In a piece you published on March 3 regarding Norman Finkelstein’s recent visit to the MU campus, Dr. John Galliher, director of the Peace Studies Program that sponsored him, is quoted as saying “those troubled by Finklelstein’s visit should suggest future speakers.”
It is disingenuous for Dr. Galliher to say that all that “troubled” citizens who disagree with his choice to sponsor Finkelstein have to do is to suggest alternative speakers. After all, the Peace Studies Program has been actively bringing anti-Israel speakers to campus on a regular basis. For example, from the fall of 2005 to the present, Peace Studies was involved in co-sponsoring several anti-Israel speakers (Ellen O’Grady, Simone Bitton, Joe Carr, Alison Weir, Noam Chomsky and Anna Balzer) without offering any alternative speakers that would present a balanced, rather than a clearly biased, approach to the Palestinian-Israel conflict.
Unfortunately, it is against this background that one could safely infer that the Peace Studies program has not acted in the spirit of peace-promoting as one should or would expect. Certainly Dr. Galliher needs no outside assistance in coming up with names of respected scholars — unlike the scholarly-discredited Norman Finkelstein — who would present a different interpretation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Rather, what is needed is a change in Dr. Galliher’s attitude on how to better use university (i.e. public) money in promoting the cause of peace and academic integrity.
It is quite disconcerting that when it comes to Israel bashing, the peace program director does not need outside advice as to his choice of speakers, yet he requires it when it comes to more scholarly balanced speakers. We would be more than willing to assist him in this cause.