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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Article ‘clearly bashing’ Judaic Studies

    This is in response to Yusra Tekbali’s article on Norman Finkelstein’s lecture on campus (“”Visiting speaker rouses ire,”” Monday). I think this article again shows the private pedestal that the Daily Wildcat allows for its “”reporters”” and their convoluted personal campaigns.

    This article is clearly bashing the Judaic Studies department for its decision to not sponsor a non-academic event put on by the “”voices of opposition,”” which Ms. Tekbali obviously supports. The article fails to mention that the JUS department advertised for the event despite not sponsoring it, it fails to mention that no other academic department decided to sponsor this event and it brushes over the credibility issues surrounding Norman Finkelstein.

    This article is a cheap shot whose only purpose is to stir up negative feelings on campus. The Middle East is a touchy and complicated subject that has enough of its own problems that it doesn’t need college reporters fueling the fires of hate. The UA, the United States and the world are tired of divisive tactics used to create and spread hate. I call on Ms. Tekbali to write about building bridges and curing bigotry, rather than creating insignificant issues which only create hostile feelings. I for one would rather listen to The Beatles’ “”Come Together”” than either Steven Emerson or Norman Finkelstein.

    Joshua Offenhartz
    pre-business junior

    Lecture ‘free exchange of ideas’

    I appreciate that in Monday’s article, “”Visiting speaker rouses ire,”” Ms. Tekbali was able to shed light on such a controversial issue on our campus. While reading this article, I was unable to decipher her motivation for criticism.

    By bringing Finkelstein to campus, the “”Voices of Opposition”” promote a free exchange of ideas, and a contrasting view on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. While her article was an obvious effort to promote students to attend Finkelstein’s lecture, she unfairly portrayed the Judaic Studies department.

    While the JUS department chose not to sponsor Finkelstein, they put up fliers about his lecture and made them available in the JUS office. What about the history or political science (his field of study) departments as a co-sponsor? Were these departments even approached? If so, where is their criticism? I will also state that while I was initially outraged by Finkelstein coming to campus, my response was to object in a respectful manner.

    My experience has shown that the free exchange of ideas have been avidly supported by the Judaic Studies department. Dr. Wright, head of the JUS department, along with other members of the JUS faculty kindly reminded me that freedom of speech is important and this is the time to listen, digest and decide.

    Shira Kronick

    undeclared junior

    Finkelstein controversial, but still a scholar

    I attended Norman Finkelstein’s lecture Monday evening but only later read, with interest, Yusra Tekbali’s Monday article “”Visiting speaker rouses ire.”” In it Ed Wright of Judaic Studies dismissed Finkelstein’s scholarship as “”specious”” and David Graizbord argued that Finkelstein’s doctorate in political science disqualified him from engaging in archival research demanded of historians; therefore he was not a scholar.

    As an historian and specialist in Middle East history and Palestinian-Israeli issues, I do not find myself always agreeing with Finkelstein, but his work has been published by prestigious university presses that demand scholarly review by peers. His work certainly appears more “”scholarly”” than the recent productions of the last two speakers Judaic Studies has sponsored, Steven Emerson and Kenneth Stein.

    Emerson, whose expertise led him to immediately identify the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings as the work of Arab terrorists (it was Timothy McVeigh) has since lent himself to the Islamofascism movement along with Daniel Pipes and others. To call this effort propaganda would be a compliment. Pipes was recently quoted in The New York Times as saying that anyone who studies Arabic would develop a “”jihadist mentality.”” Pipes should know. He studied Arabic extensively, in Cairo as well as the U.S. What does that make him? And a Washington think tank now suggests that the blind labelling of Muslims as fascists encourages terrorism and endangers U.S. security. But it would give Emerson more air time.

    As for Ken Stein, he has published scholarly works but has now gone over to being sponsored by the Israeli lobby, AIPAC and has attacked the Association for Israel Studies (he and I both belong to AIS) as being soft in defending Israel. Stein now defends a lobby against the major scholarly organization in his field of expertise.

    To be sure, Finkelstein can be considered to advance a cause, but he documents it well. And for his troubles he, a child of Holocaust survivors, has been accused of being an anti-Semite by fellow Jews. That accusation, much closer to Emerson’s Islamofascism mentality than to any scholarly approach, says more about the accuser than the accused. I look forward to Judaic Studies list of invited speakers for the next academic year. Maybe their list will include a scholar.

    Charles Smith
    Near Eastern studies

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