Book review entries
January 09, 2006
It seems that Norman Finkelstein has really found his niche since writing The Holocaust Industry. He has become the formost rebutter of Pro-Israeli works, carving his way as one of the leaders of the generation following the Two Greats (who supported the fundamental right of the Palestinians to determination and who have fought tirelessly against extreme Zionist propaganda for years): Noam Chomsky and Edward Said.
This work follows in a series which rebut specific works or the works in general of certain authors. For example, Image and Reality , The Goldhagen Effect
In Beyond Chutzpah he goes on to effectively combat Alan Dershowitz, a fairly famous American lawyer, who came out last year with his mundane piece - seemingly lifted wholesale from various Pro-Israel websites, such as US-Israel.org, the ADL, masada2000 and, as Finkelstein goes into in great detail, Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial - The Case For Israel.
He doesn't just cover The Case For Israel but also uses Dershovitz's previous works such as Letters to a young lawyer and Chutzpah (which is where Beyond seems to borrow its title), often to damning effect.
Anyone familiar with Finkelstein's post-Industry works, will feel immediately comfortable with his continued style. Once again, he thoroughly examines the scholarship behind Dershowitz's claims, such as:
1) The Palestinians were "Recent" immigrants from other Arabic countries.
2) The European settlers had made "the desert bloom".
3) Nearly every Palestinian killed in second Intifada was either a terrorist or killed by Palestinians, while nearly all Jewish Israelis killed were women and children.
4) Israel doesn't use torture and in fact has banned torture! (etc.)
In every case, he examines D's sources, shows why they were lacking, often humiliating D in the process, for example, showing how one of his sources was a link to a high-school chronology, and another was a link to a Sony website for a movie when referencing a historical fact. He also makes – and then proceeds to back-up – a very serious claim; Dershowitz is a Plagiarist. His appendices at the book of the book, replete with tables and even highlighted scanned images, prove to be damning evidence.
In addition to his book, he has consistently updated his website with debates with Dershowitz: www.normanfinkelstein.com .
Indeed one of the most humourous moments in the book is in the transcript of an exchange between F and D which essentially follows:
Finkelstein: On p.xxx you use the phrase "Orwellian turnspeak".
Dershowitz: Yes I do.
F: And on p.xxx you use the phrase "Orwell's turnspeak".
D: Yes I do.
F: Mr. Dershowitz… Turnspeak was a phrase invented by Peters... Orwell used the term Newspeak
F: Mr. Dershowitz… do you even know who George Orwell is?
D: Ah… Um… Hmmm..
Gotta love it.
Go out, read the book, read his website. Nothing beats a scholar trouncing spurious scholarship.
As a final note, it would have been the cherry if Finkelstein had addressed his claim about Israel returning territory gained in a defensive war in 1967. There is a persistent claim that Egypt had attacked Israel first in 1967, a claim which has filtered into the American consciousness and has cropped up in, for example, The West Wing Season 6 where one of the characters says something to the effect of "Israel doesn't have any faith in UN Peacekeepers since they allowed Egypt to invade in 1967". Whether or not you argue that '67 was a JUST war, is a whole different thing. But it cannot be argued that it was a defensive war, no matter how much some would like to believe.
June 13, 2005
George Galloway, I love the guy. He's passionate, one of the best orators in Britain today and he has tirelessly campaigned against the despicable sanctions against Iraq since they were enforced and the Israeli oppression and occupation of the West Bank and Ghaza.
I didn't even know he'd written this until I'd passed it in a bookshop whilst browsing. I'd just seen his wonderful response to the US Senate and thought "What the hell, I'll pick this up too." Well done Hamid, good choice, good choice. Pats self on back
This book is a mix of autobiographical accounts of Galloway's experience in the labour party and campaigning against war, sanctions and occupation, a manifesto for his RESPECT party and a polemic against current labour ministers and British and American foreign policies.
On the whole he writes well. You feel compelled to turn the page although, it has to be said, at some moments you feel he's being a bit too emotional in his writing. He's compelling, interesting and although he perhaps sees himself as bigger than he is, he's definately caused a stir and highlights one of the biggest crimes of the last 20 years: The Sanctions Against Iraq. He uses this book to bring it back to our attention (especially for those who've forgotten it amongst the "outrage" at the odd big of someone profiteering from oil for food). Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died directly because of the sanctions and we should once again thank George Galloway for bringing this to our attention. The crime of the sanctions should NEVER be forgotten.
Go buy the book. Whatever you can say about Galloway, he's a fine read and he brings true passion back into British Politics.