Norman Finkelstein: A critic says he deserved to be deported from Israel





HNN EDITOR 6/2/08: A review of the comments posted on this link required that we close the discussion board, which featured numerous statements in violation of our civility rules.

[Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his "blog" at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.]

Whenever the media takes note of the antics of Norman Finkelstein, the former DePaul University professor and anti-Israel activist, a flood of disinformation seems bound to follow. Finkelstein’s arrest in Israel last week was no exception.

The facts of the case are clear. Finkelstein had attempted to enter Israel last Thursday to travel into the West Bank. There he would likely have lent support to Palestinian extremists. Unquestionably, he would have caused trouble. And while Israel generally does not prevent foreign trouble makers from entering the country (a highly naive and short-sighted policy), it made an exception this time: Finkelstein was detained at the Tel Aviv airport upon landing, kept under watch for a few hours, and eventually deported to Amsterdam.

The deportation served as a siren call for all Israel’s critics, both foreign and domestic, to protest this alleged "suppression of academic freedom of an academic critic of Israel." The leftist web sites and the liberal media were immediately filled with reports of how "Professor Finkelstein" was kicked out of Israel for, supposedly, having anti-Israel opinions.

Finkelstein’s supporters, like Peter Kirstein of St. Xavier University, cried "outrage” at Finkelstein’s eviction. Israel’s far-Left also got into the fray. Finkelstein's own web site broadcast his martyrdom in lurid terms.

As usual when Finkelstein is involved, the facts all got lost along the way.

First, Finkelstein is no "professor.” In fact, he never was an academic in any meaningful sense of the word. Finkelstein is a crackpot and an open admirer of Holocaust denier David Irving. Finkelstein claims that all Holocaust survivors are liars, hoaxsters, and thieves, extorting Germany. Finkelstein was fired last year from DePaul University in Chicago because he had no academic publications or achievements at all; he has yet to publish his first academic paper. He is regarded to be a Holocaust denier by the Anti-Defamation League, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and others. For all the whining of his supporters that in DePaul he fell victim to "outside interference" when he was denied tenure, the fact is that most of the outside interference there was actually in Finkelstein’s favor.

Second, Finkelstein was not denied entry into Israel because he holds anti-Israel opinions. Anti-Israel leftists come in and out of Israel all the time. For instance, the Jewish state has long put up with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), whose members enter Israel to engage in violent hooliganism and to assist Palestinian terrorism, sometimes assaulting Israeli police and soldiers in the process.

Some of Israel's own tenured professors, moreover, are even more extreme and anti-Israel than Finkelstein himself. As is clear from any fair-minded reading of Israeli media reports, Finkelstein was denied entry into Israel because he has spent the past few years serving as an all-but-official spokesperson for the Hezbollah terror group and was suspected of wanting to enter Israel for purposes of espionage and activities on its behalf.

Third, entry into Israel is not a universal entitlement. According to the official Israeli statement as reported in Haaretz, Israeli intelligence said Finkelstein "is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon," and because he "did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions." The last point is especially critical. While still in Israeli captivity, Finkelstein adamantly refused to answer questions about what he was planning to be doing while in the country, as well as who was paying for his trip. Given his refusal to cooperate, it’s difficult to see that Israeli authorities had any alternative but to deport him.

That’s not how Finkelstein sees it, of course. Moments after arriving in Amsterdam, Finkelstein sent out the following message to his fans (spelling and grammar uncorrected):

"Before rumors report my premature death, I was kept in a holding cell for 24 hours and then deported to Amsterdam. It wasn't a Belgian bed and breakfast but it wasn't Auschwitz either (although after six hours of abusive treatement (sic) I did call them "f**king Jewish Nazis," not taken well). It seems that to see Musa and his family again, I'll have to wait until the end of the occupation. I have been been (sic) banned for "at least 10 years." Another incentive to work towards ending the occupation."
Facts notwithstanding, some on the hard-Left were prepared to see Finkelstein as the victim. The so-called "Association for Civil Rights in Israel" or ACRI took the lead in this regard. The ACRI quickly dispatched once of its leaders, a lawyer named Michael Sfard, to serve as attorney for Finkelstein while he was being held at the airport. Sfard was then cited in the media as saying, "A country that starts to fear what its harshest critics write about it is a country that is already behaving in a manner reminiscent of the darkest days of the communist regime."

But Finkelstein is not a substantive "critic" of Israel. By his own admission, he is a supporter of a terrorist group – Hezbollah – that explicitly seeks Israel’s destruction. Contrary to the amen corner loudly commiserating with this disgraced academic, Finkelstein is not a victim of Israeli censorship, but of his own extremism.

Related Links

  • Israel Bars One of its Most Prominent Critics, Norman Finkelstein, for Ten Years (interview)


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    art eckstein - 6/2/2008

    I know a lot about Plaut's case because I do research before spouting off, Mr. Silverstein. So should you.

    But you don't. You had an unsophisticated understanding of the case, and now (a) you appeara to protest someone actually giving the details of the ruling, and (b) then falsely accuse me of being Plaut because I actually know what I'm talking about.


    art eckstein - 6/2/2008

    The original fine, Mr. Silverstein, was for NIS 100,000. The appeals court let stand NIS 10,000.
    That is a 90% reduction in the fine, leaving 10% left.

    Your problem is the fluctuating relationship between the U.S. dollar and the NIS--that's where you got confused. But on the basis of your confusion, you make more accusations.


    art eckstein - 6/2/2008

    I am not Steven Plaut. The HNN manager can check on this. is this the sort of reckless accusation you normally engage in Mr. Silverstein? it seems so. It ranks with your over-the-top calling Plaut a "convicted slanderer" despite the appeals court ruling which overturned 90% of the lower court ruling and left the other 10% on the books on a technicality having to do with use of the Holocaust in politics, and Plaut is appealing the last tiny bit to the israeli Supreme Court..

    Your performance and your accusations are very reckless..


    haim itzhak - 6/2/2008

    Go to these web sites:

    http://thedrunkablog.blogspot.com/2007/11/keeping-up-with-peter-kirstein.html and
    http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2007_07_01_archive.html#4697689884769979602
    http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2007_11_01_archive.html#972995856402762985


    haim itzhak - 6/2/2008

    Little Dickie Kapostein, the real name for Richard Silverstein, is a fanatic anti-Semite and Neo-Nazi who seeks Israel’s annihilation and a new Holocaust. The semi-literate Silverstein would like to be the next Jewish Neo-Nazi after Norman Finkelstein crashed and burned. There has never been an act of Arab savagery against Jews he does not justify, nor an act of Jewish self-defense that he supports. His blog is little more than his exercise in political masturbation, trying to draw attention to himself. He has been unemployed for years.


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Kirstein's true Neo-Nazi identity can be seen from these web reports:
    http://marathonpundit.blogspot.com/2007/07/finkelstein-defender-peter-kirstein.html Note that Kirstein is closely linked to Holocaust Denier David Irving.
    See also
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=%7B34A9A0E8-FF0A-4EC0-AE95-02F41F2B23DD%7D
    http://frontpagemag.com/blog/Read.aspx?guid=73499a1a-0c28-4536-bd1c-82184384d2ee


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Interesting how these leftwing Neo-Nazis all whine when Finkelstein is deported from israel, as if this is a form of denying him free speech, yet all have orgasms of glee when an anti-democratic leftist neofascist files a SLAPP suit to deny someone freedom of speech to critiize leftists. How can Little Dickie Silverstein and Adolf Kirstein call themselves democratic while demanding that Plaut's freedom of speech to criticize the politics of leftist traitors be denied in court?


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Little Dickie Silverstein thinks everyone who disagrees with him is a "Sock Puppet". He has already claimed that Alan Dershowitz, who defended Plaut and denounce Gordon and Gordon's Arab jihad judge, is a sock puppet and does not exist.


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Richard Silverstein is a sock Puppet for Ernst Zundel


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Richard Silverstein is a sock Puppet for Ernst Zundel


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    http://www.israellycool.com/2008/04/10/dick-and-duke/#comments
    Where Dickie is Linked up with his Hero David Duke


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    See this web page: http://www.israellycool.com/2008/04/10/dick-and-duke/#comments


    Evidently Silverstein is a sock puppet for David Duke


    stop kapostein - 6/2/2008

    Little Dickie Kapostein, the real name for Richard Silverstein, is a fanatic anti-Semite and Neo-Nazi who seeks Israel’s annihilation and a new Holocaust. The semi-literate Silverstein would like to be the next Jewish Neo-Nazi after Norman Finkelstein crashed and burned. There has never been an act of Arab savagery against Jews he does not justify, nor an act of Jewish self-defense that he supports. His blog is little more than his exercise in political masturbation, trying to draw attention to himself. He has been unemployed for years.

    From http://www.israellycool.com/2008/04/04/that-lying-old-coot-caught-in-the-act/#comments


    Richard Silverstein - 6/2/2008

    I would strongly urge 'plaut/haim yitzhak' to pursue a U.S. lawsuit against me. We could have as much fun w. that as I've had with the Neuwirth suit. My legal team has gotten lots of experience defending lawsuits brought by Kahanists like Plaut and Neuwirth & would be willing to use this expertise to defend against a new suit, no matter how frivolous.

    But Plaut ought to explore U.S. law before he considers doing so. And he should get himself a better lawyer than the shyster who got him into so much trouble w. his feeble defense in the Israeli lower court.


    Richard Silverstein - 6/2/2008

    HNN's editors should know that it is Plaut's MO to invent fake identities to shield himself. I know Steven Plaut's outrageous prose style well enough, plus the scurrilous charges he's levelled against me to say w. certainly that 'haim itzhak' is yet another Plaut sock puppet.

    Interesting that plaut/haim itzhak uses the same 'kapo' meme that got him into trouble w. Gordon. So you can see that hopeless smearmongers never change their stripes. Despite being admonished & convicted in Israeli courts of justice, they can no more change their felonious ways than a sociopath can become an upstanding citizen.

    Again, haim itzhak can only know the things he does about Plaut because he must be him. Did you ever stop to realize, 'plaut/haim itzhak' that creating sock puppets is a violation of HNN policy which could get you booted not only as a commenter, but as a future contributor??

    I would like Plaut/haim yitzhak to prove he is one of Israel's leading academics. Who says? Moshe Feiglin? Avigdor Lieberman?

    I have successfully defended Rachel Neuwirth's spurious libel lawsuit against me. The Superior Court has dismissed her case as baseless w/o even hearing testimony. She is appealing to the Court of Appeals where she is likely to have far less success than you did in yr appeal.

    I'll likely come out of my libel case w/o a blemish. You'll likely come out of yrs as a convicted libeler.


    Richard Silverstein - 6/2/2008

    No, calling Plaut a 'convicted slanderer' is factually accurate. When an appeals court upholds a lower court ruling, even only a portion of it, it has still UPHELD the ruling.

    I will happily call Plaut by that name unless & until the Israeli Supreme Court reverses the appeals court ruling in its entirety.

    I am hoping that the Supreme Court can revisit the lower courts original ruling & reopen the issues the appeals court rejected. Instead of vindicating Plaut, he may have placed himself in even greater jeopardy.

    Regardless of the percentages, the appeal court found it important to fine Plaut $3,000 for his violations of Israeli law. That is an indisputable fact.

    And as I've written in a previous comment here I strongly suspect that the reason 'art eckstein' knows so much about Plaut's case and defends him so strongly is that he is a sock puppet for Plaut himself. So Steve (if you are 'art'), why can't you actually comment here as yrself instead of inventing false identities?


    Richard Silverstein - 6/2/2008

    'art eckstein' appears to be none other than Steven Plaut. If I am correct, then he has violated HNN's comment policy by creating false identities. I would not be surprised if 'haim itzchak' is also a fake sockpuppet for Plaut. I want 'eckstein' and 'haim itzchak' to know that I've reported my suspicions to the HNN editors and they will investigate this matter. They should realize that when they comment they leave real physical evidence of who they REALLY ARE, which can easily be ascertained by HNN's webmaster.

    Now as the mendacious content of 'eckstein's' comment. The appeals court, as I wrote reduced the award from $18,000 to $3,000. That's public knowledge reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Perhaps 'eckstein' didn't master mathematics in elementary school, but $3,000 is 33% of $18,000, not 5% as he claims.

    I do so enjoy the argument about U.S. vs. Israeli law. If Plaut-eckstein knows so much about libel law in the U.S. why didn't he libel Gordon in the U.S. where he might've had a stronger defense? Why was he so stupid as to libel him in Israel, where his defense might have been stronger?

    Finally, the appeals court found against Plaut in terms of his abuse of Holocaust/Nazi sloganeering. Fortunately, there is a law against such abusive speech in Israel. There is no such law in the U.S. But if there were more people of Plaut's ilk abusing the Holocaust in the same way, we would have need of such a law here as well. Thankfully, we don't.


    haim itzhak - 6/1/2008

    Plaut sues Silverstein's pathetic little rear end for calling him racist.

    The real racists are pro-terror pro-jihad Silverstein and his Holocaust Denier friend Kirstein.


    haim itzhak - 6/1/2008

    Kirstein is David Irving's singalong chum, frequently appearing alongside him and endorsing him, that is, when he is not smearing American soldiers. A complete nonentity academically. How curious that he does not allow talkbacks on his silly little blog.

    Silverstein, better known throughout the web as Little Dickie Kapostein, seems to wish he could have been a kapo in World War II. Silverstein is an unemployed producer of infantile anti-Semitic smears on his own silly blog, a longtime sucker up to Finkelstein.

    Plaut on the other hand is NOT an adjunct, as Fact-Free Silverstein claims, but a full bona fide professor and one of Israel's leading academics. The court actually endorsed almost all Plaut's statements about Gordon as factually correct, overturning the earlier judgment by the jihadette judge who connived with Gordon, but said that Holocaust era imagery are not permitted in Israel, a gross violation of Plaut's freedom of speech.

    Silverstein is already getting himself sued for libel by Rachel Neuwirth.


    art eckstein - 6/1/2008

    This is my understanding of the appeals court ruling:

    1. The appeals court rejected every example but one on which the lower court had convicted Plaut of slandering Gordon. It accepted every single point except one made by Plaut in his appeal, overturning all but one part of the original lower court ruling by Judge Naddaf. The appeals court did rule, by a two-to-one majority, that Plaut’s description of Gordon and his comrades as “Judenrat wannabes” was not permissible speech.

    The court ruled that Gordon had been incorrect when he claimed Plaut had called him a “Jew for Hitler” and incorrect when he claimed that Plaut had called him a “Holocaust denier,” and the appeals judges repeatedly reproved Naddaf for erroneously ignoring the fact that Gordon had been incorrect in his own statements. The appeals court ruled that Plaut’s descriptions of Gordon’s academic record as consisting largely of anti-Israeli propaganda misrepresented as scholarship was legitimate freedom of speech.

    The court also ruled that in general sarcastic and harsh criticism is protected speech. It ordered Gordon to return 90% of the “damages” the lower court had awarded him, but allowed him to retain 10,000 shekels as compensation because two of the three appeals judges thought this would deter the use of Holocaust-era imagery in public political debate in Israel.

    The decision to reverse only 90% of the damages, rather than 100%, was based on an Israeli Supreme Court decision in 2007. In that case, the editor of the daily Maariv, Amnon Dankner, was ordered to pay a single shekel in damages to a right-wing extremist, Itamar Ben Gvir, because Dankner had called Ben Gvir a “little Nazi” on television. The Supreme Court ruling said that the courts should attempt to suppress “impolite” public rhetoric that makes use of Holocaust-era imagery. The appeals court in Nazareth concluded by a 2-1 vote that Plaut's reference to "Judenrat" fell under this ruling and so on that single reference let stand the lower court judgment after reducing the fine by 90%.

    Plaut is appealing to the Supreme Court the single area where he was defeated.

    This is my understanding of the case. Perhaps I am wrong. But if I am correct, then, again, to repeatedly call Plaut a "convicted slanderer" or "libeler" on the basis of this case is way over the top.


    art eckstein - 6/1/2008

    I apologize for inaccuracies of math--or any other inaccuracy.

    But a reduction in the fine by 90% on appeal is hardly--and that he should be fined at all was only on a 2-1 vote. And Plaut is appealing even the small fine to the Israeli supreme court. So since the case is unfinished, to call him a "convicted slanderer" is pretty over-the-top.


    art eckstein - 6/1/2008

    Oops--math isn't my strong suit. The original judgment was for NIS 100,000, which at the time was the equivalent of $18,000. Not $47,000. It's still a 90% reduction in the fine. And Plaut is appealing even THAT part to the Israeli Supreme Court.


    art eckstein - 6/1/2008

    In addition, since Israel is under the British law of libel, it is much easier to prove libel in an Israeli court. Plaut would not be guilty of slander in an Amercan court. And the appeals court reduced the original fine by 95%.

    The question is: has Finkelstein been a spokesman for Hamas or Hezbollah or not. I don't know the answer to that one.

    I would like to know on what grounds the term "racist' is being thrown against Plaut.


    art eckstein - 6/1/2008

    The lower court in Nazareth ordered Plaut to play Gordon 100,000 NIS.

    The court of appeals reduced this to 10,000 NIS.

    I believe that is 10%, not 33% of the original judgment.

    The shekel at the moment is worth $3.2 US, but in March it was worth $ US 3.7, so that's about $2700 at the time of the appeals judgment. I was a bit off. At the time of the original judgment, however, the dollar was worth NIS 4.7, so 100,000 NIS = $ 47,000. Now, from $47,000 to $2700 is a 95% reduction in the fine. Even that minimal fine was on a 2-1 decision based on a single statement. All the other statements which the original judge found slanderous were dismissed by the appeals court.


    Richard Silverstein - 6/1/2008

    Not 10% but 33% & not $2,500, but $3,000. This was reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education in precisely the terms I describe. Who is more reliable, you or them?

    An appeals court ruling which narrows a lower court ruling but still upholds it is not a "complete reversal" or "overturned almost in its entirety, but not quite." It is simply upheld.

    Can you ask Plaut whether he considers $3,000 a "miniscule sum?" I know I wouldn't. Maybe you have more spare change to throw around than I or Plaut.


    Richard Silverstein - 6/1/2008

    Not at all. You are the one who has his facts completely wrong. The appeals court narrowed the ruling & reduced the monetary judgement fr. $18K to $3K but upheld the original conviction. You read the tripe you're claiming at Frontpagemagazine. ALways a mistake to view the world through the miasma of that prism.

    Do you have any academic credentials & if so what are they? Is your scholarship in yr own field as sloppy as your accuracy here?


    Richard Silverstein - 6/1/2008

    Steven Plaut is an ADJUNCT in business at the Univ. of Haifa. Besides being a racist ideologue who recently suffered a libel judgment against him in an Israeli appeals court decision, he has absolutely no academic credentials to discuss this subject.

    He is also known for distributing ditties on the death of ideological opponents like Tanya Reinhardt to the tune of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."

    Shame on HNN for publishing this puerile smearmonger.


    art eckstein - 5/31/2008

    The appeals judges overturned the earlier ruling by the biased judge almost in its entirely, though not quite.
    It ruled that just as Gordon enjoys freedom of speech when he smears Israel, its leaders, and even private persons such as his old army commander, so those who criticize Gordon's politics must enjoy freedom of speech, even if it takes the form of language some might consider impolite or harsh.

    Basing itself on a Supreme Court ruling from last year, in which a journalist was ordered to pay one shekel to a Kahanist because the journalist had called him a "little Nazi" on national television (the Dankner vs. Ben Gvir case), the Nazareth appeals panel ruled that the court should use its powers to discourage use of Holocaust-era rhetoric, and so was allowing Gordon to retain 10% of what the lower court had awarded him. The dissenting judge considered this expression to be free speech as well. The award went down to about $2500--a minuscule sum as these things go.

    I would say this is a victory for Plaut, not a defeat, Dr. Kirstein


    art eckstein - 5/31/2008

    The appeals judges overturned the earlier ruling by the biased judge almost in its entirely, though not quite.
    It ruled that just as Gordon enjoys freedom of speech when he smears Israel, its leaders, and even private persons such as his old army commander, so those who criticize Gordon's politics must enjoy freedom of speech, even if it takes the form of language some might consider impolite or harsh.

    Basing itself on a Supreme Court ruling from last year, in which a journalist was ordered to pay one shekel to a Kahanist because the journalist had called him a "little Nazi" on national television (the Dankner vs. Ben Gvir case), the Nazareth appeals panel ruled that the court should use its powers to discourage use of Holocaust-era rhetoric, and so was allowing Gordon to retain 10% of what the lower court had awarded him. The dissenting judge considered this expression to be free speech as well. The award went to about $2500--a minuscule sum as these things go.

    I would say this is a victory for Plaut, not a defeat, Dr. Kirstein.


    Peter N. Kirstein - 5/31/2008

    http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2008/03/05/plaut-loses-appeal-in-nazi-abuse-libel-case/#comments


    art eckstein - 5/31/2008

    The conviction for libel was later completely overturned by a higher court, Peter. Get your facts right.


    Peter N. Kirstein - 5/30/2008

    Steven Plaut was convicted of libel in Israel for describing a colleague and distinguished scholar Dr Neve Gordon as a “professional anti-Semite.” In another post he described Haaretz as a "streetwalker for neo-nazi Norman Finkelstein." I noted the link to my post that was contained in the original was deleted by HNN. I have written extensively on this topic and responded to Mr Plaut's article with this specific post: http://english.sxu.edu/sites/kirstein/?p=1032

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