Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Norman Finklestein Has a Bad Day at UC-Irvine

Gary Fouse

Norman Finklestein Comes to UC-Irvine

Norm Finklestein-He's the one standing at the podium.)

Today, on day 2 of the Israel Apartheid Week, we found ourselves in the presence of a Great Man at UC-Irvine. Yes, folks, none other than that legendary "independent scholar" with a PHD from Princeton, ex-DePaul University professor (he was canned)Norman Finklestein spoke at UC-Irvine. (At least that is how he is advertised on the Muslim Student Union flyers.)

What was his topic? Israel is evil or something like that.

First of all, to listen to a speech by Finklestein is like listening to a sleeping bull snoring in the meadow. The man takes pedantic to a whole new level. Even his worshipers are bored to tears. Fortunately, I brought a newspaper along.

That's me in the red jacket as Finklestein speaks.

So what did the vaunted independent scholar say? The usual stuff about how every entity in the world is trying to find a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict except Israel, backed by the US and a couple of south sea islands in the Pacific.

So who, according to Finklestein, is seeking peace? Why the whole Arab world, plus the UN and their famous Human Rights Commission-you know, comprised of countries like Sudan and Iran. In addition, every Palestinian entity is fervently seeking peace (forget about that pesky Hamas charter that talks about eschewing negotiations as a waste of time and calling for the complete destruction of Israel and removal of all Jews from "Palestine".) But we can forgive Norm for not knowing about the Hamas Charter; after all, old Helen Thomas doesn't know about it either.

And how about that Organization of the Islamic Conference-you know, the ones who are trying to get the UN to pass that international law against defaming Islam? Yeah, according to Norm, they are calling for peace too.

And not to neglect what Norm calls the most respected international justice body in the world-the International Court or whatever it is in The Hague.

It should be noted that not all of the audience was so enamored of the great "independent scholar". The local Orange County community, not to mention the Jewish community, has awakened since the February 8th disruption of the Israeli ambassador's speech at UCI Irvine. Local members of Act for America, Stand With Us and Anteaters for Israel turned out to support Israel, America and UCI Jewish students.

At this point, I need to get serious a bit and mention one problem. It needs to be pointed out that in the past two days, a woman has turned up at the events who, to put it mildly, is out of control. Yesterday, she showed up with a bullhorn, and it was obvious she was looking for trouble. I approached her, introduced myself and implored her not to cause any disruptions so as not to discredit all of the counter-protesters. I pointed out that it was imperative that we not send a negative message to the UCI students who would be passing by. Unfortunately, after Jewish peace activist Hedy Epstein's talk yesterday, this woman yelled out and called her a "self-hating Jew". Disgusting.

Back to Finklestein. During the Q&A, he offered to take the first three questions from the opposing side. Since I was perched on the front steps in front of the podium, once again, I got chosen first. Since it was an outdoor event, I was asked to come to the podium and use his microphone. My question was (I am going from memory):

Me and the "Great Independent Scholar with a PHD from Princeton"

"This week, some 40 Jewish professors at UCI have signed a letter asking for a stop to anti-Semitic hate speech on campus that has been fomented for years by these events. Hopefully, the letter will be published in next week's campus newspaper. I have signed the letter, and I am not even Jewish. Will you join me in signing this letter?"

Yes or no?

What I got was a 10 minute dissertation beginning with the statement that the MSU moderator had already announced that these events were not anti-Semitic. Then Finklestein incredibaly launched into a long monologue about none other than Richard Goldstone, the "respected Jewish, Zionist South African judge" who had led the Goldstone Report-the one-sided report on the Gaza fighting that relied solely on the words of Hamas and their supporters. During the apartheid era in South Africa, Goldstone also sent some 28 black rebels to the gallows....

But I digress.

Anyway, as I sat there waiting for my yes or no answer, Norm droned on about Richard Goldstone, as if Richard Goldstone were going to appear out of nowhere and sign the letter. At one point, I asked, "yes or no. Will you sign?"

".....Goldstone, Goldstone, Goldstone....". Finally, I got up walked up the steps saying that I would go find Goldstone and ask HIM to sign the letter. Finklestein was still talking about Goldstone.

Exasperated, I go looking for Richard Goldstone to see if HE will sign the letter, as Finklestein drones on.

Well, anyway, this gets better. A young student introduced himself as a Jew and began to ask a question, calling him "Norm".

At this point, Norm blew up objecting to being addressed by his first name.

"Don't address me by my first name (paraphrased). I am not your friend" (not paraphrased), bellowed Norm.

Then, as every flower on campus died, the aforementioned nutty woman, seated on the front steps, jumped up and began screaming at poor Norm. Eventually, she was restrained. I don't know what she said as I was in the back at the time. It was an embarrassment.

I have noticed that Norm likes to bully young college students who have a point of view opposite of his. He has done it previously at UCI. Most recently, he did it a month or so back in Canada, when a tearful coed objected to his references to Nazis. Finklestein humiliated her in front of the audience then sat down laughing at the girl. In short, Finklestein is a bully.

Anyway, Norm is doing a repeat performance tonight at UCI, which is supposed to be "in more detail".

I'll pass. One hour of Finklestein is all I can take. It wouldn't surprise me if even the MSU takes a pass tonight.

I'll post some video when I get it. I recommend you watch it late at night when you're trying to get to sleep.

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