Monday, December 04, 2006

Text of JVO Article on Gordon, Dershowitz and Plaut

Subject: Text of JVO ARticle on Gordon, Dershowitz and Plaut (starting on page 3)

Slander, Plagiarism and Holocaust Revisionism

By S.L.R.

Prof Neve Gordon, a teacher and prolific left-wing writer from Ben Gurion

University who regularly bashes Israel and her leaders, may have finally met

his match. Last month, Dr. Gordon, who is currently suing Haifa University

Economics Prof Steven Plaut for essentially writing an insultingly negative

review, was challenged by Harvard law professor and author Alan Dershowitz

to sue him as well.

"Here is my challenge to Neve Gordon: I visit Israel frequently, and am

easily available for service of process. I invite Gordon to sue me for

essentially restating in my own words what Prof Plaut has said: It is my

opinion that Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust

justice deniers, and anti-Semites. He is a despicable example of a

self-hating Jew and a self-hating Israeli," wrote Mr. Dershowitz.

Dr. Gordon, a BGU senior lecturer with special interests in "Political

Theory, Human Rights, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," based his suit

against Dr. Plaut on an Internet email posting after Dr. Gordon wrote a

positive (Mr. Dershowitz called it "a fawning") review of the book Beyond

Chutzpah by Norman Finkelstein in Ha'aretz.

While Mr. Finkelstein does not deny that the Holocaust occurred, he

regularly minimizes the number of survivors and refers to many of them as

"hoaxes" and "hucksters." He has accused Elie Wiesel of lying about his


Who Wrote the Book?

In 2003, when Mr. Dershowitz, an ardent, eloquent, and not always uncritical

defender of the Jewish state, published his well-received book, *The Case

*Israel*, Mr. Finkelstein initially suggested the book, which has been

described as a proactive defense of Israel and almost an amicus brief to the

court of public opinion, had been written by the Israeli Mossad.

When Mr. Dershowitz produced his hand-written manuscript, Mr. Finkelstein

changed his story and claimed that, in the book, Mr. Dershowitz had

plagiarized information and ideas from Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial, a

claim most scholars�including Harvard's own investigative team�dismissed.

The charge appears again in Beyond Chutzpah, which, according to Mr.

Finkelstein "copiously documents that The Case for Israel is among the most

spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine


Some say the animus between Messrs Dershowitz and Finkelstein prompted the

latter to title his new book *Beyond Chutzpah* as a surly tweak at Mr.

Dershowitz's 1991 best-seller *Chutzpah.*

Lawsuits or Censor?

In another positive review of *Beyond Chutzpah*, published by the *National*

*Catholic Reporter*, Dr. Gordon devoted two paragraphs to the accusation

Mr. Dershowitz "tried to stop the University of California Press from

publishing" the book, a claim that has also been proffered by Mr.


According to Mr. Finkelstein, Mr. Dershowitz initially contacted the

University of California Press because he was concerned that by again

bringing up the charges of plagiarism, Beyond Chutzpah would libel him.

Through his attorneys, Mr. Dershowitz strongly suggested that the publisher

not permit this.

Mr. Finkelstein said the publisher was "understandably at great pains to

fend off a potential lawsuit."

"For an academic publisher, the associated costs would have been ruinous, to

the point of making certain victory meaningless," said Mr. Finkelstein.


According to Mr. Finkelstein, there was a point at which it seemed likely

that Beyond Chutzpah would not be published, until, finally, a compromise

was reached between him and the publisher by which some allegations about

Mr. Dershowitz were removed from the text.

Seemingly furious that Mr. Dershowitz was able to claim victory, Mr.

Finkelstein said, "Resorting to blackmail and censorship is not normally

reason for boasting."

Dr. Gordon's allegation that the University of California Press has

"numerous letters" in which Mr. Dershowitz and the "prestigious law firm

that he hired demand that it sever all contact with Finkelstein," makes

sense in the context of Mr. Dershowitz's insistence that libelous material

be removed.

Mr. Dershowitz publicly released the letters in which he told the University

of California Press, "I have no interest in censoring or suppressing

Finkelstein's freedom of expression."


Responding to Dr. Gordon's charge that he had tried to stop publication of

Beyond Chutzpah, Mr. Dershowitz accused Dr. Gordon of simply repeating Mr.

Finkelstein's "lie." Mr. Dershowitz pointed out that Mr. Finkelstein "has a

history of claiming that prominent Jews are trying to silence him, prevent

publication of his books, and keep them from being reviewed."

According to Mr. Dershowitz, Mr. Finkelstein has written: "All

opinion-leaders, from the left to the right, are Jews. The silence around my

book in the US�if this is not a conspiracy, then what is one?"

"What's ironic about Gordon's article, though, is that just as he was

falsely accusing me of trying to silence Finkelstein, he was trying to

silence Steven Plaut."

Protecting Arafat

Dr. Plaut's Internet post which prompted Dr. Gordon to sue him came after

the flattering review of *Beyond Chutzpah* in *Ha'aretz*, and was entitled

"Ha'aretz Promotes 'Jews for Hitler.'"

Recalling Dr. Gordon's visit to the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat

while the latter was a virtual prisoner in his headquarters in Ramallah (Dr.

Gordon said, at the time, that he had come in order to serve as a human

shield to protect Mr. Arafat against the IDF), Dr. Plaut said Mr. Arafat was

Dr. Gordon's "guru" and then compared Dr. Gordon to members of Judenrats

during the Holocaust.

Without claiming any material damages, Dr. Gordon proceeded to sue Dr. Plaut

for slander, using Israel's legal permission for the plaintiff to choose

which judge will hear the case. Dr. Gordon and his attorney selected a

female Arab judge, Reem Naddaf, in Nazareth, who found Dr. Plaut guilty and

ordered him to pay NIS 80,000 ($18,775).

While this is being appealed, Dr. Plaut's legal fees are also mounting. In

the US, where even Dr. Gordon recognized that his complaint would be seen as

a violation of free speech, Dr. Plaut might be able to file a SLAPP

(Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation) suit, designed to prevent

parties from making free speech too financially onerous to pursue.

Holocaust Revisionism in Israel

Mr. Dershowitz accused Judge Naddaf of going "out of her way in her

opinion's dicta to justify Holocaust revisionism, which of course goes over

the line into something far darker, as it does when Finkelstein espouses it

to mock survivors and condemn those seeking justice."

In her written opinion, Judge Naddaf praised Mr. Arafat as the "legitimate

leader of his people" and defended Dr. Gordon's entry into his compound and

service as a "human shield," which was in violation of Israeli law, as

"legitimate protest."

She then turned her attention to the Holocaust and the rights of Holocaust

deniers and minimizers to speak out without even the risk of being


"At times we are witness to the phenomenon in which some people 'dare' to

re-examine the Holocaust and its dimensions, from various aspects, whether

it be the human, historic, scientific, political, etc, and where such people

are turned into objects for attack and accusations of being anti-Semites and

Holocaust deniers, deserving of being called Judenrat or Jews for Hitler,"

she wrote, adding that "this phenomenon is not understandable or justified,

in my opinion, and contradicts the principles of democracy, which should

stand fast, especially in those debates in which stormy public opinion

re-examines such sensitive and painful subjects."

Many legal analysts point out that while Judge Naddaf granted freedom of

speech to Holocaust revisionists, she denied that freedom to those, such as

Dr. Plaut, who would challenge them.


Mr. Dershowitz maintained that Judge Naddaf's decision was "wrong" both

substantively and legally.

"First, as to substance, Gordon argued, dubiously, that Plaut meant to

include him (Gordon) when he wrote 'Jews for Hitler,' rather than

Finkelstein and his fellow-travelers such as Noam Chomsky, who have openly

endorsed Holocaust deniers and revisionists," said Mr. Dershowitz.

Having said that, however, Mr. Dershowitz acknowledged that, considering Dr.

Gordon's public admiration for Mr. Finkelstein, he believes there may be a

factual basis behind the claim that Dr. Gordon "supports genocidal


"The major theme of the Finkelstein book that Gordon was extolling is that

Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism," said Mr. Dershowitz, quoting from

the book: "Alongside Israel, [American Jewish elites] are the main fomenters

of anti-Semitism in the world today. They must be stopped."

Neo-Nazis and Islamists

Mr. Dershowitz and Dr. Plaut have pointed out that many articles by Mr.

Finkelstein and Dr. Gordon are featured on Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi

websites, including the one belonging to Ernst Zundel, a German-born

Holocaust denier who resided in Canada and was imprisoned in the US (for

visa violations) and in Canada (for publishing hate literature and becoming

a national security threat). In 2005, he was deported to Germany, where he

was immediately arrested and is awaiting trial for "inciting racial hatred."

Referring to Mr. Finkelstein, Mr. Zundel has said, "He is making

three-fourths of our argument�and making it effectively."

"So if Finkelstein and Gordon aren't themselves explicitly neo-Nazi, they're

at least very highly regarded by those who are�and for good reason," said

Mr. Dershowitz.

Dr. Plaut pointed out that many anti-Israel publications written by Muslims

and their left-wing supporters in the West have posted and reprinted Dr.

Gordon's material. The weekly Egyptian paper Al-Ahram has a piece in which

Dr. Gordon compares Israel's behavior to that of Nazi Germany on

Kristallnacht, and the anti-Israel British publication, Counterpunch, has

one in which Dr. Gordon compares Israeli behavior to Adolf Eichmann's.

"Gordon regularly compares Israel's defense fence to the walls built by Nazi

Germany around concentration camps and ghettos," said Dr. Plaut.

"Modest" or "Severe"

Defending himself in the Jerusalem Post last month, Dr. Gordon denied that

he is a neo-Nazi or anti-Israel, and, he said, he has never compared

Israelis to Nazis.

"Following the great Jewish tradition, I try, however modestly, to be

critical of Israel whenever its policies violate principles of justice or

human rights," he wrote, adding that he still believes Mr. Dershowitz is

guilty of plagiarism and attempting to prevent Beyond Chutzpah from being


Later in his piece, he discounted his earlier characterization of himself as

a "modest" critic of Israel and wrote, "Yes, I am a severe critic of the

Israeli government's policies, but just as I want my opinions to be heard, I

believe in freedom of expression and am not interested in censoring other

people's opinions, including those of Dershowitz or Plaut."

Why He's Suing

Then why is he suing Dr. Plaut? Because, he said, the Haifa University

professor called him "an anti-Semite, Judenrat wannabe, and promoter of


"The use of Holocaust vocabulary is intentional and emotive, designed to

destroy my credibility in the political arena," he wrote.

Dr. Gordon said he was suing Dr. Plaut for slander because the Haifa

University professor had "published an article on the racist Kahane website,

asking his readers to harass me�some obediently complied; he also

disseminated the falsehood that my academic ability is poor, and even

initiated an international campaign to have me fired."

Dr. Plaut denied that he had ever posted any of his articles on a Kahane

website, but he recognized that just as Dr. Gordon's pieces may wind up on

neo-Nazi websites, his may be used by those who appreciate his politically

conservative, pro-Zionist views. Dr. Plaut also denied that he had ever

encouraged anyone to "harass" Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon called Mr. Dershowitz's challenge to sue him, too, "a cheap


Dr. Plaut said reading Dr. Gordon's attack on Mr. Dershowitz reminded him

"of the fable about the flea calling the elephant 'shorty.'"

"War Crimes"

Many media accounts of the dispute between Drs Gordon and Plaut have noted

the similarities between Dr. Gordon's apparent attempt to suppress his

critic's freedom of speech and the tactics adopted by Holocaust revisionist

David Irving in his unsuccessful suit against Holocaust historian Deborah


"While whining about his 'reputation," Gordon led a venomous and dishonest

campaign of vilification against Israeli Gen Aviv Kochavi for 'war crimes,'

which resulted in attempts by Muslims in Britain to prosecute Kochavi under

phony charges should he ever set foot in London," said Dr. Plaut.

Mr. Dershowitz characterized Dr. Gordon as "one of the world's most extreme

anti-Israel academics," who "belongs to the class of rabidly anti-Israel

far-left professors whose trademark is the delight they take in comparing

Israel to apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany."

"Talk about chutzpah. It's absurd that Gordon is allowed to call people

Nazis, but Plaut isn't, especially given that Plaut's characterization is

far closer to the truth," said Mr. Dershowitz, adding that he personally

wishes the term "Nazi" were reserved only for Hitler and his followers.

Protected Speech

Nevertheless, said Mr. Dershowitz, Dr. Plaut's critique of Dr. Gordon, a

recognized public person, "falls squarely within the realm of well-supported

opinion, and it should be protected in any free society."

Mr. Dershowitz accused Dr. Gordon of being "afraid of the open marketplace

of ideas, and so he has gone whining to a friendly judge to protect his


"It's an undemocratic ploy, violative of principles of free speech and

fairness," said Mr. Dershowitz.

Punishing BGU

Many of Mr. Dershowitz's arguments have been voiced by others, including

some BGU personnel in the US, whose job to fundraise for the school may be

compromised by Dr. Gordon's activities.

One employee, who asked for anonymity, in the New York office of American

Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev acknowledged that although

the school could do nothing about Dr. Gordon, she could understand why

donors might withhold contributions as long as he was associated with the

school, writing screeds against Israel, and pursuing his anti-free speech

suit against Dr. Plaut.

In an article written by Dr. Gordon for "Borderlands e-Journal," he

acknowledged that the president of BGU had received the following letter,

which Dr. Gordon characterized as "hate mail":

"I recently received a solicitation from you on behalf of Ben-Gurion and was

planning to send money to this fine institution�that is, until I found out

about Neve Gordon teaching political science for you. It is unfathomable

that you can allow a vicious Holocaust denier who sings the praises of

Norman Finkelstein, the famous Jewish anti-Semite who is worshipped by

neo-Nazis, at your university. This, at a time when worldwide anti-Semitism

has reached levels not seen since the (yes, it really happened as written,

Mr. Gordon!) Holocaust, is completely unacceptable. As long as you allow

Neve Gordon to teach at Ben-Gurion, you will never receive any money from me

or my community in support. I urge you to remove Gordon (and anyone else who

preaches such reprehensible ideas) from your university."

Angry Talk-Backs

After Dr. Gordon's piece appeared in the Jerusalem Post, most of the

"talk-backs" showed that readers were unimpressed by his arguments; many

were ready to let BGU suffer the consequences.

One said he would "re-think" any contributions to BGU and another wished Dr.

Gordon would "defend your own people against their enemies rather than

defend our enemies."

Someone using the name Gavriel said the article had prompted him to research

Dr. Gordon's work on the Internet. Gavriel said he then reached the

conclusion "unequivocally that Neve Gordon is decidedly anti-Zionist,

racist, and pro-terror."

"His constant comparisons to South Africa and Nazi Germany show both his

limited understanding of political science and his lack of imagination for

generating comparisons beyond cliche. Please web search and see for

yourselves," he said, adding a warning to BGU that its reputation would

suffer "until you dump your garbage."

Dr. Plaut characterized the courses taught by Dr. Gordon at BGU as amounting

to "little more than anti-Israel political indoctrination, such as his

notorious 'Critical Aspects of the Occupation,' in which no Zionist opinion

dare be expressed."

"That says volumes about the standards of the political science department

at BGU," he said.

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