November 03, 2007

Finkelstein's forgery?

I've already posted on the Oxford Union debate business. You know how Finkelstein was uninvited and that as a result Ghada Karmi, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe and Peter Tatchell all dropped out in protest. That left Lord Trimble who, according to the Jewish Chronicle, dropped out on account of "diary pressure." And you might remember that Engage and Harry's Place have developed this idea that it was Lord Trimble who, in spite of his "diary pressure" cried foul about the attendance of Norman Finkelstein on his side in the debate. I think that's the story so far.

Well the Lobby doesn't like the idea that it had anything to do with this and so Harry's Place is running a guest post from an Engage founder, Jonathan Hoffman, on it. It take's ludicrous to new heights and seems to accuse Norman Finkelstein of forging an email from the Oxford Union president, Luke Tryl.

First up, remember that Norman Finkelstein posted the email from Luke Tryl explaining his disinvite from the Oxford Union debate to his own site. Here's the relevant piece:
Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale.

I hope that you understand my position, this is not ideal and I would be happy to welcome you as an individual speaker to the Union in a forthcoming term. I know that the President-Elect Emily Partington would be keen to host you in Hilary. I just did not want to see the debate compromised and given the Irving Griffin Controversy I couldn't fight a battle on all fronts.

Best wishes

There you go, cut and dried, done and dusted, finito Benito. It was the Lobby wot dunnit. But the lobby doesn't exist and anyone who says it does is antisemitic so what does this Hoffman character say?
The demonisation of supporters of Israel was further fuelled by the publication by Norman Finkelstein of a supposedly confidential email from Union President Luke Tryl.

The email looked highly suspicious. Were we really supposed to believe that an article by Alan Dershowitz in Front Page amounted to unbearable “pressure” which gave Tryl no alternative but to cancel Finkelstein?

"Highly suspicious?" What's this guy saying? Is he saying that Tryl didn't type the email? Is he saying that Finkelstein forged it? The email clearly states that Tryl succumbed to Israel lobby pressure. But Hoffman says that the very idea of Tryl succumbing to pressure is ludicrous because Tryl wishes to pursue a political career. So, if you want to go into politics you won't succumb to Israel lobby pressure. I should have thought that that depends on what kind of politics you subscribe to. According to Hoffman, this is what Tryl wrote or said on 1st November 2007:
The cancellation of Finkelstein had nothing to do with pressure from supporters of Israel. Rather, it resulted from another of the speakers against the motion and groups of interested students pointing out that Finkelstein was an inappropriate co-speaker. I told the Union members present at the debate that the selection of Finkelstein had been an unfortunate mistake.
So there we have an email purporting to be from Tryl on Finkelstein's site saying that Dershowitz and other Israel lobbyists pressured Tryl into dropping Finkelstein. Then we have this Engagenik suggesting that Tryl didn't actually write the email and that it was Lord Trimble who had Finkelstein removed from the speakers list. This means that Finkelstein has posted an email on to his site that it is claimed Luke Tryl did not write. I have emailed Luke Tryl to find out what's going on. I bcc'd Norman Finkelstein et al. Finkelstein replied copying in Luke Tryl, so I needn't have bothered with the b bit of the bcc. I haven't received a reply from Luke Tryl just yet but the unsolicited reply I got from Norman Finkelstein suggests that the great man is not best pleased with Mr Tryl and is seeking a public apology. So if you're reading this Mr Tryl, you can come here and clarify things or you can comment on Engage or Harry's Place but you should note that whilst the opposite seems to have served HP and Engage very well this last few years, honesty is the best policy. I think you need to say what the story is with that email which appears on Finkelstein's site. Did you write it or not? Hoffman suggests that it's ridiculous the idea that you succumbed to pressure from the Israel lobby when you stood firm with someone like say, David Irving, the holocaust denier. So go on guy, did you write that email?


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