Finkelstein Discusses Israel’s Motives

The tragedies in Gaza have been impossible not to notice in the past few years.

Norman Finkelstein spoke in front of a full house in Founders Hall on the CCSU campus last Thursday about state terrorism in the Middle East, including the recent massacre in Gaza, as Finkelstein referred to the these events.

In addition to clarifying what happened during that “awful day”, the well-known American political scientist, who specializes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also detailed the history of the conflict and events leading up to where things are
today.

“The Palestinians have a stronger case than Israel to resort to selfdefense,” Finkelstein said to an eager crowd in reference to Israel’s “self defense” explanation of their December attack in Gaza. “That’s common sense.”

Finkelstein, who is known for his anti-Israeli viewpoints, claimed that what happened to Gaza was the inevitable aftermath of what happened in Lebanon in 2006.

“It had nothing to do with elections,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein likened the recent conflict to something as unfair as “a Sherman tank rolling through a schoolyard and blowtorching the kids.”

When asked about what Israel’s end goal could be, Finkelstein offered up the difference between the Israeli’s ideal and practical solutions.

“Ideal is that the Arabs just vanish. Practical is probably, among several possibilities, to keep pounding them enough to abject submission,” said Finkelstein.

Other possibilities Finkelstein mentioned as Israel’s goals included making conditions intolerable enough that over time the Palestinians gradually leave.

Finkelstein didn’t hold back on criticism of other voices on the situation. He criticized columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, who referred to Israel’s actions in 2006 as “educating Hamas”.

“That’s called terrorism,” said Finkelstein.

The controversial speaker wasn’t without his combatants. Dniety Schachar Siman-Tov, who claimed to be a former professor at the University of Haifa in Israel, spoke up during the early portions of Finkelstein’s lecture, raising the tensions in the room. When Siman-Tov received the chance to speak during the question and answer portion of the event, she was met with a restless crowd who eventually drowned her out.

Siman-Tov was upset with the way Finkelstein portrayed Israelis as “monsters”.

Finkelstein touched on issues closer to home when he brought up the new Obama administration. He said that the recent statements made by President Obama concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were “very discouraging.” According to Finkelstein, President Obama says they will always defend Israel’s right to defend themselves against legitimate threats.

“Don’t Palestinians have the right to defend themselves from people who steal their land?” Finkelstein questioned. “Should we disarm Hamas so next time the kill/death ratio is 1,300 to 0?” asked Finkelstein.

Kaylin Brennan, a senior at Bacon Academy in Colchester, went to the lecture on her own after a teacher suggested the event to her class.

“I really feel uneducated sometimes,” Brennan said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I wanted to learn about what’s going on.”

Dr. Evelyn Newman Phillips, director of international studies and anthropology at CCSU, was one of the professors responsible for bringing Finkelstein to campus as part of the continuing state terrorism lecture series. Phillips cited Finkelstein’s experience and reputation as why they brought him here.

“His research is very in-depth and thorough,” said Phillips.

Author Mark Perry, foreign policy analyst and Co-Director of Conflicts Forum of Washington D.C. and Beirut, Lebanon, will be the next speaker to talk about the issue in Gaza with a program entitled “After Gaza: The Catastrophic Status of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Monday, February 23 at 4 p.m. in Founders Hall.

-Michael Walsh, Asst. Entertainment Editor