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American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein (2009)

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About the life and work of controversial American Jewish academic Norman Finkelstein.
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Credited cast:
Musa Abu-Hashhash Musa Abu-Hashhash
Nidal Barham Nidal Barham
Noam Chomsky
Alan Dershowitz ... Self (as Alan M. Dershowitz)
Norman Finkelstein Norman Finkelstein
Richard Finkelstein Richard Finkelstein
Raul Hilberg Raul Hilberg
John Mearsheimer John Mearsheimer
David Olesker David Olesker
Len Rudner Len Rudner
Avi Shlaim Avi Shlaim
Maxine Tsvaigrach Maxine Tsvaigrach


A devoted son of Holocaust survivors and ardent critic of Israeli foreign policy, the polarizing American political scientist and author Norman Finkelstein has been called a lunatic and self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational revolutionary by others. Exploring the deeply complex issues at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, American Radical is the insightful and enraging documentary that follows Finkelstein around the world as he attempts to negotiate a voice among impassioned critics and supporters. Uncompromising even in the face of his recent denial of tenure at DePaul University, Finkelstein is a complex and supremely lonely figure whose self-destructive nature often undermines his academic credibility. A guaranteed argument starter, this potent documentary plunges viewers into the psychological and intellectual underpinnings of a vitriolic personality. Written by Anonymous

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Norman Finkelstein: [on being called a self-hating jew] Okay, for argument's sake let's assume it's true. Let's say I have deep identity conflicts. Let's assume it's all true. What's the relevance? The only relevant question is whether what I'm saying is true or false. Let's say Einstein had deep identity conflicts. How does that influence one's judgment about his physics?
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User Reviews

Worthwhile but something is missing.
26 November 2009 | by wouter-592-294858See all my reviews

This documentary shows the uphill struggle of an outstanding man. Norman Finkelstein is arguably the only one who is bent on resolving the Isreal-Palestine conflict. In his methodical research, he focuses on what the United Nations say, what international law says, what people and organizations in Israel and Palestine say. His conclusion is that -contrary to popular belief- the conflict is not overly complicated nor controversial: Israel, backed by the United States and European governments, simply does not adhere to international law and blocks a peaceful settlement of the agreement. Watch a two hour lecture on YouTube, and decide for yourself how strong his case is.

That is exactly the weak point of the documentary: it shows someone who swims against the current, but why this man keeps going is not well shown. You get the feeling that Finkelstein had better let it go since it is no use fighting. But had the film maker even only briefly summarized the content of Finkelsteins case, it would be clear why. And the audience would bond with him. I think that is a missed opportunity.

Of course the film makers had to stop somewhere, but the sad fact is that since the assault on Gaza, end of 2008, and the shameful treatment of the Goldstone report, international public opinion has shifted significantly and a lot has happened. Our governments are pressuring Israel to stop the settlements and to change its course. People see through the 'anti-semite' or 'self hating Jew'-argument, with which some try to divert all critique of Israel. The documentary does not touch on that, which calls for a sequel!

All in all very interesting, but investing two hours on YouTube to watch a lecture is many times more powerful and enlightening.

PS: I saw this movie at the IDFA in Amsterdam.

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11 February 2010 (USA) See more »

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