So Norman Finkelstein spoke at Northwestern last night. I went for the beginning. And I don’t want to get into a debate with him or his supporters. It doesn’t bother me that he espouses an alternative view of history (though calling the Holocaust “a schmatte” is offensive). That’s really not the issue.

Here was the issue for me: The student who introduced him on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine talked about the group’s goals, to bring justice and self-determination to the Palestinian people. At that point I thought, “Wow, I should join the group. I legitimately share their goals. I want the same thing.” But then she concluded with “and so we hope to form a community of resistance here at Northwestern.”

At this point she sort of lost me, and Finkelstein only complicated matters. Fine, call the Israeli operation a massacre if you want. And make provocative statements like “killing Arabs always scores political points in Israel,” as Finkelstein did. But beyond “lift the blockade,” I didn’t hear anything about solutions. How do you propose to bring peace and justice to Palestine? How do you propose to create a thriving, vibrant, democratic state that can live peacefully with its neighbor, Israel?

I’m not a right-winger, but I just found myself asking, “Israel has made its offers–in 1947, in 2000. What’s your counteroffer?” I wish someone would tell me.

Finally, the original title of the talk last night was “Lessons From Ghandi,” until it was changed to “Behind the Gaza Massacre.” As I have told numerous students, I have been waiting my entire life to see the emergence of a massive non-violent Palestinian protest movement. A Palestinian Ghandi. A Palestinian King. A Palestinian Mandela. “Creating a culture of resistance” is problematic because it leaves out the word “nonviolent.” Imagine the scene: a human chain of Palestinians marching towards the Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint peacefully singing “We Shall Overcome.” Not “Death to Israel,” not “Death to Jews,” but a song about nonviolent resistance.

I’m still waiting and praying for it. And I’ll do my part to help make it happen, if someone will just step forward.

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