November 30, 2023
TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada is urging the Toronto Public Library (TPL) to cancel its event, scheduled to feature a controversial American whose writings wrongly accuse Israel of manipulating the Holocaust to suppress criticism.
Norman Finkelstein, a former political science professor who has been denied tenure in the past over his extreme writings, has been invited to participate at the TPL’s Dec. 5 event – part of an “Intellectual Freedom” program series about free speech in academic settings.
The TPL has billed its conference as an opportunity to address the problem of faculty being “hemmed in or censored” for “unpopular or politically challenging” opinions and research. According to promotional materials, the goal is to “encourage universities to push boundaries and challenge the dominant narratives while at the same [time] ensuring that universities are safe spaces for everyone.”
Finkelstein, whose parents both survived the Holocaust, has been criticized for undermining the world’s only Jewish State by accusing the global “Jewish Establishment” of weaponizing the collective memory of the Shoah. Historians have roundly criticized Finkelstein’s book, The Holocaust Industry, as unnuanced propaganda. Peter Novick, a noted historian, whose research strongly influenced the book itself, later described Finkelstein’s work as “a charge into darkness that sheds no light” replete with “false accusations” and “egregious misrepresentations.”
Last month, Finkelstein wrote a blog post lauding Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 assault – during which the terrorists rampaged through the country’s south, massacring more than 1,200 people, and abducted hundreds of civilians, including women and children – as “heroic resistance.”
Finkelstein even had the audacity to inaccurately compare Hamas’ barbaric terrorism to the Jewish resistance’s Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, as well as John Brown’s stand against slavery in the United States.
“The irony in the TPL’s decision to feature Finkelstein in their speaker series is that his anti-Zionist worldview already represents the ‘dominant narrative’ on university campuses,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is shocking that our publicly funded library system is so clueless to the daily suffering of Jewish students on campus caused precisely by this form of antisemitism.
“By inverting the narrative, while remaining blind to the reality of Jewish pain on university campuses, the TPL is contributing to the further marginalization of a Jewish community already under siege, and that is absolutely unacceptable.”