Norman Finkelstein is a political scientist, activist, professor, and author.
He has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, focusing on the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians, accusing Israel of human rights violations against them.
Norman has historically advocated for a two-state solution which envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders.
Israel, as it happens, doesn’t want a two-state solution.
It’s an industry
A couple of decades ago he wrote a book called The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, in which he exposes the wide array of organisations and individuals who claim to be defenders of Jews while, in reality, serving only their own interests.
Put differently, he contends that the suffering of Jews (and others) is exploited for the financial benefit of a select few.
The book argues that the events are used for geopolitical interests, particularly benefiting Israel and Jewish groups in the United States, by providing them with immunity from criticism.
For example, anybody who criticises Israel is labelled an ‘antisemite‘.
Furthermore, Norman notes that there have been many holocausts throughout history (such as the Holodomor), yet this one gets special attention and even a capitalised ‘H’.
He adds that, in the US, all of this was largely ignored until the 1960s (which is when the industry began taking form).
A propaganda machine
It became popular in American culture and academia following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Norman suggests that this was less about historical research and more about US foreign policy, particularly in relation to Israel.
In other words, popularising the events of World War II was politically motivated.
Propaganda, one might say.
Both of Norman’s parents survived the camps (but his extended family didn’t), and the book delves into how this aspect of his family history impacted him.
Throughout the book, Norman examines how the camps are represented in modern culture, politics, and Jewish identity, questioning some conventional narratives.
He looks at how it’s become an ideological weapon rather than a historical reflection.
It enables people, both in power and on the ground, to leverage power and gain moral advantages.
Here’s my conversation with him.