'' and then goes on to cite approvingly David S. Wyman's book, ''The Abandonment of the Jews.''

But what really interests Finkelstein is ''The Holocaust.'' The gist of his argument is simple: Had the Jews and the Zionists not had the Holocaust already, they would have had to invent it. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, this is precisely what they have done, in the form of ''The Holocaust,'' despite the distracting fact that, once upon a time, such an event actually took place. And why was ''The Holocaust'' fabricated? Because it legitimizes ''one of the world's most formidable military powers,'' Israel, allowing it to ''cast itself as a 'victim' state,'' and because it provides ''the most successful ethnic group in the United States,'' the Jews, with ''immunity to criticism,'' leading to ''the moral corruptions that typically attend'' such immunity.
The Drezner post containing the anti-Semitic e-mail is entitled "The Massive Disincentive to Blog About Israel/Palestine." I left a comment, however, arguing the exact opposite:

I would think that e-mails like this one, particularly the views represented by the writer, would be all the more reason to blog about the Israeli/Palestine conflict -- especially for a professor of international politics!
I also linked to the recent Commentary article by Hillel Halkin, "If Israel Ceased to Exist," summarizing:

It's not just the regional interstate threat to the survival of the Israeli state, the article argues, but the undeniable demographics leading to a collapse of Zionist ideology (combined with the indifference of the global and especially American Jewish Diaspora to the original raison d’etre of the Jewish homeland).
As for Finkelstein, Drezner suggests DePaul could have easily denied him tenure on academic record alone -- he got a "raw deal" -- and that the case raises enormous questions of academic freedom. I agree. Yet, what is fascinating is the kind of views a case like this elicits. I've always felt a deep sense of justice in Israel's right to exist. So when I read stuff like this I'm flabbergasted. It's an interesting element of the wild west of the blogosphere, but it still takes some getting used to.

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