Norman Finkelstein speaks at UCSD

    Author and professor Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an audience of about 250 people at Price Center Ballroom on Nov. 25.

    Finkelstein, a son of Jewish concentration camp survivors, is renowned for his criticism of Zionist views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    His latest book, “”The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering,”” was published in 2000.

    “”The conflict is pretty simple,”” Finkelstein said. “”The historical picture is pretty clean and historians agree on basic facts about what happened in the past century. If you look at human rights reports [on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] produced by both domestic Israeli-based and mainstream human rights organizations, they are basically the same. So, what accounts for the controversy of the conflict?””

    According to Finkelstein, there is a systematic effort to invoke “”extraneous factors to complicate an uncomplicated conflict … to pretend there is profound depth which makes it inaccessible to normal standards of judgment.””

    He continued to say that “”totally irrelevant concerns”” are constantly “”dragged in … to divert attention from the factual record,”” along with a “”vast amount of flat-out fraud and fabrication of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.””

    “”[Israelis] want the land, but not the people,”” Finkelstein said. “”The goal of the Zionist movement is to create an apartheid-like state.””

    He made an analogy during the course of his lecture that compared the Palestinians to the Native Americans.

    “”Make the analogy … what’s being done now in Palestine is also a colossal wrong,”” he said. “”But, we can’t make that analogy. We can’t compare, because if we compare and make all the logical comparisons, the Zionist argument doesn’t look good at the end of the day.””

    San Diego Israel Alliance President Wayne Klitosky, who attended the lecture, said the comparison “”didn’t hold any weight.””

    “”Finkelstein continuously called Palestinians the indigenous people when the Jewish people have been there since the beginning of time,”” he said. “”The way he described it, you’d think Jews never came to Israel and just came out of somewhere in Europe and started killing Palestinians. There is more to the story.””

    In his lecture, Finkelstein proposed a solution to the conflict. He discussed the idea of a two-state settlement, which would call for Israel to fully withdraw and Palestine to fully recognize Israel as a state.

    Some students in attendance liked what Finkelstein had to say.

    “”He supported his cause 100 percent based on research,”” UCSD alumna Cassandra Williams said. “”He’s not Palestinian at birth, so he’s not biased. He came blank-faced and came to these conclusions.””

    Amir Fahid, president of the Muslim Students Association, agreed.

    “”I liked how we brought a Jewish historian to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,”” he said.

    Klitosky said that the Israel Alliance had no problem with the MSA hosting speakers.

    “”Although we’d never agree with them politically, we still respect them,”” Klitosky said. “”We had a problem with this particular speaker. He is known to verbally abuse members of the audience, which was a concern of mine.””

    At one point, Finkelstein said, “”Sometimes, I want to strangle Israelis,”” which Klitosky felt was “”not an acceptable comment.””

    Eric Cohen, vice president of the Israel Alliance, also felt that the speaker was biased.

    “”I think he provided a very narrow view when he put all the blame on Israel and didn’t look at the issue as a whole,”” he said.

    Finkelstein has published three other books, including “”The Rise and Fall of Palestine.””

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