Controversial talk held by conflict expert

A world-famous political scientist visited campus last week to talk to students about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Dr Norman G. Finkelstein, formerly of Princeton University, is an renowned expert in the field, and was invited to talk in an event co-hosted by Interpal and Friends of Palestine.

Speaking to a packed auditorium on Gibbet Hill, Dr Finkelstein introduced interesting comparisons between the British occupation of India to the current situation involving Israel and Palestine. He talked about Mahatma Ghandi’s influence in India, and how it was possible to find a peaceful solution for the Israeli and Palestinian people, saying “if the Palestinians show total nonviolence, then it is our duty as good people to show the world the situation”.

Dr Finkelstein was banned from Israel for 10 years in May, for his alleged interaction with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and controversial views on Israel; he once claimed that Israelis used Nazi genocides of Jews to justify action against Palestine.

However, he was on less controversial form last week, describing to students how he supported “a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders”. Finkelstein told students that he believed that the situation was far less complicated than most commentators claim, and used evidence from the United Nations, Amnesty and the International Court of Justice to support his argument.

Finkelstein gave an example of annual UN assembly votes, on the right of Palestinians to their own state, which almost unanimously support the Palestinians. In November 2006, the assembly recorded a vote of 158 to 7 in favour, with the only nations “opposed being Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States”.

Martin Anderson, treasurer of Friends of Palestine, told the Boar that the event was a “tremendous success” and that Dr Finkelstein had “raised some novel and insightful points”. Anderson also told students to “look out for more events during Palestinian Solidarity Week” in term 2.


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