Norman Finkelstein

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Norman G. Finkelstein (born 1953) is a Jewish American professor of political science at DePaul University known for advocating controversial positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for criticizing the way the Holocaust is handled by most parties and organizations. He is the author of five books, of which the most prominent are Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering.


Doctoral Thesis and Exposure of From Time Immemorial

Finkelstein wrote his Princeton doctoral thesis on Zionism, and it was through this work that he first attracted controversy. In 1984, while Finkelstein was still at Princeton, he began to write a critical review of Joan Peters' book From Time Immemorial in which he examined every footnote and concluded that the book was a "monumental hoax." A "history and defense" of the state of Israel, Peters' book had been effusively praised in mainstream United States media sources. Finkelstein's charges initially roused little attention in the U.S. According to Finkelstein, "By the end of 1984, From Time Immemorial had...received some two hundred [favorable] the United States. The only 'false' notes in this crescendoing chorus of praise were the Journal of Palestine Studies, which ran a highly critical review by Bill Farrell; the small Chicago-based newsweekly In These Times, which published a condensed version of this writer's findings; and Alexander Cockburn, who devoted a splendid series of columns in The Nation to exposing the hoax....The periodicals in which From Time Immemorial had already been favorably reviewed refused to run any critical correspondence (e.g. The New Republic, Atlantic, Commentary). Periodicals that had yet to review the book rejected a manuscript on the subject as of little or no consequence (e.g. The Village Voice, Dissent, The New York Review of Books). Not a single national newspaper or columnist contacted found newsworthy that a best-selling, effusively praised 'study' of the Middle East conflict was a threadbare hoax" (Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, pp. 45-6). However, after a number of reviewers in the British and Israeli media supported some of Finkelstein's criticisms, U.S. journals began publishing more critical reviews of the book. Today, mainly as a result of Finkelstein's analysis and criticism, Peters' book is discredited among scholars. Finkelstein's findings appear in ibid., chapter 2.

Finkelstein and Chomsky

At Princeton, the hostility that Finkelstein received threatened his ability to earn his Ph.D. Noam Chomsky, who is a friend of Finkelstein, writes in Understanding Power that Finkelstein "literally could not get the faculty to read [his thesis]." According to Chomsky, in the end, Princeton granted Finkelstein his doctorate only "out of embarrassment," though they didn't "even write a letter for him saying that he was a student at Princeton University." (Understanding Power, New York, 2002, p. 245 [1] (

Controversial Opinions

Finkelstein has taken other controversial positions. He has defended Hezbollah for armed resistance against the Israeli Army in Lebanon. In The Holocaust Industry, he described Holocaust reparations as a corrupt "racket," in which little of the money actually goes to victims. He has also challenged the characterization of the Holocaust as a uniquely evil historical event, and likened Israeli security to the Gestapo. Questioned explicitly about his views on terrorism, Finkelstein has said that rather than violence, Palestinians should pursue independence through "non-violent civil revolt."

Criticism by the Anti-Defamation League

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Finkelstein a "Holocaust denier" and accused him of pursuing an anti-Semitic agenda. Finkelstein has called the ADL's accusations against him empty and undeserved. "I am Jewish and my parents are Holocaust survivors. With others you could say, 'you're an anti-Semite' or 'you're a Holocaust denier,' [but] you can't do that with me," he once responded, "you have to argue the facts." Neither the ADL nor similar groups have quoted Finkelstein denying that the Holocaust actually occurred (Indeed, the premise of his The Holocaust Industry is that the historical Holocaust did occur). Finkelstein was also called a "self-hating Jew" on numerous occasions.

Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz

In addition to his denunciation of Peters herself, Finkelstein has accused Alan Dershowitz of using Peters' research without acknowledgement, pointing to passages where Dershowitz quoted exactly the same excerpts that Peters footnoted in her book, but where Dershowitz referenced only their original sources and not Peters. Finkelstein regards this as plagiarism, a charge that Dershowitz denies. (See Dershowitz-Finkelstein affair.)

Finkelstein has expanded his findings in a book entitled Beyond Chutzpah, to be published by University of California Press on June 1, 2005, in spite of Dershowitz's legal threats. [2] (


  • Noam Chomsky: "I'm delighted to hear that I'll be followed shortly by Norman Finkelstein and would very strong advise you to come listen to him. Not only [is he] an old personal friend but a person who can speak with more authority and insight on these topics than anyone I can think of. So that should be a memorable occasion and I urge that you not miss the opportunity." [3] (
  • Leon Wieseltier: "He's poison, a disgusting self-hating Jew, something you find under a rock."


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