Perhaps he thought the sky would fall in. Perhaps Norman Finkelstein imagined his "explosive" new polemic, The Holocaust Industry, serialised in the Guardian, would drive the Jewish world crazy with fury. Maybe he is a little disappointed that, in Britain at least, that hasn't happened yet.Or perhaps he thought fellow Jews would be concerned about the exploitation of Jewish suffering.
Finkelstein likes to cast himself as the brave prophet, nobly confronting his wayward people with a truth only he dare tell, his claims are not nearly as shocking to Jews as he would like to imagine.Two days later Jay Rayner wrote in the Observer
'His approach is totally destructive,' says Greville Janner, chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust. 'I find it revolting.' Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress in New York, agrees. 'I believe he is pathetic. I simply don't accept him as a researcher.'Why didn't they tell Jonathan?
Freedland then tells us that Finkelstein's claims are nothing new. This "nothing new" method of debate avoidance is level pegging with "anti-semitism" as a favoured zionist tactic.
The problem here is that Finkelstein's book is largely a direct critique of Novick's book.
Thoughtful Jews have been questioning for a while the wisdom of making the Holocaust the centre of Jewish identity. Peter Novick's landmark book, The Holocaust in American Life, makes this case far more powerfully than Finkelstein. He offers a moving plea for today's Jews to define themselves as a people with a rich, vibrant culture - rather than as a ghost-nation, a walking version of the corpses of Auschwitz and Treblinka.
The initial stimulus for this book was Peter Novick's seminal study, The Holocaust in American Life, which I reviewed for a British literary journal. In these pages the critical dialogue I entered in with Novick is broadened; hence, the extensive number of references to his study.So Freedland either didn't read the book and is lying by pretending he did or he did read the book and is lying when he pretends to believe that Finkelstein isn't aware of Novick's work. Next up, Freedland claims to have asked Finkelstein "why he reserved his most scathing language for his fellow Jews - much harsher than any words he had for the Nazis themselves."
"If I was writing a book about the Nazis, I'm sure I'd use scathing language about them," he said, rather feebly.I'd have expected Finkelstein to point out that he wasn't being scathing about his fellow. Jews, but about Jews, or indeed anyone else, who exploit the holocaust and its survivors. Then, as if to place himself above the usual pack of zionist smear merchants:
It is perhaps too easy to write off a critic like Finkelstein as a self-hating Jew, but it is striking to hear someone who appears to have nothing but contempt for his own people.If only Finkelstein had read the book he would know what Jay Rayner, who does seem to have read the book, knows:
As Finkelstein gleefully recounts, he became the target of abuse and hate mail. At one point in The Holocaust Industry he even quotes a letter from Leon Wieseltier, influential literary editor of the US magazine New Republic, to his publisher. "You don't know who Finkelstein is," Wieseltier wrote. "He's poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock."Isn;t it funny the way an attack on zionists and crooks becomes contempt for ones own people whilst a truly venemous attack on Finkelstein is not worthy of mention. But where Freedland really scrapes the barrel is with direct comparisons of Finkelstein, the son of holocaust survivors, to David Irving, the world's leading holocaust denier.
Like Irving, Finkelstein sees Jews as the authors of their own suffering.This is truly despicable. Certainly, Finkelstein points out that the actions of Jewsih leaders in America could have a negative impact on Jews in Germany, say, or Switzerland, but to suggest he is saying that Jews generally are responsible for anti-semitism is simply untrue. But wait, Freedland can stoop lower still:
He claims that Jews have made up stories of persecution and that there are too many survivors to be true - another Irving favourite.Finkelstein has pointed out that in order to get more money, the main players in the holocaust industry have exaggerated the number of survivors and that they are supporting holocaust denier arguments by so doing. For example, in the documentary, locals in the capital of Belarus put the number of holocaust survivors there at under 400. The "Claims Conference" puts the figure at 32,000. Finkelstein says that the former number is correct and that if 32,000 survivors are around now then at least five times as many must have survived the holocaust than actually did. He goes on to point out, what these holocaust industrialists don't seem to realise, and that is the fact that if you inflate the number of survivors, you deflate the number of dead. Irving has picked up on this and is saying the "Claims Conference" figures are correct and that this proves that not many Jews died in the holocaust. This doesn't bother the "hucksters and hoaxers" of the holocaust industry any more than it bothers Freedland. It does, however, bother Finkelstein which is why he goes to the trouble of exposing the fraud that has been going on for some time now while zionists like Freedland smear him for his efforts.
Finally Freedland loses the plot completely by likening Finkelstein to the nazis
Finkelstein sees the Jews as either villains or victims - and that, I fear, takes him closer to the people who created the Holocaust than to those who suffered in it.In an argument full of the most outrageous lies you wouldn't expect any better at the last but I must point out that at no point in the book, the Holocaust Industry, does Finkelstein convey the impression that he believes Jews in general to be "villains or victims".
As I'm a sucker for a happy ending here's a response to Freedland's pack of lies by Finkestein's publisher.