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Norman Finkelstein Lecture
by rustbelt Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2005 at 5:27 PM

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History Norman Finkelstein lecture at CMU, March 14 2005.

audio: ogg vorbis at 25.2 mebibytes

On Monday March 14, 2005, Norman Finkelstein spoke at CMU. Finkelstein is the author of Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Verso, 1995), The Rise and Fall of Palestine (University of Minnesota, 1996), with Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (Henry Holt, 1998) and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (Verso, 2000).

If you don't have an ogg vorbis player, download one here.

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Question and Answer
by rustbelt Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2005 at 5:27 PM

audio: ogg vorbis at 6.9 mebibytesaudio: ogg vorbis at 6.9 mebibytes

A zionist CMU Professor was given 10 minutes to "rebut" Finkelstein's lecture. Finkelstein comments on this at the beginning of this segment. Then, normal Q&A commenced afterwards.

The DAT tape that this was recorded on ended after two hours, so the Q&A clip is incomplete.

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Who's Violating Whose Democratic Rights?
by C... Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005 at 4:57 PM

Who’s Violating Whose Democratic Rights?

A great deal of debate and protest has resulted from author and historian Norman Finkelstein’s scheduled talk at CMU.

Several articles, including one published on the February 14 Hillel website credits Jewish students for “successfully” pushing the university to postpone Finkelstein’s meeting to the March 14th date. (Finkelstein was originally scheduled to speak on February 21st.)

In the February 23rd issue of the Jewish Chronicle, Dr. Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, along with Electronic Intifada co-founder, Ali Abunimah, are accused of being “anti-semitic” by Hillel Jewish University Center Director Aaron Weil, because of their stated opposition to Israeli government policies.

Sprinkled throughout several articles are remarks made by Jewish students as to their feeling: afraid, uneasy, uncomfortable, threatened and hurt, and the belief that there aren’t “balanced viewpoints” expressed on campus.

Quite frankly, reality has been turned on its head. The simple truth is that controversy had been created around Professor Finkelstein and Ali Abunimah as an attempt to chill democratic debate and stifle any criticism of the Israeli government, hence the charge that both speakers are “anti-semitic” for speaking out against Israel.

Since February 20, 2003, pro-Israeli policy organizers held or will hold at least seven events and never has anyone of them suggested that a “pro-Palestinian” viewpoint be represented to add “balance” to their programs. Balance is only demanded when the event is critical of the pro-Israeli government policies.

Never has a pro-Israel meeting or event been postponed because Arab and Palestinian students might be “hurt” or “offended” by the content of the event. And never has a pro-Israel event been disrupted by loud clapping, hand-held protest placards, and whistling. These hostile actions took place during Ali Abunimah’s talk on February 3.

If anyone’s civil liberties have been violated, it is those of scholars who are critical of Zionism, and Palestinian rights activists who are not granted the same consideration as other campus groups and organizations. Consider these double-standards:

• Norman Finkelstein’s lecture was postponed because of “Jewish student opposition”

• We were willing to accommodate requests by pro-Israel organizations to change our meeting format and allow a formal debate with equal time allotted for both speakers. Those who accuse us of lacking ‘balance” have never offered us time to rebut their arguments.

• Now, the university insists that a professor who has neither credentials in Middle East studies nor has ever published on the Middle East be allotted ten minutes to counter Professor Finkelstein, a well-known authority on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In other words, in a clear violation of CMU’s policy on controversial speakers, a renowned scholar, invited to speak at CMU can, without his consent or even consultation, have the format of his talk radically changed to insert a hostile viewpoint. Is this a precedent CMU is now setting for its guest speakers or does this apply only to scholars critical of Israel or are pro-Palestinian? This bizarre and undemocratic ruling logically sets the standard that any campus group must allow “balance” on demand by either the University or another student organization.

• Laura Conrad, program associate for the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, encourages the Jewish community and students to come to the meeting early (4PM) and pack the hall. “Through filling the hall with Jewish students and community we will minimize participation of those who can be influenced by his propaganda.” This statement assumes that all Jews are of one mind and unwilling to learn from Professor Finkelstein.

These attacks on Middle East scholars and experts who are critical of Israel and support Palestinian rights should be condemned by the entire Carnegie Mellon community and all who value academic freedom and fairness.

The university must be a place that fosters and not stifles discussion, and all should be accorded the right to attend a University-sponsored meeting and not be turned away because the seats are filled with people who don’t want you to hear an alternative point of view.

The CMU policy on Controversial Speakers states: “The assumptions of freedom are that men and women will more often than not choose wisely from among the alternatives available to them and that the range of alternatives and their implications can be known fully only if men and women can express their thoughts freely.” “For their part, colleges and universities must hold vital the student’s right to know. When so-called controversial speakers are invited to the campus by a recognized campus organization, they speak not because they have a right to be heard but because the students have a right to hear. It is the students’ right to hear that the university must defend if it is to serve its high function in society.”

Palestine solidarity activists support CMU’s policy on controversial speakers and we ask the CMU community to join us in demanding that the university live up to its mission to create a free academic environment where the exchange of ideas are cherished and protected for all.

Arab Student Organization
Muslim Student Association
Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee
Students for Justice in Palestine

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by ... Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005 at 5:40 PM

wow. that's pretty messed up. hillel seems to shoot themselves in the foot by accusing people of anti-semitism every time criticism of the Israeli State is raised.

It's no wonder that the larger community didn't feel comfortable joining with them to counter Shabbaz.

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51 Minute Mark
by bedouin Thursday, Mar. 31, 2005 at 8:39 AM

What happened around the 51 minute mark where a couple people started clapping? The audio really didn't give any clues.

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