Norman Finkelstein

Finkelstein has written of his parents' experiences during World War II. His mother, Maryla Husyt Finkelstein, grew up in Warsaw, Poland, and survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Majdanek concentration camp, as well as two slave labor camps. Her first husband died in the war. She considered the day of her liberation as the most horrible day of her life, since it first struck her then that she was alone, none of her parents and siblings having managed to survive. Norman's father, Zacharias Finkelstein, was a survivor of both the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz concentration camp.[5] After immigrating to the United States, his father became a factory worker, while his mother stayed home with the kids. Finkelstein's parents, particularly his mother, had communist leanings, although they never officially belonged to any ideological movement. Both his parents died in 1995.[6]

Finkelstein grew up in New York City. In his forthcoming memoir, Finkelstein recalls his strong youthful identification with the outrage that his mother, witness to the genocidal atrocities of World War II, felt at the carnage wrought by the United States in Vietnam. One childhood friend recalls his mother's "emotional investment in left-wing humanitarian causes as bordering on hysteria." [7] He had 'internalized (her) indignation', a trait which he admits rendered him 'insufferable' when talking of the Vietnam War, and which imbued him with a 'holier-than-thou' attitude at the time which he now regrets. But Finkelstein regards his absorption of his mother's outlook — the refusal to put aside a sense of moral outrage in order to get on with one's life — as a virtue. Subsequently, his reading of Noam Chomsky played a seminal role in tailoring the passion bequeathed to him by his mother to the necessity of maintaining intellectual rigor in the pursuit of the truth.[5] According to the New York Times, as his career progressed, his mother "came to feel he had taken her too literally and become a 'Frankenstein’s monster' on a path toward self-destruction."[8]

He completed his undergraduate studies at Binghamton University in New York in 1974, after which he studied at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. He went on to earn his Master's degree in political science from Princeton University in 1980, and later his PhD in political studies, also from Princeton. Finkelstein wrote his doctoral thesis on Zionism, and it was through this work that he first attracted controversy. Before gaining academic employment, Finkelstein was a part-time social worker with teenage dropouts in New York. He then taught successively at Rutgers University, New York University, Brooklyn College, and Hunter College and, until recently, taught at DePaul University in Chicago. According to the New York Times he left Hunter College in 2001 "after his teaching load and salary were reduced" by the college administration.[9]

Beginning with his doctoral thesis at Princeton, Finkelstein's career has been marked by controversy. A self-described "forensic scholar," he has written sharply critical academic reviews of several prominent writers and scholars whom he accuses of misrepresenting the documentary record in order to defend Israel's policies and practices. His writings, noted for their support of the Palestinian cause[2] have dealt with politically-charged topics such as Zionism, the demographic history of Palestine and his allegations of the existence of a "Holocaust Industry" that exploits the memory of the Holocaust to further Israeli and financial interests. Citing linguistand political activist Noam Chomsky as an example, Finkelstein notes that it is "possible to unite exacting scholarly rigor with scathing moral outrage,"[5] and supporters and detractors alike have remarked on the polemical style of Finkelstein's work.[1][10] Its content has been praised by eminent historians such as Raul Hilberg and Avi Shlaim,[10] as well as Chomsky.

Norman Finkelstein's

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