October 5, 2006
DePaul University's Moment of TruthBy Steven Plaut
The new academic school year is well underway. But there is one school in which this year will determine once and for all whether it will henceforth be considered to be a bona fide "university", or merely a make—pretend parody of one.
That institution is
This year will witness the most important decision in DePaul's entire history, ever since it was first founded by the Catholic "Vincentians". Over the next few months, DePaul will be deciding whether or not to grant Norman Finkelstein tenure on the basis of his "record". The same university that fired Prof. Thomas Klocek for daring to defend Israel in a campus conversation outside the classroom is now seriously considering granting tenure to Finkelstein on the basis of his hate—filled pseudo—scholarly screeds. At DePaul, Finkelstein serves as assistant professor of political science at DePaul, but scholarship is the last thing that occupies his time.
Before coming to DePaul he had been fired from several adjunct jobs at academic institutions in the
Finkelstein's 'books' have been dismissed as scholarly frauds and hate—filled propaganda by just about every serious historian or other scholar who has reviewed them. In the New York Times, Prof. Omer Bartov (
The eminent historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has dismissed Finkelstein as an anti—Semitic crackpot, as a pseudo—scholar, and as an apologist for the Hamas terrorists. The historian Israel Guttman dismissed Finkelstein's book as an anti—Semitic buffoon. Professor Hans Momsen from
The Anti—Defamation League has repeatedly characterized Finkelstein as an open Holocaust Denier. So has the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The French group "Avocats Sans Frontieres" (Lawyers without Borders) filed a suit in a French court against Finkelstein and his publisher two years back for libel and Holocaust Denial. Finkelstein readily adopts the language of neo—nazis; his web site a few days ago described a meeting of pro—Israel Jews in Europe as an assembly of the 'Elders of Zion'. His personal web site recently carried a banner heading asserting that the Jews themselves fabricated photos of the murdered at Auschwitz..
He describes the reparations paid by
The Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher wrote (Dec. 3, 2002), that Finkelstein is a writer
Leon Wieseltier from the
Gabriel Schonfeld, the editor of the neo—conservative Commentary Magazine, has written (Commentary, January 2001) that Finkelstein's writings are
Finkelstein is beloved by ultra—extremists of both the Right and the Left. He is a regular columnist on the pro—terror Israel—bashing web magazine Counterpunch, published by neo—Stalinist Alexander Cockburn.
Finkelstein has long led a personal campaign of defamation and smear against Nobel Prize winning writer and philosopher Elie Wiesel. A concentration camp survival, Wiesel has been smeared by Finkelstein as "The Resident Clown of the Holocaust Circus." Finkelstein charges that Wiesel is responsible for creating a 'meaningless version of the Nazi Holocaust' and for only exposing 'genocides that serve the interests of the
In contrast, Finkelstein has described the convicted Holocaust Denier David Irving, at the moment rotting in an Austrian prison, as "a good historian", one who has "made an indispensable contribution to our knowledge of World War II."
Finkelstein has dismissed the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (which documents the Holocaust and pursues Nazi war criminals) as 'Dachau—meets—Disneyland'. Finkelstein has also led a long vendetta against Harvard professor of law Alan Dershowitz. But unlike Finkelstein, Dershowitz is a serious scholar with real academic publications. Finkelstein has called Dershowitz a nazi, has campared Dershowitz to Adolf Eichmann, and has even called for the targeted assassination of Dershowitz. He has run as "illustration" for his articles a cartoon by a Brazilian neo—nazi cartoonist ("Latuff") showing Dershowitz masturbating.
Finkelstein has a long history of justifying and celebrating terrorism directed against the
Finkelstein today is the symbol of DePaul's dishonorable decline, someone who has even endorsed death threats against pro—Western Moslem dissidents. Irshad Manji runs Muslim Refusenik a web site for dissident Muslims who reject Islamofascism and terrorism. She has been using her site to collect signatures to a petition that denounces Islamist violence and Islamofascism. In her site, she explains that she and her friends have received a serious death threat from a British—based Islamist website. Finkelstein cheered those threats and wrote the Muslim Refusenik web site asking, "Is there a petition supporting the death threats?'
In a few months we will know whether DePaul is to adopt real academic standards and strive to morph into a real university. The litmus test is how it handles Finkelstein.
Anyone wishing to express an opinion to DePaul's heads about that can find a list of DePaul officers with their email addresses here.
 The Holocaust in American Life (1999) Houghton Mifflin