To the Editor:
I plan to demonstrate publicly but without violence this coming Sunday (June 17, 2007) against the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Rome for condoning the actions of one of its subordinate units – De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois, USA – in denying tenure for Dr. Norman Finkelstein because of the latter’s criticism of the policies of the government of Israel and the government of the United States in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
My strong belief is that Dr. Finkelstein is an honest and highly competent scholar who seeks justice for and an end to oppression of the Palestinian people, who live in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, in Israel itself, and in many other parts of the world in refugee camps and as exiles. My belief also is that he was denied tenure because of these views and because a massive campaign was launched against him by the Israel lobby in the United States – a campaign that those Catholic officials who presently dominate the management of De Paul University were unwilling to stand up against.
This demonstration in Santa Fe, New Mexico will begin at 9:00 a.m., June 17, across the street from the main entrance of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, on one of the corners of Cathedral Place and San Francisco St. I will be there alone if necessary but hope others will join in, as long as they are willing to accept that the demonstration must be peaceful, and that they not cross the street and go onto the grounds of the Cathedral or block anyone from entering the Cathedral or say anything critical of those entering. I am personally not a Catholic, but my sign will urge people planning to go to the 10:00 a.m. Mass to boycott that Mass instead, and join us in the demonstration. I do not intend to say anything derogatory to anyone while I am demonstrating, although I will give anyone who expresses interest in me a brochure explaining the Finkelstein tenure issue. I will stay until 10:00 a.m. and then leave.
I not only hope that others will join me in this demonstration. I hope that yet others, reading this message, will organize similar demonstrations near other Catholic churches. I further hope that we can carry on similar demonstrations on future Sundays, all around this country and abroad, until the hierarchy of the Catholic church in Rome takes note of us, and until that hierarchy compels its subordinates at De Paul University to reverse the unjust decision on Dr. Finkelstein.
If anyone reading this thinks I am overreacting, that is unfortunate. The Israel lobby simply should not be allowed to win this round. There is little doubt that some will argue that the Catholic hierarchy in Rome had nothing to do with the decision against Finkelstein. But there is also little doubt that the hierarchy can overrule that decision if it wishes. And it says something that, to me, is utterly despicable if the hierarchy of the church refuses to overrule its own underlings at De Paul.
– Bill Christison
Former senior CIA official