Finkelstein-ed academia and the truth about Palestine
By Abukar Arman
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 17, 2007, 01:41
The long bitter saga of DePaul University�s scandalous
decision to deny tenure to one of its most prolific and internationally
renowned public intellectuals, Professor Norman Finkelstein, is officially
over. But, not before bringing to light what some consider the most dangerous
trend stifling intellectual freedom in American academia and various circles of
The most notorious among the trendsetters are Alan
Dershowitz with his legal bullying tactics, and Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz
with their infamous Campus Watch.
Their apparent target is any and all voice of influence, particularly in
academia, that challenges the blind consensus on the Israeli issue and
questions whether that its treatment of the Palestinian people is fair or in
In recent years, Finkelstein became the leading voice and
the public persona of a small army of conscience determined to carry the moral
cause championed for years by the late Edward Said: the plight and the
oppression of the Palestinian people.
And though within this army of conscience there are those
who promote the two-statesolution and those who consider that a moot point and
thus promote the single-state solution, the well-being of both peoples has been
the central pillar of their argument.
However, to the likes of Dershowitz, Pipes, and Horowitz,
the mere mention of Palestinian rights constitutes anti-Semitism. Therefore,
any one who dares to speak to that issue must be Finkelstein-ed. To them, this
is not only an effective mechanism to silence, but a moral obligation that all
Zio-dogmatists, the blind supporters of Israel, should uphold. But, what does
it mean to be Finkelstein-ed?
It is to be maliciously branded anti-Semitic. It is to be
gagged, to be silenced, to be profiled, to be tainted, to be ostracized, and to
be humiliated. It is to be intimidated, to be harassed, to be dehumanized, to
be demonized. It is to be targeted, to be rejected, to be denied access, to be
falsely accused, to be blacklisted, and to be blackmailed. It is to be ganged
up upon, to be viciously manhandled, to be wrongly punished, and to be to be
brutally injured. It is to be betrayed, to be ambushed, to be caged, and to be
buried alive. It is to be intellectually shackled, to be morally scorned, and
to be emotionally tortured. It is to be trapped and be hunted down. It is to be
ill-indicted, to be ill-represented, and to be ill-judged. It is to be denied
due process, to be railroaded. It is to be misconstrued, to be repressed, to be
oppressed, to be enraged, to be outraged, and to be pushed to the edge. It is
to be browbeaten, to be bullied around, and to be sucker-punched. It is to be
wronged, to be accused of heresy and to be excommunicated. It is to be
maligned, to be libeled, to be slandered, and to be exploited.
It is to be crucified. . . . for being the voice of the
voiceless, for championing intellectual freedom, for intellectual honesty; for
active scholarship, for speaking truth to the power; for moral sanity, for
ethical clarity, for refusing to bow to the pressures of a prevalent
groupthink, for upholding God-given rights, for upholding the First Amendment.
It does not matter whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, or
whether or not one is well-intentioned or ill-intentioned, one is at risk of
being Finkelstein-ed so long as one dares to criticize Israel. Never mind that
allowing criticism and dissent ultimately nurtures democratic values. To the Zio-dogmatists
with their myopic tribal warrior mentality, criticizing Israel is tantamount to
condemning all Jews.
And no one addresses this issue more succinctly than a man
named Kevin (from Las Cruces State, New Mexico) who posted his comment on
Ha�aretz�s forum (an Israeli newspaper): �Finkelstein is a Jew and son of
Holocaust survivors. [It is] so sad to see how Jews turn on him because they
don't appreciate the truth of his message. I can tell you, that it would be
easy for many to hate Jews because of what Israel does and how Israel was
created (ethnic cleansing). But Good Jews like Finkelstein, Chomsky, Halper,
Avernery and many others make the world realize that not all Jews are heartless
murderers and liars. Jews should [appreciate] these people instead of hounding
and attacking them.�
Alas, these introspective words fall on deaf ears.
Last week, Finkelstein and the university issued a joint
statement that, on one hand, reaffirmed what his peers were attesting all along
per his academic and intellectual capacity; and on the other hand, the
statement finalized the professor�s resignation.
Apparently this was not a good compromise as far as
Dershowitz was concerned. He was not going to stop because he simply destroyed
a man�s career; he had to throw that last punch.
In his patented over-dramatized outrage, he claimed the
university�s written statement declaring that "Professor Finkelstein is a
prolific scholar and an outstanding teacher" was offensive. He insisted,
�The university has traded truth for peace". Then, he went directly after
the man whom he has been ferociously attacking and trading insults with for
months by saying, "The statement that [Finkelstein] is a scholar is simply
false. He's a propagandist".
And perhaps as a victory dance, or to show others who might
be coming through the pipeline and follow Finkelstein�s principled path how low
he (Dershowitz) could go, he had this repugnant statement to make: "I'm
happy he's out of academia. Let him do his ranting on street corners."
America is at a crossroad of history. There is a deliberate
campaign to silence those who question the status quo; there is a daunting
trend that clearly outlaws dissent, regardless of its legitimacy. Yet, only a few
are outraged by the imminent negative consequences these trends may have on
freedom of thought and expression. And coincidently, these are, more or less,
the same few who decided to break the shackles of fear and speak the truth
Arman is a freelance writer who lives in Ohio.
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