Dr. Norman Finkelstein has written a brilliant and scholarly expose of
the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is not a dispassionate historian/scholar
nor does he pretend to be. He dedicates the book to his parents,
survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi extermination camps:
"May I never forget or forgive what was done to them."
Finkelstein's keen intellect is breathtaking. His painstaking research
which supports the evidence how the "reality" of the causes of the
conflict is vastly different than the "image" presented to us by the media
is a marvel to behold.
My favorite chapters in the book are chapters 2 and 4.
In Chapter 2, he discusses Joan Peters book "From Time Immemorial"
and masterfully exposes it as a hoax. The crux of Peters' thesis was
that "Palestine was, literally, 'uninhabited' on the eve of the Zionist
colonization; and that if the Arab population did not materialize, literally,
ex nihilo in Palestine, it did surreptitiously enter to exploit the economic
opportunities that the Jews created when they made the 'desert bloom'." By that logic, most Palestinians were not even there in 1948 to be expelled from their homes.
The fact that such a threadbare hoax can be published in this country
is not surprising. But the fact that this book received accolades from
journalists and scholars alike, from such luminaries as Daniel Pipes,
Sidney Zion, Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz, and Nobel
peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel, speaks volumes about the American
commissar culture. After the book went through several printings and
was exposed as an utter fraud in Britain, it finally prompted Anthony
Lewis to write a column for The New York Times aptly entitled "There
Were No Indians."
Perhaps the most illuminating part of the book is Chapter 4 entitled
"Settlement, Not Conquest." Finkelstein's dissection of how the
historical rhetoric and justifications for conquest are strikingly
similar -- "from the British in North America to the Dutch in South Africa,
from the Nazis in Eastern Europe, to the Zionists in Palestine" --
is both enlightening and comical.
Finally, it is noteworthy to mention Finkelstein's poignant observation
for those of us who want to see justice done to the Palestinians and
to all people who are suffering as a direct result of America's
diplomatic and military support to the darkest and most oppressive
regimes around the globe: "The plea of 'not knowing' cannot in
good faith be entered at history's bar. Those who want to know can
know the truth; at all events, enough of it to draw the just conclusions."
To buttress his point, he quotes Albert Speer's mea culpa at
Nuremberg: "Whether I knew or did not know, or how much or little I
knew, is totally unimportant when I consider the horrors I OUGHT to
have known about and what conclusions would have been natural
ones to draw from the little I did know . . ."
Thus, Finkelstein concludes: "Indeed, the [ordinary] Germans could
point in extenuation to the severity of penalties for speaking out
against the crimes of state. What excuse do we have?"
Perhaps, we may want to do some genuine soul-searching
as we ponder that question.