Norman Finklestein, a political science professor at DePaul University and author known for his contention that the Holocaust has been exploited for political and financial gain, will speak on campus April 23, an administrator confirmed Monday.
Finklestein, who was originally invited to speak on the same day that former President Jimmy Carter visited campus, saw his visit saved after two student groups agreed to sponsor the event, Assistant Director of Student Activities Sarah Bordeleau said.
"You can never be sure around here, but it looks like the pieces are all falling together, finally," said Kevin Conway '09, who invited Finkelstein.
That Finkelstein will actually speak on campus after much debate reflects how much momentum is still driving the Israeli-Palestinian debate on campus, which, while always present, ignited with Carter's visit in January. He 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 the club wouldn't sponsor the event on its own, Farrah Bdour '07, ACC co-president, said.
In order to receive F-Board funding, Conway needed club support.
The World Can't Wait club, which seeks to promote student activism and social and political awareness will co-sponsor the event with ACC on its originally scheduled date, Tuesday, April 24, in the Rappaporte Treasure Hall, Conway said.
He added that Dr. Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at Harvard University'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 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," Finkelstein 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, SDS member, 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 Carter and Harvard law 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 neo-conservative Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes to the Student Union's Campaign 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, 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 volunteer organization in the Middle East.