Gjesteskribent

Norman Finkelstein har «status» blant studenter, kultureliten og journalister. Han inviteres til studentuker og litteraturfestivaler. Hans bøker utgis på norsk. Men norske medier forteller ikke hvor omstridt Finkelstien er i USA og hvorfor han er blitt det.

Finkelstein måtte nylig gå på dagen fra DePaul-universitetet, såkalt frivillig i samråd med ledelsen.

Andrew Sullivan hadde en usedvanlig giftig kommentar til ham å være. Finkelstein kan mistenkes for å nære et death-wish. Hans sammenligning av den israelske hæren med Nazi-Tyskland er drøy selv til ham å være, og hans «Vi er alle Hizbollah nå», er nærmest et rop om å bli «korsfestet».

Men Finkelstein har sine støttespillere: Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Tony Judt og herrene Mearsheimer og Walt, skal ha stiftet en Akademisk Frihetskomité og skal holde en teach-in på DePaul i oktober.

Leon Wieseltier put it best when he referred to Norman Finkelstein–the hysterical, Hezbollah-loving, soon-to-be-late-of DePaul University political science professor–as «poison, he’s a disgusting self-hating Jew, he’s something you find under a rock.» Finkelstein has built a career on defaming Holocaust survivors as greedy liars out to rob noble Swiss bankers, all the while using «I’m Jewish!» as a defense. The wife of the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel once said, «I feel like a kid in a candy store… Finkelstein is a Jewish David Irving.» You get the picture. But if you don’t, read Omer Bartov’s review of Finkelstein’s The Holocaust Industry in the New York Times.

Well, it looks like Professor Finkelstein has some company under that rock: Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky and, perhaps more surprising, ostensibly respectable academic figures like Tony Judt and John Mearsheimer, author of the conspiratorial The Israel Lobby.

In June, DePaul University denied Finkelstein tenure. Of course, his defenders are all weeping the tears of those victimized by academic «censorship» (because, as we all know, it’s leftists who are «censored» on college campuses). Ultimately, however, it was not Finkelstein’s political views–odious as they are–that did him in, but his shoddy scholarship and unprofessional behavior. As DePaul’s president wrote at the time, Finkelstein did not »honor the obligation» to »respect and defend the free inquiry of associates.» DePaul has canceled Finkelstein’s class, but the good professor says he may carry out a «hunger strike» in protest. He’d be doing the world a favor if he did.

These academic heroes have joined an outfit called the «DePaul Academic Freedom Committee,» the mission of which is to «preserve academic freedom for our faculty on campus.» Ali, Chomsky, Judt and Mearsheimer will be convening a teach-in at DePaul in October to protest on behalf of Finkelstein. Though now lacking an academic perch (DePaul is the third university from which he has been fired) Finkelstein won’t be out of a job for long; I imagine the Iranian mullahs, Hizbollah or Hamas would love nothing more than to have an energetic, American Jewish spokesperson to make their respective cases (though perhaps he’s more effective advocating for them in an unofficial, unpaid capacity). If they don’t come through, Finkelstein can always go climb back under his rock.

One expects these sorts of theatrics from Ali and Chomsky. But Judt and Mearsheimer have revealed much about themselves–and their intellectual motivations–by choosing to advocate for a Hezbollah propagandist and hero of neo-Nazis.

Finkelstein holdt en tale i forbindelse med Libanon-krigen, hvor han snur opp ned på det meste. Han kommer frem til samme konklusjon som Jostein Gaarder i sin famøse kronikk: Israel er i ferd med å forspille sin eksistensrett. Han sier også det samme som Kåre Willoch: hvis Israel fortsetter på samme kurs utfordrer det til og inviterer en katastrofe over seg.

I’m going to try and be brief this afternoon, I know it’s hot, and so many people have already said so many important things. I want to make basically 3 points. Number one, in my view reasonable people can disagree about how the conflict in Lebanon began, but reasonable people cannot disagree about what’s happening now. The conflict is perfectly clear to anyone who looks at it honestly. Israel has embarked, in its own words, on a war of annihilation against the Lebanese people. Not a day passes when the language they use doesn’t escalate. One day they say for each Hezbollah rocket we will destroy 10 Lebanese homes. The next day they say we will flatten southern Lebanon. The next day they say we will cleanse southern Lebanon. The next day they say we will obliterate and pulverize southern Lebanon. We have to be honest about what they are saying. This is pure and simple Nazi language. They’re talking about — and we shouldn’t be afraid to use that analogy. They are waging a war of annihilation against the Lebanese people.

Number two, I heard a few days ago a member or several members of the House of Representatives say, «We are all Israelis now.» Now, I beg to differ. Right now, and I say it publicly, right now we are all Hezbollah. All of us. You can have differences, disagreements with their ideology, with their values, with their organization. But right now at this moment that is totally and utterly irrelevant; just as, for those of you who are older in this meeting, in the 1940s you can disagree with Stalin and Stalinism and the Soviet Union on this and on that. And there were excellent reasons for disagreeing. But every victory of the Red Army over the Nazi invaders was a victory for liberty and a victory for freedom. And every victory of Hezbollah over the vandals and the marauders, the invaders and the murderers; every victory by Hezbollah over Israel is also a victory for liberty and a victory for freedom.

One last point, and that is the question of Israel. I personally remain committed to the belief that ordinary people, Jewish and Muslim, Jewish and Arab, if left to their own devices, they can live together in peace, freedom, mutual dignity and mutual respect. But if Israel proves itself unable to live in mutual dignity and mutual respect with its Arab neighbors; if it chooses to become the garrison state for the United States whose only purpose and being is to enslave the Arab people; if it chooses, I am not saying it is, I am saying but if it chooses then it’s losing its right to be there in the Middle East. It’s no different than Da Nang airbase during the Vietnam War if your only purpose is to wreak murder, wreak havoc, destroy, level, pulverize, flatten, cleanse. If that’s your purpose, if that’s your raison d’etre, then you’ve lost your right to be there.

One last point. For those of you who are indifferent to moral arguments, there remains a, the fancy word is a realpolitik argument, a real world argument. And the real world is, Israel is courting its own disaster. Maybe the blind, the arrogant, those who are drunk with power, intoxicated with their weapons, they don’t see it; but rational people, reasonable people see what’s going on. Hezbollah is not, thank goodness, the PLO. They’re serious, they’re committed, they’re determined. Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, reasonable, sane people will see that, and will recognize that even if they don’t like the Arabs, and even if they don’t like Muslims, it’s a wiser strategy, it’s a more prudent strategy just from the vantage point of self interest. It’s wiser and more prudent to learn to live with your neighbors rather than try to destroy them, because sooner or later before you destroy them they will destroy you; which means at the end of the day we all have a common purpose, though maybe we don’t see it. And the common purpose is we are all fighting, resisting, struggling to make this world a decent place, a fair place, a place where dignity and mutual respect is allowed for; and where everyone can live, everyone to live who wants to live in mutual respect and mutual dignity. Those who do not — the monsters and freaks in the White House and their collaborators in Tel Aviv — so far as I’m concerned they can all drop dead. But let’s the rest of us struggle, work hard, reach out to everybody. Make it a common struggle for a common goal — truth and justice. Thank you.

Norman Finkelstein Professes His Solidarity With Hezbollah