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JfJfP comments


2016:

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2015:

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2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

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Posts

May sets up attack on free speech


International Apartheid Week at University College London, organised by UCLU Friends of Palestine, Facebook.

Free speech on Israel is under threat from groups conflating criticism of country with antisemitism, say academics

Staff at dozens of UK universities condemn government definition as ‘extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights’

By Charlotte England, The Independent
March 01, 2017

Free speech on Israel is being suppressed by individuals and groups who deliberately seek to conflate criticism of the country with antisemitism, hundreds of academics have claimed.

In an open letter, professors at dozens of UK universities flagged concerns about the definition of antisemitism adopted by the current government, which they said universities Minister Jo Johnson asked be “disseminated” throughout the higher education system.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, currently favoured by Theresa May’s party, “can be and is being read as extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights,” they said.

The conflict with Palestinians is “an entirely separate issue,” and cannot be taken “as prima facie evidence of antisemitism”, they added.

The IHRA says in its working definition of antisemitism: “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

The letter, signed by academics at the London School of Economics, Warwick, University College London, York, and Exeter universities, among others, asserts “this definition seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism”.

Published in The Guardian, the academics acknowledge a spike in far-right, antisemitic incidents on UK campuses, which “seems to reflect the increase in xenophobia since the Brexit vote”, but raise concerns about muddying the definition of antisemitism and restricting free debate on Israel.

In a letter to Universities UK, Mr Johnson “specifically mentions Israeli Apartheid Week (a worldwide activity at this time of year since 2005) as a cause for concern”, it says, adding this led institutions to cancel events.

“The response has been swift. Late last week, in haste and clearly without legal advice, the University of Central Lancashire banned a meeting that was to be addressed by journalist Ben White as well as by academics,” the letter continues. “The university statement asserted that the meeting on “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine” contravened the definition of antisemitism recently adopted by the government, and would therefore not be lawful.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a body set up during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, cites the IHRA definition in asking its supporters to “record, film, photograph and get witness evidence” about Israeli Apartheid Week events, adding “we will help you to take it up with the university, students’ union or even the police”.

In the letter, the academics describe the cancellation of the meeting in Lancashire and the statement by the Campaign Against antisemitism as “outrageous interferences with free expression,” and “direct attacks on academic freedom”.

The letter ends: “As academics with positions at UK universities, we wish to express our dismay at this attempt to silence campus discussion about Israel, including its violation of the rights of Palestinians for more than 50 years. It is with disbelief that we witness explicit political interference in university affairs in the interests of Israel under the thin disguise of concern about antisemitism.”

Israeli Apartheid Week is a series of events that seek to raise awareness about the country’s “settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people”.

It also encourages people to boycott the country.

The 13th event kicked off in the UK this week and will happen in other countries around the world between March and April.

In a letter to the chief executives of the representative bodies for higher education institutions, Mr Johnson warned about an increased risk of antisemitic hate crimes ahead of the event.

“I am sure you share my concerns about the rising reports of antisemitic incidents in this country and will want to make sure that your own institution is a welcoming environment for all students and that the legal position and guidelines are universally understood and acted upon at all times,” he said.

“This will include events such as those that might take place under the banner of ‘Israel Apartheid’ events for instance. Such events need to be properly handled by higher education institutions to ensure that our values, expectations and laws are not violated.”

@charlottengland


 


BDS activists in London defend the right to free choice and free speech. No credit.

Free speech on Israel under attack in universities


Jo Johnson, the Conservative universities minister, has asked Universities UK to disseminate the government’s definition of antisemitism. Photo by Chris Radburn/PA

Collective letter, The Guardian
Monday 27 February 2017

The spike in far-right antisemitic incidents on UK campuses that you report (UK universities urged to act over spate of antisemitic stickers and graffiti, 18 February) seems to reflect the increase in xenophobia since the Brexit vote.

Yet the government has “adopted” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, which can be and is being read as extending to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights, an entirely separate issue, as prima facie evidence of antisemitism. This definition seeks to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism.

Now Jo Johnson, the government minister whose brief includes universities, has written to Universities UK asking for this definition to be disseminated throughout the system. His letter specifically mentions Israeli Apartheid Week (a worldwide activity at this time of year since 2005) as a cause for concern.

The response has been swift. Late last week, in haste and clearly without legal advice, the University of Central Lancashire banned a meeting that was to be addressed by journalist Ben White as well as by academics. The university statement asserted that the meeting on “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine” contravened the definition of antisemitism recently adopted by the government, and would therefore not be lawful.

Meanwhile, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, a body set up during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, cites this definition in asking its supporters to “record, film, photograph and get witness evidence” about Israeli Apartheid Week events; and “we will help you to take it up with the university, students’ union or even the police”.

These are outrageous interferences with free expression, and are direct attacks on academic freedom. As academics with positions at UK universities, we wish to express our dismay at this attempt to silence campus discussion about Israel, including its violation of the rights of Palestinians for more than 50 years. It is with disbelief that we witness explicit political interference in university affairs in the interests of Israel under the thin disguise of concern about antisemitism.

To complain about the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s charitable status (the CAS claims its work is educational) contact the Charity Commission (concerns about a charity)

 


 

Signatories

Prof Jonathan Rosenhead,
Abou-El-Fadl,
Prof Gilbert Achcar,
Dr Siân Adiseshiah,
Prof Patrick Ainley,
Prof Nadje Al-Ali,
Dr Anne Alexander,
Dr Nour Ali,
Prof Arshin Adib-Moghaddam,
Dr Enam Al-Wer,
Prof Martin Atkinson,

Dr Paul Bagguley,
Dr Claude Baesens,
Giles Bailey,
Prof Mona Baker,
Prof Matthew Beaumont,
Dr Alex Bellem,
Dr Anna Bernard,
Dr Mark Berry,
Fazila Bhimji,
Prof Joanna Bornat,
Prof Richard Bornat,
Prof Glenn Bowman,
Prof Bill Bowring,
Dr Robert Boyce,
Prof Mark Boylan,
Prof Craig Brandist,
Prof Haim Bresheeth,
Prof Bill Brewer,
Prof Erica Burman,
John Burnett,
Prof Ray Bush,
Dr Jethro Butler,
Prof David Byrne,

Dr Marina Carter,
Sir Iain Chalmers,
Dr Rinella Cere,
Dr John Chalcraft,
Dr Andrew Chitty,
Dr Nicholas Cimini,
Prof Linda Clarke,
Dr Owen Clayton,
Catherine Cobham,
Peter Collins,
Dr Luke Cooper,
Prof Elizabeth Cowie,
Dr John Cowley,
Dr Don Crewe,
Dr Jim Crowther,
Prof Hamish Cunningham,
Mike Cushman,

Gareth Dale,
Dr Aboobaker Dangor,
Dr Neil Davidson,
Prof Graham Dawson,
Dr Wolfgang Deckers,
Pat Devine,
Prof James Dickins,
Dr Youcef Djerbib,
Dr Clair Doloriert,
Prof Michael Donmall,
Prof Elizabeth Dore,
Dr Judit Druks,
Prof Mick Dumper,
Prof Graham Dunn,

Prof Colin Eden,
Prof Michael Edwards,
Dr Phil Edwards,
Dr Hanem El-Farahaty
Prof Aneez Esmail,
Dr Karen F Evans,

Prof Natalie Fenton,
Dr Anna Fisk,
Dr Peter Fletcher
Dr João Florêncio,
Dr Jennifer Fortune,
Prof Murray Fraser,
Prof Des Freedman,

Prof Rosalind Galt,
Prof Conor Gearty,
Dr Philip Gilligan,
John Gilmore-Kavanagh,
Andy Gossett,
Prof Colin Green,
Prof Penny Green,
Dr Lee Grieveson,
Prof Dorothy Griffiths,
Prof Peter Gurney,

Prof Steve Hall,
Prof Peter Hallward,
Keith Hammond,
Prof Daphne Hampson,
Dr Kevin Hearty,
Dr Emma Heywood,
Dr Jason Hickel,
Tom Hickey,
Karolin Hijazi,
Prof Marian Hobson,
Dr Uri Horesh,
Prof Richard Hudson,
Prof Stephen Huggett,
Prof Richard Hyman,

Dr Paula James,
Prof David Johnson,
Cliff Jones,
Prof Ken Jones,
Dr Peter E Jones,

Prof Virinder S Kalra,
Nisha Kapoor,
Prof Daniel Katz,
Prof Stephen Keen,
Prof Steve Keen,
Dr Paul Kelemen,
Tim Kelly,
Prof Laleh Khalili,
Dr Gholam Khiabany,
Dr Peter J King,
Glynn Kirkham,
Dr Sharon Kivland,
Dr Adi Kuntsman,

Dr Karima Laachir,
Prof Ailsa Land,
Prof Frank Land,
Dr Jeremy Landor,
Dr Richard Lane,
Prof Dennis Leech,
Dr Les Levidow,
Prof Malcolm Levitt,
Dr Mark Leopold,
Rashné Limki,
Dr Jo Littler,
Prof Yosefa Loshitzky,

Prof Roy Maartens,
David Mabb,
Prof Moshé Machover,
Dr Matthew Malek,
Cathy Malone,
Angela Mansi,
Prof Philip Marfleet,
Tim Martin,
Dr Dina Matar,
Dr Charlie McGuire,
Prof Cahal McLaughlin,
Dr Patricia McManus,
Prof Klim McPherson,

Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia,
Dr Lucy Michael,
Dr Linda Milbourne,
Dr Thomas Mills,
Prof Anthony Milton
Prof David Mond,
Dr David S Moon,
Dr John Moore,
Dr Carlo Morelli,
Prof Clément Mouhot,
Prof Martha Mundy,

Dr Shuruq Naguib,
Dr Yasmeen Narayan,
Dr Nadia Naser-Najjab,
Prof Mica Nava,
Dr Marijn Nieuwenhuis,

Dr Paul O’Connell,
Dr Deirdre O’Neill,
Dr Uriel Orlow,

Ian Pace,
Prof Ian Parker,
Prof Martin Parker,
Prof Benita Parry,
Prof David Pegg,
Prof Luis Pérez-González,
Dr Sarah Perrigo,
Jaime Peschiera,
Prof Julian Petley,
Prof Alison Phipps,
Dr Linda Pickard,
Dr Richard Pitt,
Prof Malcolm Povey,
Dr Nicola Pratt,
Dr Navtej Purewal,

Dr Nat Queen,

Prof William Raban,
Dr Shirin M Rai,
Dr Anandi Ramamurthy,
Dr Rahul Rao,
Dr Reem
Prof Dee Reynolds,
Prof Chris Roberts,
Prof Hilary Rose,
Prof Steven Rose,
Prof Marsha Rosengarten,
Prof Chris Rust,

Prof Louisa Sadler,
Myriam Salama-Carr,
Dr Gabriela Saldanha,
Prof Moin A Saleem,
Dr Julian Saurin,
Prof S Sayyid,
Prof Richard Seaford,
Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins,
Dr David Seddon,
Dr Arianne Shahvisi,
Dr Abdul B Shaikh,

Prof Suleiman Shark,
Dr Debra Benita Shaw,
Dr Gajendra Singh,
Dr Subir Sinha,
Dr Graham Smith,

Prof John Smith,
Prof Neil Smith,
Dr Oliver Smith,
Prof Andrew Spencer,
Dr Guy Standing,
Prof Hugh Starkey,
Prof Tony Sudbery,
Bernard Sufrin,

Dr Paul Taylor,
Dr Rosalind Temple,
Dr Nicholas Thoburn,
Prof Leon Tikly,
Dr Teodora Todorova,
Prof Steve Tombs,
Graham Topley,
Prof Joy Townsend,
Prof Julian Townshend
Dr Brian Tweedale,

Prof Mathias Urban,
Dr Rashmi Varma,

Dr Khursheed Wadia,
Prof Philip Wadler,
Dr Paul Watt,
Tom Webster,
Prof John Weeks,
Dr Tony Whelan,
Prof David Whyte,
Prof David Wield,
Dr Gavin Williams,
Prof Patrick Williams,
Milly Williamson,
Prof Robert Wintemute,
Dr Naomi Woodspring,
Dr Toni Wright,
Andy Wynne,

Jim Zacune,

 

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