Recently, Norman Finkelstein was invited to Penn. Among the "sponsors" are the Political Science department as well as other groups. Some of those extending the invitations are unaware of Finkelstein's willing collaboration with neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites. Watch his YouTube.com appearance on a Holocaust denial program on Lebanese TV. Neo-Nazis also love Finkelstein, and for good reason. Listen to Ernst Zundel, the Hitler lover and Holocaust denier who is now in prison in Germany:
"Finkelstein's exceedingly useful to us and to the Revisionist cause. He is making three fourths of our argument. � We would not be making vast inroads in Europe with our outreach program, were it not for his courageous little booklet, The Holocaust Industry."
Finkelstein loves Hezbollah, the terror organization whose leader said, "If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." Finkelstein praised the group, saying: "my chief regret is that I wasn't even more forceful in publicly defending Hezbollah against terrorist intimidation and attack."
Finkelstein recently commissioned a cartoon-showing me masturbating in ecstatic joy to TV pictures of dead Lebanese - by a neo-Nazi cartoonist and friend of his who won second place in the Iranian Holocaust denial cartoon contest. He refused to confirm or deny that he commissioned the cartoon, even when asked so by colleagues at DePaul University, where he is up for tenure, on the grounds that no one will believe him.
It is not surprising therefore that when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad created a list of the world's most virulent Holocaust deniers to invite to their Holocaust-denier hate-fest in Tehran, high among those on the list were the Klansman, and currently professor at a Ukrainian university, David Duke and the Holocaust-justice denier Finkelstein, now an assistant professor at DePaul University.
Finkelstein's name appeared on the schedule alongside Duke's, though Finkelstein, at the last minute, decided not to appear. The reason he gave for declining the invitation had nothing to do with principled opposition to being a speaker at an anti-Semitic hate-fest. Instead, he claimed that he wanted "at least 45 minutes to speak," but they wouldn't agree to his conditions. He has refused to disclose his communications with the Iranians regarding his invitation. What is he hiding?
The real reason he did not attend is that he was trying to testify on behalf of Hamas in a Chicago criminal trial. After listening to his testimony and learning of his lack of credentials-he has never even visited Israel-the federal judge concluded that he did not have any expertise, essentially characterizing him as a crackpot. This was consistent with other characterizations.
A New York Times review of Finkelstein's book The Holocaust Industry called it: "A novel variation on the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion ... [It] verges on paranoia and would serve anti-Semites around the world."
The Washington Post described Finkelstein as "a writer celebrated by neo-Nazi groups for his Holocaust revisionism and comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany." Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic wrote: "You don't know who Finkelstein is. He's poison, he's a disgusting self-hating Jew, he's something you find under a rock." Others describe Finkelstein's theories as "crackpot ideas, some of them mirrored almost verbatim in the propaganda put out by neo-Nazis all over the world."
One eminent scholar added:
"No facts alleged by Finkelstein should be assumed to be really facts, no quotations in his book should be assumed to be accurate, without taking the time to carefully compare his claims with the sources he cites . . . Such an examination reveals that many of those assertions are pure invention."
No wonder that not a single one of his articles has ever been accepted for publication by a peer reviewed journal, and no wonder he was fired by several New York colleges at which he taught.
This is the propagandist bigot who is being invited to Penn. No college should prevent him from speaking. He can get a soapbox and fulminate the way other bigots do. But no university or group that would not invite David Duke should lend its imprimatur to Finkelstein's poison. Duke and Finkelstein are opposite sides of the same hateful coin.
Everyone should be free to invite the Dukes and Finkelsteins of the world to their campus, as the president of Iran did to his hate-fest, but people should be judged by the bigots they invite. Recently, when several pro-Palestinian groups at Brandeis University learned who Finkelstein really was, they withdrew their sponsorship of his talk. They didn't want their cause to be associated with his hate.
A university should be open to controversial speakers. It has two choices. It can adapt the "taxi cab" approach under which anybody who is invited by a student or faculty member is welcome, without regard to their ideology or bigotry. Under this approach, both Duke and Finkelstein should be invited.
The second approach is to articulate objective criteria and qualifications and apply them without regard to ideology. Under this approach it could refuse to welcome bigoted extremists as long as it did so across the board; neither Duke nor Finkelstein would be welcome.
What it cannot do is sponsor bigots of the hard left while disallowing bigots of the hard right. It is only under this impermissible third approach that Finkelstein would be sponsored by a department that would never dream of sponsoring Duke.