Dersh sees a conspiracy

July 18, 2006

In News

From: Brendan Keane brendanbrendanbrendan[at]
Date: Jul 18, 2006 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: slur against a Holocaust survivor on Harvard site
To: “Alan M. Dershowitz” dersh[at], ekagan[at]

Dean Elena Kagan:

I assure you, it was not a form letter. Finkelstein
would never spell Lebanon incorrectly. I am glad
to know that others have found Alan Dershowitz’s
slur disgusting.

Brendan Keane

From: “Alan M. Dershowitz” dersh[at]
To: “Brendan Keane” brendanbrendanbrendan[at]>, EKagan[at]
CC: normangf[at], letters[at],derek_bok[at]
Subject: Re: slur against a Holocaust survivor on Harvard site

Dear Elena,

This is a form letter, written by Finkelstein. I have received dozens like it.


At 01:59 AM 7/18/2006, Brendan Keane wrote:

Dean Elena Kagan:

While conducting research on the Israeli invasion of Lebannon, I came across a debate between Norman Finkelstein, and a member of your faculty, Alan Dershowitz. The televised discussion, available on the Democracy Now website, was mainly about indisputable innaccuracies and what look like frauds Finkelstein found in Dershowitz’s book The Case for Israel.

I am becoming convinced that fraud is the correct term, because I continued my research, and found a specious discussion by Dershowitz of Finkelstein’s mother on a Harvard University website: . Here Dershowitz inaccurately summarizes a written statement Finkelstein made in his memoir (Haunted House) about his mother’s experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.

Dershowitz’s summary distorts Finkelstein’s text when he writes on the Harvard website: “He suspects his own mother of being a kapo and cooperating with the Nazis during the Holocaust.” Dershowitz fraudulently recharacterizes a victim of German attrocity as a perpetrator of it. He does this with the authority of a Harvard law professor and with the university’s resources.

Finkelstein’s discussion of his mother’s complicated survivor memories and emotions can in no way, by any reasonable or empathetic reader, be misunderstood to mean she was a “kapo.” The slur is based on a disgusting manipulation of a deeply touching discussion of trauma and memory. Finkelstein’s mother’s heroic survival in Warsaw, at the Maidenek concentration camp and at two slave camps is described without sappy sentiment in Haunted House with great fairness, nuance and care. There are difficult details and honest remembrances that must be read directly from that essay, and which I will not attempt to summarize in this letter. Dershowitz’s summary is simply not like the original. It is a gross distortion.

If his statement is not removed from the Harvard website, and an apology issued, I will assume the university endorses the slur of a Holocaust survivor’s memory. My conscience will not allow me to let that injustice go unnoticed. I will redress my grievance against Dershowitz and Harvard in public spectacles, and shame both liar and his harbinger until the insult is rescinded and apology made.

Brendan Keane