Mid East talk gets mixed reaction
By Tom Podsiadlo
Competing visions on the origins of bloodshed in the Middle
East have become a hallmark of the Palestinian-Israel conflict.
Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish-American academic, analysed the
conflict in a lecture Thursday evening. The event was co-sponsored
by Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, the departments
of anthropology and political science and the Undergraduate
Political Science Association.
"The origins of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are fairly
clear - it is basically a moral question, [but] the challenge
is of a different order," Finkelstein said.
"The American media landscape is committed to shrouding the
conflict in an ideological fog, making the reality hard to
discern," Finkelstein explained, adding the challenge is to
question the taboo and separate the facts from the hot air
of academics and pundits.
Finkelstein claimed the Zionist movement has historically
hinged on one choice in its attempt to establish a Jewish state
in Arab Palestine: the establishment of an apartheid system,
wherein the settler minority rules over a native majority.
Finkelstein stated the Arab opposition to the arrival of Zionists
was not based on inherent anti-Semetism, but a sense of danger
to their community. Finkelstein explained that during the 1948
war, 750,000 - or 90 per cent - of Palestinians fled in terror
or were actively expelled from their ancestral homeland and
turned into refugees.
Finkelstein said he thinks a terrorist pretext might be manufactured
to induce the necessary response to justify an ethnic cleansing
program. "Then Israel would find some local leader, playing
the role traditionally assigned to indigenous collaborators
under a type of imperial rule we witnessed in South Africa," he
Students in attendance had mixed reactions to Finkelstein's
message. Yaron Shlesinger, a first-year Ivey Student, was critical
of Finkelstein's presentation. "He completely simplified and
perverted a very complicated conflict by presenting facts in
a clearly selective and biased fashion."
Ahmmar Naji, a third-year engineering student applauded Finkelstein. "I
congratulate Finkelstein for having the courage, as a Jew,
to be objective and recognizing the truth when it presents