To Amro Jayousi, the appearance of Norman Finkelstein Monday will expose Chicoans to a message not often heard in America.
To Sam Edelman, Finkelstein's appearance will likely produce divisiveness.
This speaker "rubs salt in the wounds," Edelman said.
There is no question that Finkelstein is controversial, said Robert Bowman, a retired Chico State University music professor, who is eager to hear him.
Finkelstein, a scholar who now travels the world presenting his views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, is slated to talk at Chico State University Monday.
His free lecture will be at 7:30 p.m. in Harlen Adams Theatre (Room 144 of the Performing Arts Center).
Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, is known for harshly attacking Israel and its tactics in dealing with the Palestinians.
He has also outraged many people by claiming that the Holocaust has been used manipulatively to build sympathy and try to safeguard Israel from criticism.
Jayousi, a Palestinian student from Chico State, spearheaded the effort to bring Finkelstein to Chico. He is president of two campus groups which are sponsoring the visit: Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society; and the Palestine Solidarity Committee.
Both organizations voted to invite Finkelstein to campus, and an Associated Students grant was obtained to pay for his visit.
Jayousi said he knew there would be opposition to Finkelstein's appearance, and a number of faculty members did raise objections. He said he worked with a political science professor to try to allay their fears.
Because of the controversy, the faculty of the political science department voted and passed a resolution stating that while they didn't endorse or condemn Finkelstein's views, they supported his appearance as being in the interest of free debate on important issues.
Edelman, who formerly taught at Chico State, heading the university's Jewish studies program, said Finkelstein is "a little frightening — his accusations are just beyond the pale."
He added, "most legitimate scholars look at his work as being faulty — he rarely justifies his opinions with sound evidence."
But according to Ron Hirschbein, a retired Chico State philosophy professor and expert in peace studies, Finkelstein's message has value.
"The treatment of the Palestinians (by Israel) has often been shameful," Hirschbein said. "Many people don't recognize the injustice."
Jayousi said he believes Finkelstein rightly points out that the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is political rather than religious and that it is simple rather than complex.
Jayousi said his own opinion is that if Israel softened its approach, ending what he called a siege of Gaza and withdrawing its troops from the West Bank, peace could be attained fairly quickly.
Staff writer Larry Mitchell can be reached at 896-7759 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.