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My Norman Finkelstein Problem By: Phyllis Chesler
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, April 06, 2009


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I am no stranger to withering scorn, hate mail, death threats, and slander. In addition, from the early 1970s on, people have tried to, or have actually, sued me. Once, a grand jury was even convened to question me. Reviewers have both praised and damned my work. This is the inevitable consequence of speaking out and of being a public intellectual. (I was once proud of this designation. Now, given how most intellectuals have betrayed the truth, the Jews, and the West, I’m seriously considering telling people that I’m a gardener, a cook, a carpenter, or just a wordsmith.)

Earlier this week, strange emails began arriving. They were tight, hate-filled, sarcastic, insulting, and very “wordy.” I could not understand why they started arriving now, instead of last week, for example. Then, all became clear when I found out that Norman Finkelstein, the infamous darling of the Hate Israel crowd had reprinted my piece Our Eternal Struggle which you may read HERE. However, Finkelstein, titled the piece: Who Would Ever Have Thought That a Cow Could Write the Alphabet?

Long ago, I had been told that Finkelstein had also attacked me in his book Beyond Chutzpah (which, I must admit, I have not read). But I did read some of the offending passages. And, as I quickly scanned the book, I realized that Finkelstein was mimicking an academic book, not actually writing one. Like many in the postmodern academy, the work had a huge and requisite number of footnotes and specialized in very long, often incomprehensible paragraphs—none of which advanced knowledge or was often true. Ersatz knowledge for an Orwellian time. I chose not to respond to Finkelstein because my friend and colleague, Alan Dershowitz, was doing just fine on that score.

Thus, ‘tis courtesy of Finkelstein that I received a few rather twisted letters. Here are three, just so my readers will know what’s “out there.” I dunno. Methinks that Finkelstein himself might have penned these miserable missives—or that his style of pseudo-academic sarcasm and utter lack of brevity is like an infectious disease; his followers, those who are attracted by him, seem to have caught the bug. Two of these three letter writers identify themselves as Jews. Perhaps these are faux-email addresses. But maybe these are real people with very real problems. If we don’t stand up to them, their problems become our problems.

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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is the well known author of classic works, including the bestseller Women and Madness (1972) The New Anti-Semitism (2003) and The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom (2005). She has just published a new edition of Woman's Inhumanity to Woman (2009). She is an Emerita Professor of psychology and women's studies, the co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology (1969) and the National Women's Health Network (1976). Her website is www.phyllis-chesler.com.


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