Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, One Rung at a Time: Finkelstein’s Legacy at DePaul University

It is time for me to move on and hopefully find new ways to fulfill my own mission in life of making the world a slightly better place on leaving it than when I entered it.
— Norman G. Finkelstein on 9/5/07

When Norman Finkelstein announced last Wednesday that he and DePaul University had reached a negotiated settlement, ending his nearly year-long battle to gain tenure in the face of the highly unusual set of circumstances created by the extramural campaign of hate and intimidation launched by Alan Dershowitz, the Israel Lobby, and its numerous affiliates, one could have almost have felt as if the whole controversy had come to an anti-climactic end. It was a sad moment for many who had defended Finkelstein throughout the year, in the hope the administration could be brought to its senses about the deadly blow that had been delivered against academic freedom and this world-class intellectual, who brought a determination to his work few will be able to match.

In exchange for his immediate resignation from DePaul’s faculty, DePaul would essentially admit that Finkelstein had met the University’s tenure and promotion requirements (“Professor Finkelstein is a prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher”), while also providing Finkelstein with a backhanded acknowledgment of the public outrage that had been generated in response to the tenure denial (“We understand that Professor Finkelstein and his supporters disagree with the University Board on Promotion and Tenure’s conclusion that he did not meet the requirements for tenure.”) Well, the obvious reason Finkelstein and many of his supporters disagreed with the University Board on Promotion and Tenure’s conclusions is because Finkelstein consistently earned among the highest, if not the highest, teaching evaluations in the political science department for six years in a row. Couple that with the five books which he has published to international acclaim, the most recent being his Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History with the University of California Press, which Dershowitz’s campaign of abuse and vilification could not censor, one might naturally understand why Finkelstein and his supporters have drawn the logical inference that something else—other than the usual DePaul standards—might have been in play.

Given that the University has now settled with Finkelstein under confidential terms, the logical inference, that outside political interference was the real reason Finkelstein was denied tenure, is most certainly correct. The administration’s repeated rejoinder that Finkelstein just did not measure up to the institution’s standards is clearly absurd. To recap: The tenure members of Finkelstein’s own department voted 9-3 supporting his tenure bid; The five members of the Liberal Arts and Science’s College Personnel Committee voted 5-0 to support Finkelstein’s tenure and promotion to full professor; two outside reviewers, of international acclaim, enthusiastically endorsed Finkelstein’s application. In late March, an administrative intervention, in the form of Dean Chuck Suchar, took place because the faculty, if left to its own devices, was going to give Finkelstein tenure. Suchar alleged that he could not support Finkelstein’s tenure bid because his scholarship was at odds with DePaul’s institutional mission, which apparently requires DePaul professors to respect the God-given dignity of political opponents such as Alan Dershowitz. In brief, according to Suchar, tenuring Finkelstein would be problematic since the latter engages in ad hominem and reputation-demeaning attacks.

All of this discussion about whether or not Finkelstein engages in ad hominem attacks, and whether or not his doing so should be legitimate grounds for denying him tenure, seems to completely miss the larger point: Finkelstein’s colleagues within his department and College overwhelmingly supported his tenure bid. The tenured members of his department, the people who worked with him on a daily basis, voted to support his tenure and promotion to associate professor. The three members of the department who voted against him filed a minority report, arguing that Finkelstein was uncollegial to them personally. The College Personnel Committee voted unanimously to support the Department’s majority recommendation. Surely, no one is going to claim that the nine people who voted for Finkelstein in his own department, and the five people who supported him on the College Personnel Committee, did so because they are anti-Semites or self-hating Jews, right?

Realizing that faculty support for Finkelstein would pose a huge problem for the administration’s long-ago hatched plan to deny him tenure, the Dean intervened and claimed that Finkelstein’s scholarship–which has been published to international acclaim and praised by the likes of the leading experts on the Israel Palestine conflict [Avi Shlaim (Oxford), Sara Roy (Harvard), the late Baruch Kimmerling (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem), William Quandt, and Beshara Doumani (Berkeley)] and the Nazi Holocaust (the late Raul Hilberg, the founder of Holocaust Studies who was actually doing serious work on the Holocaust long before it became politically convenient and ideologically serviceable to do so, Joachim Fest, Arno Mayer, Christopher Browning, and Ian Kershaw)–just did not comport with what it means to embody Vincentian personalism. Finkelstein’s five books have undergone forty-six different translations—more than the entire faculty within DePaul’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences combined. That doesn’t sound very controversial to me.

In his report, the Dean bases his argument that Finkelstein’s scholarship doesn’t meet DePaul’s standards on a single chapter from The Holocaust Industry. As it turns out, the Dean, in the course of advancing his argument, reveals he hasn’t read any of Finkelstein’s books, much less the one he is referencing. Suchar got so confused in his borrowings from another text, which was perhaps provided to him by Dershowitz or some other third party, that he misspelled the word “huckster” as “huxter”—just as Dershowitz misspelled it in his propaganda package, [see p. 5 of 21], which he sent Finkelstein’s former department chair. In addition, note that Suchar places the Israeli historian Benny Morris in the same company as Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, and Daniel Goldhagen. As anyone who has read Finkelstein’s work surely knows, Morris is someone Finkelstein holds in high regard and is not someone he would mention in the same breath as Dershowitz, Wiesel, and Goldhagen–all of whom he has referrred to as “hoaxers” and “hucksters”; not, as Suchar (and Dershowitz) would have it, “hoaxters and huxters”. After Suchar’s memo withholding support for Finkelstein’s tenure came out in late March, fourteen members of the political science department, including all the junior faculty members, refuted what was alleged about Finkelstein’s supposed incivility, stating they found him to be a great colleague who made a tremendous contribution to the department.

The University Board, which voted 4-3 against tenure, embraced the minority report written by the three people in Finkelstein’s department who voted against him, none of whom are experts on the Middle East or the Nazi Holocaust, while ignoring the majority vote from Finkelstein’s department, the unanimous vote of the College Personnel Committee, and the enthusiastic endorsements of two distinguished outside reviewers, whose views and opinions about Finkelstein’s record were solicited by DePaul’s political science department. This year’s university committee consisted of faculty members from Psychology, Law, Theatre Arts, Management, Mathematics, Communications, and Education. Is one to understand that these faculty members were in a better position to judge Finkelstein’s record than his own department, his College, and the distinguished reviewers? Note that President Holtscheider, in summarizing the University Board’s reasoning, doesn’t even offer one example of the ad hominem attacks in Finkelstein’s work, which apparently necessitated the tenure denial.

In examining the evidence at hand, it’s fairly clear that Finkelstein was not denied tenure because of his supposed ad hominem attacks or his lack of collegiality. He was denied tenure at DePaul because tremendous outside pressure was placed on the university to remove an effective critic of U.S. and Israeli policy in the Middle East from its precincts. I wish the administration would stop repeating the bald-face lie that Finkelstein’s scholarship did not meet DePaul’s tenure and promotion standards. It’s embarrassing and an insult to the intelligence. Apparently, Rubinstein and Associates, the PR firm DePaul hired to help it with its public relations image, thought the repeated invocation of this lie would pass muster; it clearly did not.

Private giving to DePaul doubled between 2006 and 2007. I have no doubt that DePaul receiving that money was dependent upon the administration ensuring that Finkelstein be denied tenure. It’s to DePaul’s credit that it hired and retained Finkelstein for six years. There was plenty of pressure placed on the university during that time period to get rid of him because he was writing and speaking, with great effectiveness, about Israel’s terrible human rights record against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, which is sustained by the United States’ crucial material, military, and diplomatic support. Indeed, it’s often difficult for U.S. intellectuals to hear that they might be contributing to a cultural milieu that condones and turns its eyes away from U.S.-supported war crimes. When Finkelstein exposed Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel, in his Beyond Chutzpah, to be a “hoax concocted from another hoax,” Finkelstein in fact exposed how our own elite intellectual culture works. How else does one explain that Henry Louis Gates praised The Case for Israel as a great book? Maybe he didn’t read it before he wrote a positive blurb for it?

In October of 2004, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Professor Finkelstein for an online discussion of his books. Although he became impatient with the participant’s seemingly, complete lack of comprehension of his work, which were supposed to be the basis of participant questions, he tried to provide some comic relief. His dismissal of Derrida and his work, the day after Derrida’s passing, was meant to force discussion participants to think about why Derrida’s thinking had come to dominate so much contemporary discussion within the humanities; that’s what iconoclasts are supposed to do. They force us to question why we embrace certain figures, theories, and approaches, attacking them when they become all too sacred.

Below, I’ve pasted in Finkelstein’s final post to the discussion list, which struck me as ironic and insightful. I’d prefer tenure to be an honor we bestow upon people who are saying provocative and timely things about the important issues of the day, rather than an accolade with which we buy people’s silence and good behavior. All too often that’s unfortunately how tenure operates. Robert Jensen wrote a powerful essay about this problem a few months ago, considering what it would mean for the U.S. academy if Finkelstein were denied tenure. I’m afraid Jensen’s words were prescient.

If there are those in the public sphere who have actually read Finkelstein’s books and grappled with his arguments who wish to offer up some examples of Finkelstein’s supposed ad hominem attacks, I’m sure they could be analyzed and discussed. For example, are Finklestein’s charts documenting Dershowitz’s reliance upon Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial in his The Case for Israel ad hominem?

For someone to state that they’ve heard that Finkelstein is a nasty piece of work, a self-hating Jew, and an anti-Semite based on third parties, who have a vested interest in silencing him, seems inconsistent with what responsible public intellectualism is all about. Let’s not forget that Finkelstein is Jewish, the son of Holocaust survivors, and had much of his family exterminated during the holocaust. The dedication of his Image and Reality in the Israel-Palestine Conflict reads as follows:

To my beloved parents,

Maryla Husyt Finkelstein,
survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto,
Maidanek concentration camp


Zacharias Finkelstein,
survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto,
Auschwitz concentration camp.

May I never forget or forgive what was done to them

Thanks, Norm, for all you have done for your colleagues and students at DePaul. In the end, you proved to have had far more integrity, intelligence, and determination than those who were in a position to judge you. As you helped humanity climb Jacob’s ladder, one rung at a time, you have inspired all of us to make this world a better and more humane place.

Wed, 27 Oct 2004 08:11:02 -0500
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Date Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 01:21 AM
From: Norman Finkelstein <>
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Cc: NormanGF <>

One reason for the right-wing’s ascendancy in the United States is that, at any rate, in some departments, and especially those where I can lay reasonable claim to personal and professional knowledge, what reactionaries have to say, however painful it might be to confess, contains a grain, and then some, of truth. It is frequently alleged in these right-wing quarters that universities have been effectively hijacked by semi-literate, politically correct blowhards
spouting an incomprehensible and vacuous jargon, not to mention one with the tonal aesthetic of a tin can, which, rather than be a badge or shame, is for these post-whatevers a point of preening and, what’s yet more a matter commanding consternation among those still preserving a jot of rationality, for them a signifier of superiority to the common herd who, God forbid, make themselves generally understood. I am old enough to have passed through multiple of these epochs in non-thought. When I was coming of age politically, Althusser and his acolytes like Poulantzas were all the rage. Who can forget that prose that induced the same aesthetic effect as it was chewed over in the mind as tin foil does when chewed over in a mouth filled with cavities? This fashion passed expeditiously enough when Poulantzas jumped off a towering edifice (showing enough consideration for humanity by, reportedly, carrying his books with him as he plunged to eternity), quickly to be followed by Althusser strangling his wife to death, all in the fateful academic year 1979. (On a personal note, having been a student in Paris at the time, I still vividly recall these untimely deaths, attended by the almost simultaneous passings of Sartre and Roland Barthes, the latter run down by a car.) This lunatic craze however was almost immediately superseded by the Foucault cult, when every half-baked, ill-educated dimwit imagined him or herself a philosopher after having dabbed in (excerpts from, if even that much) Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Paris master-thinker himself. Shortly thereafter began the Derrida fad with a fresh wagon-load of cliché and jargon unloaded at navel-contemplating conferences, pawned off as radical and cutting edge whereas it possessed all the intellectual and political content of marsh mellow topped with Redi-Whip; and – will the Lord ever forgive them for this sin- unloaded on unsuspecting students. I have on occasion, mostly for light amusement after a hard day’s work, picked up some of these texts, and wonder how poor, unsuspecting, innocent, naive young people have borne such utter rubbish. To inflict it on them is – and here I write as a committed, if atheistic, educator – truly a sin beyond redemption. Fortunately adults such as myself, and not bound by the constraints, whether of political correctness or academic fashion, still preserve the liberty – which I, at any rate, do not intend to abdicate – of calling this what it is. For all I know he might have been the most decent fellow going, but as an influence on academic life Derrida was an abomination – or, more exactly, a too-long running joke. I do not in the least lament his passing, except in the sense of the truism that for those who knew him personally, his loss, like the loss of human life generally, must be source of sorrow. Beyond that, good riddens.
The reactions to my posting on this listserv have fallen into three main categories: 1) studied disgust at my lack of academic couth – which is a useful pretext (if I might appropriate that word) for avoiding discussion of substantive issues; 2) incomprehensible gibberish about my “rhetoric,” “representations,” intermixed with words I’ve never heard of like “aporia” and “irenic” – or, to be precise, words I have heard of, but don’t think it’s worth the trouble of learning their definition, although I love dictionaries – my last great hope is that if reincarnation is yet a transcendental and temporal truth, I come back as a Webster’s unabridged; and although reveling in the exquisite delights of learning new words: yet as a point of principle I refuse to invest the energy requisite for such lexicological investigation simply to satisfy the pitifully deformed ego of a pedant; and 3) factual points of difference. Almost none of the postings fit under the last head. I will limit my remarks here to two interrelated point.

I asserted that one evidence that Holocaust studies is a non-field is the sorts of questions it ponders: e.g. the fanatical insistence on proving the “uniqueness” of the Nazi holocaust. It was then asserted in response by one listserv member that this concern is hardly peculiar to Holocaust studies. Let’s then, put forth a simple challenge. Consider this illustrative rendering from a leading light of this purported field. Professor Steven T. Katz has published the first of a projected three volume study (Oxford University Press) harnessing over 5,000 titles the purpose of which is to prove that “the Holocaust is phenomenologically unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman and child belonging to a specific people.”
Clarifying his thesis, Katz explains: “”? is uniquely C. “? may share A, B, D,…X with ?£ but not C. And again “may share A,B,D,…X with all £ but not C…”| lacking C is not “….By definition, no exceptions to this rule are allowed. ?£ sharing A,B,D,…X with “? may be like “? in these and other respects…but as regards our definition of uniqueness any or all ?£ sharing A,B,D,…X with “? may be like “? in these and other respect…but as regards our definition of uniqueness any or all ?£ lacking C are not “?….Of course, in its totality “? is more than C, but it is never “? without C.” avoid any confusion, Katz further elucidates that he uses the term phenomenological “in a non-Husserlian, non-Shutzean, non-Schelerian, non-Heideggerian, non-Merleau-Pontyian sense.” Translation: the Katz enterprise, like Holocaust studies generally, is phenomenal non-sense. Now here’s my question: Please cite even a single article in the vast output of scholarship on American slavery that even remotely echoes such insane preoccupations. Or, point to me a single article in the scholarly literature on American slavery making the claim that it “leads into darkness,” “negates all answers,” “lies outside, if not beyond, history,” “defies both knowledge and description,” “cannot be explained nor visualized,” is “never to be comprehended or transmitted,” marks a “destruction of history” and a “mutation on a cosmic scale,” is “non-communicable ” – “we cannot even talk about it.” I am, or course, quoting here the high-priest of Holocaust studies, Elie Wiesel. Does this sound to anyone on the listserv like rational inquiry or is it, as I’ve suggested, a highly lucrative and politically useful mystery religion?

Matthew Abraham is an Associate Professor of English and the author of the recently released Out of Bounds: Academic Freedom and the Question of Palestine (Bloomsbury Academic Publishing). Read other articles by Matthew.

15 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. sk said on September 10th, 2007 at 9:35am #

    FYI, video of Finkelstein at De Paul last week.

  2. gerald spezio said on September 10th, 2007 at 10:28am #

    Woe unto ye lawyers, law professors, priests of phenomenology, professorial poseurs, pompous post-modernists, rhetoricians, and phonies. Scientific scholarship marches on. Truth exists.

    Holocaust industry theologians; Alan Dershowitz, Steven Katz, and even the irreproachable Eli Wiesel hoisted, pilloried, and humiliated by their own preposterous and infantile claims of chosen-ness.

  3. Neal said on September 10th, 2007 at 10:30am #

    The problem, as I see it, with the material by Finkelstein that I have read is that it is not enough, by his way of doing things, for his opponents to be wrong. On his telling, they, for example, are plagiarists. That is not a colloquial thing to allege unless there is really no doubt.

    But, the examples I have seen of alleged plagiarism may, perhaps, be examples of mistakes. In fact, I have not seen any that involve plagiarism, once the details are examined.

    And, given that others have examined the alleged plagiarism and not seen them as such – in one case I vaguely recall, the alleged plagiarism was more likely a proper citation -, I think the problem for Finkelstein is that he is polemic, not scholarly and personal, and not sufficiently colloquial.

    Now, in the above article, the suggestion is made that use of Peters’ work might be improper. That, however, is nonsense. Most of what Peters writes is non-contraversial. Some is contraversial, with Finkelstein taking an extreme view that what appears in the book is not merely wrong – his opinion – but somehow worse than wrong.

    It is the worse than wrong allegations that people find objectionable. Now, I have read Dershowitz’s book which Finkelstein finds not merely wrong but worse than wrong. It is, as with any work, possible that Dershowitz makes mistakes but the book is not worse than wrong. It is a rather well presented brief that seems fairly careful. Which is not to say that it is without errors.

    Lastly, the fact that there is a confidentiality agreement informs not a bit else about what is in the agreement or why the agreement was made confidential. Perhaps, Finkelstein wanted it to be confidential because the document contains that actual reasons for his denial of tenure, reasons he prefers to be kept quiet. Or, perhaps there were issues about which none of us know a thing. Perhaps, the document includes an agreement for Finkelstein not to badmouth the university and/or vice verse, which neither party wanted to be known. Perhaps, the university keeps agreements of the type confidential as a matter of course. The point is: we have no idea why and neither does Mr. Abraham.

  4. Michael Kenny said on September 10th, 2007 at 11:20am #

    The winner in this whole process is DePaul, the Vincentian order and the Catholic Church. Clearly, Dershowitz’s plan was for the Vincentians to knife Finkelstein for him while his part in the operation remained secret. That has been an utter failure and I would guess that the Israel Lobby will not try a similar stunt in a Catholic university again.

    Equally, Catholic morality has been satisfied inasmuch as Finkelstein has been paid substantial compensation (they were already giving him a year’s pay, so I suppose that had to up that significantly to get him to resign) and the professional criticisms of him have been withdrawn. I assume that Dershowitz wanted DePaul to destroy NF, but that would have gone against the Catholic principle of the right to life.

    So all’s well that ends well! DePaul’s problem has gone away, Finkelstein has enough money to tide him over until he gets another job and Dershowitz has been exposed as the villain of the piece. Could it have ended better?

  5. M. Chatterjee said on September 10th, 2007 at 12:59pm #

    Professor Abraham:

    I am so encouraged to read your defense of Norman Finkelstein (“Finkelstein’s Legacy”) in Counterpunch. You have evidently inherited Finkelstein’s courage in the face of the War and Hatred lobby, the Right-Wing mass-murder machine, and all the other injustices we see increasingly in the Reagan-inspired U.S.A. What happened at DePaul is a perfect indicator of what ails academia in this country – Universities have become corporations, are being run like corporations (a microcosm of what has been going on in the U.S. itself, run by a bogus, fraudulent CEO and his vicious cohorts), and therefore are handmaidens to power-brokers and lobbyists (hoaxers and hucksters, indeed!).

    Science and technology cannot help us if our mind-sets are confined to the dark ages- the events in this 21st Century eminently prove this point. The evil of imperialism, gluttony, and unprincipled, ignorant lives driven by profits and false notions of power are all around us- and it is the Norman Finkelsteins that offer a breath of fresh air to our world.

    Thanks for presenting an honorable facet of the Jewish people in the face of all the lies and atrocities to someone from India, who, like so many others, wonders all the time how a people so admirably represented by the likes of an Einstein, a Menuhin and an Anne Frank- can become so ruthlessly insensitive to injustice and torment inflicted upon millions of human beings. I sincerely believe that The Lobby does not speak for the Jewish people, and one can only hope that voices like yours no longer remain the minority.

    M. Chatterjee

  6. Joseph Anderson said on September 10th, 2007 at 3:19pm #

    It very much seems to be just what I stressed (not only being the latest case of extreme tenure process abuse by high university officials): It’s about THE ENTIRE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN AMERICA sending a message to ALL aspiring (especially untenured) professors in America: DON’T CRITICIZE ISRAEL; DON’T MORALLY CRITICIZE ZIONISM; DON’T CROSS THE ISRAEL LOBBY!

    An adamantly anti-racist, thus anti-Zionist, Jewish-American, pro-Palestinian human rights activist and progressive journalist has publicly pointed out that in the United States you can soundly criticize ANY country or ANY foreign head of government or ANY politician; you can even criticize or even roundly make fun of the U.S. president on any commercial TV program, in any major newspaper, and on the very floor of Congress; but, you can NOT directly criticize –or when appropriate even morally condemn the actions of– the state of Israel or its prime minister or government officials –no matter who he/she is– if you are an American in an institutional status position –especially one with any public dimension– without your position of employment being seriously threatened or destroyed.

    Isn’t that sheerly breathtaking in its ominousness?

    For our country to collectively let any organization, political group or lobby in the U.S. have that kind of unquestioned, seemingly unchallengeable intellectual control and SILENCING POWER –the power of an Inquisition– should be seen as, at least ultimately, gravely dangerous, especially to our university system (in particular it’s very integrity) and ultimately to our country. But, in the meantime, it reveals how much the tenure system –like other fundamental insitutions in our country– have become so –now nationally overtly so– explicitly POLITICIZED and corrupted.

  7. Gary Paul Gilbert said on September 10th, 2007 at 3:45pm #

    Derrida was a lot smarter and has had a much bigger influence on the world of ideas than Finkelstein has had. What he doesn’t understand he trashes in a kind of oedipal rivalry, which makes me wonder about how he treated his colleagues.

    I am, however, troubled that those who denied tenure were not experts in his field.


  8. sk said on September 10th, 2007 at 4:14pm #

    You’re just the person I’ve been looking for so long. Would you be interested in playing a parlor game to prove a point someone supposedly made with regard to Derrida? Here’s how it works:

    My colleague would open one of Derrida’s works to a random page, pick a random sentence, write it down, and then (above or below it) write a variant in which positive and negative were interchanged, or a word or phrase was replaced with one of opposite meaning. He would then challenge the assembled Derrida partisans to guess which was the original and which was the variant. The point was that Derrida’s admirers are generally unable to distinguish his pronouncements from their opposites at better than chance level, suggesting that the content is a sophisticated form of white noise. On this view, as Wolfgang Pauli once said of someone else, Derrida is “not even wrong.”.

    Let me know if you’re game.

  9. John Halle said on September 10th, 2007 at 5:17pm #

    Finkelstein joins the great figures in the history of ideas-Spinoza, Voltaire, Russell, Chomsky- in having aroused the hatred of the privileged and powerful.

    Derrida will be remembered as an obscurantist of the first order-one whose interest in superficial language games disguises what was an underlying objectively reactionary agenda. The right wing and state apologists like Dershowitz well understood this which explains why they never raised a peep as he moved from one distinguished appointment to another.

    If the world manages to survive a generation from now, it will be the Finkelstein who will be seen as the prophets they are.

    The last two paragraphs were pure gold. I had the greatest respect for Norman previously. I now see him as one of the shining glories-a rose in the rubbish heap which the academy has become.

  10. Joseph Anderson said on September 10th, 2007 at 11:11pm #


    John Halle: “Finkelstein joins the great figures in the history of ideas-Spinoza, Voltaire, Russell, Chomsky- in having aroused the hatred of the privileged and powerful.”

    Chomsky couldn’t have aroused too much hatred: he is a fully tenured, senior white professor in the United State’s most prestigious predominantly science & engineering university — and a multimillionaire to boot: I’d say that CHOMSKY IS QUITE PRIVILEGED! He readily gets his many books published without any attempts to silence him, stop him or the publisher, and he has been on C-SPAN or on PBS, like the very establishment Charlie Rose Show, numerous times. But, of course, like MOST leftists he doesn’t regularly get on mainstream corporate American TV.

    I always thought that Chomsky is a good introduction to the politics of U.S./Western imperialism for late-teens and 20-somethings (or maybe Middle Americans of any age) — in *some* respects Chomsky was an introduction to me when I was younger (especially his book “Manufacturing Consent” — but not even his original concept: not that African Americans didn’t know that the media systematically lies about anything really important to the ruling class). But I also thought that Chomsky was very overrated — especially as some sort of unquestioned Leftist God.

    The relatively few people who DON’T think that Chomsky WALKS ON WATER know that he actually slyly and speciously serves to PROTECT Israel — especially as “A Jewish/Zionist state”. (See online, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict”, by Jeffrey Blankfort.) But, the many organizers who know that Chomsky is morally amiss like this don’t say so because they are using ‘Chomsky, Inc.’ as a advertizing and fundraising device: post that Chomsky is going to be speaking at your event and you’re guaranteed a good gate (revenues) at the door; you sure won’t fall short for his honorarium and you’ll have PLENTY left over! Have all the questions put on tiny index cards and weed out the meaninfully critical ones — so your event won’t be “spoiled”. And everyone goes home glassy-eyed again!

    All Israel’s horrors of over half a century (the 20th century’s longest human rights catastrophe) visited upon the Palestinian people are, by Chomsky, blamed ONLY on the WASPs, the goyim, in the American, or British, ruling class (in spite of the fact, that in both cases Zionists mightily pushed those governments to recognize and support Israel). Israel, according to Chomsky has NO independent actions or ambitions. Israel is the puppet, and the U.S. makes it dance. (So, I would ask Chomsky, is Israel “just following orders” — and where have we heard that immoral ‘defense’ before?) Furthermore, Chomsky has NEVER *renounced* Zionism — this ‘dog that didn’t bark’ coming from a self-described “Anarchist”.

    Chomsky also absoluting denies the power of the Israel lobby — or said that proof of its power can’t be determined — and as I said in another DV post, ironically the very lobby which has destroyed the career of Norman Finkelstein at DePaul University — and as Edward Said also said, the lobby which is the greatest domestic enemy of human rights for the Palestinian people. Chomsky has been, like a master magician, a master of misdirection when it comes to Israel and the Palestinian people. He, like a Pied Piper for his glassy-eyed hero-worshipping accolytes, plays a lulling and beguiling tune, that leads them to a dead end on the issue of Palestinian human rights. Every anti-Zionist Jew who is SERIOUS about their anti-racism and thus Palestinian human rights knows this. (See, “The Left and the Israel Lobby”, by Joseph Anderson.)

    When it comes to the privileges of, and brutality by, *his* ethnic group and his old ZIONIST friends, suddenly he waffles and prescribes only idle and vague busy work against apartheid in Israel: “write your Congressperson” (the one who gets at least many 1,000’s of dollars — or whose political party gets MILLIONS of dollars — from the Israel lobby each year, or the one, like Cynthia McKinney, who’s nobody opposition from nowhere would suddenly get a MILLION dollars from the Israel lobby and its constituents if your Congressperson disobeyed).

    Furthermore, Chomsky seemingly *talks* a good (specious) game, but OPPOSES doing anything PRACTICAL to actually help the Palestinians and to at least put Israel’s ruthless behavior in check. Chomsky ‘talks the talk’, but he won’t walk the walk. CHOMSKY OPPOSES ANY BOYCOTTS, DIVESTMENT OR SANCTIONS AGAINST THE APARTHEID STATE OF ISRAEL. And he uses the same parallel arguments that white conservatives used to OPPOSE boycotts, divestments & sanctions against then apartheid South Africa: (a.) it would be a gift to [go figua!] the right-wing [before in apartheid South Africa, but today in Israel and to the Israel lobby]; (b.) it would be called anti-white racism (or in Israel’s case, “anti-Semitic”); (c.) the majority of “the people” — i.e., the oppressors! — oppose it [well, duh-uhhh…]; (d.) and, finally, it would hurt the very victims you’re trying to help [this, in spite of the fact that the victims themselves are/were calling for it!]. But, if Chomsky had this attitude during South African apartheid –as opposed to Israeli apartheid– he would have been seen as a morally hollow fake leftist and fallen into disfavor with American (hell, worldwide) progressives and leftists (and even liberals) long ago.

    Now I don’t care WHO supposedly ‘walks on water’. As someone, myself being African American, who comes from an oppressed minority (unlike Jews today anywhere in the Western World) — someone who must be urgent and SERIOUS — when I see the “leftist” ‘water-walker’ (or ‘Pied Piper’) beguiling, misdirecting and leading the cause against racism to a dead end — and using their otherwise “leftist” (yeah, self-described “Anarchist”) COVER to do so — then I STOP FOLLOWING THEM.

    (Btw, every leftist should look up the poem “Gnome Chomsky”, online. It really tells you everything you need to know about Chomsky and his protection of both Israel and Zionism in a very cute little poem.)

    Joseph Anderson

    Berkeley, CA

  11. Hue Longer said on September 11th, 2007 at 3:33am #

    Thanks Joseph,

    I’m all for sacred cows being served with wine and music, but wish you would clean it up and include footnotes and offer it for publishing on DV…I think many have stopped reading the letters resulting from this topic and your letter is an important one that should confound nicely, the benighted Zionists–as well as the educated rats who blindly follow Noam’s tune.

  12. Joseph Anderson said on September 11th, 2007 at 7:47am #


    Thank you, Hue (Sept 11, 2007 @3:33am). I’m a busy activist like most others, when I’m not at my day job. So, I don’t have enough time to write articles — time that, honestly, I should nonetheless take. Perhaps your encouragement will cause me to find just such time in the near future re Chomsky.

    Chomsky also commonly lies about the history and basis of Israel’s wars with its neighbors related to the Palestinian conflict — because CHOMSKY ACTUALLY WORKS AS A LEFTIST GURU, AS A FUNCTIONAL ZIONIST 5TH COLUMNIST, TO *PROTECT* ISRAEL AS, IDEOLOGICALLY “A JEWISH STATE”. (And, in this, of course, Chomsky *opposes* Right-of-Return for Palestinian refugees & exiles — but not for Zionist Jews anywhere in the world for ever and ever, even those who have *never* been oppressed a single day in their lives and who have never even seen, let alone ever set foot in, historic Palestine! He’s really quite a sophisticated, but sly and nasty figure, on the Israel-Palestinian conflict — as is, particularly so, someone like USF professor Stephen Zunes.) Mideast political analysts Kathleen & Bill Christison have directly or indirectly exposed such lies in their articles. Neither Palestinian leaders out here in the Bay Area, nor anti-Zionist Jews, morally follow Chomsky anymore.

    Just one source of my information can be heard on the archived San Francisco radio program, “Your Call Radio” on KALW-fm. Below is one source of primary documentation regarding Chomsky’s remarks — from his own lips, no less. It is an archive of a San Francisco radio program that he was on (on a live remote from the Northeast coast, presumably Boston/Cambridge, Mass.) almost a year ago to the month:

    _9.26.06 Noam Chomsky on his book, “Failed States”_ .

    (Chomsky doesn’t seem to make any physical trips out here to the Bay Area anymore because he *knows* there would be people like me in the audience. Although if he did, I’m sure it would be a forum as tightly controlled as a White House press conference with George Bush — except that all the questions would have to be submitted on *tiny* index cards and then they would be, of course, sifted through for questions too intellectually or morally challenging censored — even though Chomsky could just lie as usual with no opportunity for the questioner to follow up.)

    Here’s an excerpt, in [ ]’s, from a letter that I sent to the host and executive producer (also General Manager) of the program:

    [ September 29, 2006

    Dear Rose Aguilar & Matt Martin (KALW-fm, San Francisco):

    I just wanted to follow up just for your own information (if helpful), regarding the KALW “Your Call Radio” program interview with Noam Chomsky on Tuesday, September 26, 2006, and my call to your show at 31:48 after the hour.

    Since I was at a distinct inherent disadvantage regarding Chomsky’s ability to, frankly, just lie in response to my question about his opposition statements to a sanctions, boycott or divestment campaign against Israel for its continued brutal oppression against the Palestinian people, I wanted to follow up here if you don’t mind.

    I want to regretfully say that Chomsky lied when he said that he never said that he opposed a divestment movement against Israel because (quote), “the majority of the population opposes it” (meaning, of course Israeli Jews). I said in my question beforehand that human rights activists don’t first ask the *oppressors* if they would accept sanctions and accede to the *oppressors’* inevitable objection. Anyway, in addition to his speeches, Chomsiky said this in a May 10, 2004, published interview with Harvard Professor Christopher J. Lee in “Safundi”, a South African scholarly journal, an interview republished in Z Magaine in May, 2004. This was also documented and covered in detail in Jeffrey Blankfort’s article, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict”.

    Chomsky also said that a sanctions movement would be “a gift to the utlra-right-wing” in Israel and the U.S., and would hurt the victims. But the *victims* — the Palestinians — *are* calling for an international sanctions/boycotts/divestment campaign against Israel. So, Chomsky is opposing what the victims themselves are asking for to help eliminate their oppression. In addition, Chomsky’s colleague and sometimes co-author, Ed Herman, whom Chomsky alluded to in your interview, OPPOSES Chomsky’s views on sanctions (and on Chomsky’s dismissal of the Israel lobby) and finds Chomsky’s views on these issues logically and morally inexplicable. [The same was true for Edward Said.] Actually, it’s Chomsky’s, as America’s leading leftist guru, opposition to sanctions and his dismissal of the Israel lobby that is “a gift to the ultra-right-wing” in Israel and the U.S. government.

    Finally, I regret to say that Chomsky also lied about the history of the, then, American anti-apartheid divestment movement against South Africa, when he said that some great public consensus had been built up and established *before* the American divestment campaign was begun.

    The anti-Apartheid sanctions/boycott/divestment campaign against South Africa was not begun ONLY *AFTER* some huge American public consensus had been established: it started out *very small*; it often started out in places (actually most of the country then) where most people didn’t know all that much, if anything, about South African apartheid and its racial system of laws and restrictions; and the campaigns, along with the mock shanty towns on many campuses (often in small campustowns/cities), were used as an educational and consciousness-raising tool to *BUILD UP* public awareness and support for economic divestment. And we activists certainly weren’t able to change U.S. government policy first (Reagan was a *friend* of apartheid South Africa). In one sentence: The anti-Apartheid divestment movement against South Africa was *itself* a basis of the groundwork to build up and establish an international political anti-Apartheid movement in support of the oppressed black South Africans.

    The big establishment politicians that Chomsky claimed were all lining up to get arrested in protests (like in front of the White House) mostly happened toward the *end* of the divestment movement (when it was, of course, politically much safer in their perceived situation), *not* at the beginning. ]

    Finally, a copy of that great litte poem, “Gnome Chomsky”, can be found at:, which nicely encapsulates Noam Chomsky on Israel and ‘the Chomsky experience’ at any of his appearances.

    Joseph Anderson

    Berkeley, CA

  13. gerald spezio said on September 11th, 2007 at 8:19am #

    The uncanny similarity of Norman Finkelstein to Galileo is more than instructive. In many instances the comparison is almost identical in substance. Anybody familiar with both Galileo and NF could readily agree.

    Finkelstein , like Galileo, takes no prisoners when it comes to calling it as best as he can. This means that he is doing the best science – science practiced as only science can – no lying, no cheating, no distorting anything. The exact opposite of lawyering and peeyar.

    Calling out pretentious academic frauds and charlatans is a mandatory part of the process of doing any semblance of genuine science – whether it is political science or history or anthropology in the “real world.”
    Finkelstein & Galileo, are 400 years apart, but essentially identical in their relentless exposure of the rampant nonsensical doubletalk in their respective academies.

    Galileo was primarily persecuted by his enraged fellow academics more than the Holy Roman Church.

    Finkelstein’s open contempt for the corruption of language by all too many of his comfortable colleagues is “pure gold.” It tells us what a no nonsense man Professor Finkelstein is, and why we respect him so much.

    Such pretentious crap by authorities with doctorates in doubletalk and law degrees in obfuscation is “worse-than-wrong.” It is designed to keep us from the truth of who and what is giving us continual brain damage while delivering a good butt fucking.

  14. Joseph Anderson said on September 12th, 2007 at 12:09pm #


    In my post above I said, “Chomsky *OPPOSES* Right-of-Return for Palestinian refugees & exiles”.

    Let me make a slight self-correction so that if anyone brings this up to Chomsky he won’t weasel around this (like Bush weasels with & around words during his presidential press conferences) and say, “That’s not true.”

    Chomsky OPPOSES GENERAL, UNLIMITED Right-of-Return for Palestinian refugees & exiles, especially to the state of Israel itself (while, of course, he supports unlimited, so-called, “right-of-return” for Jews from anywhere, anytime) — to a state that keeps stealing, expanding, annexing and officially subsuming Palestinian land since the immoral Zionist Jewish partition (with imperialist British patronage) of Palestine in the first place.

    Chomsky is, however, willing to accept TOKEN/LIMITED Right-of-Return for CERTAIN Palestinian refugees & exiles.

    Now, Chomsky *might* possibly claim that he would accept unlimited ‘Right-of-Return’ to “a Palestinian state”. But, obviously Israel’s concept of “a Palestinian state” would be so small (and steadily shrinking), so squiggly and convoluted, so trifurcated (at least), and thus economically (and perhaps politically, if not even geographically) unviable/unstable — and, of course, on generally the worst land remaining — that the return of millions of Palestinians would be unsustainable as a practical matter — to “a Palestinain state” that itself would be a TOKEN rump state.

    And what of Palestinian exiles who have family (let alone relatives) inside Israel? Would Chomsky allow them general, rather than perhaps only the most limited (if that), Right-of-Return? I doubt it (to put it lightly).

    Furthermore, what of the Palestinians living inside Israel itself? Would Chomsky then tell them, ‘Now you can move (or be directly forced out) to your, so-called, “Palestinian state”, or continue to live as (actually) *worse than* 2nd class citizens under Zionist ideological [Jewish-supremacist] domination inside Israel’?


    [Israel’s idea of “a Palestinian state” readily and politically reminds me of Native Peoples’ American reservations (when the apartheid bantustan is not paralleled): where usually the Native Peoples generally only “owned” the dust under their shoes (unless, I guess, gold was discovered in it) — for they did not control the mineral resources under their feet, they did not control the airspace over their heads, and they did not control the borders around “their land”, and the U.S. could go in whenever the U.S. wanted.]

    Joseph Anderson

    Berkeley, CA

  15. Alan said on December 26th, 2007 at 10:38am #

    Matthew Abraham is a complete fraud and charlatan – he is exposed here: