Swindle With Use; the anti-Finkelstein Fraud
"Stand With Us" is an Israel-is-always-right organisation, mainly active in the United States, mobilising silly students, naieve kids and some rather obnoxious half-wits of all ages, in defence of whatever the Zionist State does against its neighbours and those under its occupation.
SWU calls itself an "international educational organisation that ensures that Israel's side of the story is told"; but mostly it campaigns against any voices that might disturb its supporters' ignorance or undeserved peace of mind. It has called on Israeli army veterans to protest against other Israeli soldiers who are exposing what they know of the brutality of occupation. It is urging its supporters to e-mail everyone it can think of at the University of California Santa Cruz to complain that they allowed a "one-sided" conference to be held about Israel and Zionism. Not their side, I take it.
It claims to have amassed more than 5,000 names on an online petition calling on De Paul university to refuse tenure to Professor Norman Finkelstein. It wants this Catholic university to sack the Jewish professor, son of Holocaust survivors. because he has criticised the way the Israeli state and American Jewish organisations have used the Holocaust, and has condemned Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. This "grassroots" petition underpins a campaign against Finkelstein led by Harvard lawman and Zionist witchfinder-general Professor Alan Dershowitz.
I am not one for lionising intellectuals, even when I agree with them, and I might not always agree with Norman Finkelstein. I would not want to give Professor Finkelstein ideas above his station. But as well as evoking comparisons with McCarthyism, this call by Jewish organisations and machers for Catholic authorities to suppress a Jewish dissident scholar puts Finkelstein in very distinguished company, historically speaking. In 1232 the Jewish authorities in Montpelier, southern France, annoyed by the way Moses Maimonides (Musa Ibn Maimoun, Moshe Ben Maimon, aka the Rambam) had sought to reconcile religion and reason, turned to the Inquisition, or at any rate the Dominican order, asking that Maimonides books should be burned. The Dominicans decided instead that the works might have some use. (see Mike Marqusee's reference to this episode, in another context:
I don't know whether these community leaders would have had the writer too burned. Moshe was already long dead before they sought the book burning, and had any way been living in safety in Egypt, where among other things he served as medical officer to the grand vizier Salah ed Din (Saladin). In those days the Islamic lands were freer and more tolerant than Europe, as is no longer unfortunately the case.
It became said that "From Moses unto Moses, there was none like unto Moses", and I don't wish to elevate Norman Finkelstein to that eminent status. But rather to show in which odious company the anti-Finkelstein witch-hunters would have us stand. Perhaps it is is because for them the Holocaust (itself an overly religious phrase to describe genocide) has also become a pillar of Faith, rather than subject for genuine study and rational debate which might lead to different political attitudes. That is the real betrayal of the Holocaust victims.
Although Stand With Us purports to be educational, they don't seem good at it, and nor does their Jewish education extend to the Ninth Commandment, judging from what I've seen of their petition. The messages accompanying the names are a bit repetitive. Several of the signatories appear to believe that Finkelstein (whose parents were in Auschwitz and Majdanek) denies the Holocaust, some accuse De Paul of being "antisemitic" because it hired (or "highered" as one writes) Professor Finkelstein "in the first place". One charming person proudly using the nom de plume "Itzhak Shamir"proclaims "We took care of his like at Deir Yassin and we'll do it again." (Yitzhak Shamir, a former Israeli prime minister, was a leader of Lehi, the Stern group terrorists who took part alongside Irgun Zvai Leumi in the massacre of Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin in April 1948).
I suppose it could be argued that we should not worry overmuch about meshuggeners and nerds indulging their violent fantasies in cyberspace, whether in messages like that, or hate lists like those circulated by Britain's Nazis and their Israeli settlement-based equivalent. At least while they are at their keyboards, or even making threatening nuisance calls, they are not out on the streets doing it. But that's not what the authorities or media say about child pornography or other violent stuff, and besides, we know that people identified on Nazi 'hit lists' have sometimes been hit.
What's to say that some of these Zionists falsely convincing themselves that such-and-such a political opponent is a "traitor" or "Nazi holocaust denier" are not just sidestepping the debate about what the person really says, not just trying to silence them; but psyching themselves and others up, so they can attempt some real harm to their target? That too has happened.
I incline to the view that trying to deny a person's right to pursue their profession and take away their livelihood is also a form of violence. Whether the authorities at De Paul will take much notice of this petition, I don't know. Norman Finkelstein's faculty colleagues have already supported his tenure and rejected the demands from Dershowitz. I hope the University, however short of funds and subject to pressure, will also stand up to ignorami and enemies of scholarship.
But I have an added personal reason for speaking b'roigez, in anger, about Stand With Us. It is now getting on two weeks since I leaned that my name, along with those of others holding similar views on this issue, had been fraudulently added to the Stand With Us anti-Finkelstein petition. Several people have been shocked to find their names in it. I don't know how many of the thousands have simply been fabricated, and how many people might be unaware their names were used.
On April 19 I e-mailed Ros Rothstein of Stand With Us, who is running the petition:
I have been shocked to find my name used on your online petition against tenure for Professor Norman Finkelstein. I do not support your petition and nor do others whose name appear with mine.
It is quite evident that someone deliberately took their names and mine from communications defending Norman Finkelstein's tenure. This is not a laughing matter, but a case of identity theft and libel.
I understand that you already promised to look into this matter. I don't know who is responsible for the misuse of people's names, but I do know it is your responsibility to remove them forthwith.
While I was awaiting a reply, and assurance that my name would be removed, I heard from more people whose names had been misused. For instance:
'In regard to continuing fraud on the petition against Professor Finkelstein's tenure: my name has now been added fraudulently - #4197. Apparently this is a reprisal after the fact of my circulating spread sheets of names on both "anti" and "pro" petitions for purposes of easy comparison by anyone worried that his or her name might have been "stolen" for the "Stand With Us" petition. I cannot imagine that De Paul will take this petition at all seriously. At least one other entry is unlikely (Robert Malley's: there may be two Robert Malleys, but the one whose name rings bells was one of the US's chief Oslo negotiators. He wrote a paper making clear that Oslo was a way of consolidating Israel's occupation of WB and Gaza.) It's unlikely that he'd sign this petition. Also unlikely that former Israeli PM and Stern-Gang founder Itzhak Shamir would sign the petition unless he's done so from the grave. The attending remark, "We took care of his like at Deir Yassin and we'll do it again," a reference to the massacre of Palestinian villagers in Deir Yassin by Irgun Zvei Leumi and Stern Gang terrorists in April, 1947, is at the level of the worst KKK, skinhead, and other neo-fascist hate-speech.
Last night I checked and found that not only was my name still included but it is on twice. I have still not heard from Ms.Rosalyn Rothstein. Nor, I must add from Petitions Online, whom I also contacted. They ought really to be having words with Stand With Us, and should remove the whole petition if the organisers don't clean up their act. The whole business of online petitions as an "exercise in democracy" risks being discredited by this kind of abuse.