By Mamoon Alabbasi – London
hat tip: Palestine Chronicle
Professor Norman Finkelstein’s admirers are familiar with his views, which they share to one degree or another. His critics are unhappy with the ‘tone’ in which he criticises Israel. As for his foes, they charge ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘self-hating Jew’ – but backed by little evidence.
However, the newly released documentary film American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein sheds much light on the true character of the man who is often found in the middle of controversies.
He is seen as controversial because of the issues he raises and the way he raises them. Finally; a documentary that tells us why.
From early on in his academic life, he challenged the faulty conventional wisdom regarding the Middle East conflict in the US, by showing Joan Peters’s widely praised best seller, “From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine”, to be not much more than a work of fiction.
After reading Finkelstein’s long and detailed review of Peters’s book, Professor Noam Chomsky told the then young Norman: “[This article] is very solid. It’s a very good topic to study. But if you go into it, do it with eyes open. You are not only going to undermine this book and show that it’s a fraud but you’re going to undermine the whole US intellectual community.”
A pretty controversial start from the outset, one would argue. But why the harsh tone when criticizing Israel?
The answer is in the fact that both of his parents were Holocaust survivors, whose family members were exterminated by the Nazis.
Read the rest of the article at the Palestine Chronicle.
A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.
by Peter Dale Scott
Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan, I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.
Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don’t belong.1
A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands — including both American troops and foreign civilians — in another needless war.
Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American people. Unfortunately it has been an issue on which there has been serious disagreement dividing the antiwar movement, just as it divided people, even friends, inside the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.
By Noam Chomsky
Hat tip: Tomdispatch.com
Posted May 20, 2009
Historical amnesia is a dangerous social phenomenon because it lays the groundwork for crimes that still lie ahead.
The torture memos released by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable. The surprise, less so.
For one thing, even without inquiry, it was reasonable to suppose that Guantanamo was a torture chamber. Why else send prisoners where they would be beyond the reach of the law — a place, incidentally, that Washington is using in violation of a treaty forced on Cuba at the point of a gun? Security reasons were, of course, alleged, but they remain hard to take seriously. The same expectations held for the Bush administration’s “black sites,” or secret prisons, and for extraordinary rendition, and they were fulfilled.
More importantly, torture has been routinely practiced from the early days of the conquest of the national territory, and continued to be used as the imperial ventures of the “infant empire” — as George Washington called the new republic — extended to the Philippines, Haiti, and elsewhere. Keep in mind as well that torture was the least of the many crimes of aggression, terror, subversion, and economic strangulation that have darkened U.S. history, much as in the case of other great powers.
Accordingly, what’s surprising is to see the reactions to the release of those Justice Department memos, even by some of the most eloquent and forthright critics of Bush malfeasance: Paul Krugman, for example, writing that we used to be “a nation of moral ideals” and never before Bush “have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for.” To say the least, that common view reflects a rather slanted version of American history.
Occasionally the conflict between “what we stand for” and “what we do” has been forthrightly addressed. One distinguished scholar who undertook the task at hand was Hans Morgenthau, a founder of realist international relations theory. In a classic study published in 1964 in the glow of Camelot, Morgenthau developed the standard view that the U.S. has a “transcendent purpose”: establishing peace and freedom at home and indeed everywhere, since “the arena within which the United States must defend and promote its purpose has become world-wide.” But as a scrupulous scholar, he also recognized that the historical record was radically inconsistent with that “transcendent purpose.”
We should not be misled by that discrepancy, advised Morgenthau; we should not “confound the abuse of reality with reality itself.” Reality is the unachieved “national purpose” revealed by “the evidence of history as our minds reflect it.” What actually happened was merely the “abuse of reality.”
Sat, 21 Feb 2009
Renowned US intellectual Noam Chomsky says Barack Obama did not comment on Israel’s war on Gaza, as it was part of the “premeditated” plan.
We have been informed by an Israeli source that the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip was completely premeditated, Chomsky said in an interview with the French Al-Ahram daily.
The plan was to deliver the maximum blow to Gaza before the new US president took office, so that he could put these matters behind him, added the famous intellectual, referring to Obama’s pledge to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
According to Chomsky, while Israel was pounding the Gaza Strip — during which over 1300 Palestinians were killed –, Obama excused his silence by saying that “There’s only one president at a time.”