December 12, 2007: On the Campus

Territorial conflicts

Illustration: Marc Rosenthal ’71; Photos: Hyunseok Shim ’08

Territorial conflicts

Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08By Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08

This fall, just looking at the football standings didn’t give the full picture of who was on top in the Ivy League. Penn may have topped Princeton on the field, but the opposite was true in an online adaptation of the board game Risk that got thousands of students to log on in defense of their alma mater. In this, the biggest siege of Nassau Hall since the Revolutionary War, everything was at stake except the building itself.

As it headed into its fifth week in mid-November, the virtual all-Ivy Risk game worked a lot like the traditional board game. The conquerable territory didn’t span the world, however, but the Northeast states from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire. States were broken into regions, and a team died once all of its regions had been captured. Penn was out as the game progressed and Princeton, in an alliance with Cornell and Brown, was fighting hard to edge out Columbia. Bragging rights were to be the only prize for the winner, which was to be announced this month.

To unify the Princeton team, student-elected commanders Matt Alexander ’10 and Edwin Bennett ’11 sent out daily e-mails telling players where to move. Moving in unison meant greater strength, and part of the strategy was to urge players to log on and make their moves later in the day, when there was a sense of what moves other teams would make.

“They’ll find out what other people are doing from spies at their school,” Teddy Forsyth ’08 said. “Literally, they have informants at other schools. It’s really funny because they’ll say, ‘Our intelligence at Columbia told us this.’ ”

Of course, there was no rest for the team over fall break. An e-mail from commanders Alexander and Bennett rallied the troops: “Yesterday’s turn was another great success for Princeton. We captured Penn’s strongest territory and held off two strong Columbia attacks into Seton Hall and Compton with ease. They’re on their heels now — help us first get them out of Jersey, and then off the entire map!”

Isia Jasiewicz ’10By Isia Jasiewicz ’10

Norman Finkelstein *87 is no stranger to the controversy surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His highly publicized tenure denial at DePaul Univer-sity, where he had been an assistant professor until June, sparked much debate regarding his strong criticism of Israel and his scholarship. It’s no surprise, then, that tensions were high during Finkelstein’s lecture at the Friend Center last month.

The event, which lasted more than three hours, drew community members and students, both supporters and dissenters. Sponsoring the talk were the Princeton Middle East Society, the department and program in Near East-ern studies, the International Center, and the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

In his speech, Finkelstein argued that most of the public controversy surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “designed to divert attention from the actual factual record on the conflict.” Finkelstein said that based on international legal codes and historical and human-rights records, it should be “absolutely uncontroversial” to state that Israel has violated international law.

According to Finkelstein, claims that the conflict is unique and cannot be compared to other precedents, as well as accusations of anti-Semitism on the part of anti-Zionists, have been fabricated to keep people from finding fault with Israel. He also maintains that the Holocaust has been used to justify Israeli actions.

Finkelstein’s remarks drew ire from pro-Israel audience members, some of whom interrupted Finkelstein during his speech. (One student stood up in protest; Finkelstein waited until the Q&A period to address his objections.)

Jacob Loewenstein ’11, vice president of Tigers for Israel (formerly known as PIPAC), said that he was “appalled by the distortion of the facts and complete one-sidedness” in Finkelstein’s lecture. “I think most rational thinking people would agree the situation is rather complex because certain faults lie on both sides of the conflict,” Loewenstein said, adding that Finkelstein’s failure to recognize this complexity “antagonizes [dissenters] and offers no reconciliation.”

Sarah Dajani ’09, a member of the Princeton Committee for Palestine, on the other hand, called Finkelstein “an academic well-versed in the region’s history” and said that the lecture provided “the opportunity for robust debate.” end of article

MORE ON THE CAMPUS ONLINE, click here: California letdown; strutting in New York

To read our exclusively online On the Campus column, click here.


Return to beginning of On  the Campus

Current Issue    Online Archives    Printed Issue Archives
Advertising Info    Reader Services    Search    Contact PAW    Your Class Secretary