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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Has Finkelstein justiifid an economic boycott of Israel?

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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.

Finkelstein 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

 

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