Is Norman Finkelstein at Tehran Holocaust-denial confab?

In our last post about the Holocaust denail confab in Iran, we asked whether the rumors are true that anti-Zionist writer Norman G. Finkelstein is participating. Alan “torture could be justified” Dershowitz explores the question on the ostensibly liberal Huffington Post blog:

A neo-Nazi website has published the schedule of speakers at the Iranian Holocaust denial conference. (His name was mysteriously removed from the schedule this morning.) Prominent among the speakers in the schedule was assistant professor Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University. His name appeared along with Professor David Duke of the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management in Ukraine and other assorted nuts, neo-Nazis, Islamo-fascists, and America- and Israel-bashers.

It is unclear whether Finkelstein actually attended the conference, since the identify of many of the attendees has been kept secret, and the media office at DePaul says it doesn’t know. But Finkelstein certainly fits comfortably into the hate club, since he has allied himself closely with the Holocaust denial movement by trivializing the suffering of its victims and denying that many of them were victims at all. It would be natural for the rulers of Iran to have invited this Jew-hater to their hatefest. I don’t know if they did, or if Finkelstein accepted any such invitation. But the burden is now on him to explain why his name appears in the schedule and to produce all correspondence with the sponsors of the conference. It should make interesting reading.

Yes, we have pointed out ourselves that Dersh is a moral monster, so please spare us tiresome shoot-the-messenger arguments. The point is that progressives in the West should be standing with the student protesters in Iran, not the monstrous Ahmadinejad and his charming buds like David Duke. This twisted reversal of progressive priorities only plays into the hands of the neocons who would seek to cultivate the protesters as imperial proxies—and gives the likes of Alan Dershowitz propaganda ammo on a silver platter.

Does anyone have more information to add?

See our last posts on Iran and Alan Dershowitz.

    1. Thanks for the information…
      …which I will post below. But so much for my pleas to spare us tiresome shoot-the-messger arguments. If my name had appeared on the schedule of a Holocaust-denial confab, I would want the matter openly aired. Especially if Alan Dershowitz were making hay of the matter. From AP, Dec. 12:

      Prosecution rests at US trial of 2 men accused of aiding Hamas

      CHICAGO – Federal prosecutors rested their case at the trial of two men charged with funneling cash and fresh recruits to Hamas terrorists trying to topple the Israeli government.

      U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve sent jurors who already have sat through two months of the complex racketeering trial home Tuesday and told them to return next week when defense attorneys are expected to call witnesses.

      But attorneys said closing arguments in the trial of former Chicago grocer Muhammad Salah, 53, and former university professor Abdelhaleem Ashqar, 48, may not come until after a holiday break.

      Salah was arrested in Israel in 1993 and $90,000 (€68,000) in cash was found in his hotel room. He served almost five years in prison there. Prosecutors say the money was destined to help Hamas rebuild its military structure.

      But Salah, of suburban Bridgeview, says he is not a Hamas member and that the money was meant for Palestinian charities.

      Ashqar, of Alexandria, Virginia, controlled a number of bank accounts that prosecutors say supplied cash to Hamas. He says the money was for charity.

      While jurors will not be back until next week, prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to battle over an array of issues Wednesday.

      Among other things, St. Eve is expected to hear arguments on whether to allow Salah’s chief defense counsel, Michael E. Deutsch, to call as a witness an expert on U.S. lobbying groups supporting Israel on Capitol Hill.

      Norman Finkelstein of Chicago’s DePaul University, took the stand Tuesday night to give the judge a sampling of his expertise. He claimed Israel has sought to influence American reporters and the result has been a bias in favor of that nation in the U.S. news media.

      Deutsch said after court that he wants jurors to hear from Finkelstein as a counter to prosecution witness Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter, who testified that she saw Salah being interrogated.

      Finkelstein said Israel has tortured Palestinian detainees.

      Salah claims he was tortured by Israel’s Shin Bet security service into admitting that he was aiding Hamas while Miller said he appeared “jaunty” at the interrogation and that she saw no evidence that he was being tortured.

      Prosecutors led off the trial in October by calling two Shin Bet interrogators who testified under aliases in a courtroom that had been cleared of spectators that Salah was not mistreated by their organization.

      Deutsch said he hopes to call two witnesses who are experts on Shin Bet interrogation methods and Israeli human rights attorney Avigdor Feldman, who represented Salah before a military tribunal in that country.

  1. “Conference”
    Looks like Dersh is a follower of the late British hack John Junor, who held to the maxim that “It is not libellous to ask a question”. By the way, I looked into some of the nutters at the “conference” in Iran here.

  2. Why don’t you ask Finkelstein?
    I have an idea, why don’t you ask Norman Finklestein about this? You could, for example, check what he says on his own weblog:

    Dershowitz Continues to Bat 1000

    I’m trying to figure out why you thought it was adviseable to ask this
    question of the WBAI audience when you already knew the answer.
    You’re trying to dismiss this as a “shoot the messenger” argument,
    but that’s ridiculous: you’re repeating a smear from a dubious source,
    and you *know* that it’s a dubious source. So what does that make

    If you’re new to this dispute, try doing a web search on
    “Finklestein Dershowitz” to get an idea of what’s been going on
    between them: Hint, Finklestein accused Dershowitz of plagarism, and
    did a good job of documenting it.

    1. You did it for me.
      I didn’t know this response (which I will post below) existed until it was brought to my attention. Perhaps it wasn’t posted yet when I was searching around for a Finklestein response. I will say that sneering sarcasm is a singularly inappropriate reaction.

      Finkelstein comments:

      I spent Tuesday, December 12 testifying at a trial in Chicago and Wednesday, December 13 in Lexington, MA. I delivered my Holocaust-denying lecture to an enthusiastic crowd in a Lexington friend’s living-room after which we saluted Der Fuhrer and then swapped stories about this imbecile at Harvard Law School. All in all, a jolly good time.

      OK, Norman. How did your name wind up on the list? Or did Dersh just make it up? And if so, why don’t you raise this question, since “it is not libellous to ask a question.”

      Forgive me for wanting information rather than condescension. Very old-fashioned, I know.

      1. Finklestein was on the list.
        I saw it myself, and the following was posted on Dersh’s Huffington Post piece, in the comments:

        But, it is true that if you look at the Google website cache for the link that Dershowitz gave, Finkelstein was on the schedule one of the Q&A sessions…

        14:00-17:00 – Aras Hall


        Chairman: Mr Torjanzadeh, Tajikistan

        1. Patrick McNalley: University of Chuo, Japan

        “A Philosopher looks at the Holocaust”

        2. A Pengas: Senior Researcher, Greece

        “The geopolitical environment of the Holocaust myth”

        3. T Boshe: Senior Researcher, Jordan

        “The Holocaust and history”

        4. Norman Finkelstein: USA

        – Q & A –

      2. Why is the burden of proof on Finklestein?
        “OK, Norman. How did your name wind up on the list? Or did Dersh just make it up?”

        And have you stopped beating that McCarthyite in your closet yet?

        Once again: look at the history of Dershowitz vs. Finklestein, you
        might get an idea of why Finklestein has trouble taking this seriously.

        Scholar Norman Finkelstein Calls Professor Alan Dershowitz’s New Book On Israel a “Hoax”:

        NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: I appreciate Alan Dershowitz’s seriousness at least in these remarks. I have no intention whatsoever of getting involved in an ad hominem debate with Mr. Dershowitz. I’m interested in the facts. I was asked to come in and discuss his new book. I went home, purchased one copy, in fact I purchased two copies. I read the book very carefully. I did what someone serious does with a book. I read the text, I went through the footnotes. I went through it very carefully. There’s only one conclusion one can reach having read the book. This is a scholarly judgment, not an ad homonym. Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud. In fact Mr. Dershowitz has concocted a fraud which amazingly in large parts, he plagiarized from another fraud. I found that pretty shocking, shocking coming from a Harvard professor. I find it shocking coming from any professor.

      3. Carried away with a hobby horse?
        “I didn’t know this response (which I will post below) existed”

        But you did know that Finklestein was in Chicago, I found that
        posted here when you were still on the air — and you didn’t bother
        to mention it on the air. You were too anxious to use Finklestein as
        an example of left-wing anti-semitism without having any idea about
        whether the accusation had any merit.

        1. All irrelevant
          It has been independently demonstrated here that his name did initially appear on the list of participants. I would like to know why. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

          1. FInklestein explains what happened on Iranian TV

            FInkelstein starting at about 3:20 why he turned down an invite to the conference, which he said was not a seriously scholarly conference, but a convention of the flat earth society. He debates with an Iranian denier and Lady Renouf, the British denier.

          2. Finklestein explains what happened on Iranian TV

            Finklestien explains, starting after about 3:20, that he was invited but refused when it became clear the it was going to be a conference of the flat earth society, with no serious scholars of the subject invited.

            The show is called “Forum,” a weekly current events chat show. It’s not clear what the station is called. Finklestein appears by phone. It’s not clear when the show actually aired, but it was posted to You Tube on Jan. 18

            1. FInklestein explains what happened: transcription
              “From the POV of a serious scholarly inquiry, it was not a serious conference. and i think people have to be honest about that. what does david duke know about the nazi holocaust? he’s not a scholar in the field. He’s not written anything on the subject.Now, I was approached early on to attend the conference. In order for me to attend, I said there’d have to be 3 conditions met. No. 1, I asked them for a list on invitees, to see if this was going to be a serious conflict, or whether it was going to be a circus. No. 2, I said, if I’m going to travel all the way to Iran to attend a conference on the Nazi Holocaust, I should be allocated a reasonable amount of time, to make a reasonable statement, a serious statement on the subject. and no 3 i said, if i’m coming to Iran, then let me speak at the university to students, [inaudible] to discuss the topic.

              “Now unfortunately, we were in negotiations until the very end, but none of those conditions were met. and i had to conclude, if you dont want to tell me who’s invited, and you dont want to give me a respectable amount of time to speak, and if you dont let speak to students in the university, then this is not going to be a serious conference, it’s going to be a circus, and there’s no point in me attending. “

  3. Palestinian militant disses Holocaust denial
    Not a bad explanation. But why is Finklestein stooping to “debate” deniers? Mahmoud Al-Safadi of the PFLP (!) is far more forthright in this open letter to Ahmadinejad. From Monthly Review, Dec. 14:

    Other Victims of Denial

    by Mahmoud Al-Safadi

    Mr. President, I write to you following the announcement of your intention to organize a conference on the Holocaust in Teheran on 11-12 December, and I sincerely hope that this letter will be brought to your attention.

    First of all, allow me to introduce myself: Mahmoud Al-Safadi, a former prisoner from occupied Jerusalem. I was released less than three months ago from the Israeli prison where I had been locked up for eighteen years for having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and having taken an active part in resistance to the occupation during the first Intifada. Since you were elected president, I have followed your declarations with great interest — in particular those relating to the Holocaust. I respect your opposition to the American and Western injunctions concerning the Iranian nuclear program and believe it legitimate that you complain of the double standard that the world has with regard to the nuclear development of certain regimes.

    But I am furious about your insistence on claiming that the Holocaust never took place and about your doubts about the number of Jews who were murdered in the extermination and concentration camps, organized massacres, and gas chambers, consequently denying the universal historical significance of the Nazi period.

    Allow me to say, Mr. President, with all due respect to you, that you made these statements without really knowing the Nazi industry of death. To have read the works of some deniers seems to be enough for you — a little like a man who shouts above a well and hears only the echo of his own voice. I believe that a man in your position should not make such an enormous error, because it could be turned against him and, worse still, his people.

    Like you and millions of people in the world — among whom, alas, are innumerable Palestinians and Arabs — I was also convinced that the Jews exaggerated and lied about the Holocaust, etc., even apart from the fact that the Zionist movement and Israel use the Holocaust to justify their policy, first of all against my own people.

    My long imprisonment provided me with the occasion to read books and articles that our ideology and social norms made inaccessible to us outside the prison. These documents gave me a thorough knowledge of the history of the Nazi regime and genocide that it perpetrated. At the beginning of the 1990s, by reading articles written by the Palestinian intellectuals Edward Said and Azmi Bishara, I discovered facts and positions which contradicted mine and those of many Palestinians. Their writings having piqued my curiosity and given birth inside me to the need to know more, I set about reading accounts of survivors of the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation. These testimonies were written by people of various nationalities, Jews or non-Jews.

    The more I learned, the more I realized that the Holocaust was indeed a historical fact and the more I became aware of the monumental dimension of the crime committed by Nazi Germany against the Jews, other social and national groups, and humanity in general. I discovered that Nazi Germany aspired to found a “new world order” dominated by the “pure Aryan race” thanks to the physical annihilation of “impure races” and the enslavement of other nations. I discovered that various “normal” official institutions — bureaucracies, judicial systems, medical and educational authorities, municipalities, railroad companies, and others — had taken part and collaborated in the implementation of this new world order. From a theoretical point of view, this objective, just like the victories won at the time by the Nazi armies of occupation, threatened the existence of the Arabs and Muslims as well.

    Whatever the number of victims — Jewish and non-Jewish — the crime is monumental. Any attempt to deny it deprives the denier of his own humanity and sends him immediately to the side of torturers. Whoever denies the fact that this human disaster really took place should not be astonished that others deny the sufferings and persecutions inflicted on his own people by tyrannical leaders or foreign occupiers. Ask yourself, I beg you, the following question: were hundreds of thousands of testimonies written about death camps, gas chambers, ghettos, and mass murders committed by the German army, tens of thousands of works of research based on German documents, numerous filmed sequences, some of which were shot by German soldiers — were all these masses of evidence completely fabricated?

    Can all that be summed up simply as an imperialist-Zionist plot? Are the confessions of high-ranking Nazi officials about their personal role in the project of extermination of whole nations only the fruit of the imagination of some disturbed spirit?

    And all these heroic deeds of the people subjected to the German occupation — the first among whom were Russians, Poles, and Yugoslavs — only lies and gross exaggerations? Could the struggle of the Soviets against Nazi Germany be only a phantasm? The Russians continue to celebrate their victory over Nazi Germany and remember millions of their civilian and military compatriots who lost their lives in this struggle. Are they lying, too?

    I invite you to read historical studies and serious testimonies before making your public statements. You divide the world in two camps: the imperialists-Zionists, who manufactured the myth of the Holocaust, and the adversaries of imperialism, who know the truth and uncover the plot. Perhaps you think that the act of denying the Holocaust places you at the vanguard of the Muslim world and that this refusal constitutes a useful tool in the combat against American imperialism and Western hegemony. By doing so, you actually do great disservice to popular struggles the world over.

    At best, you cover your people and yourself with ridicule in the eyes of political forces who reject imperialism but cannot take your ideas and arguments seriously, due to the fact that you obsessively deny the existence of an abundantly documented and studied historical period whose consequences are still felt and discussed today.

    At worst, you discourage and weaken the political, social, and intellectual forces who, in Europe and in the United States, reject the policy of confrontation and war carried out by George Bush, but are forced to conclude that you, too, jeopardize the world by your declarations denying the genocide and by your nuclear program.

    Concerning the struggle of my people for their independence and their freedom: perhaps do you regard the negation of the Holocaust as an expression of support for the Palestinians? There, again, you are mistaken. We fight for our existence and our rights and against the historical injustice which was inflicted on us in 1948. We will not win our victory and our independence by denying the genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people, even though the forces who occupy our country today and dispossess us are part of the Jewish people.