We’ve grown used to it: whenever anyone in the media takes note of the antics of Norman Finkelstein, a flood of disinformation is bound to follow. The recent arrest of Finkelstein in Israel was no exception.
The facts are simple. Finkelstein attempted to enter Israel several weeks ago for the purpose of traveling to the West Bank. Israel is used to foreign troublemakers, such as the stooges of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who come to Israel to engage in hooliganism and support Islamofascist terrorism.
But Israel usually does not prevent them from entering the country (a highly naive and short-sighted policy). In any case, Finkelstein was – somewhat uncharacteristically for Israel – detained upon arrival, kept under watch for a few hours, and eventually deported to Amsterdam.
This of course served as a siren call for all the anti-Israel moonbats inside and outside Israel to protest this “suppression of academic freedom of an academic critic of Israel.” Leftist websites and the liberal media were immediately filled with reports of how “Professor Finkelstein” was kicked out of Israel for having anti-Israel opinions. Finkelstein’s own website screamed his martyrdom in lurid terms. The Israeli far left itself got into the fray.
As is usual whenever Finkelstein is involved, the facts all got lost along the way.
First of all, Finkelstein is no “professor” and never was an academic in any meaningful sense of the word. He is a crackpot with links to Holocaust denier groups all over the world who has attempted to build a career by churning out masses of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel diatribes.
I am an academic critic of Israel (from the right); Finkelstein is merely a vulgar Beer Hall buffoon.
Regarded as a Holocaust denier by, among others, the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Finkelstein was fired last year by DePaul University in Chicago because he had no academic publications or achievements to speak of; he has yet to publish his first academic paper.
Contrary to the whining of his boosters that at he fell victim to “outside interference” in his promotion proceedings at DePaul, most of the outside interference there was actually in his favor, coming from the sewers of the anti-Israel lobby.
Second, Finkelstein was not denied entry into Israel because he holds anti-Israel opinions. Anti-Israel leftists come in and out of Israel all the time, and some of Israel’s own tenured traitors are even more extremist and anti-Israel than Finkelstein himself.
Finkelstein was denied entry into Israel, as is clear from the accounts in the Israeli media, because he has spent the past few years serving as an all-but-official spokesperson for the Hizbullah terror group and was suspected of wanting to enter Israel for purposes of espionage and activities on behalf of terrorism.
Third, entry into Israel is not some sort of universal entitlement that anyone anywhere on earth can claim for himself without limit. According to the official Israeli statement as reported in Haaretz, Israeli intelligence said Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.”
Finkelstein was kept under wraps by Israeli security at the airport for a few hours after landing before being deported. It sounds like his toughest moment was when the free cola he was served was not quite ice cold.
While in Israeli captivity he refused to answer questions such as what he was planning to do while in the country and who was paying for his trip. He was also asked what he currently lives on, and my personal guess is that this is what caused him to lose his famous temper, as his lack of gainful employment since being fired by DePaul seems to be a sore point with him.
Moments after arriving in Amsterdam, Finkelstein sent out the following message to his fans (spelling, syntax and typos uncorrected):
Before rumors report my premature death, I was kept in a holding cell for 24 hours and then deported to Amsterdam. It wasn’t a Belgian bed and breakfast but it wasn’t Auschwitz either (although after six hours of abusive treatement I did call them “[expletive] Jewish Nazis,” not taken well). It seems that to see Musa and his family again, I’ll have to wait until the end of the occupation. I have been been banned for “at least 10 years.” Another incentive to work towards ending the occupation.
Israel’s far left, at least as batty as America’s far left, chirped in its outrage at Finkelstein being prevented from entering Israel. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel took the lead, quickly dispatching once of its leaders, a lawyer named Michael Sfard, to serve as attorney for Finkelstein while he was being held at the airport.
Sfard was quoted in the media as saying, “A country that starts to fear what its harshest critics write about it is a country that is already behaving in a manner reminiscent of the darkest days of the communist regime.”
Strange, but Winston Churchill never invited Lord Haw Haw to Britain to lecture in the middle of World War II, nor did FDR invite Tokyo Rose to throw out the first pitch at the 1943 World Series.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.