The Deir Yassin Remembered Blog

Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-06-10

Posted on November 13th, 2010 at 5:23 pm by

Norman Finkelstein: The Giant with Feet of Clay*

Maybe it took an outburst from Abdul Roberts, a Lebanese resident of Dearborn, Michigan, to rock us into an awareness that previously might have been merely gnawing at our subconscious minds: Professor Finkelstein is a supporter of a Jewish state in Palestine, and we’re not the only ones who have drawn this conclusion.

Speaking to a largely Arab audience at Henry Ford Community College, this Jewish lecturer stressed again and again how any solution to the “conflict” must be “just AND practical”, that a “reasonable statesperson” must solve the issue not merely employing “justice in the abstract” – for that might create even additional problems – but with an eye towards solutions that were “reasonably practical”. Carefully setting up his audience, he then called upon an HFCC student, who dutifully mantra’d “Partition cannot be undone”.

He played the xenophobic card to the wrong Arab and Abdul Roberts (not his real name) exploded when Norman compared the ‘horror’ of 6 million Palestinians returning to their homes to 270 million Chinese landing on America’s shores demanding citizenship HERE. Omigod, can you even imagine! Norm was using population figures to explain his Judeo-centric observations: 5 million Jews in Palestine “forced” to accept an approximately equal number of Palestinians. Abdul yelled, “So you’re basically telling the Palestinian refugees to just sit tight and remain where they are until reasonably practical statespersons can tell them where to go”. The man was livid. And garnered a lot of very vocal support in that auditorium: this writer tracked him down to shake his hand for saying what needed to be said.

Very telling in Norm’s talk was his introduction: the holocaust and anti-semitism are presented front and center as givens in the discussion. No, Norm, you expose yourself as a Jewish supremacist when you begin the conversation there. Palestinian solidarity activists – in our view – should never lead off with discussions on the holocaust. A better strategy is to say nothing about events in Europe during the second World War, and when the opponent brings it up, challenge his unsupported reiterations of the standard narrative: demand to know the reasons for anti-Semitic sentiment in Russia and Europe; ask whether the opponent is versed in revisionist literature; request a deconstruction of past events; ask questions like: why did Nazi Germany label Jews as enemy aliens of the state? Don’t paint yourself into a corner by playing defense; seize the initiative, then re-focus the discussion on Palestine.

Besides, we recognize that Zionism long predated Nazism, and plans for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine were in place far before the first Jew was persecuted by National Socialists. And lest we forget, we also recognize that the Zionists collaborated with the fledgling Nazis, permitting them to survive their first, tenuous year.

Is Finkelstein effective in this choice of introduction? Consider: you walk into a Toyota showroom, and the salesman immediately tells you about his father who’s been laid off from Ford because of sales gains made by imported cars. He then tells about his brother who lost his job at the Chevy dealership just last week for the same reason. Times are tough for the domestic car industry he complains, but hey, would you like to buy a Camry?

And so it is with Norm: he undermines his own criticism of the Jewish state by begging for your sympathy about Jewish suffering, which of course allowed the world to turn its collective head when Jews were massacring Palestinians in formation of their Jewish state.

Criticism of Israel’s atrocities should stand on its own. The criticism that Norman dishes out is immediately undermined by his presentation of Jews as eternal, unique sufferers. Thus is appears that Norm is playing with two decks of cards. And the ultimate conclusion is that, deep down, he really is asking his audiences to accept the Jewish state. His exhortation of “International law” underscores the Zionist solution: a Jewish state on 78% of Palestine.

Though it’s true that Alan Dershowitz played a heavy hand in getting Finkelstein’s tenure denied at DePaul University, and that one feels for the person so harmed, the actual difference between the two men is 20%: Alan wants all of Palestine; Norm wants a mere 80%.

A Personal Note

If readers find this report unduly harsh, please know that this writer at one time held Professor Finkelstein in high esteem as a true leader for justice in Palestine. I admired him from afar, and traveled hundreds of miles to hear him speak. But a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since, and frankly, Finkelstein has yet to make the journey.

Five Vigilers
Anti-Zionism means No Jewish State
Henry Herskovitz
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friend
* – apologies to Jurgen Graf
Comments? –>

3 Responses to “Report on Beth Israel vigil 11-06-10”

  1. Michelle Kinnucan

    Finkelstein’s invocation of the Chinese spectre reminds me of two other racist Jews but before I get to that I want to point out that his example conveniently elides the fact that Palestinians are indigenous to Palestine with a well-established history and presence there. The same cannot be said about “270 million Chinese landing on America’s shores”. Now, to those other racist Jews. They are: April Rosenblum, who tries to pimp Chinese people for her false narrative about “anti-Semitism”; and, Samuel Untermyer, who, just a few months before Zionist Jews signed a multi-million dollar deal with the Third Reich, objected to Nazi antipathy toward Jews but justified the US Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. You can read more about them both here.

  2. Jimmy1920

    You touch on something that has always bothered me.  I maintain that part of the problem is “the number.” 
    It is a two part question.  The Jews were not the only ones who the Nazis tried to eliminate:  Socialists, communists, gays, Jehova Witnesses, labor organizers, gypsies, and probably some others that I am not thinking of.  But “the number” 6 million only counts Jews,
    Question 1:  How do they justify that the “holocaust” only applies to Jews?
    Question 2:  What is the b ig number.  I have seen as high as another 6 million, but I have never been able to put my finger on an authoratative source.

  3. Henry

    1. They justify owning the word holocaust, b/c they have the means to do it: money, personal influence, public influence (media, film-making). I’m told there are 90+ memorials in this country – where the alleged crimes did NOT happen. My Arab friend says she’ll visit an h-museum after France or Germany build museums commemorating American slave trade, or ethnic cleansing of native Amers.
    2. The myth surround the six million is well discussed by Thomas Dalton in Debating the Holocaust. He references the first use of that number in 1869!
    Another friend poses this: We all know that six million jews died in WWII. We all know that gas chambers were used in the main to kill them. We all know that there existed a written order to exterminate all of Europe’s jewish population.
    So why do we put people in prison who question what everybody knows?
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