Tag Archives: antisemitism

Norman Finkelstein booted, again

Norman Finkelstein may be a curmudgeon who can barely contain his contempt for institutions he feels have violated the public trust. But look past the attitude and sometimes poor choices (which, after all, Finkelstein’s nemesis Dershowitz has in spades) and he’s an excellent, even obsessively detailed scholar, and certainly no anti-Semite. And he’s fundamentally morally right. We Jews especially should be outraged.

Finkelstein is someone possessed with the intense and justified anger of a son of concentration camp survivors who saw his parents’ devastating experiences exploited while they received little support. He rails against not just the financial but also the ideological exploitation of the Holocaust. And I think he has the rage of disappointment of the loyal Jewish son who believed all the words about all Jews working to stop injustice, and discovered they weren’t true.

(Many of his charges are by now well-documented by numerous scholars and accounts, but it goes so far against the  cinematic swelling violin background music of our favorite Holocaust narratives, that we still can’t even imagine elderly Israeli Holocaust survivors and their families protesting in the streets because they are living in poverty, while prominent lawyers and various advocacy organizations pocket millions and Israel continues to take Palestinian land while crying anti-Semitism every time someone says “No!”. And so Finkelstein becomes the target of our collective discomfort. He’s essentially a whisteblower for corrupt Jewish organizations and it’s no wonder that many of us, in the Jewish community and beyond, don’t want to listen. To be fair, it’s also true that he doesn’t seem concerned about getting more people to listen.)

Finkelstein lost tenure at DePaul. He most recently got disinvited by the Greens in Germany. And this morning, word that the global shunning continues in Chicago, where event organizers report that since he’s not allowed to speak at DePaul (part of his severance agreement-amazingly), they found, and then just lost, an alternative venue:

I’ve been very involved in organizing Norman Finkelstein’s April midwest tour, which will include Purdue, Beloit, Michigan State, and Chicago events (DePaul, Northwestern, UofC). Unfortunately, today I received this news from our friends and partners at DePaul:

As you know, former professor and academic Norman G. Finkelstein is scheduled to speak in Chicago on Friday, April 16th. SJP DePaul and friends have been working diligently for this event, from securing a venue, booking his flight and hotel, and fundraising from scratch to make this event happen successfully. Everything was finally coming together, and we were all excited. Unfortunately, today we received horrible news. The event coordinator received the following email from the venue we had secured for the event:

“Good morning Shirien,

We had a Parish council meeting this past week, I notify everyone on the up coming events that are held at our church, and of course, your event was one of the topics

A few of our board members are attorneys and they are the ones that look into almost everything from the individuals that rent the gym out and if they are covered insurance wise.

they looked deeper into the Professor that will be speaking at our church and they insisted that we couldn’t be affiliated with the ideologies of Mr. Norman Finkelstein so I am sorry to say that the church is going to have to cancel and will not be able to rent the gym the night of April the 16th 2010

Please again I am very sorry for the inconvenience.”

Write a nice note to St. George Greek Orthodox Church to let them know Finkelstein should speak:

Deno Diamantakos
DDiamantakos@tempel.com

And if you have an alternative venue idea for April 16 in Chicago, contact organizer shiriendamra@gmail.com

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The chill of academic censure on the sunny West coast

William Robinson is a professor of Sociology and Global Studies at UC Santa Barbara.   This attempted case of academic censure allegedly revolves around an email Robinson forwarded to his class containing an editorial (by a Jewish journalist)  “condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza as well as juxtaposed images of Nazi atrocities with congruent images of Israeli atrocities against Palestinians.”   This was an optional reading for the class and was “intended to spark conversation by relating contemporary events to conceptual ideas discussed in class. “

The Anti-Defemation League wrote Robinson, who is Jewish, a letter a week later, charging him with anti-Semitism as well as other (spurious) alleged violations.   A week after this two students in his class had filed complaints against him (according to the the UCSB Academic Senate Charges officer ) The complaints? 1) critique of Israel is evidence of anti-Semitism and 2) the Israeli-Palestinian issue should not be discussed in a class on Globalization. I kid you not.  One of the students, no surprise here, is a graduate of StandWithUs‘ Emerson Fellowship program, which trains students in campuses in “response techniques” to anti-Israel efforts on campus.  Although this group has the free speech right to say pretty much whatever it wants, its main goal, is in fact, to limit the free speech of those who do not hold the party line on all things Israel.

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First Employee at Yad Vashem fired for voicing the wrong kind of political views.

Former Israeli combatant Itamar Shapira was recently fired for mentioning the 1948 massacre in the village of Deir Yassin, the ruins of which are visible from Israel’s official Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem.

Yad Vashem talks about the Holocaust survivors’ arrival in Israel and about creating a refuge here for the world’s Jews. I said there were people who lived on this land and mentioned that there are other traumas that provide other nations with motivation ….

The Holocaust moved us to establish a Jewish state and the Palestinian nation’s trauma is moving it to seek self-determination, identity, land and dignity, just as Zionism sought these things

A Yad Vashem official astonishingly claimed that the institution “objects” to any political use of the Holocaust. If I may be so bold, I could reframe this to say that Yad Vashem objects to any political use that is not in service to the interests of the state of Israel. (Please refer to the stream of  foreign dignitaries that flow through  Yad Vashem in a “must do” ceremony that is designed to represent the absolute evil that was done in the Holocaust [no argument here], and the absolute incomparability of this terrible event to anything else in history). Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, has written extensively and controversially (a good thing) about this in his book. The Holocaust Industry: reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering”.

In this vein, Shapira said that:

Yad Vashem chooses to examine only some of the events that took place in the War of Indpendence. “It is being hypocritical. I only tried to expose the visitors to the facts, not to political conclusions. If Yad Vashem chooses to ignore the facts, for example the massacre at Dir Yassin, or the Nakba… it means that it’s afraid of something and that its historic approach is flawed.

The “Jewish Conspiracy” behind the Durban Review Conference

Michael Jordan of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has an interesting piece today about the hesitance of the UN High Commissioner’s Office to actually name the groups behind the campaign to marginalize the Durban Review Conference. Jordan writes:

It’s no secret who was behind the effort to discredit the 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva.

For nearly a year before the anti-racism confab, Jewish and pro-Israel groups lobbied hard to get Western countries to boycott the gathering, which they said was certain to treat Israel unfairly, just as the first Durban conference had done in 2001.

But why, when pressed, do UN officials give such vague answers?

This time, however, the Jews actually did conspire, albeit openly, to sabotage the conference.

…But for the most part, Durban II’s organizers and participants did not want to point the finger at the Jews for the anti-Durban effort for fear of being labeled anti-Semites.

“I can’t tell you exactly who the lobby is,” Pillay said in a March 12 interview with Australia’s ABC.net. “I can just pick out that it seems to be one source putting out this wrong information and labeling this review conference as ‘hate fest.’ ”

In an earlier piece, Jordan reports a story that illustrates exactly the impossible dynamic faced by the UN office, and how, like a powerless female character in a film who threatens to yell ‘rape’ if someone gets too close, some Jewish groups are only too happy to cry ‘anti-Semite’ if you get too close. In some ways, its the nuclear option for powerless people. (Worse, as I have amply documented, these Jewish/Israel lobby groups sponsored a range of sessions demonizing and attacking the UN, Arabs, Muslims, Iran and Palestinians, all with Orwellian titles about fighting bigotry and anti-Semitism.)

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Countering Palestinian/Nazi analogy and Never again, for all

A must-read for fighting back- Moshe Yaroni watched Alan Dershowitz’s shameful association of Palestinians with Nazis and deconstructs the arguments:

Let’s be clear about Hajj Amin: he was a venomous anti-Semite, and his hatred eclipsed the bounds of the Palestinian national struggle. There is no disputing that he worked with the Nazis and that he espoused murderous hatred of Jews, not just Zionism. But such diverse scholars as Zvi Elpeleg, Idith Zertal and Peter Novick have all concluded that his actual role in Nazi plans was insiginificant and that, as Zertal put it, “…in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader.”

Meanwhile, Sol Salbe’s Middle East News Service has translated from its original Hebrew this article about Jewish suffering and the Holocaust. Salbe writes as a preface:

Yediot Acharonot columnist Ariana Melamed’s comments are not particularly original. Others have observed the Israeli attitude to other peoples’ suffering summed up in the saying “after what they have done to us…”. But not only does Melamed puts it better than anyone else that I have read, she does bring it up to date. As the UN Conference on Racism is about to wind down, it is important to remember that the “never again” lesson need to be applied universally and that the ethos of victimhood exempts no one from doing the right thing.

Hebrew original: http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3703925,00.html

As victims, we’re allowed

Ariana Melamed

Mistakenly, we continue to believe that being historical victims completely frees us of the need to develop solidarity with humanity and of the duty to consecrate the living, not only the dead.

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Pt. II Dershowitz et al, “The worst two hours of my life.”

That’s what a Palestinian friend from the West Bank said after what was at times a hateful, nasty 2-hour long harangue by Anne Bayefsky, Jon Voight, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Natan Sharansky and Shelby Steele. “I just listened to 2 hours of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims fueled by racism and hate,” said my clearly shaken friend.

I already posted some choice quotes by Jon-the-new-Holocaust-Voight. The tour de force of the session, ostensibly on anti-semitism but really promoting anti-Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hate, was Alan Dershowitz. (Although conservative African American scholar Shelby Steele, who gets plenty of applause from a room  filled with white people, reaches a whole new depth in his theory about the end of white supremacy and the deep shame of people of color regarding their own inadequacies.)

Dershowitz is the schoolyard bully all grown-up, very smart and even angrier. Watching him, you feel like he might explode. Like all good demagogues, he knows how to whip up an audience at the most nasty applause lines. I admit it. I’m scared of him.

In the age of Obama and Iraq war exhaustion, the War on Terror clearly no longer provides the right wing Israel lobby with the umph it needs to delegitimize Palestinian claims for justice or, frankly, simple human decency. Here, Dershowitz launches a new frame. Netanyahu et al have been pushing the Hitler/Ahmedinejad comparison for some time now. But this is the first time I’ve heard such a sweeping condemnation of Palestinians (with a few exceptions of course, because Dersh “doesn’t like to generalize”) as Nazis. Excerpts from video above:

“Painful truths about the Holocaust today are being suppressed by college campuses, they’re being suppressed wherever the Palestinian conflict is being discussed. My painful job today is to talk about one of those very difficult historical truths that many would prefer to see ignored..

The terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy is that there is a direct unbroken line between Hitler and [the anti-semitic Palestinian Mufti} Husseini  on the one hand, and today Hamas and radical Islamic Jihadists on the other hand. They are the heirs of Hitler. Ahmedinejad their spoonsor is the heir of Hitler. Those who are complicit in that evil are complicit in the evil of  Nazism. Nazism has not disappeared from the world today. It has the same genocidal goals….

Woe unto any of you out there who support Hamas. You are supporting Hitler’s heirs. Whether you consider yourself a leftist or a centrist, you are complicit in the worst evil of the twentieth century. And there is no way of breaking that bond. As long as Hamas maintains its genocidal attitudes towards the Jewish people…

This conference is a hate fest. Like Nuremberg was a hate fest…

Durban I traces its roots to Nuremberg. It traces its roots to the Nazi-Husseini alliance.

There is a lot to say about his line of reasoning. In future posts.

Rabbis/profs and AIPAC say campus anti-Semitism hysteria overblown

On August 22, LA’s Jewish Journal front page featured Brad Greenberg’s re-hashing of old charges of anti-Semitism on the campus of UC Irvine. (We’ve covered some of the ongoing controversy here.)

It begins by showcasing how pro-Israel students recently countered Palestinian Awareness week. Their answer, iFest, included a chance to win an ipod for students willing to memorize a list of Israeli accomplishments. That one undoubtedly well-intentioned organizer repeats the same old racist trope about how Israelis made the desert bloom (because the “primitive Arabs” just couldn’t figure out how to do anything beyond rubbing stones together) beautifully illustrates the complex layers of deeply embedded racism that get lost in the hysteria-mongering:

“I see a desert turned into an oasis, not only culturally or economically or politically but literally,” said Zack Sher, a self-described “Larry David, curly hair, matzah ball soup on the weekend kind of Jew,” who was promoting his spiritual homeland from inside a pink gorilla suit. “This is our chance to give Israel some positive visibility.”

So this week, 5 Jewish  UCLA professors and rabbis wrote to the Jewish Journal to say, “Enough already!”

It is unfortunate that The Jewish Journal would choose to run as its cover story two weeks ago an article by Brad Greenberg that preys on the deep and recurrent fears of some in our community of a rampant anti-Semitism on our college campuses (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

There was nothing newsworthy about the article, no recent event or episode to prompt it. The episodes and anecdotes recounted in the story were months and, in most cases, years old — and have been amply rehashed in the Jewish press.

Indeed, the chief novelty that we discerned in Mr. Greenberg’s article was his willingness to report that “the amount of anti-Israel activity on campus is so negligible that it is almost impossible for students to find unless they are looking on all but maybe three campuses a year” —and this from the director of student programs at AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], an organization that is usually not deemed to be slack in defending Israel.