March 1, 2006
In News Video
Video of Columbia talk, parts 1 & 3 (03.09.2006)
* LionPAC / Hillel email to the “600” protesters [Daily News]
* Finkelstein Rethinks Israel-Palestine, Columbia Spectator (03.09.2006)
* Students protest scholar’s speech, JTA (03.09.2006)
* Protest at Columbia, NY Daily News (03.09.2006)
* Manhattan: Protests at Columbia Lecture, New York Times (03.09.2006)
* Columbia students to protest speech by controversial professor
, NY Newsday (03.08.2006)
* Debasing the Debate, Columbia Spectator (03.08.2006).
* Norman Finkelstein Speaks, Columbia Spectator (03.08.2006).
* ‘Hate’ Storm Looms, NY Post (03.07.2006)
* In Defense of Professor Finkelstein, Columbia Spectator (03.06.2006).
* Reader letters
* Ann-Coulter-Robert-Novack fans’ article below (03.02.2006).
* Hate Comes to Columbia, Columbia Spectator (03.01.2006)
Part 1: first 40 minutes of talk
Google video page for this video for more download/viewing options.
Noam Chomsky on Finkelstein & his exposure of Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial. See also Finkelstein’s
“Disinformation and the Palestine Question: The Not-So-Strange Case of Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial” in Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question.
Part 2: next 53 minutes of talk
Google video page for Part 2 for more download/viewing options.
Google video page for Part 3 with more viewing options, including download.
– Windows Media video (320×240; 131MB)
* Feel free to review the following articles by Chris Kulawik in the Columbia Spectator in addition to the one below (“Hate Comes to Columbia”):
In Defense of McCarthy, By Chris Kulawik, April 07, 2005
Black Militants, Communists, and 106 Hartley Hall, By Chris Kulawik, November 02, 2005
Letter to the Editor, By Chris Kulawik, November 03, 2005
The Cult of Sachs, By Chris Kulawik, October 19, 2005
Letter to the Editor, By Chris Kulawik, November 9, 2005
Hate Comes to Columbia
By Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky
March 01, 2006
Few things could bring the president of the College Conservatives and the membership director of the College Democrats together in concord. But major issues—those which transcend party and ideology—do, in fact, make strange bedfellows. We write today to voice strident opposition to one Norman Finkelstein, an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-America Holocaust revisionist and terrorist sympathizer.
Let it be known that as representatives of free speech, we do not wish to censor him. His asinine comments are sure to embarrass and humiliate far beyond our capacity to do so. Rather, we seek to inform the Columbia community of this blatant hate-mongering.
A Facebook page, organized by those bringing Finkelstein to Columbia, was a self-described “invisible group.” “Make sure,” it read, “not to invite anyone who might tip those opposed to Finky. He’s pretty controversial.” That, by any standard, is an understatement. The comments have since been removed; screenshots, however, last.
Those who assume that Finkelstein is just another “controversial” speaker, one of many in Columbia’s recent past, fail to grasp the absurdity that is Finkelstein. Taking a job at DePaul University after being fired by New York University for his ludicrous and factually inaccurate book, The Holocaust Industry, this “scholar” makes his living off of absurd statements that garner comfortable speaking engagements. At a recent speech delivered at Yale University, Finkelstein equated the Jewish concern over Holocaust denial with a “level of mental hysteria.” Clearly, we must first question his very “professorship.” Anyone who so blatantly disregards facts and vehemently supports the murder of innocent children is worthy neither of academia nor of the title of professor.
Well, what precisely is Mr. Finkelstein’s crime? It is not that he is a Holocaust revisionist. It is not that he denies the right of the Jewish state to exist. It is not that he cheapened the lives of the millions of innocents lost to the concentration camps by equating their systematic murder to any other large disaster. No, his crime both includes and transcends these radical, depraved stances. Only months after Sept. 11, 2001, Finkelstein asserted his support of terrorism. In that 2001 interview, Finkelstein exclaimed, “Frankly, part of me says—even though everything since Sept. 11 has been a nightmare—’You know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things [Osama] bin Laden says are true.'”
It is this sentiment that forces students to take a stand against Finkelstein’s unique blend of pure idiocy and potent evil. Columbia attempts to teach its students to respect all opinions, listen to all viewpoints, and embrace the free exchange of ideas. We will listen, but we will not let a petty ploy to incite tension and turmoil go unnoticed.
Current cosponsoring groups include Safa’a, Turath, Qanun, United Students of Color Council, Arab Students Association (SIPA), Organization of Pakistani Students, Columbia Student Solidarity Network, and Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge. It is our sincere hope that these groups will either revoke their sponsorship of the event or continue on with full recognition of the hate this pathetic individual spews. The co-sponsors must make every effort to renounce the radical anti-semitism and anti-Americanism of this speaker, lest we assume these groups share his values.
We must also insist that the event’s leadership detail the monetary support provided by the University for this lunatic, fringe speaker. To advance a question posed by the Yale Daily News, would the University “sponsor a speaker who criticized the African-American community for ‘exploiting’ slavery and segregation?” No—of course not—and rightly so. The same should apply to an individual who claims that the Holocaust should be looked on favorably by Jews, as it “was the negative version of their vaunted worldly success: it served to validate Jewish chosenness.”
If these groups want to bring a speaker to campus, we support their decision, but we question the use of our tuition to fund an individual so beyond the pale that academia, left and right, condemns him. It would be just as egregious a moral error if we, the student body, did not show up on Wednesday, March 8 to let this facilitator of hatred, fear, and lies understand just how passionately the students oppose his radicalism. Columbia will never stand for such petty antagonism.
Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky are Columbia College sophomores.
College conservatives and Democrats are joining forces at Columbia University to oppose a controversial speaker.
In a joint letter to the Columbia Spectator the the president of the College Conservatives and the membership director of the College Democrats voice their opposition to an upcoming speech by Norman Finkelstein — a man they refer to as “an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, anti-America Holocaust revisionist and terrorist sympathizer.”
Finkelstein, who was invited to Columbia by the school’s Muslim Students Association, will speak on “Israel and Palestine: Misuse of Anti-Semitism, Abuse of History” next week.
Within their letter, Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky say they do not wish to censor Finkelstein but rather inform the community of “this blatant hate-mongering.”
“Well, what precisely is Mr. Finkelstein’s crime? It is not that he is a Holocaust revisionist. It is not that he denies the right of the Jewish state to exist. It is not that he cheapened the lives of the millions of innocents lost to the concentration camps by equating their systematic murder to any other large disaster. No, his crime both includes and transcends these radical, depraved stances. Only months after Sept. 11, 2001, Finkelstein asserted his support of terrorism. In that 2001 interview, Finkelstein exclaimed, ‘Frankly, part of me says — even though everything since Sept. 11 has been a nightmare — You know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things [Osama] bin Laden says are true.'”
According to advertisment posted on Columbia University’s Muslim Students Association website a variety of groups are co-sponsoring Finkelstein’s speech. Some of those mentioned include: United Students of Color Council, Arab Students Association, Organization of Pakistani Students and the International Socialists Organization.
Kulawik and Lipsky go to say in their letter, “If these groups want to bring a speaker to campus, we support their decision, but we question the use of our tuition to fund an individual so beyond the pale that academia, left and right, condemns him.”
They also encourage the student body to “show up” next week “to let this facilitator of hatred, fear, and lies understand just how passionately the students oppose his radicalism.”
Human Events U will keep you posted on any developments.
It is with bittersweet irony that Norman Finkelstein critics at Columbia would viciously attack Finkelstein, a noted Jewish professor and human rights activist, not to mention son of Holocaust survivors, as a “terrorist sympathizing, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, Holocaust revisionist,” given his latest book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History. Indeed, these types of abusive charges against Finkelstein lend increased credibility to the book’s central thesis on the misuse of anti-Semitism and abuse of the Holocaust’s legacy to stifle any critical analysis of Israeli policies. With this in mind, we seek to debunk certain vicious inaccuracies in arguments made by Finkelstein critics, so as to render this debate slightly more civil and decent, and in order that a dignified guest of Columbia might not be met by hordes of hostile victims of this kind of misinformation.
On the issue of academic integrity, which Finkelstein critics accuse him of lacking, we might note that apart from a Princeton Ph.D., our guest has the enthusiastic support of myriad highly reputable scholars in the field, albeit mostly those who are already critical of Israeli policy. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University commented, “Finkelstein does a great service for those who long for a better Israel, with the conclusion that the only way of putting an end to the violations of Palestinian rights is by ending the occupation.” MIT linguist and liberal icon Noam Chomsky, on the same topic notes that “Norman Finkelstein provides extensive details and analysis, with considerable historical depth and expert research, of a wide range of issues concerning Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S.”
Like other common attacks made by Finkelstein critics, charging Finkelstein as a “terrorist sympathizer” is not simply inaccurate but irresponsible and tantamount to libel. On the topic of terrorism, Finkelstein unambiguously denounces terrorism as “morally unacceptable.” He does argue that Palestinians possess “the right to use force against occupation” under international law. His support for the Palestinian right to self-determination and to resist occupation could in no way be construed as an endorsement of terrorism. Nor does he assent to the principles of Osama bin Laden as is gestured toward in the “Hate Comes to Columbia” (March 1) op-ed piece that was published in Spectator. The full quote continues, “One of the things that [bin Laden] said on that last tape was that ‘until [Muslims and Arabs] live in security, you’re not going to live in security,’ and there is a certain amount of rightness in that.” Finkelstein’s point of agreement with bin Laden — that Americans should look toward understanding root causes for the poverty and instability in Muslim countries — is actually shared by the Bush administration with all of its recent initiatives to promote a better understanding of the region as a means to promote international security.
Finkelstein’s critics, most notably Alan Dershowitz, charge Finkelstein with anti-Semitism precisely because of his criticism of Zionism, i.e. criticism of the Israeli occupation and Israeli state-sponsored human rights abuses committed against Palestinians. This isn’t the first time that a reputable scholar has been typecast as anti-Semitic for critical views against Israeli policies (see David Horowitz’s The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America). Undoubtedly, anti-Semitism is an ugly, appalling form of bigotry that deserves universal condemnation. However, Zionism is a political ideology and must never be confused with the Jewish religion, culture, or population. Contrary to the anti-American label commonly placed on Finkelstein, his critique of political Zionism is precisely the type of controversial political discourse that is characteristically American and is analogous to the College Democrats’ stimulating debate on the Bush administration.
Finkelstein is often met with accusations of Holocaust revisionism, generally associated with Holocaust denial. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry is actually a critique of Holocaust revisionist arguments that privilege the Holocaust as exceptional in the historiography of genocide. Far from the Anti-Defamation League’s claims that Finkelstein is a Holocaust denier, his proof is an unambiguous affirmation that the Holocaust did occur — his parents are living proof of its horrors! — noting that the tragedy of the Holocaust has since been ruthlessly exploited and commercialized into what Finkelstein outlines as an industry to promote Zionist interests.
We wish to set the record straight and publicly condemn these flagrantly false claims against Finkelstein, and to underscore the danger of misusing the label of anti-Semitism and abusing the Holocaust legacy to stifle critical debate on Israeli policies. For the sake of free speech, hopefully a value which those who accuse Finkelstein of bringing “hate” to campus can join us in upholding, Columbia students will welcome rather than denigrate visitors like Finkelstein, upon whom we can rely upon to challenge our understanding of the relationship between anti-Semitism and Zionism and, at the very least, stimulate lively debate and critical inquiry on campus.
Maryum Saifee is a Master of International Affairs candidate at the School of International and Public Affairs. Athar Abdul-Quader is a Columbia College sophomore.
March 08, 2006
As a Jewish student who is looking forward to Norman Finkelstein’s speech on campus tonight, titled “Israel & Palestine: Misuse of Anti-Semitism, Abuse of History,” I am disappointed there’s been such misinformed debate about his visit. Maryum Saifee and Athar Abdul-Quader explained Monday on this page (“In Defense of Professor Finkelstein,” March 6) that inaccurate accusations hurled at Finkelstein only stifle productive dialogue. Since many of the charges levied against him seemed to be based on emotional appeals and not on facts, I decided to talk to professor Finkelstein myself to clarify his argument in his new book Beyond Chutzpah.
I asked Finkelstein to talk about the misuses of anti-Semitism in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He explained, “If you look at the historical record on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the past, if you look at the human rights record, the present, or if you look at the diplomatic record, the future, on how to resolve the conflict—if you look at those three records, it’s quite striking how broad is the consensus and how uncontroversial the record is. … In fact, it’s hard to think of another, as it were, trouble spot in the world where the record is so unambiguous and so straightforward.”
“An obvious question arises—namely, how do you account for so much controversy, which, once you enter the public arena, swirls around the conflict that, if you look at the actual documentary record, is not controversial at all. And that’s the question I pose in the introduction to my book. And the answer I suggest is that most of the controversy surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict is fabricated, contrived. And the purpose of that fabrication and contrivance is to divert attention from the actual factual record and to sow confusion about the real record.”
“Let’s look at the issue of the New Anti-Semitism. That’s been a term that’s been bandied about since roughly 2000, and there are two things to say about that New Anti-Semitism. Number one, it’s not new. Every time Israel faces a public relations debacle or comes under pressure from the international community to resolve the conflict, it orchestrates this extravaganza called ‘The New Anti-Semitism.’ It’s very easy to demonstrate. Any Columbia student, all that he or she has to do, is go to Butler Library and look for a book that came out in 1974 by the same organization that’s orchestrating the hysteria now, namely the Anti-Defamation League, and they’ll find a book called The New Anti-Semitism. And they’ll find similar publications being putting periodically by the ADL and kindred organizations. There’s nothing new about the New Anti-Semitism. That hysteria is whipped up periodically in the U.S. The problem is that people have short memories. They forget.”
“Number two, it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. There’s no evidence whatsoever of a New Anti-Semitism in the United States or in Europe. … The purpose of the New Anti-Semitism is basically twofold: number one, and most obviously, it’s to turn the perpetrators and their apologists … into the victims. So instead of focusing attention on the cruel occupation, our attention is supposed to be focused on the suffering of those who are perpetrating the occupation: the victims of this alleged New Anti-Semitism. And the second purpose is to discredit any criticism of Israel as being motivated by anti-Semitism. The claim of the New Anti-Semitism is that, whereas in the past it was aimed at Jews individually, it’s now being directed at the collective Jew—Israel. And therefore, anyone who criticizes Israel is guilty of anti-Semitism. So the purpose is to exploit the very real suffering that Jews endured in the past in order to discredit any of Israel’s critics as being, in fact, motivated by anti-Semitism, and to discredit any criticism of Israel as being anti-Semitic. That’s its purpose; there’s no basis for the claim in reality.”
I also asked Finkelstein what he would like to see discussed in a productive conversation about Israel-Palestine.
“I think the right answer is to steer away from slogan, steer away from ideological obfuscations, steer away from hot-button issues, and stick to the facts. In my opinion, what we now ought to be discussing has nothing to do with your position on Zionism. I don’t care if you’re a Zionist or not a Zionist, that’s not the issue. The issue is fairly straightforward. It’s as uncomplicated as an issue can be. Where do you stand on international law? Where do you stand on human rights law?”
“This is what the record shows: Israel has no right to any of the territory it occupied in the June 1967 war. The settlements Israel has built in the occupied territories are illegal under international law. Under international law, Israel has to fully withdraw. Israel’s human rights record in the occupied territories is an abomination. Each statement I just uttered to you is completely uncontroversial. Every mainstream source, bar none, every one, will validate each of the statements I just made to you. And then the question to be put to a rational, sane human being is, ‘Where do you stand on that?’ ‘Do you support the violations or do you oppose them?’ ‘Do you support international law or do you oppose it?’ And everything else is beside the point.”
I, too, hope that Columbia students can discuss the issues at hand rather than avoiding them through false accusations. Given that the General Assembly of the United Nations has voted time after time in overwhelming support of Palestinian self-determination and withdrawal of all Israeli settlements from the territories occupied in 1967, my stance is that Israel should abide by international consensus and international law. Finkelstein is doing a service by cutting away the obfuscating layers and making clear what constitutes the real issues in this debate.
Nell Geiser is a Columbia College senior majoring in anthropology and comparative ethnic studies. Active Subject runs alternate Wednesdays.
March 08, 2006
Freedom of speech is one of the most important civil rights in a university because it allows for open debates on important issues. Columbia’s Muslim Students Association has every right to host Norman Finkelstein, but I have to wonder: what are they are trying to accomplish by having him speak? Instead of sparking a productive debate, he will end up creating the same kind of divisive controversy that swept the campus last year in the wake of the firestorm concerning the Middle East and Asian languages and cultures department—and will end up being every bit as ineffective in creating dialogue or progress.
Last week, Spectator published an op-ed submission (“Hate Comes to Columbia,” March 1) in which the authors, Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky, referred to Finkelstein as a “Holocaust revisionist.” Two years ago, Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher used the same term to describe Finkelstein. In response, Finkelstein threatened to sue the Washington Post. Fisher’s next column included the following: “In Tuesday’s column about academic freedom, I mentioned writer Norman Finkelstein, who lectured recently at Georgetown University. Although neo-Nazi groups have cited his work in support of their theories, Finkelstein has never denied the existence of the Holocaust, and I did not intend to suggest that.”
Finkelstein took similar offense to the term used in the Spectator op-ed piece. Two days later, its editors ran a clarification akin to the one in the Washington Post. But Finkelstein is infamous for comments such as the one that appeared in his book The Holocaust Industry, “If everyone who claims to be a survivor actually is one,’ my mother used to exclaim, ‘who did Hitler kill then?'” Many of those who call Finkelstein a “Holocaust revisionist” use this and similar survivor-bashing comments as justifications for their claim.
As someone who is supposedly concerned with being able to speak his mind without being silenced or labeled, Finkelstein certainly seems hypocritical in trying to intimidate students for expressing their views.
Finkelstein is also infamous for having said, “The honorable thing now is to show solidarity with Hezbollah as the U.S. and Israel target it for liquidation.” Hezbollah murdered 241 American Marines in Beirut and is designated as a terrorist group by the State Department. That sounds like terrorist sympathy to me.
Contrary to what another Spectator op-ed submission (“In Defense of Professor Finkelstein,” March 6) said, calling Finkelstein anti-Semitic does not “lend increased credibility to … [his] book’s central thesis on the misuse of anti-Semitism and abuse of the Holocaust’s legacy to stifle any critical analysis of Israeli policies.” The claim that Finkelstein is anti-Semitic is not based on his criticism of Israeli policies, but on his perpetuation of outrageous conspiracy theories that have plagued Jews for millennia. He once said “All opinion-leaders, from the left to the right, are Jews. … The Silence around my book in the U.S.—if this is not a conspiracy, then what is one?”
Finkelstein’s appearance will represent the polar opposite of the respectful and productive debate that Columbia needs and that the pro-Israel community on campus has tried to foster. The last thing I want is to stifle criticism an open debate about the Arab-Israeli conflict or of Israel’s policies. I simply want to speak respectfully and academically. It seems to me that Norman Finkelstein was not invited to call attention to an important issue, but to divide and polarize the campus with his attention-grabbing hate speech. The next time there is an opportunity to discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict, I hope to see more civility and integrity.
The author is a Columbia College sophomore. He is the president and founder of Pro-Israel Progressives.
Finkelstein to Address Columbia
Professor Will Speak Tonight in Lerner About ‘Misuse of Anti-Semitism’
By Lisa Hirschmann
Spectator Senior Writer
March 08, 2006
Controversial best-selling author and DePaul University professor Norman Finkelstein will address students Wednesday night in Roone Arledge Auditorium on “Israel and Palestine: Misuse of Anti-Semitism, Abuse of History.”
The event will be hosted by the Muslim Students Association in conjunction with several other student organizations.
Finkelstein is best known for his writings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what he alleges is the exploitation of the Holocaust by certain European groups. In 2000, he published The Holocaust Industry, in which he refers to efforts by Jewish elites to obtain financial reparations for the Holocaust in Europe as an “outright extortion racket.” Finkelstein is the son of two Holocaust survivors.
Danielle Slutzky, CC ’08, a Spectator senior writer and president of LionPAC, a pro-Israel student group, told the New York Post in an article published Tuesday that she was “distressed that, after so much effort toward dialogue on this campus, these groups are bringing a divisive anti-Semite to Columbia.”
Vice President of Policy for LionPAC Avery Katz, CC ’06, said “Our hope is that Wednesday night, we can show Norman Finkelstein that his hate is not welcome at Columbia.” Avery declined to give specifics of what the group plans to do.
The Muslim Students Association did not respond to Spectator’s repeated requests for comment.
The best line from “Hate Comes to Columbia”?:
‘Chris Kulawik and Josh Lipsky are Columbia College sophomores.’ It is not my intention to impugn all Sophomores. I was one once. But theese two do a good job of demonstrating sophomoric writing/behavior.
Nice threat too!: “The co-sponsors must make every effort to renounce the radical anti-semitism and anti-Americanism of this speaker, lest we assume these groups(co-sponsors)share his values.” oooooooooooh! Damn! ‘We’ wouldn’t want two Columbia sophomores to “assume” anyone is anti-American or anti-semitic. Did these guys borrow examples of the misuse of anti-semitism for their own purposes? Or was that a mistake?
Looking forward to hearing you speak next wed.,