THE BLOG
06/30/2005 11:29 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Finkelstein's Fraudulent Charade With the UCP

The University of California Press (UCP) and one of its authors are involved in a fraudulent charade designed to garner publicity for a trashy book by an anti-Semite whose main audiences are neo-Nazis in Germany and Islamic extremists in the United States. The author is someone you’ve probably never heard of. His name is Norman Finkelstein.

I compiled some of the most damning criticisms of Finkelstein in an article for Jbooks.com; here's a sampling:

Finkelstein is a transient academic who describes himself as “in exile” at DePaul University because he has been -- by his own account -- “thrown out of every school in New York.”...A German writer has observed that “seldom has a Jew been more celebrated by brown propaganda that Finkelstein.” Another writer aptly described him as a Jew who “supports anti-Semitism.” Gabriel Schoenfeld has labeled his views as “crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis around the world." His books do not sell in America, but they are best-sellers among the growing number of neo-Nazis in Germany.

Finkelstein boasts, “Never has one of my articles been published in a scientific magazine,” and for good reason. As Peter Novick, whose book The Holocaust in American Life Finkelstein characterized as “the initial stimulus for [his] book,” wrote,

As concerns particular assertions made by Finkelstein . . . the appropriate response is not (exhilarating) ‘debate’ but (tedious) examination of his footnotes. Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention. . . . No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites"[1]. Even David Cesarani, a left-wing scholar, points out Finkelstein’s “questionable use of sources,” “[s]elective quotation,” and “other misuse of evidence"[2].

Novick called Finkelstein’s book “trash” and a “twenty-first century updating of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’” When the very professor who stimulated Finkelstein warns readers not to believe him, that warning must be taken seriously.

Finkelstein decided to go after me following the release of my best-selling book The Case For Israel several years ago. He accused me of not having written it. In an email Finkelstein sent to the Dean of Harvard Law School, Finkelstein said that he was “completing a book manuscript for the University of California Press” which will “demonstrate that he [Dershowitz] almost certainly didn’t write the book, and perhaps didn’t even read it prior to publication.” Finkelstein has gone even further, asserting that I didn’t write any of my books:

[Dershowitz] has come to the point where he’s had so many people write so many of his books.… [I]t’s sort of like a Hallmark line for Nazis… [T]hey churn them out so fast that he has now reached a point where he doesn’t even read them.)

He knows, of course, that I wrote every word of the text of my book and that I wrote them by hand because I don’t type or use a computer, and I sent my handwritten manuscript to his publisher. But he persists in leveling this false charge and others that he knows are totally made up. When he wrote to the dean of the Harvard Law School threatening to include this made up charge in a book he is publishing with the UCP, I complained to the Press and offered to prove - - by hard, documentary evidence - - that he was making it up, as he had in the past. After checking the facts, the UCP made him take it out. Now Finkelstein is publicly threatening to withdraw his book from the Press, unless they give him free rein to publish his lies.

In an effort to pressure the UCP -- which has its own First Amendment rights to decide what to publish and whether material meets its own standards of truth -- Finkelstein has created a fraudulent headline on his own website which for several days read as follows: “DERSHOWITZ WINS: University of California Press will not publish BEYOND CHUTZPAH.” He has also initiated a letter and article writing campaign to the UCP.

Let’s see whether the UCP maintains its own standards, and integrity, or whether it submits to Finkelstein’s blackmail and publishes his falsehoods.

[1] Peter Novick, “Offene Fenster und Tueren. Ueber Norman Finkelsteins Kreuzzug,”(Open Windows and Doors. About Norman Finkelstein’s Crusade.) in Petra Steinberger, ed., Die Finkelstein-Debatte [The Finkelstein Debate] (München: Piper Verlag, 2001), p. 159 (translated from the German)
[2] David Cesarani, “Finkelstein’s Final Solution,” Times Higher Education Supplement, August 4, 2000.