Born in 1953 to Jewish Holocaust survivors, Norman Finkelstein is professor of political science and a notorious distorter of facts about Israel. He currently works at the Center for Middle East Studies at Sakarya University in Turkey. He has held positions at Brooklyn College, Rutgers University, Hunter College, New York University, and DePaul University, where he was placed on academic leave in 2007.
Finkelstein built his career on anti-Zionism. His book, The Holocaust Industry, claims that "Jewish elites" have turned the memorialization of the Holocaust into an "industry," which they use to protect Israel from criticism. He routinely accuses pro-Israeli writers of being "frauds" and "plagiarists," and labels their work "hoaxes.” He has claimed that Jews did not “suffer uniquely” during the Holocaust, a preposterous claim, given that Nazis purposely targeted Jews during the Holocaust.
Finkelstein’s work is also marred by inaccuracies. For example, he claims that Israel became important to Jews only in 1967, even though many Jews supported Israel years beforehand. Finkelstein also believes fewer than six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, and that the number has purposely been inflated. He refers to the number in quotation marks (i.e., as the “Six Million”) to indicate this.
Finkelstein holds terrorist organizations and Israel to different standards. He lauds terrorist organizations while condoning Israel for violence. He supports Hezbollah, a fundamentalist terrorist group, but accuses Israel of “state terrorism.” At a 2006 talk at Columbia University titled “Israel and Palestine: Misuse of Anti-Semitism, Abuse of History,” Finkelstein said that the “only difference between Israel terrorism and Hamas terrorism is that Israeli terrorism is three times as lethal.”
Unsurprisingly, Finkelstein has been met with distain inside and outside the academic community. Even the professor whose work Finkelstein based his research on has disowned Finkelstein, saying that “no facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotation in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites. . . .[S]uch an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention." A reviewer from The New York Times described Finkelstein and The Holocaust Industry as "juvenile", "arrogant", and "stupid."
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