The Holocaust Industry

Abe Foxman publishes his memoir under pseudonym; bestseller in India

By Hanna Ingber Win

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf has become a popular book among students in India looking for tips on management tactics, reports the Daily Telegraph. Students striving to become successful businessmen and women are using the Nazi leader’s infamous autobiography as a self-help book.

Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.


Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we’re happy to sell it to them,” said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.

Management Today questions the effectiveness of Mein Kampf as a management self-help guide.

Even if you can stomach the vitriol, paranoia, militarism and crude racism, the book is so long and tedious that even Hitler’s ally Mussolini didn’t manage to plough his way through it, once apparently dismissing it as ‘a boring tome that I never been able to read’ (Churchill concurred, calling it ‘turgid, verbose [and] shapeless’). So its credentials as a management text seem rather dubious.

The Telegraph reports that Mein Kampf has also been popular in Croatia, Russia and Turkey. While in Germany, its publication is banned until 2015. It is not banned in the United States.


Clark University President John Basset Cancels Finkelstein

Basset Makes Statement:

To the Editor: As some members of the campus community know, I have told the students involved with the Clark University Students for Palestinian Rights (CUSPR) that a planned talk by Professor Norman Finkelstein will not take place this semester. 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. The University began planning for the First International Graduate Students’ Conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies a year ago. While I do not believe that the students who invited Mr. Finkelstein to campus intended it as an affront to those planning the conference, in the eyes of many in the Clark community and our invited guests, it seems to be just that. It is possible that our understanding of the Middle East conflicts would be enriched by conversations with Professor Finkelstein. 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. By this letter, copied also to the Chair of the Faculty and the President of Student Government, I am asking the campus community — faculty, staff, and students — to engage in dialogues about the right breadth at Clark for visiting speakers on controversial topics, about related matters of scheduling as raised in this case, and about this particular case. I will consult with faculty, staff, and students right after Fall Break in early October and report back to The Scarlet on those discussions. After those discussions have taken place, I will be happy to discuss with interested students the appropriateness of an invitation to Mr. Finkelstein.

If you would like to express your opinion to President Basset on his decision to cancel my lecture, you can reach him here:

presidentsoffice[at]clarku.edu, or through Clark University President’s Office contact page.

Please forward your letter to Normangf[at]hotmail.com for posting on this website.


American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Weighs In on Clark Cancellation

04.10.2009 | ACLU (pdf)

By email: presidentsoffice[at]clarku.edu and first class mail
John Bassett, President
Clark University
Geography Building – Room 202
950 Main St.
Worcester, MA 01610

Dear President Bassett:

The ACLU or Massachusetts is very disturbed bv your decision to cancel a talk by Norman Finkelstein who had been invited by a student organization to speak in April on the Clark campus. You have been Quoted in the Boston Globe today as saying that Finkelstein’s presence “would invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding” and that you objected to the timing of his speech which was to take place on the first day of a conference on the Holocaust. Finkelstein’s lecture was not about the Holocaust (even though he is the son of two concentration camp survivors), but was to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to the Globe, the Jewish student organization Hillel raised objections to Finkelstein speaking at Clark.

I have also been informed that when students who had arranged the Finkelstein event met with you, the Dean, and the Provost, administrators referred to Finkelstein as as “extremist” who was “beyond controversial”, thus warranting cancellation of his speaking engagement.

In an email on this issue, you have stated:

There is no question that Clark University stands for full freedom of inquiry in the pursuit of truth and of the good. My decision in this case was based solely on the unfortunate timing of the propsed talk…. Clark’s Difficult Dialogues series next year is focusing on Israel and Palestine. We need to be good listeners to many perspectives. Perhaps one of those will be Norman Finkelstein’s.

Email from Basset to Witty available at philipweiss.org

Even if you are now relying solely on the timing of the Finkelstein talk, as opposed to his being controversial or “beyond controversial”, the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship. Certainly the Clark University campus is large enough to accommodate a speech at the same time as a conference on another subject. This is not the kind of “time, place or manner” restriction on a speaker who is seeks to speak in the same location at the same time as another speaker.

Nor may complaints from those disturbed by Finkelstein’s writings about the post-Holocaust “industry” justify a decision to prevent the lecture from taking place. Indeed, even if demonstrators came to protest against Finkelstein’s views, the obligation of a university is to protect the spaeker’s right to be heard and prevent diisruption of the speech by others. By censoring speech because of complains about offensiveness or the controversial nature of the speaker, the university has essentially allowed what the courts call a “heckler’s veto” over what speech can be heard.

Not only does this censorship violate Clark University’s own principles and your statement that “Clark University stands for full freedom of inquiry,” but it also at odds with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) principles, under which Clark University receives accreditation. Standard Eleven: Integrity, at 11.3 provides that the institution must be “committed the the free pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. It assures faculty and students the freedom to teach and study a given field, to examine all the pertinent date, to question assumptions, and to be guided by the evidence of scholarly research.”

The University’s censorship also conflicts with the principles of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The AAUP statement on outside speakers is available at their website and is relevant to the issue of censorship based on objections by others to a speaker:

The university is no place for a heckler’s veto….We have always been clear that colleges and universities bear the obligation to ensure conditions of peaceful discussion, which at times can be quite onerous. Only in the most extraordinary circumstances can strong evidence of imminent danger justify rescinding an invitation to an outside speaker.

There was no such evidence in this case.

These principles are just as important at a private university like Clark University as they are at a public university which is bound by the First Amendment. This was recognized recently by Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow.

While Tufts is a private institution and not technically bound by First Amendment guarantees, it is my intention to govern as President as if we were. To put it another way, I believe that students, faculty, and staff should enjoy the same rights to freedom of expression at Tufts as they would if they attended or worked at a public university….During the McCarthy era, a number of university presidents in the United States failed to defend the principle of expression. Students, faculty, and stuff paid for this equivocation as the government sought to purge University campuses of those expressing particularly unpopular opinions. We must be vigilant in defending individual liberties even if it means that from time to time we must tolerate speech that violates our stadards of civility and respect.

“Freedom of Expression at Tufts” (August 27, 2007)

The Tufts president is not alone. The Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences has adopted free speech guidelines which include a similar statement:

Because no other community defines itself so much in terms of knowledge, few others place such a high priority on freedom of speech. As a community, we take certain risks by assigning such a high priority to free speech. We assume that the long-term benefits to our community will outweigh the short-term unpleasnt effects of sometimes-noxious views. Because we a community united by a commitment to rational processes, we do not permit censorship of noxious ideas. We are commited to maintaining a climate in which reason and speech provide the correct response to a disagreeable idea.

https://www.fas.harvard.edu/~secfas/public/FreeSpeech.html

We urge you to acknowledge, as President Bacow did at Tufts, that mistakes have been made by Clark University in canceling the Finkelstein lecture. AS the U.S. Supreme Court has noted: “[t]he vigilant protection of constitutional freedom is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.” Shelion v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479,487 (1960). The Court has emphasized that the “college classroom with its surrounding environs is peculiarly the ‘marketplace of ideas,’ and we break no new constitutional ground in reaffirming this Nation’s dedication to safeguarding academic freedom.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180-81 (1972), quoting Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967).

I look forward to hearing from you about these important issues.

Sincerely,
Sarah Wunsch


Clark drops Holocaust scholar – Schedule conflict, controversy cited

04.10.2009 | The Boston Globe

By Matt Byrne – Globe Correspondent

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 appearance.

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 there.


Student group protests Clark canceling talk Speaker’s views controversial

04.11.2009 | Telegram & Gazette

By Danielle M. Williamson – Telegram & Gazette Staff

Clark University President John Bassett said the fact that political author Norman G. Finkelstein is considered controversial would not, in itself, keep the former professor from speaking on campus.

After learning that a student organization planned for Mr. Finkelstein to speak at Clark the same week as a scheduled Holocaust and genocide studies conference, however, Mr. Bassett questioned the timing of the speech. Mr. Finkelstein, whose Jewish parents survived concentration camps during World War II, has written and spoken about a “Holocaust industry” that he believes exploits the memory of the Holocaust. He has also argued that the genocide is overused to justify Israeli behavior in the current conflict with Palestinians.

“I’m not in the business of canceling talks,” Mr. Bassett said of his decision to nix the plans of Students for Palestinian Rights, an organization at the university, for Mr. Finkelstein to speak April 23. “This may well happen next year. I just said, ‘This is the wrong week, folks.’ ”

Mr. Bassett’s action, announced to student leaders Monday and justified in a letter to the student newspaper Wednesday, has prompted Students for Palestinian Rights to circulate two petitions. One questions whether the president should be able to cancel events without first consulting event organizers, and the other asks whether Clark students can have productive conversations about issues with which they may not agree.

“We consider this an abuse of academic freedom,” said senior Thomas MacMillan, president of the organization, which had raised half of the $1,800 costs associated with Mr. Finkelstein’s talk before Mr. Bassett canceled it. “Free speech is probably one of the greatest things we have in this country, as long as it’s not encouraging hate or violence toward someone else.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts echoed the sentiment in a letter to Bassett yesterday, saying the cancellation of the speech: “violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are so fundamental to an institution of higher learning.”

Mr. Finkelstein, a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust, has been on the professional speaking circuit since resigning in 2007 from DePaul University in Chicago. Before resigning, Finkelstein had put on administrative leave by the university. Harvard professor, lawyer and political commentator Alan Dershowitz had publicly criticized Mr. Finkelstein for his writings about Israel.

“Our group helps bring the issue of Palestinian suffering to light,” Mr. MacMillan said. “People are perfectly within their rights to come or not come to our events and question sternly our speakers, but we are within our rights to have them.”

Mr. Finkelstein’s talk, similar to one Mr. MacMillan saw him give Thursday night at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, was to be titled “The Gaza Massacre” and was not related to the Holocaust, Mr. MacMillan stressed.

“Any Middle Eastern topic is going to generate controversy,” he said. “But most Clark students are very willing to sit down and talk about a controversy.”

Mr. Bassett wrote in his letter to The Scarlet student newspaper that a speech by Mr. Finkelstein on the same night as the start of the April 23-26 conference hosted by the university’s Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies “would only invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding.”

Mr. Bassett said Clark’s Jewish campus group, Hillel, opposed Mr. Finkelstein’s appearance. He said his decision to cancel the talk, however, was made before representatives from Hillel approached him.


Clark University President asserts that ‘anti-Semitism is increasing in America’

04.11.2009 | Mondoweiss

By Philip Weiss

I missed a stretcher. Yesterday Clark University President John Bassett wrote a letter seeking to justify his censorship of Norman Finkelstein, who had been scheduled to give a speech on campus, and his letter included this statement:

What especially exaggerates emotions on this topic are the combined facts that Palestinians have suffered and are suffering many abuses and that anti-Semitism is increasing in America.

I notice that commenters have leapt on this statement. My friend James North says it is possibly the most astonishing statement he’s ever read on this site. What is Bassett’s evidence that anti-Semitism is increasing? And to equate that with the horrors in Palestine? What does he mean by abuses? Why not call things by their name? 1200 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. That’s abuses? This is a disgrace. And remember, Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors. He can tell you about anti-Semitism. Bassett’s action is the sort that feeds anti-Semitism, because it seems an expression of Jewish power. Note that Witty thinks that anti-Semitism is a real problem in the U.S. but he wants to let Finkelstein speak!


Students rally after school cancels controversial speaker

04.13.2009 | NECN

By Jennifer Eagan

(NECN: Jennifer Eagan, Worcester, Mass.) – Students rallied outside Clark University Monday in response to the school’s decision to cancel a controversial speaker.

The university’s president told students Dr. Norman Finkelstein wouldn’t be allowed to visit campus later this month.

Finkelstein is a scholar of the Israeli Palestinian conflict and was scheduled to speak on that topic at Clark. He’s also faced controversy for his views on the Holocaust.

Finkelstein’s parents survived World War II concentration camps.

He’s written and spoken of a “Holocaust industry”, which he says exploits the genocide to further Israeli interests and make money.

As the president of Clark noted in the student newspaper last week, Dr. Finkelstein’s speaking engagement was canceled because it fell during the same week as a conference hosted by Clark’s center for holocaust and genocide studies.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 1

04.11.2009 | Original

By Doug Tarnopol

Once again, a university has bowed to pressure to limit free speech and academic freedom. Once again, in so doing, it has made itself a laughing-stock and has amplified the message of the person disinvited. The excuses are transparently false. From Freud to Fraud in just under a century; you must be so proud. Well done!

I understand that a college president’s main job is to ensure the flow of funding, but one would hope that some vague notion of the educational purpose of the university would still occasionally penetrate the miasma of corporate decision-making.

As for Hillel’s position, take it from this American Jew whose family lost members during the Nazi holocaust: by using that historical event to undermine, Nazi-like, the free speech and academic freedom of a nonviolent scholar, you have committed one of the worst moral atrocities I can imagine that doesn’t entail physical violence. Well done!

This is surely the triumph of ethnocentrism over ethics, and it pretty much solidifies in the public’s mind that Dr. Finkelstein’s work on Israeli crimes in the occupied territories, and the ideological use of the Holocaust to silence those crimes, is pretty much on the ball.

I’m of two minds on this — on the one hand, I’d like to see you stop your hysterical jihad against Finkelstein; on the other hand, said hysteria is the best imaginable publicity for his utterly crucial message. Given my experience with Hillel and other supposedly representative Jewish organizations, there is little chance that any of you will stop acting like little Dershowitzes, so my desires are probably beside the point.

So, keep up the good work: your hysterical reactions only serve to widen the cracks in American Zionism.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 2

04.12.2009 | Original

By Omar Baddar

Dear Mr. Bassett,

I was very disappointed to read that you have cancelled Dr. Finkelstein’s talk at Clark University, on the grounds that it was scheduled close to the conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The problem here is two-fold: (1) The false assumption that Dr. Finkelstein’s appearance can legitimately be taken as an “affront” to those planning the conference, and (2), even if it that false assumption were correct, that it would then be appropriate to cancel one academic talk to accommodate the fragile sensibilities of the organizers of another event.

The first fold of the problem is of little interest to me; though I would encourage you to read what the late Dr. Raul Hilberg, widely recognized as the leading Holocaust scholar, had to say about Dr. Finkelstein to acquire a better picture on the issue’s merits. As for the second fold, you certainly wouldn’t cancel a lecture by one theoretical physics professor on the grounds that it is scheduled too close to the lecture of another theoretical physics professor who strongly disagreed with the first. A serious commitment to academic freedom would extend this tolerance of intellectual diversity to slightly more contentious issues.

I hope that you will reconsider your decision.

Sincerely,
Omar Baddar; M.A.

Reply:

Dear Mr. Baddar:

My decision to decline to bring Professor Norman Finkelstein to campus next week was based upon mindful concern of a scheduling conflict with an institutionally sponsored event that had been in the planning stages for more than a year. This concern remains.

At no time did I indicate that Professor Finkelstein would not speak at Clark on another occasion. I also support a broad and deep engagement of the Clark community with the Israel-Palestine issues.

If our students wish to schedule the speaker here before the semester ends, or in the future, they can certainly work through the student planning process to make this happen. I would not oppose such a visit at all.

I have respect and often commend the activism of Clark’s bright and engaged students. I expect this administration and Clark’s dozens of student organizations will work together on these and other issues now and as we move forward.

John Bassett
President


Letters to Clark University President Office – 3

04.12.2009 | Original

By Mirène Ghossein

Dear President Basset,

If Clark University’s motto is truly “Change Convention, Change Our World”, then Norman Finkelstein should be your ideal choice for a “Conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies”. Indeed Dr. Finkelstein’s book The Holocaust Industry challenges the conventional views on the Nazi Holocaust, and goes on to prove that the quote he chose to introduce the book was indeed appropriate : “It seems to me the Holocaust is being sold-it is not being taught” ( Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, Hillel Director, Yale University) .

Raul Hillberg, founder and undisputed authority on holocaust studies, refers to those passages in Dr. Finkelstein’s book which deal with the claims against the Swiss Banks, as a “breakthrough”, and predicts that one day, we would all come to agree with Finkelstein’s findings. Hillberg was right. Many articles have since been published showing the misuse of humanitarian compensation funds by American and Israeli Jewish organizations alike, as well as individuals. Haaretz ( 08-06- 2007) , The Jewish Week ( 05-04-2007), The Jewish Forward (06-06-2003) are but a few examples. Haaretz cites one Holocaust survivor as saying : ” I want the Germans to know that Israel took the money we should have received”.

Remembering this (and more) I was truly taken aback by your letter to the editor of The Scarlet, especially by the use of the word “affront” in the following context: “While I do not believe that the students who invited Mr. Finkelstein to campus intended it as an affront to those planning the conference, in the eyes of many in the Clark community and our invited guests, it seems to be just that”. Speaking of Norman Finkelstein, Raul Hillberg said : ” It takes an enormous amount of academic courage to speak the truth “. It also would take academic courage to stand up for one’s own motto, against pressure groups. I urge you to reverse your decision regarding Dr. Finkelstein ‘s talk. Let your “invited guests” challenge his facts, in a true scholarly manner. And unless Dr. Finkelstein would find it an “affront” to speak, after reading your letter, he should be allowed to make his case. For one , it would be intellectually more stimulating for students to hear different and opposing points of view. It would also show that Clark University is neither afraid of the truth, nor of freedom of speech.

Sincerely,
Mirène Ghossein

I refer now to the part of the book that deals with the claims against the Swiss banks, and the other claims pertaining to forced labor. “I would now say in retrospect that he was actually conservative, moderate and that his conclusions are trustworthy. He is a well-trained political scientist, has the ability to do the research, did it carefully, and has come up with the right results. I am by no means the only one who, in the coming months or years, will totally agree with Finkelstein’s breakthrough.”


Letters to Clark University President Office – 5

04.12.2009 | Original

By Bridget Kane

Dear Ms. David,

My name is Bridget Kane, and I graduated from Clark in 2007. I have never been anything less than proud to tell people I am a Clarkie — that is, until today. When I read the article in the Boston Globe today about Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s visit to Clark being canceled, I was embarrased and ashamed that it was all coming from my Alma Mater. To me, this cancellation really negates Clark’s reputation of “Challenging Convention” and encouraging real “Difficult Dialogues,”. As an undergrad, I craved for a speaker like Finklestein to come into the Clark community and show an informed, educated and respected “other side” to the student body. Too many times at Clark, students are scared too speak their mind if it doesn’t exactly mesh with what the general student body appears to think. If there is any school around that would benefit from having a speaker like Finklestein to their campus, it’s Clark that needs it the most. I hope you will consider rescheduling him, as I think his presence would be of great value to the Clark community.

Sincerely,
Bridget Kane

Reply:

Dear Ms. Kane,

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Clark University stands for full freedom of inquiry in the pursuit of truth and of the good. President Bassett’s decision regarding the lecture featuring Dr. Norman Finkelstein was based solely on the unfortunate timing of the proposed talk. He has not banned Dr. Finkelstein from ever speaking on campus. He has asked for some campus reflection on the issues raised by the controversy, that is what—if any—boundaries govern invitations to speakers on campus and what—if any—scheduling concerns are legitimate.

There is no question that this campus, like all others, needs to hear voices on the Israeli-Palestinian tensions that reflect Palestinian perspectives. What especially exaggerates emotions on this topic are the combined facts that Palestinians have suffered and are suffering many abuses and that anti-Semitism is increasing in America. Therefore reactions to speakers being invited and perceived censorship are stronger than they otherwise would be.

Clark’s Difficult Dialogues series next fall will focus on Israel and Palestine. We need to be good listeners to many perspectives. As the president has said, perhaps one of those will be Norman Finkelstein’s.

Sincerely,
Paula R. David
Vice President, Marketing and Communications


Letters to Clark University President Office – 6

04.12.2009 | Original

By Khusro Elley

Dear Sir,

Any conference on the Holocaust is incomplete without Prof. Finkelstein’s comments. Much as you seem to believe in diversity, you seem to turn the conference into a propoganda opportunity for those who would much rather present it in one light only. Far from bering an affront, I believe Prof. Finkelstein’s comments would add to our knowledge of that unfortunate event. I hope you will review your decision, in the interest of championing diversity and therfore the truth.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 7

04.12.2009 | Original

By Sally Eberhardt

Dear President Bassett,

I’m writing to you as a person concerned about the state of academic freedom in this country. We all depend on the critical examination of accepted ideas in a free society. Dr. Finkelstein’s presence on Clark’s campus would be an important part of that process. To refuse him access to your campus on the pretext of sensitivity to the Holocaust is to deny the scholarly status of his ideas as endorsed, for example, by Professor Raul Hillberg, to say nothing of the insult it does to the memory of Dr. Finkelstein’s parents who were both Holocaust survivors.

I hope you will reverse your decision.

Your sincerely,
Theaters Against War


Letters to Clark University President Office – 8

04.12.2009 | Original

By April Lambert

President Bassett,

I am writing to express my disappointment with your choice to cancel the Norman Finkelstein event. College campuses have an obligation to be active and open forums for a wide variety of topics, opinions, and speakers. It is our responsibility to fulfill that obligation by creating and maintaining an environment in which many topics will be discussed, many opinions will be stated, and many diverse speakers will be welcomed. I feel that your choice to cancel this event erodes that environment.

I am also extremely worried about the precedent that this decision sets. I am grateful to be in a community that is academically engaged and passionate about many issues and I know that this community is capable of handing controversial speakers and/or unfortunate scheduling conflicts in appropriate, mature, and respectful ways. We cannot begin censoring events, speakers, groups, etc on this campus even in the face of logistical difficulties. It will do us all harm and it will do this community a great disservice.

I am very disappointed and worried by this decision and I hope that a unilateral decision to censor a group’s event will not occur in this fashion again.

With respect,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 9

04.12.2009 | Original

By Dave Markland

Dear President Basset,

I was troubled to read that Clark University has chosen to cancel an appearance by respected scholar Norman Finkelstein. The fact that a Jewish intellectual finds himself censored on the pretext of protecting open debate on the shoah is an extreme irony which only serves to disgrace Clark University.

One wonders what the late Raul Hilberg would have thought. Hilberg, long the leading holocaust scholar (and a man whose political leanings were much the opposite of Finkelstein’s) was a professed admirer of Finkelstein’s work. I trust that Clark will not be banning all reference to Hilberg at the conference, though that would at least be consistent with your actions thus far.

The impulse to stifle debate is common amongst those whose views cannot sustain an open airing of the issues. The problem for Clark is that few people are fooled by this ruse and the school’s reputation will justly suffer as a result.

I encourage you to reconsider this affront to freedom of speech and inquiry and allow Dr. Finkelstein to speak.

Sincerely,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 10

04.13.2009 | Original

By Al-Habbo Abdelkerim

Mr. president,

This is an outrage. I get that the media being owned by major corporation won’t invite professor Finkelstein on their show (actually I don’t really get it). But an univerisity, as prestigious as Clark University, banning a eminient scholar on the grounds that his ideas might not be the one shared by the establishment is an outrage. The students you are educating are the future leaders of this nation. By cancelling Finkelstein’s invitation, I am regretefully announcing you that censorship is what Clark University is inculcating in its students. You are alienating the current student and prospective student by such behaviors. Just because a minority of vey influent people have a narrow-minded vision on what is the most tragic event in modern history (Palestinian crisis), you are ready to bet on the reputation of a 19th century institution. One last thing, ask yourself what Freud would have thought and I had hoped that academic freedom was already established after the Franz Boaz and Stanley Hall’s dispute. History is repeating itself it seems.

If it was up to me, you should resign.

Bitterly,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 11

04.13.2009 | Original

By Shadi Z. Ghrayeb

I’m very disappointed to hear you’ve banned Dr. Finkelstein from speaking at Clark University. Dr. Norman Finkelstein stands as a moral example that the quest for hope, justice, truth, and equality can and should prevail.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 12

04.13.2009 | Original

By Muttasem Razzaq

Your cancelling of Norman Finkelstein’s scheduled talk puts you and Clark University squarely on the wrong side of history. I read both the Boston Globe article as well as the Worcester Telegram’s article citing your move, but did not read anywhere why you thought it might offend people attending the Holocaust Conference. Simply put: what does the struggle for Palestinian rights have to do with the Holocaust?

The fact is, as you well know, that the truth about the Palestinian issue offends supporters of Israel because it sheds light on the lies that form mainstream discussion on the issue.

Your attempt to silence Dr. Finkelstein is much like Holy Cross’ decision several years ago cancelling Dr. Michael Prior’s talk, or last year’s cancellation of Joel Beinin’s talk in California, or Tony Judt’s talk in New York, or …, you get the picture.

The end result of your action is in fact irrelevant. More and more people are understanding the reality of life under Israeli occupation in spite of your attempts to silence the truth. Witness the fact that countless groups and organizations worldwide are preparing to bring War Crimes charges against Israel to hold it accountable for the atrocities committed in Gaza. People with open minds will get different sources of information to structure their opinions.

What you have denied the Clark community is the thrill of watching someone speak truthfully. So go ahead and hide behind your lame excuses.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 13

04.13.2009 | Original

What does a distinguished professor’s speech have to do with other events on campus? College campuses were once regarded a bastion of free speech, regardless of the type of things being said. This is precisely the type of campus climate that facilitates the dismissal of great academics like Finkelstein, a professor who consistently received the highest student evaluations in the political science department at Depaul University. This whole incident is a shame to your school.

Reply:

Dear Shalin:

My decision to decline to bring Professor Norman Finkelstein to campus next week was based upon mindful concern of a scheduling conflict with an institutionally sponsored event that had been in the planning stages for more than a year. This concern remains.

At no time did I indicate that Professor Finkelstein would not speak at Clark on another occasion. I also support a broad and deep engagement of the Clark community with the Israel-Palestine issues.

If our students wish to schedule the speaker here before the semester ends, or in the future, they can certainly work through the student planning process to make this happen. I would not oppose such a visit at all.

I have respect and often commend the activism of Clark’s bright and engaged students. I expect this administration and Clark’s dozens of student organizations will work together on these and other issues now and as we move forward.

John Bassett
President


Letters to Clark University President Office – 14

04.13.2009 | Original

By Will Brown

Mr. Bassett,

Although I am not a student at Clark University , it had been my intention to attend the talk Norman Finkelstein was scheduled to give on your campus later this month. It was with great disappointment that I learned of its cancellation.

Last December the IDF launched an indiscriminate assault on the already destitute and suffocating people of Gaza . They bombed civilian infrastructure–schools, hospitals and mosques. By the time a ceasefire was established on January 18th, roughly 1,200 Palestinians had been slaughtered, many of them burned alive by white phosphorous shells. One third of those killed were children. For decades the people of Palestine have endured oppression, humiliation and abject poverty under a brutal military occupation that stands in direct violation of international law.

Both of Dr. Finkelstein’s parents were survivors of Nazi extermination camps. The dedication of his book ‘Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict’ reads

“To my beloved parents, Maryla Husyt Finkelstein, survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Maidanek concentration camp; and Zacharias Finkelstein, survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz concentration camp. May I never forget or forgive what was done to them.”

Norman Finkelstein has dedicated his life to speaking out on behalf of silenced and subjugated people. It is a cause that has cost him a stable career and sentenced him to a lifetime of threats and slander.. Academia should champion those who have the courage to speak truth to power, not silence them.

You canceled Finkelstein’s lecture, claiming that it would be inappropriate for his talk on Palestinian rights to coincide with a conference on genocide because it “would only invite controversy.” How could anyone be deeply concerned about the memory of the Holocaust and simultaneously disdain Finkelstein’s tireless dedication to defending the factual record regarding atrocities going on in Palestine ? Human suffering is human suffering. Injustice is injustice. To me, the implicit message of this decision is that Jewish lives are worth more than Palestinian lives, that the devastation of the former merits a conference, while discussion of similar devastation experienced by the latter–devastation going on as we speak, enabled by our tax dollars–should be censored, or *maybe* just saved for another time. This is an affront to human decency and to academic freedom.

As a descendant of Jewish refugees, it is my deepest conviction that human civilization must learn from the Shoah that no people should ever be abandoned to systematic deprivation and destruction. It seems that for the establishment and Hillel at Clark University , the lesson of the Holocaust is that Jews should be entitled to special privileges because they have suffered, privileges including the right to inflict suffering on other groups and to do so without being subject to criticism or protest. I find such sentiments to be tragic beyond words.

Will Brown
Student, UMass Boston


Letters to Clark University President Office – 15

04.13.2009 | Original

By Maren Hackmann

President Bassett:

Your cancellation of Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein’s talk at Clark University is outrageous. An apology is in order — both to the student organizers and to Dr. Finkelstein himself. And, of course, the event should take place as scheduled.

It says on your website that in 2002 you launched the so-called President’s Lecture Series which “includes two-three lectures a year with eminent speakers in the sciences, arts, humanities and international relations.” It seems you don’t yet have a candidate for 2009. Why not invite Dr. Finkelstein? Surely you can find a date that’s a non-affront?

Sincerely
Maren Hackmann
Editor & Translator
Germany


Letters to Clark University President Office – 16

04.13.2009 | Original

Dear President Basset:

It was with great displeasure that I read of your decision to cancel Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture. I was displeased even further when I read of your justification for doing so. Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture had absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust. Even if it did, even a cursory glance at Dr. Finkelstein’s work would have made it clear that Finkelstein is not in anyway a Holocaust denier or an anti-semite. As you may or may not know, Dr. Finkelstein is the child of Holocaust survivors and a longtime friend/colleague of the great Holocaust historian Raul Hillberg. These are not the credentials of a man bent on offending the sensibilities of the participants in Clark’s Holocaust Remembrance Conference.

While it is true that Dr. Finkelstein has written about the “Holocaust Industry,” that work was in no way disparaging to the victims of the Holocaust or controversial in the least from a scholarly perspective. If anything, the thesis of that work – that the victims of the Holocaust were being bilked out of large sums of money by the organizers of Holocaust reparations movement – should be recognized as sympathetic to the plight of the survivors and all those who perished during the war at the hands of the Nazis.

If you decided to cancel Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture knowing all of the aforementioned, then I can only assume that your decision was based on Dr. Finkelstein’s work concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict. It should be noted at the outset that the Israel-Palestine conflict is not to be conflated with the Holocaust. While there are historical connections between the formation of the Israeli State and the Holocaust, there is no currently relevant connection between the Holocaust and the current goings-on in the middle east. A lecture against the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories has absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust and, if you feel differently, I would be interested to know exactly how you came to that conclusion.

Holocaust Remembrance reminds us of the importance of maintaining free speech and the free flow of ideas to ensure that a second catastrophe of similar proportions never occurs again. Your actions stand in contradiction to this principle. Indeed, if anything, your actions have strengthened those conspiratorial anti-Semites who believe in the age-old canard that Jews control American institutions and restrict/warp the flow of information to their advantage.

I hope my concerns are taken to heart and you reconsider your decision to cancel Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture.

Best Regards,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 17

04.13.2009 | Original

By S. Marciniak

Dear Sir

I have read your letter published in the Scarlet on April 9th and I am disappointed to learn of your institution’s decision to cancel Dr Finkelstein’s forthcoming speaking engagement. Even though this e-mail is unlikely to arrive in time to persuade you to revise this decision, it is important nevertheless for me to correct the mistaken assertion that Mr Finkelstein’s attendance is likely to cause an unacceptable degree of controversy.

I understand that Dr Finkelstein was scheduled to discuss the recent conflict in Gaza at your university. I had the benefit of listening, along with 150 others, to Dr Finkelstein’s talk on the same subject at the end of February at Kings College, London. If I may be permitted to attempt to encapsulate Dr Finkelstein’s argument, Israel’s invasion of Gaza was based on two principles: firstly to restore its “deterrence capability” ie Arab states’ fear of Israel following its recent failed engagements in Lebanon and secondly, to thwart the most recent of the Palestinian “peace offensives.”

The expressions I have placed in quotation marks are not Dr Finkelstein’s own words:”deterrence capability” was used by Ariel Sharon in 1967 and “peace offensive” by Avner Yaniv in 1982. I would also stress that at no point during the talk did Dr Finkelstein attempt to relate or compare the conflict to the Holocaust or to the Nazi Final Solution – the talk now appears online on Youtube.

I can understand the concern that to discuss the Gaza conflict in the wake of the event itself may touch many raw nerves amongst members of your institution. However, I would argue that it is immaterial whether one agrees or disagrees with Dr Finkelstein’s point of view about the reasons for the conflict. The critical point is that Dr Finkelstein in the talk I attended attempted to place the Gaza situation within the context of Israeli state philosophy and policy over the last 40 years. By premising his arguments on the available evidence, Dr Finkelstein promoted reasoned and reflective debate with his audience, not controversy.

There is a danger that the university’s preconceptions concerning Dr Finkelstein may persist and become ingrained, which this is the reason I am compelled to write to you in these terms. I therefore hope that by the time this matter falls to be reconsidered, a better informed and reasoned decision can be made.

Yours Sincerely
Mr S. Marciniak
London


Letters to Clark University President Office – 18

04.13.2009 | Original

By Timothy Newman

Dear President Bassett,

As an alumnus of Clark University (class of 2006), I am deeply disappointed to learn about your recent decision to cancel Norman Finkelstein’s speaking event at Clark.

I came to Clark University as a Making a Difference scholar and I was attracted to Clark because of its motto, “Challenging Convention, Changing our World.” Clark’s commitment to positive change in the world is embodied in the school’s mission statement which is to educated students “to be imaginative and contributing citizens of the world.” The mission statement also says, “The free pursuit of inquiry and the free exchange of ideas are central to that commitment.” I chose to attend Clark because of these ideals and I am proud to have attend this university.

During my years at Clark, I learned so much about the world through engaging in passionate and scholarly debates about the most critical issues facing our local communities and global society. Additionally, I learned a great deal about strategies to positively impact my community and create social change. Through participating in various student organizations and community projects, I learned so many lessons that I use every day in my current capacity as a Campaigns Director of a DC-based NGO working to protect workers’ rights globally.

So, it is with great dismay that I have learned about your recent decision to cancel the Norman Finkelstein event sponsored by Clark University Students for Palestinian Rights. It is clear that this move was a violation of academic freedom and free speech. Of course scheduling conflicts are unfortunate and controversy can be uncomfortable, but students (and all of us) benefit from openly engaging with difficult discussions. Your decision sets a dangerous precedent for silencing dissenting voices in a university that has long prided itself in challenging convention and dealing directly with important political issues. In my years at Clark, I planned a large number of similar events and attended many lectures given by speakers I agreed and disagreed with fervently and I never heard of the administration ever intervening in an event like this. For example, during my junior year, former CPA head Paul Bremer — an immensely controversial figure internationally — spoke on campus. Dissenters had the opportunity to share their opinions and the event went on as scheduled.

The other aspect of your decision that disturbs me is that it also discourages student engagment and organizing. Unilaterally canceling a student group’s event has a detrimental impact on the ability of students to organize on campus and excercise their rights. Participating in running campaigns and planning educational events at Clark was an important part of my education as a citizen and an organizing professional — and I think my efforts had a meaningful and positive impact on the Clark community. Your decision is hurtful to the development of students as active and globally-conscious citizens. Instead, it sends a negative message about how easily democracy can be undermined.

President Bassett, as a proud Clark University alumnus, I ask that you reconsider your decision and ensure that Clark University Students for Palestinian Rights are able to bring Norman Finkelstein to speak at Clark this semester. I also ask that you refrain from cancelling other speaking events planned by student organizations in the future and that you meet with CUSPR members to ensure that their concerns are adequately addressed. I will be paying close attention to this issue and I am sharing my thoughts with my fellow alumni as well.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Timothy Newman (’06)


Letters to Clark University President Office – 19

04.13.2009 | Original

By Kevin Greenstein

Dear President Bassett,

I am writing to express my satisfaction at you decision to cancel Mr. Finkelstein’s appearance at Clark It is gratifying to find at least a bit of compass left in university leadership, which has utterly folded in the face of liberalism and so-called free speech You will no doubt receive an inundation of criticism from a ready-to-go knee-jerk cluster of Finkelstein supporters This is only because assent is usually met with a lack of correspondence, and programmed criticism is always at the ready.

Thank you again for demonstrating some very rare sensible leadership on an American campus.

Kevin Greenstein, M.D.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 20

04.13.2009 | Original

By Joel French

Dear President Basset:

I am very disappointed to hear that you decided to cancel a visit by Norman Finkelstein, one of the world’s leading scholars on the Israel-Palestine conflict I am part of a group that hosted Dr. Finkelstein at the University of Alberta recently, and his visit was appreciated by many I recognize that his lecture was to take place shortly before another event and that the schedules were deemed to be conflicting, however, from my experience, frequent events with speakers like Dr. Finkelstein and others of his caliber can surely only further enrich the minds of students.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your decision for the benefit of the students of Clark University.

Thank you for your time.

Joel French
Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton


Letters to Clark University President Office – 21

04.13.2009 | Original

By Minna Virtanen

Dear President John Bassett,

I’ve never heard of Clark University before, but browsing your websites, I see it’s situated in Worcester, Massachusetts. The university is advertised with words: ‘Difficult dialogues -creating a culture of dialogue on campus’, and with your statement about how proud you are ‘that Clark University is featured in Loren Pope’s book Colleges that Change Lives’.

I understood that Dr Norman Finkelstein was supposed to give a lecture on Gaza at your campus, but his lecture was cancelled because of ‘unfortunate scheduling’ as it would collide with a conference on Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and because it may be viewed as an ‘affront’ to the Clark community and the invited guests. Unfortunate schedulling and insensitivity, Dr Finkelstein’s lecture?? Anybody who was awake during the recent Gaza war crimes, would see the irony of epic proportions.

The real question is: Is it really the right time to talk about the holocaust? Before the victims in Gaza have hardly turned cold in their graves? Talk about an affront.

Also diverting the discussion from real issues, the real victims right here and now, to the historical victimhood of the perpetrators of these recent warcrimes (the holocaust which no-one in their right mind denies took place during the WWII) is giving consent to the warcriminals. Is this what you’re so proud of – college that changes lives? With all due respect, your timing stinks.

Minna Virtanen
Helsinki, Finland


Letters to Clark University President Office – 22

04.13.2009 | Original

By Troy Derek Hill

President Bassett,

As a Clark alumnus, I am often asked about my experience at Clark. It’s been a great pleasure to be able to offer nothing but praise for the University, and in particular, to be able to enthusiastically endorse Clark’s intellectual atmosphere. In my experience, the sense of social activism and intellectual engagement so common among Clark students sharply distinguishes them from the broader population of college students.

Thus, it is with deep disappointment that I became aware of your decision to stifle the campus’ intellectual discourse by barring Dr. Norman Finkelstein from speaking. As you surely know by now, Dr. Finkelstein is a renowned expert on the Israel-Palestine conflict, a widely respected scholar, and a stellar example of the values Clark ostensibly embraces – he is a fierce advocate for social justice, speaking truth to power, and intellectual accountability (Dr. Finkelstein’s critics are always given priority during post-lecture Q&A sessions).

Though his lecture at Clark was to address the Israel-Palestine conflict, Dr. Finkelstein has written widely about the exploitation of the Holocaust in the service of ideology, specifically as it is used to stifle dissenting perspectives and criticism of Israeli aggression. Nonetheless, I’m sure you didn’t intend irony when you cited the concurrent Holocaust conference being held at Clark, and rising anti-Semitism in America as sufficient grounds for canceling a lecture centered on Palestinian human rights. Frankly, I can think of nothing more insulting to Holocaust victims and their descendants than co-opting their tragedy to silence a political opponent. And your assertion that Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture would fuel anti-Semitism is equally offensive. When did advocating human rights become anti-Semitic? At what point did international law become the domain of anti-Semites? Conversely, when did Israeli war crimes become indistinguishable from Jewish identity? You should be ashamed. I have never felt such disgust towards my alma mater.

Discussions about Israel-Palestine, the defining crisis of our lifetimes, should never require official sanction. I strongly encourage you to clarify your statements and remedy this situation. A public apology to Dr. Finkelstein and the Clark community strike me as a bare minimum. If this stain on Clark’s integrity is not removed, I can assure you that my future donations and endorsements will go to more deserving causes, and that I will urge others to follow suit.

Sincerely,
Troy Derek Hill (B.A. 2006)
Research Assistant


Letters to Clark University President Office – 23

04.13.2009 | Original

By G. Turner

On an excerpt from the Boston Globe: “The dispute came to the attention of college administrators after Hillel, a Jewish campus group, objected to Finkelstein’s scheduled appearance.

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.”

What an appalling decision you have made.

What a disgusting rationale you have used in a feeble attempt to “justify” it.

Mr. Finkelstein’s speaking topic, Israel’s recent assault on Gaza (not the Nazi holocaust), is, in fact, relevant to the other planned conference at Clark University.

The barbaric attack on a caged and starving people was a part of the ongoing attempt to eliminate the Palestinian people.

The use of 155 mm white phosphorous (M825A1 – USA supplied), F-16 jet fighters (USA supplied), Merkava tanks, DIME weapons (GBU-39 – USA supplied), 120 mm flechettes, MK-82 bombs, Apache attack helicopters (USA supplied), etc. on civilians killing over 1,400 constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Keeping these and other facts from public exposure is the true reason for your denial of Mr. Finkelstein’s speaking engagement.

No criticism of Israel’s expansionist genocidal wars and brutal occupation will be permitted.

The government of Canada recently denied entry to Mr. George Galloway, M.P., United Kingdom, in order to stifle debate on the Gaza massacre.

What grounds did it use? The old stand-by of, “national security” and even more ludicrous, “fund raising for terrorists.”

Even the U.S. government was not that stupid.

Galloway’s denial and your denial of Finkelstein is part of an ongoing campaign to deny the truth and re-brand Israel.

It is a closing down of debate and opinion to ensure that only the dominant permissible narrative of the mythology of Israel is disseminated.

Eric Blair would be proud.

Mr. G. Turner
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Letters to Clark University President Office – 24

04.13.2009 | Original

By Mark Lance

Dr President Bassett:

I have just read the published press report on your decision to rescind the invitation of students to Norman Finkelstein. I am hoping that you were misquoted, but since the reports came from reputable sources and were cited, I am writing under the assumption that you were not.

I say that I’m hoping you were misquoted, because the alternative is really very sad. The two reasons given – that the event would “conflict” with another event two days later, and that it would lead to conflict rather than understanding are simply too silly to be taken seriously. Even if the event had been at the same time as an event on the same topic, you know as well as I do that this happens all the time at universities. And at most it would justify a suggestion that students change the date. But since the events are not at the same time, you can’t possibly have this in mind. One can only surmise that the “conflict” in question is an academic one – that the views put forward by Finkelstein would be different from those put forward at the conference. But of course treating this to be a bad thing is anathema to all that a university is supposed to stand for.

No better is the explanation in terms of conflict. First, who are you to make such a determination and on what basis. Norman Finkelstein is a respected and established scholar whose presentations are highly academic, calm, and perfectly in line with normal academic practice. His views are quite different from the dominant ones in academia and the US political scene, but again, cf the ideals of a university. Perhaps you mean that there would be conflict because some on your campus promised it – promised to disrupt as is so often the case at his talks. If so, then you are simply caving to threats from university groups, and not even with the usual excuse of caving to threats because we both know that there is no real chance of Hillel and the ADL resorting to violence. Dr. Finkelstein has given hundreds of such talks, and been greeted at most of them with dishonest and propagandistic leafletting organized by Hillel and ADL, and occasionally been interrupted by similar groups. But never has there been the slightest threat of violence. But even if there was such a threat, you obviously have it in your power to respond to this in a way that doesn’t make a mockery of academic freedom.

So neither of these explanations withstand a moment’s scrutiny, which leaves me with the sadness. It is simply impossible to read these excuses as anything other than shallow justifications for bowing to the demands of one ideological interest group to silence views that run counter to their own. If that is indeed what is going on here, you will have sold your ability to be taken seriously or respected as an academic for a very low price. The first job of a university academic is to uphold the ideals of the university. And the right of the university community to hear the views of scholars that they invite is paramount among those ideals.

I would be more than happy to find that the characterization of the incident is not as it was reported. Barring that, I will have to conclude that Clark “University” is a university in name only, not an institution deserving of respect from its peers and not one which shares our core commitments.

Yours,
Mark Lance
Professor of philosophy
Professor of justice and peace
Director, program on justice and peace
Georgetown University
(Affiliation for identification only. I speak here, obviously, for myself alone.)


Letters to Clark University President Office – 25

04.13.2009 | Original

By Michael Shanahan

Dear Dr Basset

I am writing to express my sadness at the decision to prevent Dr Finkelstein from speaking at the university on 21 April 2009. I understand that the lecture was due to take place under the auspices of Clark University Students for Palestine Rights. I read that you are quoted as saying that you do not believe that the invitation to Dr Finkelstein is intended as an affront to those planning a holocaust conference due to take place 23-26 April 2009 and I welcome such a firm statement of principle. However, you go on to claim that ” many in the Clark community and invited guests” think otherwise. With respect, I am left to wonder how you came to such a conclusion in the first place. In the last twelve months Dr Finkelstein has lectured at a number of different colleges in London University (and also at centres of higher education throughout UK) and no doubt there was at least a group that was very anxious that he did not have such platforms. Had they sought to apply the pressure you have clearly experienced then the whole idea of academic debate would have to be consigned to the dustbin of knowledge. Perhaps you should have reminded your protesting visitors that democracy does have certain disadvantages when it comes to promulgating ideas and that possibly they are not yet mature enough to engage in such a process, even though involved with a university of the stature of Clark. Father Holtschneider (President of DePaul) felt unable to resist the pressure of such as Alan Dershowitz over the tenure process of Dr Finkelstein and there is obviously a form of repeat process at the present time.

The thought occurs; whenever Dr Finkelstein has lectured here in UK he has attracted audiences in such large measure that a form of rationing by ticket has been necessary (based on first come first served of course). Looking now at the ‘similar conference’ you appear to be worried about (hosted by the university’s Strasser Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies) it might just be that an unflattering comparison could be made in terms of the interest shown on the days in question.

Yours faithfully

Michael Shanahan
London,UK.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 26

04.14.2009 | Original

By Samaa Elibyari

Sir,

I am truly astonished by the flimsy excuse you are giving to cancel Prof Finkelstein’s talk.

The planned seminar would have been the best time for his talk unless your college wants to promote one narrative, not dialogue and academic discourse.

Sincerely,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 27

04.14.2009 | Original

By Cameron Merrill

Mr. Bassett,

Concerning your statement on the cancellation of Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture, three glaring fallacies stand out:

1) Your description of the “untimely and unfortunate scheduling” of Dr. Finkelstein because of the coinciding Holocaust event fails to acknowledge that Finkelstein himself is a Holocaust scholar, not to mention son of two Holocaust survivors. By omitting this information, your statement implies that Finkelsteins’s “diversity of opinions on controversial topics” encouraged by your university could or would be derisive against Jews and thus are not tolerated.

2) In similar regard, it is widely known that Finkelstein’s lectures focus primarily on Israel and not the Holocaust, whereas your opinion that the speech would inhibit “dialogue and understanding” insinuates an aura of antisemitism surrounding Mr. Finkelstein. Were this not the case, any lecture on Mideast conflicts, as you term his topic, would be perfectly acceptable to coincided with a Holocaust convention.

3) Finally, it would seem that you missed the logical contradiction in your statement when you write, “…that having Professor Finkelstein speak on the same evening as our planned conference would only invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding,” after previously expressing your desire to “encourage diversity of opinions on controversial topics.” What many administrators and bureaucrats fail to notice time and time again is that tolerance depends upon divergence of viewpoints and the majority of controversies that arise are due to one side being given perferences over the other to express their views, as it seems you are doing.

The likely conclusion is that your decision has created more controversy on an even larger scale. And while truly unfortunate, the only message your statement sends is one of a degraded sense of tolerance and understanding that favors one student group over another.

meant very sincerely by a university student,

Cameron Merrill
University of Georgia undergraduate


Letters to Clark University President Office – 28

04.14.2009 | Original

By Zak Starr

Dear President Basset,

I am writing to you to express my concern and frustration as a Clark alum, over your recent decision to cancel the scheduled talk by Norman Finkelstein. You cited “unfortunate timing” and a desire not to “invite controversy” as reasons for doing so. I find it ironic that to avoid one controversy, Clark has perpetrated a much greater one. Censorship, in my opinion, is really controversial. We paid an accomplice to war crimes (Paul Bremmer) $40,000 to speak at Clark. Did that not invite controversy? I also believe that you are flat out wrong to assume that Mr. Finkelstein’s talk would not promote discourse and understanding just because it was scheduled to happen at the same time as an even with conflicting ideas. You are grossly underestimating the intelligence and open-mindedness of the student body. That is a shame.

You say that you have not barred Finkelstein from ever speaking at Clark, but you have just rebuked him in a most cynical way. If he does speak at Clark in the future, and is not again turned away, it will be with the knowledge that he is not wanted by some in our community. Almost more than the cancellation itself, the lack of candidness in explaining your decision is troubling. The fact that you have chosen to defer discussion on the issue until October creates the perception that there is something to hide. When I see my University in the news, I want it to be because Clark is “Challenging Convention and Changing our World”, not challenging dissent and changing it’s views on censorship.

Sincerely,
Zak Starr ’07


Letters to Clark University President Office – 29

04.14.2009 | Original

By Alexander Zaimi

Dear Pres. Basset,

I am writing in regards to your decision to cancel a visit by Norman Finkelstein to Clark University. Based on what I’ve read, you made this decision either before meeting with members of the campus Jewish group Hillel, who complained about Finkelstein’s scheduled visit to the campus. You have said that Finkelstein cannot speak at Clark University because his scheduled appearance coincided with a Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide. I really cannot understand why this is even an issue. Finkelstein was scheduled to speak on the subject of the Gaza Massacre, not the Nazi Holocaust. You also said that Finkelstein’s visit would invite controversy. This may be the case, but so what? Upholding free speech is far more important than the desire to avoid controversy. Finkelstein may be controversial, but he is also an internationally known scholar on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the exploitation of the Nazi Holocaust. His work on the ‘Holocaust Industry’ has been translated into at least 16 languages and this work made him well known in Europe. His works have been praised by such people as Noam Chomsky, the late Raul Hilberg, Avi Shlaim and Christopher Browning.

You, as the chief representative of Clark University, should be delighted that your students would have the opportunity to meet such a distinguished scholar. If the campus Hillel group has a problem with Finkelstein, they would do well to debate him, not try to ban him from the university. I hope that you reconsider your decision and re-invite Finkelstein to your university. By doing so, you might upset some groups, but you will be praised by all those who champion free speech.

Best Regards,


Letters to Clark University President Office – 30

04.14.2009 | Original

By John M. Kuchta

President Bassett’s assertion that the presence of Holocaust scholar Norman Finkelstein “would invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding” is false because controversy directly inspires conversation. To consider controversy “dangerous” is patronizing to and implies doubt in the faculty and their students, because it presupposes that they cannot thoughtfully consider Dr. Finkelstein’s views.

At stake is not the privilege of CUSPR to bring a noted scholar to campus, but the integrity of Clark’s academic mission, which is founded upon the free exchange of ideas. We are not progressive if we do not act progressively when it is controversial, and we cannot respect the diversity of the community if the administration shows favor to any particular sect.

Women’s suffrage, reproductive rights, the abolition of slavery and the gay rights movement have each met controversy. Freedom itself has caused discord since before the American Revolution. In each movement, progressives have fought to consider unpopular ideas for the betterment of mankind. To imply that Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture is unfortunately timed is not only patronizing to the faculty and their students, but also implies doubt in their academic integrity. Clark is well-equipped to handle controversy and deserves exposure to the Palestinian rights movement. If President Bassett had the opportunity, would he prevent Dr. King from speaking for fear that there would be violence?

Open-mindedness is not a lack of skepticism, nor is it entertaining only those ideas with which you already agree. Open-mindedness is a willingness to challenge what you believe by considering new arguments presented with persuasive evidence. Open-mindedness and freedom of expression are necessary complements; you cannot have one without the other, and they are foundational to academic inquiry. Are you ready to consider that Israel may not be totally justified in all of its actions?

The founding fathers enshrined free expression in the Bill of Rights so that those in power could not silence political minorities. In fact, the right to free expression is the primary reason why so many have been able to thoroughly publicize the horrors of the Holocaust. Opposition to the presentation of ideas with which you don’t agree is antithetical to the mission of the university. If Clark forsakes freedom of expression, it does so despite itself.

According to Matt Byrne’s April 10, 2009 article in the Boston Globe, “The dispute came to the attention of college administrators after Hillel [...] objected to Finkelstein’s scheduled appearance.” This suggests that the administration did not initially object to Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture, but Hillel convinced the administration to cancel it. According to CUSPR, John Bassett said the event came to his attention after Jack Foley, head of campus security, brought it to his attention. If this is so, what were the extraordinary security concerns of this event? What exactly did President Bassett say to the CUSPR executive board during their April 6, 2009 meeting? What were Hillel’s specific reasons for objecting to the presence of a scholar whose parents survived the Holocaust? If Hillel has compelling reasons to cancel the speech, why don’t they present the entirety of their correspondence with the administration on this matter?

Further, by canceling Dr. Finkelstein’s lecture, the administration has granted Hillel de facto veto power over who is allowed to speak on campus–power no student group should have, and a privilege which should enrage every student and professor regardless of political inclination. The problem with veto power is epidemic–if Hillel can silence Israel-Palestine conflict scholar Norman Finkelstein, can the Newman Association silence Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards? Can the Christian Students Union silence religious scholar and anti-theist Sam Harris? Can Republicans of Clark silence affirmative action activist and Columbia University president Lee Bollinger? The premise is absurd and insulting not only to those who might like to hear those people speak, but to the whole community. To cancel Dr. Finkelstein’s speech for “untimely and unfortunate scheduling” is to deny his detractors the opportunity to publicly challenge his views, and to deny everyone an open-minded environment in which higher learning can take place. Clark must be free to endure controversy and to challenge convention, because that is how we change our world. Clark University must not pander to those who use “anti-Semitic” to describe critics of Israeli foreign policy.

In all of this, we witness the defining moment of John Bassett’s presidency, and a defining moment for Clark academics at large. If we are dedicated to dialogue and understanding, we will bravely face adversity and demand that President Bassett allow Dr. Norman Finkelstein to deliver his lecture. Should an ideological conflict arise, we should see the unique opportunity to foster an incredibly difficult dialogue. Will we endure controversy to defend academic freedom, or compromise our integrity by catering to the petulant and intellectually bankrupt?

John M. Kuchta
Class of 2007


Letters to Clark University President Office – 31

04.15.2009 | Original

By John St Lawrence

Dear President Basset:

I heard Dr Finkelstein speak at Brown University last year, a school which doesn’t limit intellectual inquiry and “diversity of opinion” to the student handbook. Professor Finkelstein was a commanding presence with his enlightening and exhaustive grasp of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In the Q&A, we heard from a former Israeli soldier, students from Hillel, Palestinian students, and people from the Providence community. It was civil and informative and there was no police presence that I could see.

If your students have a problem with controversial ideas and are unable to tolerate ambiguity or dissent, then it is a reflection on you and your administration. You set the tone on campus and a lack of civility or tolerance is your responsibility.

You have done your students a disservice; and you should no longer be considered or ranked by the Princeton Review as one of the best liberal arts colleges. You don’t deserve it.

The most recent newsletter published by Counterpunch.org speaks of The New Campus McCarthyism. You should be the first to read it.

Sincerely,
John St Lawrence
Johnston, RI


Letters to Clark University President Office – 32

04.15.2009 | Original

By Ali Shokouhbakhsh

Dear President Bassett,

President, Clark University,

Mr, Finkelstein was planing to talk about Israeli massacre in Gaza not Holocaust. One more time Holocaust is used to silence critics of Israeli war crimes.

No integrity.

Regards,

Ali Shokouhbakhsh
Educator


Letters to Clark University President Office – 33

04.15.2009 | Original

By Eva Moseley

Dear President Bassett,

Today’s Boston Globe reports that the Clark administration has cancelled a talk by Norman Finkelstein because it would conflict with a conference on a similar topic that begins two days later, and because it would “invite controversy and not dialogue or understanding.”

In regard to the first reason, one could just as well say that it would augment or complement the conference being held by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. And in regard to the second, if Clark “remains committed to inviting a wide range of speakers to encourage diversity of opinions on controversial topics,” as your letter in the student newspaper avows, then it makes no sense to cancel a talk by someone who may “invite controversy.”

The real reason, if the Globe article is accurate, appears to be that Hillel “objected to Finkelstein’s scheduled appearance.” Hillel members are no doubt of the Israel-can-do-no-wrong school of thought and will put up with controversy about anything except Israel and Palestine. It is disappointing, to say the least, to see yet another university cave in to this sort of pressure. If that is not what happened, there are many of us who would like to know the real reason, as those quote in the article are so unconvincing. And let me add that I’m Jewish and as a child was a refugee from Nazi Vienna, one of the lucky few who escaped the terrible fate of so many Jews, and who believes that Israel should have learned from the Holocaust not to oppress another people.

Sincerely,

Eva (Steiner) Moseley
Cambridge, MA


Letters to Clark University President Office – 34

04.15.2009 | Original

By Claiborne Clark

The Anti-Defamation (sic) League is at it again. This time they are defaming Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Lansing State has shown backbone and I hope UNC does too.

You are also aware of the shameful action taken by the president of Clark University in canceling a talk by Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors. The ADL and the other usual suspects must certainly be behind this one too. Finkelstein, who had been invited by a student group which advocates for Palestinian rights, is the author of a book called “The Holocaust Industry” which argues that the Nazi Holocaust is being used in attempts to justify Israel’s harmful actions towards Palestinians who had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

Finkelstein asserts in his more recent book “Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History” that Israel uses accusations of anti-Semitism against critics of Israel. Clark University president Bassett said it was inappropriate for Finklestein to speak at the University at the same time a conference on the Holocaust is going on there. After the carnage in Gaza, which a Jewish Member of the British Parliament compared to the actions of Nazis, it is a profound shame that Finkelstein, the son of death camp survivors, is banned from Clark University. It seems to me that the actions taken against Finkelstein by the president at Clark University, and the defamation of Desmond Tutu by the Anti-Defamation (sic) League bear out the points Dr. Finkelstein makes.

It must be terrible to support something that has so little tolerance for truth.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 35

04.15.2009 | Original

By Chris Caesar

President Bassett,

As I’m sure you’re inundated with letters of protest and concern regarding the cancellation of Norman Finkelstein’s event, I wanted to extend my tremendous thanks for doing the right thing and allowing Dr. Finkelstein to return to the campus as soon as possible. While the university never explicitly ‘banned’ Dr. Finkelstein per se, many of us were concerned that the indefinite postponement of the event may have been an attempt to silence him.

Thank you for nevertheless respecting our concerns and acting with such haste in responding. Indeed, many Presidents would not be so gracious.

I’m afraid that a number of us nevertheless remain concerned that the university, in an official capacity, seems to have conflated Dr. Finkelstein’s criticisms of the Israeli occupation with an affront to the memory and legacy of the Holocaust. We’ve never really understood why the university foresaw any kind of “situational conflicts” between Finkelstein’s talk on Gaza (relying solely on published accounts by locally operating human rights groups like Amnesty, HRW, etc.) and a symposium on the Holocaust. I spoke to someone in the communications department, and it seemed that she could not explain it, either.

I would hope that the university would repudiate such a notion. Many Clarkies – myself included – have family histories in the Holocaust, and find the implication that one cannot simultaneously honor the memory of those who perished there and those currently perishing in Gaza utterly unacceptable – not to mention extremely offensive.

Perhaps we are misapprehending something about your decision to postpone Dr. Finkelstein’s talk, but I thought you should know many of us are heartbroken at the insinuation, along with it’s implications for intellectual development and critical dialogues at the school.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. We never meant to drag Clark through the mud or throw you under a bus – just do what a great school so thoughtfully prepared us to do as post-graduates.

Best and warmest regards,
Chris Caesar ‘06


Letters to Clark University President Office – 36

04.15.2009 | Original

By Tina Issa

Dear President Bassett,

You have clearly infringed on the freedom of speech of the students of your University by cancelling Norman Finkelstein’s speech. I would encourage your students whose rights you stepped on to take legal action against you for doing so. I understand from the articles that the Jewish Group, Hillel put pressure on you to cancel Professor Finkelstein’s speech. I really don’t understand what is happening in academia here in America, we the nation and pioneers of freedom of speech can no longer be described as such because of people like you and groups like Hillel. You are corrupting our Universities by not allowing both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict to be told.

Professors like Finkelstein, Joel Kovel and others are being persecuted and relieved of their duties because they dare to use scholarly evidence, information that the entire world knows except for the United States of America, and tell the other side of the Palestine / Israel conflict. I have attended lectures by Mr. Finkelstein and find him to only use solid facts and evidence to prove his points, he is also an extremely intelligent and articulate person who earnestly wants the other side of the story told. Your students would certainly be enlightened by hearing him speak.

By censoring Mr. Finkelstein, you and Hillel are not helping the cause, you are enabling the problem to get worse, and it is not good for anybody for this problem to grow. Education and analyzation is the only way to ensure that this dire situation improves, but you, the head of an educational institution no less, won’t allow that to happen. Also, to cave in to a group of people instead of looking out for the greater good is cowardly to say the least.

Academia is not what it used to be, we have Professors being censored and ostracized for doing what they are supposed to do and we have students who are not allowed to explore and be educated, and we have bullies who dictate what the University can teach and say. Really what is the role of the University if it is not to educate, pursue the truth and explore all avenues of problem solving. It ceases to be an institution for learning at that point.

You can correct this by rescheduling Professor Finkelstein and allowing your students to learn. Shame on you if you don’t.

Thank you for your time.

Tina Issa
Chicago, IL


Letters to Clark University President Office – 37

04.15.2009 | Original

By R. C. Olwen

Dear Sir,

You made many words to mask a wellknown attitude towards warmongers: cowardice.

Do you have in your university library a book by the late Erich Maria Remarque? In English the title should be something like “Nothing New In The West” — I know that there is a translation.

Please read this war report from World War One. It was one of the books that helped end it, and formed the opinion that war is unacceptable for a civilization (together with the protests by civilians, there is still little research on them)

And then show that the world — and yourself — has learned something meanwhile and rescind the cancellation of the Finkelstein lecture.

The topic Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein has been lecturing for years now, and will continue to speak about is the war against the civilians in Gaza, and I do hope he can do so at Clark University April 23

Rune C. Olwen
Euro Region South Jutland

P.S.: Our last war against our neighbors was 145 years ago. Nobody nowadays can understand the hatred of these times, or the arrogance of the rulers; we put all that behind us and I do urgently wish that the Palestinians and Israelis can enjoy the same.


Letters to Clark University President Office – 38

04.20.2009 | Original

By George Salzman

Dear Mr. Bassett,

A report by the anti-censorship sub-group Muzzlewatch of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace, tells of your action as follows:

The Clark Students for Palestinian Rights have circulated two petitions. One questions whether the president should be able to cancel events without first consulting event organizers, and the other asks whether Clark students can have productive conversations about issues with which they may not agree.

We consider this an abuse of academic freedom,” said senior Thomas MacMillan, president of the organization, which had raised half of the $1,800 costs associated with Mr. Finkelstein’s talk before Mr. Bassett canceled it. “Free speech is probably one of the greatest things we have in this country, as long as it’s not encouraging hate or violence toward someone else.”

The ACLU also wrote a letter to President Bassett in which they noted that this cancellation: “violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are so fundamental to an institution of higher learning.”

Norman Finklestein commented thusly:

Part of the Clark University-Boston Globe disinformation campaign is the pretense that I was scheduled to speak on the Nazi holocaust. In fact I was scheduled to speak on the Gaza massacre. Isn’t it too perfect that Clark was using The Holocaust as a pretext to silence criticism of Israel?

I urge you to apologize to the students and to Mr. Finkelstein, and to encourage them to hold the event, albeit at a later date than originally planned.

Sincerely,
George Salzman
Prof. Emeritus of Physics, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston


Letters to Clark University President Office – 39

04.20.2009 | Original

By Charles Parsons

President Basset:

You have betrayed the very concepts which you have espoused such as “diversity of opinion” when you rejected Proffessor Finkelstein’s invitation to speak at Clark University. A discussion regarding the World War II Holocaust has no meaning unless the lessons derived from it are applied to present day situations. To deplore the past and ignore the present is hypocrisy under the cover of feigned concern. Clark University could have accomplished much more had it honestly dealt with the present treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis within the context of the Holocaust. Otherwise, the University’s conference regarding the Holocaust is nothing more than a guilt trip to support the unsupportable in Israel.

Charles Parsons
Lake City, Michigan


Letters to Clark University President Office – 40

04.21.2009 | Original

By Aamer Khan

Dear President Bassett:

Your cancellation of Dr Norman Finkelstein’s speech is a serious violation of academic integrity.

I submit to you three (elementary) propositions that (I hope) can function as a starting point for discussion:

1. Clark University is university before it is a business. A university is a zone where free expression is sacred. Therefore academic freedom should trump all other considerations short of interfering with other peoples freedom.

2. The President of Clark University is a scholar before he is a politician. Therefore defending the right of scholarly expression trumps seeking popularity with powerful constiutuencies.

3. Freedom of expression is not a tactical device that we use to criticize others when others censor speech that we have no strong opinion about. It is an absolute standard that we apply to ourselves in order to tolerate speech that we may strongly disagree with, and even find offensive. If freedom of expression does not mean that, then what value does it have?

These propositons lead inelectably to the following conclusion

Your action has dishonered your office, your university, and your standing a member of the Academy.

Please point out any errors in my logic. If you cannot find any, then please admit your mistake, and rescind your cancellation of Dr FInkelstein. It takes a big man to say he was wrong.

Question: Is free speech a vacuous intellectual slogan or an ideal we should strive towards especially when it is inconvenient?

An observation: Free speech is a constitutional freedom that should not be taken for granted. The current understandings of free speech were the result of many years of struggle and bloodshed not just in our republic, but the civilized world. They can easily be lost or eroded if citizens lose vigilance. Take for example the well documented abuses of the Bush administration with regard to some key constitutional protections.

Regards


Letters to Clark University President Office – 41

04.25.2009 | Original

By Michael Shanahan

Dear Dr Bassett

I was pleased to hear that Dr Norman Finkelstein is to speak at Clark University only a little after the originally planned date for the event. Your lecturer has, as I am sure you are aware, a world-wide reputation for his erudite and scholarly approach to the subject in question. I see, in passing, that such as Baruch Kimmerling (late Professor of Sociology, Hebrew University) , Daniel Boyarin (Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley), Avi Shlaim (Professor of International Relations, Oxford Unioversity), Sara Roy (Senior Research Fellow, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University) and Noam Chomsky (Institute Professor, M.I.T) have lauded his many and varied contributions to the Israel-Palestine issue.

It may be that you have not previously had the opportunity to hear Dr Finkelstein (although I see he has spoken twice at the university) and hopefully your engagements will allow you to attend in person if that is your wish.

Yours faithfully


Letters to Clark University President Office – 42

04.25.2009 | Original

By Chris Caesar

President Bassett,

I appreciate the candor of your email, and am quite relieved to hear the university decided to go forward with the effort. I can vividly remember when UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter was brought to campus in 2002, and how central Clark’s willingness to host controversial speakers so positively affected my intellectual development. Thank you for being so sensitive to our concerns.

We’re all still kind of unclear, though, as to what kind of courtesy would be jeopardized by Dr. Finkelstein’s appearance on campus. While we appreciate your response, a number of our questions went unanswered. Many alumni remain upset that the university seems to believe it is in poor taste (or even offensive) to discuss Gaza and the German Holocaust on the same campus. On a personal level, I can certainly understand you declining to comment on such considerations, though declining to do so will simply reinforce the perception that this was indeed the reason the university postponed the event.

We would simply like to let the President’s office know — should this, for whatever far-out reason, happen again — that there are many alumni whose lives and worldviews have been touched by the Holocaust, and not all of us share the view that criticizng the Israeli occupation is somehow disrespectful.to that memory.

Thank you again for your time and consideration.

Chris Caesar ’06

Reply:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. The students have arranged for Professor Norman Finkelstein to speak at Clark University on April 27, only four days later than the date originally discussed. Clark is dedicated to full and free inquiry on all controversial issues, especially including the relations between Israel and Palestine. My decisions along the way in this case were made in an attempt to balance two goods—free inquiry and common courtesy to visiting speakers. And, the decisions were always made with my primary concern being what is best for Clark University.

I freely admit that the process could have been better. I should have begun by consulting with the leaders of the sponsoring student organization, not by announcing a decision. I also should not have assumed that, because April 20-24 is the last full week of classes, nothing else could happen until fall. That assumption left too many people thinking that free speech was in abeyance for five months.

The students involved have conducted themselves in the best “Clark way” and I hope the result shows that one can achieve both goods.

Sincerely,
John Bassett
President
Clark University


Finkelstein on the Nazi holocaust

By Atticus Mullikin




Methodical Expose of Lunatic Irwin Cotler

By CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Canadian Parliamentarian and Former Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler, released a petition on December 9, 2008, entitled “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition.”[1] The 79-page document calls “upon the State Parties to the Genocide Convention, the United Nations Secretary-General and the international community to fulfill their obligation to prevent genocide and to hold Iran to account for its genocidal incitement.”[2]

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has undertaken a study of Mr Cotler’s petition which has received the endorsement of several scholars and jurists, notably Louise Arbour, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition” is a one-sided campaign to demonize and ostracize Iran. The petition and Mr. Cotler’s self-appointed diplomatic offensive will undermine efforts at dialog in the Middle East, and will only serve to radicalize and polarize people’s sentiments. The Petition’s oversimplification of complex geopolitical problems muddies the issues and will discourage reasoned debate. In light of its poor referencing, its utilization of questionable sources, its reliance on non-literal translations, its manipulation of statements and its factual distortions, this petition is neither serious nor balanced.

It is neither CJPME’s goal nor its desire to write a defence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s oftentimes inflammatory and inappropriate rhetoric. But CJPME, in keeping with its objective of facilitating an informed and accurate debate regarding the problems of the region, and its conviction to hold all parties of the Middle East to the same standard, wishes to expose the misrepresentations which make Mr Cotler’s text a simple exercise in fear mongering.

The disingenuous partiality of the petition in approaching complex geopolitical problems reflects on the author’s lack of academic rigour and – regrettably – honesty. CJPME calls on the petition’s signatories to review the information presented in this document, and strongly urges them to reconsider their signature. By lending their names to the petition, they give credibility to the sophomoric arguments of the “Petition” to the detriment of their own hard-earned reputation.

Contents:




1  Introduction

There are three important areas of shoddy scholarship in Mr. Cotler’s petition. First, the petition references and supports its arguments with many unconventional and questionable sources. Secondly, the petition takes a very flippant and non-rigorous approach to the translation of statements used to support its arguments. This is very surprising given the gravity of the petition’s accusation of genocidal intent. Thirdly, the petition repeatedly misrepresents the context for the Middle East rhetoric that it cites. Each of these areas at issue is explored in depth below (with examples), followed by a final section touching on some serious additional issues with the petition.




2  Issue: Questionable Sourcing

Mr Cotler’s petition is 79 pages long (including appendices), and contains 70 different references to support its argumentation. Typically, in a work expected to command the attention of legal and academic scholars around the world, great care would be used in sourcing one’s arguments. Primary sources would be used almost exclusively; and only publications and authors of the highest calibre – preferably academic – would be used as sources. Finally, a rigorous work would prefer impartial or disinterested sources as much as possible.

This is not the case with Mr Cotler’s petition. Many of the references used to build Mr Cotler’s case fall into one of three categories:

  1. Supporting references which are non-primary sources
  2. Supporting references taken from highly partial sources
  3. Supporting references taken from sources of questionable scholarship.



2.1  Sourcing from non-primary sources


Primary sources are sources which have not been interpreted by another person. Primary sources are typically the account of an eyewitness or original “recorder” of an event, e.g. transcripts, letters, interviews, news footage, etc. While primary sources are not always available, rigorous research and analysis should favour primary sources, or the information closest to a primary source. Thus, for example, while Mr Cotler may not have the complete transcript of a speech which is central to his argumentation, one would nevertheless expect that Mr Cotler would seek the closest thing to it, e.g. the best contemporary news article on the speech, presumably written by someone who was present, and spoke the language. At a minimum, one would expect Mr Cotler to only use sources which could be traced to a primary source. This is not the case.


2.1.1  Examples: Choosing non-primary sources over primary sources

Example:
On page 15, Mr Cotler uses an article entitled “Hamas calls for Genocide” authored by David G. Littman in FrontPage Magazine, a far-right publication. Mr Cotler uses a quote attributed to an Iranian leader in the article, which is itself referenced in Littman’s piece as being quoted by Patrick Devenny (another contributor to FrontPage Magazine), who is in turn quoting the Daily Telegraph, January 1, 2000 (no mention of or reference to the exact article). Cotler does not give any information on how the primary source (the Daily Telegraph article) can be located. Cotler is essentially quoting someone, quoting someone else, who is quoting an unspecified article published in 2000.

Example:
In some cases, Mr Cotler does not indicate the primary source of his references even when these are official documents by organizations such as the UN, relying instead on obscure, partisan sources. This makes it extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to verify either the source, its context, or the related translation which Mr Cotler is leveraging. On page 14, Mr Cotler references a UN document which he has accessed through the little-known Prevent Genocide International’s rudimentary website. If Mr Cotler wishes to cite a UN document he should reference the document from its original source, the UN.

On page 16, Mr Cotler references two articles from the French paper Le Monde but uses two obscure websites as his sources for them. On the same page, he references a speech made at the UN but does not use an official UN site as a source.


2.1.2  Example: Sourcing from non-traceable sources

As discussed in section 2.1.1, Mr Cotler often makes use of secondary sources without providing any information on the primary source. Sometime the primary source is traceable with information found on the secondary source which Cotler provides. But when such information is not available it becomes impossible to authenticate the content and context of the original source, and one has to wonder whether Mr Cotler has even verified the original. On page 16, for example, Mr Cotler quotes a discussion with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apparently published in the respected French daily Le Monde, and reproduced on a news website called Voltairenet.org. There is no way of finding the original piece since no title, author, date, page or web-link is provided.



2.2  Sourcing from highly partial sources and advocacy groups


When sourcing information, objective research prefers sources which are impartial to the topic under study. While impartial sources are not always available, at a minimum, one would expect the serious researcher to consult multiple – ideally contrasting – opinions on the topic to elicit a comprehensive perspective. Mr Cotler does not take this approach in his petition. Instead, he gives almost exclusive voice to publications and analyses known to have a very strong interest in the topic of study.

Furthermore, Mr Cotler’s petition frequently sources texts advanced by advocacy organizations. While many advocacy groups perform reputable and important research on topics central to their mandate, every advocacy group (and its material) is unique, as determined by its mission and constituency.

Thus, in the context of Mr Cotler’s petition, the material produced by an advocacy group seeking to improve global understanding of Iran would be viewed much differently than an advocacy organization seeking to promote the interests of Israel. Similarly, material produced by an Iranian advocacy group scandalized by the comments of its leaders would be viewed much differently than a group advocating on behalf of Israel.

Also, Mr Cotler tends to quote advocacy groups which have a strong agenda of either: 1) placing Iran and Islamists in the worst possible light, or 2) positioning Israel as a threatened or victimized state. This does not give an impartial tone to Mr Cotler’s research work, nor does it help his reader or signatory formulate an objective viewpoint.


2.2.1  Example: Sourcing from strident proponents of Israel

Mr Cotler repeatedly uses the Anti Defamation League (ADL), an interest group publicly known for equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism,[3] as a source for translations of statements made in Farsi. The primary source of the statements cannot be found in this manner since the League only provides vague information on when the statements were made, and does not provide any references to the original statement. No verification of their translation can be made in this way. He references the Anti Defamation League six times.

Other ardent proponents of Israel which Mr Cotler uses as sources include the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors Arab and Persian media for anything perceived as anti-Israel, FrontPage Magazine, a far-right magazine, and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, committed to winning the “war of ideas” for Israel.


2.2.2  Example: Sourcing from highly partial sources

Twenty times, Mr Cotler uses the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) as a source for translations. The co-founder and president of MEMRI is an Israeli named Yigal Carmon who spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence. The organization finds inflammatory or hateful statements made in the Muslim world, translates them and then disseminates them widely – quite often misrepresenting the context for the material translated.[4] As one American-Islamic pundit described it, “MEMRI’s intent is to find the worst possible quotes from the Muslim world and disseminate them as widely as possible.”[5] It does not do the same for similarly insidious statements made by Israeli politicians in Hebrew. At one time MEMRI described itself as supporting liberal democracy, civil society, and the free market, and emphasized “the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel,” though the words about Zionism have now been deleted from its website.[6]


2.2.3  Example: Sourcing from far-right groups

In the FrontPage Magazine piece referenced on page 15, Mr Cotler uses an article entitled “Hamas calls for Genocide” authored by David G. Littman. Mr Cotler uses the same reference twice in his petition (pages 15 & 35). The magazine is the online publication of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (formerly the Center for the Study of Popular Culture) which was founded in 1988 “to establish a conservative presence in Hollywood.”[7] It has published articles condemning the Democratic Party, the environmental movement, affirmative action, reparations for slavery, anti-war groups and the United Nations.


2.2.4  Example: Sourcing from Israel-based advocacy groups

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), a source used three times by Mr Cotler, “seeks to present Israel’s case and to highlight the challenges of Islamic extremism and global anti-Semitism.”[8] The JCPA says “We understand that the survival of the Jewish people and the State of Israel are dependent on winning the war of ideas. The JCPA is committed to this struggle.”[9]


2.2.5  Example: Sourcing from opinion pieces and editorials

Mr Cotler apparently sees nothing questionable about lifting a translated statement from an opinion piece written by a staunch supporter of Israel in an Israeli newspaper without providing a reference to the original. For example, on page 17 of his petition Mr Cotler provides a translation which is “black and filthy microbe,” from the Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper. The source is in fact an opinion piece written by Joshua Teitelbaum, a Visiting Senior Fellow at – conincidentally – the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, that argues that the accuracy of the translations is not important because the meaning is still there. He does not explain how he can be sure of the meaning if the translations are not accurate — i.e. not literal translations.




3  Issue: Use of suspect translations

Given that Mr Cotler’s petition seeks to present an interpretation of the words and intents of the Iranian leadership spoken in Farsi, translations of comments and speeches play a central role in his argumentation. A credible research work which relies almost entirely on statements made in another language (a language which the author does not speak), would typically employ some of the following:

  1. Use of a professional translator from Farsi to English, with access to the original Farsi transcripts of the texts being used, and/or
  2. Inclusion of the original Farsi with every English translation being used, and/or
  3. An examination of variations in translation (e.g. literal translations vs. approximations) of the texts under study. The author would typically seek out the opinions of professionals and native speakers of Farsi, and then would have presented the most plausible of the translations.

In addition to the standard interpretive practices mentioned above, a credible advocate would take pains to understand and explain any quotes in their exact context, to avoid misrepresenting the intent or focus of such statements, translated or otherwise.

Mr Cotler appears to have disregarded academic rigour and the importance of context. Unfortunately, many of the translations used to support Mr Cotler’s arguments are:

  1. Known to be of questionable origin,
  2. Presented out of context, so as to misrepresent the intent of the speaker,
  3. Falsely identifying Israel itself as the focus of the hostility,
  4. Already proven to be inaccurate and thus speciously used.

Each of these assertions is explored below, with examples provided.



3.1  Questionable sourcing of translations


Mr Cotler has clear preferences when choosing the translations to argue his central hypothesis of a genocidal Iran. He does not mention any difficulties or disagreements among the English translations of statements made by Iranian leaders. This is partly because Mr Cotler obtains most of his translations from highly partisan sources and advocacy groups.


3.1.1  Example: Questionable sourcing of translations

Mr Cotler uses the opinion piece written by Joshua Teitelbaum, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and published in the Jerusalem Post, as a reference six times. Yet Mr Teitelbaum argues that it is not important if the translations are not literal ones because the genocidal intention is somehow still there. “Scholars continue to soft-pedal the Iranian President’s words,” Mr Teitelbaum writes. “Those who seek to excuse Iranian leaders should not remain unchallenged when they use the tools of scholarship as a smokescreen to obfuscate these extreme and deliberate calls for the destruction of Israel.”[10]



3.2  Concealing the context for a translated statement


If Mr Cotler is to convince the reader that Iranian leaders seek the genocide of ethnic Jews, he has the responsibility of providing their statements in context, and not ignoring context which would lead to a much different interpretation. If the timing, intent, audience or context of a comment is pertinent to interpretation, Mr Cotler should provide it. Lamentably, in many of the cases that CJPME examined, Mr Cotler failed to inform the reader of important context regarding the quotes and translations used.


3.2.1  Example: Ignoring the context of active hostilities

On page 18, Mr Cotler claims that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called Israelis “cattle,” and alleges that this is evidence of dehumanizing process which precedes genocide. The quote Mr Cotler provides is “g) ‘like cattle, nay, more misguided’”. He does not provide the full quotation which is from a speech given by President Ahmadinejad at the height of Israel’s war on Lebanon, on August 1st, 2006:

Look, they are destroying homes with the people inside. They are burning fields. Neither children nor adults are safe from them. With laser-guided bombs, they attack shelters of defenceless women and children leaving them in a pool of their blood. They have no boundaries, limits, or taboos when it comes to killing human beings. Who are they? Where did they come from? Are they human beings? They are like cattle, nay, more misguided.[11]

Clearly, Mr Ahmadinejad is venting his fury about the war in Lebanon, not constructing a careful argument for genocide.


3.2.2  Example: Ignoring the context of the word “Zionism”

While more discussion on Zionism/Israel is provided below, it is important to note that in Mr Cotler’s discourse, the two are presented as one and the same. Any Iranian criticism of Zionism is automatically subsumed into Mr Cotler’s discussion of Iranian intentions against Israel and/or Jews, and Iranian references to Zionism/Zionist are translated to Israel/Israeli or Judaism/Jew. To the reader unfamiliar with the sensitivities of the Middle East, this goes unnoticed, but one must assume that Mr Cotler, given his familiarity with Middle East rhetoric, is aware that he misleads his reader.

It is also surprising that Mr Cotler would equate any anti-Zionist remarks attributed to Iranian leaders as being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic when Mr Cotler even uses the anti-Zionist website, volatairenet.org, as a source in his petition. The website volatairenet.org which Cotler references on page 16 states that it is opposed to racism, anti-Semitism, apartheid and Zionism.[12]

Mr Cotler gives great importance to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s alleged statement to “wipe Israel off the map.” This alleged statement has been badly mistranslated in the mainstream media (see 3.4 below), but it has also been removed from its context in the petition. Mr Cotler writes that “When President Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be ‘wiped off the map’, he was speaking to thousands of students at a conference entitled the ‘World Without Zionism’,” An astute person might have wondered then why the conference had not been called the “World Without Israel” if this were indeed the message delivered there.



3.3  Falsely identifying Israel as the focus in translations


In the rhetoric around the Middle East, it is important to distinguish key terms. Mr Cotler has conveniently ignored key distinctions in his petition’s discourse, distinctions which are nonetheless respected by the individuals he is quoting and translating. Some of the distinctions lost in Mr Cotler’s discussion are the following:

  1. Distinction between Zionism and Israel. Zionism[1] is anathema to most non-Jews in the Middle East, as it represents a threatening colonial and/or expansionist intent in the region. While many in the Middle East accept the inevitability of Israel as a state, they are still highly intimidated by notions of Zionism, and Israel’s decades-long occupation of lands unallocated to it by the United Nations only serves to justify this fear. Thus, when Mr Cotler quotes an Iranian leader calling for an end to a Zionist regime (i.e. expansionist) and fails to call it out as such, he is being conspicuously misleading to his reader.
  2. Distinction between Zionist and Jewish/Israeli. Not all Zionists are Jews and not all Jews are Zionists, as evidenced by the plethora of Jewish anti-Zionist organizations (e.g. Independent Jewish Voices in Canada.) Nevertheless, Mr Cotler tends to equate anything said about Zionists to something said against Jews or Israelis. As President Ahmadinejad told the BBC in July, 2008, “creating an objection against the Zionists doesn’t mean that there are objections against the Jewish.”[13] Jews live in Iran and are represented in its parliament.

The important distinctions mentioned above are disregarded in Mr Cotler’s discussion involving translated texts, especially in Mr Cotler’s discussion of translated metaphors.


3.3.1  Example: Falsely positioning metaphors against Zionism/Zionists

On page 17 of his petition Mr Cotler writes that as in Nazi Germany and in Rwanda, Jews and Israelis are being labelled with “biological euphemisms” as a part of the “genocide-fostering process.” Nevertheless, of the nine derogatory “biological euphemisms” which he goes on to list as examples of labels used in Iran to dehumanize “Israelis and Jews” none but one refer directly to either. Others either refer to the state of Israel or the “Zionist regime.” While the rhetoric of Iranian leaders can be excessive, inappropriate and provocative it does not amount to a concerted effort to dehumanize Jews for the purpose of genocide.

The first of nine examples he provides is “a) ‘filthy germ’ and ‘savage beast’” and the source he provides is an article in Ha’aretz, an Israeli newspaper, in which the terms are quoted but not in their context — meaning the full phrases of the statements are not available. The article alleges that: “Ahmadinejad’s remarks were broadcast on Iranian television on Wednesday, in which he called Israel a “filthy germ” and “savage beast” established by Western states in their bid to dominate Middle East nations.”14 However, the Joshua Teitelbaum article in the Jerusalem Post that Mr Cotler cites does provide the derogatory “biological euphemism” within the phrase it was said, which is: “In the Middle East, they [the global powers] have created a black and filthy microbe called the Zionist regime, so they could use it to attack the peoples of the region, and by using this excuse, they want to advance their schemes for the Middle East.”

Mr Cotler writes that it is Israelis and Jews which have been labelled with dehumanizing euphemisms, yet, in its entirety, the statement makes clear that it is the Zionist regime which is being referred to as a “black and filthy microbe.” The statement is clearly a hyperbolic rant against the military operations and occupations of the Israeli government and not a “genocide-fostering process” of dehumanization.


3.3.2  Example: Falsely positioning calls to action against Zionism/Zionists

As we have seen, Mr Cotler often uses quotes by placing them out of context or manipulating the way they are presented. For example on page 33 Cotler writes “President Ahmadinejad has repeated this call for genocide many other times as well.” He then lists examples of these apparent calls for genocide. In none of these examples is Israel even mentioned; there are only references to the ending of the Zionist regime in Israel. When Israeli politicians call for regime change in Gaza no one would conclude they are advocating genocide.

Any statement by Iranian leaders, it seems, regardless of the content or context, demonstrates to Mr Cotler a genocidal intent.



3.4  Retaining translations known to be inaccurate


Fortunately, Mr Cotler is not the first scholar to explore the content and intent of Iranian statements regarding Israel and/or Zionism. As a result, Mr Cotler is often reworking or repositioning the research, translations and conclusions of others. In fact, as with any academic pursuit, the dialog on these topics expands and corrects as the body of knowledge is studied and analyzed. Thus, it is quite surprising that Mr Cotler chooses to ignore the collective analysis and conclusions of the academic community that preceded him, especially as it relates to translations. Nevertheless, Mr Cotler ignores academic consensus on certain texts, in order, it seems, to provide a much more inflammatory conclusion than would otherwise be possible to reach.

A segment of a speech made by President Ahmadinejad was mistranslated in much of the Western media as a call to “wipe Israel off the map.” The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) provides the literal translation of the speech in which President Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying that the “Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’”[15] Given the importance he gives to Mr Ahmadinejad’s statement, and since he uses MEMRI as a source in his paper a total of 20 times, shouldn’t Mr Cotler be familiar with this transcript?

Mr Joshua Teitelbaum, the Visiting Senior Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, whose article Mr Cotler paraphrases and cites 6 times in his own paper[2], gives the translation as being: “In an address to the ‘World without Zionism’ Conference held in Teheran on October 26, 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: ‘Our dear Imam [Khomeini] ordered that this Jerusalem-occupying regime [Israel] must be erased from the page of time. This was a very wise statement.’”[16] The brackets in the quote were added by Mr. Teitelbaum who chooses not to explain how “Jerusalem-occupying regime” equates with Israel, the physical and geographical entity.

It seems odd that Mr Cotler, surely aware of the more accurate and complete translation, would elect to only use a shortened, non-literal version when even Mr Teitelbaum explicitly acknowledges in his article, which Cotler cites six times, that:

Juan Cole of the University of Michigan argues that Ahmadinejad was not calling for the destruction of Israel, saying, “Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian.” The British Guardian’s Jonathan Steele argued that Ahmadinejad was simply remarking that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” Steele continues: “He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The ‘page of time’ phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon.”[17]

Mr Cotler does not trouble himself with the literal translation, the statement’s context, or even who or what the statement is about.




4  Issue: Misrepresenting the context of Middle East rhetoric

The Middle East has been a volatile part of the world through much of modern history. The comments made by Iranian or other Middle Eastern leaders reflect the realities and concerns that affect the region as a whole. Mr Cotler may wish to present his arguments against Iran in a vacuum, hoping the reader will assume that Iranians were born with animosity against Israel, but this is not the case. Peoples of the region are scandalized by decades of Western colonialism, intervention and double-standards, and the rhetoric of their leaders reflects this. A serious analytical work would incorporate this and other forms of context into its discussion.

Mr Cotler, unfortunately, ignores all such context, be it wars, occupations, or other factors. More specifically, Mr Cotler’s petition ignores contextual realities in four important areas:

  1. The reality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and Syrian Territories, as context to comments
    made by Iranian leaders.
  2. Historical realities, i.e. contemporaneous context to comments made by Iranian leaders.
  3. The military dominance of Israel in the region, and its impact on Iranian and other leaders.
  4. The geographic realities (i.e. relative proximities and distances) and the influence that such realities must have while interpreting Iranian rhetoric.

Each of these contextual omissions in Mr Cotler’s discourse is explored with examples below.



4.1  Ignoring the context of the Israeli aggression in the Middle East


The single most disruptive event in modern Middle Eastern history was the partition of Palestine by the United Nations in 1947, and the subsequent establishment of Israel in 1948. This created at least 700,000 Palestinian refugees, who are now dispersed throughout the Middle East. In 1967, Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. It ignored UN Security Council Resolution 242 obligating it to withdraw from these territories and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza have been living under this occupation since 1967. Over the years, in order to crush the Palestinian leadership struggling for an end to occupation Israel has attacked Jordan and invaded Lebanon.

On page 43, Mr Cotler writes that “The Iranian genocidal narrative has found expression in the training, arming, financing, recruiting, and instigating of terrorist movements [Hezbollah and Hamas] whose objective is itself genocidal, whose ideology is anti-Semitic, whose instrumentality is trans-national terror, and whose reach is global.”

It is deceptive of Mr Cotler to attempt to portray Hamas and Hezbollah as proxies of Iran bent on genocide and terrorism. He disregards how and why these two groups came into being: both being formed to oppose local Israeli occupations. Israel has also caused the deaths of an overwhelmingly larger number of people than Israelis killed by either Hezbollah or Hamas.1819 Therefore, one cannot accept Cotler’s assertion that both are merely Iranian proxies with genocidal objectives.


4.1.1  Example: The context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza

Zionism refers to a political movement which is perceived as expansionist and colonial in character by non-Jews in the Middle East, in no small part due to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, its annexation of Jerusalem and its colonization of Palestinian and Syrian lands by armed and fanatical Jewish colonists.

At no point does Mr Cotler ever speak to the Israeli occupation or any of the Israeli actions to which Iranian leaders refer to. According to Cotler, since no historical context enters his analysis, terms such as “occupying Zionist regime” are synonymous with the whole physical Israeli state and not with the clear political implication such a term should truly connote.

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 meant that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled of what is now modern Israel and lost their homes. This refugee problem has still not been resolved. Israel has been occupying Christian and Muslim Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza for over forty-years and no solution (whether in the form of two independent states or one bi-national state) has yet been reached. Israel continues this occupation and its colonization of occupied lands[20] in contravention of International Law and UN resolutions. Human rights organizations, including Israeli ones, have thoroughly documented the violations of international humanitarian law carried out by Israeli Security Forces which include extrajudicial assassinations, torture, house demolitions as punishment, collective punishment and detentions without charge or trial.[21][22][23][24][25] These are all legitimate concerns for the region. Mr Cotler provides no frame of context in which Arab countries and Iran may have reasons to show an aversion to the Israeli regime occupying Palestinian lands. If he had, it would emasculate his argument that referring to Israel as an “occupying regime” is only a way of delegitimizing it as a preamble to a genocidal nuclear strike.


4.1.2  Example: The context of hostility between Israel and Hezbollah

Hezbollah was created in reaction to Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Its primary objective was to end Israel’s military occupation of Lebanon which began in 1982 and only ended in 2000. Issues remain unresolved between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon has a territorial claim over the Shebaa Farms which Israel occupies, and Lebanese prisoners remain in Israeli jails. Mr Cotler would have the reader believe that there is no context to the existence of Hezbollah, and that it does not have any legitimate grievances with Israel.



4.2  Ignoring the historical realities


Whether on a yearly, monthly or daily basis, violence regularly flares up in the Middle East, and comments are made in the midst of virtually ongoing conflicts, wars, occupations, and military strikes. If a particularly provocative comment were made by an Iranian leader at a specific historic juncture, the reader should be made aware of this context. Mr Cotler, however, does not inform the reader of this context.


4.2.1  Example: Ignoring the context of all-out war

Mr Cotler likes to quote statements without giving the context in which they were said. In example, on page 27, Cotler quotes Iranian leaders attempting to “demonize” and “dehumanize” Jews. He writes:

Thus, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls Israelis “bloodthirsty barbarians”, he is not only demonizing and dehumanizing them, but he is also characterizing them as threats to humanity as a whole. His comments that Israelis have “no boundaries, limits, or taboos when it comes to killing human beings”, that Israel is “fighting a war against humanity”, [...] need to be understood in this context. (p. 27)

The context which Mr Cotler does not mention, however, is that all of these comments were made during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, at which time Israel bombed civilian areas, killing more than 1,000 Lebanese. Given the background, these statements seem more like extreme expressions of outrage than signs of Iranian officials making it clear that “their complaint is not simply a political/diplomatic one with the State of Israel. It is an existential one, targeted at the Jews and Israelis personally,” as Cotler concludes. (p. 27)



4.3  Ignoring the military realities


The Petition takes it as a given that the Israel of 2009 faces a grave existential threat. Israel is positioned as a beleaguered underdog in a hostile region, fighting for its mere survival. While it is more dramatic to position the Petition’s “threat of genocide” arguments in such a context, such an assumption does not reflect reality. In fact, rather than being an underdog fighting desperate defensive wars, Israel is better seen as a militaristic, well-armed, well-trained, and belligerent regional player. Israel’s bellicosity is expressed in a number of ways, and once clarified, makes the Petition’s arguments seem outlandish.


4.3.1  Example: Israel as the region’s only nuclear power

Cotler strives to create the impression that Israel is facing an existential threat from a formidable enemy. At no point does Cotler mention the fact that Israel has a nuclear and chemical arsenal. Describing Iran as being an existential threat to a nuclear Israel which has full US backing is somewhat startling. Furthermore, Iran is fully aware that the use of a nuclear weapon on Israel or any other country would be an act of national suicide. The world’s response, especially of nuclear countries such as France, the United Kingdom and the United States, would probably be swift and devastating.

Nuclear proliferation presents a major threat to Middle East security and stability. Canada is staunchly opposed to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, as elsewhere, and espouses the long-term goal of total nuclear disarmament. Israel is the sixth nation in the world to have acquired nuclear weapons capacity. It remains the only state in the Middle East to have such capabilities. Israel has been pursuing a deliberate policy of ambiguity towards its nuclear arsenal in order to avoid the political costs of being declared a nuclear state. As a non-signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, its nuclear activities are not subject to international inspection. Israel’s nuclear arsenal poses a tremendous threat to regional stability and global security. Cotler should therefore call upon Israel to accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) instead of singling out Iran (and making not the slightest mention of Israel’s responsibility for introducing nuclear weapons into the region.)

Israel’s nuclear status hampers efforts to negotiate with neighbouring states for a nuclear-free region. States in the Middle East are much less likely to allow for stricter export and customs controls and intelligence cooperation with key NPT states and institutions such as the International Atomic Energy Agency if Israel is not held to the same nuclear standards.


4.3.2  Example: Israeli leaders have made provocative threats

Cotler’s line of argument that remarks made by Iranian leaders are proof of genocidal intentions omits similar comments made by Israeli leaders. Israeli politicians and religious leaders have made similarly menacing and inflammatory remarks, ranging from Israel’s deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, threatening a Holocaust on Gaza,[26] to Deputy Prime Minister, Shaul Mofaz, threatening to attack Iran.[27] Israel carried out a major military exercise in June, 2008, which “appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”[28] Important figures in Israel openly discuss “nuking” Iran, as did notable Israeli historian Benny Morris in a widely published op-ed.[29] On the other hand, Iran has stated that it has no intention of attacking Israel;[30] though there is no mention of this in Mr Cotler’s paper.


4.3.3  Example: Israel as regional superpower

As mentioned above, Israel is the sole nuclear power of the region and enjoys US backing at the political and diplomatic levels, as well as militarily and financially. Its arsenal of advanced conventional weaponry (often based on US technology) would allow it to respond to any attacks from the region quickly and with devastating results.


4.3.4  Example: Israel as military occupant of non-Israeli lands

Israel has maintained the longest military occupation in modern history. Since 1967 it occupies the West Bank and Gaza as well as parts of Syria and Lebanon. The occupation of the Palestinian territories has been maintained through gross violations of international humanitarian law as described in section 4.1.1.


4.3.5  Example: Israel as the aggressor in the Middle East

With the exception of the 1973 War, Israel’s wars against its neighbours were started by Israel itself. Israel’s conduct during these wars has earned it the condemnation of the international community for its disregard of the principles of proportionality and necessity which govern the use of force. Israel’s disregard for civilians in conflict is exemplified in its deliberate and total destruction of the Syrian city of Quneitra in 1974, its destruction of Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006, its collective punishment of the population of Gaza, its destruction of Gaza in 2008-2009, and its targeting of UN facilities during its war on Gaza. Veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, sums up the civilian cost of Israel’s wars since 1982 in a January, 2009, article entitled “Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask”:

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the Sabra-Chatila massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees, more than half of them children, at a UN base; the massacre of the Marwahin refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?[31]


4.3.6  Example: Palestinians face the real existential threat

Palestinians face an existential threat as their culture and heritage is being lost through decades of occupation and the Israeli refusal to recognize their right to an independent state. The following pose an acute existential threat to the Palestinians:

  1. Millions of refugees in diaspora, forbidden to return to their homes by Israel
  2. Palestinian territory separated into bantustans, prevented from developing in unison
  3. Palestinians in Israel being prevented from being taught Arab history
  4. Attempted banning of Arab political parties in Israel
  5. Laws to block emigration of spouses of Palestinians
  6. Palestinians prevented from having their own state
  7. Permit and residency laws in the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem



4.4  Ignoring the geographic realities


When brought into the discussion, the geography of Iran and the Middle East is also an important element in evaluating the seriousness of the Petition’s claims. While it is convenient to suggest parallels between past genocides and that foretold by the Petition, the simple geographic differences and obstacles are staggering. The Petition fails to bring any of these considerations to the attention of the reader.


4.4.1  Example: The lack of necessary proximity between Israel and Iran

Mr Cotler repeatedly draws comparisons to past atrocities, but fails to mention obvious differences such as that Iranians and Jews do not live in a same country where Jews would be a weak minority, such as the Tutsis were in Rwanda or the Jews in Germany and then Europe. In fact Tehran and Tel Aviv are separated by about 1,600 km.


4.4.2  Example: A nuclear attack on Israel would kill millions of Palestinians

If Iran did have genocidal ambitions for the Jews of Israel it would be impossible for it to launch a nuclear attack on Israel without killing millions of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs—those who live inside Israel and those who live in the adjacent occupied territories. Since the speeches by President Ahmadinejad and “anti-Israeli” events Mr Cotler discusses often protest Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its killing of civilians, it seems it would be somewhat at odds with Iran’s rhetoric to then turn into dust those very same Arabs whose condition Iranian leaders deplore. And this does not mention the parallel danger of fatally damaging and contaminating neighbouring Arab lands and populations.




5  Issue: Other elements of shoddy scholarship

With a Petition which makes such serious allegations as the one submitted by Mr Cotler, one would expect the scholarship and logic to be bulletproof and fully defensible. Unfortunately, the Petition incorporates a number of additional examples and arguments which, when examined more closely and in context, actually take away from the Petition’s arguments.



5.1  Unsupported assertions to build the genocide case


Mr Cotler, on page 44, of his petition writes: “One of the most notorious terrorist attacks organized by Iran occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On July 18, 1994, Argentina suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in its history when the Jewish-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) community centre was bombed. 85 persons were murdered and 300 were wounded.” Mr Cotler provides no references for this bold assertion that Iran had somewhat masterminded or carried out this attack.

Instead, he continues by writing that “After a serious and extensive investigation, Argentinean prosecutors concluded that the bombing was masterminded by Iran—that it was conceived, planned, and ordered by the ‘highest echelons in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran’.” Immodestly, Mr Cotler submits his own writing, an Op-ed which appeared in Canada’s National Post as a source for this information, and a second article from the New York Times. Mr Cotler’s inability to read in a critical manner is perhaps most tellingly revealed by the second source in which it is written that “No one has been convicted of carrying out the attack despite a lengthy investigation marked by accusations of judicial misconduct and a government cover-up [...].”[32] How then has Mr Cotler just assured the reader that “a serious and extensive investigation” had taken place?

In fact, former Argentinean President Néstor Kirchner has called the investigation a “national disgrace,”[33] and the president at the time of the attack, Carlos Saúl Menem, has been accused “of having deliberately undermined the official inquiry into the attack.”[34] In 2004, members of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police were standing trial for having allegedly played a role in the bombing, though they were eventually cleared, and in 2005 the judge in charge of the inquiry, Juan José Galeano, was fired for having “been involved in bribing a key witness during his investigation.”[35] It is difficult not to conclude that Mr Cotler is deliberately being misleading.

In his own piece “Iran: Guilty as Charged,” Mr Cotler writes: “Argentinean Special Prosecutors have found that senior Iranian government officials [...] are responsible for the July, 2004 bombing of the Jewish Cultural Centre in Argentina (AMIA). [...]In 2004, as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, I told a meeting of the Organization of American States’ ministers of justice to make this case a priority.”[36] The fact that Mr Cotler makes no mention of the irregularities of the investigation and that he speaks with such certainty on the matter when he does not even get the date of the bombing right in his own article (July 18, 1994), suggests he is a man with an agenda, and something nearing a vendetta.



5.2  Unsupported logical leaps


In his petition, Mr Cotler attempts to portray the Iranians as bloodthirsty and murderous. He cites alleged Iranian responsibility or complicity in the attack on the AMIA and a 1992 political assassination of “three leading members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and one of their supporters in Berlin,” (p. 45) as evidence that “By outsourcing its actions to movements that share its intentions, Iran seeks to deflect attention away from the murder it seeks while continuing to advance its genocidal goals. Accordingly, it should not be surprising that Jews and Israelis are among the most frequent – though not by any means the exclusive – targets of this regime.” (p. 43)

Mr Cotler’s logic in this statement is very unclear: how does an alleged indirect Iranian involvement in an act against Kurds support his thesis for a genocidal intent against Jews?

Following Cotler’s line of reasoning, Israel would certainly be guilty of the same “outsourcing” and “genocidal goal” for its responsibility in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon. In this incident, the Israeli Armed Forces surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps outside Beirut and allowed in their Phalangist allies to kill and rape unarmed civilians. Israel’s Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon, was found personally responsible by Israel’s own Kahan Commission. He still went on to become Prime Minister of the country. The UN General Assembly called the massacres “an act of genocide.”[37] Yet even this example does not fully parallel Cotler’s logical leap, as the Phalangists were killing Palestinians and not some unrelated group, e.g. Armenians, or Druze.



5.3  Single-minded demonization of Iran


Overall, the Petition seems to want to demonize anything Iranian, drifting far and wide from the genocide arguments to find something bad to say about Iran. While one may certainly accuse the current regime in Iran as being highly autocratic, it is quite another thing to accuse it of seeking to perpetrate genocide.

Section E of Mr Cotler’s petition deals with domestic human rights abuses in Iran. The section discusses violations of human rights in Iran looking as far back as the beginning of Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. Puzzlingly absent from his indictment are the human rights violations which took place prior to the revolution, under the rule of the Western-backed Shah of Iran.

There is no question that human rights violations are rampant in Iran. The problem is, once again, the one-sidedness of Mr Cotler’s narrative. For example, he writes that “Iran is also the world ‘leader’ in executing children. Since January 2005, Iran has executed at least 26 juvenile offenders.” He may be right, but it would be interesting to contrast that figure with the staggering 955 Palestinian minors killed by Israel between September 29, 2000, and November 30, 2008 (which does not even take into account the minors killed by Israel outside of Israel and the Occupied Territories).[38] One does not excuse the other. But it is difficult to not arrive at the conclusion that Mr Cotler is guilty of unrelentingly singling out and demonizing one nation.

Human rights violations undoubtedly take place in Iran. They also most definitely take place in Israel. The same violations against women in Iran described by Mr Cotler in his petition take place in Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States. The United States is itself responsible for abuses at Guantanamo Bay and other secret prisons. Yet Mr Cotler does not explain why human rights abuses in Iran deserve more of the international community’s condemnation than do those of Israel. He most certainly does not clarify how taking action on Iran would benefit the Iranian people as he claims on page 55 of the Petition. Innocent Iraqis most certainly did not fare better when the international community imposed sanctions on the country and isolated it in order to punish its leaders. It is difficult to believe that action against the Iranian regime would not also harm the Iranian people. And this, for what purpose?




6  A Canadian approach to Iran and the Middle East

The position of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is unequivocal: human rights abuses and the killing of innocents is unacceptable no matter who the culprit is. CJPME believes that international law needs to be respected by all, that all parties in the Middle East should be held to the same standard, and that violence is not a solution. CJPME calls on its Canadian leaders to adopt similar principles when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the friction between Iran and Israel. Rather than seeking to polarize sentiments, CJPME would expect Mr Cotler, as a self-proclaimed “peace activist”, to be trying to encourage dialogue between peoples. Solving the Middle East’s problems will require world leaders to promote meticulous fairness, and to exhibit unwavering integrity and honesty. Given his petition, CJPME can only conclude that Mr. Cotler will be excluded from this esteemed company.

References:

  • 1. ^ “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: The Responsibility to Prevent Petition.” http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/documents/081209_petition.pdf [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 2. ^ “Canadian Parliamentarian and Former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler Releases Responsibility to Prevent Petition to Hold Ahmadinejad’s Iran to Account for Its Genocidal Incitement.” http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/detail.asp?lang=e&type=news&sid=3057 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 3. ^ “Israel a guide for activists.” The Anti-Defamation League. http://www.adl.org/israel/advocacy/how_to_respond/anti_semitism_criticism.asp?xflag=1 [accessed 2/13/2009]
  • 4. ^ Whitaker, Brian. “Selective Memri.” The Guardian. August 12, 2002. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 5. ^ Ibid.
  • 6. ^ Ibid.
  • 7. ^ “About us”. David Horowitz Freedom Center. http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/FlexPage.aspx?area=aboutus [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 8. ^ “About JCPA.” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=84&FID=253&PID=369 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 9. ^ Ibid.
  • 10. ^ Teitelbaum, Joshua. “Analysis: Iran’s talk of destroying Israel must not get lost in translation.” The Jerusalem Post. June 22, 2008. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1213794295236&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 11. ^ “Transcript.” MEMRI. August 1, 2006. http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1216.htm?auth=19b767b6b14939af5cb4a7b5474a8c18 [accessed 12/23/2008]
  • 12. ^ “A propos du réseau Voltaire.” Voltairenet.org. http://www.voltairenet.org/article1.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 13. ^ “Iran leader plays down war talk.” BBC. July 8, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7495869.stm [Accessed 2/10/2009]
  • 14. ^ “UN Chief: Ahmadinejad’s verbal attacks on Israel intolerable.” Ha’aretz. Febuary 21, 2008. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/956306.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 15. ^ “Special Dispatch – No. 1013.” MEMRI. October 28, 2005. http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP101305 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 16. ^ Teitelbaum, Joshua. “Analysis: Iran’s talk of destroying Israel must not get lost in translation.” The Jerusalem Post. June 22, 2008. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1213794295236&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 17. ^ Ibid.
  • 18. ^ “Israel accused over Lebanon war.” BBC. September 6, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6981557.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 19. ^ “Statistics.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 20. ^ “Land expropriation and settlements.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Settlements/Index.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 21. ^ “Israel admits torture.” BBC. February 9, 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/637293.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 22. ^ “UN envoy condemns Israel’s extra-judicial assassinations.” UN News Center. August 25, 2003. http://www0.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=8060&Cr=middle&Cr1=east [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 23. ^ Kafala, Tarik. “Israel’s assassination policy.” BBC. August 1, 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1258187.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 24. ^ “House Demolitions as Punishment.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Punitive_Demolitions/Statistics.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 25. ^ “Administrative detention.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/english/Administrative_Detention/Occupied_Territories.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 26. ^ McCarthy, Rory. “Israeli minister warns of Holocaust for Gaza if violence continues.” The Guardian. March 1, 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/01/israelandthepalestinians1 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 27. ^ “Israeli minister threatens Iran.” BBC. June 6, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7440472.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 28. ^ Gordon, Michael and Eric Schmitt. “U.S. says exercise by Israel seemed directed at Iran.” International Herald tribune. June 20, 2008. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/20/america/20iran.php [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 29. ^ Morris, Benny. “Using bombs to stave off war.” New York Times. July 18, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/18/opinion/18morris.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 30. ^ “Iran says it has no intention to attack Israel despite a call by its president to have it ‘wiped off the map’.” BBC. October 29, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4387852.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 31. ^ Fisk, Robert. “Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask.” The Independent. January 7, 2009. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-why-do-they-hate-the-west-so-much-we-will-ask-1230046.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 32. ^ “Argentina seeks arrest of Iran’s ex-leader.” New York Times. November 9, 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/10/world/americas/10argentina.html [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 33. ^ Rohter, Larry. “Argentines criticize investigation of ’94 attack.” New York Times. July 19, 2004. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE2DB133AF93AA25754C0A9629C8B63 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 34. ^ Ibid.
  • 35. ^ “Argentine bomb probe judge sacked.” August 3, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4743927.stm [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 36. ^ “Iran – Guilty as charged.” National Post. November 3, 2006. http://www.irwincotler.parl.gc.ca/print.asp?lang=e&sid=2032 [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 37. ^ “37/123. The situation in the Middle East.” UN General Assembly. December 16, 1982. http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/2ee9468747556b2d85256cf60060d2a6/faabb796990cf95a852560d9005240cf!OpenDocument [accessed 1/23/2009]
  • 38. ^ “Statistics.” B’Tselem. http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp [accessed 1/23/2009]

Notes:

  • 1. ^ Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1998) defines Zionism in English as follows: “Among the Jews, a theory, plan, or movement for colonizing their own race in Palestine, the land of Zion, or, if that is impracticable, elsewhere, either for religious or nationalizing purposes.”
  • 2. ^ Mr. Teitelbaum’s paper makes a case very similar to Cotler’s “The Danger of a Genocidal and Nuclear Iran: A Responsibility to Prevent Petition.” In fact, a section of Teitelbaum’s paper quoted by Mr. Cotler is entitiled “Dehumanization as Prelude to Genocide: Israel as an Infection.” Mr. Cotler’s similar section is called “From delegitimization to dehumanization,” in which Cotler writes:

    [T]he next genocidal precursor is the dehumanization of Israelis and Jews through the use of epidemiological metaphors reminiscent of Nazi-like dehumanization of the Jews. [...] Thus, just as Jews were labelled as “vermin” by the Nazis and the Tutsi were labelled as “cockroaches” in Rwanda, so too have Israelis and Jews been dehumanized [...]. (p.17)

    In his section, Mr. Teitelbaum writes:

    A common motif of genocide incitement is the dehumanization of the target population. The Nazi weekly Der Stürmer portrayed Jews as parasites and locusts. In the early 1990s, Hutu propaganda in Rwanda against the Tutsis described them as “cockroaches.” [...] Similarly, President Ahmadinejad has called Israeli Jews “cattle,” “blood thirsty barbarians,” and “criminals.”


Finkelstein on Gaza (in Spanish)

By Ángel Ricardo Martínez

El autor de ‘La industria del Holocausto’ analiza para La Estrella los conflictos que asolan Medio Oriente y el papel que Israel y su ‘lobby’ en Washington juegan en su desarrollo y posible finalización

Norman Gary Finkelstein, hijo de supervivientes del Holocausto, es probablemente la voz más controversial de cuantas existen en el complejo universo del conflicto palestino-israelí. El recientemente fallecido Raul Hilberg —considerado ampliamente como la autoridad más grande sobre el Holocausto Nazi— aseguró de él que mostraba “coraje académico para hablar con la verdad aun cuando nadie lo apoye.. su lugar en la historia está asegurado, y estará entre los triunfadores a pesar del gran costo que le significará”.

Hilberg, que hasta su muerte mantuvo una admiración mutua con Finkelstein, conocía muy bien los “grandes costos” que ha tenido para Finkelstein el expresar sus demoledores puntos de vista: en 2007 le fue negada la cátedra de la Universidad de De Paul —decisión que muchos atribuyen a la influencia de grupos pro Israel y de su enemigo acérrimo Alan Dershowitz— y hace casi un año, en mayo de 2008, el Gobierno israelí le negó la entrada al país alegando que había tenido “contacto con elementos hostiles a Israel, incluyendo un alto oficial de Hezbolá en Líbano”. Finkelstein fue puesto en un vuelo de regreso a Amsterdam y tiene prohibida la entrada a Israel por 10 años.

Pero nada de eso parece detenerlo. En esta entrevista, Finkelstein —con su tono de voz calmado y su hablar pausado, como si escogiera cada palabra— plasma las ideas que lo han hecho tan controversial. Héroe para unos, traidor para otros: Finkelstein en estado puro.

LOS PADRES DEL SIONISMO SON COMÚNMENTE VISTOS COMO INOCENTES IDEALISTAS. ¿ESTÁ DE ACUERDO CON ESTA CONCEPCIÓN?

Se podría decir que desde la primera década del siglo XX había conocimiento de una población indígena en Palestina. Pero no había conciencia de que se estuviera cometiendo una injusticia, pues esta es una época de la historia en la que el ignorar los derechos de las poblaciones indígenas era considerado algo rutinario. Y, por supuesto, para los europeos el extenderse por el resto del mundo desahuciando y desplazando a las poblaciones. Así que podemos decir que había conciencia de un problema, pero no de una injusticia.

¿COMO LE HAN AFECTADO SU TRABAJO Y OPINIONES SOCIALMENTE, COMO JUDÍO Y COMO INTELECTUAL?

No podría decir que me han afectado socialmente, porque la comunidad en la que siempre he existido ha estado formada por personas que han compartido mis valores humanos básicos: principios de justicia, verdad, etc. Y esa comunidad ha sido constante a través de mi vida. Cuando estuve involucrado en el movimiento de los derechos civiles, o en las protestas contra la guerra de Vietnam, habían personas que no necesariamente compartían mis valores en cuanto a, por ejemplo, raza, y tenía contacto con ellos: digamos gente negra que estaba involucrada en el movimiento de los derechos civiles, y ahora árabes y musulmanes con los que tengo contacto frecuente. Pero en términos de la comunidad a la que pertenezco, se ha mantenido constante a través de mi vida, y es la gente que comparte mis valores.

¿SUS MAYORES INFLUENCIAS?

En cuanto a mi marco ético-moral, diría que mi madre, quien como mi padre, sufrieron el Holocausto nazi, y en términos políticos e intelectuales, mi mayor influencia es el profesor [Noam] Chomsky.

LE PROHIBIERON LA ENTRADA A ISRAEL. ¿POR QUÉ?

Probablemente es una trivialidad, solo para frustrarme, porque he sido muy crítico con Israel y me he reunido con algunos “enemigos oficiales” de Israel.

¿POR QUÉ SE LE NEGÓ LA CÁTEDRA EN LA UNIVERSIDAD DE DE PAUL?

Creo que no se me negó por mis opiniones políticas. Creo que fue por mi activismo político, que es muy distinto: en el ámbito académico uno puede decir lo que uno quiera, mientras se limite a conferencias y publicaciones académicas. Los problemas vienen cuando uno intenta llegar a un público general, cuando te conviertes en alguien activo políticamente.

¿QUÉ PAPEL JUEGA GENTE COMO ALAN DERSHOWITZ DE CARA A LA OPINIÓN PÚBLICA EN EEUU Y EL MUNDO?

Creo que él explota exitosamente sus credenciales para dar la impresión de expertisse y autoridad. Y realmente los usa con una gran efectividad. O al menos lo ha hecho hasta hace poco, usando su bona fide académica para influenciar la opinión pública. Ahora está adquiriendo una personalidad de bufón, pero hasta hace poco, como podía identificarse como un catedrático de la Escuela de Leyes de Harvard, la mayoría de las personas daban por sentado que sabía de lo que estaba hablando.

¿COMO INFLUYE EL “LOBBY ISRAELÍ” EN ESTADOS UNIDOS?

Tiene mucha influencia en moldear la opinión pública en EEUU. Ciertamente le pone una ‘tapa’ a las críticas legítimas que se le hacen a Israel. Es bastante despiadado en sus tácticas, está muy bien financiado y excelentemente organizado. Creo que juega un papel decisivo en influir en el apoyo estadounidense a la ocupación de territorio palestino, pero creo que no hace más que el papel de porrista en otros asuntos como la política de Estados Unidos hacia Irán, Irak u otros lugares.

QUIZÁS SU LIBRO MÁS FAMOSO ES “LA INDUSTRIA DEL HOLOCAUSTO”. ¿PODRÍA EXPLICARME QUÉ Y QUIÉNES SON ESTA INDUSTRIA?

La industria del Holocausto, como expuse en el libro, consiste en organizaciones, individuos e instituciones que han explotado el Holocausto nazi para fines políticos, principalmente para blindar a Israel de las críticas, y también económicos, principalmente para obtener de los Gobiernos europeos lo que se conoce como la “compensación del Holocausto”.

ISRAEL NO RECONOCE EL GENOCIDIO ARMENIO. ¿CUÁL ES EL SIGNIFICADO POLÍTICO DE ESTO?

El motivo es bastante obvio. Israel lleva años tratando de construir una buena relación con Turquía, y Turquía niega oficialmente el holocausto armenio (sic). Así que como deferencia a las sensibilidades oficiales turcas Israel también lo niega.

¿QUÉ TAN LEGÍTIMAS SON LAS ACUSACIONES ISRAELÍES CONTRA IRÁN?

Tenemos que distinguir entre miedos y realidades. Si uno lee la literatura nazi uno ve que había un miedo genuino de la conspiración judío-bolchevique. No existe ningún motivo para dudar que muchos nazis, incluido Hitler, creían que en efecto había una conspiración judeo-bolchevique para destruir Alemania. Hay una diferencia.

Realmente no podemos negar o afirmar la existencia de estos miedos.. en muchos casos son probablemente reales. La cuestión racional es si tienen alguna base. Y hasta donde sé, la preocupación principal de Irán es tomar su lugar como una potencia regional. Israel y EEUU quieren mantener su completo dominio del Medio Oriente, y eso no permite que emerjan otras potencias, sea el Egipto de [Gamal Abdel] Nasser en los 50, o Irán en la actualidad. Es el mismo deseo de controlar y dominar Oriente Medio, y esa parece ser la base racional del miedo israelí, el miedo de ser desplazado, junto con EEUU como la principal potencia de la región.

HABLEMOS DE LA 'AMENAZA NUCLEAR' IRANÍ. ¿CÓMO SE INTERPRETA QUE ISRAEL, QUE NO HA FIRMADO EL TRATADO DE NO PROLIFERACIÓN NUCLEAR (NPT), CRITIQUE A IRÁN, QUE SI LO HA HECHO, POR ENRIQUECER URANIO?

Es pura hipocresía. De existir un miedo real de una potencial arma nuclear iraní, la manera sencilla de resolver ese problema sería declarar a el Medio Oriente una zona libre de armas de destrucción masiva, como se ha hecho en América Latina. Entonces ambos países, Irán e Israel, se verían presionados a desarmarse.

SE HA DEMOSTRADO QUE LA ANP –APOYADA POR ISRAEL Y EEUU— INTENTÓ DAR UN GOLPE A HAMAS EN GAZA EN 2007. SIN EMBARGO, LA VERSIÓN QUE SE VE EN LOS MEDIOS ES QUE HAMAS DIO EL GOLPE. ¿POR QUÉ CREE QUE EL PÚBLICO EN GENERAL IGNORA ESTAS COSAS?

Funciona a través de la repetición. Si te la pasas diciendo lo mismo una y otra vez hasta que se pegue a la mente de las personas. Así tienes a todos los medios, en concierto, repitiendo que Hamas obtuvo el poder mediante un golpe en junio de 2007. Si te la pasas repitiéndolo, la gente empieza a creérselo.

¿CUÁLES FUERON LOS VERDADEROS MOTIVOS DE LA OPERACIÓN “PLOMO FUNDIDO”?

La razón principal de la operación fue la de recuperar lo que Israel llama su “capacidad de disuasión”. Luego de la derrota que sufrió en verano de 2006 en el Líbano, Israel necesitaba probarle al mundo árabe que aún es capaz de provocar el caos y la muerte, y que los árabes no debían salirse de la línea. Eso fue lo que intentó hacer al demoler Gaza.

La otra gran razón fue que Hamas se estaba volviendo muy moderado, muy razonable. Estaba dispuesto a arreglar el conflicto en las fronteras de junio del 67, lo que yo llamo una “ofensiva de paz”. Israel temía que la presión internacional le pudiera obligar a negociar un acuerdo con Hamas.

SE HA SUGERIDO QUE ESTA OPERACIÓN PUDO SER UN “ENSAYO” PARA UN POSIBLE ATAQUE A HEZBOLÁ EN LÍBANO. ¿CREE QUE ESTO PUEDE SUCEDER EN EL FUTURO?

No creo, porque realmente no hubo una guerra en Gaza, fue una masacre. Fue totalmente inclinada de un solo lado. No es una guerra cuando tienes una relación de muertes de 100 a 1, y con 33% de los muertos siendo niños. Nada de lo que hicieron en Gaza es relevante para un ataque a Hezbolá —que es un enemigo de un orden muy superior—, excepto transmitir el mensaje al pueblo libanés de que “si se meten en nuestro camino, los convertiremos en un descampado, tal como hicimos con Gaza”.

HENRY SIEGMAN, EX DIRECTOR DEL CONSEJO JUDÍO AMERICANO (AJC), DIJO RECIENTEMENTE QUE HAMAS NO ES MÁS TERRORISTA QUE LOS GRUPOS SIONISTAS QUE LUCHARON POR EL ESTADO JUDÍO. ¿QUÉ PIENSA?

Creo que la comparación es un poco inexacta, porque Hamas es una organización social, no solo un grupo terrorista. El Irgún y los otros nunca tuvieron intenciones de ser organizaciones sociales, fundar escuelas, financiar diferentes iniciativas de apoyo a la pobreza; eran estrictamente grupos terroristas. Hamas es una organización con una amplia base política y social, así que creo que la comparación es injusta con Hamas.

¿CREE QUE MAHMUD ABBÁS (PRESIDENTE DE LA ANP) ES EL GRAN PERDEDOR DE TODO ESTO?

Depende de como calculamos al perdedor. Los mayores perdedores son las 1300 personas que están muertas. Esas que, al contrario de usted y yo, ya no pueden sentir, pensar o soñar: se fueron. Y eso incluye a 400 niños, muchos de los cuales fueron quemados vivos. Así que, desde un punto de vista humano o moral, esos son seguramente los grandes perdedores.

Los segundos perdedores son aquellos que están heridos, aquellos cuya propiedad fue destruida, cuyas casas fueron demolidas, aquellos que frecuentaban las mezquitas, hospitales y escuelas que fueron destruidas. Esos, a mi juicio, son los segundos grandes perdedores.

Si lo calculamos estrictamente en términos políticos, sí, creo que el señor Abbás es el gran perdedor.

LA SITUACIÓN FUE COMPARADA CON EL LEVANTAMIENTO EN EL GUETTO DE VARSOVIA DE 1943. ¿QUÉ LE PARECE?

En muchos aspectos es acertado, pero ninguna analogía es exacta. Hay características cruciales de lo que sucede en Gaza que también sucedieron en el Guetto de Varsovia: se crea un guetto y se mata a la población de hambre, las personas encarceladas en el guetto —que sufren de falta de comida y medicinas— inician una resistencia principalmente simbólica, como lo fue la resistencia judía en Varsovia. La resistencia de Hamas, los cohetes —que son poco más que fuegos artificiales— son principalmente simbólicos. Y esta resistencia simbólica fue aplastada en ambas ocasiones con gran brutalidad e inhumanidad.

QUIERO PROFUNDIZAR EN EL ASPECTO MORAL DE ESTA OPERACIÓN. TITUS NORTH, PROFESOR DE CIENCIAS POLÍTICAS DE LA UNIVERSIDAD DE PITTSBURGH, DIJO QUE “UN ESTADO FUNDADO POR SUPERVIVIENTES DEL HOLOCAUSTO DEBERÍA SER UN FARO DE MORALIDAD, NO SU HOYO NEGRO”. ¿QUÉ PIENSA AL RESPECTO?

Nadie tiene la responsabilidad u obligación de aplicarse a sí mismo un alto estándar de moralidad. El problema no es que Israel no es un faro de moralidad. El problema es que Israel es un Estado satánico, ha caído muy por debajo de los mínimos estándares de moralidad. Ese es el problema. Nadie quiere ni espera que Israel sea un faro de moralidad. El problema es que se comporta como si hubiera sido incubado en las entrañas del infierno.

LA PERIODISTA ISRAELÍ AMIRA HASS ME COMENTÓ RECIENTEMENTE QUE LA DISCONEXIÓN DE GAZA DE CISJORDANIA ES UNA ESTRATEGIA ISRAELÍ QUE VIENE DE HACE TIEMPO. ¿ESTÁ DE ACUERDO?

Ellos siempre han intentado resolver el conflicto incorporando Gaza con Egipto y partes de Cisjordania con Jordania. Por lo tanto, siempre ha estado ahí como una estrategia a largo plazo.

¿CÓMO HA AFECTADO Y AFECTARÁ ESTA OFENSIVA A LA IMAGEN ISRAELÍ A NIVEL MUNDIAL? Y SI LO HA HECHO, ¿CUÁLES CREE USTED QUE SERÁN LAS CONSECUENCIAS?

Creo que la masacre de Gaza marcó un punto de inflexión, como la masacre de Sharpeville lo hizo en Sudáfrica. Sharpeville no fue tan grave como la masacre de Soweto, pero fue el primer paso para cambiar de manera significativa la opinión mundial, y creo que la masacre de Gaza será recordada de la misma manera.

¿POR QUÉ ISRAEL GOZA DE TANTA IMPUNIDAD?

Básicamente por tres razones. Una, la más obvia, es la impunidad política por el apoyo incondicional de EEUU. Por otro lado, disfruta de una impunidad moral por su explotación del Holocausto nazi. Por último, esta explotación ha sido y es organizada muy eficientemente por el lobby israelí en EEUU.

¿CÓMO HA PERJUDICADO ESTE CONFLICTO A LA IMAGEN DE LA ONU?

No mucho más que la total impunidad de la que goza EEUU en la ONU. No podría decir que Israel ha perjudicado más a la ONU que Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, también es verdad que este es el conflicto de mayor duración en el que la ONU tiene responsabilidad. Lleva desde 1947, y la ONU ha sido incapaz de hacer nada por la intransigencia israelí y la impunidad especial otorgada por el mundo debido al Holocausto nazi, y por el veto estadounidense a las resoluciones del Consejo de Seguridad.

¿TIENE ALGUNA ESPERANZA EN BARACK OBAMA?

No existen motivos racionales para suponer que las políticas de Obama hacia la región serán distintas de las políticas de sus antecesores.

¿FAVORECE USTED LA SOLUCIÓN DE DOS ESTADOS?

Yo no favorezco nada. Esto no es un tema personal, de lo que yo sienta o lo que sienta cualquier persona en la calle.

La solución de dos Estados es un arreglo que ha sido apoyado abrumadoramente por la comunidad internacional y, según la ley internacional, los Estados miembros de la ONU están obligados a acatar la voluntad de las más altas instituciones políticas y judiciales del mundo.

¿CÓMO SE ASIMILA LA IMAGEN DE EHUD OLMERT HABLANDO, EN AQUELLA FAMOSA ENTREVISTA, DE RETIRARSE A LAS FRONTERAS DEL 67 Y AHORA ESTO?

Bueno, él realmente nunca dijo ‘regresar a las fronteras de junio de 1967’. Olmert no hablaba acerca de Jerusalén Oriental ni hablaba de desmantelar los asentamientos. Él hablaba principalmente de algo parecido a la que Ehud Barak ofreció en Camp David en julio de 2000. Así que no debemos tener ilusiones acerca de lo que Olmert dijo aquella vez. El nunca habló de regresar a las fronteras del 67, dijo ‘aproximadamente’, que fue lo que dijo también Barak.

El resto es procedimiento estándar operacional. La masacre de Gaza fue llevada a cabo por personas como Ehud Barak que, por naturaleza y disposición, son dados a cometer masacres. Es un general israelí.

EL PRESIDENTE DE SIRIA, BASHAR AL ASSAD, DIJO RECIENTEMENTE QUE PARA ÉL LA INICIATIVA ÁRABE DE PAZ DE 2002 ESTABA MUERTA. ¿QUÉ OPINA AL RESPECTO?

Ahora mismo no hace ninguna diferencia porque Israel y Estados Unidos se oponen a ella. Está muerta. Si Israel y EEUU deciden apoyarla, todo indica que será revivida. Y la Liga Árabe no es el obstáculo: el obstáculo es Israel, apoyado por EEUU.


Holocaust compensation?

By Eli Ashkenazi

A Palestinian family who lost 29 members in Israel’s offensive in Gaza filed a law suit Tuesday against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders, demanding some $200 million in compensation.

The Samouni family, from the southern Gaza City suburb of Zaytoun, filed the suit at the Nazareth District Court against outgoing prime minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

In the morning of January 4, an IDF tank shell hit the family’s three-story building, killing seven of its members.

Their apartment was burnt down completely and the survivors took refuge in a shelter, but the building was shelled the following day, and 22 more family members were killed. Both shellings injured 45 other family members, most of them children aged eight to 14, according to a statement by the prosecution.

The lawsuit accuses IDF of “criminal negligence” by killing innocent civilians who were seeking refugee in their home and a shelter.

“The plaintiffs’ negligence, lack of caution, and violation of duty have manifested in an act of unjustifiable killing,” the statement said.

“The soldiers who fired the shells did so in utter disregard of the innocent civilians present in the area of the fighting,” it charged.

“This is not the only lawsuit,” Attorney Mohammed Fukra told reporters at the court. “The Samouni family approached me last week and I imagine that in the coming weeks similar lawsuits will be filed.”

A Palestinian family from the northern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Jabaliya, 11 of whose children were killed in an Israeli strike, filed a similar lawsuit last week, demanding more than 40 million dollars in compensation.

Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed during a three-week Israeli offensive in the coastal strip in December and January.

Israel launched the operation in response to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza at its southern towns and villages.

Thirteen Israelis were killed by rockets and in ground fighting.


Canadian Crucifixion

By Randa Mouammar

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win – Mahatma Gandhi

The pro-Israeli press in Canada must really be shaking in its Uggs. Over the years I’ve seen it go from ignoring the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) and its leaders to more recently attacking it as forcefully as possible.

Like never before courageous writers, academics, peace activists and citizens have been appearing to contest propaganda about Israel’s so-called “Western” ideals, which look more like a brutal, militaristic, nuclear-armed, exclusivist state than the democracy it claims to be. Now that the press has pulled out its big guns to shoot down those who criticize Israel, it may be a sign that pro-human rights campaigners are about to win this longstanding war against this new Israeli brand of Apartheid.

Canada has a reputation of protecting human rights, both at home and abroad. But many shadows lurk beneath. Canada’s human rights record fares very poorly with respect to its treatment of First Nations communities. Israel’s natives – the Palestinians – are also effectively deprived of justice through their dealings with Canada, especially and increasingly as of late. Its recent decision to pull out of the World Conference Against Racism, the second country to do so after Israel, can only be the result of lobbying efforts by a powerful and self-interested pro-Israeli and Zionist Canadian minority. How else can you explain a nation pulling out of a world conference meant to address racism, which, as many of us know, still exists? Rather than attend and entertain the speakers and their views, or attend and simply ignore them, Canada has chosen to fight the whole thing altogether with a boycott campaign – perhaps the clearest sign yet that the global anti-racism campaign is on its way to producing positive change.

Khaled Mouammar, the current President of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), has been in Canada longer than many Canadians born here – for over 40 years in fact. And he also happens to be a native of Palestine. He fled from Palestine to seek refuge from Jewish attacks, and was never able to return in any capacity other than as a visitor from Canada. In a lifetime of advocating for the implementation of international law with respect to Palestine, and of defending Palestinians and Arabs against those old imperial labels “terrorist” and “barbarian”, he has been criticized and insulted many, many times. But never has the smear campaign been so concerted. And never has the campaign lasted so long. This has to mean something. True, he is the president of Canada’s largest group representing Arabs, but why this focus on just one man? Is he really that important? Israel’s lobby groups reflexively coalesce into action to ruin reputations and livelihoods, trying to bully anyone who dares to speak out and criticize Israel. They likely also need their sacrificial lambs – someone who can distract news readers from the mainstream media’s out-of-context, biased and inaccurate reporting on Israel’s most recent blatantly illegal actions and Canada’s deficient if not complicit response. [These illegal Israeli actions include the murder of 1,350 Gazans, up to half of whom ar[ children, and the maiming of 5,450 Gazans, of whom 1,600 are estimated to suffer permanent physical disabilities (amputations, spinal cord injuries, burns, etc). It also includes the intentional targeting of civilians and medical targets (shooting at ambulances, killing several ambulance drivers), United Nations installations, and using proscribed weapons (phosphorus bombs, cluster bombs, etc.).]

While some of the reporting on Mouammar has been uninformed if not unfair, individuals from CanWest’s media monopoly, which reaches 95% of Canadians and includes the National Post daily paper, have done their best to malign and attack his character. Not an easy feat if you know the man. Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, itself an umbrella organization, has said that the CAF under Mouammar has been “a consistent and valued supporter of Canadian Jewish individuals and groups” and that Mouammar himself is a man of “principle and courage.”

He is, to those who know him, a fair, compassionate and intelligent man, intent on seeing justice brought to Palestine in his lifetime. His dedication to assisting the world’s largest refugee population has been unwavering. He has also been active in countless other human rights campaigns and worked with a great number of other ethnic communities in Canada. So it’s no surprise then that he was appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. It was there that he was able to implement policy pertaining to the granting of protection for unprotected refugees and minority groups inside Canada.

But it’s this very dedication to helping refugees that has gotten him into trouble with the press as of late. For drawing light onto Israel’s (rather numerous and repetitive) breaches of international law, he is labelled a ‘mouthpiece for radicals’, ‘defender of terror groups’ and of having a ‘record of hatred for Israel, and by extension, Jews.’ This implies, basically, that the Post’s position on criminality is that if the criminal is an Israeli, anyone who calls for justice is an anti-Semite. That’s a pretty bold intimation, even for the Post. And it does an injustice to the very real anti-Semitism that does exist by abusing and watering down its effect. Sort of like the boy who calls wolf, over and over again. In the end the boy appears a fool, and everyone who’s misinformed by his message becomes a loser.

The allegations against him, many on their face spurious and without basis whatsoever (like Mouammar supposedly calling Bob Rae a racist because – if you can believe as one Post writer claims – “his wife is Jewish” alone) are not even worth the ink they’re printed on. Others are outright racist, some even stripping him of his identity as a proud, albeit conscientious, Canadian. When Mouammar quoted a well-known and respected American political scientist in using the term “whore” in reference to the PM, the Liberal leader and the Immigration Minister of Canada, cries about his un-Canadian-ness began to emerge. Using “whore” however to describe those individuals who compromise their moral principles in exchange for personal gain (thereby ‘whoring’ themselves) is pretty darn Canadian after all. In even bodes well within Canada’s political vernacular. In just the past few years alone, the word “whore” in Parliamentary Debates and Sessions has transcended party lines and extended from citizen to journalist to MP, and, notoriously, even to the PM! No one questioned their Canadian identity, so one cannot help but wonder how long a Canadian has to actually be in Canada to be considered by others a Canadian. I was born in Canada, but spent time travelling abroad. Does that mean I no longer count?

Now, I don’t know very much about a fellow named Lorne Nystrom but after searching the Hansard database for Parliament, I learned that he recently quoted Mulroney’s reference to those opportunistic, “old whores” and corporate sleaze in the Conservative party. Oddly after that public display, there was no press coverage on his comment, nor media outcry or concerted attack. Not a single word or indignation at his choice of words and at his use of the quote. Khaled Mouammar quoted a probably equally famous, although unelected, individual of distinction and calibre when he called some Members of Parliament “professional whores.” So, is he only un-Canadian because he’s Palestinian? Or is he un-Canadian because he’s critical of those who unconditionally support the Israeli regime? And exactly what is it that makes one un-Canadian again?

But this next accusation is a rather serious one, and goes to the heart of the scare tactics that the Post uses in order to garner political support. It is why Reuters criticized the editors of the Post for changing words in Reuters news reports, by using words like “terrorist” instead of militants – because the former instils fear in people. Fear of terrorists is what draws the West toward Israel. Because who wouldn’t support a country so nobly fighting terror, except of course unless that country is itself doing the bulk of the terrorizing. Something the Post does not want its readers to know. So, in line with this instillation of fear vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Mouammar has been accused of essentially waving terrorists past on through Canada’s refugee system.

I have represented clients at the Immigration Board before and I know that every case is decided fairly and on its merits. The Minister intervenes on cases where criminality (such as terrorism) is an issue, and the client is able to appeal where they feel they have been unjustly denied protection. The system is not perfect but its Canada’s brand of justice, and it has served our nation well until now. If I ever have any question as to the integrity of a deciding member, I am obligated to notify the authorities. As a lawyer, I have a duty to improve the administration of justice and to inform the tribunal of its binding authorities (i.e., not to let terrorists into the country). To imply that Mouammar waved through refugees who are both dangerous to society and do not deserve to be here is an insult to Mouammar, as well as to the counsel who appeared before him, and the clients who were offered state protection. The Post should be weary of making claims it cannot support, especially ones as frightening as this.

On the plus side, at least now it seems that the ground war against ignorance might finally be coming to a close. Like the more than a million and a half Palestinians who faced one of the biggest onslaughts of their lives in the most recent chicken-coop type massacre, diasporic campaigners like Mouammar and their human rights supporters are continuing the long hard battle for intellectual and political freedom.

With the United States now also gearing up to boycott the World Conference in Durban, it remains to be seen where Israel’s allies will stand. The tide is turning slowly. It won’t be long before people begin to realize that human rights includes (shock and awe) all humans, and that advocating on behalf of justice can no longer make you the subject of crucifixion. Kudos to you, Dad. It won’t be long now.

So if human rights advocates are our enemies, exactly who do we find among our trusted friends? Israel is Canada’s only “friend” who, for the past 61 years uninterrupted, has used cluster bombs, chemical bombs, and regular bombs on civilian populations fairly regularly and without any legal recourse whatsoever. It is the only friend who breaks with impunity the Geneva Convention through the use of collective punishment, torture, brutality, deportation, destruction of personal property, schools, civilian infrastructure and more. It is the only friend who we, increasingly, refuse to criticize at the U.N. despite our implicit obligations to do so. It is the only friend who the media at CanWest Global protects, perhaps to avoid being fired, or maybe to get promoted, or else, unwittingly, through editorial tweaks without consent. In fact, with respect to issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East, the International Federation of Journalists has accused it of “corporate censorship and the vicitimisation of journalists who are trying to defend professional standards.” It is a fairly sad commentary on the rights and freedoms that we think we have protected and prescribed – as though we somehow really do live inside an Orwellian world where ignorance is strength, and all lies are propagated by the Ministry of Truth, or in this case, CanWest Global. It is probably no coincidence that Orwell himself is reported to have been unsupportive of Zionism, and to consider support for Palestine divisible along colour lines (how poignant that in its brand of Apartheid, Israel now has its own Palestinian “coloureds” to draw lines around).

The Durban Conference on Racism is being boycotted by Canada because the Conference itself is anti-Semitic or, oddly, somehow “racist” against Jews; United Nations resolutions addressing human rights violations by Israel are voted against by Canada because upholding human rights is also somehow anti-Semitic or offensive to the human rights of Jews; and, trying to improve Israel ‘s fabric by ensuring that it is held to the exact same standards of international law that every other nation in the world is held to is also somehow strangely anti-Semitic or targeting Jews. Given that so many of the people (often unjustly) accused of being anti-Semites are Semitic themselves (Arabs, Palestinians or viciously labelled ‘self-hating’ Jews), all this confused doublethink and ignorance-is-strength so prevalent in the mainstream is a shameful illustration of what the Canadian masses might have to endure.

Randa Mouammar (M.A. Political Science) is the youngest daughter of Khaled Mouammar, and a Canadian lawyer of Palestinian heritage. She looks forward to the day that justice and peace can win.


New Tenure Outrage at Ithaca College

By Erin Geismar (Editor in Chief)

Editor’s note: Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the college administration is legally prohibited from commenting on students’ grades or classes. Ithaca College consistently declines to comment on personnel-related issues. Therefore, while The Ithacan feels it is important to tell Margo Ramlal-Nankoe’s story, readers should keep in mind that this story is necessarily one-sided.

The sociology professor who threatened to sue Ithaca College last semester alleging violations of her tenure review process is now accusing the institution of intentionally denying her the right to teach during her terminal semester after being denied tenure last year.

Margo Ramlal-Nankoe, assistant professor of sociology, who has taught at the college for 11 years and been reviewed for tenure twice, said it’s a matter of discrimination, tied to the fact that she believes she was denied tenure based on her political views and teachings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ramlal-Nankoe said she expected to teach three classes this semester but returned in January to find all three had been canceled.

She said she heard through word of mouth in October that the administration was discussing possible problems with her visa, which was supposed to expire in December 2008. She said she didn’t realize the extent of the problem until her classes were removed from HomerConnect during preregistration in November.

“I didn’t know anything about my classes being canceled until students were sending me e-mails saying they couldn’t get into my classes,” Ramlal-Nankoe said.

Ramlal-Nankoe contacted her lawyer, Lynne Bernabei, based in Washington, D.C., and made arrangements to meet with Leslie Lewis, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, in late November. Ramlal-Nankoe said Lewis agreed to meet with her first before she involved her lawyer. At the meeting, Ramlal-Nankoe said Lewis confirmed that she had closed her classes and offered her release time for the spring semester, but she refused.

“If this is my last semester at Ithaca College, then I would like to teach,” she said.

She said they also discussed what Lewis told Ramlal-Nankoe were issues with her visa, an H-1B, used by a nonimmigrant with temporary employment in a specialty field. Ramlal-Nankoe said she explained to the dean that the stipulations of an H-1B allowed her to reclaim time she spent outside of the United States while employed under the visa. Since Ramlal-Nankoe had spent time in Europe, she would be able to reclaim enough time to stay employed until mid-April, two weeks shy of the end of the semester.

Ramlal-Nankoe said Lewis agreed that a colleague could teach the last two weeks of her classes and reopened her classes on Homer.

But it was already too late, Ramlal-Nankoe said. The classes were reopened after most students had already chosen their classes. She said there were only about 10 students signed up among her three classes.

Senior Rachel Reiber took Ramlal-Nankoe’s Introduction to Multicultural Studies class last semester. During winter break, she said, all of Ramlal-Nankoe’s students received an e-mail from Brian Scholten, the college’s registrar, who informed the students in her classes that they could not reach her and that, at that time, they were not sure what would happen with grades.

“The e-mail basically said we can’t get a hold of Margo, we’re going to do something about your grades,” Reiber said.

She said she didn’t receive a grade for the class until just before the start of the spring semester. Ramlal-Nankoe said grades were submitted on her behalf but without her input.

Ramlal-Nankoe spent the winter break in the Netherlands  to extend her visa through the Dutch consulate. Because she was working under time constraints, Ramlal-Nankoe said, she left for the Netherlands before submitting her fall semester grades but intended to submit them abroad. She ran into technical problems the day her grades were due and found she couldn’t access the final papers her students had e-mailed her. Ramlal-Nankoe said she immediately contacted the Office of the Registrar, which informed her that she could submit her grades in paper form when she returned to the United States in January.

She said it wasn’t until she returned to campus Jan. 22 that she knew her classes had been canceled. Ramlal-Nankoe said then it was another seven days until she received official word from Lewis, on Jan. 29, that her classes had been canceled because of low enrollment.

“My classes have always been full,” she said. “I’ve never had underenrollment before.”

Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, associate professor of politics at the college, accompanied Ramlal-Nankoe to the meeting with the dean at Ramlal-Nankoe’s request. She said she could not comment on the specifics but said at the end of last semester she was hopeful Ramlal-Nankoe would end her year on a “high note” — teaching.

“I do understand the dean’s difficult position and administrative concerns,” she said in an e-mail. “But [I] regret that the decision and process eclipsed the other considerations that might have made it possible for Margo to teach this semester.”

Bernabei said the confusion about her client’s visa was of the administration’s own making. She said the college told Ramlal-Nankoe they would not sponsor her to extend her visa until May. She said the college did not realize that Ramlal-

Nankoe would be able to teach in the country until April anyway. Bernabei said it is a “deliberate attempt” to obstruct Ramlal-Nankoe’s work.

“Apparently this is quite a major issue now with professors that don’t yet have their green cards,” Bernabei said. “Colleges are using visa issues against professors in illegal ways.”

Bernabei and Ramlal-Nankoe filed a claim with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, a government agency that deals with labor discrimination cases and with the New York State Human Rights Commission. Bernabei said the commissions would conduct their own investigation to determine if the allegations might be true and to try to settle the dispute between the defendant and complainant before it goes to court. The process could take up to six months.

Ramlal-Nankoe said she believes this is just the latest attempt to push her out of the department. She said this semester she noticed that her photo and small biography had been removed from a bulletin board in the sociology suite that lists all sociology professors.

Judith Barker, professor and chair of the sociology department, said she didn’t know why Ramlal-Nankoe’s name and photo would be removed since she is still a part of the sociology department. She said she intends to replace the information on the bulletin board.

Ramlal-Nankoe said she will continue to hold office hours and remain a presence on campus. She said she has already been asked to guest lecture in a few classes, including Soyinka-Airewele’s last Tuesday.


Canadian Double Standards

By a correspondent

Both the Ottawa universities banned the now famous “anti-semitic” poster. However, Gardner did not mention that a far more hate filled poster called “Terror built this wall” was exhibited in April last year in the Trium of Carleton University.

The Jewish Tribune (Apr. 13, 2008) describes the anti-Palestinian poster:

[open quote] “The display itself comprises a 15-foot by 5-foot chainlink fence – a replica of Israel’s Security Fence – with photographs of Israeli suffering on one side, and terrorist beliefs on the other. The Israeli side shows about two dozen graphic colour pictures, including one of an Israeli emergency worker holding up a blood-soaked tzizit. It is hard to hold tears back looking at the photo of four yeshiva boys crying out in agony at the loss of their school mates in the attack last month in Jerusalem. There is a close up shot of a leg pierced with shrapnel.

The opposite side of the fence displays pages of the rhetoric that terror organizations spew, including photographs of smiling children in terrorist garb.

Carleton’s day with ‘Terror Built This Fence’ was pretty quiet, said Telch, except around 5 p.m. “when we were about to close down. At that time, we decided to move the fence in front of the desks for the last 20 minutes because we didn’t get that much publicity. We were not breaking any rules by doing this.”

At the same time, a Palestinian lady who had come by earlier in the day and argued with the organizers came back.

“She brought about 60 or 70 friends and supporters,” said Telch. “I thought this was great, freedom of speech. But the 12 of us ended up arguing with them, about eight [people] to one.” [end quote]


Dr. Finkelstein:

It truly is “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” in the Canadian press; get a load of this revisionist crap from the national Canadian “news” source CTV:

“It was the third time in months that a Palestinian man from east Jerusalem has turned a construction vehicle into a weapon on Jerusalem’s streets. Palestinians in east Jerusalem are not Israeli citizens but carry Israeli ID cards that allow them freedom of movement throughout the country.”

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090305/rampage_israel_090305/20090305?hub=World

Ignoring the media has conveniently omitted any mention of Israel violent occupation of East Jerusalem; one must wonder where CTV got their information….Bernie Farber?

Here is how International Court of Justice Ad Hoc Judge Dr. John Dugard describes the situation in his report of January 21, 2008:

34. Checkpoints and roadblocks seriously obstruct the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, with disastrous consequences for both personal life and the economy. There are 561 such obstacles to freedom of movement, comprising over 80 manned checkpoints and some 476 unmanned locked gates, earth mounds, concrete blocks and ditches. In addition, thousands of temporary checkpoints, known as flying checkpoints, are set up every year by Israeli army patrols on roads throughout the West Bank for limited periods, ranging from half an hour to several hours. In November 2007 there were 429 flying checkpoints.

35. Palestinians are subjected to numerous prohibitions on travel and to requirements for permits for travel within the West Bank and to East Jerusalem. Checkpoints ensure compliance with the permit regime. These restrictions violate article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which has been held to be binding on Israel in the OPT by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the construction of the wall. Israel’s argument that these restrictions are justified as security measures is difficult to accept. Many of the checkpoints and roadblocks are distant from the border of Israel, which is in any event protected by the wall. More likely explanations are to be found in the need to serve the convenience of settlers, to facilitate the travel of settlers through the West Bank and to impress upon the Palestinian people the power and presence of the occupier. According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, one quarter of all IDF soldiers who have served at roadblocks in the West Bank reported having witnessed or taken part in an act of abuse against a Palestinian civilian. Checkpoints serve to humiliate Palestinians and to create feelings of deep hostility towards Israel. In this respect they resemble the “pass laws” of apartheid South Africa, which required black South Africans to demonstrate permission to travel or reside anywhere in South Africa.16 These laws generated widespread humiliation and anger, and were the cause of regular protest action. Israel would do well to consider the South African experience. Restrictions on freedom of movement of the kind applied by Israel do more to create insecurity than to achieve security.

Notice how CTV’s account of the Palestinians alleged right to freedom of movement does not match up to the educated account provided by the on the ground Rapporteur? You were so right about the madness of the Canadian media…

Best Wishes,


Canada gone bonkers

Ottawa, March 3, 2009 — The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, today issued the following statement:

“Like many Canadians, I am deeply concerned about the activities associated with ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’.

“Those participating in these events are of course free, within the confines of our law and consistent with our traditions of freedom of expression, to speak their mind.

“But I urge each student who plans on attending or participating in ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ to reflect on whether these activities are beneficial or are simply an effort to cloak hatred and intolerance in an outward appearance of ‘intellectual inquiry’.

“It is disconcerting that university student groups would promote these gatherings in a manner that demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety and security of Jewish students and professors and the general well-being of campus life.

“Recent media reports indicate that police forces have already been investigating on-campus hate crimes leading up to ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’. It deeply saddens me to consider that the divisiveness this event brings has only just begun.

“As Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I call on all Canadians to reject anti-Semitism. All forms of racism, discrimination and intolerance are equally unacceptable and completely contrary to Canada’s fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

For further information (media only) on the Minister’s activities, please contact:

Alykhan Velshi
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Alykhan.Velshi@cic.gc.ca