Protest at Columbia


A controversial professor provoked fury among Jewish students with a Columbia University speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last night.

Norman Finkelstein, a DePaul University professor and author whose writings on the Holocaust and comments about Jewish conspiracies have drawn wide condemnation, spoke about what he called the contrived controversy around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s use of the Holocaust as a political tool.

Jewish students held placards and wore signs decrying the academic as a messenger of hate.

“Israel is in effect guilty of state terrorism,” Finkelstein said. “The only difference between Israeli and Hamas terrorism is that Israeli terrorism, judging by the numbers, is three times as lethal.”

The event, which was billed by sponsoring campus Muslim groups as promoting dialogue about the Middle East, found pro-Israel students on one side of the room silently raising placards saying Finkelstein supported Hezbollah and his supporters cheering on the other side of the room. “It feels like a real slap in the face,” said Bari Weiss, 21, a junior from Pittsburgh who was one of about 600 protesters.

Sakib Khan, the former president of the Muslim Students Association and the event’s principal coordinator, hailed it as a “model of democracy” and welcomed the opposition. “We wanted to have a very direct and honest dialogue on Israel and Palestine,” the 21-year-old junior said.