[Marxism] Norman Finkelstein meeting at Columbia tonight generates controversy

cleon42 at yahoo.com cleon42 at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 8 13:05:04 MST 2006

I've noticed a lot more activity to try and stop any event sympathetic to the Palestinians on campuses.

Last night I moderated a panel at Georgia Tech about the Palestinian elections, an event coordinated between Atlanta Palestine Solidarity and GT Students for Justice in Palestine. One woman on the panel was an untenured professor at Tech that I had spoken with on another panel back in November. An article about the November panel was printed on FrontPageMag.com and circulated among the Jewish Student Union and local community. Needless to say, that article was filled with lies, half-truths, innuendo, and outright slander.

As a result, this woman (whose name I am not mentioning for obvious reasons) has been verbally attacked by students and faculty alike, and her job is possibly in danger. She still speaks up, but she was (understandably) nervous speaking at last night's panel--especially as a number of University administrators were onhand to see if what was said was really as "out there" as the FrontPage article made the last event out to be. Thankfully, the University administration has--thus far--been very firm on ensuring freedom of speech on campus, and their meetings with SJP have been very positive. 

More to the point, 12 or so visibly pro-Israel students showed up at last night's event. (By "visibly" I mean wearing Israel flag t-shirts, IDF jackets, etc.) To minimize the disruption that they were undoubtedly there to cause, we did audience questions via notecard. There were still some snide ones (I got one lovely little question asking if I was "born a traitor"), but by and large it went well with minimal problems and I only bothered relaying the substantial questions.

I think the main thing to take from these things is to note that the Defenders of Israel are taking an offensive approach on all fronts--not just the propaganda like Horowitz's latest blacklist, but the "foot soldiers" as well.

One thing we discussed during our traditional post-event relaxation beer was how to deal with this in the future. We're still chewing over this, but one thing we all agreed on is that when we organize future events we, as a matter of habit, prepare contingency plans in case of disruption. Last night went ok, but if they decide to get more disruptive when University officials AREN'T around it might be a bit more difficult to deal with. And we have to deal with the unfortunate reality that if something comes to he said/she said, the pro-Israel voices have a lot more resources at their disposal to get their "version" out. (To that end, the SJP folks are making it a habit to videorecord events they put on.)

Comrades who are involved in Palestine solidarity work might want to keep the situation in mind and start thinking along the same lines. I'd also like to encourage comrades to meet their escalation with our own--let's organize *more* events, let's get the message out there more than ever. Let's make the "Israel uber alles" crowd work as hard as they can.


----- Original Message ----
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2006 11:22:37 AM
Subject: [Marxism] Norman Finkelstein meeting at Columbia tonight generates controversy

Zionist students protest:

Jewish student interviews Finkelstein:



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