Finkelstein goes punk

Norman Finkelstein is a punk.

No, really. That’s punk as in punk rock — and in what may yet be the most interesting career swerve for the outspoken critic of Israel (and, occasionally, of the BDS cause) since being denied tenure at DePaul University ten years ago.

Anyone wishing to bring themselves up to speed on some of Finkelstein’s turns over the past decade could do worse than watching this fascinating documentary on his life and times that came out some years back.

In an announcement on his homepage, the political scientist said his new musical work is a collaboration between A-F Records and Tom Morello/Ryan Harvey-run Firebrand Records. The track is a split with him supplying a vocal track for the Swedish punks Lycka Till, all “dedicated to a free Palestine.”

The limited-run 7-inch features a new English version of the previously-released song Gaza and excerpts from a public talk of Finkelstein’s.

The 63-year-old admits that he may be of the wrong vintage to be getting down with the kids.

“I’m too old and over the hill to appreciate punk,” he says ruefully. “Culturally I’ve always been several time warps behind the curve.”

Nevertheless, he is pleased, he says, to be working with “artists whose worldview exceeds the circumference of their navels.”

Finkelstein is right about being a tad too old for this punk lark, and it’s greatly to be hoped that he follows up on any success the coming work enjoys with something a little more age-appropriate. And a full album, perhaps, rather than just a single could be just the caper.

What better place to start than a set of judiciously chosen Bob Dylan covers, lyrically tweaked to obtain the widest purchase in the Middle East?

Herewith, a tentative running list:

Positively Ben Yehuda Street

Gotta Shell Somebody

Tangled Up In Jews

Don’t Ya Tel-Aviv Henry

I Shall Bibi Free

Subterranean Haifa Blues

Changing of the IDF Guards

Marchin’ to the Old City

Sad Eyed Lady of the Negev

Shelter From the Desert Storm

If You See Her, Say Hamas

Neighborhood Bully

No, on second thoughts, better scratch that last one.

About the Author
David Cohen is a Wellington-based author and journalist whose work appears frequently in publications around the world.
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