[Marxism] Finkelstein banned at Clark College

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 11 07:08:41 MDT 2009

Clark drops Holocaust scholar
Schedule conflict, controversy cited
By Matt Byrne, Globe Correspondent  |  April 10, 2009

Clark University canceled a campus talk scheduled for later this month 
by controversial Holocaust scholar Norman Finkelstein, saying his 
presence "would invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding," 
and would conflict with a similar event scheduled around the same time.

The Clark University Students for Palestinian Rights, a student-run 
group on the Worcester campus, had arranged for Finkelstein to speak on 
April 21, said Tom MacMillan, the group's president. School 
administrators, however, contend the topic and the timing conflict with 
a similar university-sponsored event.

In a letter to the university's campus newspaper, Clark's president, 
John Bassett, wrote: "The university remains committed to inviting a 
wide range of speakers to encourage diversity of opinions on 
controversial topics. My decision was predicated on its untimely and 
unfortunate scheduling."

Finkelstein's address would conflict with a similar conference hosted by 
the university's Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide 
Studies, scheduled for April 23-26, two days after Finkelstein's speech, 
Bassett said in his letter. That conference could draw Holocaust 
scholars who MacMillan said may disagree with Finkelstein.

Although Bassett wrote that he did not believe that students intended 
Finkelstein to be an affront to the conference, he said he believed it 
could be viewed that way.

"It is possible that our understanding of the Middle East conflicts 
would be enriched by conversations with Professor Finkelstein," Bassett 
said in the letter. "It is my judgement, however, that having Professor 
Finkelstein speak on the same evening as our planned conference would 
only invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding."

John Foley, assistant secretary at Clark, declined to comment when 
reached late last night. Jane Salerno, a university spokeswoman, 
deferred comment to a later date.

Finkelstein agreed to the engagement in February, and the student group 
received funding from a variety of other campus organizations to help 
pay his speaking fee.

The dispute came to the attention of college administrators after 
Hillel, a Jewish campus group, objected to Finkelstein's scheduled 

Bassett met with MacMillan, two other members of the group, and a 
handful of other campus administrators, including public safety 
personnel, on Monday to discuss Finkelstein's speech, MacMillan said.

At that meeting, the administration suggested that as many as six 
uniformed or plain-clothes security officers attend Finkelstein's 
speech, in case the forum became violent, MacMillan said.

Finkelstein has been the center of controversy in the past. In June 
2007, DePaul University in Chicago denied Finkelstein's bid for tenure 
after a feud with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz escalated when 
Dershowitz publicly opposed Finkelstein's tenure application.

Finkelstein asserted in his book "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of 
Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" that Israel uses accusations of 
anti-Semitism to deflect criticism, a response to Dershowitz's book "The 
Case for Israel."

Clark's decision to deny Finkelstein's speech comes less than a month 
after Boston College made a similar move, barring William Ayers, a 
University of Chicago professor and a former member of the Weather 
Underground, from speaking on campus at the request of a student group 

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