Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
by Norman G. Finkelstein
London: Verso, 1995. 243 pp. $18.95.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Finkelstein hates the State of Israel with a venom that seems to be the trademark of some Jewish intellectuals (Noam Chomsky and Israel Shahak are other examples). In each of six essays he takes up one aspect of Zionist history and argues for its "systematic bias." In plain English, he finds Israel always evil. Zionism is inherently racist (and its great leader, David Ben-Gurion, was "comically" racist). 188 The newborne Israeli state intentionally expelled its Arab residents. 52 Israel was solely responsible for the outbreak of wars in 1967 and 1973.
The persistent invocation of Nazism may be the most noxious aspect of Image and Reality. In the dedication to his parents, both of whom are identified as survivors of the Nazi camps, the author establishes his superior Jewish credentials. Thus enfranchised, he time and again compares Israelis to Nazis, and on the most minor of pretexts. The "Zionist myth" he compares to Nazis' claiming not to know about the Holocaust. The Zionist notion of "a land without a people for a people without a land" reminds him of Hitler's drive for Lebensraum. The Israeli military's doctrine of "purity of arms" also recalls Nazism.
Because Finkelstein, like many disillusioned Zionists, dwells obsessively with Israel's faults and shows no interest at all in Arabs, his prose resembles nothing so much as that of high imperialism, when wogs hardly appeared on the stage of history. Like writers then, this author dismisses one half of the power equation as beneath his consideration. In the end, Finkelstein's self-hatred is an ugly form of narcissism.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | September 1996 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.