Is Norman Finkelstein a Zionist Stooge?
Written by Thomas Dalton
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For most of the past decade, Norm Finkelstein has been held up as a paragon of truth and justice. He is a darling of the anti-war, anti-Zionist set, and friend to Arab and Muslim groups around the world. What could be better?
a Jew critical of the Jewish state, and a champion of the Palestinians. But I think it is high time to expose a few weaknesses in his armor, and to make the case that he is, perhaps unwittingly, an apologist for Israel and for Jewish supremacy. I think one can make a pretty good case that he is, in fact, a Zionist stooge.
First of all, anyone familiar with contemporary Zionism should be able to figure out that Finkelstein could never publish as he has, or speak as he has, or get the publicity that he has, without the implicit support of the various Jewish lobbies around the world. If he were truly the threat that is portrayed, we can be sure that he would be stopped, censored, sanctioned, sued, or imprisoned. Anyone doubting this need only consider the treatment given to Muslim extremists and Holocaust skeptics. So he must be acceptable in some sense; perhaps even useful.
That use is not hard to discern. Every power structure in the world has a need to control and mitigate its opponents. In the good old days, a bullet to the head or a trip to the Gulag did the trick. Today one needs to be more subtle. The modern approach is to stake out the oppositions turf, or to plant a opponent. I doubt that Norman is a plant, but he serves the same purpose: a nice, safe, credible critic of Zionism who knows his limits, and doesn't go too far.
What do I mean by this? Two things. First of all, deep down, I have little doubt that Finkelstein is himself a closet Zionist a true Zionist, meaning, a Jewish supremacist. This is the case with the vast majority of American Jews, and virtually all Israeli Jews. They firmly believe that Israel has a right to exist as an exclusively (or at least predominantly) Jewish state. This is a racist notion on any reading, and would be utterly unacceptable for any nation other than Israel. Certainly this is the case in Israel itself; it was recently reported in Al-Quds Al-Arabi (Feb. 15) that 75% of Israeli Jews are in favor of some form of ethnic cleansing, to achieve a purified Jewish state. American Jews are similarly inclined. No matter whether right or left, Republican or Democrat, pro-war or anti-war, nearly all Jews support the idea of Jewish-only state; the only disagreement is about the means of achieving it.
Finkelstein never questions this core of Zionism. It's true that he, like any thinking person with a shred of decency, is appalled at what Israel is doing in the occupied territories, but this doesn't make him anti-Zionist (in the deeper sense). He does not question Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. He does not endorse the right of return for all Palestinians, or financial compensation for them. He does not call for full and equal rights of Israeli Arabs. Finkelstein is still, at heart, a Jewish supremacist.
Even worse is his stance on the Holocaust. He made his name in 2000, with his radical book The Holocaust Industry. As before, we can be sure that neither his English publisher Verso, nor the printer of his German translation (Piper Verlag), nor any of the other 15 foreign-language publishers would have produced the book if it really got to the heart of the Holocaust story. Finkelstein's main concern is the hype surrounding the event, and the misuse of the money chiefly, that it's not going to the right people.But he implicitly accepts virtually all of the traditional story.
I have seen Finkelstein speak in person three times. Never once did he indicate any real knowledge about the Holocaust. In fact, at one event he was directly asked about this, and he replied, I'm not an expert on the Holocaust which is a fairly astonishing admission from a man whose claim to fame rests on that event. When a questioner challenged him about the unreliability of the numbers that the 6 million has no factual basis, that Hilberg claimed 5.1 million, that Reitlinger claimed 4.2 million, that Yad Vashem has less than 3 million names, that revisionists argue for 1 million or less he waived off the whole point: I just follow the experts.
Finkelstein unquestioningly accepts the 6 million figure, without knowing anything of the massive difficulties behind that symbolic figure. He has no awareness of the physical impossibilities involved with the alleged mass murder and incineration; of the utter lack of forensic evidence, despite knowing where to look; of wartime air photos showing no evidence of mass murder; of 20 years of diary entries by Joseph Goebbels indicating a consistent process of evacuation and deportation rather than mass murder; and so on. At one time he apparently expressed doubt that gas chambers were used for mass murder, but no more; now he toes the line. In this sense, he is a champion of traditionalism, and thus poses no real threat.
In truth the Holocaust story is fraught with difficulties, as I tried to show in my book Debating the Holocaust. Normally one would expect a person like Finkelstein to pick up on this point, since it actually serves his purpose of arguing that emphasis on Jewish suffering was over-blown and exploited for financial gain. But faithful Norman knows that, should he start raising these issues, or take seriously the ideas of Rudolf, Mattogno, Graf, or Faurisson, that he, like they, would be totally shut down. Bad for book sales, eh Norm?
Even the alleged resistance he gets at his various speaking engagements is, at least in part, bogus. On more than one occasion, where his talks were supposedly cancelled by local Jewish opposition, it was he himself who cancelled out. He is in regular contact with Jewish leaders everywhere he goes, and if he gets a whiff that the crowd might be uncooperative, or might raise uncomfortable issues (e.g. Holocaust revisionism) , then he cancels. Ask him, for example, what happened to the evening talk to a local Catholic student group in Ghent, Belgium, in 2008.
Readers out there are invited to ask Norman a couple pointed questions at his next local speaking engagement: (1) Do you repudiate the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state? If not, how can you deny being a racist? (2) On what basis do you accept the symbolic 6 million Jewish Holocaust deaths, without knowledge of the many serious difficulties with that figure?
These would make for an interesting response; be prepared for some fancy footwork.
Perhaps I am wrong about Norm Finkelstein; I hope I am. In fact, I would like nothing better than for him to prove me wrong, in public, by clearly exposing Jewish supremacism and racism within Israel itself, and by exposing, or at least acknowledging, the many holes in the Holocaust story. But don't hold your breath.