A Jewish American professor known for his strident criticism of Israel dramatically ended a J-TV debate, saying its host – Henry Jackson Society founder Alan Mendoza – was a moron.
Prof Norman Finkelstein was debating the question of whether Israel is held to double standards with Rabbi Ken Spiro on British-based YouTube channel J-TV, with both historians patched in to the debate on video-calls.
The discussion began with Spiro arguing that there were more United Nations resolutions condemning Israel than every other country in the world combined, but Finkelstein said: "It would be useful if Israel were held to any standard."
He added: "The reason there are so many resolutions condemning Israel is because Israel simply ignores them... If it had stopped expanding settlements in 1967, there wouldn't be a deluge of resolutions condemning settlement expansion."
Finkelstein then accused Spiro of "reading from an Israeli propaganda sheet," before Mendoza asked Finkelstein to keep his answers concise, prompting Finkelstein to say: "If you want to just chat, then you should cut me off."
As the debate turned to Israeli military actions in Gaza, the shouting grew louder, with arbitrator Mendoza criticising Finkelstein's "diatribe," before saying: "It should be obvious to anyone that the methods the Israeli army employed... exceeds that of any other Western country."
Finkelstein accused Mendoza of "speaking the biggest nonsense on God's earth," adding: "You haven't a clue what you're talking about. I deem offensive what you're saying, because people are dead, children are dead... I read 300 reports into Operation Cast Lead. How many did you read? It's despicable how you carry on, with your red tie and your crossed legs, when people are being killed."
Spiro said Finkelstein was focusing on "only one side of the story," before Mendoza asked Finkelstein: "Where's your concern for the people of Syria, with 250,000 dead, how many reports on Syria have you read? What condemnation have you read?"
Finkelstein said: "I read about Syria every day, and not from apologists like you... You have to be a certifiable moron if you've not heard condemnation of Syria. That's it. You're brain-dead. I'm not having a conversation with someone who's brain-dead... I've never seen such stupidity."
Shortly after the connection is cut, and Spiro concludes by saying the Finkelstein descended into "insults," before Mendoza agreed with Spiro, who said: "It bodes ill for the moral standard of the world when so many people are being slaughtered and exiled and yet it seems to have nothing better to do than to hyper-focus on Israel."