American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein
David Ridgen, Nicolas Rossier, USA / Canada, 2009, color, video, 84'
For many years, Jewish-American professor Norman Finkelstein has been leveling tough criticism at Israeli policy in his books focusing on what he describes as the Holocaust industry: the misuse of anti-Semitism and the war crimes perpetrated by the state of Israel. In American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein, he explains that it all began for him when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. From that moment on, he felt himself politically, scientifically and personally involved in everything Israel did. We follow the scientist as he travels the world giving lectures that often lead to heated debates. But it is not just lip service that Finkelstein gives to the notion of peace and equality: he champions it with a "ferocity bordering on hysteria," as he describes it. It is a trait he inherited from his mother, who survived both the Warsaw ghetto and the Majdanek extermination camp. The film shows something of the opposition Finkelstein has met with along the way -- he has been fired by two universities and still has no new position. But Finkelstein insists, quoting the renowned linguist and activist Noam Chomsky, that it must surely still be possible to put forward "exact scientific articulation combined with rigid moral discontent."