Earlier this year, Prof. Norman Finkelstein debated issues related to Holocaust history with Lady Michèle Renouf on a live Iranian television programme. Video footage from the debate can be seen here.
Unsurprisingly, Prof. Finkelstein and Lady Renouf disagreed on several key issues.
Yet for the bullies who infest academia, journalism, politics and so many other aspects of life in the supposedly free and democratic West, this disagreement is not enough.
They demand that Prof. Finkelstein must fall into line with their hate-filled ideology 100%. In particular he must refrain from criticism of the state of Israel or of individual Jews or groups of Jews, and he must accept the orthodox view (which he criticises in his book The Holocaust Industry) that the supposed murder of six million Jews during the 1940s gives today's Jews and today's Israel an exemption from the normal rules of civilisation.
The most outspoken critic of Prof. Finkelstein has been his fellow academic, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has returned to the attack in a recent column, absurdly titled Would You Invite David Duke to Your Campus?
Back in 1995 Dershowitz was part of the legal team that won acquittal for the accused murderer O.J. Simpson. Commentators at the time noted that Dershowitz and Simpson's other lawyers "have some of the highest fees in the nation", and Simpson's total legal bill was thought to be more than $500,000 a month.
Being accused of a brutal double murder is one thing, but in Dershowitz's eyes Prof. Finkelstein has committed the far worse sin of being an articulate critic of Israel and of what Finkelstein calls the "Holocaust industry".
Dershowitz compares his academic
opponents to David Duke (above)
While disingenuously claiming that he still supports free speech, Dershowitz applies tough tactics of moral blackmail against anyone in American academia who is prepared to hear Finkelstein's point of view:
"by inviting [Finkelstein] on their behalf, they are becoming complicit with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites. ...Finkelstein willingly collaborates with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites.
"...no university or group that would not invite David Duke should lend its imprimatur to Finkelstein's poison. Duke and Finkelstein are opposite sides of the same hateful coin.
"Everyone should be free to invite the Dukes and Finkelsteins of the world to their campus, as the president of Iran did to his hate fest, but people should be judged by the bigots they invite."
Finkelstein is not Dershowitz's only target. In 2006 he joined the chorus of Jewish disapproval directed at his Harvard colleague Prof. Stephen Walt and Chicago University's Prof. John Mearsheimer, describing them as "liars and bigots" after they had criticised the "Israel lobby's" influence over U.S. foreign policy in a controversial article.
Again Dershowitz's attack bordered on hysteria when he claimed that in the Mearsheimer-Walt article "every paragraph virtually is copied from a neo-Nazi Web site, from a radical Islamic Web site, from David Duke’s Web site."
Professors Mearsheimer and Walt speaking at Georgetown University; Dershowitz accused them of copying neo-Nazi websites
Independent-minded observers should bear in mind these bullying attacks on respected scholars next time they hear similar tactics (and worse) being deployed against Holocaust revisionists.
Winston Churchill once claimed that the truth had to be protected by a "bodyguard of lies". But what kind of truth has to be protected by the crude threats and insults deployed so blatantly by the likes of Alan Dershowitz?
Targets such as Finkelstein, Mearsheimer and Walt are at least protected by academic tenure from the slings and arrows of Dershowitz's outrageous rhetoric. The civilian victims of Israel's 2006 invasion of Lebanon enjoyed no such luxury, but they are not spared Dershowitz's scorn.
In an August 2006 column, Dershowitz explicitly compared Lebanon to Nazi Germany, since both had "declared war on Israel" and had to pay the price.
Palestinian children killed in an Israeli attack on the village of Qana. Dershowitz says that Lebanese civilians are "paying the price".
"People make choices and they bear the consequences of choosing to collaborate with terrorism. Lebanon has chosen the wrong side and its citizens are paying the price. Maybe next time a democracy must choose between collaborating with terrorism or resisting terrorism, it will choose the right side."
A more chilling examplar of twistspeak than Prof. Alan Dershowitz would be hard to find.