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Monday, January 24, 2011


Norman Finkelstein
"His views feed the ugliest anti-Semitic stereotypes"
Norman Finkelstein, the notorious Israel-basher  who was denied tenure by DePaul University,  will be making a return engagement to the University of Michigan as the featured speaker this Wednesday at a 1 PM presentation:  FREEDOM DENIED:  PALESTINE UNDER SIEGE. ” The program is being sponsored by the Students for Islamic Awareness and Arab Student Union in conjunction with Humanitarian Organization for Palestinian Equality, Students United for Peace and Justice and Jewish Voice for Peace. 

Finkelstein’s appearance at U-M Dearborn is scheduled in the lead-up to Israel Apartheid Week activities on campuses all across the country this March and will no doubt serve as an accelerant fueling the fires of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement raging globally.  In fact, one of the sponsoring organizations for Finkelstein's talk, the Arab Student Union, coordinated Divestment Week at U-M Dearborn last year, built upon the BDS campaign. The programming featured a U-M Dearborn professor instrumental in building support among his colleagues for divestment.

Finkelstein’s ‘talk,’ according to the event publicity, will focus on the “brutal and atrocious siege of Gaza (which) remains while the innocent are in anguish due to vicious occupation.”  Facts-be-damned SOP for Finkelstein and his hosts! Israel’s “blockade of Palestine is a blatant insubordination of international laws that has caused mass suffering and countless civilian deaths among the Palestinians,” blasts an event notice.
Par for the course for a classic revisionist.  Convenient not to mention that more than 1 million tons of humanitarian supplies have passed through Israel’s pipeline to Gaza including foodstuffs, medicine and first aid supplies, diesel fuel and even construction supplies, equaling over a ton of aid for every individual there, according to a report just released Sunday by the Israel Project.[See post on report below] No mention that Gazans are the beneficiaries of top-notch Israeli medical care, with 6,354 Gazans having entered into Israel for medical treatment last year through May.  And this, in spite of the unabated reign of terror and rain or rockets from Hamasistan into Israel.  No mention of Hamas’ endemic corruption and brutal “siege” of Gaza and the widespread suffering it has caused or the violent fratricide between Hamas and PA factions. No mention of the Islamic Resistance’s ruthless crackdown forcing women to submit to shariah orthodoxy. No mention of the violent assault by the Gaza flotilla crewed by armed militants to provoke a conflagration with Israel.  No mention of Hamas’ violence and intimidation against the Christian community.
Recently back from Lebanon, Finkelstein was noted by StandWithUs to have earlier expressed, “I was of course happy to meet the Hizbullah people, because it is a point of view that is rarely heard in the United States. I have no problem saying that I do want to express solidarity with them.”  Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors, has denigrated  Elie Weisel as“resident clown of the Holocaust circus” and  called Allan Dershowitz “that hoodlum from Harvard.” According to a StandWithUS profile, he is “equally vicious about Zionism and Israel and relentlessly promotes Palestinian propaganda and its distortions.”
Finkelstein’s extreme rhetoric is a lightning rod for criticism. He has pronounced that “The US qualifies as the main terrorist government in the world today”and he routinely likens Israelis to Nazis:  “Yet, if Israelis don't want to stand accused of being Nazis they should simply stop acting like Nazis.”
The metro Detroit Jewish community should be troubled about the impact of Finkelstein’s incendiary anti-Zionist polemics fomenting anti-Semitism on the Dearborn campus of U-M and in the larger community.  Given the alarming rise in anti-Semitism as documented by the just-released FBI hate crime statistics (72 percent of religiously-based hate crimes are directed against Jews) and increasingly intimidating climate for Jewish students and Israel supporters on campus,  concern is warranted. StandWithUs  says of Finkelstein: "his views feed the ugliest anti-Semitic stereotypes."

As we are reminded in an article published in the Jewish Political Studies Review of the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs examining anti-Zionist expression on campus in the UK:
"The justification for tolerating anti-Zionist expression on campus is always "academic freedom" and the response of the universities has been one of inaction. This justification is without merit. University codes of conduct and UK law recognize that an important university goal is the promotion of equality of opportunity for minority students and their protection from discrimination, including harassment. Given the growing consensus that anti-Zionism is in fact anti-Semitism in a new guise, this goal is flouted with respect to Jewish students every time that anti-Zionist expression takes place on a university campus."
We should pay heed to the alarms sounding from Britain. The same feeble justifications for anti-Zionist expression cited above apply to American universities and colleges as well. We must insist that our civil rights laws, enancted to safeguard minorities against discrimination and harassment, protect Jewish students. If we do not respond effectively, our students and our society will pay the same price as the UK.
We would hope the event will be closely monitored by those frontline Jewish organizations charged with the welfare of our students, communal Israel advocacy and safeguarding against anti-Semitism,  i.e., Hillel, JCRC, ADL, etc.   Students have reported that Hillel of Metro Detroit is aware of the event. 
As a community funding these organizations, we should expect from them a vigorous defense of Israel and a hospitable environment for our students and Israel-supporters on campus.  Moreover, given that the University of Michigan is a publicly-funded institution which enjoys great Jewish philanthropy, there should be transparency as to which, if any, of the event sponsors, is university-supported.
Talking Tachlis shares the concerns of students locally and experts nationwide and internationally about the role of colleges and universities as fertile breeding grounds of anti-Semitism and recruitment and radicalization to militant Islamism. 
We’ll be watching campus developments closely and will share additional information with you.
Posted by MT Beadle, AK45


In a report released over the weekend, the Israel Project details the findings of Israel's public, autonomous independent investigation of the Mavi Marmara flotilla conflict in May of last year.  The report lends critical interpretation of international law and essential documentation exonerating Israel in its response to the flotilla crisis. The key conclusions of the inquiry, overseen by a committee which included a Nobel Peace Laureate are that: 
  • Israel abided by international law in its response
  • Israel fulfills its obligations under international law by allowing essential aid to enter Gaza
  • The imposition and enforcement of the naval blockage on Gaza does not constitute 'collective punishment' of hte population of the Gaza Strip
  • Evidence from four of the slain flotilla crew showed they wanted to be "shaheeds" or martyrs
  • The Mavi Marmara flotilla was organized by the Turkish group IHH, which suuports radical Islamic terror groups.  The IHH is illegal in Germany and Israel
  • There were no humanitarian goods found aboard the flotilla
Jerusalem, Jan. 23 - Israel abided by international law in trying to prevent the Mavi Marmara ship from accessing Iran-backed Hamas and Gaza’s waters, according to the findings of the Turkel Commission, Israel’s public, autonomous and independent investigation of the Gaza flotilla incident of May 31, 2010. The Commission presented the first part of its findings today.
It found that Israel acted in accordance with international law both in its approach to the Gaza Strip and those aboard the Marmara.
The Public Commission to Examine the Maritime Incident of May 31, 2010 was set up in the aftermath of the flotilla incident. Its purpose was to examine Israel’s security closure of Hamas-controlled Gaza and the intent of the 590-passenger Mavi Marmara....
                                           Read the full report here

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