USG-funded speaker event draws criticism

Students from a variety of ideologies are coming together in protest of the Undergraduate Student Government’s decision to provide funding to help bring a controversial speaker to campus Thursday.

Students for Justice in Palestine has arranged to host Norman Finkelstein as part of Palestine Awareness Week. Finkelstein has argued that some Jews have exploited the Holocaust and his appearance on campus has raised eyebrows. Students are more concerned, however, about the source of funding for the event than about the event itself.

SJP submitted an application to USG’s Discretionary Funding Board for money to help bring Finkelstein to campus. The application met USG’s guidelines, and SJP was granted the requested funds. The Discretionary Funding Board money comes from the student programming fee — the $55.50 fee each student pays every semester.

Student organizations, including ’SC Students for Israel, College Democrats, College Republicans and several others, wrote and submitted a letter to USG expressing concern that USG was using student activity money to fund as controversial a speaker as Finkelstein, who they called a Holocaust-denier outside the realm of academia.

“We’re very opposed to him receiving USC money for his visit,” said Lauren Korbatov, director of public relations for College Republicans. “It’s like bringing a guy that said slavery never happened in the United States.”

Korbatov and others noted that they are not against freedom of speech; they simply disagree with the use of student funds in sponsoring some events.

“We support freedom of speech but we don’t support funding a speaker like this,” said Aaron Perman, vice president of College Democrats.

Shanel Melamed, president of ’SC Students for Israel, echoed this sentiment.

“My concern is that we go to a truly amazing school,” she said. “The money that we pay for the school and the student activity fee should be going toward civilized academic discussion … how can the school fund a speaker that supports violence against Israelis?”

Ashwin Appiah, USG’s treasurer, said USG makes funding decisions based on a set of guidelines, and Finkelstein’s visit met all the requirements.

“We stay neutral in the events that we fund,” Appiah said. “We do not judge on content. Every student deserves this money as much as the other.”

The issue was brought to the attention of the Office of Student Affairs, but Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Jackson said he was not involved in the decision to fund the event.

“It is not up to me, for example, to censor a program that our student government has agreed that they want to support,” Jackson said. “I’ve never censored a student event, and I’m not going to start now … Students would be very mad at me.”

Marwa Katbi, a member of SJP, said the group considered a number of speakers before choosing Finkelstein.

“He’s a speaker who can provide students with a different perspective on the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflicts from what people normally hear,” she said.

Finkelstein will speak about the contents of his latest book, This Time We Went Too Far, about the most recent massacre in Gaza and the different pressures within the Jewish community that challenge racist policies in Israel. Katbi said she hopes students will come out to hear the talk.

“With issues of controversy, it would be unfortunate if this opportunity to learn was bypassed for the comfort and convenience of the community,” Katbi said.

SJP expects about 100 attendees and has talked to university officials about preparing for any protests or acts of opposition, Katbi said. Though Finkelstein requests security not be present at his lectures, Department of Public Safety officials are aware of the situation and are prepared to intervene as needed.

Students not involved in the event or the protest expressed mixed feelings about whether or not USG should use the student programming fee to fund controversial events and speakers.

Melissa Gish, a junior majoring in chemistry, suggested that USG sponsor a debate to ensure views on both sides of the issue are heard.

Others, however, said they do not think USG should judge the content of events looking for funding.

“I think you can’t discriminate based on a person’s opinion,” said Swade Geiger, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. “It’s up to us whether or not we listen to what he says. We give [USG] our right to decide who comes.”

USG has since responded to the letter from the student groups, explaining  in an e-mail USG’s procedure for granting student organizations funding. But Melamed felt the e-mail was an “informal response” to their letter and did not address her concerns.

“For the school to fund an individual who is going to stand there and say that it’s OK for me to be killed is really, really scary, and I myself, I’m getting scared for my security,” Melamed said.

Correction: The original version of this article included an unattributed claim that Norman Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust denier. Finkelstein has argued that some Jews have exploited the Holocaust, but he is not a Holocaust denier.

60 replies
  1. Mike
    Mike says:

    Before everyone continues to blast the lack of journalism ethics that may or may not exist in this article, before anyone continues to blast the author of this post, try reading Mr. Finklestein’s chapter in The Holocaust Industry, in which he himself without support calls Bernard Lewis on Page 69 of his new 2003 version a mainstream Holocaust denier..Lewis was fined one franc, after he wrote in a 1993 article that he believed the 1915 Armenian Massacres were mass murderers but not publicly sponsored by the government itself. .However he was not fined for his opinions, rather withholding the other side of the argument…Finklestein, a man for which many of here have decided to hold in such high esteem failed to a) share Lewis’ remarks from the article or his quotes after the proceedings and b) falsely reported why the French courts actually fined Lewis…So while this article may seem opinionated and biasis at its core, in your attempt to fight back you have defended a man, who in his most famous publication, committed the exact same offense of libel as you claim Ms. Stepney did.

    “In fact, the one truly mainstream holocaust denier is Bernard Lewis. A French court even convicted
    Lewis of denying genocide.” (p.69)

  2. Bob
    Bob says:

    Wow, so its okay when the ‘SC Students for Israel and the College Republicans invite and get funding for David Horowitz, the same David Horowitz who ran an ad saying “the Muslim Student Association is a radical political group that was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the godfather of Al Qaeda and Hamas, to bring the jihad into the heart of American higher education.” and blaming blacks for slavery but its wrong when SJP invites a JEWISH scholar to talk about how people are talking advantage of the suffering of others.
    You know, I didn’t care when they invited david horowitz, and I don’t care about this man either. I also don’t care if you oppose both of them coming to USC. But to glorify one and call the other a terrorist is hypocritical.

  3. Nilsson
    Nilsson says:

    It’s refreshing that so many have spotted and jumped on the boring, trivial ‘Holocaust denier’ smear against Finkelstein. Free thinking is not dead at USC.

    This libel is standard operating procedure for the organized Zionist ‘hasbara’ propagandists. They churn out these prefabricated attacks on every Jew who dares to question the way Israel treats the Arabs cooped up in its concentration camps in Gaza and the West Bank.

    The Shoah has been so used and abused by these mouthpieces (many of them ridden with guilt because they feel safer in the USA than in the Zionist paradise, and will NEVER make aliyah) that it is ceasing to be a valuable bludgeon in their hands. Also failing is the equally tedious screeching of ‘antisemite’ at every American who dares to question our governments’ slavish devotion to the interests of one small foreign country.

    The Founding Fathers warned America not to play favorites overseas, and to shun ‘entangling alliances’. How right they’ve been proved.

  4. Joe
    Joe says:

    It’s obvious now that this is astroturfing (“fake grassroots” in other words). The SJP loons are flooding the zone with pages and pages of PR messages meant to try and make anti-semitism seem like a mainstream view. Notice how Taylor (above) repeatedly insists that accusing the jews of racist massacre is “mainstream” and “uncontroversial”.

    • Taylor
      Taylor says:

      I’m sorry that you’re unable to distinguish between the claim that “the Jews committed a racist massacre”, a deliberate misrepresentation of the actual claims being made, and the claims that “the recent events in Gaza constitute a massacre” and that “racist policies exist within Israel, policies that Jews themselves, Israeli and American, are beginning to question”, and, in fact, have questioned for a long time. Again, if the mainstream is defined as views in line with the overwhelming international consensus, then, yes, the latter views are perfectly within the mainstream. If you have a better definition, I’d like to hear it.

  5. Sick and Tired of the double standard
    Sick and Tired of the double standard says:

    Thank you to the editors of the DT for acknowledging that student funds should not be spent to fund a man that calls for violence against Israelis and has on numerous occasions denied the Holocaust. Imgaine if the USC College Republicans received USG funding for their Horowitz event – the outrage that would ensure would not even pale in comparison. Whereas Horowitz simply has strong opinions that he supports in facts, Finklestein denies one of the darkest chapters in human history. The double standard is disgusting and infuriating. On another note, I don’t know when it became politically correct to marginalize jewish and pro-israel students but we are headed down a very dangerous road when a univeristy such as USC funds a holocaust denier. SJP claims that they are not anti-semestic but when you hate a country full of Jews as much as SJP does, you are anti-semetic. Their hosting of Finklestien only further solidifies the virulent anti-semitism SJP perpetuates at USC. Shame on those who approved the funding. We say “Never again”…but do we really mean it?

  6. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    Many students at USC appear to be condemning Norman Finkelstein as a holocaust denier without ever having read any of his books or even looked at the evidence regarding what he says. These supposedly educated minds, the leaders of the College Democrats and College Republicans write letters to the USG just to reveal complete ignorance? I challenge any one of them to come to Finkelstein’s lecture and ask him any question. To be sure, the Students for Israel may be trying to promote ignorance, a couple of others I notice in the blog are promoting racism. They should stay away, they already have their minds closed. But what’s the excuse for the College Democrats and Republicans? I’m terribly embarrassed for this school, which should be a place of learning.

  7. J
    J says:

    In response to Jack: ““For the school to fund an individual who is going to stand there and say that it’s OK for me to be killed is really, really scary, and I myself, I’m getting scared for my security,” Melamed said.


    Jack, he supports armed resistance against Israel, whether against civilians or military, and this is what he said about the rockets to Sderot
    “what were those rockets but a message to a world “sos” we’re dying.”

    That is justifying attempted murder. His justification is that it has a larger purpose, and that palestinians supposedly have no other choice. But essentially, really, Shanel is right. Finkelstein is saying for the sake of this “sos” message, hamas would be justified in firing rockets at her.

    Now what happens when an idiot (many are displayed on this comment section) that says, O arms resistance is fine, but wait I’m not in Palestine right now, so what’s the closest thing—O, the head of students for Israel.

  8. J
    J says:

    “He is a Jew and if that is not enough I have no idea what is.”

    Are you really that stupid? Do I even have to argue this?

  9. J
    J says:

    How much do you want to be that the above commentator”James Cohen” is just a plant for anti-Semites to trash Jewish names. I mean at least make it SOUND real!

  10. Jack
    Jack says:

    “For the school to fund an individual who is going to stand there and say that it’s OK for me to be killed is really, really scary, and I myself, I’m getting scared for my security,” Melamed said.


  11. Moriel
    Moriel says:

    I have never had much esteem for DT in terms of journalistic professionalism since many of the writers are students, but this heinously disinformative piece shattered the last minuscule hope I had for DT to improve. Whether this horrendous disregard for factuality comes from the sheer unawares of the publisher on this highly sensitive subject or its bias par excellance towards alternative views on IPC, DT has hit the bottom with this “article.”

  12. SA
    SA says:

    The real problem might be allowing ignorant people who say things like “Arabs should be removed from not only USC, but the United States altogether” into this university.

  13. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    I’m sorry, but, in form, both statements you address are identical, in that they are factual statements about things that have been said. The recent massacre in Gaza is, in fact, the topic of Finkelstein’s most recent book, and the fact that this is the topic of Finkelstein’s most recent book is the only claim being advanced. Similarly, the writer notes that Finkelstein is “said to be a Holocaust-denier”, and the fact that this has been said is the only claim being advanced. In this respect, they are both factual statements, and no one is disputing that; however, the claims are both lent legitimacy by their presence in the article, whether or not the writer made the statements themselves, and they, therefore, ought to be held accountable for that. One is a statement that is plainly false, completely unsupported by any evidence, and completely un-sourced, making it impossible to find such evidence even if it existed. The other is a statement on which the speaker has written an entire book, meticulously supported with credible well-sourced evidence, not to mention a prolific output of related material over the course of an entire career, and a topic that the speaker intends to expand upon in the course of his lecture. If you’d like to find out more about the legitimacy of his claims, you can attend the lecture and/or read his books, then decide for yourself; however, no such option is presented for determining the legitimacy of the claims that he is a Holocaust-denier or that he wishes harm to innocent Israelis. Still, this is considered an appropriate statement for the opening of the article, while the actual substance of Finkelstein’s argument is relegated to the end of the article. You ought to be intelligent enough to understand why the need is felt to object to this kind of sleight-of-hand.

    • Joe
      Joe says:

      Taylor, the DT refers to the “massacre” by the “racist” Jews without setting those words in quotation marks. The sentence in question takes it for granted that Israeli “racists” are out “massacring” people. They don’t say “it is said that…” — they just say the Israelis are murderous racists, and Finkelstein has written a book about it. Period.

      This article, and the DT’s other writing about the Israel issue, all display a noticeable anti-Israel bias. Yet whenever they are called on it, it seems that half a dozen students for jew-killing in palestine (SJP) show up to denounce the DT as shamelessly pro-Israel. I don’t know if this is evidence of a desperate anti-semitic bias in their minds, where any article that doesn’t overtly call for a second Holocaust is seen as “pro-Israel”, or if it is a deliberate “astroturf” operation, where the SJP have decided to flood the internet with fake opinions to try and make people feel like their kooky views are mainstream.

      • Taylor
        Taylor says:

        Joe, this is called a paraphrase, and quotation marks aren’t needed, as it’s quite obvious that the author is merely describing the subject of Finkelstein’s book. Furthermore, the recent events in Gaza clearly constitute a massacre, uncontroversially so, and there are many explicitly racist policies within Israel, as Finkelstein meticulously documents in his book as well as many other publications throughout the course of a prolific career. Still, even if you have trouble accepting these views, despite the lack of any real controversy, it’s very easy to investigate further, assess the evidence which forms the purported basis of said views, and decide for yourself, whereas this is not an option for those wishing to investigate the claim of Holocaust-denial.

        SJP has never called for “jew-killing in palestine” and a cursory review of their mission statement would indicate that such an appeal would directly contradict their most basic goals. Also, their views are squarely within the mainstream, assuming that the mainstream is defined as the overwhelming international consensus codified in international law for decades now.

        • Taylor
          Taylor says:

          Also, neither Finkelstein nor the writer of the article suggest that Israelis, in general, are murderous racists. The claims, attributed very clearly to Finkelstein, are that a massacre has occurred in Gaza, and that racist policies exist within Israel, policies now under scrutiny within the Jewish community. I’m sorry if you can’t understand the difference between this position, nuanced, well-supported, and uncontroversial, and the suggestion that “the Israelis are murderous racists”.

  14. Y
    Y says:

    Daily Trojan this is appalling. How could you even publish this trash???
    This man’s family were in Nazi camps! He is a Jew and if that is not enough I have no idea what is.
    DT, if you want to publish opinions, this is simply one that certainly does NOT fit a university paper, and certainly NOT written by someone who should be an educated intellectual- which is what I would rather read in my USC paper. I am really considering how true you are to the concept of respectable journalism… As far as I can see this is only an attempt to undermine an acclaimed speaker and the organization that sponsored the event. and DT, you should be ashamed. you are an academic newspaper not a trashy rumours magazine.

  15. James Cohen
    James Cohen says:

    This is the problem in allowing Arabs to attend USC. Most Arabs are terrorist sympathizers. Arabs should be removed from not only USC, but the United States altogether.

    God Bless Israel.

    James Cohen

  16. David Webber
    David Webber says:

    I read the recent article in the Daily Trojan, and I was surprised and saddened to see such ignorant and non-rebutted comments as “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust denier”, and implications that he supports violence against Israelis. Devious weasel-words. Finkelstein may be said by some to be a Holocaust denier, but if you select who you quote then you can find quotes to smear anyone. Phenomenally ignorant. I first became aware of Norman Finkelstein several years ago after reading one of his books, upon which I decided to find out more about the man and his ideas. I do not agree with everything he says, as sometimes he goes too far, but on the whole he has some good points. Far from denying the Holocaust, he is completely honest about its historical basis, and he does not advocate violence against anyone, neither Israelis nor Palestinians. What he does do, and what Israeli nationalist right-wingers hate him for, is to argue against those who abuse the memory of the Holocaust as a means of stifle debate. He also argues against using the Holocaust as a means of projecting victimhood into the present to justify illegal territorial expansion. I have never heard him justify Islamist terrorism as being right, but he does bring balance by helping to better understand the conditions in which it has arisen in the specific instance of modern occupied Palestine.

  17. Rudo Terry
    Rudo Terry says:

    “Students are more concerned, however, about the source of funding for the event than about the event itself.”

    They let that b*tch Coulter on campus, so I don’t really see the problem with a distinguished, if controversial JEWISH scholar visiting. Anyone who criticises Israeli policies is likely to be lambasted by SC Students for Israel.

    Considering how both mainstream political parties at USC are opposed to this isn’t it nice to have an alternative to the mainstream?

    • Juan Ruiz
      Juan Ruiz says:

      I do not think this is the forum to use obscenity, especially towards women, when you do not agree with someone’s viewpoint. The whole basis of substantial debate is to enlist multiple perspectives. Having said that, you cannot have it both ways and only support public speakers from one political spectrum. Secondly, I do not think that having alternative viewpoint necessitates receiving student program funding. But, there should surely be no debate about funding a Ph.D. from Princeton to speak at USC. Especially, considering people like David Horowitz and Anne Coulter have spoken at USC in the recent pasts. Finkelstein balances these two speakers, in particular, well. Every student organization should have equal access to funding.

  18. DT = Tabloid?
    DT = Tabloid? says:

    The allegations of Dr. Finkelstein being a Holocaust-denier are nothing more than rumors and should not be the focus of an article. Anyone can easily search this on Google and it is readily apparent that it is a minority opinion not endorsed by any person with an ounce of integrity. Regretfully, the DT chose to make it the focus of a news story and omits crucial information (like the fact that he is a child of Holocaust survivors). This article reads like subtle propaganda.

    This article should be put in opinions, or better yet, the trash.

  19. Joe
    Joe says:

    All the anti-semites are here with outrageous outrage about the DT printing “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust-denier ” — which is an objectively true fact, and is appropriately qualified as something others have said — but none of you raised an eyebrow at the following sentence?:

    “Finkelstein will speak about … the most recent massacre in Gaza and the different pressures within the Jewish community that challenge racist policies in Israel.”

    The DT doesn’t use any quotation marks around the words “massacre” or “racist”. Their bias is clearly on the anti-Israel, pro “Palestinian” side of things. You certainly must have noticed this… so my question is honestly, why are you even commenting here, drawing attention to the writer’s bias?

    • Chris
      Chris says:

      ya why do all the pro-finklestein comments here seem like theyre trying to promote him or something.. kinda annoying to have to read big paragraphs of comments that sound like theyre trying to convince you or something…jeez this is a comments page for your opinions not a PR ad.

  20. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    What an interesting thought experiment we’re asked to consider! IF a holocaust denier who suggested it was alright to kill Israeli students were allowed to give a university-funded lecture on campus, would this be considered freedom of speech? What an interesting thought experiment! That has absolutely no connection to reality!

    There cannot be even the slightest basis for the claims that Mr. Finkelstein is either a Holocaust-denier or has called for Israeli students to be killed. Even the most cursory review of the things he’s actually said would indicate that he has on many occasions discussed the extraordinary suffering his parents endured during the course of Holocaust. The fact that the paper published the statement that he “is said to be a Holocaust-denier” rather than flat-out calling him a Holocaust-denier, is really beside the point. In the act of publishing it, the claim is lent legitimacy, and the paper should be held responsible for this. Further, it is not a matter of opinion, as Jessica suggests, but a factual claim, easily debunked. Calling someone a Holocaust-denier is a claim about something they either did or didn’t say. In this case, there is not a single bit of evidence that he’s ever said such a thing, while there’s a mountain of evidence that he’s said many contradicting things. So, if the Daily Trojan feels it’s appropriate to publish any statement no matter how plainly false and libelous in the form of “it’s been said…” statements, that’s there decision, but, in the mean time, it shouldn’t be regarded as real journalism.

  21. Tim
    Tim says:

    These lies are outragous! Dr. Finklestein is a very intellectual and respectful man, and to scrutinize him with white lies is distgusting especially from such a prestige school such as USC.

  22. William Buttrey
    William Buttrey says:

    I attended Dr. Finklestein’s previous talk at USC. He was quite informative and very well received. He addressed the points of opposition by those in attendance and went out of his way to give them every opportunity to have their views heard.

    The line, “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust-denier” is both shameful and wrong; more fitting in a cheap tabloid than in the DT (not that some do not repeat this lie about him). Next time try attributing the charge of “Holocaust denier” so that your readers can assess for themselves the credibility and agenda of those making such a statement.

  23. Ghassan
    Ghassan says:

    The difference in opinion is excellent. Norman Finkelstein is an excellent and reputable speaker, regardless of content. I’ll enjoy the event later today. See you all there.

  24. Sol
    Sol says:

    and by the way… his whole family didn’t die in the Holocaust, since he always reminds people, “if there are so many survivors, my mom would always ask, who did Hitler kill?”

  25. Scott Craig
    Scott Craig says:

    Norman Finkelstein is a renowned scholar in the study of Israel, Zionism and the “holocaust.” His work entitled, the “Holocaust Industry” is a brilliant and daring expose of the manner in which right-wing Jews and Zionists have used the smokescreen of the holocaust (Shoa) to stifle criticism of Jewish abuse of Palestinians – to steal their land, erect a racist Apartheid wall in the name of “security” and commit genocide against them. His work has been praised by THE premier scholar of holocaust studies in the world. The libelous hysteria directed against this intellectual giant precedes him every time he speaks and it is always the same crowd – the hysterical pro-Israel, Zionist Vaudeville show, consisting of the loudest and most obnoxious quacks anyone could ever assemble. Let’s get real. In America, and especially in Los Angeles/Hollywood, ANY criticism of Israel, Zionism or Jewish hypocrisy is going to be drowned out and villified as anti-semitic and pro-Nazi by the very same crowd that are presently slandering Finkelstein. The Daily Trojan is a university newspaper and should act like one. The article regarding Mr. Finkelstein distorts the true picture of this man and stinks as if was written and edited by AIPAC (the Israeli lobby). Retract it and publish a real article about Mr. Finkelstein

  26. Sol
    Sol says:

    People, Finkelstein isn’t a Holocasut denier! He’s a Holocaust MINIMIZER… it’s not like saying slavery never happened, it’s like saying ehhh it wasn’t as bad as they make it seem… come on people! All Finklestein has done is publicly support Hezbollah and has publicly said the only solution is armed resistance.! Come on people, all he has said is that Steven Spielberg has exploited the Holocaust to make money… he’s not that crazy! And just because he is condemned by the very people he quotes in his books because of his selective quoting doesn’t mean he’s not a respected scholar… just because he attempts to rewrite history without any factual reasoning doesn’t mean he’s crazy!! It’s like bringing Goebbels to campus to speak about sports on campus… yeah Goebbels was a propagandist, but he’s not going to be speaking about Jews so we might as well hear what he has to say. And for the record, NO ONE WAS ATTEMPTING TO CENSOR FINKELSTEIN… we actually want him to speak because he is his own worst enemy… but based on SJP’s requests and USG’s approval, I think we need to bring the head of the KKK to show how ridiculous USG’s funding process is.

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      Finally a voice of reason on this page……………. ya finkle is not a total holocaust denier but his book which is called the holocaust industry just tries to show how the holocaust has been exagerated and misframed for financial benefit or whatever…like he talks about authors like Elie Wiesel as being a part of an industry…but if it weren’t for authors like Wiesel we would have even less knowledge of what happened. And Elie Wiesel now works on many many issues relating to other genocides than the holocaust….wish finklestein would spend histime something equally beneficial

  27. Teresa
    Teresa says:

    I am astounded that this article is trying to masquerade its pro-Israeli and superficial understanding of Professor Finkelstein as an “objective” news article.

    Finkelstein is a controversial figure precisely because he doesn’t preach hate and intolerance but against it. He is a Jewish scholar who has been explicit in his love for Israelis as a son of Holocaust survivors – and he brings to light the atrocities and hypocrisy of the Israeli government so that the violence of the past doesn’t continue to be perpeuated mindlessley and below the radar.

    I think students would greatly benefit from this discussion – challenging, listening, and learning from Finkelstein – not simply mimicking the one-liners and sensational soundbites you listen to between classes. This is, after all, a university.

  28. omid
    omid says:

    Makes one wonder if DT has begun a section dedicated to humour!

    and what a justification,
    “all that sentence says is that SOME people believe he is a Holocaust-denier.”

    to whoever wrote it in the first place , is nt there any shame left in you to lie so openly?

  29. m. pakranian
    m. pakranian says:

    melamed: the same girl who once said the solution to the israeli palestinian conflict was for palestinians to “teach their children to love” HAHAHA

    what obvious racism, it’s like saying to prevent crime in the states we should tell blacks to “teach their kids not to steal!”

    ignorant, scared racism. don’t worry hun, all of Israel’s tanks and apaches and Mossad agents stand behind you.

  30. paul
    paul says:

    Just to echo some of the comments already made:

    “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust-denier and his appearance on campus has raised eyebrows.” Shame. Don’t they teach you in your first journalism class (or any writing course for that matter) not to use the passive when the subject is important? Who made these allegations? Even a cursory check of Finkelstein’s speaking and written record would prove this to be false.

    “My concern is that we go to a truly amazing school,” she said. “The money that we pay for the school and the student activity fee should be going toward civilized academic discussion … how can the school fund a speaker that supports violence against Israelis? […] For the school to fund an individual who is going to stand there and say that it’s OK for me to be killed is really, really scary, and I myself, I’m getting scared for my security,””

    Again, a simple fact check would have sufficed. Finkelstein does not support violence against Israelis as a whole – he has said this time and again. He does support the right of the Palestinian and Lebanese people to resist the Israeli military, with force of arms or otherwise. He has condemned attacks on civilian targets from both sides. In fact, when one looks at the substance of his arguments, and not his combative speaking style, Finkelstein is a moderate. Ms. Melamed can thus rest assured that Finkelstein does not seek her demise (unless she serves in the Israeli military, in which case she would be correct in saying that Finkelstein does support the right of the Palestinian to shoot back at her.)

  31. Max Hoiland
    Max Hoiland says:

    Imagine the NYT running a front-page news, not opinion, article where the reporter interviews 5 people, 4 of them just say “Obama is a terrorist,” and then the 5th person says “Obama has different views,” then writing it up like there’s nothing else to say.

  32. ibn yaqzan
    ibn yaqzan says:

    his whole family died in the holocaust and you have the audacity to suggest that he could possibly be a holocaust denier? this is absolutely outrageous and unbelieveable!

  33. Max Hoiland
    Max Hoiland says:

    Also, that Finkelstein supports violence against Israeli’s is equally controversial and yet again, no differing view was presented in this article.
    The extreme claims made against Finkelstein are left to hang in the reader’s mind and is without any counter. Marwa is given a couple of sentences, but they address not the details of Finkelstein’s views, but that his views are different and thus important to the discussion. Again, Finkelstein’s views are presented in one way, and although many people, including probably everyone in SJP, would strongly disagree, their perspectives are not given, or worse, were not asked on the subject or not printed.

  34. Max Hoiland
    Max Hoiland says:

    Also, the article presents the strong and very controversial assertion that Finkelstein is a Holocaust-denier without offering any kind of balance. Marwa from SJP is given a couple of lines about how she thinks that it’s important to provide a different perspective on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Was she asked about the allegations of Finkelstein’s supposed Holocaust denial? Did the DT think to ask anybody else about these allegations in order to provide a balance of reporting?

    If a supposedly neutral source of news published an article where Obama is called a Holocaust-denier, would it not be necessary to also show someone else saying that he is not a Holocaust-denier. The serious claim that Finkelstein is a Holocaust-denier is left completely unchallenged in this article.

    Jessica, or someone from the DT, could you please respond.

    • Johnny
      Johnny says:

      Well I think that the writer might have just thought he was talking to a familiar audience. Also Finklestein is a pretty well known guy, at least for people interested in the issues he talks about. But I dont understand what you mean when you say “allegations”. He’s not on trial or anything. And there’s no way to “prove” what someone thinks about something. But I’ve heard and read a lot of stuff from this guy that clearly show me what his views are. Lots of scholars and commentators have explained why his views are problematic…
      You do also have to realize that Finklestein is a widely discredited academic….something that is not a trivial matter expecially to other academics.. The article was at least nice enough not to frame him as a complete fraud.

  35. Max Hoiland
    Max Hoiland says:

    Hi Jessica,

    Your point is taken. However, I find framing of the sentence to be in bad taste. “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust-denier” sounds like the statement is some kind of folk wisdom. What should have been added to that is WHO said that Finkelstein is a Holocaust denier. This is clarified a couple of paragraphs later in the piece, but by putting the very strong claim that he is a Holocaust denier long before connecting it with a person or group gives the wrong impression.

  36. Jessica
    Jessica says:


    The quote you pulled from this article goes against your point: “Finkelstein is SAID to be a Holocaust-denier” all that sentence says is that SOME people believe he is a Holocaust-denier. As a neutral source for news the DT cannot say whether or not he is a Holocaust-denier. That is obviously based on opinion since the Students for Justice in Palestine believe he isn’t a Holocaust-denier and the SC Students for Israel believe is.

    • Tony Litwinko
      Tony Litwinko says:

      Of course the paper can check. Read his books. Consult his website. Do you know? He hardly denies the holocaust, and terming him a holocaust denier is as libelous as can be. He has been critical of Israel’s government and of its actions and has been critical of how people have made a financial industry out of holocaust survivorship and application for reparations. Don’t get caught in the intellectual trap of giving equal weight to both sides. The ones who are attacking Finkelstein are at worst lying and at best ignorant.

  37. Max Hoiland
    Max Hoiland says:

    To call Finkelstein a Holocaust denier is as far from the truth as possible. Both of his parents were in and survived Nazi concentration camps and the rest of his mother’s side of the family was exterminated. The Holocaust is a very personal thing to Finkelstein and he takes it very seriously.

    For the DT to print a sentence such as, “Finkelstein is said to be a Holocaust-denier,” is like saying that “it is said that the DT denies the Holocaust,” or any other outrageous comment. That the facts on this are easily accessible and verifiable, the least the DT could have done was counter a flatly false and slanderous claim and note that no, Finkelstein is not a Holocaust denier and that much of his family died in fact were murdered in the Holocaust.

    • Justin
      Justin says:

      You’re right, he’s not a Holocaust denier, he’s a Holocaust minimalist who claims it has been “used” and exagerated for political purposes… as if the murder of 6 MILLION Jews and millions of other people in extermination camps is just a figment of someone’s exagerated imagination, and that the massive efforts to document it and the stories of survivors (such as the Shoah Foundation here at USC) so that no one could ever deny and minimalize should just be overlooked and dismissed as political folly.
      He contends that, ehhh, maybe a million Jews were killed… by such idiotic statements he does two things: First, he totally eradicates his credibility and expertise on anything else in history, and second, by minimalizing the event as much as possible, he brings us one step closer to it happening again. It’s like if I were to say that blacks were just indentured servants in the United States, or that Rwanda had some unfortunate infighting in 1994.
      The fact that both of his parents lived through the Holocaust makes his denial just that more disgusting.
      It is a good thing that he is such a widely discredited “academic” with no real following except those who would literally follow a monkey if it could say something bad about Israel.

          • Taylor
            Taylor says:

            “ehhh, maybe a million Jews were killed”
            No, he does not say anything remotely like that, and you know it. Nor does he in any way attempt to diminish the importance of the Holocaust or the severity of the suffering that it represents. His points simply have nothing to do with this. You either haven’t read his book yourself, or have and are intentionally misrepresenting it, both deserving of contempt.

        • Rajif
          Rajif says:

          Oh but indeed he does. And its funny that the only people who support him are the anti-Israel crowd….he is an excellent way to deflect attention from real issues of importance…

          For example, he is on record saying this just a couple months after 9/11:
          “Frankly, part of me says…‘you know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things Bin Laden says are true’. One of the things he said on that last tape was that ‘until we live in security, you’re not going to live in security’, and there is a certain amount of rightness in that.”

          And this he writes in his Holocaust book:
          ‘If everyone who claims to be a survivor actually is one,’ my mother used to exclaim, ‘who did Hitler kill then?’”
          What a stupendously stupid pair of statements.

          Even as a guy with no personal ties to any of the conflict, I can smell a fraudulent bum from a mile away….

          • Taylor
            Taylor says:

            Neither of the statements that you cite have anything to do with the claim above, nor do they amount to either denial or trivialization of the holocaust.

  38. Kathie Lester
    Kathie Lester says:

    Tony Litwinko said it all. To say Finkelstein is a holocaust denier is libel — he criticizes how the fact of the holocaust has been used and abused by some for financial gain. He does not support violence; he does support the right to resist violence. That includes the rights of Palestinians to resist the Occupation. He is essentially a moderate, though his language tends to be in your face.

    Finkelstein expresses views which are not always heard. USC students should be pleased to have the chance to hear these views directly so they can judge and evaluate for themselves.

  39. Johnny
    Johnny says:

    Haha thats just too too funny…. If by resist the occupation you mean never strive for peace, and by resist violence you mean blow yourself up in a club or coffee house with a belt full of nails and metal parts to maim as many people as possible, and then cry foul play when the other side defends itself, then ya he definitely would support the right to “resist violence”.

    As for calling him a Holocaust denier… he denies large truths about the Holocaust and trivializes it by pretending it has been blown out of proportion. He should not be surprised that his intellectual dishonesty on this has given people good reason not to take him seriously on anything else.

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