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Norman Finkelstein’s Attack on the BDS Movement

There is a video doing the rounds, which shows Norman Finkelstein laying into the BDS Movement.

Finkelstein’s interlocutor is a young man called Frank Barat, who I discover is neither a bogus Kazakh or a former member of the Libertines, but a BDS activist.

It was recorded a few days ago at Imperial College. Then it was taken down, inexplicably, by the BDS Movement. Well, I don’t really mean inexplicably. What I really mean is “without explanation”. It is pretty clear why the BDS crew decided to chuck it down the memory hole.

Arguing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign with Norman Finkelstein from HuffPoMonitor on Vimeo.

Finkelstein is an odd chap. He is known to be a Two Stater. Yet he visits with Hezbollah.

My impression of him is that he is a crank. His website is filled with nasty and off-colour puns around Jewish themes. The basic thesis of his Holocaust Industry thesis is flawed, and the notion that evil people are deliberately manipulating the horror of the genocide of the Jews to ignoble ends is mistaken, to say the least. What people are worried about is the genocidal intent of Hamas and Hezbollah. The recent history of extermination, merely the context within which this concern arises.

Finkelstein failed to gain tenure, in no small part because he was unclubbable. His habit of making unscholarly and intemperate attacks on others is not simply a personal quirk. It permeates his academic work.  To portray other Holocaust historians as essentially cynical shroud wavers is a disgusting thing to do.

However, I can detect a similar orneriness in his reaction to the BDS movement. Just as he concluded, a decade or so ago, that the “Holocaust Industry” was a con, he seems to be coming to a similar conclusion with the BDS brigade. There are echoes of Johnny Rotten intoning “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Finkelstein’s conclusion is that the BDS movement is a “cult”. He continues:

“You think you’re fooling anybody?” he asks. “You think you’re so clever?… You shouldn’t reach a broad public because you’re dishonest… At least be honest what you want — ‘we want to abolish Israel and this is our strategy for doing it’.” ”

What has led him here, I don’t know.

But perhaps he has suddenly realised that there are other bastards out there, too. That at least part of the attraction of Palestinian solidarity is not the quest for peace and justice, but a murderous antisemitism. Who knows.

If anybody wants to transcribe, be my guest. We’ll put it up.