Self-hating Jew or inspirational revolutionary - decide for yourself
The 2009 film “American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein” is a thorough examination of the academic’s life and career with equal contributions from both his supporters and critics. The film, directed by David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier, has been screened at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), at Toronto Hot Docs and more than 40 other national and international venues. It won the audience choice award at the 2009 IFP Chicago Underground Film Festival and the Cinema Politica Audience Award in 2010, as well as many other prizes.
You can watch “American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein” on RT America on November 17 and 18.
Norman Finkelstein, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, has devoted his life to the study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust.
Finkelstein is the author of several provocative books, including the sensational “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering,” where Finkelstein accuses the American Jewish establishment of exploiting the memory of the Holocaust to their own advantage and promoting the interests of Israel.
“There is no anti-Semitism, it is a pure fabrication. … There is a creation of a new anti-Semitism to turn Israel and its supporters into the victims. Turning reality totally on its head,” said Finkelstein.
“American Radical” shows Finkelstein as a complex and supremely lonely figure, uncompromising even in the roughest times, whose self-destructive nature often undermines his academic credibility. Film directors David Ridgen and Nicolas Rossier say Norman Finkelstein was the consummate documentary subject.
“…A complex firebrand, principled to the point of self-ruin at the apex of several of the world’s largest conflicts. A man who has never been asked to appear on mainstream American television, but who regularly appears – always creating controversy – in the international media. Norman Finkelstein’s life is about focus, through a prism of his upbringing by Holocaust survivors,” the directors say.
Due to his radical views on the Holocaust issue and Israeli policies, Finkelstein has become an iconic figure for the Arab and Muslim communities around the world, at the same time alienating much of the Israeli and Jewish communities. The academic is often criticized by prominent Jewish organizations, some of whom he openly accuses of corruption. In May 2008, he was banned from entering Israel for ten years.
Finkelstein received his Ph.D in political science from Princeton University and held faculty positions at Brooklyn College, Rutgers University, Hunter College, New York University and, most recently, DePaul University. However, the controversies over Finkelstein’s ideas ended with his denial of tenure from DePaul University in June 2007. Since then, he has been an independent political scientist.
The filmmakers follow Finkelstein all around the world, from Beirut to Kyoto, providing an intimate portrait of the man behind the controversy and exploring the deeply complex issues at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Few will go where he does. A Jew deliberately walking into Hezbollah headquarters, into a Palestinian refugee camp, into a room filled with those who vehemently oppose his views, to speak his mind,” say Ridgen and Rossier. “At once anti-hero, clown and merciless scholar, Finkelstein creates as many storms as he enters. And to what end? When radicals collide, does it create understanding? Some would argue that sometimes it does. Others would claim that Finkelstein’s principled but too often bitter advocacy does much to discredit the cause of a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audiences can decide for themselves.”