Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History.

AuthorFarmer, Stephanie
PositionBook review

Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: U C Press, 2005), 343 pages. $22.50.

IN HIS NEW WORK BEYOND CHUTZPAH: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History Norman Finkelstein employs his method of relentlessly sifting through the labyrinthine of citations and footnotes of his interlocutors in order to expose cases of intellectual fraud that have been mobilized to defend the policies of the state of Israel. In his latest book, Finkelstein shows how the reiteration of previously discredited scholarship is not only a matter of intellectual sloth but broadly captures the more fundamental lack of evidentiary rigor required when one is defending Israel. Finkelstein's project is not so much to construct a case whereby the supporters of Israel know that Israel is morally indefensible. Rather, Finkelstein's meticulous citational archeology exposes the dubious and distorted scholarship produced by prominent defenders of Israel.

The book is divided into two parts along with an appendix. Part one, "The Not-So-New 'New Anti-Semitism'", chronicles the perennial threat of a new anti-Semitism on the horizon as a rhetorical trope deployed against critics of Israel beginning with Arnold Forester and Benjamin R. Epstein's The New Anti-Semitism in 1974 and on down the chain to Abraham Foxman's Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism in America among others from 2003. According to Finkelstein, claims of anti-Semitism are recklessly (but nonetheless maliciously) deployed against those questioning (and in some cases) condemning criminal actions perpetrated by the state of Israel. The charge of anti-Semitism wielded by Israel supporters works to undermine critics of Israel and stifle public debate by portraying the slightest criticism of Israeli policy as mere camouflaged racism. This charge of anti-Semitism effectively shields Israel against any and all criticisms.

Pointing to manufacturers of the new anti-Semitism, Abraham H. Foxman and Gabriel Schoenfeld, Finkelstein observes how these writers connect the rise of anti-Semitic actions in Europe and the United States as coinciding with the Second Intifada that brought attention and sympathy to the Palestinian plight. In a report to the European Union entitled Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union the authors of the report connect Israeli government policy to a marked rise of anti-Semitic actions throughout...

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