Swans Commentary » swans.com January 16, 2006  



Norman Finkelstein In The Cross Hairs
A Persuasive and Influential Maverick Gets Silenced


by Philip Greenspan





(Swans - January 16, 2006)  The boastful assertion of a Bushite that they would create their own "reality" to overshadow what actually occurs might seem like a way-out, kooky notion. But it is not! All nation states concoct myths and cover up insidious practices to justify their actions not only to their subjects but to others as well. Exposure of those myths can be so damaging to the state that investigative reporters such as Seymour Hersh and whistle-blowers such as Daniel Ellsberg are deemed traitors. Their disclosures, e.g., Sibel Edmonds, are frequently suppressed by invoking "national security." Just look at what is happening to poor little Dubya. As more and more of this administration's actual lies -- rather than their created "reality" -- are disclosed Bush's reputation and his approval rating keep tumbling.

The state abhors the iconoclast who effectively demolishes the myths and propaganda of the government and regards him as a most dangerous outlaw. There are quite a number of those dangerous outlaws floating around. Their names are not well known since outlets for their disclosures are very limited -- small publications with small circulations. Those limited disclosures, however, have an impact and in time may shatter long-held beliefs in a state's myths.

Israel is a state whose very existence was achieved and is maintained by virtue of numerous myths that eclipse their guileful actions. The political Zionists who created and then subsequently ruled that state, among other scandalous actions: Became allies of the Nazis and other anti-Semites who wanted to rid their countries of Jews; convinced the imperial powers of Great Britain and the U.S. that by acceding to Zionist demands in Palestine those countries' interests in the hostile Middle East would be secured and advanced; willingly sacrificed the lives of Jews during the holocaust because of other priorities and sacrificed lives after the creation of the state in order to populate that state; claimed that Palestine was a virgin territory ripe for settlers; conducted actions against the native Palestinians tantamount to genocide; and are intensifying unendurable conditions for Palestinians in the occupied territories, making ethnic cleansing of that population likely.

The political Zionists masterfully pursue all available advantages. They exploit the holocaust to gain the world's sympathy thereby eclipsing the legitimate claims of victims of their oppressions. They enlist an extremely loyal Diaspora to blindly and enthusiastically support their policies. And they satisfy their US benefactor by undertaking unlawful and unconscionable actions when requested.

An extremely sharp and capable maverick, Norman Finkelstein, has been brilliantly shattering many of the formidable myths of the Zionists. His initial success demolished the contention that Palestine was a virgin land. That thesis seemed proven by a heavily promoted book, From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters, which contained nearly two thousand notes and received glowing reviews throughout the mainstream press and praise from well regarded historians and intellectuals. Finkelstein meticulously analyzed all assertions in the entire book, checking every one of the citations, and discovered that the book was an exquisitely executed con job. As difficult and laborious as the analysis was, it was easy compared to the task of obtaining publicity for his disclosure. Prestigious newspapers and prominent individuals who had been conned would not come forward to admit their blunder. The influential Zionist lobby certainly favored a cover-up. When scholars in Europe examined his findings and impressively approved, it became indefensible for the US media to ignore Finkelstein's efforts.

Finkelstein has followed up that first exposure with equally detailed, faultless, and devastating analyses of the Zionists' exploitation of the holocaust; the misjudgments of Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners; and currently Alan Dershowitz's book, The Case for Israel -- another con job that plagiarized the earlier one.

He tells it like it is and pulls no punches. His metaphors are caustic and biting but right on the mark. They are directed at individuals and organizations that he has spotted as the puppets of the Zionists that skillfully con the public for their own and the Zionists' benefits. Recognized historical authorities of the holocaust and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict invariably support Finkelstein's positions.

Because he attacks the formidable Zionist establishment that has sown up the mainstream media and the political establishment -- both Republican and Democratic parties -- he is constantly fighting against overwhelming odds. Yet they are no match for this tireless and sagacious researcher whose positions are rock solid. The notes that are dispersed throughout his books defy criticism. He is too tough to defeat on the merits so they prefer to silence his voice. The pressures they exert are intense and usually achieve results but not as often as they used to. Efforts to prevent the publication of Finkelstein's newest book by appealing to its publisher, the University of California Press, and the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, failed.

That book, Beyond Chutzpah, uncovered Dershowitz's con job -- a con that ensnared some prestigious names and institutions, such as the Harvard Law School and the New York Times. The establishment is unwilling to publicize its shortcomings, so Finkelstein's latest effort is getting a cold shoulder.

The responses of the Zionists and the establishment are unfavorable consequences that are not unexpected. But Finkelstein was shocked to learn that formerly friendly alternate media sources have shut him out as well. Their motivation to increase their pool of readers, listeners, advertisers and/or sponsors has impacted their reporting of the unconventional. Accordingly, this most caustic critic of Israel -- an iconoclast who has been unfairly characterized by the mainstream media -- has been sidelined. It is most unfortunate to learn that organizations have priorities -- in this case, expansion -- that often override the very principles -- exposure of the truth -- for which those organizations exist.

Finkelstein is extremely disappointed. He suspects that the forcefully exerted influence of Harvard, the NY Times, and the Israeli lobby on the general public affected such former supporters as The Nation, and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!. In London to give a scheduled lecture, Finkelstein was notified two hours prior that it had been cancelled.

This is certainly a tough blow for Finkelstein but as I reflect upon the situation I see a bright side. Finkelstein is so effective and influential that the establishment fears him and must exert considerable efforts to silence him. His book is not getting reviewed in the mainstream and it hurts sales. The truth will be revealed, however. While the mainstream media has been losing readers the Internet has become a rapidly growing source. More and more people get their news from that source. The book is not hitting the sales targets he had hoped but those who read it are impressed. As I was writing this essay I browsed through the readers' reviews at Amazon.com. Twenty-five readers gave the book five stars, the highest value; only seven gave it one, the lowest. Several of the five-star reviews are lengthy and well written, and a few identify themselves as Jews. Word of mouth from such individuals should aid the sales of the book.

Although the Israeli lobby is powerful it has been losing its influence. Support around the world has been waning even among the Jews, who formerly were solidly in its corner. News of the abominable actions of the Israeli army and the pitiful plight of the Palestinians has touched hearts and converted many. Finkelstein's disclosures are major factors, along with other honest reporters like Robert Fisk, John Pilger, and Amira Haas, and a courageous alternative media.

Two recent articles cite statistics that show how diminished Israel's support has become.

Despite the near unanimous support and widespread influence of the major Jewish organizations, 20 per cent of American Jews do not support Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians. Even more significantly, 61 per cent of Jews almost never talk about Israel or defend Israel in conversation with non-Jews (Jerusalem Post, Dec 1, 2005). Only 29 per cent of Jews are active promoters of Israel. The Israel First crowd represents less than a third of the Jewish community. In fact, there is more opposition to Israel among Jews than there is in the US Congress. Having said that, however, most Jewish critics of Israel are not influential in the big Jewish organizations and the Israel lobby, excluded from the mass media and mostly intimidated from speaking out, especially on Israel's war preparations against Iran.
("Israel's War Deadline Iran in the Crosshairs," By James Petras, CounterPunch, Weekend Edition December 24/25, 2005.)

And another article shows the waning of AIPAC's support among American voters.

Contrary to the bipartisan Congressional support for AIPAC, a poll of likely voters found that 61 per cent believed that AIPAC should be asked to register as an agent of a foreign power and lose its tax exempt status. Only 12 per cent disagreed. Among American Jews, 59 per cent were not sure, while 15 per cent strongly agreed and 15 per cent strongly disagreed (Zogby International, Sept. 25, 2004). Clearly many Americans have serious doubts about the loyalty and nature of AIPAC activities, contrary to their elected representatives.
("AIPAC on Trial: Them or US," By James Petras, CounterPunch January 7/8, 2006)

The continuing problems that both the U.S. has in Iraq and the Israelis have in the Occupied Territories are causing more and more people to question and later to disbelieve the major news media's optimistic views of the situation. As that occurs the mavericks, like Finkelstein, will be accorded greater and greater credence and their views will be sought.


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Internal Resources

Michael Neumann's The Case Against Israel - Gilles d'Aymery - December 05



About the Author

Philip Greenspan on Swans (with bio).



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This Edition's Internal Links

What If I Got It Wrong? - Milo Clark

À Votre Santé - Jan Baughman

Response To Jacob Amir - Michael Neumann

Fran Shor's Bush-League Spectacles - Book Review by Gilles d'Aymery

Las Vegas: "When We Dead Awaken" - Charles Marowitz

He Can Do What He Wants - Deck Deckert

Goodbye bob, Old Friend - Michael Yonchenko

Trumpeters - Martin Murie

Why Scotland Must Put Independence First - Joe Middleton

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Published January 16, 2006