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Q&A: Norman Finkelstein

The intellectual pariah, author of two new books, on Noam Chomsky, BDS, the Holocaust, and Whitney Houston

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Norman Finkelstein at Coney Island. (Jeremy Liebman)

For three decades, Norman Finkelstein has been the American Jewish community’s problem-child—denounced as a hysteric, a marginal ideologue, and a self-hating Jew. Selfless and vain, highly emotional—sometimes hysterical—in tone yet relentlessly logical in his arguments, he is now an academic with a doctorate from Princeton whose attacks on “the Holocaust Industry” and public cheerleading for Hezbollah have rendered him so toxic that he can’t obtain even the lowliest adjunct teaching position at any community college in America.

Yet, like it or not, Finkelstein’s influence on public debate is by now undeniable, with his once-radical ideas having been embraced throughout the Jewish community, from his debunking of the idea of Israel as “a land without a people” and his diagnosis of a strain of American Jewish Holocaust obsession to his assertions of the immorality of the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

On the eve of the publication of two new books—Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance With Israel Is Coming to an End and What Gandhi Says About Nonviolence, Resistance, and Courage—I made a pair of unlikely pilgrimages to Finkelstein’s book-lined one-bedroom apartment on Ocean Parkway. Located smack in the middle of the most densely populated Jewish ZIP code in America, the place where Finkelstein spends his days is, as he is quick to point out, quite different from the fancy suburban abodes occupied by critics like Alan Dershowitz, who, he says, claim to love Jews but “live among the goyim.”

Finkelstein is a martyr of a particular type: a man who sets himself on fire at a dinner party and wonders why no one offers him a glass of water. In the course of our conversations, we spoke about the life of Gandhi, Finkelstein’s Holocaust survivor parents, his mentor Noam Chomsky, and the idiocy of conspiracy theorists who suggest that a small group of neo-conservative Jews manipulates American foreign policy in favor of Israel. We also discussed his fixation on Jeffrey Goldberg (which I expected) and his love for the music of Pete Seeger (also expected) and Whitney Houston (not expected at all). Where Houston went from manicured black pop queen to foul-mouthed reality-show subject, Finkelstein’s engagements with the public have been consistent in their marginality. Still, the comparison is instructive, save for the fact that Finkelstein’s own drive toward pariah-dom may have finally bottomed out.

What’s left is a difficult and contradictory human being whose personal history and distinctive modes of argument have confined him to a small apartment in the heart of a community to which he professes to have no attachment whatsoever. But to dismiss him, professionally or personally, as “damaged goods” begs the question of who, exactly, made him this way. After reading over the transcripts of our conversations, I realized that his disavowal of any attachment to the Jewish community that rejected and stigmatized his survivor parents may let both Finkelstein and his critics off too easily.

What follows is an edited version of portions of our conversations.


How do you know Noam Chomsky?

That’s an interesting story, which tells you something about Professor Chomsky as a person. I don’t like to put him on a pedestal, because, you know, I’ve known him for more than a quarter of a century, and I was very close with his wife, closer than with Professor Chomsky. Because Professor Chomsky is in the cerebral world, and [his wife, the linguist] Carol [Schatz], who is brilliant, was also down to earth. We could talk bullshit. I went shopping with her, we would talk about prices in the supermarket, and she took out her coupons at the cash register.

Chomsky has his flaws, but the virtues are staggering. It’s not just that he made these linguistic discoveries; it’s the thousands of graduate students that he trained. He created physically a field. And you know, I travel a lot, I tell you every time everywhere I go, at least two people will say, “I read a book by Chomsky, and it changed my life.” But he has his flaws, like everybody else.

What are Chomsky’s biggest flaws?

I’m never going to say. Because Chomsky’s biggest virtue, you know what it is? Aside from his staggering intellect and absolute faithfulness, Professor Chomsky never betrayed a friend. He will defend them even though inside he knows that they’re completely wrong.

But don’t those virtues of friendship and faithfulness come into conflict with the truth?

I know that! I see that! But he cares very deeply about the facts. Let me tell you a story. I worked for a radical newspaper, The Guardian. A modest paper, you never heard of it. I remember we were sitting in a room, having an editorial meeting, and at that time there were two Maoist factions—it’s laughable now—the October League and the Revolutionary Communist Party. The Guardian was pro-the October League, and we were debating whether we should increase the numbers of people who attended the October League rallies and decrease the number of people who attended Revolutionary Communist rallies in our stories. And I’m thinking to myself, “Wait a minute, there’s a problem here. Shouldn’t we be telling the truth?” And you know, that was the difference with Chomsky. It wasn’t enough to say that something was bourgeois propaganda or Zionist propaganda—no, you had to prove it.

So, how did I meet him? I had been a Maoist, and then when the Gang of Four was overthrown I was completely distraught. I was bedridden for three weeks, it was a very painful experience for me. Not only because I had been wrong, but because I felt really embarrassed that I had been lecturing and pontificating with such self-confidence.

Then in ’82, almost 30 years ago now, I got involved with the Israel-Palestine conflict, and then Israel and Lebanon, on June 6, 1982. I belonged to a little group, and they were always arguing about Zionism, and I didn’t want to hear about ism’s anymore. So, I refused to take a position on Zionism. And then I decided, “OK, Norm, get intellectually serious.” I sat down and started to read about the subject. Eventually it became my doctoral dissertation at Princeton.

At the very last minute, when I was just about finished with the research phase and I was about to go on to the writing phase of the dissertation, I walked into Harper and Row Bookstore, and there was this book called From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters, and it said that it was going to change the history of the conflict. Everybody on the left like Professor [Edward] Said, they said, “Ahh, Zionist propaganda. Why even bother?”

Well, I heard that line before. If anybody criticized China, they said, “Bourgeois propaganda.” And I said, “I’m not going to be taken for a fool a second time. If it’s true, it’s true, and I’m out of here.” Because I was so devastated by what happened in China. The worst part of it was the personal humiliation. I was not going to be a fool again, you know?

So, when the book came out, I went at it. It was Captain Ahab and Moby-Dick. I went down to the New York Public Library, and they had a special section at that time where they kept all the League of Nation and Permanent Mandate Commission reports on Palestine, and I went through everything. The core of the book was chapter 13, the demographic study, and in the back were the tables that corresponded with the text. I would come home from work each night, lie down on my bed, and go through the numbers, I do everything with paper and pad, and I’m doing it and I’m doing it and I’m doing it. And then one night, it was 1:30 in the morning, I suddenly discovered the fraud, the fake numbers. I got goose pimples. I’ve discovered a fraud!

Continue reading: Intellectual honesty

I got up and, in that tiny little studio in Washington Heights, and I’m pacing back and forth, I did it! I did it! I couldn’t believe it. I was just a graduate student, I was working in a daycare center in Chelsea to make ends meet while writing my dissertation. And so I first went to one of the—now he’s turned out to be one of the leading computer scientists in the world, then he was the head of the theory section at Bell Labs, to make sure the math was right, and he confirmed it.

So, I wrote up my findings, and I sent it to 25 of the leading scholars in the world who are knowledgeable on the subject. Twenty-four never replied.

One Saturday morning, I get a phone call. I pick it up, and the person says, “Hello, my name is Professor Chomsky. I read what you wrote, and it sounds right to me.”

Sometimes I get angry at him, I do. But he changed my life. I don’t think he even knows today where I went to school. He never asked me. Now, part of it of course is Gulliver in Lilliput. From his height, he can’t see the difference. But part of it was, you had to say there was a genuine democratic impulse. I don’t care about your credentials, I don’t care about your pedigree, I don’t care about your letterhead, I don’t care about your publications, let me just read it! You would think he has better things to do with his mind than to sit down and go through land reform in one corner of Northeastern Brazil. And sometimes you think, was this a waste?

If he can lower himself to this kind of unglamorous detail-work, then you can, too?

The details are actually the most interesting, because that’s where you see all the lies.

Intellectuals on the left are every bit as dishonest as intellectuals on the right.

I’ve lived a good life, a blessed life. But as a matter of fact, I’ve been out of DePaul, it’s going on five years, right? There are a lot of academics who are politically sympathetic to me. Palestine’s not an unpopular cause anymore in academia. OK, so let’s ask the question: Has any professor worked to get me a job at any university? I want to be factual. Answer: No.

Has any professor worked to get me a guest lectureship for a year? Answer: No.

Has any professor worked to get me a lecture, even once? Answer: No.

That surprises me—

Let me finish. You were in graduate school, you remember the thing called a brown-bag lunch. Has one professor invited me for a brown bag lunch? Answer: No. We’re not even talking about cost.

You know, there are quite a few professors at Columbia who are pro-Palestinian. Has one of them invited me for anything? No.

The Nation magazine? Thirty years, they’ve let me have one letter in print. I find that funny.

What do you think of Paul Berman, who is in some ways your ideological and literary opposite, but who is also a public intellectual in the old-school sense, without a tenured academic position. Do you feel any affinity with him?

Look, I’ve read his stuff, so I’m not speaking from ignorance. There’s a whole tradition on the left that basically goes back to Trotsky, who was a brilliant political actor and also was a brilliant political writer. And so there’s this whole tradition—I’ll speak now of the American left, of people who are good writers and also want to write about politics. But they don’t know anything about politics.

OK, this tradition had people who weren’t terrible, like Irving Howe, who knew literature, and knew something about politics because he grew up in the ’30s, during the Depression. In more recent years, it’s people who know nothing, like George Packer. He went to Yale, he got a degree in English, and so he thinks he’s qualified to write about politics. OK, it’s not badly written, but he doesn’t know anything about Iraq.

I know it sounds odd, but a lot of politics is having good political instincts. Some people have it, some don’t. Chomsky has it. Trotsky of course had it. But of course you have to be deeply immersed in the subject matter. They’re not interested in the subject matter, they’re interested in a clever turn of phrase. Their model was someone like Christopher Hitchens, whose whole art was: You take three little arcane facts and spin a whole article or essay around it. He’d start an essay on Pakistan by saying, “Oh, Pakistan literally means LAND OF THE PURE!” And you’d think, Oh, he really knows something about Pakistan!

So, you come to Paul Berman, who writes Terror and Liberalism. He finds in the street two pirated volumes of [Sayyid] Qutb, and suddenly he becomes an expert on Islamic texts. Trotsky wrote Literature and Revolution when he was in the iron cart, going from front to front in the Russian civil war. Berman was walking along Atlantic Avenue and saw two pirated editions, and now he’s an expert in Qutb, whose collected works comes to 40 volumes, if memory serves. It’s just so silly. It’s so unserious.

You obviously spent a lot of forensic energy thinking about Jeffrey Goldberg in your new book. Is it your opinion that he acts as a conscious agent of Israeli propaganda campaigns, or do you think that he believes what he writes?

Goldberg is just like Packer. He has some writing talent, but he knows nothing about politics, he has no clue. Just because he lived in Israel for a couple of years … well, there are a lot of people who live in the United States who have no idea what goes on here. He was a prison guard. That doesn’t make you an expert in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There’s no knowledge there.

So, maybe he goes to Israel and they tell him these things, they’re very good at PR, they’re very good at manipulating. He’s a fat kid, and I’m sure they’re excellent in making him feel important—we’re just telling you this, this is your little scoop. And he gets very excited, and he writes it down. Israel is attacking Iran? I think it’s ridiculous, but you have to have some political sense to know it’s ridiculous. No, I don’t think it’s going to happen because Israel went into Lebanon in 2006 and they didn’t kill one Hezbollah leader, so I don’t think they’re going to attack Iran.

Continue reading: ‘We are all Hezbollah.’

Goldberg doesn’t have a political bone in his body. Past the personal and the experiential, it’s just clichés. He knows the cliché about Jewish intoxication with strength, and he knows the cliché about Palestinians needing to embrace Gandhi, and then at the end, I love America, America is beautiful, La-la-la-la. It’s just one bundle of clichés after another because he doesn’t know anything.

He’s a very good writer. Do you envy that?

I’m not a good writer, and I don’t care. Unfortunately, after I left college, I didn’t have time much for literature. I wish I did. Most of the time I read documents, and that’s not going to help your writing. But I’m a very logical writer, and you can’t get out of me. Once I’ve nailed you, you’re finished.

I find a good deal of what you write to be well-researched and challenging. But then, when I was in Beirut, I turn on the TV and I see you on al-Manar, the Hezbollah TV channel. Why do you need that? If those are your friends, how can you expect people in the American Jewish community who might be sympathetic to your views to listen to you?

My views on the Israel-Palestine conflict are not particularly what you would call left-wing or radical. I say we should enforce the law and end the conflict on the basis of international law; that means a two-state settlement and a June ’67 border and a just resolution of the refugee question.

But on certain matters of principle, I’m not going to budge regardless of whether people like it or not. The Lebanese have the right to defend their sovereignty, and they have the right to use armed force to evict foreign occupiers. You’re not going to change my opinion about that because you happen not to like the Hezbollah.

Now, I don’t like what the Hezbollah says now about Syria, and I’ve said so publicly. But Hezbollah’s record on respecting international law is actually quite good. I think their record is a lot better than any other country I know, but of course maybe that’s because they’re the weaker party.

You submarined your tenure bid at DePaul in 2006 by standing up at a rally and announcing, “We are all Hezbollah.”

I woke up that morning, and the Israelis were bombing Lebanon to pieces. I grew up hearing that the crime of the world was being silent when my parents were penned up in the Warsaw Ghetto. So, I felt that it was important to stand up and speak out.

I thought your thesis about the Holocaust as an ideological construct invented by American Jews who didn’t actually suffer at the hands of the Nazis—and did little to stop the murder of European Jews from happening—was quite powerful. But again, the way you presented your ideas made them repulsive to the community you were attempting to reach.

Whenever somebody says to me, “I read the book,” my first comment is, “Did you laugh?” Because it was supposed to heap ridicule. It was a ridicule born of rage.

I lived with my parents’ suffering every day until the very end of their lives, because I took care of them the last seven years. And to see what became of that suffering just filled me with nausea. Both of my parents, as I suspect you know, before they were deported to the concentration camps they were in the Warsaw ghetto. When I was a kid, 13, 14 years old, I started to read books on the Nazi Holocaust, like The Wall by John Hershey and Mila 18. I remember reading these books and looking up at my parents, and I could not make the connection. The dead bodies piled in the streets; the bunkers. My parents were so ordinary! My mother wouldn’t wear any makeup, nothing. No hair coloring. Hand-me-down clothes from our cousin. My father was a factory worker, and he wore the flannel-checked shirt of a worker.

What they went through, the chasm is unbridgeable. My mother was in an assimilated Polish Jewish community. She used to go to concerts every night. She knew Latin very well, classical music very well, and then suddenly overnight, you were reduced to garbage. My parents were both very close to their families, and the whole family just disappeared.

Once in a while you ventured to ask a question, and the answer was, “Don’t talk to me about that.” I never asked my father one question about Auschwitz. I know it sounds hard to believe. Not one question. I couldn’t do it.

But isn’t that maybe one positive outcome of the “Holocaust industry” you decry, is that it has created a climate where people can talk more openly?

I don’t think it’s sensitized people to anything. I would much prefer the way it was before the Holocaust industry sprung up. You simply can’t imagine what it was like growing up the child of Holocaust survivors. The question that used to make my mother most indignant was “How did you survive?” Most of the time it was a very innocent question, but she felt the insinuation: If you survived, you must have been a Kapo, or else how did you survive? Either you did something dirty, or you went like sheep to the slaughter.

It was a source of embarrassment to be the child of Holocaust survivors. First of all, my parents were called the greenhorns, because their English was very heavily accented. And if you were the child of a Holocaust survivor, [the presumption was] your parents went like sheep to the ovens.

OK. So, your parents were horribly victimized twice, and then you became a victim of the double-trauma that they endured. Why is it good to stay trapped in that shame? An entire people suffered.

It was the private mourning of our family, and that’s it. Don’t claim my parents’ suffering. You have no idea what they went through. I get very angry frankly when I hear Jews talk about the Holocaust. What do you know? Really, what do you know? What did you experience? What right do you have to it?

It’s just so solipsistic, it’s so self-absorbed. You know, if you take Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” she wrote that in ’62 or ’63, and if you look at the bibliography, do you know how many books there were in English about the Nazi Holocaust? Two. There was [Raul] Hilberg’s book and one other. Nobody gave a shit about what happened until it became an industry.

Continue reading: Intellectual prophets

There’s a cocktail-party psychoanalysis of you that would say, “Look, this is a person who grew up in a home with two parents who suffered terribly. Their experience was ignored and rejected by a community that then laid claim to their personal suffering. So, the child of these two people is going to be very angry at the community that treated them this way.”

I don’t want to pretend to be a prophet or a saint. I’m very conscious of my limitations. I know my flaws. But I don’t like lying. So, when Dershowitz was going through thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of human rights reports just to show that Israeli violations of human rights didn’t happen—it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true. It’s just not true. That to me has nothing to do with personal animosity toward Jews. That has to do with a genuine—OK, it may sound pompous—but it’s a genuine revulsion at lies.

When it came to The Holocaust Industry, I had a personal stake, no question about it. I don’t make any pretense to objectivity there. I was the most educated in my family, not the smartest, but the most educated in the United States, so I was the representative fighting the battles. I knew all the main actors personally. That’s why it was so easy for me to take them apart in the book.

On the other hand, as Hilberg said, it was a good job. Because I sat down in the NYU library and got the microfiche of all the hearings in Congress on the Swiss banks. And as Hilberg said, he had thumbed through—that was the expression he used—all the same documents as Finkelstein. In fact, he said, Finkelstein’s conclusions are conservative.

I remember being shocked when I first realized that truth was a relatively insignificant value in public intellectual life, in academic life, in literary life. Ideology mattered more. Personal comfort mattered more. Careers mattered more.

One of my favorite little books is Julian Benda’s Treason of the Intellectuals, which is based in this binary notion that there are two competing sets of values in the world: fame and fortune on the one side, truth and justice on the other side. Benda’s main thesis is, the more vigorously you are committed to truth and justice, the less you’re going to see of fame and fortune. So, I don’t want to become too popular, because then I’m betraying truth and justice.

On the other hand, part of me says, “Well, Professor Chomsky is revered by huge masses of people.” I think they’re probably something on the order of 10,000 or 100,000 people who would say, “Reading Chomsky changed my life.” So, I’m always torn between the trajectory of Professor Chomsky, which has won him the adoration of masses of people, because they believe he’s a truth-teller, a prophet, and on the other hand, always remembering what Benda said, that the cleric who is popular with the layman is a traitor to his office.

But there’s something intensely annoying about prophets. They denounce the king, they denounce the people, they predict that some terrible consequence is going to occur because of a misbehavior, an injustice, and then they’re proven right. So, there’s a self-satisfaction in seeing dire predictions come true, in being the scourge of the people.

It’s often very difficult to separate ego from these sorts of things. Let’s say you write a book and you make a prediction that a war is going to comeand I’ve done that. Part of you wants the war to come because you want to be vindicated, otherwise you’re making foolish predictions. It’s a kind of intellectual egoism. On the other hand, that’s complete insanity, and so you always preface it by saying, “Well, I hope I’m wrong about this.” But of course part you says, “I hope I’m right,” so that everyone says, “Jeez, he’s a prophet.”

Michael Walzer—not in Exodus and Revolution but The Company of Critics—discusses at length the issue of prophets, and he starts out from the premise that a prophet has to be connected with his people. You can’t be a disconnected prophet, so you have to love your people at the same time that you’re criticizing them. This other kind of prophetic—I’m not sure if “badgering” is the right word—he says, is not really workable. If you want to go badger people, criticize people, it has to be based on a real connection with them.

But if a precondition for being a prophet is that you have to love your people, it doesn’t work for me. It’s not something that I relate to.

If you identify yourself as part of the groups that you are criticizing, that means that you have some skin in the game. Otherwise, it’s easy to say that any group of people is morally or intellectual corrupt, because all groups, as a rule, contain at least the seeds of corruption.

I think you can have a stake in principles of justice and become indignant when they are violated. I know that sounds very, as Walzer would call it, abstract and disconnected, but that’s the way I function.

And the other thing is that one has to be realistic about one’s capacities. I don’t have Professor Chomsky’s range, I don’t have his mental capacity, but what I do, I like to do well. I am a person of detail and of mastering the detail. I don’t feel quite the same compulsion when it comes to Israel-Palestine now, because there are so many people out there doing it.

But when I talked to Chomsky about his personal investment in the subjects he writes about, there was an interesting hesitation he had at the end of our conversation. He was like, “Yes, of course, upbringing, childhood, memories of my parents, they all play a role for me.”

But there’s a big difference there. Chomsky grew up in a fanatically Zionist home. You had to speak Hebrew in the house. Everything was Hebrew. You know how he met Carol? His father was Carol’s Hebrew teacher. Carol said, why did she marry Noam? Because he was the best Hebrew speaker in Philadelphia. There was one other rival, but he was the best. So, their home was saturated with Hebrew. My home was saturated with the Holocaust.

Continue reading: Public opinion and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

You mentioned the current conversation about Israel and Palestine on the left. There is something intensely off-putting for me about the BDS movement, which is the lack of honesty about what the leadership of that movement is trying to accomplish. If you’re going to hold Israel accountable to international law, you can’t at the same time be using these things tactically to bring about a result that is not in accordance with international law—which is to destroy the legal and physical integrity of an existing state. It’s intellectually dishonest, it’s a lie, and as a political tactic, it is stupid, because it treats people like dupes.

The points I would stress are, No. 1, among the rank and file of the movement, the groups on campuses, Students for Justice in Palestine, I do not think there is any cynicism. I want to be fair. These people, the basic point is: Well, we had a civil rights movement, we created one society for all people, shouldn’t that be the goal everywhere? It’s Rodney King writ large for Israel and Palestine. “Why can’t we all get along?”

The problem is, there are conflicting sets of principles. There’s the principle of equality before a single unitary secular state. Then there’s the second principle, and that’s the right of self-determination of peoples. And the right of self-determination of peoples is, “No, we don’t want to live together, and we want to live separately.”

So, how do you reconcile a commitment to the principle of equality before the law with the principle of self-determination of different peoples in different states? The literature will tie your mind into knots. Because the whole question of self-determination is, who is the people? Is it the people in Brooklyn? Is it the Jews in Brooklyn? Is it the Latinos in Brooklyn? So, it’s very complicated, but it’s clear that a bedrock of international law is the right of self-determination of peoples.

My own view is, you can’t claim as a foundation the principle of international law and what BDS calls a rights-based approach and deny the fundamental principle that under international law, Israel is a state. That’s a fact. There are no “ifs,” there are no “ands,” there are no “buts.”

When you look at the International Court of Justice opinion, the very last sentence of the opinion—just read the very last sentence. It says two states. I mean, you just can’t get around that. You can’t say you support a rights-based position and then you’re ignoring what the law says. This is the law! And this is what I find completely unacceptable.

There is what you call intellectual dishonesty—I’ll call it intellectual disingenuousness, because I prefer the euphemism—and then there’s the practical side. You’re not going to rope in the Jewish community and say that Israel does not have the right to exist as a state. It’s there, it’s a state.

The truth is that ordinary people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle have been used as pawns for a century or more in a political game, by their own leaders and by the leaders of bigger, more powerful countries.

But I don’t think it has to have an unpleasant ending. I think everyone can walk away feeling that somehow it was worth it, and that their dignity was validated.

Politics is not about abstract reason. Take the case of the U.S. and the Mexicans. The U.S. stole two thirds of Mexico. Thirty million Americans are of Mexican descent, which is about one tenth or more of the population. The Mexicans who come over here, they send over remittances to their families in Mexico, which basically allows the Mexican economy to survive. So, rationally speaking, we shouldn’t be talking about immigration reform, we should be talking about one state! So, why don’t we abolish the Mexican-American border?

That’s not politics. I might wish it were, but it’s not. And that’s where I found reading Gandhi really useful. For Gandhi, politics was, What is public opinion? What is possible where public opinion is now? Everything else, he said, “I’m not wasting my time on it.” When people would say, “Mr. Gandhi, you’re leading this campaign on alcoholism in India because you say alcoholism is a sin. But why don’t you also have campaigns against racetrack betting and the cinema?” because they thought the cinema was sinful.

Gandhi’s answer was very simple. He said, “Because most Indians agree that alcoholism is a problem. They don’t agree the other things are a problem, so there’s no point in it.”

You don’t give up your dreams, but dreams aren’t politics. Personal convictions are not politics. Personal convictions, if they become the subject of a group conviction, they become a cult. You know, Gandhi lived two lives. He was a leader of the Indian independence movement, but throughout his whole life he also belonged to an ashram. He didn’t allow pens, he didn’t allow underwear, he didn’t allow 10,000 things. He was the guru-leader, and he was very strict. He made you keep an account of every second of every day. And he read it. That’s an ashram. But that’s not politics, you know.

Politics is about where the public is at. And that to me is sensible. Everything else, I don’t want to talk about anymore.

Why do you like Whitney Houston?

There was something really so fragile about her even at the end of her days. I listened to the interview with Oprah, it really kind of touched me. She obviously really loved Bobby Brown. For all of her degeneration, she remained a very pure, innocent church girl.

Her daughter came home and said, “Mommy, he [Bobby Brown] spit on you,” and she said, “It’s all right, it’s all right.” And she said her daughter said, “No, it’s not all right.” And I thought, how could anyone spit on Whitney Houston?

Maybe she had to find the man who would spit on her.

Because she had so much power, she wanted somebody in charge. She liked that.

I wish she had done gospel. The thing about the songs she sang is they were so wretched.


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DSarna says:

No. Despite the unsupported assertions, Finklestein has left no mark. Finkelstein’s influence on public debate is not 
undeniable. In fact,  Only other self-hating Jews repeat his drivel and give ink to his nonsense. He s the minister preaching only to his ever declining choir of the already converted. He has been uniformly and hatefully wrong for decades. He is a fraud who will say and do anything to try and get attention. As you point out, his fraudulent so-called scholarship has made him anathema to even the most “liberal” champions of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, like Berkeley and Columbia. The sensible  world has long ago, and justifiably, consigned him to the dustbin of well-deserved obscurity. Why on earth Tablet, with a mission to educate Jews on ” Jewish news, ideas, and culture” feels the conceited “obligation” to disseminate  this claptrap to a Jewish audience never ceases to amaze me.
Tablet has the potential to be something. Why squander such an opportunity with a self-hating obsession to report all anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist doings, no hatter how trivial?You will only lose your audience, and end up consigned to the same deserved obscurity as he “enjoys,” all your contrary efforts notwithstanding.

    you are funny..his influence is huge. he is the only one really framing the debate with chomsky…at least in the world and now in america more and more every day.

      geoff kl says:

      and what is your evidence that his influence is huge?

      the far left is not a huge group.

        jakeladdydill says:

        The evidence is in the huge swing in American Jewish (majority progressive Democratic voters) public opinion of Israel’s foreign policy of belligerence since 1967’s euphoria and adrenaline fueled seizure of the West Bank, Golan Hts., and Sinai — against the warnings of Israel’s own Mossad, and IDF Intelligence estimates which predicted the insoluable blood-bath that has been the Godforsaken result; in fact specific concern was voiced at the highest levels in the weeks/months leading to that war of the immeasurably damaging consequences to Israeli security from seizing what was East Jerusalem.  

         Martin van Creveld – perhaps the world authority on the history up to the present of the formidable Israeli military capacity – said that Israel is now a more militarized, regimented & martial state than was Germany from 1871 through May, 1945

          geoff kl says:

          you are just parroting norm. polling shows no huge swing as you assert.

          in his recent bbc interview, norm…the great political scientist, cited anecdotal evidence as proof of his theory that the american jewish community no longer supports israel. he tried to cite one unamed poll…laughable.

          there was never, nor is there an “east jerusalem”. there is only a jerusalem

          and your and van creveld’s attempt to compare israel to nazi germany is despicable.   

          dolceliana says:

          Why is it despicable to COMPARE Israel? They dumped white phosphorus on Palestinians…

          tzur says:

          Actually, dolceliana, Israel did not “dump” phosphorus on Palestinians.  It used it in accordance with international law, and despite Hamas claims that organization could present no evidence to objective investigators of any deaths or extensive damage to civilian properties arising from the IDF use of phosphorus smoke screens.

          ricksonelliot says:

          Jews can never be allowed to have weapons,you people simply don’t have a sense of empathy for children or the restof human kind, all while being the most cowardly men to ever walk the earth.

          As general Patton observed after watching the newly liberated Jews swarm on German towns raping children and mothers and robbing anything of value ther slimy hands could find in the homes that were empty of men who were hundreds of miles away ” there are no people so cowardly in battle yet so cruel when in a position of power as the vile Jew”. George Patton in his diary describing the days after the liberation of the concentration camps

          tzur says:

          I would suggest to the Moderator that the posts by “ricksonelliot” add nothing to the discussion, are off-topic, irrational, and explicitly antisemitic.

          dolceliana says:

          Imagine tzur: the phosphorus falls on you and your family, and small children around you, burns and mutilates all of you, and someone sitting at his computer comments on it that it was done in accordance with the international law…..

          jakeladdydill says:

          “Israeli use of white phosphorus ‘undeniable’: Amnesty International” —

          International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative – White Phosphorous Munitions —

          Recently the U.S. accused the Taliban of using white phosphorus (WP) in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) [in violation of the Internation Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) ] in civilian areas in Afghanistan, as well as in mortar and rocket attacks against U.S. forces. …
          The CWC is an international treaty to which 188 states are party. The CWC regulates the use of chemicals and chemical precursors as weapons. To fall
          under the CWC’s regulations, WP munitions would need to fulfill two cumulative conditions. First, they would need to constitute chemicals or chemical precursors as defined in the CWC. Second, they would need to be used for a proscribed purpose, such as for use as a weapon in armed conflict. The
          Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) monitors implementation of the CWC.
          The OPCW’s spokesman has stated that the CWC does not prohibit the application of WP munitions when they are used to produce smoke or to camouflage movements.
          (excerpt from 2nd link)

          Van Creveld is the most respected Israeli (and Jewish) military historian and theorist. 

          But yes, you’re correct, it’s only when the Likudniks and right-wing Zionists compare their opponents to Nazis it’s ok. 

          Van Creveld is the most respected Israeli (and Jewish) military historian and theorist. 

          But yes, you’re correct, it’s only when the Likudniks and right-wing Zionists compare their opponents to Nazis it’s ok. 

          Van Creveld is the most respected Israeli (and Jewish) military historian and theorist. 

          But yes, you’re correct, it’s only when the Likudniks and right-wing Zionists compare their opponents to Nazis it’s ok. 

          In your dreams, my friend, in your dreams.

          If Martin van Creveld (?) said any such thing, he only demonstrates his profound ignorance of Israel or Germand 1871 through May 1945, or both. What a stupid statement.

          I have generally found, Brian, that pro-Palestinian types quite often distort their sources, truncate quotes to make them serve their own propaganda purposes (sometimes even reversing their meaning outright) and can even go so far as to invent quotes and provide spurious statistics not to be found in the source cited. Some examples of this can even be found dissected by me and exposed to the light of day on this very webpage in regard to shrill claims made by Finkelstein and his often purely antisemitic acolytes against Peters’ important book From Time Immemorial. They accuse her of precisely the tricks and lies that only they themselves use to defame and distort her. Below Grathi takes apart false claims about civilian deaths in the Gaza conflict of 2008/9 which Finkelstein adamantly distorts, like all pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist polemicists and even such NGOs that should know better but never do in regard to Israel as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. So your scepticism is richly justified.

          Since it is so a propos, I respond here as well to the false claims by earlier posters concerning the the IDF’s use of phosphorus in the Gaza conflict of 2008/9. There can be no doubt that terrorist groups and their leftist and far right sympathizers have fantasized all sorts of horrors which did not take place. Their loud outrage, put together with their silence or, on the part of Amnesty and HRW, their hardly heard formulaic and brief objections, regarding terrorist atrocities by Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups, Fatah, etc., speaks volumns about their actual debased morality and hypocrisy. The IDF in its final report on “The Operation in Gaza: 27 December 2008-18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, July 2009,” available online (Google that title), discusses the use of phosphorus weapons in its pages 145 to 152. It points out that such weapons are NOT illegal in international law, are used around the world, and Israel used them within the limits set by international law. No exploding munitions containing white phosphorus were used in built-up areas of the Gaza Strip or for anti-personnel purposes. They were used sparingly even aside from that, and no particular complaints were raised about them; nevertheless, after January 7th, as a precautionary measure all such use ceased. Smoke-screening projectiles using felt wedges dipped in white phosphorus were used to create smoke screens. Horror stories told about them and their alleged incendiary effects were belied by later video film showing the entirely undamaged places where they fell, and no actual victims of phosphorus burns (a very distinctive kind of injury) were shown or ever presented to international monitors even by the Hamas propagandists who made much of this and claimed that lots of children had been made victims. Amnesty Int’l and HRW were shown up, yet again, as untrustworthy sources in regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

        he is just nowadays the only one framing the debate with chomsky and beinart, he was on bbc hardtalk 2 weeks ago, last week in the economist, a film on him was shown for a year on aljazeera non stop, still showing today nonstop (the only channel described as news by hillary clinton). the far left has always pushed the agenda from vietnam to women’s rights, to anti slavery, civil rights. read your history books. remember these movements at the beginning, they were all described as marginal radical elements but happened to always be recognized as valid causes 10, 20 50 years later. only time is the 50 years when there will be two states living side by side or one state with rights for the minorities,, the finkelsteins you like to spit on will be remembered as heroes. just a question of time. mandela was seen as a criminal when sent to jail. 25 years later he was seen as a heroe. only time is needed.

    ricksonelliot says:

    So unless tablet continues ” the big lie” which insults one’s intelligence when access to historical fact is now available on line to all and cannot be filtered or controlled by a ethnic agenda you hate tablet.

julis123 says:

Why do you give him any space at all. His ideas are simply ridiculous and he contradicts himself in every paragraph. Goldberg lived in Israel and thinks that he knows about Israel. How many years did  Finklestein live in Israel? Zero. Hizbollah has a good record respecting international law. Hizbollah has done more damage to Lebanon than any other organization and is openly anti-semitic. Well what can you expect from someone who is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, the formerly great magazine that has deteriorated rapidly over the past 10 years.
What’s next and interview with Haniyeh straight from Gaza?

    I think the Foward got that one.   Wait, no, it was one of the high executives in HAMAS heirarchy. 

    However, out of that interview came the clear call that HAMAS will never make peace with Israel and accept the legitimacy of an independent Jewish state. 

Oudtshoorn says:

Impossible to understand why you give him space in Tablet.  If you’re trying to upset your readers, you’re succeeding with at least one.   I believe, and have aways thought, that Finkelstein is mentally unhinged.   His passionate hatred of everything about Israel, Jews and often his own family is truly frightening.   He was bedridden for three weeks because the Gang of Four was overthrown?   Well, he needs someone to take care of him, to give him care and love and zero publicity.

    dolceliana says:

    Oh MAN! You must be very very sick ! Finkelstein is mentally unhinged? WTH?   “His passionate hatred of  everything about Israel, Jews and often his own family is truly frightening. ” — only a mentally deranged individual can say such things  about Prof. Finkelstein.  I am shocked you actually know the alphabet.

    ricksonelliot says:

    Finklestein knows history will describe the holocaust story as a coordinated myth promulgated by Jews who knew they were pushing falsehoods,he’s protecting his legacy as a serious scholar

Rachel Golem says:

For seventy-five years, people like Dr. Finkelstein said that anything Arabs did was justified by the “The Evil Zionist Entity”. That’s why I endorse everything that Bashar Assad does!!!!

Royq says:

I want to read this thoroughly, but at the outset I would just note that a growing number of scholars in linguistics  today believe that Chomsky’s unchallenged status as guru has stifled progress in their field, and that some of his core ideas, revolutionary when first propounded, are in fact incorrect.  Even worse, his acolytes police the academy, scrupulously discouraging dissent in a manner that Finkelstein sees as unjust in his own case.

    Hershl says:

    Chomsky is increasingly being revealed to be an intellectual charlatan.

    No wonder that Finkelstein likes him.

    Chomsky’s linguistic theories are increasingly being revealed to be bunk.

    Dan Everett, author of Don’t sleep, there are snakes, spent considerable time exploring the language of the Piraha people of the Amazon. Their language demonstrates without any doubt that Chomsky’s ideas of universal grammar are bogus.

    For further information just read his article in Cultural Anthropology as well as the above mentioned book.

    Dr. Everett, an eminent linguist and anthropologist was just as surprised as anyone to discover that the emperor has no clothes, that Chomsky, the god of linguistics, is just flat out wrong in so many of his beliefs and theories.

    Finkelstein hangs around with intellectual frauds who scratch each other’s backs and who are the not taken seriously by anyone with even half a brain.

    Hephie says:

     Clearly written by a person 1) with a political agenda and 2) with no real knowledge of the field of linguistics or of the field’s fractious nature and lively debates. Syntactic Structures stands like a Principia Mathematica of the discipline–there is a before and an after. Is Chomsky a god? Of course not. Is he always right? Who cares? Newton dabbled in alchemy; Einstein didn’t believe in quantum mechanics.

    BTW: Love that ‘growing number’ Faux News style citation. Can you actually name one scholar?

      Natan79 says:

      “Syntactic Structures” is not science, it’s garbage. There are plenty of unsupported propositions based on Chomsky’s favorite phrase “It is obvious that” “Nobody can deny that…”, etc. That’s not science, it’s voodoo.

      Royq says:

      Oh, Hephie!  Where do we begin?

      If the field of linguistics is characterized by a fractious nature and lively debates, then you are affirming that Chomsky’s outsized stature is in fact the subject of debate, which is half of my point.   Now, is there an emerging consensus that his fundamental positions are correct, or, alternatively, is there a growing number of scholars who disagree with him?  Or is there a kind of stasis, with insufficient evidence on either side to draw any definitive conclusions?  Whatever the case, he commands too much veneration from adepts quick to try to snuff out heresy, a point you make eloquently if not wittingly.

      No, I’m not a scholar of linguistics, but I would assume that a prerequisite for attaining a degree is a basic command of language.  Or perhaps not.

      Russell and Whitehead is an interesting choice of comparison.  It is a book that is highly derivative of its antecedents (something Russell would freely admit), is widely cited without actually being read, given its promiscuous and opaque use of symbols, and which is, at best, a relic of a different era that has largely passed by, owing to the growing number of scholars who believe that it is largely a dead end.  In fact, it never really had any influence to speak of, except as a kind of white elephant.

      Newton didn’t dabble in alchemy; he was deeply invested in it.  Einstein didn’t disbelieve quantum mechanics, which, in any case is predictive without being explanatory.  He was resistant to the implications that some were quick to draw from it.

      It was awfully considerate, though, Hephie, in quoting Alexander Pope, to offer yourself up as precisely the kind of dilettante that he was lampooning.

        Hephie says:

         Oh royq! Where do we begin? You admit you really know nothing about the field and then go on fail to recognize a reference to Newton’s magnum opus. Well done! You follow this with a non-sequitur that debate within the field of linguistics means that Chomsky’s stature is debatable. It does not. Like him or not, Chomsky revolutionized the discipline. Of that there is absolutely no debate. You are clearly one of those whose limited intelligence needs to believe in unanimity and uniformity when genuine scholarship is debate. As a dabbler, you again quote that mysterious group of a ‘growing number of scholars’ without being able to name any. Really glad you read the popularizations at least.

        Thank you for playing.

          Royq says:

          Pleasure to see you cribbing my opening line, Hephie, but then we already knew you were good at mindlessly parroting other peoples views.

      Royq says:

      Now I realize that, in citing the Principia, you’re probably referring to Newton.  This suggests to me that, notwithstanding your posturing, you’re not a scholar of linguistics.  If you were, you wouldn’t have described Newton’s work as the Principia Mathematica, which is only part of its title, and which  is a name that would almost certainly have called to mind Bertrand Russell for anyone deeply immersed in the study of language, given the latter’s eminence as a philosopher in that subject.

      Newton and Chomsky? Not even close, for reasons that could not possibly be encapsulated in a facile treatment in this space.

      Stick to Nova, Hephie.

        Hephie says:

         Been a professor of linguistics for 20 years. You are clearly out of your depth–even with the title of Newton’s Magnum opus. You’re in a hole. Quit digging!

richardzchesnoff says:

The worst part of  David Samuel’s glow-job on Finkelstein (and Tablet’s publishing of  it as a cover story) was the  introduction in  which DS tells as that Finkelstein’s twisted thinking has been “embraced throughout the Jewish community”.
 Too bad Mr Samuel wasn’t around to interview the anti-Zionist Rabbi Elmer Berger who battled against the creation of the Jewish state , or better yet,  Gertrude Stein who compared French fascist leader Philippe Petain to George Washington and nominated Adolph Hitler for the 1938 Nobel Peace prize.

    Miha Ahronovitz says:

     I did not know Gertrude Stein nominated Adolf Hitler in 1938 for Nobel Prize for peace. Do you you realize if Ms. Stein would have had been successful,  the Holocaust would have had been avoided?

    See my article “If Hitler would have had repented” | Pictures from the invisible

      ricksonelliot says:

      Show me a link to a picture or video of just one gas chamber, I can give you a link to pics of the auchvits prisoner brothel,soccer pitch,orchestra,library,theatre, “….death camp my butt, all self serving myths to obscure the fact that Jews betrayed gem any and looted the country from within and were rightfully rounded up as enemies of the state that had close ties with Stalin communists.

wishnitz says:

I like The Tablet- you have certainly written about some very taboo and interesting subjects  but this lenghty interview with one of the most notorious antisemites in the world- in spite of him being Jewish!- belies your rationality. He likes Whitney Houston…..that is important? He loves Noam Chomsky (his soulmate in antisemitism), that makes him an influential voice?  And not a word how his parents were”marginalized”. Did people carry placards in front of their apartment,denouncing them as survivors? Did David Samuels ask one question why Norman Finkelstein thinks his parents were victimized in the US?And why should I believe him rather than Joan Peters,who, incidentally, started out as a Zionist skeptic? The fact is that Norman Finkelstein has a phobia about his Jewishness and this why he has, at every turn, tried to put the Jewish people in the dock. Thank God that he is about the loneliest voice amongst jews, but his voice is a godsend to antisemites. But don’t worry, Norman Finkelstein will be forgotten as soon as he stops talking and you stop interviewing him.

    Aren’t you missing a bingo game?

    Aren’t you missing a bingo game?

    Aren’t you missing a bingo game?

    Maybe you shouldn’t believe him, but Joan Peters’s book has been thoroughly debunked. No responsible historian takes it seriously; that Finkelstein was one of the first to investigate her claims doesn’t make him wrong.  I strongly support the state of Israel as a Jewish state.  But you still have to be honest about the situation: Peters was full of it and anyone who cites her is putting propaganda above truth.

      wishnitz says:

      You assert , without any backing, that “Peters was full of it”. Can you quote any serious , inmpartial, historian that espouses this view ? I read Peters’ book. She sure presents a well argued and compelling story.

        Well argued and compelling is not the same as accurate and factual.

        Well argued and compelling is not the same as accurate and factual.

        Well argued and compelling is not the same as accurate and factual.

        tzur says:

        The Finkelstein attack on the Peters book has been thoroughly debunked.  No responsible historian takes it seriously.  Finkelstein’s specific errors, non sequiturs and wilful oversights were surgically and minutely analyzed in Erich and Rael Jean Isaac, “Whose Palestine?” Commentary Magazine, July 1986, to devastating effect; Finkelstein wrote a long reply trying to defend his reputation in the “Letters” section of the October issue of Commentary, amending some points and rearguing others, and the errors, non sequiturs and wilful oversights of this response were in turn taken apart by the Isaacs in their own letter, which was as long as a proper article.  Moreover, while Finkelstein focussed on the demographic statistics (which he forgot to mention had been compiled and analyzed by Philip Hauser, the leading demographer and statistician of that generation, head of the American Statistical Association for some years, Acting Head of the US Census Bureau, etc. –although Peters started her “Acknowledgments” with “special thanks” to him for his work on the demographic aspects of her study, and Hauser contributed Appendix VI: Methodology, pp. 428-9, to the book), Peters dealt with a lot more Finkelstein could not even begin to attack, such as for example her history of Egyptian and Ottoman forced settlement of whole tribes and villages from elsewhere into the desolate Palestine region during the Nineteenth century, British Mandate Palestine Census results showing a lot of “Arabs” in Mandate Palestine came from Berber Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia, Kurdistan, etc., and in any case from neighbouring Arab countries, speaking their languages and dialects, etc., etc.  Moreover, Finkelstein omitted any discussion of the confirmatory and quite independent analysis of Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession (1982).  Peters’ book has been confirmed in all essential details, and none of its critics have been able to overturn them, as Daniel Pipes showed in his review of her book in Commentary, July 1984.

        For further demonstrations of the well-based historical aspects of Peters’ argument, see the first chapter of Avneri’s book, and also the eyewitness accounts of  European travellers in the region from the 17th to the 19th centuries, reproduced at and even more strikingly the report of a survey and census of the region in 1695 by Adrian Reland, reviewed and summarized at  Also see

          wishnitz says:

          Thank you, tzur, for putting the record straight. Unfortunately, for the virulent antisemites and those who wish for Israel’s destruction, nothing will ocnvince them. Thank you anyway.

          ricksonelliot says:

          Your “citations” are all by gatekeepers of the myth,lol

          KKRDB says:

          Would you also debunk the QUMRAN SCROLLS

        ricksonelliot says:

        Lol,are you serious? Do you also believe fragments,apples on the fence,the painted bird, and the laughably impossible claims long since debunked in Ellie wiesel’s almost comical eyewitness accounts?

      KKRDB says:

      You say:Maybe you shouldn’t believe him, but Joan Peters’s book has been thoroughly debunked.
      Says who? most probably only the Israel bashers and no doubt by
      the Fink & Chomsky who would jump at the chance too
      Do you also debunk Mark Twain who travelled extensively the whole area
      And its environs.

    Misterioso says:

    “[W] hy should I believe him rather than Joan Peters,who, incidentally, started out as a Zionist skeptic?”

    Dr. Porath,
    Israel’s leading demographic historian, called Peters’ book a “forgery…
    [that] was almost universally dismissed [in Israel] as sheer rubbish except
    maybe as a propaganda weapon.”(New
    York Times, Nov.28, 1985)


    Rabbi Arthur
    Herzberg, vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, agreed: “I think that she’s cooked
    the statistics…. The scholarship is phony and tendentious. I do not believe
    that she has read the Arabic sources that she quotes.”(ibid)


    ignored the population figures for Palestine carefully calculated by expert
    demographers during the 19th century as well as censuses taken by
    British officials during the British mandate. Many scholars
    are convinced Ms. Peters did not write the book herself, but served as a front
    for others whose motives are obvious.                                                               

      tzur says:

      Arthur Hertzberg is a fine man, but he is not a specialist in this subject, not a demographer nor statistician, and has slight knowledge of the historical issues, so citing him proves nothing except his own preconceptions.  

      Porath is not “Israel’s leading demographic historian.”  That much inflates his stature.  He is however a generally respected scholar.  Nevertheless, his comments on Peters, quoted above, shed no glory on him: they were highly exaggerated or rather simply unfactual in regard to other Israeli demographic and historical scholarship, and this just by itself tends to discredit the rest of his analysis.  Furthermore, as was pointed out in my earlier post, complaints that Peters’ demographic and statistical analysis were amateurish and grossly incorrect, even “fraudulent,” miss the fact, always ignored by critics and also by Porath, that they were produced by the leading demographic statistician of that generation, Phillip Hauser.  They were not poorly compiled, amateurish nor in violation of professional standards.  The resort to highly insulting ad hominem terminology, in addition, as is usual with such language, shows that Porath was highly passionate and not objective on the subject, but was also not able to justify his views in any properly measured and scholarly way; it tends to disqualify his whole discussion.  

      It should be added that Porath is well known to be strongly leftist and a post-Zionist himself, and his ideological views explicitly obtrude in his article on Peters, with ideological/historical red herrings introduced that have nothing to do with Peters as such.  Even his assessment of sources reflects this strong prejudice.  For example, he rejects and mocks a citation Peters makes to a Mandate period account of Arabs in Tel Aviv solely on the grounds that the author of this account is Zionist!  In any case, Porath’s analysis was taken apart and refuted in the same articles and letters by Daniel Pipes already cited in my earlier post, and in the same Letters section of Commentary Magazine, October 1986 issue, that dissected Finkelstein, also referred to in my earlier post, both by the Isaacs themselves and by other specialists who wrote letters on the subject.

      Avneri’s book The Claim of Dispossession, cited in my earlier post, represents far better the mainstream Israeli scholarly consensus, and it confirms Peters’ views.  It is accepted in Israel as an authoritative work on the subject.  Those few who dissent from it are all very far left themselves, and are known for their tendency to confuse their own passions with truth.  Another demographic historian of stature who has focused on these matters is Fred M. Gottheil.  He too entirely confirms Peters.  See his “The Smoking Gun: Arab Immigration into Palestine, 1922-1931,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2003, pp. 53-64, available on-line at  Gottheil points out in this article the tendentious simple-mindedness of those analyses that take British Mandate Palestine (and earlier Ottoman period) census figures as their final authority: the British Censuses themselves carried caveats stating that their figures for the Arab population and in-migration reflected only the officially registered Arab residents.  Thus by definition (and the Census caveats stated this explicitly) the official British figures could not take account of any illegal and unregistered in-migration.  Using them therefore to justify a claim that there was no significant illegal and unregistered Arab influx to British Mandate Palestine is an elementary, indeed a ludicrous “scholarly” non-sequitur.  This, however, is exactly what critics of Peters do, pretending to present exact figures on the resident Arab population that refute her analysis of significant unrecorded Arab in-migration, based on official British Mandate and earlier figures.  Gottheil shows just how laughable those anti-Peters’ analyses are.

      There are no scholars who claim that Peters did not write From Time Immemorial.  But this sort of claim shows exactly how reliable all the other comments by Misterioso are.

        Misterioso says:

        For the record, the total Arab immigration into
        Palestine between 1922 and 1945 amounted to only 40,500 people. (Edward
        Hagopian and A.B. Zahlan, “Palestine’s Arab Population: the Demography of
        the Palestinians,” Journal of
        Palestine Studies, III, 4, Summer, 1974)

        Daniel Pipes?  Please don’t  insult the intelligence of your fellow posters.

          tzur says:

          This is exactly the kind of “exact” figures contesting Peters’ own conclusions that Gottheil in 2003 definitively demonstrated were based on false, tendentiously unscholarly and even illogical foundations.  However, even these figures (covering let us remember, only 23 years) do not prove what Misterioso and his sources suppose — quite the contrary they disprove those suppositions and conform fairly well to Peters’ own arguments, even though we can be sure that the immigration from abroad was a systematic under-estimate, ignoring reasonable estimates of unrecorded immigration.  For in any case these figures as stated by Misterioso only relate to migration from other Muslim countries.  They do not add any reckoning for internal migration of Arabs from elsewhere in Mandate Palestine to Jewish-resident areas, the areas that later became Israel.  This internal migration was also a significant factor, with the rate of growth and resulting density of Arab population around Jewish populated areas far in excess of Arab growth and density in non-Jewish populated areas elsewhere in Mandate Palestine.  This can be shown from British census data itself.  

          In contrast, Peters, and Hauser himself, granted that we cannot know for certain the precise figures, but that all the best evidence, after carefully working through known birth-rates, mortality rates, and other factors of natural increase over the period 1893 to 1947, as distinct from the probable actual population figures (with the excess attributable to in-migration) both in Jewish areas and outside them in Mandate Palestine, indicated that the probable minimum Arab net in-migration into Jewish-resident areas of Mandate Palestine, both from abroad and from other areas of Mandate Palestine, over that 50-year period was roughly 168,000.  (So the figures of the sources cited by Misterioso apply to a different region than the one focused on by Peters, and do not disprove her figures at all.)  When one then calculates the natural increase of 168,000 over 50 years, conforming it to the natural increase of the rest of the Arab population in Mandate Palestine, one arrives at a considerably higher final figure of “Palestinians from time immemorial” in 1947 that were actually either newcomers themselves or their immediate descendants, within the Jewish-resident areas.  A very high percentage of the final Arab population that had settled around Jewish areas (and that ended up being incorporated into the new state) derived from those migrants.

          Misterioso sneers at Daniel Pipes.  We can thank him for that.  It is like a seal and confirmation of academic respectability.

          Misterioso says:


          Just so much pompous
          bafflegab.  In fact, apart from
          demolishing Peters’ basic thesis (i.e., that massive Arab immigration into
          Palestine took place during the British Mandate), the findings of Edward Hagopian
          and A.B. Zahlan quoted in my previous posting (i.e., there were only 40,500
          immigrants between 1922 and 1945 or a mere 1,760 per year) also confirm
          Finkelstein’s assertion that “Natural increase therefore accounts for all but
          (at most) 44,520 of the Arabs in Palestine in 1947.”

          This should come as no surprise given Peters’
          misrepresentation of demographers A.M. Carr-Saunders as well as Professor Kemal Karpat
          who declared Peters’ conclusions to be wrong and that she is also incorrect
          in asserting that the Ottoman district boundaries were the same as British
          Mandate district boundaries which she relies upon for analysis of population

          She also misrepresents official mandate
          documents, e.g., the 1933 Hope Simpson Report, the 1933 and 1935 Annual Report
          to the League of Nations, the 1938 Palestine Partition Commission Report, the
          1945-6 Anglo-American Survey of Palestine. 
          She even twists the writings of Mark Twain!!

           You dismiss criticism of Peters by Jewish
          Israel demographer, Professor Emeritus of Middle East history, Yehoshua
          Porath, of Hebrew University – an avid Zionist and Likud supporter – and Rabbi Arthur Herzberg,
          vice-president of the WJC, but accept the “scholarship” of Ms. Peters who has
          no academic qualifications whatsoever. 
          Indeed, “From Time Immemorial…”  was her first and last book – if she in fact
          wrote it.  Her previous writing
          experience was as the woman’s page writer for the Chicago Daily News.     

           I also find it revealing that Peters has not responded
          to Finkelstein’s critique or challenged him to a debate.  Then again, Peters has all but disappeared
          other than teaming up with American Evangelists, visiting the “Holy Land” and
          spewing forth even more pro-Israel hasbara.

          For those of you who wish to seriously pursue this
          subject I suggest you not only read Finkelstein’s article on Peters but also
          those of Professor Porath – “The precise demographic history of modern Palestine
          cannot be summed up briefly, but its main features are clear enough and they
          are very different from the fanciful description Mrs. Peters gives…. [S]he
          has apparently searched through documents for any statement to the effect that
          Arabs entered Palestine. But even if we put together all the cases she cites,
          one cannot escape the conclusion that most of the growth of the Palestinian
          Arab community resulted from a process of natural increase.” (“Mrs. Peters’
          Palestine” New York Review of Books, 16 January 1986.)  

          Also check out Dr. Bill Farrell’s detailed review in the
          Fall 1984 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies: “Joan Peters and the
          Perversion of History” – “After investigating Peters’ claims, this just becomes
          another badly written book with a premeditated bias.  It will convince no scholars, or change the historiography
          of the Middle East.  In the future, it
          will only be remembered by those who already believed its fraudulent assertions
          before its publication, who desired pulp instead of fact.” 

          I also recommend the chapter “Whose Country is It?”
          in the eminent Middle East Correspondent Charles Glass’s  “Money
          for Old Rope.” 

          Please also read “Conspiracy
          of Praise” by the late Edward W. Said – “The one thing I still cannot grasp is
          how people can be so foolish as to believe From Time Immemorial’s contention
          that the Palestinians are something made up or imaginary, like the unicorn or
          the tooth fairy.”

          William B. Quandt’s excellent article in the June
          1996 edition of Foreign Affairs should also be read: He describes Peters’
          conclusions as based on “shoddy scholarship” and praises Finkelestein’s “landmark
          essay on the subject.”

          I have before me a photocopy of an article by journalist Anthony
          Lewis entitled “There Were No Indians” published in the 13 January 1986 issue
          of the NYT.  He sums it all up nicely: “Israelis
          have not gushed over the book as some Americans have. Perhaps that is because
          they know the reality of the Palestinians’ existence, as great Zionists of the
          past knew. Perhaps it is because most understand the danger of trying to deny a
          people identity.”

          Enough said.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to continue this exchange.  Indeed, I am utterly amazed that you would even attempt to defend Peters’ mountain of mendacity.  She is a long since proven FRAUD!!

          Bye bye.

          tzur says:

          The sort of hysterical name-calling that anti-Zionists have given Peters’ book really says a great deal about how effectively that book refutes the pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist case.  Edward Said, Edward Quandt, Norman Finkelstein, the Journal of Palestine Studies in-house contributors, Anthony Lewis, etc., etc., all curse it passionately and use strong words.  It is clearly an obsession with them.  And why not, since it completely demolishes their case.  The ferocity of the attack is a high compliment to Peters.  These are people who on the other hand find nothing special to object to when the Palestinian Authority declares that there never was a Temple on the Temple Mount, and that there are no Jewish holy sites either in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Eretz Yisrael.  They do not complain about Fatah allegations of “genocide” in Jenin in 2001, and instead they like to argue for the “moderation” of the Fatah and the Hamas terrorist organizations, and their readiness to seek peace with Israel.  There are no articles in the Journal of Palestine Studies refuting those serious falsities.  Truth therefore is a matter of indifference to this coterie.  

          As for the claims that Peters misrepresents various British Mandate documents, they are false.  My favorite example to illustrate that falsity is the analysis of Blair in Capitalism Magazine, for he made much of the claim that Peters misrepresented those documents and, when the actual documents are checked against his specific instances, one finds again and again that Blair is the person who has misrepresented them, selectively citing them and ignoring passages from the sources that confirmed Peters, leaving out crucial portions of quoted sentences in order to distort their actual meaning, misrepresenting the wider contexts of those passages, even going so far as to pretend high moral and academic scholarly outrage at a specific supposedly paradigm case of Peters’ alleged falsification and tendentious editing of a quoted Brtitish Mandate document when checking the actual page in the source shows that it was Blair himself who has falsified and edited the quote in question, leaving out portions of sentences that reverse his interpretation (without indicating even the elision) and that Peters had interpreted its sense and meaning correctly after all.  Similarly in Blair’s treatment of Peters’ own book, one finds that he has a tendency to make claims about what Peters said, giving page citations, that are actually not even in the book.  The actual pages cited might even be on an entirely different subject than the one claimed by Blair.   

          Clearly, in these cases, the actual truth is not what is at issue in the debate.  What is at issue is that Peters as a non-Jew and even originally pro-Palestinian observer has dared to say clearly and emphatically that the Palestinian mythic emperor has no clothes.  This cannot be permitted.

          joan peters’ only mainstream appearance in the last 20 years ore more has been on some freakish jewish evangelist’s pro rapture internet show called the Zola Levitt Ministries. Even Israel televisions won’t invite her. She has been completely discredited since her lies and it’s really funny that there are still some propagandists who are wiling to defend her lies.

          well said! as soon as i heard pipes the poster child for arab bashing in america i realized we dealt with another looney who reads only the ny post in the morning.

        Hephie says:

        Except that your Middle East Forum article is a hoax–and a deliberate one.

        The first demographic reference is of U.O. Schmelz’ work on
        1905 data. (Interesting data, by the
        way. Here it is: Your article says: ‘of those Arab Palestinians born outside
        their localities of residence, approximately half represented intra-Palestine
        movement—from areas of low-level economic activity to areas of higher-level
        activity—while the other half represented Arab immigration into Palestine
        itself’. What the article ignores is
        that Schmelz estimated that 93.1% of Palestinian Muslims were born in their current
        locality of residence, 5.2% were born elsewhere in Palestine,
        and 1.6% were born outside Palestine.
        93.4% of Palestine Christians were born in their current locality, 3.0% were
        born elsewhere in Palestine, and 3.6% were born
        outside Palestine. (see also:
        This is pretty bad sleight of hand.
        What’s left out is that the half in question is half of a tiny minority.

        Even more bald-faced is this: Your article:
        ‘[Schmelz] did acknowledge that “stable population models assume
        the absence of external migrations, a condition which was obviously not met
        by all the subpopulations”.’
        What is left out is ‘…subpopulations of Table 1.6’, which is a breakdown
        of age and sex, not origin. (See
        footnote 54, page 61 of the Google Books version linked above.)

          tendilla says:

          …at it again with DOUBLESPEAK!!!

          Hephie says:

          Sorry, that’s English. You just haven’t finished 9th grade yet.

          tendilla says:

          …and I suppose that’s your example of a puerile insult????

          Hephie says:

          No. It’s simply a comment on your prepubescent level of discourse.

          Hephie says:

          You clearly don’t understand the meaning of ‘doublespeak’.

          Piffle. Peters is “a hoax,” now Gottheil, a world-recognized scholar of unimpeachable integrity, is all of a sudden “a hoax,” without even an attempt to deal with his actual claims and arguments (including those relating to Schmelz’s work, which are not summarized adequately or fairly above). Hoax here, hoax there, hoax everywhere. The constant use of this sort of terminology and outright demonization does not suggest a careful academic mind nor scholarly rigor, but mere schoolyard bullying and taunts. It suggests that pure projection and wishful thinking is operating here.

          No doubt the British Mandate Census 1931 tables listing the foreign countries from which many Jerusalem area Arabs had immigrated from, and the very many native tongues Arabs throughout Mandate Palestine spoke (see Peters, Tables C and D, pp. 227-9), are also “a hoax.” And the independent confirmations by Avneri and other scholars I mentioned above (the Isaacs in their article demolishing Finkelstein and Porath, Moshe Braver, and did I mention Saul Friedman’s Land of Dust [1982]?), proving Peters’ accuracy, are all hoaxes too — perhaps they do not exist at all? — and I suppose we must conclude that even the Hamas Minister of the Interior Fathi Hammad must be a hoax, since he of course correctly asserts out of his own knowledge the foreign origins of nearly all Palestinians in Gaza that was already proven by the historical research of Peters, Moshe Braver, Saul Friedman, and Avneri. Inconvenient truths.

          Hephie says:

          Since all you have to do is look at the links provided to see that the article is a swindle, a slight of hand. I spelled it out for you and anyone can see for themselves that it is presenting false information. I know that you can scream, yell ‘demonization’ and pontificate–but it’s there in black and white: the guy’s a fraud.

          I have checked Hephie’s cited source, and find that Gottheil has correctly cited and quoted from them, and Hephie’s objections have no substance. Her own explanations are misleading at the very least, if not simply false. First of all, Schmelz did not discuss the overall “Palestinian” population of the Ottoman Palestine region at any point in his article, as Hephie claims. Even the title of his article is: “Population characteristics of Jerusalem and Hebron regions according to Ottoman census of 1905.” So he left out completely and did not refer to any other Ottoman districts in the Palestinian region. Furthermore, what Schmelz actually says on p. 41 of his article on the 1905 Ottoman census, under the sub-chapter rubric “Place of Birth,” is that even as early as 1905, a significant percentage of Muslims in the city of Jerusalem were not native to that place: only 78%, he says, were born locally (of course we are not told about their parents’ origins: some of them might well have been from elsewhere) but most of the other Muslims in the city were born outside even the village districts surrounding Jerusalem (extending to Jericho, Ramallah, Bethlehem, etc.), “and at least half came from outside Palestine altogether.” But 93.9% of Muslims in the villages surrounding Jerusalem were locally born. and 96.7% of those of Hebron. The percentage of locally born Christians was 83.5% for the city of Jerusalem, 98.3% in the villages around Jerusalem. The significance of this, I might add, is that since Jerusalem was mostly Jewish in population, this tends to confirm that just as Peters and Gottheil claim, even as early as 1905 there was a significant influx of Arab migration, both Muslim and Christian, to Jewish population centers, both from within the wider Ottoman Palestinian region, and from outside it, but that the Arab population of mostly Arab villages did not much change and did not have much of an influx of migrants.

          I have not been able to find, in Schmelz’s article, what Hephie claims: “that Schmelz estimates that 93.1% of Palestinian Muslims were born in their current locality of residence, 5.2% were born elsewhere in Palestine, and 1.6% were born outside Palestine. 93.4% of Palestine Christians were born in their current locality, 3.0% were born elsewhere in Palestine, and 3.6% were born outside Palestine.” There are apparently no such estimates, neither for Palestinian Muslims nor Christians in general, nor even for those in the Jerusalem and Hebron areas, in the Table 1.8 (p. 42) that presents detailed statistics on birthplaces or elsewhere in the article. Perhaps he/she can direct me to them?

          Finally, to complete the tale of misleading or false comments, Hephie asserts that Gottheil wrongly used a reference to Table 1.6 by Schmelz, in his footnote 54 on p. 61, because that did not deal with birthplace statistics. But nevertheless, Schmelz did in fact say in the cited footnote that the statistics in that table needed the caveat that certain of the population groupings by age and sex did not necessarily indicate stable patterns, because they had had considerable impact from recent migrations. This was an entirely relevant and even necessary observation, brought out in any case more fully in the text of the article, especially pp. 41-42, also see p. 46 where migrations are said to affect the sex and age distribution of a given population. So Gottheil did not commit any scholarly sin in citing it. As for screaming and yelling, perhaps Hephie can reconsider his/her assertion that “it’s there in black and white: the guy’s a fraud.” Best not to throw stones from glass houses.

          Very happy you are so interested in excusing a lying fabricator–ahh! the things fanaticism will drive one to!

          I leave it to any interested reader to see the very clear and clearly deliberate distortions I linked. They need no explanation. They certainly don’t require 1,083 words of turgid explication. That kind of logorrhea usually indicates the sufferer’s loss of contact with reality.

          You have been exposed as a “lying fabricator,” as you say in a telling verbal slip. And in exactly the precise detail you invited in an earlier post. Not a single claim you made, when examined, proved to be valid. Three strikes, and you were out. The very source you alleged supported you actually very convincingly proved the opposite and constructed the case against you. Schmelz said nothing about all Arabs in the Palestine region as you falsely asserted, only about the Jerusalem and Hebron areas; he did not give the elaborate statistics at all that you falsely attributed to him, that purported that few Arabs had immigrated into the Palestine region — on the contrary he showed that as early as 1905 already about 20% of Arabs in Jewish areas had not been born there, and half of these were from outside the Palestine region altogether; and Gottheil did not inappropriately cite Schmelz as you asserted. Each claim was false, an open-and-shut case. And actually you confirm this with no attempt to refute any detail.

          I expected though that you would not even be ashamed about it, despite having been caught red-handed before everyone. It is typical of people who support antisemitic groups. After all, the Palestinian cause is sustained by such people, Anshe damim vemirmah. It is precisely this that lies behind the intense and unremitting attacks against Peters’ book, and the strong support for such as Finkelstein who laps this stuff up. But it is very much worth it to show decent people just how mendacious the enemies of the Jews are.

          Thanks to you, too, I have found yet another good scholarly confirmation of Peters in the Gilbar book, this time relating in precise detail and documentation to the late Ottoman period which I had not much read on before. So, believe me, the pleasure was all mine.

          Hephie says:

          I expected that you could at least read–Table 1.8–but I guess that’s too much for you tin-foil hat genocide lovers.

          Go to school. Learn to read. Take some tranquilizers and STFU.

          Table 1.8 does not say anything like what you asserted in your previous post; your figures are nowhere in Schmelz’s article.

          1.8 is a table of origins of those surveyed by birthplace. And another thing: It’s not I who is pretending that the Schmelz data covers all of Palestine, it’s Gottheil! He is pretending that his faked data applies throughout.

          Now take your meds. (And learn to read.)

          I am well aware of what Table 1.8 is about. That comment is irrelevant anyway. Show us, will you, just where the statistics are that you claimed were there? You yourself stated that they applied to all Palestinians. You even truncated Gottheil’s words to make it seem like he was talking about all Arab Palestinians. Now you are accusing HIM of doing so, to cover over your own falsification. I quote from your first post on this: “Your article [i.e., Gottheil’s article] says: ‘of those Arab Palestinians born outside their localities of residence, approximately half represented intra-Palestine movement—from areas of low-level economic activity to areas of higher-level activity—while the other half represented Arab immigration into Palestine itself’. What the article ignores is that Schmelz estimated that 93.1% of Palestinian Muslims were born in their current locality of residence, 5.2% were born elsewhere in Palestine, and 1.6% were born outside Palestine. 93.4% of Palestine Christians were born in their current locality, 3.0% were born elsewhere in Palestine, and 3.6% were born outside Palestine.” The impression that both authors were talking about all Arab Palestinians comes solely from you.

          Again however, the first question is, where did Schmelz give those figures you cited as his, Hephie? You faked them. You still provide no source for them. That is because there is none, at least none in Schmelz whom you claim gives them.

          As for Gottheil, you as usual are falsifying here again. Here are his own actual words regarding Schmelz, in full, which make it very clear that the Arab Palestinian population he mentions here applies specifically to the Jerusalem-Hebron districts that Schmelz studied:

          ‘Demographer U.O. Schmelz’s analysis of the Ottoman registration data for 1905 populations of Jerusalem and Hebron kazas (Ottoman districts), by place of birth, showed that of those Arab Palestinians born outside their localities of residence, approximately half represented intra-Palestine movement—from areas of low-level economic activity to areas of higher-level activity—while the other half represented Arab immigration into Palestine itself, 43 percent originating in Asia, 39 percent in Africa, and 20 percent in Turkey.[18] Schmelz conjectured:

          “The above-average population growth of the Arab villages around the city of Jerusalem, with its Jewish majority, continued until the end of the mandatory period. This must have been due—as elsewhere in Palestine under similar conditions—to in-migrants attracted by economic opportunities, and to the beneficial effects of improved health services in reducing mortality—just as happened in other parts of Palestine around cities with a large Jewish population sector.”[19]

          ‘While Schmelz restricted his research of the 1905 Palestinian census to the official Ottoman registrations and used these registrations with only minor critical comment, he did acknowledge that “stable population models assume the absence of external migrations, a condition which was obviously not met by all the subpopulations” that Schmelz enumerated.[20]’

          In a very long and richly footnoted article, these are the only paragraphs dealing with Schmelz. They disprove your assertions, as usual. If you keep setting yourself up as a sitting duck, you will continue to be shot down in flames. Give it up, Hephie, you have already proved one thing for sure: you are a liar. Nothing you say can be trusted, including even alleged “quotes”.

          Hephie says:

          You are welcome to your self-absorbed fantasies.

    lame really lame comment. this is not the soviets.

As many of the commentators noted, I do not care for Dr. Finkelstein.  In my mine, his logic is flawed but his anger is not.  This is what motivates him.  He is a child of survivors and the scaring is most apparent.  His connection to Dr. Chomsky is pitiful.  I do not know Dr. Chomsky but I have a very significant experience with him in 1972 as a result of the May day demonstration at the Boston Federal Building.  He, Chomsk, wrote an article about the “massacre” Government Center that was filled with mistruths and distortions.  How do I know?  I was there and returned home with a broken hand.  My transformation started there.

Royq says:

It’s impossible to read very far in this piece without pulling up short in frustration at its subject and his heroic representation of himself.  The account of his eureka moment, discovering alleged discrepancies in Joan Peters’ book, is both absurd and revealing.  Arguments over the validity of data are at the heart of every academic discipline, including the hard sciences, and debates can last decades without being resolved satisfactorily, and when they are, it is seldom if ever on account of a single individual’s efforts.  It takes years of pooled analysis and meta-analysis, subjected to repeated peer reviews. 

That Finkelstein doesn’t grasp this is evidence enough that his style of hyperbolic academic showmanship has no place in the university.  And in fact, hearing back from only one in twenty-five scholars does not support your thesis, whatever your instincts as a self-styled and righteous iconoclast tell you.  Nor does Noam Chomsky’s “this seems right.”  It may be deserving of gratitude, but it does not confer legitimacy, especially coming from someone predisposed to support your ideas.  That’s not peer review.

Secondly, asking as someone who has had some interaction with a head of a theory section at Bell Labs, what value could he or she have possibly added to looking at what I presume were tallies of land and population, water usage, etc.?  Why would you go to a computer scientist?  It makes no sense and could not possibly have added value.  Again, it burnishes a legend that strikes me as essentially apocryphal and nothing more.

    AlKhalil says:

    Since you are very smart and educated, I was wondering if you knew which is the best chocolate to buy?

      Royq says:

      Whatever you can afford after you’ve purchased your medication.

    Hephie says:

     I agree that the ‘revelation’ section is hyperbolic. After all, once you look at the numbers, Peters’ screed is pretty darn ridiculous and an obvious sham.

gemel says:

Tablet seems to revel in giving space and time to those who hate Israel and Jews – not just dislike but actively hate. 

Do you think there is some special virtue in those of Jewish origin who hate Israel and Jews? 

There have been many such in the past and will probably be such in the future. So what?

    AlKhalil says:

    Many non-Jews and even Jews have criticised Zionism and Israel in the past, present and more expected in the future, and yet you have no clue of how wrong you are.  Don’t you think it is about time for you to re-evaluate yourselves and correct your path, or is it cozy in the dark place where your head is stuck?

      gemel says:

      Criticizing Zionism or Israel is one thing, hating its very existence and wanting to destroy it is another. Unfortunately,  many, including Finkelstein, want to destroy Israel and Jews, reflecting their hate, racism and anti-Semitism – do you fall into this category?

      Natan79 says:

      No, it is not time to re-evaluate. Israel is the country of the Jewish people. We have the right to it, just as much as the various nations Arabs have to right to their many and vast countries, or how the various European nations have the right to theirs. Without a country, Jews will be murdered in genocide by yourself and your friends. 

      You have declared right here on Tablet that you want millions of graves. There is no better evidence that you are a deadly enemy and that Israel is necessary not just as a homeland but also as a shield from the AlKhalil mass murderers of the world. 

      AlKhalil, I actually do appreciate your sincerity. It is not everyday that I can hear someone telling us to our face that he wants to murder Jews by the millions. (It’s true, I don’t live in an Arab country.) Your sincerity shows that people as radically evil as the Nazis or Haj Amin Al Husseini still exist today, and want nothing less than genocide of Jews. You are one of them.

        AlKhalil says:

        No one said you cannot live in your homeland, be it Russia, Poland, Germany or whatever. If you do not like your places of origin you can always emigrate to America or finance an expedition to Mars, but do not take someone else’s land and turn them into dispossessed refugees. That fact that Arabs and Europeans or Russians have vast lands does not give you a right to steal any of it.

      Natan79 says:

      No, it is not time to re-evaluate. Israel is the country of the Jewish people. We have the right to it, just as much as the various nations Arabs have to right to their many and vast countries, or how the various European nations have the right to theirs. Without a country, Jews will be murdered in genocide by yourself and your friends. 

      You have declared right here on Tablet that you want millions of graves. There is no better evidence that you are a deadly enemy and that Israel is necessary not just as a homeland but also as a shield from the AlKhalil mass murderers of the world. 

      AlKhalil, I actually do appreciate your sincerity. It is not everyday that I can hear someone telling us to our face that he wants to murder Jews by the millions. (It’s true, I don’t live in an Arab country.) Your sincerity shows that people as radically evil as the Nazis or Haj Amin Al Husseini still exist today, and want nothing less than genocide of Jews. You are one of them.

      ricksonelliot says:

      Jews who are anti zionists are a fraud, they are simply acting out of a fear of the myth crumbling and America turning on Jews, where were they 10 years ago,the sudden bout of consciousness is just a Jewish technique .

saharoz says:

I chose to read this only because I enjoy Tablet and figured your writer might reveal some interesting, if contentious, concepts in his interview with Finkelstein. Nope, nada, nothing of the sort. A lot of incitement, zero interest. And David Samuels’ interview was barely tougher than Larry King going one-on-one with Barney.

As for Finkelstein, his overconfidence, pomposity, and anger have only grown over time. My computer screen was heating up from his furor. Chill out, Norman. You reap what you sow.

The only thing that has shrunk with Finkelstein is his concern – in deed, not lofty declarations – for the truth. Not that this was ever much of a priority for him, but now he lies so casually even to a starstruck sympathetic journalist.

Tablet decision makers, please don’t waste any more time on such junk.

    cwinklem says:

     Tablet’s commentators always make me laugh. They believe in free speech, but only when said speech agrees with their own views about how a ‘proper” Jewish person is supposed to think, act, or behave. Otherwise they are called an anti-Semite, a claim which makes little sense if you actually read the interview.

    Disagree with his methods. Disagree with his lens of the world. But don’t call him names like a school child because you disagree with his morals.

    When did so many Jews make it their job to become the thought police?

      saharoz says:

      I didn’t call Finkelstein an anti-Semite. I didn’t call him anything. Catch your breath, reread my reply, or continue to fantasize – freedom of thought at its finest (even for an agitator like you). And yes, I did call you an agitator.

        cwinklem says:

        Whoops. Responded to wrong person. Sorry about that. Carry on.

          geoff kl says:

          if it makes  you feel better, i will gladly call him an anti semite…and anti american

          hezbollah is not lebanon…it is not the ruling party

          it is an enemy of the us and israel

          norm is a traitor to his country and hates jews…and would love nothing more than to see millions of jews in israel massacred

          AlKhalil says:

          Could you please do it somewhere else since we do not want to worry about digging millions of graves when we take Palestine back.  Thank you for your concern and help in this matter.  

          Behind_You1 says:

          AlKhalil,  there’s a woman showing a bit of ankle across town. Find her before she scandalizes her family!

          Why do you say that? AlKhalil doesn’t sound like an Orthodox name.

          Why do you say that? AlKhalil doesn’t sound like an Orthodox name.

          Why do you say that? AlKhalil doesn’t sound like an Orthodox name.

          Behind_You1 says:

          If the shoe fits…

          Natan79 says:

          Neither does Bryces sound like a Hezbollah donkey.

          geoff kl says:

          as there never was a palestine, good luck in taking it back.

          wonderful threat that arabs have never been able to act upon.

          so now they use surrogates like norm to cry a river about how they are now the oppressed

          boo hoo

          love what you are doing in syria…keep it up

          Natan79 says:

          AlKhalil, I’ll remember you when I do reserve duty in the IDF, especially at target practice time. Congratulations for motivating an Israeli citizen who is a Zionist soldier when duty calls! 

          And don’t forget to tell your friends that you helped the cause of Zionism.  ‘Cause you just did.

          jakeladdydill says:

          To the haters of all sides, I have a Russian Proverb:
           Fools pull the trigger, God guides the bullet

          Natan79 says:

          Well jake, I don’t have an easy trigger. But I surely wouldn’t hesitate with a terrorist in action. 

          Between violent death at the hands of the AlKhalils of the world, there’s nothing but the Israeli Defence Force. Take that away, and we have AlKhalil slitting Jewish throats as his jihadi custom is.

          In every war since 1948, the AlKhalils openly say they want to annihilate the Jewish people. I believe them. And I want to stay alive and I want my country to stay alive. If that bothers you, I don’t care. 

          tokugawa227 says:

          Speaking about terrorism, Irgun and the Stern Gang slaughtered women and children at Deir Yassin, sometimes sliting their throats, other times shooting pregnant women at point blank range. Deir Yassin became the single most effective idea causing non-Jews to flee. Benny Morris said that there were over 20 Deir Yassin type massacres. When Israel rejects every legal attempt for the refugees to return to the homes which were stolen from them, is it any wonder they turn to the terrorism which the Jews used so effectively?

          Natan79 says:

          First, Benny Morris hasn’t documented 20 such massacres. Moreover, the Israeli s aren’t proud of Deir Yassin. The Arabs ARE proud of the massacres they committed, where they killed during the same time far more Jews than Arabs at Deir Yassin. They also name streets after suicide bombers. There are at least such 117 such streets in the Palestinian Authority. 
          How come you don’t mention the Arab massacres of Jews? Because you approve of it.

          Second, more than 50% of Israeli Jews are the descendants of jews who are refugees from the Arab countries after 1948. There were more Jewish refugees from Arab countries (850,000) than Palestinian Arabs (656,000). Yet you do not give the same rights to the Jews. 

          Of course, Jews have no rights in your eyes, just Arabs.

          Like most Israelis, I personally am in favor of a Palestinian states, in which they should have their refugees. People like you want Israel to accept a Jew-free Palestinian state and at the same time have them put all refugees in Israel. “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is mine too” – that’s their belief and yours too. 

          Third, AlKhalil has declared he will make millions of graves in Israel. And it seems normal to you.

          Given these three points, do you expect me to view you with trust?

          tokugawa227 says:

          The following interview appeared in Ha’aretz on January 9, 2004 in an article called “Survival of the fittest”:

          Ari Shavit, Q: According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?

          Benny Morris, A: “Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field – they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village – she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.

          “The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion.

          “That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.”

          Haaretz has removed the original story from the internet, or changed its original URL.

          The above copy of the Haaretz interview is archived at:

          AlKhalil says:

          Remember what exactly Mr. IDF Child Killer? And I did not have to motivate you for anything since your Talmud and Zionist upbringing brainwashed you enough to commit your atrocious acts.

          Natan79 says:

          I wouldn’t kill a child. I would surely deal properly with an armed Arab terrorist. My training is to defend myself and my country from bloodthirsty antisemites like yourself, AlKhalil. 

          Based on how you write on these pages, there is absolutely no doubt that you would participate in murder against Jews and genocide against the Jewish people, just like your WWII Palestinian chief Haj Amin al Husseini did, he the Palestinian SS boy.

          Tablet Magazine can be proud of allowing you here, so that we see someone ready to kill Jews to the last man, woman and child. Frankly I really hope these pages are monitored. Maybe next time you’re part of some news about drones, Hamas boy Al-Khalil. That way you could tell Rantisi what’s going on in Tablet.

          ricksonelliot says:

          Jews are unmatched in cruelty when in a position of power yet no people are more cowardly when evenly matched”…….general George Patton

          You would shoot children from your settlement, but apologize to a guy who spits in your face in Brooklyn.

          tzur says:

          Moderator, please note my earlier post on this guy.  It is obvious that Finkelstein’s fellow-travellers have gotten wind of this article and have flocked to this webpage to attack Jews and to defend their showcase Jew.  This is also an inditement of Finkelstein himself, showing the company he chooses to keep.  But the more explicitly Nazistic posts should not be published on this Jewish site.

          dolceliana says:

          tzur, you sound like a fanatic! In the Kevin Costner’s movie No Way Out you could easily play the Pritchard’s character.

          tzur says:

          The company you choose to keep, dolceliana, betrays your real agenda.

          Natan79 says:

          Ya Khalil, when you tell us Jews about digging graves, we think you’re an SS Nazi or a Palestinian terrorist (or both, as Haj Amin al Husseini was). Both asked grave-digging from Jews before murdering them. In either case, you appear a deadly and very personal enemy. Is that what you want? Don’t ask us to dig graves: if you make us do it, it might be your own.

          AlKhalil says:

          While I did not ask you to dig your own graves (apparently people see whatever they want to see), I am now convinced by your argument but I say dig them first and them we will see who will fit in them. We will do it on a first come first serve basis. Let me know when you are done, but just to be safe do dig graves for say 120 million since we do not know how many would die from which side. Do not be greedy again and just dig 15 million yo cover yourselves. Think of others at for once in your life.

        jakeladdydill says:

         Yes, I noticed that at the end.  Why then did you undercut your answer further by drawing attention to it?  

      ricksonelliot says:

      Ah,the last 4 decades as the coordinated holocaust gas chamber 6 million canard was being shaped through tv,Hollywood,and laughable eyewitness claims

Christopher Reiger says:

In the case of this thread, commentors observe that Tablet “seems to revel in giving space and time to those who hate Israel and Jews” and “squander[s its potential] with a self-hating obsession to report all
anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist doings, no hatter how trivial.”  Yet, just as often in other threads, I read comments ranting about Tablet’s Right wing, Zionist hawk bias.

If the ideologues on the Left and the Right both rage against you, you’re doing something right.  Kudos, Tablet…for publishing a range of opinions and perspectives.


    SHALOHA…… EXACTLY….. similar to the same crap we are spooned-fed by the right-wing, christian tea-party republicans, that america “right or wrong” is totally stupid, israel, though its existence needs to be defended, is NOT always correct; and many of its policies need to be examined…. there are hundreds of thousands of israelis; JEWISH israelis, who disagree with the continual right-wing government’s policies…. there is an integration which will work; if only the extremists would shut up!…..

       Well Nik, I don’t think the percentage is as high in Israel as it is here, you know they are actually living it not idealizing it in their upper east side living rooms.  Most of Israel’s far left realized after Gaza that no matter how much Israel wanted peace and no matter what they did it would not matter, their enemies wanted their state.

      ricksonelliot says:

      The myth of vast Christian support is just that, only politicians are forced to support Israel, the Methodists,Presbyterians,and baptists are actively voting to boycott and divest, that is 76 million Christians but that is never reported,lest it break the myth of Christian support

charlesduran says:

I have found this a very thoughtful piece and I appreciate Mr. Finklestein’s candidness throughtout the article. I hope that I can always be thankful that there people who are willing to become parhiahs for the sake of honesty. It is a tough business tearing down society’s myths.

    wildjew says:

    Why do you think Professor Finkelstein is honest?  About the Israel-Palestinian conflict for example?

      dolceliana says:

      He is honest because no matter what he always tries to stick to the facts. Read him and double check  the numbers he presents. They are not a secret information hidden in a vault. 

        wildjew says:

        His numbers notwithstanding, I disagree with his premise.  I cannot get past it; that is, the Jews are thieves who live on stolen land.  I don’t buy it.  

        I do not need Joan Peters’ “From Time Immemorial” to establish the Jewish people’s right to the land of Israel based on the the notion that large numbers of Arabs immigrated into the land over the previous century or so.  How many American Indians immigrated into North America (a comparison Finkelstein utilizes) before white European colonialists, settlers and squatters expropriated them?

          dolceliana says:

          “His numbers notwithstanding” — of course, you decide what is important. 

        Michael Shapiro says:

        I actually did.  What I have a problem with is the sources for his numbers.

          dolceliana says:

          And what kind of numbers were they? — Anyway, this debate is pointless.  Whether or not NF is honest can be easily found out by listening to a few videos of his lectures and reading the comments below them on a less pro-zio web site than this one.

      ricksonelliot says:

      He’s not,he is against bds

    geoff kl says:

    honesty? are you aware that his statement about international law regarding israel’s borders is not honest? that he has repeated that lie for over 20 years

      Which statement? Are you talking of the 1948 armistice lines? Or the annexation of the Golan Heights?

      (I say that while being for 1948 armistice lines as the border, as long as Jerusalem is also included.)

      Which statement? Are you talking of the 1948 armistice lines? Or the annexation of the Golan Heights?

      (I say that while being for 1948 armistice lines as the border, as long as Jerusalem is also included.)

      Which statement? Are you talking of the 1948 armistice lines? Or the annexation of the Golan Heights?

      (I say that while being for 1948 armistice lines as the border, as long as Jerusalem is also included.)

yevka says:

Norman Finkelstein a “pariah .” What planet is the author from…planet knows nothing?

nachama3 says:

Yeah, I started reading, but, frankly Finkelstein isn’t articulate or interesting enough to bother with and when he describes Chomsky as in any way faithful to the truth? Well…I’d say that both these sociopaths are excellent case studies — and we should study them and their texts (as primary texts) to understand the very worst of intellectual humanity and the complex ways that hatred and fear distort and atrophy a potentially brilliant mind (notice, I say potentially, since neither Finkelstein, nor Chomsky lived up to their potential). It’s a few years old now, but the chapters on Chomsky and Finkelstein (“Chomsky for Nazis”) in The Jewish Divide over Israel is really foundational reading for anyone interested in either author. 

    AlKhalil says:

    Yeah, good luck.  This is like an ape trying to figure out the workings of Einstein.  But of course, going back a few posts above, you are apes and therefore there would be no need for the word “like.”

    dolceliana says:

    This is the biggest bull-crap written in the most “scientific” way.

    Michael Shapiro says:

    I’m not sure that I would use the word sociopath, but…

    Chomsky has always had a more than overblown view of himself.  Now that a number (and a growing number) of serious academics are challenging him, he defends himself, not by providing more and better evidence that his theories are correct, but by denigrating his detractors.  Not by refuting them, but by laying on ad hominum attacks.

    Meanwhile, Finkelstein sees his hero beginning to be questioned.  He sees himself marginalized.  Now he makes more extreme claims, none of which are supported by evidence.  

    I’m afraid that Finkelstein absolutely sounds like one of those folks who are sure that the aliens are out to get them and are wearing aluminum foil kippot, as protection.

      dolceliana says:

      Oh, man, you really sound like someone who likes to write “intelligent” stuff. What is this all about?? It’s empty, it has no substance. It’s just bad -mouth. You are not sure if NF is sociopath??????????????????

Saint_Etienne says:

I was wondering about that “figures” bit. Does anyone have any idea what he was talking about?

    AlKhalil says:

    Send him a letter, I am sure he will be glad to explain things to you.

wildjew says:

David Samuels’ inteviews seemed to start out good but it tended to get a little too ‘chummy’ (in my veiw) toward the end.
Finkelstein wrote: “My views on the Israel-Palestine conflict are not particularly what you would call left-wing or radical. I say we should enforce the law and end the conflict on the basis of international law; that means a two-state settlement and a June ’67 border and a just resolution of the refugee question…”

To Professor Finkelstein, international law, promulgated by the United Nations and associated international bodies — no matter its underlying political motivation(s) with respect to Israel — is “the law,” and it needs to be “enforced.”

Hershl says:

This is not news.

Finkelstein is a very sick man whose intense anger and self-loathing have made him into a pariah.

What we have here is an exercise in pathological projection.

Israel is doing quite well and will continue to do so.

Long after Finkelstein is a footnote in the history of psychiatry, Israel will continue to shine as an example of democracy in action, a light to the world.

    AlKhalil says:

    That must be one of those black lights, no?

    dolceliana says:

    Reading your lines is like a trip to hell. What makes you say such crap? It  has absolutely no value but smear and hatred. Do you need a psychiatric help? I know NF and he’s one of the most beautiful human beings. 

wildjew says:

Finkelstein: “But on certain matters of principle, I’m not going to budge regardless of whether people like it or not. The Lebanese have the right to defend their sovereignty, and they have the right to use armed force to evict foreign occupiers….”

That’s what Hezbollah’s beef with Israel and the Jews is about – not that we are the sons of apes and pigs or that the prophet commanded Muslims to wage violent jihad against these subhumans – but that Israel is a foreign occupier of Lebanese territory?  That’s it?  How much land does Israel continue to occupy in Lebanon?  The small Shebaa farms which are disputed?

Before the 1967 Six Day war (between 1948 and 1967) before Israel occupied Judea and Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights, etc., there was no Muslim or Muslim-Arab war against Israel’s Jews?  No terrorism emanating form Jordan or Lebanon?  From Egypt?

    AlKhalil says:

    If it makes you feel better, then the ape thing did play a small role.  We also laughed alot at the fat ape Sharon, may he stay braindead forever.

Bravo to Tablet for having the guts to publish this interview.  I don’t agree with everything Prof. Finkelstein says, but he makes some valid points (particularly about the Holocaust industry) and his views are worth hearing even if you ultimately end up dismissing them.  I find the knee-jerk reaction of the commenters baffling and I have to conclude that they say more about them than they do about Finkelstein

    Bernecky says:

    Toni Kamins: “I find the knee-jerk reaction of the commenters baffling.”

    I don’t.  It’s always easier to write on subjects that we don’t like.  

    The question I have, after reading this 5-page indictment, is whether David Samuels (and, by extension, Tablet) believes that there is anything to be learned from any interview.  

    As long as David Samuels denies to the reader-juror so much evidence, even, as one example of what Finkelstein claims are his discoveries about Joan Peters’s numbers, the reader-juror will know nothing about Finkelstein except the personal–which he already knew, and which is not only the same as the charge against Finkelstein but is the reason we’re here in this courtroom today.  

     The reader, unlike Samuels and Tablet, has no choice, can’t introduce evidence.  All the reader can do is cast a vote.


      jakeladdydill says:

       I find the knee-jerk reactions most refreshing rather than baffling since they are not shown on TV’s consensus unreality version of events.  

       Have you forgotten Jimmy Carter is an anti Semitic Holocaust denier?

        Bernecky says:

        The testimony I’m addressing is that which is right in front of me.  The last testimony given.   Toni Kamin’s statement: “I find the knee-jerk reaction of the commenters baffling.”

        I would suggest that not even the accused, Norman Finkelstein, claims to find the Holocaust so minor an event that the recalling of it should be considered a waste of the court’s time.   In fact, it would seem to be Finkelstein’s opinion that any attempt to industrialize the Holocaust trivializes the Holocaust. 

        payne100 says:

        Carter supported Israel during his presidency. Only later did he find out Israel helped the GHW Bush team pull off the “October surprise” which doomed Carter’s re-election bid.

        Read about it in Ari Ben-Menashe’s “Profits of War.”

      ricksonelliot says:

      Since Joan peters is now universally thought of as a Jewish myth maker by Americans ,I don’t understand your point

    ricksonelliot says:

    I find the knee jerk comments typical

Royq says:

I believe Hezbollah is the future
Heed them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’slaughter remind us how we used to be

Afrayedknot says:

I just hope David Samuels was wearing kneepads when was conducting this interview.

    Royq says:

    I wouldn’t confuse politeness for deference.  David Samuels actually asks very hard questions, without putting on the hard-boiled, Mike Wallace act.  Establishing a degree of intimacy with your subject makes evasion and dissimulation more difficult, although it has to be said that Norman Finkelstein rises to that challenge with aplomb.

      Afrayedknot says:

      Sorry, but letting Finklestein’s contentions about Hizbollah essentially go unchallenged is deferential to the point of obsequiousness. 

        Royq says:

        You can’t argue every point with a zealot.  You can give them rope.

vandervalk says:

gandhi, was a fan or hitler.  and so it goes.

    Grathi says:

    Why is this guy allowed on this site?

      Grathi says:

      By the way, after I made that comment about this Holocaust denier, he began “following” me on Disqus. Great piece of software. I remark on a piece of shit Holocaust denier and then I get to have the guy, with a swastika as his avatar follow me. Any plans to do something about this, Tablet?

        DrMikeH49 says:

        indeed, he is now doing the same with me. An internet stalker. Of course he did post his phone number online 
        917-974-6367 (though I would strongly recommend using caller ID blocking when calling).
        It’s not so much that he’s a pathetic stalker who thinks we’d be scared of him (I’ve faced worse in person); it’s that he has the temerity to use the closing “peace”.  To quote Andre the Giant from The Princess Bride “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means”

          Grathi says:

           I found a different phone number. It seems he has some enemies. I still don’t understand why he is permitted on this site and why, just so I can post a comment here, I need to acquire a Nazi stalker.

          patrickirish says:

           Why don’t you actually reply to his words, rather than simply abusing him?

          DrMikeH49 says:

          I don’t believe I said anything that would be considered abusive.  But as far as engaging with Holocaust deniers, I might as well ask you when you stopped beating your wife and let you reply to that.  

          patrickirish says:

           You called him a pathetic internet stalker and a holocaust denier – both terms of abuse by my standards. I am certainly not a denier, and I don’t think that debating the facts is sufficient to call anyone a denier – but you do. I have never beaten my wife – the response is straight forward. Your response could be equally straight forward, but you choose abuse. If you actually are some form of Doctor you should be able to do better than that.

          AlKhalil says:

          Peace! It surely sounds better than “go to hell.”

          DrMikeH49 says:

          indeed it does; but given the rest of his statement, I’ll assume he was saying that tongue in cheek.

        AlKhalil says:

        Yes, occupy his land and rape his wife.  Damn gentiles deserve it.

          Grathi says:

           Ah, I see. He is my victim.

          Natan79 says:

          To AlKhalil, you are making him a victim simply because you are alive. AlKhalil wants Jews dead by the millions. Elsewhere on this thread, AlKhalil has declared he wants millions of graves when he takes back Palestine. 

          Compared to AlKhalil, the Holocaust denier is almost a nice guy.  He didn’t say he wants another Holocaust. In contrast, AlKhalil doesn’t just like Holocaust deniers – he has told us openly that he aspires to be a Holocaust MAKER.

      AlKhalil says:

      Because someone has to give you some facts for a change.  Learn something from  it.

        Natan79 says:

        I did learn something, from you. That there are people who want to murder us Jews by the millions, and that you are one of them. 

        I tend to forget that genocidal murderers exist, but you AlKhalil very effectively reminded this to everyone on his thread.  

        THIS is what you AlKhalil wrote: “Could you please do it somewhere else since we do not want to worry about digging millions of graves when we take Palestine back.  Thank you for your concern and help in this matter.”

          AlKhalil says:

          I do not want to murder you or anyone else. I do not even kill flies. And in general people like me only oppose Zionism and NOT Judaism. However, like the prophets of old it is my duty to warn you of the evil that you do and how it will destroy you eventually. If you want to take that as a threat then be it so, but also means that Moses or other prophets wanted to kill Jews too.

          AlKhalil says:

          I did learn something from you. That all Zionazi criminal are either blind or one-eyed and cannot see. All you had to do to find out that there are genocidal murderers and religious maniacs is to look in the mirror or at least to a close relative. That image you see, if you are capable, is that of a genocidal zionazi killers of innocent chidren and women and of whole societies and destroyer of a once viable nation.

Cool_Romeo says:

Finkelstein makes at least one good point here. 

Jeffrey Goldberg is fat and therefore his writing should be discredited.

    Read his new book “Knowing Too Much…” where he discusses Goldberg’s apologetic view on Israel extensively, before you judge Finkelstein by one offhand remark. ;-)

    549106 says:

    …the precipitous decline in reading comprehension is in full evidence here. A short lesson:  you are functionally illiterate and you have a dumb user name. Your opinion is marginal and  irrelevant on the basis of your evidenced inability to understand ideas presented in a text.  Also, your username is stupid. From this would you conclude that you’re being dismissed solely  because your username is stupid? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.

paul delano says:

 ‘But to dismiss him, professionally or personally, as “damaged goods” begs the question of who, exactly, made him this way’Who cares what made him ‘this way’! Certainly not I or those who find his particular brand of Self-hating Jew repugnant.  Only those who find him a somewhat ‘sympathetic’ character, like the author I suspect,could possibly care what events have combined to produce a Norman Finklestein.

    dolceliana says:

    sweetheart, have you ever pondered what events have combined to PRODUCE you? Probably the plague and chickenpox. :-/

      Natan79 says:

      dolceliana, you only came here to praise Finkelstein, who associates with those who want the complete annihilation of Jews. Who exactly produced you? Hitler, Heydrich or Haj Amin Al Husseini?

        dolceliana says:

        …again, give me something concrete to support your words. Otherwise, by the same token, I could say you associate with those who want to poison the world’s oceans, for example. — NF doesn’t want annihilation of the Jews, you silly boy. How did you come up with such a nonsense? Because he openly and rightfully criticizes Israel? — Tell me, are people allowed to criticize Israel or not? What if I criticized that the Israeli government dumped white phosphorus on Palestinians – am I allowed to criticize that?

          tzur says:

          Criticise away, dolceliana, you are even allowed to lie outrageously if it comes to that, but at least you can be criticised yourself if you err due to anti-Israel bias.  You can criticise, and people can criticise you and you will just have to wear it: what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  

          But criticism is always subject to factual substantiation, or it becomes mere slander.  It would be more just in all decency to show some respect therefore for the actual record of the extraordinary care shown by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza conflict, instead of just demonizing the IDF and angelizing, to coin a term, the Hamas terrorists.  As all must admit, Hamas is a fanatical and extremist jihadi organization and as these sorts of groups do, lies all the time as a matter of policy.  It has been caught staging media-oriented “atrocities,” shooting thousands of rockets into civilian areas, hiding their military headquarters during war in the basement of the main Gaza Hospital, pulling children along with them as shields when they shoot off rockets, etc., etc., and there is no reason to believe Hamas over the IDF about anything.  

          In stark contrast, the IDF is a non-fanatical, unusually open, egalitarian and highly trained and responsible civilian-draft army, under constant public scrutiny and liberal democratic checks and balances common to our Western societies.  If it says something is so it is far more likely to be telling the truth than Hamas.

          The use of phosphorus in military conflict is in accord with international law, as even the Goldstone Report and all human rights organizations whose one-sided anti-Zionism has long been emphatic have had to admit, and Israel did not overstep that law.  Israel did not “dump” phosphorus on Palestinians, but made use of it chiefly as a smoke cover, as is legitimate, and made its best efforts to avoid civilian-occupied areas, although this of course is very difficult since the Hamas terrorists use precisely those areas as human shields and for the sort of propaganda purposes that dolceliana eagerly endorses.  The military options for such types of counter-terrorist actions in modern warfare are still being shaped, and Israel came to a decision in the course of the Gaza conflict to restrict even further its use of phosphorus in light of the negative use of it by anti-Israel propagandists, even though these are people and groups that somehow find nothing very wrong to complain about in Hamas rockets into Israeli cities, use of human shields in the Gaza conflict, etc.  

          Furthermore, despite Hamas claims, there is no clear evidence that there was extensive injuries to civilians in the Gaza conflict due to phosphorus.  This is all the more remarkable since phosphorus injuries are very easy to define and verify.  Moreover, no documented deaths from phosphorus have been reported even now.  Again, the evidences of such causes would be obvious to any objective medical inquiry, which Hamas would have to submit to to prove their accusations.  Given the nature of Hamas propaganda, this is a remarkable and no doubt quite unwilling confession by Hamas that there were in fact no fatalities and no serious war crimes.  

          The IDF investigated the Hamas claims and like even the Goldstone committee and human rights groups despite all their hoopla found very little solid evidence of extensive civilian damage or casualties: their final 164 page report can be Googled as “The Operation in Gaza: 27 December 2008 – 18 Juanuary 2009, Factual and Legal Aspects,” July 2009.

        ricksonelliot says:

        Get a real education,the Talmud teachings have left you a moron unable to debate serious men

    dolceliana says:

    sweetheart, have you ever pondered what events have combined to PRODUCE you? Probably the plague and chickenpox. :-/

    dolceliana says:

    sweetheart, have you ever pondered what events have combined to PRODUCE you? Probably the plague and chickenpox. :-/

Like Paul Berman, Finklestein entirely ignores Islam’s virulent, conspiratorial Antisemitic doctrine — present since the advent of the creed, melded permanently to jihad, and expressed continuously over nearly 14 centuries, through the present.    Finklestein also is unaware or ignores the inspiration prominent Nazis, including Hitler, derived from normative Islam before, during, and after World War Two.

The late Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi was Sunni Islam’s “ moderate “ Papal equivalent, Grand Imam of the Muslim Vatican, Al-Azhar University, from 1996, until his death on March 10, 2010.This brief excerpt summarizes, in Tantawi’s own words, the salient features of the Koran’s normative Muslim Jew hatred:

    ‘The Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e., killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61 / 3:112 ], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word …All Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims {Koran {text10|3:113} ], the bad ones do not.

These were the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the Muslim Pope — the former head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs while serving as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “ dialogue “ (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “ enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs “ (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) made clear.

    AlKhalil says:

    Why are these “hatemongering beliefs?”  All of them are statements of facts and everyone of these is a correct description to the letter.  Need proof?  Simple, look at your history, be it fantastical or actual, and you will see all of these things.  Of course, you wil not see it because you refuse “to distance” yourselves “from the evil” you “do.”

       The correct statement of fact is that Islam is a totalitarian fascist ideology disguised as a ‘religion’ which was copied from Rabbinical Judaism by Mohammed, a pedophile arab who married and had sex with an 8 yr old girl and who would be locked up in prison today for his child molestation proclivities.

        During the Middle Ages, the age of consent in England was 12.  Many legal marriages back then, all over the world, would be pedophilia today.  And Islam is no more totalitarian than Judaism and Christianity.

          Hephie says:

           Hate much?

          Natan79 says:

          Problem with truthful details much?

          geoff kl says:

          good job. excuse the behavior of the lunatic, pedophile, mass murderer.

          Yeah, there are no lunatics and mass murderers on US currency, oh noes.

           yes, heads are rolling all over Israel, women are stoned to death throughout Europe and in the US, wearing the wrong clothes will get you 50 lashes in Chicago but in NY it is marked down to 49.
          Sure it is no more totalitarian in the west than it is in Arabia or Iran.

          This is incoherent and dumb on two levels.  First you equate Christianity with Europe and the US.  That’s not going to impress someone half-educated.  Next, you completely disregard a whole millennium of clergy control in Europe.  Religions are a tool of social control, not the end in itself.  To say this or that religion is totalitarian is completely meaningless and anti-intellectual.  The history of the Mideast is very complex and doesn’t boil down to the nature of Islam.

        AlKhalil says:

        Islam is way less totalitarian than any “monotheistic” religion we know of, and certainly would be a beacon of bright shining light compared to the darkness of Christianity and Judaism.  Islam at least does allow for differences among it own adherents without considereing them heretics and burning them on the stakes or impaling them and feeding their organs to the dogs, and it even allows for other religions to exist in its own domain without mass executions or deportations, and grants them self-administration rights and state protection when no other religion would even allow dissenting beliefs to exist.  Yes, there were times of trouble and fighting, but these were not religiously motivated but rather political and economic in nature, which is very different from the systematic and religiously driven policy of exterminating all who would dare hold differing religious views or beliefs as practiced by Jews and Christians.  I had always marvelled at the Christian policy of exterminating “heathens” becuase they do not know Christ, or the Jewish belief that gentiles are not even humans but are beasts like cattle, that non-Jews have no rights to live or to protection of self, family or property.  These things are in the Torah, the Talmud and are evident in their legal reasoning and actions, past and present. So, yes, all religions are prone to violence because of their nature of being exclusive systems, but among all religions, if forced to live under any of their rule, I would be much better off living under Islamic rule than Christian or Jewish rule.  What to debate more details, I would be glad to anytime. 

          are you leftist following this, you think you can live in peace with this mentality?

          AlKhalil says:

          I can, but you won’t.

          tzur says:

          AlKhalil is obviously quite unapologetic about his rabid antisemitism and jihadi mentality, and he even grants its source in the Qur’an.  Although there are many in the West, usually on the left (and including our own President Obama) who would deny this and who love to dream of “Islam, the religion of peace,” he has an awful lot of Muslim company in this.  According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project survey of 2011, fully 98% of Muslims in Middle Eastern countries (“only” 95% in Indonesia, so this really is a Muslim trait globally) have antisemitic attitudes, most of them believing the most extreme and irrational myths about Jews; they boast of the source of these ideas in the Qur’an, although some of their current ideas were also drawn from Nazi propaganda in the Middle East during WWII.  But they are not wrong about the Qur’an and other classical Muslim sources.

          On these sources, see Andrew G. Bostom, ed. The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History (2008) — this book gives over a hundred pages (double columns, small print, large-size pages) of extracts from the Qur’an, the Hadith (legal and doctrinal traditions drawing on Muhammad’s own sayings and deeds), and Sira (biographies of Muhammad, also used for legal and doctrinal precedents), then about 150 pages of writings on the Jews by the leading Muslim jurists, theologians and scholars of classical, medieval and modern times, followed by over 200 pages of scholarly articles by leading Western academic authorities on the treatment of Jews under Muslim rule down through the ages, including documents and eyewitness accounts.  It is the most detailed and authoritative survey of this topic available in any language.  And it is a devastating indictment of Islam.  

          Also see Mohammed, Allah, and the Jews: The Foundational Doctrine, published by CSPI, the Center for the Study of Political Islam (2006) and available in paperback.  This is a shorter but also scholarly anthology of Muslim texts, with excellent very clearly written commentary.  It is Volume 5 in a series, The Islamic Trilogy, dealing with the Muslim treatment of other religions. Vol. 6 is Mohammed, Allah, and the Christians, Vol. 7 deals with Mohammed, Allah, and Hinduism, Vol. 8 with “the Intellectuals,” Vol. 9 on “the Mind of War” (i.e., jihad teachings) etc.

          If you are just going to purchase one of these books, I w0uld recommend Bostom.  Bostom has also edited an equally important book on the Islamic jihad ideology and history, The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims (2005) using the same format of generous selection of primary sources, selections from Muslim jurists and authorities down through the ages, and historical documents, plus many analytical essays by leading modern academic authorities on Islam.

          On the general treatment of Jews, Christians and other “dhimmi” under Islam down through the ages, another good book (available in paperback) is by Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam (1985).

          AlKhalil says:

          Blah Blah Blah. For anyone to be antisemetic when attacking your atrocities, which seem to be dear to you and have yor full support, you would have to Semetic first, fkng imposters from Europe. second, none of what you say is true but typical of your likes you spread lies to jusftify your debased nature and atrocious acts.

          tzur says:

          Antisemitism has never been about actual Semites per se, just about the Jews.  The “racial” justification for it, expressed misleadingly by the spelling “anti-Semitism” (as if Semitism was the issue) was always a mere cover.  Even Hitler, who began with strictly racist ideas, ended up after learning a bit more history and anthropology asserting (in Mein Kampf) that Jews were not really Semites, but were too mixed to be anything, in fact he accused them of being the paradigm “mongrel” people who married with “Aryan” Germans and because of this threatened “Aryan purity.”  Furthermore, Hitler was a big friend of Arab antisemites and anti-democratic groups in the Middle East, even giving refuge to the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husayni (the leader of local anti-Jewish terrorist gangs in 1920s and 30s British Mandate Palestine) throughout the Second World War.  El-Husayni even issued “fatwas” from Berlin, in propaganda radio broadcasts, demanding global Muslim participation in the Nazi military machine, and personally organized two Arab Muslim SS divisions that fought with the Nazis.  He also personally participated in the genocidal process in Nazi-occupied Europe, and was promised by Hitler his own rule, as a tributary subordinate, of a Jew-free Middle East after the war, with permission to wipe out any Jews that remained.  He escaped to Egyptian sanctuary after the war, and there he was the mentor to his nephew Yasser Arafat who took up his own antisemitic agenda and anti-Zionist terrorist leadership mantle in the next generation.  Converts to Judaism, including Aryans, were amongst those who perished in the concentration camps.  

          For a good discussion of Arab antisemitism, see Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites (1986), and Robert Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (2010).

          One can only laugh at AlKhalil’s response to my previous post: he invited “debate” on how great Muslims have been as rulers, but when he gets it, with plenty of factual citations and documentation, including objective opinion polls by the world-renowned Pew Global Project survey organization and books on Muslim mistreatment of other religious groups, Jewish and other, and endorsement of cruelly unjust violence and jihad global war, that include actual Muslim sources from the Qur’an to the present day, all he can say is that I have made it up and lie.  Meanwhile bloodshed against non-Muslims is in the news from Asian countries to African ones, from Europe to the Middle East.  Some refutation!

          AlKhalil says:

          Yes, more Blah Blah Blah. To debate something I need to have points of fact to debate, not the rantings of Zionazi colonial lunatics.

          ricksonelliot says:

          The problem is Jews who are from Israel have no real education only the rantings of Talmud ic rabbis who simply repeat the uneducated dictums of rabbis , read the Talmud and you’ll find the ramblings of simple superstitious men who never acquired real world knowledge,it is one part racist supremacy and 1 part ignorant statements,almost laughable

        AlKhalil says:

        Muhammad did not copy anything from Rabbinical Judaism as evident in the differences between Islam and either Christianity and Judaism.  Yes, I fault him for expressing the view that Christianity and Judaism were/are valid religions but that they needed corrections.  If I were him I would have negated both of them outright as false and corrupt religions that had no basis of history or valid moral teachings.  Having considered them originally valid but later corrupted religions, he was thus obligated to offer views about where both have erred and where their teachings could be accepted.  Regardless, however, Christianity and Judaism are still fantastical religions of mythical tales and pagan beliefs.  Islam tainted itself by accepting them and regarding them as valid.

        As for his marriage of Ayesha at a young age, this is a matter of historical debate but has basically no value.  First, most scholars do no know the exact age of any historical personality and it gets less so as you go deeper inn time.  Second, Muslim scholars themselves did not settle the issue and did not find it important to do so conclusively because any of the age ranges mentioned in any source were within the norms of the society.  However, most scholars who studied the issue have set Aeysha’s age at somewhere between 17 and 19, cenrtainly an old age by the times’ standards.  The only report of Ayesha young age comes from one source reporting the age of 9 from Ayehs herself.  However, Ayesha could have lied about her age as most women did, and certainly saw nothing wrong about her being 9 years old.  And the reporter of the story himself  only reported the story at an old age (never before when he was writing Hadiths) when most scholars consider him becoming senile and do not take any of his reports as at this age factual.

          A bit of taqiyya to show your commitment to the Koran and sharia.

          AlKhalil says:

          Hatha Nadila Hatha… Blah Blah Blah
          You people are hopeless and have wind stirring in a vacant skull.

          Michael Shapiro says:

          “Lied about her age as most women do”?

          Not only do you hate Jews, you hate women, too.  Must be a Q’uran loving Muslim.

      geoff kl says:

      wow. and thank you for not using the code work zionist, as a cover for your jew hate

      Natan79 says:

      Look at AlKhalil, he approves the murder of Jews. He is the enemy of any Jew. If AlKhalil is not currently engaged in terrorist activity, he at lest supports it materially. 

      Which is favorite “charity”, AlKhalil? How do you send money to jihadis? I’d love to see your passport, I bet it has really interesting stamps. Like Anwar AlAwlaki’s. Or Imad Mughniyeh’s.

Miha Ahronovitz says:

I like Chomsky, in spite of his controversy. Never heard of Finklestein before and this excellent interview,  – I love how Tablet covers all Jewish underdogs – this educated  gentleman  has some psychological fog to travel through. He should try a lecture of Likutey Moharan of Rabbi Nachman from Breslov. Here is a quote:

“When people want to become truly religious and serve G-d, they seem to be overwhelmed  with confusions and frustrations. They find great barriers in their path and cannot decide what to do”

Perhaps for Finklestein, G-d is “Intellectual Honesty” although this is as precise saying my home address is on planet earth. Rabbi Nachman continues:

” All the enthusiasm that such people have trying to do good is very precious, even if their goal is not achieved. all their offer is counted as a sacrifice in the category “for your sake we are killed each day, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter”. The Tikuney Zohar states that this psalm 44:23 speaks of both prayer and sacrifice”

Viewed from this angle, Mr. Finklestein  is what Breslov calls “an Erlicher Yid”, an Honorable Jew in Yiddish. He has desire and longing. “of course”, Rabbi Nachman says “this not enough, for this must be realized in action.

So when labeling Finklestein  anti-Jewish, he is not. He is very Jewish, because of his genuine desire to bring good into the world. As we discover our great Rabbi wisdom is not propaganda and Rabbi Nachman was, to begin with, a rebel of sorts, who maintains freshness today more than ever

    geoff kl says:

    an erlicher yid? you dont understand the meaning of the term

    an erlicher yid involves himself with the jewish community and shows love to it.

    that is not what norm does

    btw, you dont believe in g-d, so why hyphenate?

      Miha Ahronovitz says:

       The term is exactly taken from The Rabbi Nachman Wisdom, in the context I quoted. Obviously you did not read that book and it seems you decide who believes in G-d and who doesn’t. You should do some “bitul” meditation and fear “irat hashamaim”

emunadate says:

Norman Finkelstein is so twisted. I believe he says what he says for shock value. He probably thinks no one would read his stuff if was pro-Jewish or pro-Israel. Maybe he should recheck Israel’s borders again. Israel won the war in ’67 that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan began and conquered Jerusalem, Sinai, Golan Heights, and Yehuda and Shomron (West Bank).

    geoff kl says:

    reporter notebook is a virulent jew hate site

    and mike, you are a virulent jew hater

      Hephie says:

       If you can’t argue facts, smear.

      evasmagacz says:

      So reporter notebook is now a jew hate site? and Finkelstein is self hating Jew…, and Left is attacking Zionism…. Yawn…:-O
      Paranoid much?

        geoff kl says:

        i have never referred to norm as a self hating jew.

        one has to accept that one is jewish before one can self hate

        norm doesnt see himself as jewish, until it suits his purpose.

        there arent facts on that site…there are lies used as propaganda….have you ever visited?

        and no…the left doesnt attack zionism…the far left loonies do…a very tiny minority of people in this country

    dolceliana says:

    NF is twisted?? — You are a real imbecile, sir. 

    dolceliana says:

    NF is twisted?? — You are a real imbecile, sir. 

    dolceliana says:

    NF is twisted?? — You are a real imbecile, sir. 

Potlemac says:

Imagine growing up in a family so traumatized and grief-stricken that one could not even ask questions about the “elephant in the living room”?   (Family secrets run amok!)  Finkelstein’s point of view has to be seen from that perspective.  He claims his family’s victimhood and is unwilling to share it precisely because his childhood was so troubled.  One can disagree strongly with Finkelstein’s politics but he and all of us would  benefit from some generosity and simple  human kindness.

Howard Wallick says:

Why would Tablet waste so much “space” on such a marginal character?

Grathi says:

Was there actually a question in there likening Finkelstein to a prophet? Where were the tough questions? Where were the follow-ups or challenges?

Here’s what I know: Finkelstein is a double beneficiary of the “Holocaust Industry” he created for himself. His family received substantial reparations for their suffering. He then took that suffering and turned it into a profitable attack on the Jewish community. He brags that his book on the so-called Holocaust Industry has been translated to multiple languages.

Here’s what else I know: Finkelstein wrote a book about the Gaza war and traveled all over North American campuses in what can only be described as a dog and pony show, to let the masses know that what happened in Gaza was a massacre, not a war. When it was pointed out to him that if the other side loses hundreds of soldiers in the fighting, there must be warfare going on, he played games with numbers such as bringing up B’Tzelem’s reference to Hamas police as non-combatants. Several months later, this thesis was proven false when Hamas itself declared that the number of Hamas combatants who were injured was essentially the same as the IDF had been declaring all along. Then Goldstone himself recanted publicly on key assertions he made about the Israelis in that war. What did Finkelstein do, in his never-ending quest for honesty and integrity? He wrote a small book that doesn’t change his position on his naming this war a “massacre” and that seeks to pretend that Goldstone is not really the one we should believe.

It’s not hard to take Finkelstein apart because of his inherent anti-Jewish-community and anti-Israel biases. They end up coloring his entire oeuvre and leaving him open to justified criticism.

    Some people need to learn English.  Finkelstein never complained about reparations for Holocaust victims.

      Grathi says:


      Yes some people should learn English, especially if they’re going to comment about comprehension. What I wrote:

      “Finkelstein is a double beneficiary of the
      “Holocaust Industry” he created for himself. His family received
      substantial reparations for their suffering. He then took that suffering
      and turned it into a profitable attack on the Jewish community. He
      brags that his book on the so-called Holocaust Industry has been
      translated to multiple languages.”

      Entirely and completely accurate.

        Well, no, it’s not accurate.  None of his remarks constitute an attack on the Jewish community.

        Also, this is completely meaningless:  “When it was pointed out to him that if the other side loses hundreds of
        soldiers in the fighting, there must be warfare going on,”  A war can be a massacre of civilians at the same time, which Operation Cast Lead certainly was.

          Grathi says:


          Oh, okay, attacking mainstream Jewish organizations and Jewish leaders does not constitute an attack on the Jewish community. Let me guess…you were Mearsheimer’s student, right?

          Re: Gaza. Finkelstein’s entire presentation in his country-wide college tour of the USA to present his Gaza book, was predicated on the concept that Hamas was not a real fighting force. He said therefore “It wasn’t the Gaza War, it was the Gaza Massacre.”

          He was challenged with information that the actual number of combatant casualties was much higher than what he was claiming and the ratio of 1:1 civilian to combatant dead in the warfare was rarely achieved in any modern war, especially considering that Hamas purposely fought and attacked from among a civilian population.

          He responded by minimizing the number of combatant deaths.  He was confronted with different figures and was asked how a war can be called a massacre when it’s clear that there was a large and real fighting force with thousands of soldiers on the side that lost. If there’s an army, it’s not a massacre and Hamas had a trained army. So then he quoted B’Tzelem’s casualty figures. Except that this was also dishonest because B’Tzelem sometimes labels combatants as civilians and in the Gaza War they labeled the Hamas police as non-combatants. Even with the police, however, there were about 450-500 dead combatants abut Finkelstein insisted it was around 200-250 dead combatants. In other words, around 1300 civilians and 200 fighters.

          Hamas itself came out several months later with a figure of over 700 Hamas combatants lost. Their numbers were about the same the IDF’s own estimates. Did Finkelstein ever backtrack? Did he ever say that he was wrong and this was the Gaza War and not the Gaza Massacre? Did he acknowledge that his case went up in smoke? No. Instead, even after Goldstone retracted his primary claim against the Israelis in Gaza, Finkelstein simply reconfigured his argument and published another book.

          But what the hell, he got a bunch of speaking engagements out of it and taught thousands of students false information about Israel and the Gaza War and now he has his very own Tablet interview.

    ricksonelliot says:

    The holocaust gas chamber canard is laughed at as just another self serving myth in America, along with the almost comical survivor claims

dolceliana says:

Dr. Finkelstein is a fabulous, knowledgeable, loving human being, therefore he was an excellent teacher. Those who doubt my words, read these students’ evaluations.

WHICH ones of you, commentators, who accuse here Dr. Finkelstein of this and that, is able to teach political science at a university level with such a great evaluation? Which ones???

    geoff kl says:

    he was an ez a

     When you scratch below the surface things don’t look quite that way dolce, you are talking about a very injured man.  His lack of flexibility and his need to be right,  the interplay of his growing up as the child of survivors is very telling.  Being an inciter for Jew haters is not the works of a loving human being in a sane society.

      dolceliana says:

      Hahahaha, say what you want in your criticisms, but I would LOVE to see you standing before a class of university students and teaching them politics. Or, I would love to put you before Dr. Finkelstein’s former students and regurgitate word by word what you say about him here. I would LOVE to see that spectacle !!!!!!!!! I bet YOU would be the very injured man. :-/ 

         Dolce there are answers for finklestein’s twisted hate speech against Israel and support for sociopathic terrorists.  In a room filled with honest people the conversation would expose and embarrass him and those like you who buy his drivel.  Dolce, the man’s hate speech is sadly as unbalanced as he is, there is another side to the issues, perhaps you will be curious to seek it out.

          dolceliana says:

          Can you refer me to some concrete material, where I could read or hear this hate speech against Israel you’re talking about? I know it doesn’t exist, you’re a very disturbed man.

          Natan79 says:

          Finkelstein has praised Hezbollah, whose chief has openly wants to murder all Jews. Not just Jews in Israel, but everywhere. Moreover, Hezbollah means it. That is why they killed Jews even in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 
          THIS is the man who you like. What does it say about yourself? 

          dolceliana says:

          I like NF? :-) oh, why not, he IS a very handsome Jewish guy!! …anyway,  what did NF say in his praise exactly? — When my country was occupied and plundered by the Nazis, we also had the feeling we wanted all Germans dead. So don’t blame the Hezbollah, blame those who invade their land.

          Lebanon is occupied by Hezbollah, your speed in justifying genocidal psychopaths who focus on murdering Jews is clarifying. 

          dolceliana says:

          Palestine is occupied by Israel. Israel bombed Lebanon. Israel bombed Palestine. Now Israel feels like bombing Iran. Poor Israelis, they are obviously governed by a meshugah government which astounds me because Jews are smart people. What a paradox. Israel needs a coup d’etat!!!

          tzur says:

          The claim of  Israeli “occupation” of “Palestine” (an Arab state that has never existed so it has no legal status) has no foundation in international law.  Actually, the land was assigned to the Jewish people, explicitly for them to establish a Jewish state there, after WWII, at the San Remo Conference of 1920, and that was the basis for Britain taking on the custodial role in Mandate Palestine.  As for the equally delusional claim that the land “belonged” to “the Palestinian people,” see my earlier post regarding Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial.  But on the significance of the San Remo Conference, see the book by Howard Grief, The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law (2010), summarized by him in an article in NATIV Online, available at

          Also see Ronnie Sabel, “The Problematic Fourth Geneva Convention: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation,” at  and the recent comments at elderofziyon

          I recommend these items to those who are interested in understanding exactly how wilfully far off-base the “occupation” slur of anti-Zionists is.

    tzur says:

    Certainly not Finkelstein himself, since he has been rejected for tenure everywhere and teaches on no university staff.

DrMikeH49 says:

when did Tablet start allowing posts by Holocaust deniers?

    Grathi says:

     It’s fitting that they arrived for the Finkelstein hagiography. They’re the crowd that loves the whole “Holocaust Industry” hypocrisy.

philipmann says:

 To whoever is listening at Tablet.

  Grathi is right. What point is there to Disqus,if all it does is to allow any crackpot to follow us around ? Why should we engage in any discussion here ?

Wonderful interview!! 
We Jews in Norway love Israel but we also love Justice.  Remember what Hillel the Elder said!!

“What is hateful to thyself do not do to another. That is the whole Law, the rest is Commentary.”

    geoff kl says:

    that quote has nothing to do with how one faces ones enemy….

    but i prefer shamai, who when the heathen came to him and requested that he tell him  the entirety of the torah while the heathen stood on one foot…shamai told him to go to hell

    so please, when attempting to teach jews the what our rabbis have to say…go to hell

      so now only Israel is allowed to have rabbis?? we can’t have rabbis in Norway?

      that quote is the way we should behave no more and no less!!! walling people around their house is not the way I am afraid.

        geoff kl says:

        no. you are not allowed to twist the words of hillel to mean what you want them to mean

        and his words have nothing to do with a people defending themselves.

        btw, hillel also knew that the heathen would not be able to keep that simple precept…for he asked him in the same fashion that he asked shamai…in order to shame him.

        so please…bugger off 

     Sadly you will be learning a bit more about what it’s like to be Jewish and hated.  I suggest you stop following the anti Israel propaganda on TV there and take your family away from the country that supplies money that buys weapons for the murder of Jews.

      ricksonelliot says:

      The biggest taboo is criticizing Israel,your carreer will be destroyed, the few pro Palestinian articles are meant to give a sense of non bias,

yevka says:

    geoff kl says:

    oh goody…a link to a good jew hate site

      evasmagacz says:

      So mondoweiss is now a jew hate site? and Finkelstein is self hating Jew…, and Left is attacking Zionism…. Yawn…:-O
      Paranoid much?

        Natan79 says:

        Mondoweiss is a site that denies of right of my country Israel to exist, and denies my right as a Jew to have a country.

        Not that of Poles or Hungarians or Germans or Arabs –  to Mondoweiss and to yourself evasmagacz all these nations have this basic right uncontested, just NOT the Jews. For this reason, I too think Mondoweiss is anti-Semitic, and I think you are one as well.

geoff kl says:

i liked the interview. norm has read a lot of books. he is angry at everyone but the stupid jew hating kids that kiss his butt, and noam chomsky.

i learned a lot

Reuven Genn says:

Despite the assertions of Finkelstein and others the phrase “a land without people for a people without land” was a Labor Zionist phrase. There were many other Zionist leaders who clearly saw the reality on the ground. They knew that there were people living in what was then Mandate Palestine and they also knew that the landless plight of the Jews needed a solution. Knowing that there is no “perfect justice” they believed as did Jabotinsky that the jewish people were “starving” (for a solution) while the Arabs had an “appetite”. He was not denegrating the Arabs living in Eretz Yisrael nor was he saying that they did not have rights. What he was saying was that the catastrophic situation of the jews demanded priority – notwithstanding the fact that “pure justice” would not be served.
Reuven Genn
Karkur, Israel

Reuven Genn says:

Despite the assertions of Finkelstein and others the phrase “a land without people for a people without land” was a Labor Zionist phrase. There were many other Zionist leaders who clearly saw the reality on the ground. They knew that there were people living in what was then Mandate Palestine and they also knew that the landless plight of the Jews needed a solution. Knowing that there is no “perfect justice” they believed as did Jabotinsky that the jewish people were “starving” (for a solution) while the Arabs had an “appetite”. He was not denegrating the Arabs living in Eretz Yisrael nor was he saying that they did not have rights. What he was saying was that the catastrophic situation of the jews demanded priority – notwithstanding the fact that “pure justice” would not be served.
Reuven Genn
Karkur, Israel

Reuven Genn says:

Despite the assertions of Finkelstein and others the phrase “a land without people for a people without land” was a Labor Zionist phrase. There were many other Zionist leaders who clearly saw the reality on the ground. They knew that there were people living in what was then Mandate Palestine and they also knew that the landless plight of the Jews needed a solution. Knowing that there is no “perfect justice” they believed as did Jabotinsky that the jewish people were “starving” (for a solution) while the Arabs had an “appetite”. He was not denegrating the Arabs living in Eretz Yisrael nor was he saying that they did not have rights. What he was saying was that the catastrophic situation of the jews demanded priority – notwithstanding the fact that “pure justice” would not be served.
Reuven Genn
Karkur, Israel

Reuven Genn says:

Despite the assertions of Finkelstein and others the phrase “a land without people for a people without land” was a Labor Zionist phrase. There were many other Zionist leaders who clearly saw the reality on the ground. They knew that there were people living in what was then Mandate Palestine and they also knew that the landless plight of the Jews needed a solution. Knowing that there is no “perfect justice” they believed as did Jabotinsky that the jewish people were “starving” (for a solution) while the Arabs had an “appetite”. He was not denegrating the Arabs living in Eretz Yisrael nor was he saying that they did not have rights. What he was saying was that the catastrophic situation of the jews demanded priority – notwithstanding the fact that “pure justice” would not be served.
Reuven Genn
Karkur, Israel

    I hear you Reuven and I think it’s a point well taken but we have to minimize the injustices as much as we can while understanding that perfect justice is impossible the same way americans realize that with native americans..slowly they tried to adjust the situation but there is still no justice today and still total amnesia about the situation.
    one good thing they did lately was to allow them to have casinos but the situation is still unbearable in many parts of the country..we should imagine new ways in israel to help palestinians that have lost land and hope. together we should come up with solutions!!!

    Natan79 says:

    We should not forget that there was massive Arab immigration into the British Mandate of Palestine due to economic development spurred by the Jews. My favorite Arab immigrant example are Yasser Arafat and Edward Said, both Egyptians.

    We should also not forget that there were more Jewish refugees from Arab  and Muslim countries after 1948 than palestinian refugees. More than 5o % of Israeli Jews are the descendants of these Jewish refugees.

    Of course, you would never hear such facts from Chomsky or Finkelstein or David Samuels.

      franz norpois says:

      I’m not sure that Yasser Arafat could be properly described as an “immigrant”. This is an excerpt from the Nobel Prize website:

      “Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini was born on 24 August 1929 in Cairo, his father a textile merchant who was a Palestinian with some Egyptian ancestry, his mother from an old Palestinian family in Jerusalem. She died when Yasir, as he was called, was five years old, and he was sent to live with his maternal uncle in Jerusalem, the capital of the British Mandate of Palestine.”

         It was in his noble prize website so it must be true…you can add Abbas to the list of immigrants—his family comes from Iraq.

    tzur says:

    Actually, the phrase “a land without a people for a people without a land” was NOT a Labor Zionist phrase per se.  Perhaps Reuven Genn meant to insert a “not” in his first sentence?  

    The phrase was first used by Christians supportive of Jewish aspirations for their own state in the mid-nineteenth century, since the land really was desolate then anyway and the world-wide Jewish need for a refuge was great.  

    But the phrase seldom appears in speeches or writings by Zionist leaders, either pre- or post-1948.  Even in his foundational programmatic vision for Zionism, The Old-New Land (1902) Theodor Herzl envisaged a liberal democratic Jewish state in the future that harmoniously integrated Arabs and other non-Jews into its fabric, providing a model of tolerance for a future peaceful world.  He, Ben Gurion, Weizmann and other leaders and thinkers recognized that there were other inhabitants of the admittedly underpopulated land, and hoped to include them in their utopian ideal.  They made this clear in their speeches and writings both private and public.  There is actually a fairly good Wikipedia article on the phrase, by the way, which is a bit of a surprise considering the way many Wikipedia articles relating to Israel and Arabs are unreliable and heavily one-sided, having been taken over and continuously guarded by quite aggressive leftist and Muslim editors.  But the article could have quoted Herzl and other Zionist leaders more fully on these matters: they wrote quite a bit about it.

I find it odd that every negative comment about Dr. Finkelstein is related to his opinions about Israel rather than what he has to say about the genesis and development of the way we study and memorialize the Shoah.  That is the way he first came to my attention and where I think his ideas and opinions are valid.

    Grathi says:

    What Finkelstein has to say about the Holocaust, its study or any other aspect of its implications is gravely tainted by his personal impressions and history. His ideas and opinions, as a consequence, have a great deal of validity for Holocaust deniers who admire having a shill do their dirty work of besmirching Jews, but really lose their importance because one needs integrity and objectivity when approaching a subject this broad, complex and sensitive and it appears the demons in Finkelstein’s mind won’t allow either integrity or objectivity to take precedence over his inherent biases.

       I don’t doubt that his opinions of the Shoah have been influenced by his personal experiences; that’s true of many people.  However as a writer and observer of Jewish society and a student of Jewish history I find his descriptions and analyses spot on. 

      It’s unfortunate that some of his views give succor to Holocaust deniers, but just because those with nefarious intentions use them does not make them invalid.

        Grathi says:

         No, I’m afraid his observations of Jewish society are severely tainted and this is reflected in his writing.

        As for Jewish history, on the basis of the ridiculous manner in which he recounts what is practically current Israeli history, I’m afraid you don’t have a leg to stand on.

        But we agree, just because Holocaust deniers use someone’s views, that doesn’t make those views invalid. The tragedy here is that many of Finkelstein’s biases color his work and therefore they’re not only used by people like Holocaust deniers and other haters of Jews, but the information they provide using him as a valid source is anything but valid.

        Take a look at Omer Bartov or Peter Novick’s critiques of Finkelstein’s Holocaust Industry book if you’d rather not rely on my word. 

        But hey, who cares, right? I mean he got to throw around the names of Chomsky and Ghandi, so he must be okay. 

           I have seen both Bartov’s and Novick’s work and I still don’t agree with you, and name-dropping doesn’t impress me.

       I don’t doubt that his opinions of the Shoah have been influenced by his personal experiences; that’s true of many people.  However as a writer and observer of Jewish society and a student of Jewish history I find his descriptions and analyses spot on. 

      It’s unfortunate that some of his views give succor to Holocaust deniers, but just because those with nefarious intentions use them does not make them invalid.

       I don’t doubt that his opinions of the Shoah have been influenced by his personal experiences; that’s true of many people.  However as a writer and observer of Jewish society and a student of Jewish history I find his descriptions and analyses spot on. 

      It’s unfortunate that some of his views give succor to Holocaust deniers, but just because those with nefarious intentions use them does not make them invalid.

NF says:  “If you take Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in
Jerusalem,” she wrote that in ’62 or ’63, and if you look at the
bibliography, do you know how many books there were in English about the
Nazi Holocaust? Two. There was [Raul] Hilberg’s book and one other.
Nobody gave a shit about what happened until it became an industry.” 
I do not doubt this may be true of American authors and American bookstores — but it was not in Europe (e.g. Britain and France) where a new genre of atrocity literature emerged abundantly in the 1950s, mostly written by survivors of PoW camps or concentration camps, including the first Gulag narratives (especially provocative in France, where several notorious trials publicized atrocity information, inviting debate whether Stalin’s aims and methods were worse than Hitler’s.)
NF’s conclusion that ”
Nobody gave a shit about what happened” before the Eichmann trial is obviously sincere:  and obviously unfactual, reflecting more the American point of view that what does not happen in America or to Americans has no significant reality.

    tzur says:

    Actually, there were quite a few books about the Holocaust before 1963, when Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem came out.  The noise that work made was directly due to the earlier publications having brought the issues before the public, and the public’s increasing interest in the subject now that nearly a generation had passed, not due to the lack of publications.  

    Arendt’s book could also be palatable to a depressed world unwilling to confront the horrible past precisely because its context was a positive one: just as in the Superman legends, reaffirming comforting and optimistic cliches about humanity’s resilience and power to overcome evil, Israel had arisen from the ashes of the Holocaust, and could confront the past annihilations from a position of strength and confidence.  Only this decade therefore could allow any proper examination of the horrible reality of past evil, and the entire non-Jewish world’s implication in it.  

    To the world’s antisemites, however (covert and overt), Arendt’s message was even more soothing: Eichmann (along with the rest of the Nazi genocidal society) was just a banal man forced to follow orders, a paradigmatic easily universalisable and excusable case of “the bureaucratic man in the modern world,” and was not really so guilty of what he did as were the Jewish leaders in the Nazi ghettos.  That sort of man-bit-dog inversion was news, and gave a comforting self-exoneration to all the world, except the Jews — who were stung into focusing on that period in earnest to defend their moral right to a continued existence.  This was very agreeable to a world filled with guilty bystanders, collaborators and perpetrators that could not bear to look itself in the face.  Aided by her brilliant writing, Arendt became a celebrity and her book a best-seller, and thus her book began the widespread recognition and acceptance that indeed there had been a Holocaust.  

    So Finkelstein’s claims that there were no publications in English before Arendt’s book are just the usual sort of untruthful and maliciously motivated exaggeration that is so characteristic of his writings generally.  For example, Primo Levi’s If This Is A Man (1947, English edition 1959), Elie Wiesel’s Night (English edition, 1960), Elie Cohen’s Human Behaviour in the Concentration Camp (1953), Eugen Kogon’s The Theory and Practice of Hell: The Concentration Camps and the System Behind Them (1950), and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (1945, English edition 1959), just to mention a few, all came out before either Hilberg or Arendt.  Scanning the bibliography in, for example, Lucy Dawidowicz’s The War Against The Jews 1933-45 (just to make it easy for myself), I find plenty of books from the late 1940s, the 50s, and the first two years of the 60s.  These range from massive publications from the UN War Crimes Commission Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, 15 vols. (1947-9) and extensive YIVO Institute, Yad Vashem and other such publications, to ordinary scholarly and historical accounts.  It is true, however, that there was a massive increase in such publications starting in the ’60s.  Why was that?  Not because of some nefarious Jewish vampirism and propaganda.  For the bystanders, collaborators, and perpetrators, there was a positive distaste for reviving any recollection of that period, since their guilt stared them in the face and every such book was a reproach.  For the survivors, as anyone would know who has had much contact with them, there was a strong tendency to suppress the past and to try to get on with their lives — especially given the cold indifference of the world around them.  They were severely traumatized people.  But as is true of such people, as time passed it became possible more calmly to recall and reflect on what happened, even if then it could threaten to take over their lives anew.  What was true for the chief victims, was also true for that whole Jewish generation, for all Jews still are survivors of that horror.  Only a cruel and remote person would see this as some sort of self-aggrandizing plot.

fieldinski says:

it isn’t easy for a jew to come around to norman finkelstein’s way of thinking, but the attack on gaza clarified my mind on what, psychologically, was going on with the israeli people:



In a world of Hitler and Jews

you have only one choice anymore —

you can either be Hitler

or the Jews.

Every Jew will understand this.


Israel’s motto is “Never again”

and declares the end of history,

our history of being the victim.

It’s what it has finally taught us —

in a world of Hitler and Jews

there’s no other choice –

be Hitler.


Surrounded by enemies,

actual or possible,

with an occasional rocket

to ignite the threat of attack,

you finally go crazy,

like Stalin, who translated

the ideals of communism

into a police state.


And like the Israelis

trying to crush the Palestinians.

The rest of the world may not like it

but you can’t argue with fear.


Nobody else wants to be The Jews either.

If the Palestinians get their state,

they will become Hitler, our Hitler,

and we will again become The Jews –

in fact the Israelis have made that likely

with the brutal occupation.


There’s also the greed factor,

the way our ‘pioneers’ dealt with the Indians

to grab the land –

Hitler based his Eastern policy on ours,

rounding up and exterminating the people

of the conquered lands to the east

as we did in the west.


Horrified as the civilized world is,

it’s our history led us to this —

that in a world of Hitler and Jews

better be Hitler,

be Hitler, never again the Jews.


Nothing to argue about,

you can’t talk away fear —

huddled together in a tiny country,

even with a powerful army

and the atom bomb –

it’s built in.


Every Jew will understand this,

and that is the tragedy —

for now everything is set

for a continuation of our doleful history–

expelled from our difficult homeland again,

where we are The Eternal Jew,

the world’s pariah,

the role we cannot shed,

the role we’re destined for.

                             — edward field

    tzur says:

    This attempt to equate Israel to Nazi Germany and their policies in war is presented as cliché worldly-wise inevitabilities, but underlying this is hate propaganda.  It has no truth value.

    Col. Richard Kemp, CBE, former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan, and also commander of troops in Northern Ireland and the Iraq war, and one of the foremost experts in the world on counter-terrorism methods and problems, informed an UN Human Rights Council inquiry into the 2009 Gaza war that: “Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defense Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”  His frank and hard-hitting testimony can be seen at

    Retired Major General Jim Molan, American Chief of Operations of Allied forces in the Iraq war during 2004-5, a commander with deep experience of counter-terrorism operations, who monitored the Gaza conflict closely, strongly agreed that Israel’s enemy was the one who constantly violated international law, not Israel, that Israel made great efforts to protect civilians as much as possible and that it was nevertheless being held to an impossible standard, while its terrorist enemies were being held to none. See, for example, his article “UN bias binds Gaza,” The Australian, October 2, 2009, at,25197,26152548-7583.html.

    Anthony Cordesman, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, in a 96-page examination of Israel’s conduct of the Gaza war (Examining the Conduct of IDF Operations in Gaza,” February 2, 2009, at agrees that Israel has set a humanitarian standard for fighting urban terrorists that use civilian populations as shields that no other Western country either now or in the past has ever matched.  Jeffrey White, another strategic and military analyst of international stature, also underlines the efforts made, successfully, by Israel to minimize civilian casualties, in his “Examining the Conduct of IDF Operations in Gaza,” Policy Watch #31497, at

    Even Richard Goldstone, who inexcusably allowed his UN Preliminary Report on the Gaza conflict to reflect only the Hamas point of view and its allegations, eventually withdrew that endorsement and acknowledged that Israel had investigated all the alleged war crimes responsibly and found very few allegations had any truth, but any that had were properly prosecuted and offenders punished, while Hamas for its part refused to investigate any alleged war crimes done by its own fighters, nor to punish those guilty of them.

Miha Ahronovitz says:

I am trying to see Norman Finkelstein root of of his statements about a “Holocaust  obsession” created after 1962. Yet there is some truth that any documents showing huge atrocities get priority at Yad Vashem.

I know personally Arnold Daghani, the artist and survivor of  the camps from Transnistria He died in 1989 in UK. His collections and diary were refused by Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem as the time and a distinguished literary agent in Lodon rejected Daghani’s diary because it was  “good, but too few atrocities!”

“There is a danger of a new type of literature which literary history can
classify as “atrocity writing”. .. Even works of poetical restraint and
nobility of feeling, such as “The Diary of Anne Frank”, have been
exploited for commercial or political reasons. One condition of our half
demented society is that those great human documents can’t be left to
speak by themselves”

See Arnold Daghani. Who is he? | Pictures from the invisible

    Natan79 says:

    330,000 Jews were murdered by Romania during WWII, mostly in Transnistria. We should forget this simply because Miha Ahronovitz doesn’t like it? Who the hell are you to tell us what we can do and what we can’t? Most people who saw atrocities didn’t get out alive. They burnt with gasoline in Odessa or were machine-gunned in Vapniarka. 

    Do we know what Anne Frank saw before she was gassed in death? No we don’t, her diary stopped before she was deported and before she saw the worst. You have no logic whatsoever, and certainly no decency.

      ricksonelliot says:

      330,000 Jews, yet the only evidence is Jewish claims.

      Anne frank lived in the camps for 2 years before dying of typhus, not gas chambers, you probobly assumed that because the myth of “children and elderly were gassed immediately” that she was gassed.

      The entire narrative is underpinned by almost comical claims so easily debunked it’s embarrassing

        tzur says:

        The Frank family lived for two years in hiding in Amsterdam, but were betrayed by Dutch Nazis and rounded up  on July 13, 1945.  They were taken to Camp Westerbork, the transit camp maintained by the Gestapo in northeastern Holland.  On September 3, 1944, Anne Frank together with her family was deported from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz.  As a young and healthy teenager she was put to slave labor, on starvation rations like everyone else who escaped immediate gassing.  Most such people died within three months anyway from the conditions there.  On October 28th, Anne Frank was transported to Bergen-Belsen with her sister Margot.  Her mother was left behind in Auschwitz and later died of starvation.  Conditions were just as bad in Bergen-Belsen, and disease was even more epidemic because of the especially unhygienic conditions created by the Nazis. Diseases ordinarily survivable easily spread because of the Nazi intentional refusal to maintain proper hygiene, and inmates readily succumbed because of their severely weakened condition, the result of the starvation regime, slave labor and brutal treatment.  Anne was described by a friend who met her in Bergen Belsen as bald, emaciated and shivering (no winter clothing was provided, not even shoes).  In March 1945 a typhus epidemic spread through the camp, killing 17,000 prisoners.  Anne died that month.  A young, healthy and vigorous girl of 15 when she was deported to the concentration camps, she perished in skeletal condition after only seven months.

          ricksonelliot says:

          None of what you claim is backed up by documentary evidence,just ludicrous survivor claims that became so embarrassingly absurd the top Jewish holocaust scholars declared in the nyt ” survivor testimony is notoriously unreliable and mostly consist of implausible accounts of fantasmagorical accounts of victimization and heroism” why did the so called death camps have delousing chambers and shave heads to stop typhus from spreading,and why would a death camp have a 700 bed hospital/ infirmary to care for typhus and injury victims? Remember Ellie weisel and Otto frank were in the camp hospital when liberated, one for a minor foot injury. Why did auchvits have a movie theatre,soccer pitch( which some survivors admit Jews played in games against guards), why did they have a brothel,library, art program,and were allowed to produce theatrical and orchestra productions? Address those facts and you will have some credibility, I guarantee you won’t,

Fat_Man says:

Why are you giving space and time to this loathsome creature. Let the Stalinists interview him. Jews should subject him to a herem and refuse to bury him when he dies. And his little dog Chomsky too.

May his name be blotted out.

Finkelstein seems to suggest that implementation of the will of the people is the most important consideration in politics. In the previous breath he seems to say that executing international law (which of course is made by thoroughly undemocratic bodies, and is often designed to negate democratic desires) is of primary importance. And what would happen if Arab politicians tried to follow the “Arab Street” and particularly the Palestinian popular will? But rather than address those “contradictions”, I would  settle to see him disparage other writers he doesn’t like as he did Hitchens and Goldberg.

Neal Romanek says:

Superb interview!

I absolutely disagree with Dr. Finkelstein’s assessment of his own writing abilities. I think he is a marvelous writer, and the truths he uncovers through his meticulous research and logical analysis are invaluable. Thank you, Norman Finkelstein.

rigors says:

Influence is what is communicated personally to every interested reader, that is willing to use deep memory and evaluation.
Its about communication, so that there is something of value about knowledge, a hard working devotion to acquisition and  integration of the facts, a distillation of what is important, understanding of human condition, reason, a sense of caring about the outcome, sense of personal engagement, but willing to tell it honestly the way it was perceived.
I haven’t read a single one of Mr Finklestein’s books.  I struggle to manage my own limited interests.  I am acquinted with many short articles by many writers over the years, and Finklestein already left a mark on my brain, indirectly if not directly.

very good article. very genuine feeling it gives…

Bernecky says:

What do we mean when we say of a thing that it has been “industrialized”?  Perhaps industrialization is what we see happening in this article by the Atlantic Wire’s Connor Simpson, titled “Oliver North Got Busted for Using an Email Forward in His Column”:

Simpson’s story would appear to detail what is, in fact, a private matter: a disagreement among three veterans (with disagreements being one of the things that soldiers, after battle, as veterans, group together in order to protect).

If I were a court, and if any one of the three principles in Simpson’s story brought to me this case, which is about the proper disposition of the good name of any veteran, I’d refuse to hear the case.  I’d be doing all three men a favor.

This is Isi Lieblers definition of a self hating Jew. This man is a pariah and a Kapo.

    Hephie says:

     Hate has a way of dulling the mind. In your case, it has seemed to have left you confused as to the meaning of ‘pariah’. Among the things that ‘pariah’ does NOT mean is being a person with whom lengthy interviews are granted in mainstream press. Your use of ‘kapo’, however, is simply hate speech pure and simple.

wwwatcher says:

I am  half Jewish (mother). I converted to belief in the New Testament at age 27 in a time of personal crisis. I am also tentatively what you would call a holocaust denier. 

I’ve been aware of  Fink for years. Our first and last contact (email) was his response, “You”re a nut” to my question “Do you think Fred Leuchter got a raw deal?” Sort of like Fink’s mother’s stonily silent response to his childhood questions about her imprisonment by the Nazis. Leuchter’s career, like Leni Riefenstahl”s before him, was destroyed by the relentless lies of holocaustianity zealots. If any of your readers care to read Leuchter’s and Riefentahl’s accounts, they are discoverable on the web beneath    several layers of slander. R’s autobiography, written when she was in her eighties was a revelation to me.

 Fink’s indignation at the commercialization of the “holocaust industry”  began because his mother never received any reparations despite repeated applications. I read and heard it on audiofile  years ago on his website  but  that kind of self exposure does not appear there today. Can you say “hypocrisy?”

Norman so far acknowledges many of the essential facts proclaimed by holocaust deniers, yet cannot draw any logical conclusions from them. That’s the way I perceive him. He’s like somebody acknowledging all Fink’s analysis of the Palestinian conflict yet continuing to blame the Palestinians for it. Too psycho for me to untangle.

Your website is technically very dysfunctional: slow and full of bugs.

    dolceliana says:

     his mother never received any reparations despite repeated applications”. — this statement of yours is just as truthful as your belief that the Holocaust never happened. … if you lived on Mars.

    ricksonelliot says:

    That’s how “the big lie technique” works, you make easily debunk able claims and people take it as truth because they can’t imagine anyone would have the Gaul to lie so brazenly so they never take 5minutes to verify them, most people if you asked would attribute ” the big lie theory to gobbles or the nazis but one can easily google it’s origins and find it was hitler who complained that Jews use this technique and explained why people believe it, same way Jewish media constantly attributes the big lie technique to nazis ,as they rely on the fact that no one will verify their claim, the big lie technique has been the most useful tactic Jews have used for 100 years. A five minute factual inquiry of any self serving Jewish claim reveals it is just another myth, whether it be of Jewish persecution or of Jewish accomplishments.

LeaNder Hahn says:

 Wonderful man in spite of the many ill-guided spirits who think otherwise.
Good interview.

    tzur says:

    A really good resource on Norman Finkelstein can be accessed at:

    It provides links to many articles offering critical analysis of his writings, and certainly documents the many problematic aspects of the guy.  There are extensive quotes from him that prove his dodginess with figures and assertions, his very far-left views, and his anti-Jewish attitudes on everything from the Holocaust to Israel to the mainstream American Jewish community and leadership.  He has even been eager to declare David Irving his hero, tends to minimize the numbers of those killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust, has happily published his articles in German neo-Nazi Holocaust-revisionist journals, and has focused his entire life on attacking Jewish solidarity, Zionism, and ordinary Jewish community life.  It is no accident that he is heroized and constantly cited on rabidly antisemitic websites.  All of this certainly disproves the “wonderful man” claim (obviously, such claims reveal more about the claimant than about NF). 

      LeaNder Hahn says:

      Sorry, I know David Horowitz propaganda efforts. Personally I consider his list “mostly” as a recommendation, although occasionally someone escapes his attention, like Gil Ayal.

      I’d suggest you read all articles of my late friend David Mills aka Undercover Black Man on Horowitz. You will then get an idea why I am allergic to the man and his efforts.

      Besides I was following the whole propaganda campaign against Norman Finkelstein’s De Paul tenure closely on an H-Net list. It was very disgusting to watch all the screeching propagandists.  The extreme right from my perspective had many other “traitors of  the people”  e.g. Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, to list the most prominent. For me that is still  a term from the Nazi vocabulary and I find it highly ironic it surfaces again.

      The efforts to put any of them first and foremost Norman Finkelstein in the same camp as David Irving clearly shows a deficiency in differentiation,  you may share with Horowitz, or simply a surrender to his or other’s propaganda. The last being the most sad aspect of the whole story.

      dolceliana says:

      “a really good resource at discoverthenetworks” – c’mon man!!! hahaha

quizblorg says:

Do we really need this here?

Would an African-American magazine conduct a respectful interview with a KKK supporter? I don’t think so.
Open-mindedness is great, but you have to draw the line SOMEWHERE.

    dolceliana says:

    Whether or not you need THIS here? I’d say you do, badly, BUT as I read through the comments, I see that the majority of commentators here are bigots, who’s minds are set against people like NF.  

genelevit says:

Finkeshtein claims that he fights “holocaust industry” and presents this as a nobel cause. But he himself is a part of the “anti-holocaust industry”. I wonder if he could explain why the  “anti-holocaust industry” is better than the “holocaust industry”?

    dolceliana says:

    Hello sir, nice to meet you here. Just one question: did you proofread your comment?? Anti-holocaust/holocaust. Jeez,  explain or I won’t sleep tonight…

to be a jew hater and be called an intellectual is madness..Finky and Chumsky would defend a pogrom! What do these two jew haters say about the so called arab/spring/fall? Jews may talk each other to death, but we dont kill each other.. witness Syria.. et al!

Miha Ahronovitz says:

Somewhere buried among the amazing 311 comments so far – a great satisfaction for Norman Finkelstein.- Natan79 – (known for colorful language like “Nazi bitch” and “F..k
you donkey face, go to your rat hole, the marines will smoke you out
of there and check your teeth.”) – writes:

” 330,000 Jews were murdered by Romania during WWII, mostly
in Transnistria. We should forget this simply because Miha
Ahronovitz doesn’t like it? Who the hell are you to tell
us what we can do and what we can’t? ..”

The number is not as relevant as the tragedy. As Arnold Daghani
wrote in his diary, after learning that all prisoners from
Mikailowka in Transnistria were transferred to Tarassiwka and butchered , he was
deeply traumatized. “not even today”, he wrote many years after” ” I
was able to go over it”. He felt guilty he escaped and they didn’t.
But the total number of Jews killed was 4,000 and not 4 millions,
and this why, Yad Vashem rejected Daghani holocaust documents as
minor, or because “too few atrocities”

See Note 2 in my post:

Also in Romanian Moldavia, Dobrogea and Valachia, under general
Antonescu control, the Jews survived almost intact.(I would never
had have been around otherwise). This is what the historian Tesu Solomonovici calls “Asymmetrical Holocaust” Not that Antonescu was a savior – he
was antisemitic – but he decided to defend what he considered all
Romania’s citizens. Paul Celan and Arnold Daghani were saved because
they escaped to Romania (Paul Celan parents were killed because they
fled to Ukraine, I believe).

So what was the real number? Some people unable to judge values,
consider people quality according to how wealthy they are. It is the
same simple mind that considers the tragedy of Holocaust based on
how many more millions we can add to the dead. This will feed even more the holocaust deniers, who are looking for any inaccuracies to minimize the tragedy

Finkelstein is not a holocaust denier nor a Nazi supporter, as some people here constantly claim him to be. His parents were both in the concentration camps, and fortunately, they survived. All he’s saying is that it’s wrong to use the holocaust as political leverage for deflecting any and all criticisms of Israel. There’s nothing wrong with that. The holocaust should be used as a rallying point against Neo-Nazis and antisemites. Criticizing the modern state of Israel for it’s actions in the same way you would criticize France or Germany or China or Iran for their actions is not Neo-Nazism, nor is it antisemitism.

Reta Brosnahan Saffo says:

Norman Finklestein speaks what is fair and only logical. Although he comes across as angry, he speaks from his heart as the son of two holocaust survivors whose entire family was exterminated under Nazi rule. I so admire his incredible strength and tenacity– and that he is unafraid to speak the truth (under any circumstance). His parents had extreme love, empathy and compassion for all humanity due to the extreme suffering and atrocities they THEMSELVES witnessed and endured. That makes perfect sense to me! “Teach your children well”. They taught Norman and his two siblings very well. To call him an antisemite, self hating or self deprecating Jew is absolutely insane and terribly ignorant. Anyone with half a heart can see that what Israel has done, and continues to do, to the Palestinian people on a regular basis is not only horrific and atrocious, but absolutely criminal. I, too, can become a bit unraveled at his anger, but his anger is coming from a good place. As Gahndi said “There is no God higher than truth”. I believe Finklestein is Agnostic/Atheist, but he speaks the truth–something Zionists do not want the world to hear! Swimming upstream can get very old and tiring… and he’s been at this for sooo long! Yes, he gets very worked up, but he is both brilliant and kind. I worry he is growing weary of the fight, though. I fear he is waffling at times. I hope not–and that he continues to educate American’s and the world about the realities of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the wrongs of Zionism. A very cool guy indeed!


Everybody knows that it is a very hard competition between academics to become “famous” or discussed in public, or to attract interest and attention.In exact sciences or medicine, you have to probe your thesis in a scientific way,but in History or Humanities, it is much more easy:just claim that a half true, or partially true, is the whole true.You do not have to probe also anything, just to make a comment that is very controversial.
This is what Mr. Finkelstein , Chomksy and others are doing, so far from the true, so far from any scientific serious discipline and so close to psychopathology.

Y.Leibowitz says:

wow! this is one carefully wellpoisoning introduction… nice frame for the reader to make himself a picture of finkelstein in.

and the interview even has a part titled “Intellectual honesty”, i wonder if David Samuels even read this!

when ever i try to explain to somebody what “unfair journalism” means, i will refer to David Samuels in my introduction :P

I see a lot of interesting posts on your blog. You have to spend a
lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool that creates unique, SEO friendly articles in couple of seconds, just search in google – laranita’s free content source

Third Party says:

It is very ironic that if a Jew like him shall detached with his own history and memory being a virtuous person, obsessed with clean conscience he should also encourage the other side to do so. Unfortunately, the world is not made that way. What I read about the history, if the Jews were evil, the other side were not angles either. He is a little delusional.

bernard katz says:

“…I’m never going to say. Because Chomsky’s biggest virtue, you know what it is? Aside from his staggering intellect and absolute faithfulness, Professor Chomsky never betrayed a friend. He will defend them even though inside he knows that they’re completely wrong.”== quote from above. That’s a virtue??? Just reading “A Spy among Friends-Kim Philby and the great betrayal.”This attitude does not enhance Chomsky’s standing in my view.
I certainly don’t condone everything Israel is doing, but I kind of believe Hamas when it declares its intention to obliterate Israel. The leopard does not change….
Who would have believed “Mein Kampf.”
I’d be interested in knowing what other crusades F. is on–or is his fixation on one topic: Israel.

On a subject of Holocaust industry. From a belly of growing up in Soviet Union. We did not talk about the holocaust, i did not hear this word until i was 23. The director of documentary put himself in great danger because Soviet policy was to hide the facts about the holocaust. It was a taboo. We celebrated may 9 as victory day and everybody was crying on that day remembering the scarifies of the Soviet country to defeat the Germans. When F is talking about the holocaust industry, a huge part of earth never even new what the word Holocaust meant. The first time a documentary with skeletons of dead Jews piled up like garbage mountain was made and shown in Soviet movie theater, it was as if a bomb dropped on all the Jews. So, would F prefer this kind of treatment of what happened to Jews? Just don’t talk and don’t name it and don’t count it and pretend it never happened? As for “It was a source of embarrassment to be the child of Holocaust survivors.”, i know all too well what it means to be embarrassed to be a Jew and speak Yiddish in public in Soviet Union. It was a prevailing attitude that being a Jew and exercising your Jewishness in public was a taboo. My parents were very educated in the best universities in Moscow. Not religious at all. Yet it did not mean that they felt bad about their Jewish culture, roots songs and language. As much as F. is talking about the holocaust industry, what Soviets did by hiding it is far worse. He is betraying the horror his parents were put through by despising his affiliation with the nation of Jews. Jewish nation must be able to defend itself, have a country and be able to stop another massacre if one will come our way. F. prophecy that is is Jews behavioral that causing the hate on them is the hate he feels for Jewish nation regardless of their actions.

AlKhalil says:

I had never shagged you or any of your people.

AlKhalil says:

Thank you. You couldn’t have come up with a better compliment. Being an Arab is a source of extreme honor.

AlKhalil says:

I cannot shag my donkey anymore. He emigrated to Zionia (Israel) a while back with others like him from the area that my friends were shagging. It was a big loss.

LeaNder Hahn says:

 That’s the typical racist reply that is hard to ignore.

ricksonelliot says:

You are a perfect example of why the Talmud must be banned

Natan79 says:

Ya Khalil, I guess that’s when you started killing Jews in kindergartens. That donkey must have been quite something.

Natan79 says:

Here is a better one, being a human being who doesn’t openly of murdering millions of Jews. That you are not.

tzur says:

One of the well-known traits of Arab culture is the love of exaggerated rhetoric for its own sake, which tends to replace reality.  But actions speak louder than words like “Being an Arab is a source of extreme honor.”  As AlKhalil too must know, Arabs dishonor and hate each other on a daily basis far more than even they hate non-Arabs. It is part of their culture: they kill far more of each other (as in Syria right now, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, etc.) and always have done so.  The observation applies to Muslims generally, regardless of their hate-incitement and actual violence regarding non-Muslims, since as a simple matter of fact they kill far more of each other than they do non-Muslims.  Here are the actual figures:  in all conflicts since 1950, about 11 million Muslims have been violently killed, of which a miniscule number, just 35,000, or 0.3 percent, were killed fighting Israel.  About 90 percent of the 11 million, on the other hand, were killed by other Muslims.  See, on this, Gunnar Heinsohn and Daniel Pipes, “Arab-Israeli Fatalities Rank 49th,” for October 8, 2007, at 

Natan79 says:

How often do you send money to jihadis? How often do you work yourself as a Jihad terrorist? I think you should tell us more about your terrorist activities, AlKhalil. Express yourself before the drone comes.

AlKhalil says:

Every Sabbath after I light a menorah, I parise Yahweh and write a check to the Support Israel Fund to sent it to the only terrorist entity I know, Zionia.

AlKhalil says:


LeaNder Hahn says:

 what a simplistic reasoning in a complicated world.


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The intellectual pariah, author of two new books, on Noam Chomsky, BDS, the Holocaust, and Whitney Houston