Alan Johnson on his recent debate with Norman Finkelstein

Professor Alan Johnson, senior research fellow for Bicom and editor of Fathom journal, writes in the JC about his recent debate with Professor Norman Finkelstein at Kings College.

He did not mention the antisemitic murders in Toulouse, Paris, Brussels or Copenhagen. Instead, he told the audience that the opinion polls that have been reporting a rise in antisemitism were stupid. How so? Well, he said, agreement with statements about Jews do not indicate antisemitism if those statements are… true.

You see, he informed the students, Jews do think they are better than anyone else and Jews do bang on about the Holocaust too much to gain sympathy (“doesn’t every sane person think that Jews talk too much about the Holocaust?” he asked, mockingly, to laughter). And so on.

The taboos fell like nine pins. “Jews are tapped into the networks of power and privilege,” he said. “You marry a Jew, it opens doors,” because Jews are “the richest ethnic group in the United States”. Maybe there was some little stigma, sometimes, directed at some Jews, but so what? It’s not nice, but it is “socially inconsequential”. In fact – he actually said this, I have the tape – it is more socially consequential to be short, fat, bald or ugly than to be Jewish. “Look,” he said, “most people carry on in life, bearing these stigmas. It’s called life. Get used to it.”

How bad was it? So bad that, during the discussion period, the press officer from the Stop the War group stood up and objected: “Hold on, we do need to take antisemitism

Read the whole article here.

3 Responses to “Alan Johnson on his recent debate with Norman Finkelstein”

  1. Jacob Arnon (@Jacob_Arnon) Says:

    Given that privilege is Finkelstein primary bete-noir and given that he assumes that Jews are a privileged people in Western culture and that he denies antisemitism I would respond to him not by arguing that he is wrong and that antisemitism is real but by stating that in Western culture people who criticize prevailing truths gain academic privilege. This is why a Finkelstein in spite of his dubious and false historical views is given the right to address a university audience. (I might add in parenthesis that European Jews before the Nazi accession of power also were deemed a privileged minority yet that didn’t stop the catastrophe that overtook them.)

    Hence it isn’t that Jews are privileged but that the view of Jewish privilege is attractive to many people in the Western world including of course antisemites that makes Finkelstein’s views attractive.

    Moreover, that world is especially gratified by having another a Jew like Finkelstein justify the very idea of antisemitism by denying that such a prejudice exists. Antisemites have always relied on Jewish denial of antisemitism.

    It’s no use arguing against a Finkelstein in terms of facts that he will deny and that his audience will not accept, but we need to challenge Finkelstein very premises: his arguments are based on a kind of hermeneutics of suspicion, and in order to counter his claims it is important to ask the audience to suspend judgement and to apply the same kind of suspicion to what Finkelstein preaches.

  2. zaccaerdydd Says:

    Norman G. Finkelstein’s Blog

    March 13, 2015

    “These are bad bad times” = “this is good business for stupid goys like me – who, if we weren’t getting paid to defend Israel, would have to find a real job”

    I debated with Norman Finkelstein at King’s College. It was dire, and scary
    http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/27422.Norman_G_Finkelstein/blog

  3. zaccaerdydd Says:

    If a video isn’t put out soon, I hope Johnson makes the audio available.


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