94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
A Well Argued Critique of Israel's Apologists,
This review is from: Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Hardcover)
This book sets out to demolish the arguments of some of Israel's most vocal supporters in the United States, and largely suceeds in this task.
The first 85 pages are devoted to those who claim that criticism of Israel is fuelled by anti-Semitism, rather than any action of Israel's. Finkelstein argues that this claim is merely an attempt to deflect criticism from indefensible Israel policies.
However, the main body of the book is devoted to an attack on one man, Alan Dershowitz. Dershowitz is the author of the best selling "The Case for Israel". In his influential book Dershowitz made a number of extremely controversial claims about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Finkelstein's book is devoted to methodically going through these claims and demolishing them. For example Dershowitz implied that Palestinian refugees may have been recent immigrants to Palestine, rather than the native population of the country. Finkelstein shows how all the evidence Dershowitz produces for this claim is essentially plagiarised from the discredited work of Joan Peters.
Unfortunately Finkelstein focuses mainly on showing how Dershowitz has little grasp of the facts of the conflict. It would have been nice if there was also more of a challenge to Dershowitz's arguments. Particularly his repulsive view that collective punishment should be inflicted on Palestinian civilians.
This book comes across as being meticulously researched, as you would expect given that it is an attack on one of the most sucessful lawyers in America. However, it relies almost entirely on Western or Israeli sources to challenge Dershowitz. I couldn't find a single quote from a Palestinian.
Despite being about on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this book focuses only on Israel. Next to nothing of value is said about the Palestinians or wider Arab world. This is a flaw found in Finkelstein's other books as well.
This book does provide a pretty good summary of Israel's widespread human rights abuses as a challenge to Dershowitz's claims. Other than this however the book will mainly be of interest to those who have already read "The Case for Israel". For those who are familiar with Dershowitz work, this book is a must read, as it shows quite how inaccurate his arguments are. For everyone else who is interested in the wider Palestinian-Israeli conflict there are better books out there, including Finkelstein's last book "Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict".