Normal Finkelstein is mainly responsible for the idea that Jews abuse Holocaust memory to screw the Germans out of cash and deflect criticism of the occupation. He wrote a famous piece titled Kill Arabs, Cry Anti-Semitism, which you can find in the home of so much that’s politically whiffy, CounterPunch. He was denied tenure at the US and had to leave. He is also an obsessive and uninsightful anti-Zionist in a way which suggests violence if enacted.
There’s coverage in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post that he was arrested on entry to Israel (he was on his way to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to see a friend in Hesbollah). He hinted to the press – he was permitted to give a statement it seems – that he’d been tortured but although it would suit him marvellously to become a cause celebre, it’s almost certainly not the case. If he had been you can bet we’d have known unambiguously from the horse’s mouth.
As with so much else I’m new to this banning stuff. First I thought it would have been much better, much more liberal, to let him in, protest against him and make the case. I wondered what state Israeli society is in if it can’t let in Finkelstein, who is vastly influential but who is also easily recognised as a crank by people who understand the situation.
Then I gave myself a clip round the ear. What kind of sucker are you, Flesh? You have to learn to spot the difference between debate and pro-war campaigning. Finkelstein is right up there with the other inciters. He’s straining every fibre to end Israel and he thinks that Hesbollah should wage all-out war. He probably salutes the way it’s turned its guns on those, as he sees them, pusillanimous Lebanese, and these things provided the final grounds for his deportation. The Shin Bet said Finkelstein “is not permitted to enter Israel because of suspicions involving hostile elements in Lebanon,” and because he “did not give a full accounting to interrogators with regard to these suspicions.”
Hesbollah is at war with Israel and Lebanon. Finkelstein supports that war. Israel is trying to avoid a repeat of 2006. So I’d imagine there are plenty of grounds for banning Finkelstein in the national interest. Lots of states ban hatemongering foreign nationals from polluting their society. The UK banned Louis Farrakhan, since 1986 – here are some of the things he’s said. Don Treshman, because his interpretation of anti-abortion led to violence. Various preachers of terror.
Israel has a good track record of free speech, incidentally, as does the UK. Sometimes that’s trumped by the need to exclude people who preach violence. There are invariably appeals for these bannings. Finkelstein will certainly appeal.