Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-semitism and the Abuse of History

In the book, Finkelstein documents what he claims is the falsification of Israel's human rights record by Dershowitz and his plagiarism of research from Joan Peters' book From Time Immemorial. In response, Dershowitz's lawyers wrote letters to the University of California Press threatening a lawsuit if they published the book. At one point, Dershowitz called on the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to intervene on his behalf, to stop the book from being published, but the Governor refused. Eventually, Dershowitz backed off and the book was published by UC Press, albeit with some minor modifications as a result of Dershowitz's threat.

Finkelstein's doctoral dissertation was to disassemble a book by Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (1984), which claimed that Palestine had been largely empty in the early 20th century, and that both Jewish and Arab ethnic groups were immigrants. Finkelstein declared the book a fraud.

Two decades later, Finkelstein saw the record of the Israel-Palestine conflict as much less complex than previously. Finkelstein claims that the official Zionist "Exodus version," that Arab radio broadcasts had instructed the Palestinians to flee, has been largely swept away. He believes that proof of this became available in the 1960s but had little impact. In the late 1980s, however, some studies, including some by Israelis, claimed to dispel much of what Finkelstein refers to as "the Zionist mythology" enveloping the origins of the conflict.[1] Some scholarly debate now focuses on much narrower questions such as whether what in Finkelstein's view was "ethnic cleansing" was the intentional consequence of Zionist policy or the unintentional by-product of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The topic remains controversial, particularly in Israel, where mainstream historians continue to dispute the view of Israel's 1948 war of independence presented by Finkelstein.

In this book he analyses "The Not-So-New 'New Anti-Semitism'" from published sources. Finkelstein argues that the spectre of the "new anti-semitism" has been invented by supporters of Israel to brand any serious criticisms of Israel's human rights abuses as anti-semitism. The aim, Finkelstein contends, is to silence criticism of Israel's policies and to provide a cover for that country's expansionistic and illegal policies in the Palestinian territories. In the second part he analyses Alan Dershowitz's book The Case for Israel (2003).

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