Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein will speak on campus after all, now that two student groups agreed to sponsor the event, Assistant Director of Student Activities Sarah Bordeleau confirmed yesterday.
"You can never be sure around here, but it looks like the pieces are all falling together, finally," Kevin Conway '09, who invited Finkelstein, said.
Finkelstein, a political science professor at DePaul University, was slated to speak next month until he lost the sponsorships of the newly renamed Students for a Democratic Society (formerly the Radical Student Alliance) and the Arab Culture Club two weeks ago.
Conway received $970 for the event, then co-sponsored by SDS and ACC, from the Union Finance Board several weeks ago. But when SDS announced that it would not sponsor the event any longer because Conway, a former member of the club, had invited Finkelstein without the club's consent, it became unclear whether Finkelstein would visit at all. Following SDS's announcement, ACC also pulled its support because, Farrah Bdour '07, ACC co-president, said they wouldn't sponsor the event on its own.
In order to receive F-Board funding, Conway needed club support.
The World Can't Wait club-which seeks to promote student activism, social and political awareness-will co-sponsor the event with ACC on its originally scheduled date, Tuesday, April 23 in the Rappaporte Treasure Hall, Conway said.
He added that Dr. Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, will introduce Finkelstein.
Finkelstein said this week he is "pretty confident that this time [the event] will go through," adding that "Brandeis is, after all, a university before it is a Jewish university." He said he plans to assert during his speech that former President Jimmy Carter's latest book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, is not so controversial. Carter addressed the campus last January regarding his highly-criticized book.
"Universities are supposed to be about finding the truth," he said. "Allowing dissenting opinions to be heard" is a "prerequisite for truth…If you don't allow for that, then I have to say, you're not a university."
Daniel Duffy '07, a leader of SDS, told the Justice two weeks ago that he gave Conway his "personal and temporary blessing" to use the club's name as the event's co-sponsor in order to procure funding from the F-Board. Duffy said the club had not put its full support behind this event. But Conway said he thought he had SDS's support the whole time.
The Department of Student Activities denied Conway's first request to invite Finkelstein to speak the same day as former President Jimmy Carter and Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz in January for logistical reasons.
Dean of Student Rick Sawyer had then deferred both the organizers of the Finkelstein event and a separate student-initiated event featuring neoconservative Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes to the Student Union's newly formed Committee for Peace-which Union President Alison Schwartzbaum '08 said seeks to contextualize campus discussion on the Middle East- before making further plans. The committee recommended Conway and Jacob Olidort '07, the organizer of the Pipes event, allow for discussion time.
Conway said earlier this month that Finklestein will give a lecture followed by a question-and-answer session.
Olidort said Pipes, who is scheduled to speak on campus the day before Finkelstein, on April 23 at 6:30 p.m., will speak for 20 minutes on "The Islamicization of Europe?" followed by a 40-minute open question-and-answer period.
Roy, who will introduce Finkelstein, is the author of over 80 publications on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian economy. She serves on the Advisory Board of the American Near East Relief Agency, an American voluntary organization in the Middle East.