Dear Dr Finkelstein, ...Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale. I hope that you understand my position, this is not ideal and I would be happy to welcome you as an individual speaker to the Union in a forthcoming term. I know that the President-Elect Emily Partington would be keen to host you in Hilary. I just did not want to see the debate compromised and given the Irving Griffin Controversy I couldn't fight a battle on all fronts. Best wishes Luke.So, who's to blame? Well, in my opinion, the blame falls pretty squarely on Tryl. Dershowitz was Dershowitz -- a pit bull that misrepresented the debate (it was not a debate about the legitimacy of Zionism), Finkelstein, and the Union. But because of an unflattering op-ed in FrontPage and the Jerusalem Post, you disinvite a speaker? As if that weren't enough, when the debate was held -- with most of the players changed -- the Union did not repeat to the audience what Tryl had written to Finkelstein. Instead, they said that they had mistakenly invited Finkelstein, not knowing what his views were, or something to that effect. That's how it works. Either you hang tough or you don't. Tryl folded. Clearly, Dershowitz and UK Peace Now's Usiskin thought it was more important to get Finkelstein off the panel -- because they simply are incapable of understanding how an anti-Zionist can favor a two-state solution -- then allow the invitation to get through. I gave up on Dershowitz a long time ago. Apparently UK Peace Now has gone over to the neocons as well. Time to give up on the Oxford Union. It's High Noon all over again.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
How the Israel Lobby Works -- Finkelstein and the Oxford Union
So what's the big deal? Alan Dershowitz did not threaten to sue the Oxford Union, or its president, Luke Tryl, if Norman Finkelstein was invited to speak in favor of the two-state solution. He did not threaten to break Tryl's legs, or to try to cancel funding, or to take him to court. All he did was threaten to write an op-ed against the Oxford Union (which he later did here). And why? Because it seemed absurd to him that a noted anti-Zionist like Finkelstein would argue in favor of the Jewish state. (That is not what the debate was about, but facts don't bother Dershowitz.) Facing Finkelstein would be three speakers who want to destroy the Jewish state, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, and Ghada Karmi. So how can you invite an "anti-semite" (Dershowitz's words) like Finkelstein to support the Jewish state. What a leftwing farce! So Alan Dershowitz, exercising his right to free speech, wrote an op-ed and attacked the Union. Other groups also exerted pressure. And the Union, or more precisely, its president, Luke Tryl, caved in under the pressure. This is from what Tryl wrote to Finkelstein in email dated October 17