Monday, December 04, 2006
Text of JVO Article on Gordon, Dershowitz and Plaut
Subject: Text of JVO ARticle on Gordon, Dershowitz and Plaut
http://www.jewishvoiceandopinion.com/pdf/200612.pdf (starting on page 3)
Slander, Plagiarism and Holocaust Revisionism
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
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."
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
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
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.'"
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.
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.
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."
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.