I just came across an argument, a literal verbal fisticuffs, regarding Israel (of course) which harked me back to many a pleasurable Friday night dinner. There I once was dunking my chollah into a small pile of salt, trying intensely hard to block out my then girlfriend’s dad’s putrefying views about Arabs (one wouldn’t mention the P word in civil conversation), repeating the mantra to myself, ‘He’s thick but powerless just try to impress him, he’s thick but powerless…’, when suddenly I snapped, entered the fray, and before I knew it I’d been sent upstairs by my girlfriends dad on our first Shabbes together before I’d even got past the chicken soup. I’m not the only person to find myself reliving those arguments over and over whenever amongst mainstream Jews, right?
I admit this is old hat, but the video that triggered that wonderful memory was the conversation between Alan Dershowitz and Norman Finkelstein on Democracy Now! Radio 2003. By proxy of Noam Chomsky’s rebuffs, I’ve kind of grown up on Dershowitz. To watch such a powerful man squirm for a whole hour when faced with Finkelstein’s accusation of double fraud – plagiarism of a fraudulent book – is sheer delight.
[For some reason you might need to refresh your browser to make this video show. If you can’t see it, here is its page]
As a consequence of this debate it was not Dershowitz who lost his academic position, but rather Finkelstein himself. I won’t make any jokes about how that’s a bit like being thrown out of a Shabbes dinner for standing up to racism…