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Finkelstein Hits New Low By: Alan M. Dershowitz
AlanDershowitz.com | Tuesday, December 12, 2006


(Norman Finkelstein has been urging people to write to Alan Dershowitz. Mr. Dershowitz's reponse to them is as follows. To visit Alan Dershowitz's website, click here.)

Dear Correspondent,

You have written to me claiming an interest in free speech and urging me to make full disclosure of the correspondence between me and the University of California Press and the Board of Regents, including Governor Schwarzenegger. I am certainly interested in the full truth coming out, because I never tried to censor anything that Finkelstein wrote, as you have already seen and will see again. As I repeatedly wrote, "I have no desire to prevent publication of anything, but I do insist that anything published about me be factually correct."

But you may or may not be aware of the fact that Norman Finkelstein is refusing to disclose something far more significant. Finkelstein is currently up for tenure at Depaul University, and several faculty members are interested in determining whether he had anything to do with an offensive cartoon, drawn by a prominent neo-Nazi who was willing to enter his cartoons (and won second prize) in Iran's Holocaust denial cartoon contest. The cartoon -- which showed me masturbating to dead Lebanese civilians -- accompanied a recent Finkelstein article at its first publication site, and it corresponded perfectly with Finkelstein's own language in the article ("moral pervert," "climactic scene," "little peep show"). The DePaul professors are especially concerned because Finkelstein's was identified in the byline of his article as "Professor" Norman Finklestein, as if the article were part of Finkelstein's academic corpus, and he was using the imprimatur of DePaul to add credibility to an article about whether I should be subject to targetted assassination because I am a "war criminal" and a "moral pervert."

When I first pointed out the obscenity of the cartoon and Finkelstein's own words (comparing me several times to Nazis, and offering arguments for my assassination), Finkelstein lashed out at me for being too sensitive, but never denied my claim that he had commissioned the article.

But after several faculty members understandably expressed an interest in whether their university was being associated with neo-Nazism, Holocaust denial, and obscenity, Finkelstein changed his tune. He suddenly retracted his implicit adoption of the cartoon and starting saying that there was no proof that he had commissioned the cartoon. (It reminds me of when he first claimed that I didn't write The Case for Israel, until I released my handwritten manuscripts, at which point he started emphasizing instead the absurd argument that I plagiarized the book.)

It seems clear from the evidence that Finkelstein commissioned, or solicited, the Latuff cartoon. He has not denied it; rather, he has refused to confirm or deny it on the ground that whatever he says will not be believed. Well, the written record speaks for itself -- and clearly there is a written record, because there is no other way that Latuff could have illustrated the precise language of Finkelstein's article without seeing an advance copy of the article prior to its publication. Finkelstein simply could not credibly deny having commissioned the cartoon. We know that (1) Finkelstein's article and the cartoon appeared simultaneously on a website (IndyBay.com) in which authors post their on material, (2) that the article had not appeared anywhere else prior to IndyBay, so that the only way Latuff could have seen the article would have been for Finkelstein to send him an advance copy, (3) that Latuff must have seen an advance copy, because he illustrated precisely what Finkelstein described in his article, and (4) that Finkelstein has a long history of collaborating with Latuff by featuring Latuff's cartoons on Finkelstein's website.

Therefore, I have challenged Finkelstein to answer the following questions:

(1) Did you send the article to Latuff before it was published?

(2) If not, how could Latuff have guessed the precise wording of the article? And how did Latuff's cartoon end up being posted simultaneously and in the same file as your article?

(3) If you had nothing to do with the cartoon, why didn't you say so when I first pointed it out?

(4) What about the dozens of Latuff cartoons that you feature on his website? Do you disapprove of those, now, too?

I now challenge Finkelstein, in the interest of truth, to answer these questions and to produce all of his communications, both written and oral, between him and Latuff. If Finkelstein does so, I will be happy to provide all of my correspondences. If he does not, your attention should be directed primarily toward him, since his is a current matter, and the letters issue with the University Press issues is several years old at this point, and most of the correspondence has already been revealed.

I also challenge Finkelstein to put this entire correspondence on his website, and to explain to all of his followers and sycophants why he is unwilling to let the truth come out with regard to his long and disturbing association with a neo-Nazi cartoonist like Latuff. I am sure that since you claim to be interested in full disclosure and truth you will now demand that Finkelstein make such disclosure about his association with Latuff so that the truth about this matter will finally come out.

Sincerely,

Alan Dershowitz

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Alan M. Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, “The Case Against Israel’s Enemies.”


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