March 19, 2017
In Blog News
ALBANY — A state lawmaker from Brooklyn is condemning the borough’s public library for hosting a 10-week lecture series with controversial author and Israel critic Norman Finkelstein.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat, described Finkelstein as a “Holocaust revisionist” and said taxpayer dollars should not be used to give him a forum for his “hateful” views.
“The question is, ‘Why would the Brooklyn Public Library allow this vile propagandist to use their facilities to spread his hate to the public?’ ” Hikind said.
The politician said the library should cancel the 10-week class, entitled, “No Free Speech for Fascists.”
Finkelstein, 63, has been a prominent defender of the Palestinians and Hezbollah. He also wrote a book called “The Holocaust Industry” that accused Elie Wiesel and others of exploiting the memory of the Holocaust as an “ideological weapon.”
In the book, Finkelstein wrote that “a repellent gang of plutocrats, hoodlums and hucksters” were using the Holocaust to shake down German and Swiss banks for settlements.
“I don’t want my tax dollars going” to promote such views, Hikind told the Daily News.
A library spokeswoman defended the series.
“Public libraries support open dialogue and foster intercultural communication,” the spokeswoman said.
“Books in the library range from the banal to the banned, and all serve the purpose of promoting academic growth and unfettered access to knowledge. We are happy to host these robust discussions for interested members of the public on texts by John Stuart Mill, Thomas More and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.”
The lecture series, part of the Library School, began March 6 and runs through May 8 at the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. Finkelstein is not being paid for the series.
“The course promises to be a provocative and inspiring occasion, where the heat it generates will, hopefully, be surpassed by the light it sheds,” the library wrote on the web page promoting the class.
Finkelstein told The News that, “I am teaching a class devoted to ‘On Liberty,’ the classic defense of liberty of speech by John Stuart Mill.
“Mr. Hikind would perhaps benefit from attending it. He’s, of course, welcome.”