First edition cover.
|Author||Norman G. Finkelstein|
|Publisher||University of California Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardback and paperback)|
(Newest edition, paperback)
|Preceded by||The Holocaust Industry|
|Followed by||This Time We Went Too Far|
Finkelstein on the book
Finkelstein's doctoral dissertation was to disassemble a book by Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (1984), which claimed that Palestine had been largely empty in the early 20th century, and that both Jewish and Arab ethnic groups were immigrants. Finkelstein declared the book a fraud.
Two decades later, Finkelstein sees the record of the Israel-Palestine conflict as much less complex than it had been. Finkelstein claims that the official Zionist "Exodus version," that Arab radio broadcasts had instructed the Palestinians to flee, has been largely swept away. He believes that proof of this became available in the 1960s but had little impact. In the late 1980s, however, some studies, including some by Israelis, claimed to dispel much of what Finkelstein refers to as "the Zionist mythology" enveloping the origins of the conflict. Some scholarly debate now focuses on much narrower questions such as whether what in Finkelstein's view was "ethnic cleansing" was the intentional consequence of Zionist policy or the unintentional by-product of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The topic remains controversial, particularly in Israel, where mainstream historians continue to dispute the view of Israel's 1948 war of independence presented by Finkelstein.
In this book he analyses "The Not-So-New "New Anti-Semitism"" from published sources. Finkelstein argues that the spectre of a "new anti-semitism" has been invented by supporters of Israel to brand any serious criticisms of Israel's human rights abuses as anti-semitism. The aim, Finkelstein contends, is to silence criticisms of Israeli policies and to provide a cover for that country's expansionistic and illegal policies in the Palestinian territories. In the second part he analyses Alan Dershowitz´s 2003 book The Case for Israel.
In the book, Finkelstein extensively documented what he claimed was Dershowitz's falsification of Israel's human-rights record and his plagiarism of research from Joan Peters' book From Time Immemorial. In response, Dershowitz initiated a massive lawsuit, having his lawyers write letters to the University of California Press threatening an expensive lawsuit if they published the book. At one point, Dershowitz called on the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to intervene on his behalf, to stop the book from being published, but the Governor refused. Eventually, Dershowitz backed off and the book was published by UC Press, albeit with some minor modifications as a result of Dershowitz's threat.
Baruch Kimmerling, professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote that the book is "the most comprehensive, systematic, and well-documented work of its kind. It is one of the harshest—rational and nonemotional—texts about the daily practices of the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territories by Israel, and it is an excellent demonstration of how and why the blind defenders of Israel, by basing their arguments on false facts and figures, actually bring more damage than gains to their cause."
Marc Saperstein, professor of Jewish history at The George Washington University, wrote in conclusion of his review of the book "if you are looking for a book that gathers for polemical purposes every anti-Israel argument in the arsenal of its opponents, and if you enjoy the rhetorical style of the arrogant academic pit bull, this may be the book for you. If you are looking for balance, fairness, context, a critical weighing of evidence on different sides of a controversial issue ... you will not find them here."
The University of California Press was awarded a prize for "sustained contributions to the promotion and defense of academic freedom in the Middle East and North Africa" by the Middle East Studies Association for publishing the book in the face of Dershowitz's threats.
- "The New Historiography: Israel and Its Past," in Benny Morris, 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians (Oxford, 1990), PP. 1-34. Cited in BC p.3.
- Schuker, Daniel J. (8 July 2005). "Accusations Fly in Academic Feud". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- "Beyond Chutzpah On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History". Reviews. University of California Press. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
- Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History by Norman G. Finkelstein, Marc Saperstein Middle East Journal Vol. 60, No. 1 (Winter, 2006), pp. 183-185