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Norman Finkelstein, infamous for his extreme anti-Israel sentiment, spoke at our University for over two hours about Israel, Gaza and his vision for the future. Casting specific politics aside, it is disheartening to see what this event shows about the state of discourse on our campus.

There is certainly much to learn from Finkelstein. Despite questions about the integrity of his scholarship, he is an accomplished orator who succeeds in conveying his impassioned — if controversial — message. However, when Finkelstein rose to speak, he was hailed as a peaceful, mainstream speaker of the truth and not as the radical he truly is. It goes without saying that maintaining a diversity of ideas and perspectives on campus is laudable. However, to claim his vitriol as part of mainstream discourse is unfounded and dishonest.

It seems that discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus has come to resemble a caricature of the political discourse in the non-academic world. We have taken perceived facts and extended them to hyperbolic extremes. We seem unsatisfied with moderation or even with honest attempts at finding peace. Has moderate discourse lost its place in Penn’s ivory tower? Is support for Palestinian nationhood suddenly tantamount to unabashed hatred of Israel? Bring Finkelstein to our campus, but call a spade a spade and acknowledge extremism for what it is.

-- Lisa Felber The author is a Wharton freshman.

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