Sure, John. I was paraphrasing Finkelstein. Yes, I suppose the words had negative connotations, but then Finkelstein had something 'negative' - i.e critical - to say about these organisations, and so it's not surprising. If it's pouring rain and freezing cold it's hard to find some way of framing this situation in positive terms, isn't it?
Finkelstein's two main arguments (in "The Holocaust Industry") are that the holocaust of WW2 is being used as a stick to beat any criticism of the zionist project into submission. He argues (as I would, I think) that being critical of zionism is not being anti-semitic (in the same way that being critical of the IRA is not the same as being anti-Irish). He suggests that the holocaust, being an event of such magnitude and suffering, carries an emotional weight that often overrides rational thought. In other words, when people try and criticise the worse apsects of zionism (nationalism in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but must be with repsect to other nationalisms) the holocaust and the Nazi experience inevitably gets dragged into the frame and their motives are misrepresented as being suspect. The argument goes: If you are critical of zionism, you are anti-semitic, like the Nazis were anti-semitic, and therefore you are either a Nazi or the same as a Nazi. Therefore you - and your argument - immediately become associated with the horror of the holocaust and can be dismissed without further analysis.
As you can see this is an emotional rather than a rational argument (I mean the attempted association of critics of zionism with Nazism). Given the magnitude of the holocaust and its place in our culture it's very difficult once the Nazi tag has been applied, to get a fair hearing. This is Finkelstein's first argument, about the misuse or abuse of the holocaust by some people and on the whole I'd have to say he's on the money there.
His second point is that some holocaust organisations and individuals associated with same are less concerned with holocaust victims than they are in making a career out of representing them, with all the attendant lecture circuits, book publishing etc., plus the right to be regarded as 'an expert' whose opinions need to be consulted.
Of course I cannot be sure of the veracity of that part of his claim, and though he makes a good argument backed with facts and figures, my guess is that to prove or disprove such an argument would be a gargantuan undertaking for any individual. Trying to firmly establish the truth of any matter has never been more difficult depsite the vista of knowledge the internet has brought.
You warmly suggest that I don't just parrot what I hear and do some research into holocaust organisations. That is precisely what I am doing, and I made a start by reading some of Finkelstein's work. When I have more research done, I'll have a more complete picture that may either contradict Finkelstein or confim him.
You say you contribute to holocaust organistaions, but you don't say in what capacity (nor am I asking you to tell me, not in the public arena certainly and only by PM if you wish). I support a number of charities too, such as Plan (sponsor a child) and the Red Cross. But basically I just send them the money and they send me quarterly newsletters with summarised updates on their work. I have to take them on their word that the money I send mostly goes to the child and is not all spent on 'administration' or maybe even something totally unconnected to the charity. It is a fact that some charities in the past were little more than scams to keep a handful of people in all-expenses paid positions. It's not inconceivable that this could be the case with some holocaust organisations. I don't know enough about them at present to say definitively if this is the case, but it is what Finkelstein is suggesting, and perhaps he's telling the truth? That's also possible isn't it?
When I have time I usually try and request an annual report / audit on the charities I support. Though it makes heavy reading at least you get some clearer idea of where the money's going.
Anyone who's interested in reading Finkelstein in his own words can check his site at:
Finkelstein, in his own words