HNN did Steven Plaut the enormous and unwarranted favor of republishing his anti-Finkelstein bilge from Frontpagemagazine. I was rather shocked that a serious history website would provide a forum for a smearmeister like Plaut who, after all has no academic credentials to judge Finkelstein’s work. However, I was pleased that HNN published a defense of Finkelstein by Mark Levine.
What was passing strange about the comment thread for Plaut’s HNN piece was the appearance of a figure who clearly is a sockpuppet for Plaut himself. You’ll notice the shill ‘haim itzhak.’ If you read his comments carefully you’ll notice that he knows things about Plaut that pretty much only Plaut himself can know. He knows, for example, the fine points of his conviction (as twisted and distorted through Plaut’s filter) for libel by an Israeli appeals court. He knows the precise value of the Israeli shekel compared to the dollar on the date of the lower court ruling against him and the value on the date of the appeals court ruling. He knows that Plaut is a “professor” at the University of Haifa, rather than an adjunct as I claimed. Who other than Plaut (and Neve Gordon) would know that he’s appealed his case to the Israeli Supreme Court? One of his sock puppets claims Plaut to be “one of Israel’s leading academics.” Who, other than Plaut would make such a laughable claim? Finally, no one other than Plaut would use the typically Jewish brownshirt rhetoric of calling me a “kapo.” He’s a serial smearmonger against people like Neve Gordon and many others. It practically is his calling card.
But the sock puppetry that was the most hilarious was when ‘haim-itzhak-Plaut’ urged the real Plaut to sue me for libel. I replied, of course, that I’m ready and waiting to defend such a suit, my lawyers having developed a certain expertise in defending against frivolous libel suits.
I’ve alerted HNN’s editors of Plaut’s devious behavior and hopefully they’ll take some action against him since he’s clearly violated the site’s commenting policy:
In order to post comments on HNN’s discussion boards, readers must register their email address and provide their real name. Pseudonyms may be used but only with prior permission from HNN…The real, verifiable name of the poster must be made known to HNN, which will hold that information in strict confidence. Once a pseudonym has been assigned, the user must continue using only that pseudonym…
Though the fact that they published his piece to begin with makes you wonder at their editorial judgment.
Plaut is also known for circulating a celebratory “jingle” on the death of Prof. Tanya Reinhardt. When she died tragically of cancer he distributed a mock song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” to the Alef list. He or someone in cahoots with him in turn deviously appropriated the e mail addresses of the Alef list to disseminate his “tribute.”
He is also strongly suspected of vandalizing the Wikipedia articles of multiple ideological adversaries. He is even suspecting of vandalizing his own article by removing factual information added there by others.
A stellar example of the human species.
UPDATE: in an earlier version of this post I claimed that a second commenter in the HNN thread, ‘art eckstein’ was also a sockpuppet for Plaut. Art Eckstein is actually a real person who teaches at the University of Maryland. I apologize for this error. However, my claim about ‘haim itzhak’ stands rock solid and I am firmly convinced of its accuracy.