By Maurice Ostroff
Originally written to the Norwegian newspaper, Aftenoposten, in response to an article by Norman Finkelstein that appeared in the January 14, 2005 issue
It is disappointing that Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen and others feel obliged
to back a boycott of Israeli goods. While, no doubt, they are sincerely motivated, it appears that their motivation is largely
influenced by convincing but misleading propaganda. Take for example the article "Why an Economic Boycott of Israel is
Justified" by Norman Finkelstein which appeared in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on January 14. It is typical of
the strident polemics lately emanating from Iran and other sources which cannot be evaluated except by examining the
credibility of the authors.
Very sadly it is apparent that Finkelstein's childhood experiences as described by him
in interviews, are responsible for his greatly distorted views of Israel and the holocaust. Both his father and mother were
survivors of the Nazi concentration camps and apart from them, every family member on both sides was exterminated. But his
parents reacted differently from other survivors.
Incredibly, he relates that the tales of Holocaust survivors were
a special source of "wry amusement in his home". With that background, it is hardly surprising that he reacts
so irrationally to Israel and to all who are unable to treat that immense human tragedy lightly or with any trace of amusement.
is best known for his book The Holocaust Industry, which is eagerly quoted and highly praised in Palestinian and other anti-Israel circles. Elsewhere it has been treated
more critically. The New York Times (Aug. 6, 2000) described it as a novel variation of the infamous and discredited Protocols
of the Elders of Zion and described Finkelstein as juvenile, arrogant, and stupid. The German historian Prof. Hans Momsen
called it "a most trivial book, which appeals to easily aroused anti-Semitic prejudices
On the question of universal
justice, Finkelstein raises a suspicion of lack of sincerity. He has been quoted as saying The time is long past to open our
hearts to the rest of humanity's sufferings. Yet he ignores his own appeal by focusing his entire attention on attacking Israel,
while ignoring the very real humanitarian needs in Darfur and elsewhere