Controversial Israel-Palestine speaker visits

By Lisa Nguyen

Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s controversial commentary on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute and his staunch critique of Israeli military actions have made him somewhat notorious.

Last week, he visited the University of Calgary to deliver a pointed commentary of the Gaza conflict, which is deeply rooted in the political power struggle over a partition of land. Finkelstein believes that Israel’s desire to maintain control over the West Bank and Gaza has perpetuated military uprisings from both sides.

The U of C Palestinian-Canadian Students Society hosted this sold-out talk, “Resolving Israel-Palestine: what we can learn from Ghandi,” to offer a different viewpoint on the discord in Gaza than what has been presented in the popular media.

Finkelstein, a sympathizer of the Palestinian struggle, argued that Hamas is wrongfully labelled as a terrorist group. Hamas retaliated against Israel for breaking the ceasefire agreement, explained Finkelstein. He boldly portrayed Israel as a “terrorist state,” and criticized their military attacks on civil- ian areas.

“The Israeli government administered an education of fear by establishing their deterrence capacity by inflicting pain and a heavy death toll on the Hamas and the Gaza population,” said Finkelstein.

His outspoken beliefs have resulted in Finkelstein not being allowed into Israel for the next 10 years.

In order to strive for justice, Finkelstein suggested that people must “hold onto the truth,” the name of Gandhi’s non-violent peace movement.

“We must take up the weapons of truth and justice so that we, the people, can mobilize social justice,” said Finkelstein.

U of C political science professor Dr. Michael Keren disagreed with Finkelstein’s stance.

“The way to stop the cycle of violence in the region is to encourage an urgent negotiation process between Israel and a strong and legitimate Palestinian authority aimed at coexistence between two peoples, both of whom have the right to live and flourish,” he said.

Finkelstein said Israelis should leave the region of Gaza, however Keren suggested that the desire for a complete evacuation of the Jewish population in this region is where the real unsettlement lies.

“In indulging in fantasies about the vaporization of Jews from the region, terrorist organizations in the Middle East and their supporters abroad prevent realistic peaceful solutions,” said Keren.

The Gaza conflict is entrenched in political, religious and historical complexities, he said.

“Peace requires compromise rather than victory,” said Keren.

Both Finkelstein and Keren believe that focus should be placed on future actions towards diplomatic resolutions.

“We must organize, organize, organize and put an end to this lunacy,” said Finkelstein.

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