Thursday, June 01, 2006

Norman Finkelstein

The professor responds to my FrontPage piece on his speech at UC Irvine:

Regarding Aaron Hanscom's article:

The quoted statement attributed to me - "by hammering on the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the exclusive link between Holocaust and Jews, the Holocaust industry has become the main promoter of antisemitism" - is sheer fabrication; AH: The interview in question can be found here.

I never stated or implied that Israel was "the world's greatest human rights violator." As I've said on numerous occasions, the U.S.'s record in Iraq is on the order of ten times as worse if one compares, for example, the Palestinian casualties in Jenin and Nablus during Operation Desert Shield with the Iraqi casualties in Fallujah and Najaf; AH: Would "the world's second greatest human rights violator" have been better ? If so, I apologize.

I publicly objected to the note passed to me at 9:45 p.m. that I had to end within 15 minutes because I was promised that I could speak and take questions until 11:00 p.m. I only arrived at Irvine at 7:30 p.m., began speaking at 8:15 p.m. and was taking the first flight out the next morning at 6:00 a.m. I keep this tight schedule because I have a heavy teaching load and never cancel class, am never late for class and never dismiss class early. My standard speaking fee is "the best you can do," which usually isn't very much (Muslim student groups are not big budget items on most campuses), and I almost never even have time for a meal except take-out fast food. Under these circumstances it seems reasonable to request that I at least have time to speak;

I did state that the claim of anti-Semitism being prevalent on U.S. college campuses is "preposterous." However, this is hardly an aberrant opinion (see the item "
The Show's Over" posted on this web site); AH: Is anti-Semitism prevalent at UC Irvine? As I wrote in the article, UCI is the subject of an anti-Semitism probe by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. And how about this? Or this? I could go on and on, but I don't think I'm going to change the mind of a person who can't find any hints of anti-Semitism in Palestine. (see below)

Readers are warned that "Finkelstein also made the claim that there is no evidence of new anti-Semitism in Europe. In fact, he stated that the evidence shows a decline in European anti-Semitism since 1991." In his just published book The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism (Oxford 2006), none other than Walter Laqueur writes: "Ten percent of the French expressed strong anti-Jewish feelings in a public opinion poll in 2002, but the antagonism toward Muslims was considerably stronger, almost three times as frequently expressed. In Britain, Germany, Russia, and other European countries, unfavorable views vis-a-vis Muslims were twice as frequently expressed than negative views vis-a-vis Jews. Events in the Middle East certainly affected the image of Israel in themedia, yet this was not reflected in popular attitudes toward Jews; in fact, such attitudes were slightly more favorable in 2002 than they had been in 1991" (p. 126; my emphasis). (The book comes with a strong recommendation from ADL head Abraham Foxman); AH: Same answer as above and evidence can be found in my article.

I did not state it was "hypocrisy" to demand that Hamas recognize Israel and renounce violence against Israeli civilians. In fact I explicitly endorsed these demands. Rather I stated that it was hypocrisy to put these demands on Hamas while not putting the reciprocal demands on Israel to recognize a Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders and to renounce violence against Palestinian civilians; AH: From an Ed Koch piece today: "For example, on a Channel 13 PBS evening news show last Wednesday, May 24th, I witnessed a clear example of that BBC bias when anchor Matt Frei said:

"Welcome. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert pushed all the right buttons for an American audience. Addressing a joint session of U.S. Congress, Mr. Olmert said he was extending a hand to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas but that Israel would not yield to terror. Israel has not recognized the new Hamas government and Hamas does not recognize the existence of Israel. The new Prime Minister also warned that his government would not wait forever for a Palestinian peace partner but would seek a unilateral solution."

The language that struck me as demonstrating an incomplete and misleading picture hostile to Israel was the statement, "Israel has not recognized the new Hamas government and Hamas does not recognize the existence of Israel." Frei equated Israel, the victim of terrorism, with the Hamas government. The unabashed and publicly-stated goal of Hamas, when it was not in government and now that it is the government, is to occupy all of historic Palestine, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea, and destroy the Jewish state.

In referring to the goal of Hamas, a May 27th New York Times article stated:
"Hamas has refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist as a permanent, sovereign state, insisting that all of the former Palestine is waqf - land given by God to Muslims, who can neither cede nor sell it."

I did state that of all the places I've visited in my life (admittedly not many), I've experienced the least amount of antisemitism in Palestine. Hanscom recommends that I "visit a school." In fact for several summers I co-taught English at a Palestinian school named Talitha Kumi in Beit Jala. Delightful kids. Wish my own students were as respectful. AH: Uh-huh.


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