February 26, 2006
Editor’s note: Reader letter below Scott Kennedy’s messages. Local press here.
Posted on 02.28.2006
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 22:56:51 -0800
I received a phone call this evening from Mike Rotkin, board member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Santa Cruz Chapter.
The ACLU board decided to provide observers at the Veterans Hall the evening of the Finkelstein program. The ACLU is very concerned about preserving free speech, especially on controversial issues. They see Finkelstein being able to present his views as a matter of Free
Speech and will send observers to the event to reinforce that point.
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Travel with scott kennedy to israel & palestine in November 2006.
Read about the August 2005 delegation at
Posted on 02.26.20006
From: Scott Kennedy kenncruz[at]pacbell.net
Subject: Demands to cancel Norman Finkelstein’s visit
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 15:34:39 -0800
I have been hesitant to send this message out of concern for
prematurely or unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult
situation. But the situation has come to the point that I must
provide you an update.
Spokespersons speaking on behalf of the Jewish Community of Santa
Cruz, including several and perhaps all of the rabbis of local
congregations, have demanded that the Middle East Program of the
Resource Center for Nonviolence cancel the March 15th presentation
by Norman Finkelstein. Those objecting to Finkelstein’s visit have
referenced offensive quotes from Finkelstein’s web site and/or that
they view his work as anti-Semitic.
I have been told directly that the Resource Center will face “grave
repercussions” if we provide Finkelstein a local platform to present
Offers for Representatives of the Resource Center to meet with those
demanding cancellation of FInkelstein’s visit have gone without
Typically Resource Center staff is responsible for program decisions
such as scheduling speakers. At this point, as coordinator of the
RCNV Middle East program, I am proceeding with the program as
I realize that you may be subject to some of the same pressures and
demands so I want you to know what is happening.
One of my real concerns is the serious lack of reciprocity in
discussion about who is invited to speak and who deserves to be
heard on issues related to Israel and Palestine. The demands for
“balance” and “fairness” seem to run in one direction. The same
people and organizations threaten those inviting Finkelstein,
wouldn’t support Rabbi Michael Lerner’s recent visit, but lend their
name and support to Dennis Pragar’s talk at UCSC.
In his work, Finkelstein describes a broad consensus among
historians and human rights organizations on the factual record and
the international consensus in support of a Two State solution to
settle the conflict. Why is it so difficult to bring those facts
before the US public? Finkelstein points to a veil of “contrived
controversy” that shrouds the Israel-Palestine conflict. This
contrived controversy prevents rigorous debate in the United States
about the nature and severity of Israel’s human rights abuses in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip and prevents our country’s needed support
for a sustainable political resolution to the conflict.
As for what Finkelstein has to say, I recommend that you listen to
the “Democracy Now!” debate with Finkelstein and former Israeli
Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami.” Audio and transcript can be found
at normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=140 Finkelstein has
written that this debate was “remarkably civil, free from rancor and
vituperation, and provides, I think, grounds for hope that honest
people respectful of facts can agree on many things despite
Let’s continue to prepare for Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Santa
Cruz keeping in mind that goal of honest people respectful of facts
agreeing on many things despite political differences!
Should you decide to rescind your endorsement/sponsorship of the
event, let me know and we will correct it on publicity, the RCNV web
I also want to let you know that the Palestine-Israel Action
Committee (PIAC) and others sponsoring Finkelstein’s 3/15 visit will
be discussing plans at the PIAC meeting of on Tuesday February 28th
at 7:00 p.m. at the Resource Center for Nonviolence. We hope that
other cosponsors will come and support our efforts.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions, concerns
Coordinator, Middle East Program
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Santa Cruz, CA
Dear Mr Kennedy,
I have a copy, published on the Norman
Finkelstein website, indicating the claims of a group opposed to
the planned visit of Professor Finkelstein to the Resource Center
for Nonviolence. Your description of the attempts to silence this
distinguished man comes as no surprise to me. To my certain
knowledge it is standard tactics on the part of the supporters of
Israel to censor the professor. I write this email in support of all
that really believe in free speech rather than the one-sided view of
Here in UK I have had the honour and pleasure to have heard Dr
Finkelstein give a total of three lectures on the Israel-Palestine
conflict. The only problem that took place was that of the enormous
numbers trying to get into the lecture halls, each time that he
spoke. In the case of the Jewish Community of Santa Cruz it is
simply that they are frightened ( with justification ) of the
knowledge and scholarship of Dr Finkelstein. Indeed, he is bad news
for Israel and his opponents well know it. Of course, any reference
to anti-Semitism is code for an urgent need ( as they see it) to
defend the acts of barbarity of the so-called Jewish state. I meet
many Jews here in UK who make it clear to me that Israel is NOT
I found it significant that you report that the Resource Center
will face “grave repercussions if a platform is provided for Dr
Finkelstein. How such an abomination gives the lie to those Israeli
supporters claiming that Israel is the only democracy in the region.
The suffering Palestinians know better. I truly look forward to be
able to read/ view an account of the lecture.
P S I fully understand that, here in UK, the supporters of Israel have rather less power than in your country.
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 15:50:59 EST
Subject: Norman Finkelstein Santa Cruz Presentation
I just read your letter on the resistance from the local Santa Cruz Jewish community regarding Norman Finkelstein’s March 15th speaking engagement sponsored by your organization. I simply wanted to write to lend my support and applaud your decision not to waver in the face of such hostility and threats. Groups like these, who clearly have an agenda, fear people like Mr. Finkelstein because he speaks the truth. He basis all of his scholarship on clear, indisputable facts. These groups know that if such facts ever hit the mainstream US media, it will do more damage to their “cause” than any Israeli tank, bomb, or bulldozer can ever inflict on a helpless Palestinian population.
I, along with many others, will be there on March 15th to support Mr. Finkelstein’s right to free speech and his courageous efforts in unveiling the truth behind myths of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because as George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
San Francisco, CA