Norman Finkelstein’s Conspiratorial Universe

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On January 25, 2011, anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein spoke in the student union at the University of Pennsylvania.  The lecture—sponsored by the Penn Arab Student Society, Penn Race Dialogue Project, and Temple Students for Justice in Palestine—brought the former academic to campus despite DePaul University’s 2007 decision to deny Finkelstein tenure because of his “inflammatory style and personal attacks” on his peers.

The event, which lasted over two hours, attracted an audience of about 200, composed both of members of the local community and Penn students, including a substantial contingent of Penn Israel Coalition members.

The lecture focused on three subjects: the 2006 Lebanon War, the 2008-2009 Gaza War, and the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident.  The common thread tying these three events together, Finkelstein asserted, was the Israeli desire to “reestablish its deterrence capacity,” in the aftermath of its unilateral withdrawal, or, as he termed it, “military defeat,” from Southern Lebanon in May 2000. He claimed, without citing any sources or quoting any military officials, that the “Israelis were very upset by this “defeat” and were “determined to undo [it].”

In the first of many conspiratorial allegations against Israel, he declared that:

By 2001, the Israelis began preparing for the next round with the Hezbollah. They patiently waited for a pretext, an excuse, and they found it in the summer of 2006. And in July, Israel launched another assault on Lebanon.

Even if the Israeli military began creating plans in 2001 for a potential conflict with Hezbollah, it would not have indicated a desire for future aggression; indeed, militaries around the world maintain and regularly update battle plans in order to prepare themselves for hypothetical future adversaries. Furthermore, Finkelstein made only oblique reference to the event which touched off the Lebanon War of 2006: a cross-border raid by Hezbollah that left three Israeli soldiers dead, two injured, and two kidnapped.

Finkelstein made the unsubstantiated claim that, as a result of the mixed outcome of the 2006 Lebanon War, “Israel was determined to restore its deterrence capacity” in the region and “turned to Gaza,” which, in typical inflammatory fashion, he called “its favorite shooting gallery.”

In describing a November 4, 2008, Israeli attack on a weapon smuggling tunnel 250 meters into Gazan territory, Finkelsteinmade the absurd charge that Israel,

Waited patiently until election-day in the United States, November 4, when [it] knew the attention of the media and public would be riveted to the results of the historic presidential election.

In his analysis of the 2008-2009 Gaza War, Finkelstein alleged yet another Israeli conspiracy: a plan to invade Gaza “as early as March 2007” with only the lack of a “pretext” or “excuse” holding back a full-scale Israeli “assault.” As he had for Hezbollah, Finkelstein painted the recognized terrorist group Hamas as the victim of an inevitable war born of untamable Israeli aggression. He described Hamas’s firing of 8,700 rockets—aimed indiscriminately at Israeli civilians—between 2001 and 2009 as “mostly symbolic” acts of resistance.

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  • larry

    Norm Finkelstein is nothing but an ass hole. He makes his living knocking Israel. With all the anti-semites in this world he has no trouble finding an audience.

  • Amos

    Ian Lustick's role in bringing the pathetic little Neonazi to campus?

  • Amos

    Maybe Finkie can start a new gay Neo-Nazi fashion house together with John Galliano.

    Just what is Finkie living on now that he is unemployed? Subsidies from Iran?

    • Ploni

      He is living off his speaking fees and book sales which has brought him more income than a professors salary for many years.

      • Amos

        Yeah? Who told you that? You believe him?

  • Allyson Rowen Taylor

    Norm suffers from Israel dreangement syndrome he is the product of a very perverted sense of good and evil. Like a pyschopath he is unable to fully comprehend what a pathetic excuse for an academic he is. He should be shunned and put out to pasture….in gaza

  • walt kovacs

    when did finkelstein get a phd in how to stop a ship?

    disable the propeller? rofl

    they attempted the block the flotilla…it refused to stop

    the idf boarded every boat that was part of the flotilla…the only serious injuries and deaths that occurred were on the mavi marmara…which was manned by the terrorists of the ihh

  • J. Levin

    <<He claimed, without citing any sources or quoting any military officials, that the “Israelis were very upset by this “defeat” and were “determined to undo [it].” >>
    Is this a joke? What is this article…where did this author get his journalism degree or any degree for that matter..yes the Israelis where upset with the defeat and had in mind a second, 3rd an d4th rounds…You do not need a quote for this.

    • Supreme_Galooty


    • Antonio Singh

      Please include citations for your assertions. "yes the Israelis where upset with the defeat and had in mind a second, 3rd an d4th rounds." I don't agree with your assertion. Back it up with a citation or two. Also, please use spellcheck in the future. Or else just STFU, moron.

  • josh

    funny that a magazine which claims to be concerned about anti semitism advertizes
    books by glen beck a known anti semite.
    the world is upside down

    • ziontruth

      "glen beck a known anti semite"

      A fish doesn't know it's surrounded by water, and the Left can't see Jew-haters except outside their own tank, which is swarming with them.

    • Antonio Singh

      Again, back up your assertions with some reliable citations. As I tell freshman comp students, you need reliable sources to back up your claims. Exactly when has Glen Beck been an anti semite? Also, use spellcheck to hide your ignorance. Just a suggestion.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    The Supreme Galooty has determined that should He ever choose to return to Earth He will change His Name from Finkelstein to Fink. Yup, Margaret. THAT should do it!

  • Amos

    Wouldn't a better way to stop a terrorist ship be to chain Norman Finkelstein to his mentor Holocaust Denier David Irving, attach explosives belts to both, and then toss them out onto the ship from a chopper?

  • Lady_dr

    What the world really needs is a dose of reality. It is SO much easier to hate than to love, or be reasonable. The problem anti-semites have is jealousy. They are angry because they aren't "chosen" like the Chosen People, they think Jews have more money than they do, etc., etc. Funny thing is that they never think to imitate the Jews – you know -work, hard work, study, study, study – make something of yourself. Make wise decisions, etc. It is so much easier to act like a petulant spoiled brat. Don't know what Finkelstein's problem is but all the Jews I know are deeply ashamed that such a Jew exist. This is one sick, self-loathing man who ought not to be listened to. But if you read Frontpagemag you probably know that.

  • BS77

    Norm Frankenstein's audiences continue to shrink. It's unfortunate this pile of garbage still gets so much attention. The less said about him the better.

  • tyson

    Norman Finkelstein has stated on numerous occasions that he is not "anti-israel", and that he not even "anti-zionist", he is, however, in favour of a just and lasting peace that is based on principles of justice, namely, international law- in which there is a long diplomatic record. It is not in Israel's favour to continue with these criminal polices- the political and military elite and jeopardizing the safety of Israeli citizens by acting this way. "People who call themselves supporters of Israel are in fact supporters of it's moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction"- noam chomsky