Norman Finkelstein Hits Hard Times
I’ve mentioned Norman Finkelstein quite a bit on here over the years, for his hatred of Israel which has even manifested itself with a meeting with Hizbullah terrorists. And while he has slammed the BDSHoles, there is no doubting his anti-Israel credentials.
For instance, his books don’t sell:
The term forensic scholar has been applied to you. All of your books are exhaustively researched and place an emphasis on factual documentation. You recently commented, “I am a person of detail and mastering the detail.” Is there still an audience for that kind of writing in this twitter age?
No. My books don’t sell anymore. There are many reasons why they don’t sell but one of the reasons is because people don’t read anymore. Forget about reading books of detail, they don’t read at all. Somebody said to me yesterday you should write a book on the Palestine industry, because so many people are capitalizing on the Palestine struggle and making a career, and I said “Write a book?” [Nowadays] you do two text messages, three tweets, and one Facebook posting.
He’s unemployed. And unemployable:
Slightly a different topic, but it’s been seven years since you held a full-time teaching post at a university. You’ve had a very tenuous relationship with the academy, and in that regard, I’d liken you to figures like W.E.B. Du Bois and Anna Julia Cooper who sought alternative institutions to practice their politics. Can you describe your role now as an outsider, both from academia as well as the mainstream media, to engage with the public, to express your ideas via writing, public speaking, social media etc.
I was a teacher and it was a huge loss for me, it remains a huge loss for me. It’s a source of personal and private disappointment and bitterness frankly, and I have not been particularly productive in the last seven years.
If you don’t mind my asking, are you currently employed at the moment?
I no longer say I’m unemployed. I say I’m unemployable, it’s different. An unemployed suggests at a certain point in the future, you might be employed. That’s not the case with me. I’m unemployable and unfortunately that’s one of the bits of the web, in particular of Google. When I was younger, you applied for a job they typically asked for three references.
Nowadays people don’t ask for references. They just Google your name. And if you Google my name, all sorts of horrifying things come up: Holocaust denier, Nazi apologist, supporter of terrorism. And no responsible administrator in anything, forget about academia, quite literally even the post office. And that’s literal, that’s not poetic. Even for a job at the post office, they won’t consider you
He doesn’t think people will be reading his books:
Okay, moving on then. You mentioned in numerous instances that you grew up in a household of Holocaust survivors, but your parents never shared their haunting experiences with you. It was only after reading about it in books at the age of 13 did you begin to understand what they must have gone through. As you approach 60, your entire career has been shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After decades of diplomacy and countless deaths, there will eventually be a time when fighting will end. And a century from now, a Palestinian student will find one of your books in her library and learn about her history, much like how you did. How do you feel about that?
Well, I don’t want to engage in self-pity but I don’t think that’s going to happen, what you’ve just described. First of all because I don’t think there will be libraries a century from now. Second of all, because if there were libraries, strictly factually, and I understand your question has a larger meaning but for the moment, I’m just going to stick to the facts. My books aren’t picked up by libraries anymore. And because I can’t publish with an established publisher, I’m toxic. So I publish with small publishers, very small like OR Books, my current publisher. And the budgets of libraries have been drastically reduced. That’s the difference from the past. Even middle-level libraries used to have a very broad acquisitions policy. They ordered pretty much everything. There was a time when that was the case, but that’s no longer the case. So as a factual matter, I don’t think the future scenario that you project is going to unfold in the manner that you suggested. But as a metaphorical question, yeah it’s a good feeling to know that.
But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a plan:
Have you considered a teaching post outside of the U.S. where the political climate might be different?
This year, I’m down to two countries. One is Turkey where I may be teaching, there’s a good chance. The other is Iran and I’ve been working on Iran but so far it hasn’t been successful. So right now, we’re down to Turkey and Iran because I am finding it intolerable at the present moment, this pointless life.
Sounds like he’ll fit right in.