A slanted piece on Finkelstein’s deportation in The Guardian

Update. For more on this see Martin In The Margins.

Further to my last post The Guardian is ridiculously wrong on Finkelstein. If I had better expectations of The Guardian, I’d be surprised.

Probably the most irresponsible aspect of the article is the assertion that Finkelstein has been banned for ‘criticising Israel’. Author Toni O’Loughlin is playing to the beat of Finkelstein’s tub here – one limb of his campaign is to make the world believe that Israel overreacts to plain decent criticism. But is an American national who commands considerable media attention calling for a violent invasion of Israel mere ‘criticism‘? And there’s no reason to suppose that Finkelstein was banned for ‘criticising Israel’ – and what’s his father’s Holocaust survival got to do with anything? (maybe the author believes that’s a pedigree which makes Jews more truthful…)

Finkelstein is pro-war and obsessively anti-Israel. He wants Israel gone and he supports Hesbollah and other violent resistance to this end. As an aside, he speaks on the conflict without compassion as if the world were a chessboard. He’s a discredit crank who lost his De Paul University job because he’s a crank. Israel contains and receives a small number of people with views somewhat in his direction – important to Finkelstein’s deportation would have been whether or not he has plans to whip up hate or violence.

But The Guardian wants us to think his deportation was part of the “increasingly bitter divide in academic circles, between those who support and those who criticise its treatment of Palestinians.” But if there is such a divide in Israeli academics, what has that to do with whether or not Finkelstein is banned by Shin Bet? (Nothing.)

The Guardian wants us to think that Ilan Pappe was deported too. Indeed, the false charge that Pappe was hounded out from Haifa on a spurious pretext was one of the defamatory premises of an old UCU boycott campaign – this was easily debunked and that particular boycott was abandoned (there’s another boycott motion in UCU this week). Pappe seems to have things very uncomfortable for himself with his aggressive and self-promoting politics (and note that there are plenty of anti-Zionists who make a go of it in Israeli academia and civic life) but he kept his tenure. Incidentally, he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. He gave an interview to a neo-Nazi publication without a) checking first and b) noticing that the questions are strange. And he’s still not banned from Israel.

The nature of author Toni O’Loughlin’s errors suggest bias – again, this is in keeping with The Guardian coverage of Israel in general.


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