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Beyond Chutzpah

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History

NORMAN G. FINKELSTEIN
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 343
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnscb
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Chutzpah
    Book Description:

    In this long-awaited sequel to his international bestsellerThe Holocaust Industry,Norman G. Finkelstein moves from an iconoclastic interrogation of the new anti-Semitism to a meticulously researched exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Bringing to bear the latest findings on the conflict and recasting the scholarly debate, Finkelstein points to a consensus among historians and human rights organizations on the factual record. Why, then, does so much controversy swirl around the conflict? Finkelstein's answer, copiously documented, is that apologists for Israel contrive controversy. Whenever Israel comes under international pressure, another media campaign alleging a global outbreak of anti-Semitism is mounted. Finkelstein also scrutinizes the proliferation of distortion masquerading as history. Recalling Joan Peters' bookFrom Time Immemorial,published to great fanfare in 1984 but subsequently exposed as an academic hoax, he asks deeply troubling questions here about the periodic reappearance of spurious scholarship and the uncritical acclaim it receives. The most recent addition to this genre, Finkelstein argues, is Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz's bestseller,The Case for Israel.The core analysis ofBeyond Chutzpahsets Dershowitz's assertions on Israel's human rights record against the findings of the mainstream human rights community. Sifting through thousands of pages of reports from organizations such as Amnesty International, B'Tselem, and Human Rights Watch, Finkelstein argues that Dershowitz has misrepresented the facts. Thoroughly researched and tightly argued,Beyond Chutzpahlifts the veil of controversy shrouding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93226-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    IN THE COURSE of writing this book, I passed a small milestone in my life. Twenty years ago, while researching my doctoral dissertation on the theory of Zionism, I came across a newly published book on the Israel-Palestine conflict:From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestineby Joan Peters.¹ Promising to revolutionize our understanding of the conflict, the book was adorned on the back cover with glowing praise from the Who’s Who of American Arts and Letters (Saul Bellow, Elie Wiesel, Barbara Tuchman, Lucy Dawidowicz, and others), and it went on to garner scores of reviews...

  5. PART ONE THE NOT-SO-NEW “NEW ANTI-SEMITISM”

    • 1 From Jesus Christ Superstar to The Passion of the Christ
      (pp. 21-31)

      THE LATEST PRODUCTION of Israel’s apologists is the “new anti-Semitism.” Just as Palestinians renewed their resistance to occupation and Israel escalated its brutal repression of the revolt, there was a vast proliferation of books, articles, conferences, and the like alleging that—in the words of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) national director Abraham Foxman—“we currently face as great a threat to the safety and security of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s—if not a greater one.”¹ As it happens, the allegation of a new anti-Semitism is neither new nor about anti-Semitism. Thirty years ago, ADL...

    • 2 Israel: The “Jew among Nations”
      (pp. 32-65)

      “WHAT EACH THING is when fully developed,” Aristotle observed inThe Politics, “we call its nature.” In this sense, the latest revival of the new anti-Semitism reveals its true essence. Although Abraham Foxman’sNever Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism(2003) included standard props, like chapters on right-wing loonies (“Danger on the Right: Violence and Extremism in the American Heartland”) and African Americans (“Troubled Alliance: The Rift between American Blacks and Jews”), as the production hit the road, all pretenses were dropped that it was about anything except Israel. In addition, the distinction between “real” and “classical” anti-Semitism was...

    • 3 Crying Wolf
      (pp. 66-86)

      WHAT’S CURRENTLY CALLED the new anti-Semitism actually incorporates three main components: (1) exaggeration and fabrication, (2) mislabeling legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, and (3) the unjustified yet predictable spillover from criticism of Israel to Jews generally.

      The evidence of a new anti-Semitism comes mostly from organizations directly or indirectly linked to Israel or having a material stake in inflating the findings of anti-Semitism. For instance,Manifestationslists as a main source of data on Denmark the “Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen,” on Finland the “Friends of Israel Association,” on Ireland the “Israeli Embassy” as well as the “Ireland-Israel Friendship League,” and...

  6. PART TWO THE GREATEST TALE EVER SOLD

    • Introduction
      (pp. 89-95)

      IN 2003 ALAN DERSHOWITZ, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, publishedThe Case for Israel.¹ The book became an immediate and influential national best seller. American Jewish organizations reportedly earmarked a copy for every Jewish high school graduate and widely distributed it on college campuses, while the Israeli Foreign Ministry purchased thousands of copies for worldwide distribution, Israeli embassies stockpiled it, Israeli information officers used it as a basic text, and Israel’s Mission at the United Nations distributed hundreds of copies to U.N. ambassadors and officers.² Dershowitz himself plainly invested a great deal in this literary undertaking....

    • 4 Impurity of Arms
      (pp. 96-130)

      DURING THE EARLY WEEKS of the second intifada (beginning in September 2000), the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed was 20:1, with the overwhelming majority of Palestinians “killed in demonstrations in circumstances when the lives of members of the [Israeli] security services were not in danger” (Amnesty International).¹ For the second intifada from September 2000 through November 2003 , B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) reports the following data:

      2,236 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories, including 428 minors.

      32 Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians in the Occupied

      196...

    • 5 Three in the Back of the Head
      (pp. 131-141)

      “WHILE ASSASSINATIONS only became official and declared [Israeli] policy during the Al Aqsa Intifada,” human rights organizations report, “the assassination of Palestinian activists and those suspected of organizing and carrying out attacks against Israelis is not new.” Initiated in the 1970s, liquidation of “wanted,” masked, and stone-throwing Palestinians was widely practiced from early on in the first intifada (1987–1993), when Deputy Chief of Staff Ehud Barak organized special undercover assassination squads. It “intensified” in 1992, when Yitzhak Rabin, on becoming prime minister, sanctioned destruction of Palestinian property to capture or kill “wanted” Palestinians, “rendering homeless hundreds of Palestinians who...

    • 6 Israel’s Abu Ghraib
      (pp. 142-167)

      HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS have extensively documented Israel’s systematic torture of Palestinian detainees.¹ “From 1967,” Amnesty International reports, “the Israeli security services have routinely tortured Palestinian political suspects in the Occupied Territories.”² Although allegations of torture circulated early in the occupation, they reached a much wider audience after theLondon Sunday Timespublished a detailed and unusually careful exposé in 1977. Its five-month-long inquiry concluded that “Israeli interrogators routinely ill-treat and often torture Arab prisoners” and had done so “throughout the 10 years of the Israeli occupation.” The methods of torture it itemized included these: “Prisoners are often hooded or blindfolded...

    • 7 Return of the Vandals
      (pp. 168-189)

      SINCE THE START of the new intifada in September 2000 , “Israel has implemented a policy of mass demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories,” B’Tselem (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) reports. “In that period, Israel has destroyed some 4170 Palestinian homes.”¹ The egregious policy of house demolitions reaches back to the beginnings of Israel’s occupation after June 1967. It’s been variously justified as a form of punishment, an administrative measure, and a military/security measure. Each of these will be examined in turn.

      House demolition as a form of punishment is inflicted on suspected...

    • 8 Blight unto the Nations
      (pp. 190-206)

      INTHE CASE FOR ISRAEL,Alan Dershowitz maintains that Palestinians accrued tangible benefits from the Israeli occupation. “[T]he Israeli occupation, unlike any of the other current occupations,” he writes, “has brought considerable dividends to the Palestinians, including significant improvements in longevity, health care, and education. It has also brought about a reduction in infant mortality” (p. 161). Let us leave to one side that Dershowitz never specifies to what other “current” occupations he’s comparing the Israeli one (arguably, there aren’t any) and that, historically, many other peoples, perhaps most, under foreign occupation accrued some benefits. It is correct that, especially...

    • 9 High Court Takes the Low Road
      (pp. 207-220)

      ALAN DERSHOWITZ has always lavished unstinting praise on Israel’s Supreme (or High) Court.¹ During the first intifada, he typically declared: “Israel’s supreme court has responded magnificently to the occasional overreactions of the Israeli army and security officials. That court, which is among the best in the world, has repeatedly ruled in favor of Arab claimants who have been treated unfairly.”² InWhy TerrorismWorks, published after the outbreak of the second intifada, Dershowitz similarly asserted: “Despite significant restrictions on the rights of Palestinians, . . . [t]hey know that the Supreme Court of Israel stands as an independent bastion of...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 221-226)

    A WIDE AND DIVERSE array of human rights organizations—Palestinian as well as Israeli, United Nations–affiliated as well as independent groups with a global mandate—have closely monitored Israeli conduct in the Occupied Territories. Both their conclusions regarding application of international law and their factual determinations on major as well as minor details are remarkably consistent. In many respects, Israel’s record, as distilled from thousands of pages of human rights reports, is quite singular. “What renders Israel’s abuses unique throughout the world,” B’Tselem observes, “is the relentless efforts to justify what cannot be justified.” The Israel Supreme Court has...

  8. APPENDIX I: Of Crimes and Misdemeanors
    (pp. 229-254)
  9. APPENDIX II: History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
    (pp. 255-278)
  10. APPENDIX III: Peace Process
    (pp. 279-318)
  11. Index
    (pp. 319-332)