July 5, 2005
[Editor’s Note: Based on the excerpt from Finkelstein’s political memoir titled Haunted House, which is posted on this web site, Alan Dershowitz asserts in the article below that Finkelstein “suspects his mother of having been a kapo [Nazi collaborator].” By comparing the actual text with his rendering of it, readers can glimpse how Dershowitz typically cites sources in his writings. See also this comment.]
By Alan M. Dershowitz
Why would the University of California Press (UCP) be publishing a sequel to a book that several distinguished historians have compared to the notorious czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? It is by an author whose previous works were eliminated from the curriculum by the Toronto School Board because they were anti-Semitic. This author has also been characterized as a writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for his Holocaust revisionism, and as a purveyor of crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis.
Imagine if a university press were publishing an overtly racist, sexist or homophobic book by a well-known bigot. There would be demands that the university, and the state that supports it, not lend its imprimatur to hate speech. Speech codes and political correctness would be invoked by the censorial hard left. But these same groups are now demanding the UCP change not a single word in this bigoted book by this anti-Semite.
Youve probably never heard of the author, unless you travel in neo-Nazi, radical Islamic or hard left circles. His name is Norman Finkelstein. Yes he is a Jew. His parents were even Holocaust survivors, though he suspects his mother of having been a kapo (really, how else would she have survived? he asks rhetorically). He boasts that because of his parents status as survivors, he can get away with things which nobody else can, and reviewers have pointed out that if he were not Jewish, the book to which this one is a sequel would have been dumped by the reviewers as a right-wing extremist pamphlet.
Nor is he a scholar with any credentials. He boasts that Never has one of my articles been published in a scientific magazine, despite efforts by Noam Chomsky who believes Finkelsteins scholarship is almost as good as Ward Churchills. The distinguished professor, Peter Novick, who Finkelstein himself credits with stimulating his dreadful book about the Holocaust has a different view. Novick has written the following:
As concerns particular assertions made by Finkelstein . . . the appropriate response is not (exhilarating) debate but (tedious) examination of his footnotes. Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention. . . . No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites.
The Finkelstein book being published by the UCP is about Israel, a country Finkelstein has told the Jerusalem Report that he has never actually visited, and admits that I dont really know very much about Israel. But he has quite strong feelings about the Jewish nation, as he does about Jews in general. He thinks that Israel should be flattered by a comparison to the Gestapo, and he loves Hezbollah, the overtly anti-Semitic terrorist group that makes videos showing suicide bombers where to stand in a crowded bus to maximize the number of Jewish children who will be killed and maimed.
Finkelstein also has a penchant for making up facts about people with whom he disagrees. Heres where I come in. In 2003, I wrote a bestselling book called The Case For Israel. Finkelstein didnt like the fact that, in his own words, my book got great reviews everywhere, so he started to spread the canard that I didnt write my book, implying that it was written for me by the Israel Mossad. Not only didnt I write it, I didnt even read it! He went so far as to claim I didnt write any of my books:
[Dershowitz] has come to the point where hes had so many people write so many of his books. [I]ts sort of like a Hallmark line for Nazis [T]hey churn them out so fast that he has now reached a point where he doesnt even read them. (This is after he compared me to Adolf Eichmann!)
Finkelstein knows, of course, that I write all my books by hand, since I dont type or use a computer. I even sent my handwritten manuscript of The Case For Israel to the UCP, because they were publishing his book and he had written an email to the dean of the Harvard Law School in which he said he was:
completing a book manuscript for the University of California Press which will demonstrate that he [Dershowitz] almost certainly didnt write the book, and perhaps didnt even read it prior to publication.
The UCP made him take this defamation out of his book after I provided them with conclusive proof that it was a knowing lie. He screamed and yelled about being censored, but the First Amendment gives no author the right to make up defamatory lies and publish them. There are many more lies in his book, and I address them in the sequel to my book, The Case For Peace, which is being published by Wiley in August.
The question remains, why would the UCP exercise its own First Amendment rights by deciding to get into the gutter with the likes of Norman Finkelstein?
Finkelstein is now threatening to pull his book because the UPC is demanding that he make some changes in order to meet their editorial standards. He is apparently refusing. Recently Finkelstein placed the following headline on his website: DERSHOWITZ WINS: UCP will not publish BEYOND CHUTZPAH.