Huffpost Politics
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Alan Dershowitz Headshot

Would You Invite David Duke to Your Campus?

Posted: Updated:
Print

Recently Norman Finkelstein has been making the rounds of American college campuses--Stanford, Brandeis, Harvard, Bryn Mawr, Northwestern and more--having been invited by various departments, groups and individuals. Many of the people extending the invitations are unaware that by inviting this person on their behalf, they are becoming complicit with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites. Some of the invitees were all too aware of what kind of person they were inviting.

Finkelstein willingly collaborates with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites. Just watch him on YouTube.com, where a clip is posted of his appearance on a Holocaust denial program on Lebanese TV, where he claimed that Holocaust survivors are liars and that Swiss banks--which have agreed to pay back millions of dollars belonging to deceased Jewish depositors and their heirs--never withheld any money from Jews. Neo-Nazis also love Finkelstein, and for good reason. Listen to Ernst Zundel, the notorious Hitler lover and Holocaust denier who is now in prison in Germany:

Finkelstein's exceedingly useful to us and to the Revisionist cause. He is making three-fourths of our argument - and making it effectively. Never fret - the rest of the argument is being made by us, and will topple the lie within our lifetime. We would not be making vast inroads in Europe with our outreach program, were it not for his courageous little booklet, "The Holocaust Industry."

Zundel's wife and fellow Neo-Nazi, Ingrid Rimland, referred to Finkelstein admiringly as the "Jewish David Irving"--a reference to the well known Holocaust denier and admirer of Hitler. Finkelstein himself admires Irving's "historical" research.

Finkelstein also loves Hezbollah, the terror organization whose leader said, "If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."1 Finkelstein has praised the group, saying: "The honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah as the United States and Israel target it for liquidation. Indeed, looking back my chief regret is that I wasn't even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack."2 Finkelstein is not "world-renowned," as some of his invitees claim, except among Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, radical supporters of terrorism and other assorted anti-Semites, who constitute his primary readership and audience. He recently commissioned a cartoon-showing me masturbating in ecstatic joy to television pictures of dead Lebanese-by a neo-Nazi cartoonist and friend of his who won second place in the Iranian Holocaust denial cartoon contest. He has refused to confirm or deny that he commissioned the cartoon, even when asked to do so by colleagues at DePaul University, where he is up for tenure, on the grounds that no one will believe him. The evidence that he commissioned the cartoon is overwhelming.

It is not surprising therefore that when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his henchmen created a list of the most virulent Holocaust deniers in the world to invite to their notorious Holocaust denier hate-fest in Tehran, high among those on the list were the neo-Nazi and klansman David Duke and the Holocaust justice denier Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein's name appeared on the schedule alongside Duke's, though apparently Finkelstein, at the last minute, decided not to appear. The reason Finkelstein has given for eventually declining the invitation had nothing to do with any principled opposition at being a speaker at such an anti-Semitic hate-fest. Instead, he claimed that negotiations with the Iranians broke down over details. He says that he wanted "at least 45 minutes to speak"--apparently because he needs at least that much time to spew his hatred--but they wouldn't agree to his conditions. He has refused to disclose his communications with the Iranians regarding his invitation. What does he have to hide? Who is he protecting; the Iranian hate mongers or himself? He should be urged to disclose his communication, both with the Iranian Holocaust deniers and his neo-Nazi cartoonist friend.

The real reason he did not attend is that he was too busy trying to testify on behalf of Hamas in a Chicago criminal trial. After listening to his proposed testimony and learning of his lack of credentials--he has never even visited Israel--the federal judge concluded that he did not have any expertise, essentially characterizing him as a crackpot. This was consistent with other, similar characterizations. A New York Times review by a leading expert of Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry called it:

. . . a novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" [It] verges on paranoia and would serve anti-Semites around the world.3

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post correctly described Finkelstein as " a writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for his Holocaust revisionism and comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany."4 Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic wrote: "You don't know who Finkelstein is. He's poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock."5 Others describe Finkelstein's theories as "crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis all over the world."6 One eminent scholar added:

No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotations in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites . . . Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention...7

This is the bigot who is being invited to speak on college campuses. No college should prevent him from speaking. He can get a soapbox and fulminate the way other bigots do. That is his free speech right. But no university or group that would not invite David Duke should lend its imprimatur to Finkelstein's poison. Duke and Finkelstein are opposite sides of the same hateful coin.
Everyone should be free to invite the Dukes and Finkelsteins of the world to their campus, as the president of Iran did to his hate fest, but people should be judged by the bigots they invite. If you know any university that has invited or is considering inviting Finkelstein, please feel free to circulate this blog to them and to reproduce it.

1- Nasrallah, Hassan, quoted in Lappin, Elena. "The Enemy Within." New York Times (May 23 2004). 15.
2- Finkelstein, Norman. "A Reply to Michael Young." [Online article].
3-Bartov, Omer. "A Tale of Two Holocausts." New York Times (Aug. 6 2000). 8.
4-Fisher, Marc. "Campus Should Cultivate Its Seeds of Debate." Washington Post (Dec. 3 2002) [Online article].
5-Reported by Finkelstein himself.
6-Schoenfeld, Gabriel. "Holocaust Reparations," Commentary (Jan. 2001). 20.
7-Novick, Peter. Offense Fenster und Tueren. Uben Norman Finkelstein Keuzzug, in: Petra Steinberger (ed.): Die Finkelstein-Debatte, (Piper verlag: Muenchen 2001), p. 159 (translated from German).