FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Finkelstein’s “Knowing Too Much”

by LENNI BRENNER

Norman Finkelstein is a well-known critic of Israel and he had to pay for his efforts. In 2007 he was denied tenure by DePaul University.  Recently he generated opposition within the Palestine solidarity camp by denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as a  “hypocritical, dishonest cult” seeking to replace Israel with a democratic secular binational state. (wiki/Norman_Finkelstein) Given his success at attracting attention, potential readers must be warned that his latest opus, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel is Coming to an End, is the ultimate in pedantry. Reading it is an ordeal.

Finkelstein complains that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s Six Days of War: June 1967 and the making of the modern Middle East was “weighed down with nearly a hundred pages of endnotes and  bibliography.” (p. 161), even while burdening Knowing Too Much with 1,241 endnotes over 94 pages and using them to extend points made in his  text. Novices and venerable scholars alike will drown, swimming from his tendentious arguments to his endnotes morass, then back to his repetitious text.

On page xiv he tells us that:

“The bedrock of the American Jewish  bond with Israel is kinship: the attachment of an ethnic group to “its” ethnic state…. The high rate of intermarriage among American Jews in  recent years has diluted the impact of this blood tie and consequently attenuated the connection of many American Jews to Israel.”(5) But we must turn to his endnote on page 355 to learn that “Because much has  already been written on intermarriage and its impact on American Jewish life, this topic will not be pursued in these pages.”

Discussion of the increasing assimilation of American Jewry via  the 58% intermarriage rate is essential for fully understanding young  Jews’ alienation from Zionism’s intra-Jewish marriage priority. Instead, when we return to the INTRODUCTION, we are given a quote with  Finkelstein’s unnecessary comment smack in the middle of it:

“For many American Jews,’ Steven M. Cohen observed in his  classic anatomy of the contemporary Jewish scene, ‘politics–in particular  pro-Israel and liberal activity–have come to constitute their principle  working definition of Jewishness.’” (p. xv),  Only then we are finally told  that “The interaction between these twin commitments, and in particular  the tension between them, is the focus of this book.” (p. xv) He tells us that “Because Israeli propaganda no longer monopolizes public discourse,  and enough of the truth, even if still only a small fraction of it, has become  known, Israel can no longer count on the blind support of American  Jews.” (pp. xvi-xvii)

In case we forget his central theme, he endlessly repeats it. His  CONCLUSION declares that “Large sectors of the significantly liberal  American Jewish community now know too much of the truth abut the Israel-Palestine conflict to continue lending Israel blind support.” (p.299)  One page later he tells us that “American Jews have demonstrated and  enduring commitment to liberal values and have contributed disproportionately to the vitality of liberal American institutions. In recent  years however they have experienced a conflict between fidelity to these  liberal values and fidelity to an increasingly illiberal Jewish state.”(p. 300) Knowing that his readers are forgetful, one paragraph later he  proclaims that “The focus of this book has been on the ideological rift. It  has been argued that in the face of the accumulated documentary record  American Jews are longer able to reconcile Israeli policy with bedrock  liberal principles.” (p.300)

I concede one thing. At least he remembers his ‘great truth.’ One page on,  he yet again reminds us that “Because it is tapped into the broader  intellectual culture, the liberal, highly literate American Jewish  community can no longer be unaware, or pretend to be unaware of the  brutal realities of Israeli policy.” (p. 301)

He finds his own point again and again in his reviews of several Zionist authors, Oren, Peter Beinart, Jeffrey Goldberg, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris.

Beinart is an ex-editor of the neo-con New Republic. Finkelstein quotes from his “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” in the June 10, 2010 New York Review of Books. “For several decades, the  Jewish establishment has asked American Jews to check their liberalism at  Zionism’s door, and now, to their horror, they are finding that many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.” (p. 29)

This example from one author will do for the lot.

The operative proverb here is “Happy are they who learn from the mistakes of others.” Learn from Finkelstein’s follies.

1 – Completely write your book inside your text. Endnotes are only to tell  readers on what page in your source they can find what you quoted in your book.

2 – “Brevity is the soul of wit.” You have an important point to make? Good. Say it short and sweet, explain it clearly, then move on.

Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators. He can be contacted at BrennerL21@aol.com.

 

Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators. He can be contacted at BrennerL21@aol.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail