Leon Wieseltier put it best when he referred to Norman Finkelstein--the hysterical, Hezbollah-loving, soon-to-be-late-of DePaul University political science professor--as "poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock." Finkelstein has built a career on defaming Holocaust survivors as greedy liars out to rob noble Swiss bankers, all the while using "I'm Jewish!" as a defense. The wife of the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Ernst Zuendel once said, "I feel like a kid in a candy store… Finkelstein is a Jewish David Irving." You get the picture. But if you don't, read Omer Bartov's review of Finkelstein's The Holocaust Industry in the New York Times.
Well, it looks like Professor Finkelstein has some company under that rock: Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky and, perhaps more surprising, ostensibly respectable academic figures like Tony Judt and John Mearsheimer, author of the conspiratorial The Israel Lobby.
In June, DePaul University denied Finkelstein tenure. Of course, his defenders are all weeping the tears of those victimized by academic "censorship" (because, as we all know, it's leftists who are "censored" on college campuses). Ultimately, however, it was not Finkelstein's political views--odious as they are--that did him in, but his shoddy scholarship and unprofessional behavior. As DePaul's president wrote at the time, Finkelstein did not "honor the obligation" to "respect and defend the free inquiry of associates." DePaul has canceled Finkelstein's class, but the good professor says he may carry out a "hunger strike" in protest. He'd be doing the world a favor if he did.
These academic heroes have joined an outfit called the "DePaul Academic Freedom Committee," the mission of which is to "preserve academic freedom for our faculty on campus." Ali, Chomsky, Judt and Mearsheimer will be convening a teach-in at DePaul in October to protest on behalf of Finkelstein. Though now lacking an academic perch (DePaul is the third university from which he has been fired) Finkelstein won't be out of a job for long; I imagine the Iranian mullahs, Hizbollah or Hamas would love nothing more than to have an energetic, American Jewish spokesperson to make their respective cases (though perhaps he's more effective advocating for them in an unofficial, unpaid capacity). If they don't come through, Finkelstein can always go climb back under his rock.
One expects these sorts of theatrics from Ali and Chomsky. But Judt and Mearsheimer have revealed much about themselves--and their intellectual motivations--by choosing to advocate for a Hezbollah propagandist and hero of neo-Nazis.