Letter: Finkelstein article misrepresented event

I am writing to correct and clarify a few things written in Friday’s article (“Finkelstein Speaks on Gaza War,” Feb. 6). While I understand that focusing on the most controversial elements of a talk makes for a sensational news story, it was not fair to the speaker and the main message of the talk and is simply dishonest. Dr. Norman Finkelstein’s talk centered on Gaza and how it fits into the historical unwillingness of successive Israeli governments to make sincere and direct steps towards peace, instead favoring the use of fear and disproportionate force to drive the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors into submission.

While this was briefly mentioned in the article, it both began and ended with Dr. Finkelstein’s most controversial statements on the Holocaust. These statements, however, were made in the question and answer period in a timeframe of less than a minute. While I recognize that Dr. Finkelstein was not tactful in his approach to this subject and did not elaborate and explain his perspective, The Daily gives little context and only ambiguously mentions his point behind these statements: that the use by some Israeli partisans of the Holocaust as a shield to ward off criticism of Israeli military aggression is hypocritical and disgusting. It dishonors the memory of the millions who died during the Holocaust. Without this understanding these statements do sound terrible, and this is why providing clarification and background is so important.

I do not agree with everything Dr. Finkelstein said in his talk. However, I believe it is only fair to give background and perspective to his statements, particularly if they are extremely controversial. Besides wishing that the Daily had focused on the subject and substance of Dr. Finkelstein’s talk I am also disappointed that the estimate of “over 250” was well short of the over 400 that we who organized the event counted. The article did, however, mention the point of the talk, to promote discussion and to encourage the start of a movement against occupation and neocolonialism on this campus.

A coalition of students committed to creating this culture of resistance at Northwestern is holding an open meeting this Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at University 101. The agitation of the student body towards action was the main objective in our groups bringing Dr. Finkelstein to campus but was unfortunately a point lost in Friday’s article.

-HUGH ROLANDWeinberg juniorCo-president, Students for Justice in Palestine