The Total and Shameless Chutzpah of Alan Dershowitz

April 27, 2005

In Uncategorized

Julian Hanich

The American historian Norman Finkelstein, whose book “The Holocaust Industry” provoked a fierce debate in Germany four years ago, is creating new furor. There are protests in the USA against the publication of his new book “Beyond Chutzpah. On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History”. Finkelstein plans to bring the book out in August through the University of California Press. The attorney and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, has, however, expressed his vigorous reservations against Finkelstein’s book in a number of letters to the publishers as well as to CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s legal department. “This would be a scandal equal to Holocaust denial” Dershowitz told the Tagesspiegel. 

In his new book Finkelstein attacks the new anti Semitism. Primarily, however, it is about the “dishonesty in the research on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict”, as it is called in one of the publisher’s synopsis. The point being: The criticism is aimed at no other than Alan Dershowitz. Finkelstein makes serious allegations against Dershowitz’ book “The Case for Israel” which has recently appeared in Germany through the Europa Verlag and was called “an intelligent argument” by the New York Times. Finkelstein maintains that Dershowitz “systematically distorted facts”. On the basis of these accusations the publishers employed six expert appraisers on the book. The spring publishing date which had been planned thus had to be postponed. Dershowitz announced that he planned to sue Finkelstein for libel. A representative of the University of California Press said that there had been interest in “Beyond Chutzpah” expressed in Germany, and that negotiations are in process with the Piper Verlag, which had published the translation of Finkelstein’s “The Holocaust Industry”. 

Meanwhile Finkelstein has received support from Noam Chomsky. The linguist and radical critic of the American and Israeli foreign policies called “Beyond Chutzpah” a “very solid, important, and highly informative” book. Dershowitz, on the other hand, says that the book can be published – but by a “Neo Nazi publisher” and not a university. “Finkelstein’s readership comprises primarly of Neo Nazis and fanatics” says Dershowitz. With Finkelstien and Chomsky who crticize, and Deshowitz who defends Israel, two factions of American Judaism collide. Moreover, there seems to be a personal feud between Finkelstein and Dershowitz. It goes back to the "Case for Israel", during which time Finkelstein and Dershowitz clashed fiercely during a radio discussion. Julian Hanich.