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Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History Hardcover – August 28, 2005

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Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History + Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, New and Revised Edition + The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Finkelstein, a political science professor and author of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, has conducted a rancorous public feud with Harvard Law professor and pro-Israel stalwart Alan Dershowitz over the latter's The Case for Israel, and here expands his arguments into a vigorous polemic on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The first part of the book examines what he feels is a growing tendency of pro-Israel commentators to use spurious charges of anti-Semitism to deflect and discredit legitimate criticism of Israel. The second, much longer, part is a line-by-line debunking of The Case for Israel, which he compares to Communist apologetics for Stalinist Russia. Rebutting Dershowitz's claims about Israel's "superb" human rights record, Finkelstein cites human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli group B'Tselem to document Israeli abuses in the occupied territories, including killings of Palestinian civilians, torture of Palestinian prisoners and home demolitions. Lengthy appendices flesh out his explosive assertion that Dershowitz plagiarized the historical research and interpretations (but not the actual phrasing) of Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial. The Middle East conflict rarely inspires calm discussion, and Finkelstein duly pillories his opponents as perpetrators of "hoax" and "fraud" who lack "ordinary moral values" and whose behavior resembles anti-Semitic stereotypes. Inflammatory rhetoric aside, he does raise serious questions about the veracity, scholarly methods and fairness of Dershowitz and others. More important, he presents a wealth of evidence on the human rights situation in the occupied territories, so often ignored in American debate on these issues. Exhaustively researched and meticulously-if intemperately-argued, Finkelstein's book is a formidable challenge to the conventional wisdom on the Middle East. Photos.
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From Booklist

Supporters of this book will not include Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel (2003). Very little of Dershowitz's widely acclaimed defense of Israel's occupation policies escapes Finkelstein's withering scrutiny. Behind Dershowitz's firm assurances that Israel is dealing with its adversaries justly and humanely, Finkelstein discerns ugly realities, including brutal torture of Palestinian prisoners and lethal disregard for Palestinian children and noncombatants. In Finkelstein's assessment, Israel is grievously violating Palestinian rights because its leaders deliberately choose to ignore both the humanity of the Palestinian people and the justice of international law. And in the claim that will perhaps stir the fiercest debates, Finkelstein asserts that when Dershowitz and his allies defend Israel with shoddy and mendacious scholarship, they actually stoke the very anti-Semitism they claim to be combating. Neither anti-Semitism nor global antipathy toward Israel will persist, Finkelstein avers, if Israel and its partisans will honestly confront and redress the malign consequences of current Israeli policies. This book, which has already sparked intense controversy, belongs in collections seeking to represent multiple points of view on significant topics of international interest. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 343 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (August 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520245989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520245983
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #704,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

274 of 289 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Smith on June 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The only criticisms of this work I have seen are personal attacks against Mr. Finkelstein himself and not the scholarship itself. Is Mr. Finkelstein "anti-Semitic", a "self hating Jew", "crazy" or an "Arab apologist? Well, I don't the know man. He very well could be all these things and more, but is that really a cogent dissection of the themes, scholarship and the over all efficacy of the work? To that question I would answer no.

Finkelstein set out to enumerate the techniques used by Israeli apologists, and to that end I found Beyond Chutzpa to be beyond reproach. He sets out to use Dershowitz and other propagandist's own works to show how they go about disseminating falsehoods, exaggerations and lies to obfuscate the reality on the ground to the detriment of both sides. As for Dershowitz's works, Finkelstein devotes much of the book to systematically tearing down each of his arguments and shining a bright light on the shoddy scholarship used by Dershowitz. By using Dershowitz as an example case, he lays waste to the arguments that Israel is a humane and just nation that deals with all peoples, including the Palestinians, on an equal basis.

Mr. Finkelstein uses two world renowned human rights organizations, (and also Palestinian and Israeli organizations) Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to document the numerous humanitarian violations committed by the Israeli government. He uses copious amounts of documentation from these organizations to rebut claims made by Dershowitz. He also points out Dershowitz's lack of reference to these organizations. This is a glaring omission since many times these organizations are the only groups to have neutral observers on the ground to witness and document what is happening in places like Gaza and the West Bank.
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702 of 767 people found the following review helpful By David Rosen on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Because I am Jewish, and because of my very real and painful connection to the Holocaust- my maternal grandmother is a living survivor of the Nazi camps- I take discussion of the Holocaust very seriously, and I take discussion of the Palestine-Israel conflict very seriously. This book by Norman Finkelstein speaks to both of these issues. I therefore read the book very carefully and critically, as I read all non-fiction books, whether written from a conservative or a liberal perspective.

I did not enjoy reading the Introduction, except for the last paragraph of the Introduction, where the author finally declares his purpose in writing this book. I am a practical person and I like to get right down to substance. I felt the Introduction explored arguments and concepts of an intellectual, abstract and often academic nature. I hold a masters degree in international affairs and I have considerable experience digesting abstract theory; I just happen to prefer dealing with concrete facts in the real world. My own advice is to skip the Introduction altogether. After finishing my copy of Finkelstein's book I gave it to a friend interested in the Palestine-Israel conflict and I said the same thing to him- just jump right into Part 1, where the book really begins. You can always come back to the Introduction when you finish the book itself.

And once you begin the book itself you immediately realize that the controversy surrounding the publication of this work and the angry statements going back and forth between the author, Norman Finkelstein, and the celebrity, Alan Dershowitz, actually occupy a very insubstantial part of Finkelstein's work.
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192 of 213 people found the following review helpful By Orson Welles on June 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliant book. In a gross miscarriage of justice, DePaul University has denied its author tenure.

As the Chronicle of Higher Education says:

Mr. Finkelstein's case has excited widespread interest, in part because of the involvement of Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor of law at Harvard University. The two scholars have sparred repeatedly in public. Last fall, Mr. Dershowitz sent members of DePaul's law and political-science faculties what he described as "a dossier of Norman Finkelstein's most egregious academic sins, and especially his outright lies, misquotations, and distortions." Earlier Deroswitz had threatened to sue the U.C. press, the academic press that published the book.

UC press is one of the most prestigious university presses. Finkelstein's book was peer reviewed. His Department and Dean recommended he be awarded tenure. So much for free speech and academic freedom.
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441 of 521 people found the following review helpful By Albert Doyle on August 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's somewhat unfortunate that much of the interest in this book has been created by the conflict between Finkelstein and Alan Dershowitz about the alleged plagiarism of Dershowitz. That subject is certainly well covered. See Appendix I. But as Finkelstein says his primary intent is to use Dershowitz' claims as a peg to explore crucial aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict which he does brilliantly and exposes Dershowitz shoddy scholorship along the way.

Part I of the book deals with the latest campaign by Israel's dogged supporters to convince us that the world is awash in a "new anti-Semitism" which turns out to mean any criticism of the Zionist state. The evidence is...nothing. Finkelstein shows that this a regular practice whenever Israel is forced to come close to actual peace.

In Part II Finkelstein deals with Dershowitz' attempts to paint Israel as not only innocent of human rights violations but as a paragon of virtue ("generally superb") in the face of unanimous opposite conclusions by every international body dealing with the subject. I would recommend that any reader first read Appendices II and III before the rest of the book to get an appreciation of Dershowitz' appalling misrepresentations. To make his case Dershowitz is compelled to denounce every human rights organization and the International Court of Justice. The latter not only found Israel's recently constructed "wall" built in the occupied West Bank illegal but also confirmed once again that the Israeli "settlements" - all of them - were likewise illegal, so the violations were not only offensive in themselves but were committed in illegally occupied territory. This book effectively exposes Dershowitz' claims which have been promoted by the Israeli government as "among the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict." Only a skillful and courageous Jew like Norman Finkelstein could have written and published this book.
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