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.

The claim that all Jewish suffering is unique turns the Nazi genocide into an extortion racket.

Norman Finkelstein

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.

Israel and Palestine

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 Holocaust Industry, by Norman Finkesltein

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‘.

The real lessons of the Nazi holocaust have to do with the dangers of racism, the dangers of ethnic hatred, the dangers of nationalism. But these are not the lessons that are being drawn. On the contrary, the lesson that’s being drawn is that a terrible thing happened to the Jews and, therefore, the state of Israel can do whatever it wants.

Norman Finkelstein

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’.

Why?

He's just defending himself

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.

Hollywood helped create the industry in the 1960s
Hollywood helped create the industry in the 1960s

The Holocaust is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust. Like most ideologies, it bears a connection, if tenuous, with reality. The Holocaust is not an arbitrary, but rather an internally coherent construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests.

Norman Finkelstein

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.

The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world’s most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a “victim” state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired victim status.

Norman Finkelstein

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