Finkelstein Offers Harsh Denunciation of Israeli Policies By Justin Droms Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Author Norman Finkelstein delivers a lecture on the status of Israel and Palestine in McNeir Auditorium Monday morning.

Controversial author Norman Finkelstein lived up to his reputation as he presented his anti-Israeli beliefs to a standing-room only crowd in McNeir Auditorium Monday evening.

During his two-hour speech, Finkelstein related a version of Israel-Palestine history that portrayed Israel as an unrelentingly immoral military regime determined to displace the relatively innocent native Arab population in Palestine. He painted a grim picture of the region’s history and warned that there are now “reasonable grounds for real concern that a catastrophe is eminent.”

He also conveyed, however, that while he firmly believes Israel is in the wrong, neither side has acted appropriately. While he referred to Israeli leaders as “monsters,” he also called Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat a “thug and murderer.”

Finkelstein drew comparisons between Israel’s authority and South Africa’s apartheid government, saying that Israel has established a government intended to rule the majority native population by a foreign minority. Consequently he feels the only other possible course of action for the Israeli government was to follow “the way of displacement,” a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.

“The only crime the Palestinians committed was being born in Palestine,” he said.

Finkelstein vigorously attacked U.S. policy concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict, referring to the Federal Government as a “lawless regime.” While the U.S. readily condemned South Africa’s apartheid government, it has hypocritically supported Israel’s actions concerning Palestine, and still does, Finkelstein said. He pointed out that the United States and Israel stand virtually alone in their anti-Palestine stance, citing several relevant United Nation votes in which the two countries provided the only two significant votes.

Finkelstein also made comparisons between the United States’ historically harsh policy toward Native Americans, Hitler’s policy toward the Jews during World War II and Israel’s opinion of the Palestinians.

Finkelstein asserted that Israel has repeatedly attacked Palestinians in order to evoke a violent reaction, thus having reason to continue the conflict. Ultimately the Israelis want the conflict to continue so that they may fulfill their goal of creating a totally Jewish state in Israel and Palestine, he said.

Finkelstein made a specific effort to relay what he considered horrifying facts about Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians, such as the relatively recent razing of a two-block area of Palestinians homes in Jenin. He further argued that the Israeli government still widely uses torture, and that within a four-month period in the early 1980s, Israeli forces killed 20,000 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, while only 20,000 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed in the last century. Finkelstein also claimed that Israeli forces routinely target Palestinian ambulances, even though there is no conclusive evidence that they pose any threat.

Finkelstein also addressed the post-Sept. 11 circumstances surrounding the U.S.’s backing of Israel. The U.S. is “shredding international law” and Israel is adopting the same policy to pursue its desire for total control of the disputed region.

A twenty-minute question and answer session followed Finkelstein’s speech during which many members of the emotionally charged audience assaulted him with accusations about his opinions. When asked about the possibility of partition in Israel, Finkelstein was blunt in his answer. “If Israel could do what it wanted, it would have expelled the Palestinians a long time ago,” he said.

Finkelstein is the author of four books on the plight of Jews and Palestinians, has published articles in many scholarly journals and currently teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago.

The event was sponsored by the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the Program on Justice and Peace and the Young Arab Leadership Association.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.