Norman Finkelstein Accused of Anti-Semitism
Story Type: NEWS Section:
FRONT, Pg. A1 WATERLOO
A controversial Jewish academic was as he shared his views on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last night. was forced to raise his
voice above shouts of criticism as he told about 250 people at the
University of Waterloo that for the first time public opinion may play
a role in the Middle East conflict.
political science professor from DePaul University in Chicago said he
saw a glimmer of hope in the antiwar protests that rose up around the
world over Iraq. "It was a force to reckon with," Finkelstein said,
imploring the energized crowd to not lose hope because "it's within our
grasp to achieve a just and lasting" solution for the Palestinian
the outspoken anti-Zionist had harsh words for the American Roadmap for
Peace. The peace document "is truly a waste of trees" and rings like
previous attempts at peace. "It's the song everything old is new
again," he said, acknowledging the potential outcome is unknown.
"Whether it will work or not I can't predict."
son of two Holocaust survivors is best known for his book The Holocaust
Industry, which argued American Jewish groups have exploited the
Holocaust for political and financial gain. Finkelstein compares the
treatment of Palestinians by Israel to that of blacks under the old
apartheid of South Africa and native Americans when their land was
taken by European settlers.
While many cheered his thoughts, several in the audience couldn't
restrain their disgust as they listened to Finkelstein's
pro-Palestinian views. Alex Karelin was among several who interrupted
the talk, shouting "This is hate speech," amid boos and shushes. "He's
spreading hate," the young Jewish man said outside the event. "I found
it extremely one-sided." Karelin, from Toronto, said he was shocked
Finkelstein would be allowed to speak at a place of higher learning.
"Forget the university, he should not be in Canada."
The talk, sponsored by a number of groups, including the Students
for Palestinian Rights and the Chomsky Group -- both part of the
Waterloo Public Interest Research Group -- threatened the security and
safety of Jewish students, said Darcie Richler, who came from out of
town. "Let anyone speak, but not when they're inciting hate and telling
said Finkelstein manipulates facts to boost his argument and shouldn't
be allowed to share his "lies." "They bring in someone who's going to
cause a rift on this campus." Such a rift already exists, said Ida
Thibeh, a member of the talk's organizing group. "It's there, why hide
it?" Such talks, though controversial, are essential in promoting
discussion and resolutions, she said. And as a Jew who supports the
Palestinians, Finkelstein provides an unusual and thought provoking
perspective on the old debate, Thibeh added. "This is what university
is about." University spokesman Martin Van Nierop agreed, noting
universities are places where free speech and ideas are welcome and
encouraged. "Hopefully people will maintain their calm," he said. At
times the atmosphere was far from calm, with one woman dissolving into
tears at Finkelstein's views.
himself got caught up in the emotion and yelling. "If you had any heart
you would be crying for the Palestinians," he shouted at the woman to
loud applause. Such comebacks were common as Finkelstein defended his
views much like a comedian would hecklers. "Nazis never like to hear
they're being Nazis," Finkelstein said to some of the Jewish members of
This version of the story ran in the Final Edition. Copyright (c) 2003 The Record. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Record, The (Kitchener/Cambridge/Waterloo, ON), Jun 11, 2003 Item: Q4K115043114803
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