Nov 29 2007

defending Finkelstein

Published by at 6:34 pm under Uncategorized

following is my letter to the editor in the Daily Princetonian

   Regarding ‘A bizarre and unsupported argument’ (Monday, Nov. 19, 2007):

    Seffy Muller ’08 thinks it bizarre that, in his lecture, Norman Finkelstein “reduced the Palestinian Israeli conflict to the international legality and historic fact.” So if he is not supposed to talk about these rather neutral references, would a look at the human side of the conflict be better? Here’s a look at the morality of the 60 years of the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem: 40 years of military occupation and illegal Jewish-only settlements in Palestinian lands as well as hundreds of Israeli violations of human rights.
This would be a more appropriate way to look at the conflict. It is true that, in resistance, Palestinians also broke international law, but the comparison of the Palestinian victims to the Israeli military aggressors is asymmetrical. The argument that Finkelstein doesn’t speak Arabic or Hebrew is very weak. I was Finkelstein’s host in his first visit to Palestine shortly after the first intifada. He has visited Palestine and Israel many more times and has been a serious student of the conflict, unlike most of the people who attack him.??

    Muller also passes as fact that Palestinians use emergency vehicles to smuggle bombs to Israel when the United Nations has proved beyond reasonable doubt that this Israeli allegation (in connection to an ambulance driven by Palestinians) is false, and has demanded an apology from the Israeli army for making that claim. Furthermore, the Israeli treatment of sick Palestinians at checkpoints and their repeated attacks against Palestinian medical vehicles and personnel has been well-documented by neutral groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. The only bizarre and unsupported argument I saw was in the column itself and not the original unreported Finkelstein speech.

Daoud Kuttab
Ferris Professor of Journalism

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