A young Jewish American woman approached the prominent Jewish professor; she had been attending the lecture he was conducting [at the University of Waterloo] when she asked a question before breaking down in tears. In a trembling voice, the student asked “During your speech, you made reference to Jewish people – some of whom are in this audience – describing them as Nazis, how can you do this? I find that extremely offensive.”
This young woman was talking to Jewish American professor, academic, and writer, Dr. Norman G. Finkelstein. Finkelstein’s mother survived the Majdanek concentration camp, while his father survived the Auschwitz concentration camp; every single member of his family on both sides was killed by the Nazis. Dr. Finkelstein is one of the bitter opponents of Israel, and he has harshly criticized the Israeli criminal actions and brutality against the Palestinian people. The young woman’s tears did not move the professor, and instead he fiercely criticized her with the vigour of a wounded Palestinian whose home, wife, and children had all been taken away from him by the Zionists. Frowning at the young student, Dr. Finkelstein reacted angrily saying, “I don’t respect that…I don’t like and I don’t respect your crocodile tears. I don’t like to play the Holocaust card before an audience, but my late father was in Auschwitz and my late mother was in Majdanek, every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated, and it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons that my parents taught me that I will not be silent while Israel commits crimes against the Palestinians. There is nothing more despicable than to use their suffering and martyrdom to try to justify the torture and brutalization and the demolition of homes committed by Israel against the Palestinians. If you had a heart, you would be crying for the Palestinians.”
Dr. Finkelstein’s reaction caused the audience to burst into applause, however if similar comments were made by anybody else, the speaker would undoubtedly have been accused of being anti-Semitic, a Nazi sympathizer, or a terrorist supporter. However nobody can question a Jewish professor and intellectual whose family suffered at the hands of Nazism. As a result of this, Dr. Finkelstein’s courageous positions with regards to exposing the Zionist media machine have gained deserved publicity. Dr. Finkelstein is a perfect example of how to benefit from the adversary, suffering, and the injustices suffered by the Jewish people, and this is by seeking to prevent such injustice ever happening again, and it is this kind of injustice that is being felt by the Palestinians at the hands of the Israelis.
This is a positive way of dealing with the Holocaust, and this is something that wise Jews and Westerners should promote in order to prevent such injustice occurring again. In my opinion, this is better than entering bitter controversy over the veracity of the Holocaust, and casting doubts and denying it. If we compare the French Muslim intellectual Roger Garaudy’s denial of the Holocaust with Dr. Norman G Finkelstein’s condemnation of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, as well as the Israeli Holocaust against the Palestinians, and how – in his view – the former is being used to justify the latter, we find that Finkelstein’s controversial view is far more influential in the West than Garaudy’s. Dr. Finkelstein has received praise from a number of prominent Holocaust historians including Raul Hilberg and Avi Shlaim, who are among the most prominent Holocaust historians. A number of US students also allied with him by going on hunger-strike and staging sit-in protests [after he was denied tenure at the DePaul University].
What is unfortunate in this regard is that the Arabs are poor at communicating with such courageous thinkers and intellectuals, and utilizing their voices to gain support and finance. Professor Finkelstein is engaged in a fierce battle with the Jewish lobby in the US and those who sympathize with it, and he came under great pressure, which resulted in him being denied tenure in 2007 at the DePaul University in Chicago and which eventually led to his resignation. It is unfortunate that the Arab writers, intellectuals and academics have never reached the level of this Jewish professor in their defense of the Palestinian Cause.