December 4th, 2007: "CANADIAN UNIVERSITY HOSTS ISRAEL BASHER"
On Thursday evening, November 29th, the University of Toronto hosted a lecture by former De Paul University
assistant professor of political science, Norman Finkelstein. Finkelstein, 53, is a controversial figure in the
academic community, as he has assumed the position of chief apologist for Palestinian terrorism while espousing a
hard line anti-Israel viewpoint, mixed with vociferous attacks on the legacy of the Holocaust, its victims and
survivors. In June of 2007, Finkelstein was denied tenure at DePaul University and charged with “unprofessional
attacks”. He was then placed on administrative leave for the 2007-2008 academic year, his single course having been
cancelled. On September 5, 2007 he announced his resignation after coming to a settlement with the university on
Finkelstein is the author of seven books, receiving the most notices for his most recent books, "The Holocaust
Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" (September 2003) and "Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse
of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History" (August 2005). Finkelstein is the son of Holocaust survivors, his mother
having survived the Warsaw ghetto and the Majdanek concentration camp as well as two slave labor camps and his
father having both survived the Warsaw ghetto and the Auschwitz concentration camp. Finkelstein’s underlying
premise in both of his recent books is that Israel and Jewish organizations in America have exploited the Holocaust
to deflect criticism from the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict and he has alleged that these very same
organizations have used the plight of Holocaust survivors to extort monumental sums of money from Swiss banks and
the rest of the world.
Despite presenting what superficially appears to be painstaking support of his arguments, backed up by irrefutable
documentation, nothing could be further from the truth. His ostensible facts and research have not been
corroborated in the world of academia and many of his specious hypotheses have had gigantic holes punched through
them by legitimate scholars of the Holocaust.
Invited to speak at the University of Toronto by the Canadian Palestinian Educational Exchange, Prof. Finkelstein
packed the hall in which he spoke. 400 students, mostly of Islamic background and with political sympathies towards
Hamas attended his two hour lecture. The thrust of his lecture dealt with the apathy and indifference of North
American Jews towards the plight of Israel. He lauded this trend and called on all Jews and non-Jews to condemn
Israel in the most unequivocal terms for the continued "occupation" of the "indigenous" Palestinian population and
for "apartheid" like tactics being employed, such as the security wall built by Israel to prevent further
Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Finkelstein made no mention of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and questioned the right of Israel to exist
as a legitimate entity in the Middle East. He also did not speak about previous territorial concessions made by
Israel in the name of peace, such as the 2005 Israeli evacuation of Gush Katif; nor did he mention the daily,
incessant Kassam rocket attacks by Hamas in to Israel proper, namely the Israeli town of Sderot. He mentioned
nothing of the nefarious and pernicious aims of Hamas and Hezbollah, namely the total eradication of Israel.
Finkelstein also conveniently neglected to remark on the egregious human rights abuses that take place on a daily
basis in Muslim countries. He did not touch upon Muslim on Muslim violence, internecine warfare, the honor killings
of Muslim women and the executions of political and religious dissidents that are endemic to many Islamic societies.
He assigned blame squarely on the shoulders of Israel for all of the economic, political and social inequities
allegedly faced by the Palestinians in what he termed the "occupied territories". His one sided, totally skewed
version of the Israeli-Arab conflict was met with thunderous applause by the audience, many of whom were vocal in
their support of Hamas. The notable exception came when several members of the Toronto based Jewish Defense League
challenged Finkelstein’s premise with some insightful and vexing questions.
Outside the hall, Finkelstein was met with opprobrium by Jewish student activists who organized protests to counter
the lies, half truths and propaganda espoused by Finkelstein. Rafi Yablonsky and Ben Feferman led a stoic
contingent from Hasbara Fellowships and Orna Hollander led the members of the Jabotinsky based, Betar/Tagar chapter
in Toronto. Meir Weinstein, a veteran Jewish activist from the Toronto area, led a mighty force of Jewish Defense
League members. The groups distributed information pertaining to Finkelstein’s self-hating political track record
and presented the Israeli side of the issue. The demonstrators carried signs saying "Hamas: Stop the Child Abuse"
and "Stop the trafficking of women and children" as well as "Long live Israel: Israel is a Jewish State" and "No
concessions for a false 'peace'"
Several JDL members were tossed out of the hall by local Toronto police when they refused to leave the building
until Finkelstein answered their questions.
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