Norman Finkelstein calls The Holocaust Industry a "Shakedown". Peter Myers, July 18, 2002; update Octomer 31, 2010. My comments are shown {thus}; write to me at contact.html.

You are at

(1) Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry (2) Interveiw with Norman Finkelstein, The Irish Times, July 1, 2003 (3) Wiesenthal Center sues Norman Finkelstein over "The Holocaust Industry" (4) Victors gloat over Finkelstein's demise

(1) Norman G. Finkelstein, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, Verso, New York, 2000.

{p. 3} This book is both an anatomy and an indictment of the Holocaust industry. In the pages that follow, I will argue that "The Holocaust" is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust.1 The Holocaust is not an arbitrary but rather an internally coherent construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. Indeed, the Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the worldıs most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a "victim" state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired a "victim" status. Considerable benefits accrue to this specious victimhood ­ in particular, immunity to criticism, however justified.

1 In this text, Nazi holocaust signals the actual historical event, The Holocaust its ideological representation.

{p. 4} The initial stimulus for this book was Peter Novick's seminal study, The Holocaust in American Life ... {p. 5} Novick's central category is "memory." Currently all the rage in the ivory tower, "memory" is surely the most impoverished concept to come down the academic pike in a long time.

My original interest in the Nazi holocaust was personal. Both my father and mother were survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi concentration camps. Apart from my parents, every family member on both sides was exterminated by the Nazis. My earliest memory, so to speak, of the Nazi holocaust is my mother glued in front of the television watching the trial of Adolf Eichmann (1961) when I came home from school. Although they had been liberated from the camps

{p. 6} only sixteen years before the trial, an unbridgeable abyss always separated, in my mind, the parents I knew from that. Photographs of my mother's family hung on the living-room wall. (None from my father's family survived the war.) I could never quite make sense of my connection with them, let alone conceive what happened. They were my mother's sisters, brother and parents, not my aunts, uncle or grandparents. ...

The more important point, however, is this. Apart from this phantom presence, I do not remember the Nazi holocaust ever intruding on my childhood. The main reason was that no one outside my family seemed to care about what had happened. My childhood circle of friends read widely, and passionately debated the events of the day. Yet I honestly do not recall a single friend (or parent of a friend) asking a single question about what my mother and father endured. This was not a respectful silence. It was simply indifference. In this light, one cannot but be skeptical of the outpourings of anguish in later decades, after the Holocaust industry was firmly established.

I sometimes think that American Jewry "discovering" the Nazi holocaust was worse than its having been forgotten. True, my parents brooded in private; the suffering they endured was not publicly validated. But wasn't that better than the current crass exploitation of Jewish martyrdom? Before the Nazi holocaust became The Holocaust,

{p. 7} only a few scholarly studies such as Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews and memoirs such as Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning and Ella Lingens-Reiner's Prisoners of Fear were published on the subject. But this small collection of gems is better than the shelves upon shelves of shlock that now line libraries and bookstores.

Both my parents, although daily reliving that past until the day each died, lost interest by the end of their lives in The Holocaust as a public spectacle. One of my father's lifelong friends was a former inmate with him in Auschwitz, a seemingly incorruptible left-wing idealist who on principle refused German compensation after the war. Eventually he became a director of the Israeli Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. Reluctantly and with genuine disappointment, my father finally admitted that even this man had been corrupted by the Holocaust industry, tailoring his beliefs for power and profit. As the rendering of The Holocaust assumed ever more absurd forms, my mother liked to quote (with intentional irony) Henry Ford: "History is bunk." The tales of "Holocaust survivors" - all concentration camp inmates, all heroes of the resistance - were a special source of wry amusement in my home. Long ago John Stuart Mill recognized that truths not subject to continual challenge eventually "cease to have the effect of truth by being exaggerated into falsehood."

My parents often wondered why I would grow so indignant at the falsification and exploitation of the Nazi genocide. The most obvious answer is that it has been used to justify criminal policies of the Israeli

{p. 8} state and US support for these policies. There is a personal motive as well. I do care about the memory of my family's persecution. The current campaign of the Holocaust industry to extort money from Europe in the name of "needy Holocaust victims" has shrunk the moral stature of their martyrdom to that of a Monte Carlo casino. Even apart from these concerns, however. I remain convinced that it is important to preserve - to fight for - the integrity of the historical record. In the final pages of this book I will suggest that in studying the Nazi holocaust we can learn much not just about "the Germans" or "the Gentiles" but about all of us. Yet I think that to do so, to truly learn from the Nazi holocaust, its physical dimension must be reduced and its moral dimension expanded. Too many public and private resources have been invested in memorializing the Nazi genocide. Most of the output is worthless, a tribute not to Jewish suffering but to Jewish aggrandizement. The time is long past to open our hearts to the rest of humanity's sufferings. This was the main lesson my mother imparted. I never once heard her say: Do not compare. My mother always compared. No doubt historical distinctions must be made. But to make out moral distinctions between "our" suffering and "theirs" is itself a moral travesty. "You can't compare any two miserable people," Plato humanely observed, "and say that one is happier than the other." In the face of the sufferings of African-Americans, Vietnamese and Palestinians, my mother's credo always was: We are all holocaust victims.

Norman G. Finkelstein April 20 New York City

{p. 11} In a memorable exchange some years back, Gore Vidal accused Norman Podhoretz, then-editor of the American Jewish Committee publication Commentary, of being un-American. The evidence was that Podhoretz attached less importance to the Civil War "the great single tragic event that continues to give resonance to our Republic" than to Jewish concerns. Yet Podhoretz was perhaps more American than his accuser. For by then it was the "War Against the Jews," not the "War Between the States," that figured as more central to American cultural life. Most college professors can testify that compared to the Civil War many more undergraduates are able to place the Nazi holocaust in the right century and generally cite the number killed. In fact, the Nazi holocaust is just about the only historical reference that resonates in a university classroom today. Polls show that many more Americans can identify The Holocaust than Pearl Harbor or the atomic bombing of Japan.

{p. 16} Ever anxious to ingratiate themselves with US ruling elites and dissociate themselves from the Jewish Left, organized American Jewry did invoke the Nazi holocaust in one special context: to denounce the USSR. "Soviet [anti-Jewish] policy opens up opportunities which must not be overlooked," an internal AJC memorandum quoted by Novick gleefully noted, "to reinforce certain aspects of AJC domestic program." Typically, that meant bracketing the Nazi Final Solution with Russian anti-Semitism. "Stalin will succeed where Hitler failed," Commentary direly predicted. "He will finally wipe out the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. ... The parallel with the policy of Nazi extermination is almost complete." Major American Jewish organizations even denounced the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary as "only the first station on the way to a Russian Auschwitz."

{p. 19} Telling irony: just about the only two public Jewish intellectuals who had forged a bond with Israel before June 1967 were Hannah Arendt and Noam Chomsky.18

{footnote} 18 After emigrating from Germany in 1933, Arendt became an activist in the

{p. 20, footnote continued} French Zionist movement; during World War II through Israel's founding, she wrote extensively on Zionism. The son of a prominent American Hebraist, Chomsky was raised in a Zionist home and, shortly after Israel's independence, spent time on a kibbutz. Both the public campaigns vilifying Arendt in the early 1960s and Chomsky in the 1970s were spearheaded by the ADL. ...

{p. 21} In a later memoir, Podhoretz remembered that after June 1967 Israel became "the religion of the American Jews." Now a prominent supporter of Israel, Podhoretz could boast not merely of attending a White House dinner but of

{p. 22} meeting tete-a-tete with the President to deliberate on the National Interest.

After the June war, mainstream American Jewish organizations worked full time to firm up the American-Israeli alliance. In the case of the ADL, this included a far-flung domestic surveillance operation with ties to Israeli and South African intelligence. Coverage of Israel in The New York Times increased dramatically after June 1967. The 1955 and 1965 entries for Israel in The New York Times Index each filled 60 column inches. The entry for Israel in 1975 ran to fully 260 column inches. "When I want to feel better," Wiesel reflected in 1973, "I turn to the Israeli items in The New York Times." Like Podhoretz, many mainstream American Jewish intellectuals also suddenly found "religion" after the June war. Novick reports that Lucy Dawidowicz, the doyenne of Holocaust literature, had once been a "sharp critic of Israel." Israel could not demand reparations from Germany, she railed in 1953, while evading responsibility for displaced Palestinians: "Morality cannot be that flexible." Yet almost immediately after the June war, Dawidowicz became a "fervent supporter of Israel," acclaiming it as "the corporate paradigm for the ideal image of the Jew in the modern world." ...

{p. 23} Consider the prominent left-liberal social critic Irving Howe. In 1956 the journal Howe edited, Dissent, condemned the "combined attack on Egypt" as "immoral." Although truly standing alone, Israel was also taken to task for "cultural chauvinism," a "quasi-messianic sense of manifest destiny," and "an undercurrent of expansionism." After the October 1973 war, when American support for Israel peaked, Howe published a personal manifesto "filled with anxiety so intense" in defense of isolated Israel. The Gentile world, he lamented in a Woody Allen-like parody, was awash with anti-Semitism. Even in Upper Manhattan, he lamented, Israel was "no longer chic": everyone, apart from himself, was allegedly in thrall to Mao, Fanon and Guevara.

{p. 25} Without a secret Czech arms deal, Israel would likely not have survived. After fighting for a year, Israel suffered 6,000 casualties, one percent of its population. Why, then, did The Holocaust not become a focus of American Jewish life after the 1948 war?

Israel quickly proved to be far less vulnerable in 1967 than in its independence struggle. Israeli and American leaders knew beforehand that Israel would easily prevail in a war with the Arab states. This reality became strikingly obvious as Israel routed its Arab neighbors in a few days. As Novick reports, "There were surprisingly few explicit references to the Holocaust in American Jewish mobilization

{p. 26} on behalf of Israel before the war." The Holocaust industry sprung up only after Israel's overwhelming display of military dominance and flourished amid extreme Israeli triumphalism. The standard interpretative framework cannot explain these anomalies.

Israel's shocking initial reverses and substantial casualties during, and increasing international isolation after, the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war - conventional accounts maintain - exacerbated American Jewish fears of Israel's vulnerability. Accordingly, Holocaust memory now moved center stage. Novick typically reports: "Among American Jews . . . the situation of a vulnerable and isolated Israel came to be seen as terrifying]y similar to that of European Jewry thirty years earlier. ... [Talk of the Holocaust not only 'took off' in America but became increasing [sic] institutionalized." Yet Israel had edged close to the precipice and, in both relative and absolute terms, suffered many more casualties in the 1948 war than in 1973. ...

{p. 27} By contrast, immediately after the 1973 war, the United States provided Israel with massive military assistance, much greater than it had in the preceding four years combined, while American public opinion firmly backed Israel. This was the occasion when "talk of the Holocaust ... 'took off' in America," at a time when Israel was less isolated than it had been in 1956.

In fact, the Holocaust industry did not move center stage because Israel's unexpected setbacks during, and pariah status following, the October 1973 war prompted memories of the Final Solution. Rather, Sadat's impressive military showing in the October war convinced US and Israeli policy elites that a diplomatic settlement with Egypt, including the return of Egyptian lands seized in June 1967, could no longer be avoided. To increase Israel's negotiating leverage the Holocaust industry increased production quotas. The crucial point is that after the 1973 war Israel was not isolated from the United States: these developments occurred within the framework of the US-lsraeli alliance, which remained fully intact. The historical

{p. 28} record strongly suggests that, if Israel had truly been alone after the October War, American Jewish elites would no more have remembered the Nazi holocaust than they did after the 1948 or 1956 war.

Novick provides ancillary explanations that are even less convincing. Quoting religious Jewish scholars, for example, he suggests that "the Six Day War offered a folk theology of 'Holocaust and Redemption.'" The "light" of the June 1967 victory redeemed the "darkness" of the Nazi genocide: "it had given God a second chance." The Holocaust could emerge in American life only after June 1967 because "the extermination of European Jewry attained [an] -if not happv, at least viable ending." Yet in standard Jewish accounts, not the June war but Israel's founding marked redemption.

{p. 30} A more coherent, if less charitable, explanation is that American Jewish elites remembered the Nazi holocaust before June 1967 only when it was politically expedient. Israel, their new patron, had capitalized on the Nazi holocaust during the Eichmann trial. Given its proven utility, organized American Jewry exploited the Nazi holocaust after the June war. Once ideologically recast, The Holocaust (capitalized as I have previously noted) proved to be the perfect weapon for deflecting criticism of Israel. Exactly how I will illustrate presently. What deserves emphasis here, however, is that for American Jewish elites The Holocaust performed the same function as Israel: another invaluable chip in a high-stakes power game. The avowed concern for Holocaust memory was as contrived as the avowed concern for Israel's fate. Thus, organized American Jewry quickly forgave and forgot Ronald Reagan's demented 1985 declaration at Bitburg cemetery that the German soldiers (including Waffen SS members) buried there were "victims of the Nazis just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps." In 1988, Reagan was honored with the "Humanitarian of the Year" award by one of the most prominent Holocaust institutions, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, for his "staunch support of Israel," and in 1994 with the "Torch of Liberty" award by the pro-Israel ADL.

{p. 31} The Reverend Jesse Jackson's earlier outburst in 1979 that he was "sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust" was not so quickly forgiven or forgotten, however. Indeed, the attacks by American Jewish elites on Jackson never let up, although not for his "anti-Semitic remarks" but rather for his "espousal of the Palestinian position" (Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab). In Jackson's case, an additional factor was at work: he represented domestic constituencies with which organized American Jewry had been at loggerheads since the late 1960s. In these conflicts, too, The Holocaust proved to be a potent ideological weapon.

It was not Israel's alleged weakness and isolation, not the fear of a "second Holocaust," but rather its proven strength and strategic alliance with the United States that led Jewish elites to gear up the Holocaust industry after June 1967. However unwittingly, Novick provides the best evidence to support that conclusion. To prove that power considerations, not the Nazi Final Solution, determined American policy toward Israel, he writes: "It was when the Holocaust was freshest in the mind of American leaders - the first twenty-five years after the end of the war - that the United States was least supportive

{p. 32} of Israel It was not when Israel was perceived as weak and vulnerable, but after it demonstrated its strength, in the Six Day War, that American aid to Israel changed from a trickle to a flood" (emphasis in original). That argument applies with equal force to American Jewish elites.

There are also domestic sources of the Holocaust industry. Mainstream interpretations point to the recent emergence of "identity politics," on the one hand, and the "culture of victimization," on the other. In effect, each identity was grounded in a particular history of oppression; Jews accordingly sought their own ethnic identity in the Holocaust.

Yet, among groups decrying their victimization, including Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, women, gays and lesbians, Jews alone are not disadvantaged in American society. In fact, identity politics and The Holocaust have taken hold among American Jews not because of victim status but because they are not victims.

As anti-Semitic barriers quickly fell away after World War II, Jews rose to preeminence in the United States. According to Lipset and Raab, per capita Jewish income is almost double that of non Jews; sixteen of the forty wealthiest Americans are Jews; 40 percent of American Nobel Prize winners in science and economics are Jewish, as are 20 percent of professors at major universities; and 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington. ...

{p. 33} Who could any longer dispute that Jews were a "chosen" people? In A Certain People: American Jews and Their Lives Today, Charles Silberman - himself a born-again Jew - typically gushes "Jews would have been less than human had they eschewed any notion of superiority altogether," and "it is extraordinarily difficult for American Jews to expunge the sense of superiority altogether, however much they may try to suppress it." What an American Jewish child inherits, according to novelist Philip Roth, is "no body of law, no body of learning and no language, and finally, no Lord but a kind of psychology and the psychology can be translated in three words 'Jews are better.'" As will be seen presently, The Holocaust was the negative version of their vaunted worldly success: it served to validate Jewish chosenness.

{p. 34} With anti-Semitism in short supply, a cutthroat rivalry between major Jewish "defense" organizations - in particular, the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center - has erupted in recent years. In the matter of fund-raising, incidentally, the alleged threats confronting Israel serve a similar purpose. Returning from a trip to the United States, the respected Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein reported: "According to most of

{p. 35} the people in the Jewish establishment the important thing is to stress again and again the external dangers that face Israel. ... The Jewish establishment in America needs Israel only as a victim of cruel Arab attack. For such an Israel one can get support, donors, money. ... Everybody knows the official tally of the contributions collected in the United Jevvish Appeal in America, where the name of Israel is used and about half of the sum goes not to Israel but to the Jewish institutions in America. Is there a greater cynicism?" As we will see, the Holocaust industry's exploitation of "needy Holocaust victims" is the latest and, arguably, ugliest manifestation of this cynicism. ...

This reorientation of American Jewry 56 was clearly evident ...

{footnote} 56 It seems that the shift as also in part due to the displacement of a cosmopolitan Central European Jewish leadership by arriviste and shtetl- {footnote continued on p. 36}

{p. 36} With concerns now couched in class rather than racial terms, Jews fled to the suburbs almost as quickly as white Christians to avoid what they perceived as the deterioration of their schools and neighborhoods." The memorable climax was the protracted 1968 New York City teachers' strike, which pitted a largely Jewish professional union against Black community activists fighting for control of failing schools.

{footnote continued from p. 35} chauinist Jews of Eastern European descent like New York City mayor Edward Koch and New York Times executive editor A. M. Rosenthal. In this regard it bears notice that the Jewish historians dissenting from Holoaust dogmatism have typically come from Central Europe - for example, Hannah Arendt, Henry Friedlander, Raul Hilberg, and Arno Mayer.

{p. 37} Beyond this, however, the Holocaust framework apprehended anti-Semitism as a strictly irrational Gentile loathing of Jews. It precluded the possibility that animus toward Jews might be grounded in a real conflict of interests (more on this later). Invoking The Holocaust was therefore a ploy to delegitimize all criticism of Jews: such criticism could only spring from pathological hatred.

Just as organized Jewry remembered The Holocaust when Israeli power peaked, so it remembered The Holocaust when American Jewish power peaked. The pretense, however, was that, there and here, Jews faced an imminent "second Holocaust." Thus American Jewish elites could strike heroic poses as they indulged in cowardly bullying.

{p. 41} "Holocaust awareness," the respected Israeli writer Boas Evron observes, is actually "an official, propagandistic indoctrination, a churning out of slogans and a false view of the world, the real aim of which is not at all an understanding of the past, but a manipulation of the present." In and of itself, the Nazi holocaust does not serve any particular political agenda. It can just as easily motivate dissent from as support for Israeli policy. Refracted through an ideological prism, however, "the memory of the Nazi extermination" came to serve in Evron's words "as a powerful tool in the hands of the Israeli leadership and Jews abroad."' The Nazi holocaust became The Holocaust.

Two central dogmas underpin the Holocaust framework: (1) The Holocaust marks a categorically unique historical event; (2) The Holocaust marks the climax of an irrational, eternal Gentile hatred of {p. 42} Jews.

{p. 43} All Holocaust writers agree that The Holocaust is unique, but few, if any, agree why. ... Put otherwise: uniqueness is a given in the Holocaust framework; proving it is the appointed task, and disproving it is equivalent to Holocaust denial. Perhaps the problem lies w ith the premise, not the proof. Even if The Holocaust were unique, what difference would it make? How would it change our understanding if the Nazi holocaust were not the first but the fourth or fifth in a line of comparable catastrophes? The most recent entry into the Holocaust uniqueness sweepstakes is Steven Katz's The Holocaust in Historical Context. Citing nearly 5,000 titles in the first of a projected three-volume study, Katz surveys the full sweep of human history in order to prove that "the

{p. 44} Holocaust is phenomenologically unique by virtue of the fact that never before has a state set out, as a matter of intentional principle and actualized policy, to annihilate physically every man, woman and child belonging to a specific people." ...

Only a flea's hop separates the claim of Holocaust uniqueness from the claim that The Holocaust cannot be rationally apprehended. If The Holocaust is unprecedented in history, it must stand above and hence cannot be grasped by history. {thus akin to The Crucifixion} Indeed, The Holocaust is

{p. 45} unique because it is inexplicable, and it is inexplicable because it is unique.

{Note by Peter Myers: Arthur Koestler wrote of the need for Jews to escape 'the vicious circle of being persecuted for being "different", and being "different" by force of persecution' (Promise and Fulfilment, p. 335): koestler.html}

Dubbed by Novick the "sacralization of the Holocaust," this mystifications's most practiced purveyor is Elie Wiesel. For Wiesel, Novick rightly observes, The Holocaust is effectively a "mystery" religion. Thus Wiesel intones that the Holocaust "leads into darkness," "negates all answers," "lies outside, if not beyond, history," "defies both knowledge and description," "cannot be explained nor visualized," is "never to be comprehended or transmitted," marks a "destruction of history" and a "mutation on a cosmic scale." Only the survivor-priest (read: only Wiesel) is qualified to divine its mystery. And yet, The Holocaust's mystery, Wiesel avows, is "noncommunicable"; "we cannot even talk about it." Thus, for his standard fee of $25,000 (plus chauffeured limousine), Wiesel lectures that the "secret" of Auschwitz's "truth lies in silence."

Rationally comprehending The Holocaust amounts, in this view, to denying it . For rationality denies The Holocaust' s uniqueness and mystery. And to compare The Holocaust with the sufferings of others constitutes, for Wiesel, a "total betrayal of Jewish history."

{p. 46} In his new memoir Wiesel, proving that life can also imitate spoof, reprimands Shimon Peres for speaking "without hesitation of 'the two holocausts' of the twentieth century: Auschwitz and Hiroshima. He shouldn't have."

{p. 47} The Holocaust uniqueness debate is sterile. Indeed, the claims of Holocaust uniqueness have come to constitute a form of "intellectual terrorism" (Chaumont). Those practicing the normal comparative procedures of scholarly inquiry must first enter a thousand and one caveats to ward off thr accusation of "trivializing The Holocaust."

A subtext of the Holocaust uniqueness claim is that The Holocaust was uniquely evil. However terrible, the suffering of others simply does not compare. Proponents of Holocaust uniqueness typically disclaim this implication, but such demurrals are disingenuous.

Thc claims of Holocaust uniqueness are intellectually barren and morally discreditable, yet they persist. The question is, Why? In the first place, unique suffering confers unique entitlement. The unique evil of the Holocaust, according to Jacob Neusner, not only sets Jews apart from others, but also gives Jews a "claim upon those others."

{p. 48} There is another factor at work. The claim of Holocaust uniqueness is a claim of Jewish uniqueness. Not the suffering of Jews but that Jeus suffered is what made The Holocaust unique. Or: The Holocaust is special because Jews are special. Thus Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, ridicules the Holocaust uniqueness claim as "a distasteful secular version of chosenness." Vehement as

{p. 49} he is about the uniqueness of The Holocaust, Elie Wiesel is no less vehement that Jews are unique. "Everything about us is different." Jews are "ontologically" exceptional. Marking the climax of a millennial Gentile hatred of Jews, The Holocaust attested not only to the unique suffering of Jews but to Jewish uniqueness as well. ...

The Jews perished because all Gentiles, be it as perpetrators or as passive collaborators, wanted them dead.

{p. 50} The Holocaust dogma of eternal Gentile hatred has served both to justify the necessity of a Jewish state and to account for the hostility directed at Israel. ...

Deploring the "Holocaust lesson" of eternal Gentile

{p. 51} hatred, Boas Evron observes that it "is really tantamount to a deliberate breeding of paranoia. ... This mentality ... condones in advance any inhuman treatment of non-Jews, for the prevailing mythology is that 'all people collaborated with the Nazis in the destruction of Jewry,' hence everything is permissible to Jews in their relationship to other peoples."

In the Holocaust framework, Gentile anti-Semitism is not only ineradicable but also always irrational. ... "Not only does anything Jews do or refrain from doing have nothing to do with anti-Semitism," sociologist John Murray Cuddihy critically observes, "but any attempt to explain anti-Semitism by referring to the Jewish contribution to anti-Semitism is itself an instance of anti-Semitism!" (emphasis in original)

{p. 52} By conferring total blamelessness on Jews, the Holocaust dogma immunizes Israel and American Jewry from legitimate censure. ... Ever chastised, ever innocent: this is the burden of being a Jew.

{p. 54} If The Holocaust marked the climax of a millennial Gentile hatred of the Jews, the persecution of non-Jews in The Holocaust was merely accidental and the persecution of non-Jews in history merely episodic. From every standpoint, then, Jevvish suffering during The Holocaust was unique.

{p. 55} Articulating the key Holocaust dogmas, much of the literature on Hitler's Final Solution is worthless as scholarship. Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud.

{p. 62} Especially in the wake of Israel's ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and as official Israeli propaganda claims came under withering attack by Israel's "new historians," apologists desperately sought to tar the Arabs with Nazism.

{p. 65} In A Nation on Trial, Ruth Bettina Birn and this writer documented the shoddiness of Goldhagen's enterprise. The ensuing controversy instructively illuminated the inner workings of the Holocaust industry.

Birn, the world's leading authority on the archives Goldhagen consulted, first published her critical findings in the Cambridge Historical Journal. Refusing the journal's invitation for a full rebuttal, Goldhagen instead enlisted a high-powered London law firm to sue Birn and Cambridge University Press for "many serious libels." Demanding an apology, a retraction, and a promise from Birn that she not repeat her criticisms, Goldhagen's lawyers then threatened that "the generation of any publicity on your part as a result of this letter would amount to a further aggravation of damages." Soon after this writer's equally critical findings were published in New left Review, Metropolitan, an imprint of Henry Holt, agreed to publish both essays as a book. In a front-page story, the Forward warned that Metropolitan was "preparing to bring out a book by Norman Finkelstein, a notorious ideological opponent of the State of Israel." The Forward acts as the main enforcer of "Holocaust correctness" in the United States. Alleging that "Finkelstein's glaring bias and audacious statements .. are irreversibly tainted by his anti-Zionist stance," ADL head

{p. 66} Abraham Foxman called on Holt to drop publication of the book: "The issue ... is not whether Goldhagen's thesis is right or wrong but what is 'legitimate criticism' and what goes beyond the pale." "Whether Goldhagen's thesis is right or wrong," Metropolitan associate publisher Sara Bershtel replied, "is precisely the issue."

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the pro-Israel New Republic, intervened personally with Holt president Michael Naumann. "You don't know who Finkelstein is. He's poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock." Pronouncing Holt's decision a "disgrace," Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, opined, "If they want to be garbagemen they should wear sanitation uniforms."

"I have never experienced," Naumann later recalled, "a similar attempt of interested parties to publicly cast a shadow over an upcoming publication." The prominent Israeli historian and journalist, Tom Segev, obsened in Haaretz that the campaign verged on "cultural terrorism."

As chief historian of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, Birn next came under attack from Canadian Jewish organizations.

{p. 67} Calling the charges of censorship a "canard," The New Republic maintained that "there is a difference between censorship and upholding standards."

{p. 70} The most "insidious" forms of Holocaust denial, Lipstadt suggests, are "immoral equivalencies": that is, denying the uniqueness of The Holocaust.

{p. 72} The first question is why we even have a federally mandated and funded Holocaust museum in the nation's capitol. Its presence on the Washington Mall is particularly incongruous in the absence of a museum commemorating crimes in the course of American history. Imagine the wailing accusations of hypocrisy here were Germany to build a national museum in Berlin to commemorate not the Nazi genocide but American slavery or the extermination of the Native Americans.

{p. 79} Chapter 3 The Double Shakedown

{p. 82} Indeed, many scholars have cast cloubt on the reliability of survivor testimony. "A great percentage of the mistakes I discovered in my own work," Hilberg recalls, "could be attributed to testimonies." Even within the Holocaust industry, Deborah Lipstadt, for example, wryly observes that Holocaust survivors frequently maintain they were personally examined by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.

Apart from the frailties of memory, some Holocaust survivor testimony may be suspect for additional reasons. Because survivors are now revered as secular saints, one doesn't dare question them. Preposterous statements pass without comment. Elie Wiesel reminisces in his acclaimed memoir that, recently liberated from Buchenwald and only eighteen years old, "I read The Critique of Pure Reason - don't laugh! - in Yiddish." Leaving aside Wiesel's acknowledgment that at the time "I was wholly ignorant of Yiddish grammar," The Critique of Pure Reason was never translated into Yiddish.

{p. 83} In recent years, "Holocaust survivor" has been redefined to designate not only those who endured but also those who managed to evade the Nazis. It includes, for example, more than 100,000 Polish Jews who found refuge in the Soviet Union after the Nazi invasion of Poland. ... The Israeli Prime Minister's office recently put the number of "living Holocaust survivors" at nearly a million. The main motive behind this inflationary revision is again not hard to find. It is difficult to press massive new claims for reparations if only a handful of Holocaust survivors are still alive.

{p. 101} The main weapon used to break Swiss resistance, however, was the economic boycott. "Now the battle will be much dirtier," Avraham Burg, chair of the Jewish Agency and Israel's point man in the Swiss banking case, warned in January 1997. "Until now we have held back international Jewish pressure." Already in January 1996 the WJC had begun plotting the boycott. Bronfman and Singer contacted New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi (whose father had been a prominent AJC official) and New York State Comptroller Carl McCall. Between them, the two comptrollers invest billions of dollars in pension funds. Hevesi also presided over the US Comptrollers Association, which invested $30 trillion in pension funds. In late January Singer strategizt d with Governor George Pataki of Nevv York as well as with D'Amato and Bronfman at his daughter's wedding. "Look what kind of man I am," the Rabbi mused, "doing business at my daughter's wedding." In February 1996 Hevesi and McCall wrote the Swiss banks threatening sanctions. In October Governor Pataki publicly lent his support. During the next several months local and state governments in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Illinois all tabled resolutions threatening an economic boycott unless the Swiss banks came clean. In May 1997 the city of Los Angeles, withdrawing

{p. 102} hundreds of millions of dollars in pension funds from a Swiss bank, imposed the first sanctions. Hevesi quickly followed suit with sanctions in New York. California, Massachusetts, and Illinois joined in within days.

"I want $3 billion or northward," Bronfman proclaimed in December 1997, "in order to end it all, the class-action suits, the Volcker process and the rest." Meanwhile, D'Amato and New York State banking officials sought to block the newly formed United Bank of Switzerland (a merger of major Swiss banks) from operating in the United States.

{p. 133} To force submission from recalcitrant governments, the Holocaust industry wields the bludgeon of US sanctions. Eizenstat urged Congress to "elevate" Holocaust compensation, put it "high on the list" of requirements for those East European countries that are seeking entry into the OECD, the WTO, the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe: "They will listen if you speak. ... They will get the hint."

{p. 137} In January 2000 officials from nearly fifty states, including Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, attended a major Holocaust education conference in Stockholm. The conference's final declaration underlined the international community's "solemn responsibility" to fight the evils of genocide, ethnic clcansing, racism and xenophobia. A Swedish reporter afterward asked Barak about the Palestinian refugees On principle, Barak replied, he was against even one refugee coming to Israel: "We cannot accept moral, legal, or other responsibility for refugees." Plainly the conference was a huge success.

{p. 138} When Israel first entered into negotiations with Germany for reparations after the war, historian Ilan Pappe reports, Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett proposed transferring a part to Palestinian refugees, "in order to rectify what has been called the small injustice (the Palestinian tragedy), caused by the more terrible one (the Holocaust)." Nothing ever came of the proposal. A prominent Israeli academic has suggested using some of the funds from the Swiss banks and German firms for the "compensation of Palestinian Arab refugees." Given that almost all survivors of the Nazi holocaust have already passed avvay, this would seem to be a sensible proposal.

{p. 143} It remains to consider the impact of The Holocaust in the United States. In doing so, I also want to engage Peter Novick' s own critical remarks on the topic.

Apart from Holocaust memorials, fully seventeen states mandate or recommend Holocaust programs in their schools, and many colleges and universities have endowed chairs in Holocaust studies. Hardly a week passes without a major Holocaust-related story in the New York Times. The number of scholarly studies devoted to the Nazi Final Solution is conservatively estimated at over 10,000. Consider by comparison scholarship on the hecatomb in the Congo. Between 1891 and 1911, some 10 million Africans perished in the course of Europe's exploitation of Congolese ivory and rubber resources. Yet, the first and only scholarly volume in English directly devoted to this topic was published two years ago.

{p. 146} The Carter Administration invoked the memory of The

{p. 147} Holocaust as it sought haven for Vietnamese "boat people" fleeing the Communist regime. ...

Holocaust memory loomed large as the US led NATO bombing of Serbia commenced in the spring of 1999. As we have seen, Daniel Goldhagen compared Serbian crimes against Kosovo with the Final Solution and, at President Clinton's hidding, Elie Wiesel journeyed to Kosovar refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania. ...

After the United States-led coalition devastated Iraq in 1991 to punish

{p. 148} "Saddam-Hitler," the United States and Britain forced murderous UN sanctions on that hapless country in an attempt to depose him. As in the Nazi holocaust, a million children have likely perished. Questioned on national television about the grisly death toll in Iraq, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright replied that "the price is worth it."

"The very extremity of the Holocaust," Novick argues, "seriously limit[s] its capacity to provide lessons applicable to our everyday world." As the "benchmark of oppression and atrocity," it tends to "trivializ[e] crimes of lesser magnitude."

{p. 149} Organized American Jewry has exploited the Nazi holocaust to deflect criticism of Israel's and its own morally indefensible policies.

{p. 150} During a series of public exchanges in the 1980s, many prominent German and non-German scholars argued against "normalizing" the infamies of Nazism. The fear was that normalization would induce moral complacency. Hovvever valid the argument may have been then, it no longer carries conviction. The staggering dimensions of Hitler's Final Solution are by now well known. And isn't the "normal" history of humankind replete with horrifying chapters of inhumanity?  A crime need not be aberrant to  warrant atonement. The challenge today is to restore the Nazi holocaust as a  rational subject of inquiry. Only then can we really Iearn from it. The  abnormality of the Nazi holocaust springs not from the event itself but from  the exploitive industry that has grown up around it. The Holocaust industry has  always been bankrupt. What remains is to openly declare it so. The time is long past to  put it out of business. The noblest gesture for those who perished is to preserve their  memory, learn from their suffering and let them, finally, rest in peace.

{end quotes}

Holocaust Lawsuit Seeks $40 Billion From U.S. for Not Bombing Auschwitz


In a bizarre addition to the Holocaust-related suits now winding their way through the courts, two German-Jewish survivors of the Auschwitz death camp are suing the American government for its failure to bomb the camp.

The plaintiffs in the class-action suit, Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, are asking for $40 billion in compensation for survivors and the descendants of the Jews killed in Auschwitz in the closing months of World War II. They claim that a decision to bomb the camp would have rescued some 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were deported there in 1944 and 1945.

The suit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on January 2. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued a summons to the U.S. attorney general on March 8. The government has 60 days to respond.

Holocaust scholars here were largely dismissive of the suit. "This is silly and ridiculous," said Michael Berenbaum, co-editor of "The Bombing of Auschwitz," a comprehensive historical study published last summer. "How can you litigate on the conduct of the war? And why don't they sue the German government for creating Auschwitz in the first place?"

But the suit's legal architect insisted it has raised important issues. "This is not some crazy lawsuit," said Peter Wolz, a DÃ*sseldorf lawyer who said it took him three years to build the suit. "The attitude of the U.S. government during the war, and especially its decision not to bomb Auschwitz, need to be addressed in a legal case."

American legal experts say that the case will probably be dismissed because of the "sovereign immunity" statute, which protects governments from being sued for their actions - or inaction, in this case. Mr. Wolz contends that the protection should not apply because genocide-related issues are governed by international law.

"It is a dead-end," said a prominent legal scholar who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There is no way a U.S. court will accept this kind of argument."

In the past few years, Jewish survivors have filed numerous lawsuits against Swiss banks, German companies and other European entities and governments, leading to several multi-billion-dollar settlements. Recently, however, the focus has been shifting toward America's role in the Nazi atrocities and their aftermath. A lawsuit, since dropped, was filed against IBM alleging that its German subsidiary colluded with the Nazi regime.

The Auschwitz bombing suit, despite its remote chances of success, is creating a sense of unease among Jewish organizations. The $40 billion sought in compensation is also raising eyebrows. The Swiss banks, for example, settled for $1.25 billion and German industry and government for $5.2 billion.

"It gives the Holocaust movement a bad name," said Marc Stern, legal affairs director of the American Jewish Congress. "It is going to be seen as 'The Jews are really out there to get all the money they can from the Holocaust.'"

Elan Steinberg, the executive director of the World Jewish Congress, which has been at the forefront of Holocaust restitution campaign, said, "We absolutely don't support it."

Mr. Wolz, who is not Jewish, said that he based his 600-page case on Mr. Berenbaum's book, on his own findings among recently declassified archival materials and on other unclassified documents, including documents from U.S. government agencies.

The central claim of the suit draws its impetus from an executive order signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on January 22, 1944, calling on the government to take all measures to rescue the European Jews.

"Why did the executive order not go through?" Mr. Wolz asked. He claims the order was ignored because of the influence of a group of America's biggest companies, which continued to do business with Nazi Germany during the war. He asserts that the U.S. Air Force, which controlled the European skies in 1944, could easily have bombed the railways and the bridges bringing the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz between May and July 1944. But the camp and its supply lines were taken off the final list of target proposals and never were bombed.

"We want to show that because some people at the top of the U.S. government and some major American companies had sympathies and business links with Nazi Germany, hundred thousands of Jewish lives were not saved," said Mr. Goldstein, who lives in Berlin. He said he spent 13 months as a forced laborer in Auschwitz, at which most of his family perished.

Mr. Berenbaum said, "Even if I personally believe the Americans should have bombed Auschwitz, I must say there is no clear-cut answer."

Mr. Wolz said he was prompted to act by the recent settlements reached by Jewish groups with Swiss banks and German companies. "I was angered that they could buy their way out for peanuts," he said.


(2) Interview with Norman Finkelstein

"'I won't lie down and take the insults'"

The Irish Times, July 1, 2003

NORMAN Finkelstein is the nearest you can get to a Jewish heretic. He is a Jew but an anti-Zionist; the son of Holocaust survivors but a ceaseless critic of what he terms "the Holocaust industry"; a left-wing historian whose views are often praised by revisionist right-wingers such as David Irving.

He is a pugilist by inclination, never missing an opportunity to fire insults at his enemies among Jewish organisations in the US and Israel.

They, it must be said, are not slow to respond in kind. Insults flew within minutes when Finkelstein appeared recently with an Israeli government spokesman on RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland, and Cathal Mac Coille, the presenter, had to call the two off each other and beg for calm. "You're supposed to lie down and take the insults, and I'm not going to do it," Finkelstein says. "The level of arrogance of these people just boggles the mind."

He believes Jewish organisations are "huckstering" the Holocaust by extracting huge sums in compensation that never get to the survivors. "What they have done, by turning the central tragedy of Jews in the 20th century into a weapon for shaking down people for money is pretty disgusting; it's wretched." He denounces some of the campaigns for reparations against Swiss banks and claims that more than $20 billion (E17.5 billion) has been collected in compensation claims arising from the Holocaust.

Because he is Jewish, Finkelstein gets away with the kind of language others would never be allowed to use. He accuses Jewish organisations, for example, of conducting themselves "like a caricature from Der Sturmer", the notorious Jew-baiting magazine of the Nazis. He repeatedly refers to the organisations as "crooks" and has even called Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the "resident clown" of the Holocaust circus.

The roots of his anger lie in his parents' experience. Finkelstein's father survived the Warsaw Ghetto and Aushwitz concentration camp; his mother lived in the ghetto and ended up in Majdanek camp. He describes both as confirmed atheists.

His father received compensation from the German government. "I still remember the blue envelopes that came in every month. At the end of his life he was getting $600 a month, or a grand total of about $250,000. Even though there was no love lost between my father and the Germans - he hated them all - there was never any complaint about the money. The Germans were always very competent and efficient."

In contrast, his mother's compensation was channelled through American Jewish organisations. "Even though they went through the same experiences, she got a grand total of $3,000 and no pension. That's what you get from Jewish organisations."

THE line he takes on the Israel-Palestine conflict is similarly controversial, at least within his community. "A colossal wrong has been inflicted on the Palestinians, and no amount of rationalisation can justify that. There are possibilities for peace, but the Israeli elite won't allow them to happen."

Finkelstein's latest book, a second edition of Image And Reality Of The Israel-Palestine Conflict, is a scholarly attempt to undermine the popular image of Israel and its dispute with the Palestinians. He situates the creation of Israel firmly in the colonial tradition and seeks to debunk writers who claim the Palestinians never existed historically.

He compares Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to apartheid South Africa's attitude to its blacks or US settlers' view of native Americans.

"All these settlers used the same language. What was left out of the picture was that there were people living there before they arrived. We were told there was a wilderness, that it was virgin land and that every once in a while there were these savages, slightly above the level of the fauna, who would attack the settlers."

A New Yorker by birth, Finkelstein admits he has very little direct experience of Israel, although he has visited the occupied territories more than 20 times. "When I'm there no one even cares less that I'm Jewish. In the first year I was a novelty; by the third or fourth it was just, hey, Norman's back."

So is he, along with other solidarity workers who spend time with Palestinians but enjoy freedom of speech and personal security back home in the West, just a meddler? "I don't want to be there. I'm a complete coward. My hat comes off to those young people who work in difficult circumstances, who help Palestinians dig a well or who come to aid of people who are being shot at. If that's meddling, I say we need a lot more meddling in the world."

Asked if Israel can be considered a democracy, he responds: "Was South Africa a democracy in the old days? It was a democracy for whites, for the 'superior people'. Similarly, Israel, for the larger part of its history, has been a society where half the population has all the rights and half the population has none."

But what about the democratic rights of Palestinians under Yasser Arafat? "How can you have a democracy under occupation? People there have no rights without the approval of Israel. How democratic is Alcatraz? Or a concentration camp?"

There is a solution, he insists. "I don't think the way out is so complicated. People constantly try to shroud the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all kinds of mystification. They say it's about ancient enmities, it's about the Bible or religion or it's about the clash of cultures. But when you go to live there you see it's not complicated at all. The fact is that there's a military occupation, and that has to end." And then what? "Then you hope Palestinians and Israelis will live together in peace."

Although Finkelstein enjoys the security of being a US citizen, he has paid a price for his views. His four books have been popular successes in Europe - The Holocaust Industry sold 130,000 copies in Germany in three weeks - but in the US he has been shunned and his books have been savaged.

The New York Times, he once commented, gave a more hostile review to The Holocaust Industry than it did to Hitler's Mein Kampf. This clearly rankled, and he returns to it. "I don't want to play the martyr, but if you look at my history I didn't make out so well. I didn't get the headlines. I'm in exile in [DePaul University in] Chicago because I was thrown out of every [university] school in New York.

"I'm not happy to be in Chicago. I want to be at home. That's why I keep an apartment there. I'm still praying for a miracle. I've had a hard time."


(3) Wiesenthal Center sues Norman Finkelstein over "The Holocaust Industry"

Simon Wiesenthal Centre Testifies in Paris Libel Suit Against Norman Finkelstein _Red=1956

"die jüdische", Vienna, 25.03.2004 20:17

Wiesenthal Center Los Angeles Paris, 26 March 2004

Norman Finkelstein, the American author of "The Holocaust Industry", and his publisher, are being sued under French law against libel. The French edition (based on the English-language original) is considered actionable and replete with Holocaust revisionism and incitement to antisemitism.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Liaison, Dr. Shimon Samuels, who three years ago publicly debated Finkelstein when the book was first published in London, presented the following testimony for today's Paris hearing:

"'The Holocaust Industry' presents a great danger. Mr. Finkelstein's thesis is an extremist attack on Jews in general, and American Jews in particular, accusing them of exploiting the suffering of the Shoah as 'a pretext for their crimes in the context of the Middle-East conflict.'

This thesis, so close to that of Roger Garaudy [a condemned French Holocaust denier and anti-Jewish hate-monger] today constitutes the principal credo of modern antisemitism.

With particularly acute intellectual perversity, Finkelstein exploits his own Jewish antecedents in order to attack, as 'racist,' specific Jewish leaders, their organizations and the Jewish people.

I am convinced that, as in the aforementioned Garaudy trial, only a judicial penalty will contain the damage wreaked by this particularly offensive libel."


(4) Victors gloat over Finkelstein's demise

A Pariah In Exile: Norman Finkelstein The Jewish Week (New York)

A Pariah In Exile

He lost an epic tenure battle, then got barred from Israel. Now, Norman Finkelstein is back in Brooklyn, with a provocation or two up his sleeve.

{photo caption} The family photos in his father's old apartment may be Finkelstein's only comfort, with his career in shambles Michael Datikash {end}

by Stewart Ain Staff Writer

It has come to this for Norman Finkelstein: Back home in the Brooklyn of his youth, living alone in his deceased father's rent-stabilized apartment on Ocean Parkway, just a few blocks from where the white-hot controversial professor grew up.

No more loyal students, no more lectures to prepare, no more radio debates with his arch-enemy, Alan Dershowitz, no more national spotlight; Finkelstein is the man no one wants, and perhaps for good reason.

A year ago, DePaul University, where he taught political science for six years, denied Finkelstein tenure in one of the most bruising tenure battles in recent memory. The story made national headlines, fueled by Dershowitz's crusade against Finkelstein's scholarship.

Finkelstein's supporters painted the Harvard law professor as an outside agitator encroaching on an internal tenure process; some of his students went on a hunger strike in his support. No major university will touch him now.

ÒWho wants to go through what DePaul went through with a national hysteria,Ó Finkelstein says, shrugging. ÒTo be told I was a Holocaust denier and a terrorist supporter - would you want me on your faculty?Ó

And Israel shut its doors on him in May, barring him from entering the country; it never gave him a reason, but news reports attributed it to his strong and highly vocal anti-Israel views, and for associating with elements hostile to the Jewish State. (Finkelstein says he met with leaders of the terrorist group Hezbollah during a trip to Beirut in January.) After 18 hours in detention at Ben-Gurion Airport, he was taken onto a plane and whisked out of the country.

It's not hard to see why Finkelstein is anathema in most Jewish circles, simply beyond the pale. He has struck out - with a vengeance - at the twin pillars of postwar Jewish life: the Holocaust (which he calls Òthe Holocaust industryÓ) and Israel. The Jewish community, he argues, has exploited the Holocaust for financial gain, sullying the memory of the Six Million.

And he has cavorted with Israel's enemies, meeting with and praising Hezbollah. During the height of Israel's 2006 war with Lebanon, as Hezbollah was raining rockets down on northern Israel and Israel was bombing Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and targets elsewhere in the country, Finkelstein took the stage at a rally in Brooklyn and intoned, ÒWe are all Hezbollah.Ó

So the Pariah of Ocean Parkway is at the low point in his life, his academic career in shambles. (The only offer of a job has come from a two-year college he declined to identify that offered a paltry salary for many hours of work.) Here he sits, in his father's old apartment, surrounded by framed family photographs. The photos, along with glowing pictures and notes from DePaul students that sit on his piano, may be his only comfort as he tries to pick up the pieces of his career.

Finkelstein may be down on his luck, but the provocateur still seems to have some fight in him. He spends hours at the computer on his combative, over-the-top Web site - a video of him debating Dershowitz in a radio studio is interspersed with clips of Bruce Lee-like martial arts warriors fighting to the death. {end}

Norman Finkelstein's website:

Fighting With Words: The Word "Holocaust": holocaus.html.

To purchase Norman Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry from Amazon:

Back to the Zionism/Communism index: zioncom.html.

Write to me at contact.html.