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 influence.

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 self-defense.

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 about Palestine.

Abukar Arman is a freelance writer who lives in Ohio.

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