'This Time We Went Too Far'



“Better than any other book, ‘This Time We Went Too Far’ shows how the massive destruction visited on Gaza was not an accidental byproduct of the Israeli invasion but its barely concealed objective.” — Raja Shehadeh, author, Palestinian Walks

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About the Book

For the Palestinians who live in the narrow coastal strip of Gaza, the December 2008 Israeli invasion was a nightmare of unimaginable proportions: in the 22-day-long action 1,400 Gazans were killed, several hundred on the first day alone. More than 6,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. The cost of the destruction and disruption of economic life, in one of the world’s poorest areas, is estimated at more than $3 billion.

And yet, while nothing should diminish recognition of Palestinian suffering through these frightful days, it is possible something redemptive will emerge from the tragedy of Gaza. For, as Norman Finkelstein details, in a concise work that melds cold anger with cool analysis, the profound injustice of the Israeli assault has been widely recognized by organizations impossible to brand as partial or extremist.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN investigation headed by Richard Goldstone, in documenting Israel’s use of indiscriminate and intentional force against the civilian population during the invasion (100 Palestinians died for every one Israeli), have had an impact on traditional support for Israel. Jews in both the United States and the United Kingdom, for instance, are beginning to voice dissent, and this trend is especially apparent among the young.

Such a shift, Finkelstein contends, can result in new pressure capable of moving the Middle East crisis towards a solution, one that embraces justice for Palestinians and Israelis alike. The seeds of hope were thus sown in the bitter anguish of Gaza. “This Time We Went Too Far”, written with Finkelstein’s customary acuity and precision, will surely advance the process it so eloquently describes.

Norman G. Finkelstein’s books include Beyond Chutzpah, The Holocaust Industry, A Nation on Trial and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.

“[Finkelstein’s] place in the whole history of writing history is assured.”
— Raul Hilberg, author, The Destruction of the European Jews

Publication March 31st 2010 • 208 pages
hardcover ISBN 978-0-9842950-3-6 • ebook ISBN 978-0-9842950-4-3

About the Author

Photograph of Norman Finkelstein © Charles Eshelman

Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Finkelstein is the author of five books which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (University of California Press, 2005, expanded paperback edition, 2008); The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000, expanded paperback edition, 2003); Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Verso, 1995, expanded paperback edition, 2003); with Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (Henry Holt, 1998); and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years (University of Minnesota, 1996).

In the Media

Esquire Middle East, March 2011

The Palestine Chronicle, July 11th 2010

Common Dreams, July 9th 2010

Mondoweiss, June 14th 2010

Morning Star, May 3rd 2010

History News Network, May 3rd, 2010

The Indypendent, April 23rd 2010

Counterpunch, April 21st 2010

Arab Media Watch, April 20th 2010

Electronic Intifada, April 20th 2010

Z Net, April 9th 2010

Irish Left Review, April 6th 2010

Pulse Media, April 6th 2010

Alternet, April 5th 2010

Norman Finkelstein on Al Jazeera, March 30th 2010

Part 2 of Norman Finkelstein on Democracy Now!, March 23rd 2010

Part 1 of Norman Finkelstein on Democracy Now!, March 23rd 2010

Norman Finkelstein on GritTV, March 17th 2010

Mondoweiss, March 8th 2010

Counterpunch, March 3rd 2010

Mondoweiss, March 1st 2010

Australians for Palestine, February 26th 2010

Norman Finkelstein on Cross Talk, February 17th 2010

Read an Excerpt


By Norman G. Finkelstein

Alongside many others I have devoted much of my adult life to the achievement of a just peace between Israel and Palestine. It cannot be said that Palestinians living under occupation have derived much benefit from these efforts. The changes that have occurred have only been for the worse. Under the guise of what is called the “peace process” Israel has effectively annexed wide swaths of the West Bank and shredded the social fabric of Palestinian life there and in the Gaza Strip.

It would nonetheless be unduly pessimistic to say that no progress has been made. Israel can no longer count on reflexive support for its policies. Public opinion polls over the past decade reveal a growing unease with Israeli conduct not only outside but also inside Jewish communities around the world. This shift largely stems from the fact that the public is now much better informed. Historians have dispelled many of the myths Israel propagated to justify its dispossession and displacement of Palestine’s indigenous population; human rights organizations have exposed Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians living under occupation; and a consensus has crystallized in the legal-diplomatic arena around a settlement of the conflict that upholds the basic rights of Palestinians.

The simmering discontent with Israeli conduct reached a boiling point in December 2008 when Israel invaded Gaza. The merciless Israeli assault on a defenseless civilian population evoked widespread shock and disgust. Deep fissures opened up in the Jewish communities, especially among the younger generations. Many of Israel’s erstwhile supporters who did not vocally dissent chose to remain silent rather than defend the indefensible.

The first part of this book analyzes the motives behind Israel’s assault on Gaza and chronicles what Amnesty International called “22 days of death and destruction.” The least that we owe the people of Gaza is an accurate record of the suffering they endured. No one can bring back the dead or restore the shattered lives of those who survived but we can still respect the memory of their sacrifice by preserving it intact.

But this book is not just a lament; it also sets forth grounds for hope. The bloodletting in Gaza has roused the world’s conscience. The prospects have never been more propitious for galvanizing the public not just to mourn but to act. We have truth on our side, and we have justice on our side. These become mighty weapons once we have learned how to wield them effectively. The challenge now is two-fold: to master, and inform the public of, the unvarnished record of what happened in Gaza; and then to mobilize the public around a settlement of the conflict that all of enlightened opinion has embraced—but that Israel and the United States, standing in virtual isolation, have rejected. It is my hope that this book will help meet this challenge and, ultimately, enable everyone, Palestinian and Israeli, to live a dignified life.

Watch American Radical, an independently produced documentary about Norman Finkelstein.