Zionist tactics attempt to stifle Norman Finkelstein

The Israeli Occupation Archive newsletter today highlighted a disturbing item: “Norman Finkelstein’s lecture at Henley College (UK) is threatened by a ‘disinvitation’ prompted by a letter from the Zionist Federation to the college.”   I read the article in the Henley Standard, which provides details of the letter.  Those of us who are active in the campaign to bring peaceful, respectful relations to the region have often encountered these tactics from the Zionist camp.

By sheer coincidence, the quote of the day on Dictionary.com today is from US historian Joyce Appleby:

“Contention is inseparable from creating knowledge. It is not contention we should try to avoid, but discourses that attempt to suppress contention.”   

The apartheid nature of the Israeli government is highly contentious.  Given the obvious fact that it grievously impacts the lives of so many, though, it is our right and our responsibility to study the issue.  This means we must have public discourse on the matter.  Not biased, filtered or censored—but comprehensive discourse.  We must listen to all perspectives of the issue.  How can we evaluate any issue unless we are privy to all the available information? 

Henley College, a sixth form college for Oxfordshire, has also scheduled Michael Brodsky, The Director of Public Affairs at the Embassy of Israel, to give a lecture at the school next month.  So it would seem that the school is committed to offering a full spectrum of discussion.  No doubt the Zionist Federation was aware of this fact when it contacted the school in protest of Finkelstein’s appearance.  It would seem, then, that the Federation is reluctant to let the students listen to any opposition and make a balanced decision for themselves. 

Finkelstein is also scheduled to appear at three prestigious British universities this month.  No doubt the Zionist Federation has lodged similar protests with them.  With its participation in such events as last year’s BICOM conference, which gave lessons on how to quash any opposition to Israeli conduct, it is clear that the statement it made to Henley College—“The federation supports freedom of speech and accepts the right of people to criticise Israel based on an objective review of all the facts”—is simply untrue. 

There is a fundamental difference between such efforts to censor anything viewed as anti-Israel and the BDS campaign, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the apartheid nature of the Israeli government until there is compliance with international laws.  The Zionist attempts to censor open dialogue blatantly oppose the expression of opinion contrary to their own.  The BDS campaign, on the other hand, opposes the impunity with which a state continuously violates international law. 

Are we nurturing the democratic society we profess to value or are we sliding further into becoming ourselves the oppressive societies that we profess to condemn? 

Unless the Zionist lobby has its way, Norman Finkelstein will be lecturing in Glasgow 8th February, London 9th February, and Exeter 10th February.  Further details here.

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