The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Targeted vituperation

Thanks to the often amusing Angry Arab for the link to a little light summertime reading, to whit to Norm Finkelstein’s latest rhetorical head butt to Alan Dershowitz.

Under the guise of taking apart Dershowitz’s political-legal analyses Finkelstein gets off some nice shots: his victim is a “notorious serial prevaricator� and “moral pervert� who “mounts his case from multiple angles, sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly, but always falsely.�

Aaah, the sweet art of the ad hominem academic slapdown.

Overall the piece is a lot of fun, and provides some nice ammo for after-dinner arguments. Finkelstein’s comments on civilian culpability and casualties, and the implications of blurring civilian/military distinctions are one high point. Another comes at the very end where, well, he answers the question raised in the title.

In the same vein (readable, consumer level stuff on international law) Philippe Sands’s Lawless World provides a good clear primer on the political/judicial terrain over which Finkelstein and Dershowitz are punching each other’s lights out.