the guardian Fri 03 October 2008
Can Israel be criticised? Jewish American academic Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry, argues that legitimate criticism of Israeli policy is possible, although, as he discovered, it may mean losing your job and being labelled a "Jewish anti-Semite". Finkelstein rejects the view that the Israel-Palestine conflict is impossibly complex as a mystification, insists that the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1948, and exposes Israel's damning human rights record. But most of all Beyond Chutzpah is a sustained attack on Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's bestselling The Case for Israel, which Finkelstein calls one of "the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict". First published in 2005, this revised edition has a lengthy preface detailing the book's reception, while an epilogue by Frank J Menetrez concludes that Dershowitz destroyed Finkelstein's career. It's an academic spat of epic proportions, but while Finkelstein wins the moral argument, his combative tone, born of exasperation, is unlikely to calm the debate.