Friday, November 2, 2007

The Chorus of Slander on Palestine


"....A number of professors have come under attack in recent years, most visibly Norman G. Finkelstein, who this summer was, along with colleague Mehrene Larudee, denied tenure at DePaul University in Chicago. Various writers such as former President Jimmy Carter, Joel Kovel, et al., have also felt the heat of this contrived debate. Intense disagreement over the Israel lobby and the amount of influence it does or does not wield in Washington continues to escalate. Yet, Finkelstein's work as a scholar is rather uncontroversial. Though the word controversy follows him around now like a shadow, one need only go through his findings and documentation to see the precise and careful nature of his work, along with the validity of what he's reporting. That his critics tend to use general and abstract characterizations of him -- rarely his work -- to make their condemnations is revealing. Ad hominem judgments are quick and easy; reading human rights reports and footnotes is less so.

The maelstrom surrounding Carter and his largely conservative and cautious Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is another such example. Kovel's Overcoming Zionism, while I cannot agree with him to the letter (i.e. his argument for a one-state solution), does offer an informative, eye-opening, and well-reasoned critique of Zionism and Israel's policies and behavior. Like those against Finkelstein, the criticisms leveled at Kovel are generic renderings bearing no resemblance to what appears in his book. The work of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the Israel lobby, also something I don't agree with one hundred percent, is worth considering as it enhances legitimate debate. But, regardless of where there may be rational disagreement, open and unsuppressed dialogue about US-Israeli relations and Palestine is the singular path to broader understanding and popular active support for a just resolution benefiting both sides......."

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