Here’s a nice little piece on the perils of hosting Norman Finkelstein, from anti-Israel campaigners in Seattle:
NOTES RE: NORMAN FINKELSTEIN HIMSELF–No cell phone or laptop, yet needs to check email often(so have a computer handy). Enjoys swimming b4 speaking(clears sinuses). Prefers healthy food, not necessarily kosher. Replies quickly, but can be very difficult via email correspondence. Would say “whatever is fine” when he really means “I will not speak at your school for under $2000 and without a motel room next to the airport”. Would routinely answer only 1/3 of questions asked in emails. Got angry a few times. Also canceled on us 3+ times, twice after signing the contract, because disliked having layover in DC for 2 hrs on flight back to NYC, or thought the honorarium too small. He sometimes reads his emails in a great hurry. My advice=Be succinct. Ask multiple questions in multiple emails. Spell out exactly what is being asked/said. If you hear “Whatever is fine”, then confirm a second or third time, or via the phone. He told us that he was working on a list of suggestions/requirements for hosting him.
In person, NF is an entirely different person–extremely enjoyable to work with, very accessible. Does not care how last name is pronounced, insisted we call him Norman. Open to discussion of politics, but quick to state his opinions. Is a bit of an “Absent-minded Professor”, however, and so tends to get lost, misplace items, forget the schedule, etc. I advise assigning him a helper during his entire time.
Well, at least the rider doesn’t include Fiji Water.