Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Norman Finkelstein and the Holocaust Denial/Minimization Industry attacks us all

This is for Norman Finkelstein and by extension everyone who applauds him when he comes to speak on college campuses.

I’m not here to debate his stance on Israel and Zionism – there is really only one thing that I want address within this post. My issue with Finkelstein and his supporters is nothing more than a simple number.

No, it's not six million, as in six million murdered Jews, killed during the Holocaust – a fact that Finkelstein casts doubt upon by referring to "six million" in quotation marks. Finkelstein has also gone on record that Holocaust denier David Irving – who believes there were no gas chambers and that Auschwitz was a "tourist attraction" – is an "indispensable" historian. No, this isn’t some unbelievable fiction from George Orwell’s 1984; this is actually what this man thinks.

Dr. F Stein in action

Nor is the number 2,000, as in the nearly 2,000 years since Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were forced to flee their ancient homeland. The desire to return home has been expressed during Jewish festivals, in Jewish prayers three times daily and in countless other customs, many centuries prior to the rise of modern Zionism.

Finkelstein would have everyone that attend his rallies believe that the state of Israel is a modern colonial invention fueled by Holocaust guilt, rather than the truth which is the exact reverse – that the Holocaust was a disaster fueled by the lack of an independent Jewish homeland/army.

But no, that isn’t it either. The number I want to discuss is “43334.”

“43334” is the tattoo my grandmother received courtesy of the real “Holocaust Industry” – that of the Nazi’s Final Solution for her, me and every other “undesirable,” whether we lived during the 1940’s or are descended from someone who did.

Was she lying about how she got that number? Did she fake the anxiety she felt every time a dog barked because it reminded her of German Shepherds the Nazis used? Was she in on some global conspiracy when she was emotionally unavailable for her children?

What about my grandfather? Did he invent stories about his first wife, infant daughter, mother, father, three of his four brothers and countless others he knew, that disappeared into the flames of Birkenau? Was he lying when he would talk about being nearly starved to death and beaten within an inch of his life? Was he plotting a Zionist conspiracy when he would often wake up in the middle of the night and jump out of bed in terror, forced back in time during yet another terrible Holocaust flashback?

Why should survivors have to tolerate these efforts to de-legitimize their memories by Finkelstein, Irving and the rest of the Holocaust Denial/Minimization Industry? Whether you want to admit it to yourselves or not, de-legitimizing the survivors is precisely what Mr. Finkelstein does.

This is what he is doing when he refers to Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel as a “clown” in the “Holocaust circus.” There is a reason why white supremacist sites like Stormfront and neo-Nazi darling David Duke cite Finkelstein regularly – his life’s work minimizes the suffering of survivors and actually makes it worse forcing them to live through the spectacle of seeing rooms full of college students cheering for his attacks on them.

This isn’t an issue of questioning his right to criticize Israel – although a rational person would have to question why in order to criticize governmental policy someone would have to attack not the government but rather the historical, documented past itself.

Or maybe it isn’t so irrational. Orwell did teach us after all that “he who controls the past, controls the future.” By “vaporizing” memories, by converting the victims of the Holocaust into “unpersons,” Finkelstein makes it easier for his fans to not deal with reality. This frees them to practice the kind of cognitive dissonance necessary for a "liberal" American university student to support the actions of totalitarian movements like Hamas, Hizballah and others who have sworn to erase a population of six million Jews.

The fact that students gleefully welcome this distortion of history as “scholarly” is a disgrace not only to the memories of Holocaust victims but also to legitimate historians everywhere. This isn’t about Zionism, it’s about preserving the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust – and respecting those who survived.

It’s also about the stark realization that had the Nazis succeeded, I would not be here to write this post. And in this very real way, Finkelstein attacks us all.

This post was adapted from a letter to the editor at the Daily Targum


That's what I think...what's YOUR reaction?

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Ron, love your post. Norm Finkelstein is a wretched man. I have had the unpleasure of meeting him and exchanging emails- he is a vile man. He goes around the world, getting paid thousands of dollars for his vitriol at world-class Universities, making a pile of money off the Holocaust Industry himself, pushing his books. If it weren't for the Holocaust Industry that he mocks and villifies, yet uses himself for financial gain, he would be nothing more than a hasbeen- an unemployed, fired many times, professor. He came to UCI last year, and the first words out of his mouth to the elderly Jewish protestors was, "This is not bingo night, this is serious business." This is classic abusive behavior, trying to shame and humiliate his detractors. He is a coward as well. He is also delusional, thinking Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, considers him a confidant. These terrorists see him as a man hiding in plain site, a complete coward. To Islamo-fascists, he is nothing but a useful idiot.

D@rLin|{ said...

As much as we despise what he and the likes of him have to say, he has a right to do that.And we have a right and a duty to voice loudly and clearly and as often as possible what we think about him and his theories.There will always be sheeple - brainwashed and willing to listen to nobodies with "deep" understanding of some conspiracy or other.Maybe we should go to his lectures and ask him uncomfortable questions? Alas, I would if I could but I doubt he will be invited to Israel any time soon.....

USpace said...

Great post indeed. Seemingly 'Self-haters' like Finkelstein are very hard to fathom.

I tweeted this:

RonMossad: Norman Finkelstein and the Holocaust Denial/Minimization Industry attacks us all: http://bit.ly/fWok3I #Israel

I hope you're well, hang in there.


Anonymous said...

To start it off:
I find your statement quite awkward.
Not once did Finkelstein deny or minimalize the suffering of Jewish people in WW2 and the holocaust.
Not once.
All he says is that today the holocaust is used for anything but the rememberance of those victims.
If you feel attacked by those statements, I really wonder whats wrong with you.
Why dont you just quote one sentence (not taken out of context) where he "minimizes the suffering of survivors" and has "rooms full of college students cheering for his attacks". You wont find one.
In fact, I think the most respectful thing one could do is to critisize those that are abusing this tragedy - which in fact he does, in everey word.
You seem to ignore that throughout your whole article - how could someone who claims to have parents who survived the holocaust be a holocaust denier at the same time?
If you read his books, he *never* questiones the amount of dead people in the holocaust. He even brings up the offical number in speeches, and never in a disrespectful way.

Danny Malpas said...

The only people who de-legitimise the memory of the victims of world war 2 are the zionists and the devils that illegally occupy Palestine. Finklestein, just gives us perspective.

Ask yourself, what happens in 50 years time when the Palestinians decide to reclaim their homeland. The zionist get slaughtered all over again. Holocaust 2 perhaps? You have not learnt the lessons of the past.

Finklestein is correct when he says, "if you had an ounce of compassion in your heart you should cry for the Palestinians", because only the survivors of the war know the suffering of genocide.

Arrogance is the worst of all crimes.

Flopot said...

Holocaust deniers should be mocked whenever they show up. If there is a law that can be used against them, then so much the better. Lock them up until they see sense.

The story of the State of Israel is one of a phoenix rising from the ashes of europe. Anyone who questions the right of that nation to exist is either unhinged or unrealistic.

Anti-semitism always seems to lurk behind any discussions I have with friends and family about the Palestinians. Someone invariably starts talking about "the Jews" and there goes the debate because I start accusing them of being anti-semitic. So I am not blind to the endemic racism that still exists in AngloSaxon countries (UK here btw).

Saying that, Israel still needs to deal with the Palestinian problem and this is were I will annoy the f**k out of you. Israel should stop building the bloody settlements. It just smacks of a "Greater Israel" mentality and stinks of nasty nationalism.

What if Israel ends up in a war against Iran? We all know that wars radicalize populations and sooner rather than later you will see the Israeli government looking for ways to resolve their Palestinian problem.

Okay, so I am exaggerating. But I am just trying to point out that history's victims always seem to become future butchers. Just look at the Serbs - massacred by the Nazis and then the Serbs massacred the Bosnians.

So if Israel cannot solve the Palestinian problem peacefully then I dread to think where events will lead her. Israel should not let security concerns (especially nutjobs like Ahmajinedad) deflect her from the founding democratic principles.