On Saturday, October 17 Canadian Mennonite University and the Institute for Community Peacebuilding hosted Dr. Norman Finkelstein in an evening of discussion on the topic “Israel and Palestine: What’s Preventing Peace”. The evening was part of its “Conversations with…” series. The tour was sponsored nationally by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East and locally by Peace Alliance Winnipeg, Independent Jewish Voice and CanPalNet.
About 250 people attended and heard Dr. Finkelstein discuss last winter’s attack on Gaza to explain how Israel views the Palestinian people. He argued that the problem rests in a refusal to accept and deal with the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. He noted that IDF actions of last winter were aimed at destroying the civilian, social and economic infrastructure of Gaza. He also noted how the international community has been quick to support the efforts of Israel to delegitimize the struggle of the Palestinian people thereby giving Israel the “moral” authority to continue in its actions.
He concluded by pointing to the significance of the report of United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict delivered by Justice Richard Goldstone to the Union Nations Human Rights Council. The Council recently adopted the report which concluded that Israel used disproportionate force, deliberately targeted civilians, used Palestinians as human shields and destroyed civilian infrastructure during its attack on Gaza.
After his formal remarks Dr. Finklestein answered questions for more than one hour. The evening showed what he had referred to at the end of his presentation – that public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is shifting as people become aware of the issues.