Haaretz has weighed in with a cogent defense of Norman Finkelstein’s right to travel to Israel in Who’s Afraid of Finkelstein?
In Finkelstein’s case, the disturbing issue is neither the legality of keeping him out nor the authority to do so, but the reasonableness of the decision. Considering his unusual and extremely critical views, one cannot avoid the suspicion that refusing to allow him to enter Israel was a punishment rather than a precaution…
True, the right to enter Israel is not guaranteed to noncitizens, but the right of Israeli citizens to hear unusual views is one that should be fought for. It is not for the government to decide which views should be heard here and which ones should not.
The decision to ban Finkelstein hurts us more than it hurts him.
…It is…reasonable to assume that Finkelstein is persona non grata, and that the Shin Bet, whose influence has increased to frightening proportions, latched onto his meetings with Hezbollah operatives in order to punish him.
And the decision is all the more surprising when one recalls the ease with which right-wing activists from the Meir Kahane camp – the kind whose activities pose a [real] security threat – are able to enter the country.
There has been a disturbing new development in the online discussion of the Finkelstein affair. At Mondoweiss, Bill Pearlman, writing under the pseudonym, Sword of Gideon, wrote this:
“It’s too bad that they didn’t shoot the scumbag.”
I also note that Finkelstein, at his own site, features this personal e mail from Pearlman:
Date: Sat, 29 Mar 2008 17:46:22 -0400
Aren’t you dead yet. Bill Pearlman
I know Bill to be an ignorant, essentially harmless bigot. So the point isn’t that Bill might perpetrate violence against Finkelstein. Rather, there are Kahanist zealots out there who would target fellow Jews for violent attack. I’m not sure how much we should worry for Finkelstein’s safety. But the problem with odious rulings like the one made by the Shin Bet is that it declares open season for Jewish wingnuts on the victim.
That’s all the more reason that Finkelstein, in this particular fight, deserves the support of all Jewish progressives, including those who disagree with his political views.
My own Comment is Free piece will be published at the Guardian 7AM eastern time (Tuesday).
Dear Richard ,Norman is a big hit with the Stormfront crowd as well as with David Duke http://www.davidduke.com/general/watch-dr-norman-finkelstein-blast-apart-the-holocaust-industry_2914.html
paul malfara says
The man puts forth his research and analysis. He speaks truth to power. It’s up to others to agree or disagree. Don’t try to smear him because less-than-attractive, or even downright homely folks agree with some of his conclusions.
After all, I don’t think your a piece of crap, even though you probably support Dersh.
paul malfara says
Just to balance Mark’s scales a bit, Norman’s findings on the Holocaust Industry, specifically the extortion of the Swiss banks, was also a big hit with Raul Hilberg, who said,
” Now, Finkelstein was the first to publish what was happening in his book The Holocaust Industry. And when I was asked to endorse the book, I did so with specific reference to these claims. I felt that within the Jewish community over the centuries, nothing like it had ever happened. And even though these days a couple of billion dollars are sometimes referred to as an accounting error and not worthy of discussion, there is a psychological dimension here which not must be underestimated.
I was also struck by the fact that Finkelstein was being attacked over and over. And granted, his style is a little different from mine, but I was saying the same thing, and I had published my results in that three-volume work, published in 2003 by Yale University Press, and I did not hear from anybody a critical word about what I said, even though it was the same substantive conclusion that Finkelstein had offered. So that’s the gist of the matter right then and there. ”
Yeah, Norman Finkelstein is a punching bag for the “Israel right or wrong” crowd, but they seem much better at punching the man than at punching his arguments!!!
I hope you point out to your British readers that the UK has banned Israeli Likudnick Moshe Feiglin from entering the UK. I don’t remember you howling and whining about that one when it happened. I guess when the banned Feiglin, you didn’t support Feiglin so you didn’t speak out. When they banned Winehouse, well I guess you’re probably not into drugs, so you didn’t speak out. When they banned all the other people I mentioned in your previous post, you don’t care about them, so you didn’t speak out. So don’t cry now because they banned Hizzballah apologist Norman Finkelstein.
Also, NF didn’t only support Hizzballah because Israel invaded Lebanon, he supports the original attack by Hizzballah as well.
The Kahanist-KACH party was banned in Israel some years ago, but I haven’t heard the “progressive” crowd complaining about this violation of democracy, either.
Regarding the “stupid SHABAK”, that expelled Finkelstein–I hope that those who disparage it should keep this in mind when confronted with SHABAK malfeasance in the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, some of which was revealed in the official governmental Shamgar Commission Report on the assassination.
I would like it if Finkelstein now applied for israeli citizenship. A simple act.
This has nothing to do with this blog (so you are welcome to delete it) but I thought you’d like to know that I found two sites where you can get the Beccary theme files. In my search for one of her themes, I came across a blog where you had written that you were looking for the comment.php file for Almost Spring. I responded to your comment on the that blog:
I used Prof. Finkelstein in my blog re: Holocaust Industry:
The thing that gets me is that after all this money is demanded and gotten by Israel and organizations which purport to represent actual Holocaust survivors, this happens in Israel:
“Survivors have long claimed that European countries treat them far better than Israel, where many elderly survivors live in poverty. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s announcement of the new allowance did nothing to change that impression. One survivor called the offer “absurd and insulting.”
Six decades after the war ended, the remaining survivors are elderly, and many have been unable to provide for themselves in their final years, suffering chronic shortages of money for medical and psychological treatment and in some cases even food.
Israel TV showed video of an 85-year-old survivor who said the only meat he could afford was chicken necks.”
Re-read the last sentence:
“Israel TV showed video of an 85-year-old survivor who said the only meat he could afford was chicken necks”
and tell me that the Holocaust is not an industry, and is not dominated by con artists and boosters for Israel.
I would bet that the majority of the money goes to all kinds of causes, EXCEPT ACTUAL Holocaust survivors funds.
Richard Silverstein says
@bar_kochba132: I’m not a big fan of most intelligence agencies esp. the Shin Bet & CIA, which so often perform abysmally in their assignments to protect national security.
Richard Silverstein says
@amir: That is an interesting analogy I hadn’t thought of. But there is a significant diff. bet. Feiglin & Finkelstein. The latter supports a 2 state solution & the former doesn’t. Feiglin supports forced transfer of Arabs from Israel and doing so by violent means if necessary. Also, the Brits I believe announced Feiglin’s barring before he actually appeared at their doorstep so he didn’t have to undergo the ignominy of being imprisoned as Finkelstein did.
A number of Jewish peace activists have similarly been deported by Israel. I didn’t write about any of those cases. Maybe you’d care to amend yr statement?
I don’t believe it. Prove it.
Richard Silverstein says
You’re barking up the wrong tree, Mark. David Duke appropriated one of my Comment is Free pieces & republished it on his website w/o my permission (Duke removed it after I strongly urged him to do so). Because a white supremacist quotes Norman Finkelstein that’s supposed to imply that Finkelstein is–what, a white supremacist?
I have a response for Mark as well. If we were to make a list of David Duke’s positions on every matter under the Sun, what are the odds that you (or I or anyone else) would find one or more points of agreement with Duke somewhere on that list? Needless to say, those odds are quite high. (No one is wrong 100% of the time – not even David Duke.)
Your attempt to smear Finkelstein via ‘guilt by association’ indicts you, not Finkelstein. You’re going to have to do better than that if you want to be taken seriously.
I understand his answer to the interviewer in the Lebanese tv which he features prominently on his web page under the title “In defence of Hezbollah” to her question regarding the situation after Israel’s withdrawal in the year 2000 to be a defence of Hizballahs agressivness and attacks against Israel from the year 2000 until the war in 2006 including the attack that started the war. I think that is a reasonable conclusion from what he says. Not everything can be proven with a one sentence quotation.
I have taken advantage of this debate to watch some youtube clips of NF, and have come to the conclusion that the shin bet was mistaken about Norman. I can’t understand how they let this guy in the country 15 times before denying him entry. Someone at the shin bet was not doing his job.
It’s obvious he was nor denied entry because of his political opinion, but rather because of his contacts with Hizbollah. I don’t want the guy in my country either.
Your argument about him being a Jew, so Israel should let him in, as though he’s on some sort of birthright trip would be less silly if NF were making it as well. But he’s not. He’s saying that he doesn’t even want to visit Israel, that he wants to visit Palestine, but to get to Palestine he has to go through Israel.
The claim that Israel asked him about al qaeda as a way of smearing him is also silly. Nobody would know about the question if NF wasn’t telling everyone.
Richard Silverstein says
@amir: I’ve just read the transcript of that interview & it doesn’t say what you say it does; and it doesn’t support my own claim either. He says that the Hezbollah kidnapping was a “pretext” that Israel used to start the war. He prob. believes that the Hezbollah attack was immaterial. If so, I don’t agree w. him. I don’t know whether Israel planned all along to go to war against Hezbollah or whether the war was solely due to the Hezbollah assault. But personally I criticize both the original attack & Israel’s grossly disproportionate response.
Regarding smearning, you seem to believe that for someone to be smeared the smearing has to happen in a public setting, which is a ludicrous view on its face. The Al Qaeda question was nonsensical, insulting, demeaning & downright stupid. In short, a smear.
Obvious to you perhaps, but a JPost report refers to a government representative who specifically acknowledges that Finkelstein was excluded because of his political views. Care to amend yr statement?
Since when do you quote the JPost? To answer your question – if this gov’t official has a name and has a position which would give him inside knowledge on this point, then I’ll amend my statement. How ’bout a link?
By reading the transcript of the interview, you don’t give it justice. I suggest you go to youtube and watch it and also watch the 2006 clip “Norman Finkelstein Professes His Solidarity With Hezbollah”. Each one is about 9 minutes. He doesn’t use the word heroes, but obviously he thinks the hizballah fighters are heroic. Notice he says, “reasonable people can disagree about how the Lebanon war started.” Only someone who does not think Hizballah started the war would say that, because 99% of reasonable people in Israel, US Europe and Lebanon (other than shiites (and maybe even Shiites)) think Hizballah started the war.
It is clear that NF supports Israel’s enemies and believes Israel needs to be defeated. To call NF a critic of Israel is not accurate. He is a supporter of Hizzballah and for Israel’s security to have allowed a foreigner who supports its enemy into the country would be a dereliction of duty. I maintain that the only reason he was banned from Israel is because of his contacts with Hizballah, but he should have banned even earlier when it was clear he was a supporter of Hizballah.
BTW, I think his support for Hizzbllah has more to do with his anti-Americanism than his anti-Israeliness.
Congratulations. You and Alan Dershowits are on the same side of this issue.
Richard Silverstein says
If you review my sources I’ve used Jerusalem Post quite often though not nearly as often as Haaretz or Ynetnews. I actually quite like Larry Derfner who writes for the Post. ONce in a very blue moon they publish others who have something useful to say. Though as you note, I am a critic in general of their journalism.
I don’t need to watch the clip. I read the verbatim transcript of the same interview. I don’t read that statement of Finkelstein’s the way you do. When he says reasonable people can disagree, he means that reasonable people may feel that Hezbollah started the current war; HOWEVER, even if they did, Israel’s response has been criminal, etc. That’s how I and most “reasonable” people would read that passage.
Clearly, he does believe that in the Lebanon war Israel needed to be defeated. That war was a war of aggression in its implementation, though possibly not in its origin. Because of this, Finkelstein believes that Israel should’ve been stopped (as it was). Clearly, too he does not believe in Israel’s destruction.
Whatever you believe about why he was banned is disproven by your own government representatives quoted in a right wing Israeli newspaper. You’ll have to deal w. that.
Alan Dershowitz is a goddamn hypocrite & has no right to say a word on whether or not Finkelstein should’ve been banned fr. Israel since he was instrumental in getting Finkelstein banned from academia.
That’s what Yaakov Katz wrote May 25, but apparently he didn’t understand them very well because on May 28 he wrote: “Officials said that he was denied entry due to suspicions about his relationships with hostile elements in Lebanon. The officials noted that during his interrogation upon arrival in Israel, Finkelstein had not provided satisfactory answers to questions regarding these suspicions.”
So maybe you should amend your statement, as Yaakov Katz did.
Richard Silverstein says
What’s extraordinary about yr statement is that you don’t seem to conceive of the possibility that a government official might actually give 2 acounts of their reason for doing something. Hell, w. the Bush Administration they gave us 42 reasons for invading Iraq–all of them lies. The Israeli government gave 2 reasons both of which are likely true. But the only people who believe he was NOT deported because of his political views are right-wingers like yrself. Let me know when Katz or the government disavows the first rationale quoted in the Post, then we can talk.