Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dr Norman Finkelstein @ UNM

Visiting UNM On National Tour:  It is Abq Jew 's unpleasant responsibility to inform the Abq Jewish community of the following event, promoted by the University of New Mexico's Students for Justice in Palestine:

Dr Norman Finkelstein
Mon 05 Dec 2011 @ 5:30 - 7:30pm
UNM Student Union Building, Ballroom B

Who, exactly, is UNM-SJP?  The group's website states:
University of New Mexico Students for Justice in Palestine (UNM-SJP) is a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and community members at colleges & universities throughout the US. Our group is organized according to democratic principles in order to promote justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for the Palestinian People.
This sounds OK to Abq Jew, who can see nothing wrong in promoting justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for any people.

UNM-SJP says it is committed to "overcoming anti-Semitic sentiments towards both Arabs and Jews in the community."  But the group is also committed to
certain key principles ....   These include the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands, the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Not comfortable with that?  Think that "decolonization" and "occupation" are code words for a plan to first delegitimize, then destroy the State of Israel?  Well, you ask, who else is endorsing this event?  How about:
  1. UNM Peace Studies Program
  2. UNM Muslim Students Association
  3. Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions- New Mexico
  4. Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
  5. Friends of Sabeel Albuquerque
Now, there's a real mix.  #1 seems like it would be OK (Abq Jew really doesn't know).  #5 proclaims itself the "Voice of the Palestinian Christians", and promotes "awareness and understanding".  That sounds promising.  But #2, #3, and #4 sure make Abq Jew nervous.

Who is Dr Norman Finkelstein?  What do we know about him?

Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.  For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He currently writes and lectures.  He lives in Brooklyn.

Finkelstein is the author of six books that have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions:
  1. This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and consequences of the Gaza invasion
  2. Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history
  3. The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering
  4. Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
  5. A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen thesis and historical truth
  6. The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A personal account of the intifada years
Finkelstein has recently published the pamphlet:
Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone renews Israel’s license to kill.  
and is currently working on a new book entitled:
Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish love affair with Israel is coming to an end
Somehow, Abq Jew does not perceive Dr Finkelstein as objective in his judgments, and doubts whether cool, dispassionate discourse could be the mode of the evening.

Or - do Abq Jew and Dr Finkelstein simply disagree?  And if not at UNM, where could a civil, civilized, respectful discussion of The Situation (as Israelis call it) take place?  Hard questions  must be asked, even if - especially if - we don't like the answers.

Here is one possibility (Abq Jew is sure there are others):

On October 19, Professor Jeff Halper, an Israeli anthropologist and the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), kicked off Congregation Nahalat Shalom’s 4th year of Jewish Voices on Peace in the Middle East lecture series.

Abq Jew did not attend - it was Erev Shemini Atzeret.  But: there are good, Jewish reasons to be in favor of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists.  There are also good, Jewish reasons to be against that policy.  This is a discussion we should have.  Reasonable people who believe in the safety and sanctity of the State of Israel can disagree about this.

By all reports, Professor Halper's  lecture was a low-keyed, lightly-attended, serious discussion - the family sitting around the kitchen table.  In contrast, Dr Finkelstein's lecture is anticipated to be the diametric opposite - high-pitched, heavily-attended, inflammatory, and very public.

Abq Jew says: May the evening go well, and may all emerge enlightened.


Anonymous said...

I am glad that you will announce an event you may not support. Freedom of speech/press is not always available in the Jewish community. I do not feel opposition to the Israeli occupation and colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem are code words to "delegitimize and ultimately destroy the state of Israel". The occupation is untenable and moreso every year it persists. It is time to stop demonizing those who oppose it and work towards a just solution of two safe and secure states. I also wanted to correct an error in your description of Jeff Halper's organization, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. They are not re-building homes of Palestinian terrorists. They are re-building homes of Palestinians whose homes were condemned for adding another room without getting a permit (permits are not available to Palestinians by and large: it is a Catch 22 for Palestinians.)or for living in what has been decided to be a military area, or for staying in the home while their case is on appeal. You can check the website of ICAHD for each house demolition by whom, for what reasons, and how many people and animals were displaced with no place to go. Thank you for calling for more dialogue. May it be so. Joan Robins (unable to use other profiles than anonymous although willing to leave my name.)

Anonymous said...

“…Instead of stopping the movement, the opposition’s tactics had only served to give it greater momentum, and to draw us closer together. What the opposition failed to see was that our mutual sufferings had wrapped us all in a single garment of destiny. What happened to one happened to all.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.