Norman Finkelstein may be a curmudgeon who can barely contain his contempt for institutions he feels have violated the public trust. But look past the attitude and sometimes poor choices (which, after all, Finkelstein’s nemesis Dershowitz has in spades) and he’s an excellent, even obsessively detailed scholar, and certainly no anti-Semite. And he’s fundamentally morally right. We Jews especially should be outraged.
Finkelstein is someone possessed with the intense and justified anger of a son of concentration camp survivors who saw his parents’ devastating experiences exploited while they received little support. He rails against not just the financial but also the ideological exploitation of the Holocaust. And I think he has the rage of disappointment of the loyal Jewish son who believed all the words about all Jews working to stop injustice, and discovered they weren’t true.
(Many of his charges are by now well-documented by numerous scholars and accounts, but it goes so far against the cinematic swelling violin background music of our favorite Holocaust narratives, that we still can’t even imagine elderly Israeli Holocaust survivors and their families protesting in the streets because they are living in poverty, while prominent lawyers and various advocacy organizations pocket millions and Israel continues to take Palestinian land while crying anti-Semitism every time someone says “No!”.
And so Finkelstein becomes the target of our collective discomfort. He’s essentially a whisteblower for corrupt Jewish organizations and it’s no wonder that many of us, in the Jewish community and beyond, don’t want to listen. To be fair, it’s also true that he doesn’t seem concerned about getting more people to listen.)
Finkelstein lost tenure at DePaul. He most recently got disinvited by the Greens in Germany. And this morning, word that the global shunning continues in Chicago, where event organizers report that since he’s not allowed to speak at DePaul (part of his severance agreement-amazingly), they found, and then just lost, an alternative venue:
I’ve been very involved in organizing Norman Finkelstein’s April midwest tour, which will include Purdue, Beloit, Michigan State, and Chicago events (DePaul, Northwestern, UofC). Unfortunately, today I received this news from our friends and partners at DePaul:
As you know, former professor and academic Norman G. Finkelstein is scheduled to speak in Chicago on Friday, April 16th. SJP DePaul and friends have been working diligently for this event, from securing a venue, booking his flight and hotel, and fundraising from scratch to make this event happen successfully. Everything was finally coming together, and we were all excited. Unfortunately, today we received horrible news. The event coordinator received the following email from the venue we had secured for the event:
“Good morning Shirien,
We had a Parish council meeting this past week, I notify everyone on the up coming events that are held at our church, and of course, your event was one of the topics
A few of our board members are attorneys and they are the ones that look into almost everything from the individuals that rent the gym out and if they are covered insurance wise.
They looked deeper into the Professor that will be speaking at our church and they insisted that we couldn’t be affiliated with the ideologies of Mr. Norman Finkelstein so I am sorry to say that the church is going to have to cancel and will not be able to rent the gym the night of April the 16th 2010
Please again I am very sorry for the inconvenience.”
Write a nice note to St. George Greek Orthodox Church to let them know Finkelstein should speak:
And if you have an alternative venue idea for April 16 in Chicago, contact organizer email@example.com