[Image and caricature (below) added by this website]
June 21, 2003
Maybe if he had more to say, I'd interview him again
Extremist wasn't censored
By MICHAEL COREN
[Website Note: Who is
MOST of you will not have heard of Norman Finkelstein (right). No problem. He doesn't have that much to say, really.
But he recently taught me a great deal about how certain organizations work.
The man is an author and activist, known in some circles for his attacks upon Israel and the leadership of the Jewish community.
A child of Holocaust survivors, Finkelstein does not question the reality of what happened during World War II - though some around him do - but he argues there were relatively few Holocaust survivors and the numbers have been magnified so as to force compensation and sympathy from the world.
He is, of course, a darling of the neo-Nazi fringe.
He is not a neo-Nazi himself, but because of his being Jewish and his obviously Jewish name, he is quoted on almost any neo-Nazi Web site one has the misfortune to encounter.
But he is not really a major player, and is not taken seriously by Jewish and Gentile historians alike.
Even so, I had him as a guest on my CTS television show, Michael Coren Live, not long ago.
By himself, for a full hour.
Quite the honour, as we seldom have one single guest for the whole show. He didn't impress.
When I returned from vacation recently, I found he had been booked for a coming show.
Not worth the trouble
I wondered if we needed him back again, and after one guest from the Canadian Jewish Congress refused to appear with him, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble, and we were far better off having a more balanced panel on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Interestingly enough, I also cancelled the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre at the same time - a man whose views are diametrically opposed to Finkelstein's.
Let me say at this point I cannot think of a show in this country or perhaps throughout North America that has had as many Arab and Palestinian voices on it as ours.
All treated extremely fairly - sometimes too fairly, according to a few critics.
In fact, many serious Arab and Palestinian organizations have expressed their thanks to us for our efforts.
But Finkelstein seemed to overreact to being cancelled and I speak with the most powerful of understatements.
He and his people telephoned others, claiming I had caved in to pressure from the Canadian Jewish Congress.
I did something I've rarely done. I phoned the man and explained on his answering machine why he wasn't coming on. He never returned my call.
The next thing we knew, an official press release was issued.
All I can say is this is not what happened.
And that if this is the way extremists work, it is no wonder things are in such a bad way .
Bernie Farber (right) of the CJC (not the guest who refused to appear on my show) is a close friend, but if he ever threatened to do such a thing I'd tell him in no uncertain words to go away and then have the guest on just to annoy him.
In spite of explanations, there was no apology or withdrawal.
Why did all this happen? Not sure. But it makes me very, very sad.