Dotan Rousso

Unpacking Norman Finkelstein’s Critique

In the intricate web of opinions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the emergence of influential Jewish figures, such as Norman Finkelstein, as vocal critics of Israel, particularly in the context of the October 7th massacre, is intriguing.

Shortly after the massacre took place and the scale of the event became known and shocked the world, Finkelstein published the following response:

“We honored the heroic resistance of Gaza… The stars above in heaven are looking kindly down. Glory, glory hallelujah”.

An in-depth examination of Finkelstein’s perspective is necessary to comprehend this dissent.

Norman Finkelstein’s criticism of Israel aims to portray itself as if it stems from a deep commitment to justice, human rights, and a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, scrutinizing his published remarks on the day of the October 7th massacre reveals a selective interpretation of “justice” and “human rights.”

Praising, with almost ecstatic enthusiasm, the slaughtering of 1200 people, burning families alive, beheadings, raping young girls, abusing corpses, and kidnapping 240 civilians, including children, toddlers, and babies, raises serious concerns about his integrity.

Adding to the complexity, Finkelstein strategically uses his Jewish identity and the fact that he is the son of Holocaust survivors as a promotional tool for his agendas. This occurs even as he praises the kidnapping and slaughtering of Holocaust survivors during the massacre, presenting a perplexing contradiction.

This raises the following questions: What motivates Finkelstein? What prompts an individual to harbor such hatred toward their own people? What satisfaction does one derive from witnessing the horrific massacre of their own community?

While critics argue that Finkelstein’s stance is rooted in advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people and holding Israel accountable for human rights violations, his reaction to the October 7th massacre casts serious doubt on this defense.

From the outset of his career, which faced shortcomings in academia, Finkelstein has been associated with a focus on Jewish hatred. His statements, which align with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish agendas, are undoubtedly advancing his role as an “influencer,” writer, and publisher.

It has also made him very popular among those who treasure the opportunity to promote their antisemitic agendas by using his hatred manifest, such as the one he published after the massacre, as a confirmation of their views.

Finkelstein is not the first to use this method of advocating against his people as a tool to gain personal advantages. If you are intelligent enough and articulate enough (which Finkelstein is both), it is almost guaranteed that you will be welcome and praised by those who hate your kind. After all, what can serve as a better defense for one’s radical ideology, racism, and hatred than a confirmation of one of those you advocate against, admitting all your arguments are true?

Finkelstein succeeds in making art out of this method. The more he condemns Israel, the more he blames it for its people massacre and bluntly praises the killing of its citizens, the more he enjoys the gratitude and incentives that those massacre supporters provide him with.

Finkelstein knows exactly what kind of ideology his statements attract and support. Moreover, he knows the potential impact of his words as encouragement for more violence against Jews. However, it seems his personal and self-promoting interest prevails.

One can only speculate on what position Finkelstein would have taken if he, instead of his parents, had lived during the holocaust. He may very well be serving the Nazis as a Kapo in the concentration camps.

After all, doesn’t this align with his glorification of the Hamas massacre on October 7th?

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About the Author
Dotan Rousso, Holds a Ph.D. in Law—a former criminal prosecutor in Israel. He currently lives in Alberta and teaches Philosophy at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).