Norman Finkelstein and the Perils of Impeccable Scholarship


An impressive record of scholarship was not enough to ensure tenure for DePaul University Professor Norman Finkelstein. An unprecedented yet predictable campaign of hate and slander waged by Israel Inc., commandeered by Alan Dershowitz, the noted Harvard plagiarist, strident enemy of human rights, and America’s leading apologist for Israeli state terrorism.

Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University for one primary reason – his impeccable scholarship. Finkelstein, by all accounts, is a shoe-in for tenure but he dared to accurately and cohesively dismantle, question and expose the motives and methods undertaken by members of Israel Inc., like Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, who have as their primary life objective – working on behalf of The State of Israel.

Dershowitz, perhaps the leading American apologist for Israeli state terrorism and American terrorist foreign policy (in so much as that foreign policy benefits Israel) is a genuine zealot, who among other dubious distinctions, is a well-documented plagiarist and obvious enemy of human rights, irrespective of his reflexive tantrums and self-serving pronouncements as a “civil libertarian”.

Dershowitz commandeered the campaign to negatively influence Finkelstein’s bid for tenure for over a year, consisting of vitriolic op-ed pieces and inappropriate communication with DePaul officials to defame Finkelstein, to great effect it turns out. Dershowitz has long been a key constituent of the pro-Israel chorus in America, so it was no surprise that Israel Inc. organs like the ADL “applaud the University for its actions,” while slightly more attenuated elements, like Campus Watch, were sufficiently pleased to publish the ADL’s vision of “continuing the close relationship between DePaul and the Jewish community,” now enhanced with the denial of tenure to the Jewish Finkelstein, we are led to believe.

The measure of “legitimacy” for American politicians has long been their record in service of (or lack of resistance to) the aims of Israel Inc. It now seems a similar criterion is maturing at DePaul, using the “Vincentian value of personalism” as the (vacuous) pre-text to rid the institution of troublesome individuals likely to raise the ire of particularly powerful foes that can make business difficult, especially for a private establishment like DePaul. One unprecedented aspect of the Dershowitz campaign was the lengths he was willing to go to interfere with Finkelstein’s tenure process, directly, openly, and with open intent — much to the detriment of the DePaul student body specifically. And academia generally.

We can see at least two positive outcomes possible as a result of DePaul’s cowardly appeasement of Dershowitz and gang. The first is Finkelstein as part of the fast-growing pool of “anti-Semite” (as determined by Israel Inc.) notables, who incidentally include many Jews and other genuine Semites, like: Noam Chomsky, Uri Avnery, Amira Hass, Ilan Pappe, Dr. Israel Shahak, Edward Said, Tariq Ali, Ed Herman, Howard Zinn, Jonathan Cook, Michael Albert, Keith Harmon-Snow, Bill & Kathy Christison, Pres. Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Alex Odeh, Rep. Paul Findley, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Rep. Pete McCloskey, Sen. J. William Fulbright, Norman Solomon, Sam Husseini, Gary Leupp, Ralph Nader, Jeffrey St. Clair, Joshua Frank, Michael J. Smith, John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Robert Fisk, Ali Abunimah, John Walsh, William Blum, Alexander Cockburn, Francis Boyle, Matthew Abraham, James Holstun, Saul Landau, Lenni Brenner, Patrick Cockburn, Gideon Levy, Jennifer Lowenstein, Michael Neumann, Scot Ritter, Kim Peterson, Bill Williams, you get the idea — anyone, anywhere, that in anyway opposes what is “good” for Israel is labeled an “anti-Semite” at the very least and may be considered for the Finkelstein treatment, if not worse.

By tightening the noose on speech and thought, the pool of “anti-Semites” expands such that no one but Israel’s zealots will soon remain, exposing their actual agenda and hypocrisy until it becomes indefensible to sustain their assertion, that critics of Israel and critics of those who worship The State of Israel (as opposed to those who are simply Jewish) are “anti-Semites”.

The second positive outcome possible and about the best thing that can be said about the likes of Dershowitz, is that, ironically, his sordid track record and disgraceful campaign against Finkelstein, thoroughly bolsters Finkelstein’s scholarly work depicting Dershowitz as a despicable and transparent fraud, one who openly reacts to critical exposure of himself and Israeli policy by launching campaigns of deceptive reprisal.

Chomsky said it succinctly, when he observed “just how far Alan Dershowitz will go in his efforts to conceal the fact that Norman Finkelstein exposed him as a vulgar and fraudulent apologist for Israeli human rights violations -carefully, judiciously, with extensive documentation.”
And now we know.

*Many apologies to the many other “anti-Semites” I neglected to list.

GREGORY AFGHANI is a writer based in Southern California. He can be reached at:

This article appeared, in similar form, on, 6/13/07.