Norman Finkelstein, a scholar on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gave a talk on how anti-Semitism plays a role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to students, faculty and community members at the Educational Sciences Building Thursday night.
Despite being a Jewish son of two Holocaust survivors, he posed the question of whether the world is actually facing a "new anti-Semitism" in 2015. Finkelstein said instead it may be the fourth ploy by Jews since the 1980s to "deflect global condemnation of Israel."
He argued that because only 2 percent of the population is Jewish yet both Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania are 40 percent Jewish, they have become beneficiaries of reverse discrimination.
"There is an advantage to being Jewish in the United States, it's not a liability anymore…it opens many doors and closes none," Finkelstein said.
With the new anti-Semitism campaign reemerging in association with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Finkelstein expressed his fear that the new widespread support of Palestinian rights on college campuses could be extinguished.
He said Israel is serious about going to war with Iran and with the exception of Saudi Arabia, no other countries in the world would support the war following the death and destruction in Iraq. He argued that this Israeli goal makes the current fear of anti-Semitism an illegitimate Jewish defense.
"If we are to follow this agenda, it means a war with Iran… that is, in my opinion, certifiable insanity and I don't see why in the name of some sort of political correctness we should recoil from placing the label of insanity, mania, lunacy where it quite obviously belongs on that state," Finkelstein said.
Finkelstein said the United Nations accepted the principle that Israel did not have to withdraw from the Arab States until it renounced its belligerency. When the Arab States did renounce it, Israel failed to withdraw. Despite going against the United Nations' requirement, Israel's power went unchecked and has suffered few consequences in combat. As a result, Finkelstein said conflict will continue until Israel pays a price for occupying Palestine.
"So much of the world yearns…to give peace a chance…Israel yearns to give war a chance and another chance," Finkelstein said.
Finkelstein compared the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict state to the Biblical story of David and the giant, Goliath. He said Palestine, fighting for the formation of one state with Israel, is David while Israel, backed by almost every other global power in its desire for two separate states, is Goliath.
Finkelstein said he believes Israel can make a change in its global impact standing. He compared Israel to Germany and Japan, which went from the most unfavorable impact ranking to two of the most favorable within less than a hundred years, citing a BBC poll.
"Countries can change and people can change, so I am not one of those that believe in the idea of original sin," Finkelstein said.