On Friday, August 24th, it was learned that DePaul’s University has decided to cancel Professor Norman G. Finkelstein’s classes for the autumn quarter. Finkelstein was scheduled to teach two undergraduate courses in the political science department, one called “Freedom and Empowerment” and the other called “Justice and Social Equality”.
What is the stated reason for the cancellation of Finkelstein’s courses, both of which are filled to capacity? Professor Finkelstein, it seems, in the judgment of DePaul’s administration, constitutes a security threat to DePaul faculty and staff. In a previous article, I documented that Finkelstein simply confronted Dean “Chuck” Suchar outside of 990 Fullerton on June 14th after the special LA&S emergency meeting devoted to discussing the procedural and academic freedom violations in the Finkelstein and Larudee cases. It’s reported that Suchar did, in fact, maintain that the real reasons for Finkelstein’s tenure denial were confidential. Finkelstein was informed by faculty who attended the meeting that Suchar reported that he had secret information on the controversial political science professor. Suchar apparently alleged that he felt harassed by Finkelstein, calling for the administration to issue a restraining order against his colleague.
In an irony sure not to escape Dissident Voice readers, Finkelstein is being barred from teaching courses devoted to examining “Freedom and Empowerment” and “Justice and Social Equality”. In addition, Finkelstein is being thrown out of his office and might not even have access to office space this coming academic year at DePaul. Naturally, DePaul students are outraged and are demanding a serious explanation from Dean Suchar and other DePaul administrative officers. Not expecting a serious answer from the administration, while anticipating wider assaults against critical thinking and dissent, the students are planning an academic freedom conference at the University of Chicago for October 12th. The conference’s keynote speakers are Noam Chomsky (MIT), John Mearsheimer (Univ. of Chicago), Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia), Neve Gordon (Ben-Gurion University, Israel), and Tariq Ali (Verso Books). See here.
The security threat that Norman Finkelstein represents is clear: He opens his students’ minds to the dangers of the propaganda system, as it churns out lies that sustain U.S. support for Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian population, which is living under the most oppressive conditions in Gaza and the West Bank.
That DePaul’s administration was bought off and bullied by the Israel Lobby, subjected to intimidation and threats of political embarrassment if it tenured Finkelstein, is abundantly clear. The only question is: When will President Dennis Holtschneider admit that the DePaul’s Board of Trustees and Rubenstein and Associates made a major miscalculation? When will he and they realize that the hundreds of millions of dollars that will pour in to DePaul’s coffers over the next several years will never make up for the gravity of the injustice that has taken place on his watch?
Norman Finklestein is too strong an intellect, too strong a personality, and too strong a mensch to allow DePaul’s faculty and administrators to prevent him from doing what he does best: exposing spurious scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict, while driving U.S. supporters of Israel into utter despair. Norman Finkelstein poses an immense threat to the sense of security and privilege shared by the majority of DePaul professors who wrap themselves in cocoons of irrelevance, while hoping the real world will just disappear so they can go back to reading and theorizing about ‘Vincentian personalism’ and social justice. A security threat, indeed!”