Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Critic of Israel to Speak at UNF; Controversial Author Supports Palestinian Cause in Gaza

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Critic of Israel to Speak at UNF; Controversial Author Supports Palestinian Cause in Gaza

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Controversial professor Norman Finkelstein says the end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simple: Israel and the United States just need to follow international law.

Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, is a harsh critic of what he calls the American media's "exploitation of Jewish suffering." He will be speaking at the University of North Florida Monday in an event sponsored by Amnesty International's UNF chapter.

A blunt critic of Israel for its part in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Finkelstein has been called a "hero" by some Palestinians for his support of an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Rabbi Joshua Lief, spiritual leader of Temple Ahavath Chesed in Southside, said he doesn't take many of Finkelstein's arguments seriously.

"I don't think it can be taken seriously because to be that extreme is to be unserious," Lief said. "If you're trying to argue in the arena of ideas, you cannot be an extremist and be taken seriously."

Finkelstein left the halls of academia after he was denied tenure by DePaul University in 2007, in part for his opinion of other writers and researchers. Some students protested and staged sit-ins on behalf of Finkelstein to no avail.

His latest book is called "This Time We Went Too Far," and he was the subject of the documentary "American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein."

Are you surprised that your visit has caused controversy with at least one student resigning at UNF's chapter of Amnesty International?

Controversy comes with the territory, but there's much less controversy now than there used to be. More people are aware of the fact that there's something seriously wrong going on in that part of the world. So there's greater willingness to listen, a greater tolerance for dissenting points of view nowadays than there was in the past.

What will you talk about Monday? …

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