Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Norman Finkelstein Has a Bad Day at UC-Irvine

Norman Finklestein Comes to UC-Irvine

Norm Finklestein-He's the one standing at the podium.

Today, on day 2 of the Israel Apartheid Week, we found ourselves in the presence of a Great Man at UC-Irvine. Yes, folks, none other than that legendary "independent scholar" with a PHD from Princeton, ex-DePaul University professor (he was canned)Norman Finkelstein spoke at UC-Irvine. (At least that is how he is advertised on the Muslim Student Union flyers.)

What was his topic? Israel is evil or something like that.

First of all, to listen to a speech by Finkelstein is like listening to a sleeping bull snoring in the meadow. The man takes pedantic to a whole new level. Even his worshipers are bored to tears. Fortunately, I brought a newspaper along.

That's me in the red jacket as Finklestein speaks.

So what did the vaunted independent scholar say? The usual stuff about how every entity in the world is trying to find a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict except Israel, backed by the US and a couple of south sea islands in the Pacific.

So who, according to Finkelstein, is seeking peace? Why the whole Arab world, plus the UN and their famous Human Rights Commission-you know, comprised of countries like Sudan and Iran. In addition, every Palestinian entity is fervently seeking peace (forget about that pesky Hamas charter that talks about eschewing negotiations as a waste of time and calling for the complete destruction of Israel and removal of all Jews from "Palestine".) But we can forgive Norm for not knowing about the Hamas Charter; after all, old Helen Thomas doesn't know about it either.


"Damn, Cubs lose again."

And how about that Organization of the Islamic Conference-you know, the ones who are trying to get the UN to pass that international law against defaming Islam? Yeah, according to Norm, they are calling for peace too.

And not to neglect what Norm calls the most respected international justice body in the world-the International Court or whatever it is in The Hague.

It should be noted that not all of the audience was so enamored of the great "independent scholar". The local Orange County community, not to mention the Jewish community, has awakened since the February 8th disruption of the Israeli amabassador's speech at UCI Irvine. Local members of Act for America, Stand With Us and Anteaters for Israel turned out to support Israel, America and UCI Jewish students.

At this point, I need to get serious a bit and mention one problem. It needs to be pointed out that in the past two days, a woman has turned up at the events who, to put it mildly, is out of control. Yesterday, she showed up with a bullhorn, and it was obvious she was looking for trouble. I approached her, introduced myself and implored her not to cause any disruptions so as not to discredit all of the counter-protesters. I pointed out that it was imperative that we not send a negative message to the UCI students who would be passing by. Unfortunately, after Jewish peace activist Hedy Epstein's talk yesterday, this woman yelled out and called her a "self-hating Jew". Disgusting.

Back to Finkelstein. During the Q&A, he offered to take the first three questions from the opposing side. Since I was perched on the front steps in front of the podium, once again, I got chosen first. Since it was an outdoor event, I was asked to come to the podium and use his microphone. My question was (I am going from memory):

Me and the "Great Independent Scholar with a PHD from Princeton

"This week, some 40 Jewish professors at UCI have signed a letter asking for a stop to anti-Semitic hate speech on campus that has been fomented for years by these events. Hopefully, the letter will be published in next week's campus newspaper. I have signed the letter, and I am not even Jewish. Will you join me in signing this letter?"

Yes or no?

What I got was a 10 minute dissertation beginning with the statement that the MSU moderator had already announced that these events were not anti-Semitic. Then Finklestein incredibly launched into a long monologue about none other than Richard Goldstone, the "respected Jewish, Zionist South African judge" who had led the Goldstone Report-the one-sided report on the Gaza fighting that relied solely on the words of Hamas and their supporters. During the apartheid era in South Africa, Goldstone also sent some 28 black rebels to the gallows....

But I digress.

Anyway, as I sat there waiting for my yes or no answer, Norm droned on about Richard Goldstone, as if Richard Goldstone were going to appear out of nowhere and sign the letter. At one point, I asked, "yes or no. Will you sign?"

".....Goldstone, Goldstone, Goldstone....". Finally, I got up walked up the steps saying that I would go find Goldstone and ask HIM to sign the letter. Finkelstein was still talking about Goldstone.

Exasperated, I go looking for Richard Goldstone to see if HE will sign the letter, as Finklestein drones on.

Well, anyway, this gets better. A young student introduced himself as a Jew and began to ask a question, calling him "Norm".

At this point, Norm blew up objecting to being addressed by his first name.

"Don't address me by my first name (paraphrased). I am not your friend" (not paraphrased), bellowed Norm.

Then, as every flower on campus died, the aforementioned nutty woman, seated on the front steps, jumped up and began screaming at poor Norm. Eventually, she was restrained. I don't know what she said as I was in the back at the time. It was an embarrassment.

I have noticed that Norm likes to bully young college students who have a point of view opposite of his. He has done it previously at UCI. Most recently, he did it a month or so back in Canada, when a tearful coed objected to his references to Nazis. Finklestein humiliated her in front of the audience then sat down laughing at the girl. In short, Finkelstein is a bully.

Anyway, Norm is doing a repeat performance tonight at UCI, which is supposed to be "in more detail".

I'll pass. One hour of Finkelstein is all I can take. It wouldn't surprise me if even the MSU takes a pass tonight.

I'll post some video when I get it. I recommend you watch it late at night when you're trying to get to sleep.


wejomerv said...

Ha ha. Good work. I wish I could have been there to see that. He couldn't answer your simple question without changing the subject since he is a for hire mouth.

Gary Fouse said...

Stay tuned for the video.

wejomerv said...

I watched a youtube clip from Norm yesterday asking who was more civilized - the people who continued to interupted Michael Oren when he gave his talk at UC Irvine or those who praised a war criminal.

What an idiot. Oren spoke on the campus in 2005 and said he hoped there would be a viable Palestinian state that would co-exist with Israel.

While Malik Amir who is often invited to speak on the campus said that there won't be peace until the Jews have gone and the Muslims have taken control of the area.

Whether you agree with Oren or not, there was no excuse for repeatedly interupting him while he gives a lecture in an auditorium at a university.

Norm suddenly became a judge and jury and already has convicted Oren of being a war criminal. Must be nice to wield all that power.

wejomerv said...

I just watched most of the Hatem Bazian talk on youtube. I still have a couple more youtube clips to get through to see all of it.

He resorts to the romanized view that Jews and Arabs lived in harmony throughout history until Israel was created, which was not the case and not that historically accurate.

Jews lived better in Muslim controlled lands than in Europe but Jews were mostly were tolerated as second class citizens while living under Muslims. Some rose to elite positions at certain times but at any time things could change and they could be persecuted.

He downplayed how religion has taken command of the conflict way too much. The Palestinian movement was more secular at one time but now if you look at Hezbollah and Hamas and Iran's influence over those groups, it is hard to say that religion isn't a major factor (not the only factor) now.

Aside from that and some of his misleading statistics, he was not too bad.

He basically said the Palestinians leaders were politically and militarily inept so the Palestinians were wronged. That is true to a degree. I think he means well but I am not sure how he thinks the best way to resolve the conflict now. His I am a liberal so love everyone only goes so far between groups that has been going on for about 100 years now. If he supports a one state solution, he is misguided.

I finally got to see you in action when you asked a question. Very respectfully done

Gary Fouse said...

Thank you, but which occasion are you referring to?

wejomerv said...

The issues Finkelstein brought up are not as cut and dry as he makes them. I am against settlements in the West Bank but he is not really giving the whole story.

Numerous legal authorities dispute the charge that settlements are “illegal.”

Stephen Schwebel, formerly President of the International Court of Justice, notes that a country acting in self-defense may seize and occupy territory when necessary to protect itself.
Schwebel also observes that a state may require, as a condition for its withdrawal, security measures designed to ensure its citizens are not menaced again from that territory.

Resolution 242 gives Israel a legal right to be in the West “until ‘'a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’' is achieved.

More info on settlements

wejomerv said...

I watched the q & a section and I don't think he really was interested in answering the questions posed to him.

He must have been thinking of his next lecture. He talked about Goldstone answering two of the questions even though that was not really what was being asked and Gaza for the lady asking about the role of terrorism by Hamas and Hezbollah.

He should have just said I am not aware of the problems at this school and left it at that for your question but I guess felt some pressure to praise the people who paid him to be there.

For the second question he really showed his colors. He basically said Israel is the true terrorist and Israelis do not have a right to defend themselves. He never once mentioned the 10,000+ rockets launched at Israel and used statistics of deaths in an attempt to show who was the more morally correct, which never makes any sense to me. Israel has better medical care, people living in areas near Gaza rocket attacks have bomb shelters, and no blame was put on Hamas for placing weapons in civiilain areas. What a joke.

If 10,000 Israelis died by rocket attacks instead of a million or so living in constant fear, would it be okay for Israel to try to stop the rocket attacks?

The third question was asking about the crediblity of the UN regarding the votes he cited. He again turned to Goldstone, which had very little to do with the question posed.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Gary, you look much younger than I expected! Congratulations! (You've mentioned your age, and from the sheer volume of your posts, I know you're retired). But you're looking good.

My sign, if I showed up at this event, would read "Anyone who forbids eating pork can't be all bad." Actually, I love barbecued pork, but I'm neither Jewish nor Muslim.