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Norman Finkelstein in Coney Island: ‘It’s Like Death’

By Daniel Treiman

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New York magazine catches up with anti-Israel polemicist and now ex-academic Norman Finkelstein. Having been given the boot by DePaul University, it turns out he’s now living in Coney Island!

Ben Harris reports for New York Magazine:

At 54, Norman Finkelstein is pretty much back where he started. This summer, the leftist scholar—who made a name for himself in 2000 with his book The Holocaust Industry, in which he called Jewish leaders a “repellent gang of plutocrats, hoodlums, and hucksters” intent on extorting war reparations from European governments—lost his job as assistant professor of political science at DePaul University. Fortunately, he kept the lease on his late father’s threadbare rent-stabilized apartment, on Ocean Parkway, and there he’s retreated.

“It’s like death,” Finkelstein says. “You keep saying you’re going to die, but you never really come to grips with it. And I can see I’m not going to get another job. I haven’t yet fully absorbed it.”

His days are now spent in solitary scholarly pursuits; his bookshelves buckle under the weight of tomes by Marx, Lenin, and Trotsky. Notes of support from his students sit on a piano; there’s a photo of him and Noam Chomsky (“my closest friend”) bare-chested on the beach at Cape Cod.

It’s tempting to feel sorry for Finkelstein. But then one remembers all his overheated rhetoric and vitriol — sometimes delivered before audiences that have been all too welcoming to outright antisemites.

True, critics of Israel often face outcries from elements of the Jewish community disproportionate to the offenses they have given. I’d include here Jimmy Carter, Tony Judt and, yes, even Walt and Mearsheimer (all of whom have, indeed, given plenty of cause for offense). Finkelstein, however, is in a different league. If the Israel debate is ugly, he’s done his part to help make it so.

In any case, if Finkelstein is feeling lonely, since his buddy Noam Chomsky is way up in Boston, maybe he can make friends with this guy.

UPDATE: For a nice taste of Finkelstein’s rhetoric, check out the following video of him speaking at a rally during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah. In it, Finkelstein explicitly compares Israeli actions in Lebanon to those of the Nazis and declares, “Right now, we are all Hezbollah.” He says other cute things, too. Watch the video:

Leo Wed. Dec 19, 2007

Hey, rabbi! Whatever happens in your head is your problem. Have a good day!

Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow Wed. Dec 19, 2007

Brethren, The answer for Professor Finkelstein is the same answer for everyone posted here. Norman needs to give his life over to the authentic Messiah of the Jewish people, Yeshua, our Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus died for every person who ever lived. He will never turn anyone away. In His realm, we all get tenure by simply receiving the salvation He freely gives to all of us through His atoning sacrifice on the Etz. So today I challenge Norman Finkelstein, and everyone else who hasn't accepted Christ, to make a decision to invite Yeshua into their lives. If you need help in doing this, call 1-888-Needhim and tell them that you were recommended by Messianic Rabbi Neal. Your dear brother in Christ, Rabbi Neal Abraham Wendrow

Ruth Mon. Dec 17, 2007

Thank you for posting the video. This simply confirms my opinion that Mr. Finkelstein is the living, breathing definition of a self-hating Jew. I'm not sure he would ever express such vitriol for a country other than Israel, even if that country had acted ten times more unfairly, cruelly, or ignorantly. Which, believe it or not, does tend to happen outside the borders of Israel.

Sephardiman Tue. Dec 18, 2007

Norm Finkelstein is a decent scholar who got a bad rap but I think he will rebound and eventually find himself gainfully employed!

Leon Sat. Dec 15, 2007

Is that the same guy who runs the Red Kaganate website on the GeoCities? I used to visit it quite often in the early 2000's when I was researching Khazars and other nomads of E.Europe. He spells his name Norman J. Finkelshteyn - is that the same guy?

jz Thu. Dec 13, 2007

Yea Yechiel the Israelis are the ones who blow up innocents in pizza parlors, seders, buses, and do the honor killings. Maybe you should go live there and see how you are treated.

Yechiel Thu. Dec 13, 2007

Finkelstein is hated by people who hate the truth about Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. Noam Chomsky is hated, too, not for being "anti-Israel" but for being pro-honesty and applying to Israel and the United States the same standards that he applies to other nations. What is most ugly about what Daniel Treiman calls "the Israel debate" is not Norman Finkelstein, one of the great Holocaust Studies scholars of our time, but apologists for Israeli state terror who are concerned to silence him.

Bill Pearlman Wed. Dec 12, 2007

Norm Finkelstein deserves to die in obscurity,

robbins Wed. Dec 12, 2007

Oh come on, more theatrics from a poseur. This is a guy who loves Lenin and Trotsky who set up the Soviet system that killed millions, he loves Mao who killed tens of millions and thinks of himself as the friend of the oppressed. What a ridiculous human being he is.

Dave Thu. Dec 13, 2007

1/ Finkelstein is not a Holocaust scholar. His 'studies' concern the Middle East. 2/ There are lots of Islamic Universities around the world who would employ him-that there aren't any in America is a matter for American Muslims. Further he writes lots of books that get lapped up by anti-semites, and get sold on their websites. The 7-10% royalties should make for a good living if he didn't insist on making himself so self-pitying.

Grif Thu. Dec 13, 2007

This article could only have been written by someone who has never read Finkelstein. I've read "The Holocaust Industry" and I've been reading the Israeli press for the last ten years. Every allegation made by Finkelstein in that book has been duplicated by charges in the Israeli press, and even some he missed, i.e., Bank Leumi's shameful hoarding of pre-war flight money and their open threat to shame world Jewry with the Bank's behavior if they weren't allowed to keep most of it. Israel's disgraceful exploitive treatment of Holocaust survivors has been an issue for years. Read his book and check his sources, read the Israel press, the whole shameful story is there. Finkelstein is just the messenger.

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