Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another update to the LSE Middle East Centre saga

When I raised the issue of the Middle East Centre's manager Dr Chalcraft proposing a motion for an academic boycott of Israel I got the following response from Sir Howard Davies, the LSE Director:

I am replying to your email to me of 15th January.  You refer to the debate at the School on an academic boycott of Israel.  The debate was a joint event organised by the Israeli and Palestine societies here, who both agreed that issues ought to be debated in public.  As you note, Dr Chalcraft proposed the motion and a professor from UCL opposed it.  The motion failed.

You suggest that Dr Chalcraft’s view cannot be consistent with our claim that the Middle East Centre will provide balanced and informed analysis of the region.  I do not agree.  Professor Fawaz Gerges, director of the centre, has said: “The Middle East Centre is committed to rigorous research and scholarship with the scrupulous preservation of its academic independence.  There is a distinction between the policy of an institution and the views of individual academics, who retain their freedom of opinion and hold diverse views on many subjects.  This variety can help provide collective strength and balance in dealing with controversial matters.  More than 20 academics are involved in the Middle East Centre (through its research group and management group) and all of them are outstanding scholars of the region”.

You go on to say that you “can no longer believe the claim that the Middle East Centre was in no way to blame for the map” in our magazine which you have complained about before.  I find this a remarkable assertion.  Effectively you are accusing me and Claire Sanders of lying to you.  We have explained clearly the circumstances in which the map was chosen and have explained that it is unfortunate.  But it was not a matter for the centre itself. 

Howard Davies


Here is my self-explanatory response:

Dear Sir Howard

Thank you for your response.

>I am replying to your email to me of 15th January. You refer to the debate at the School on an academic boycott of Israel. The debate was a joint event organised by the Israeli and Palestine societies here, who both agreed that issues ought to be debated in public.

I look forward then to future debates proposing an academic boycott of Pakistan (or indeed virtually any of the world's 58 Muslim states which have anti-Chrisitian and anti-semitic policies and laws, not to mention numerous occupations and violations of human rights), an academic boycott of America (for conducting 'imperialist wars' in the Middle East), an academic boycott of China (for its occupation of Tibet and violation of human rights) , an academic boycott of the UK (see America), an academic boycott of Switzerland (for its banning of Muslim minarets), etc.

Can you please let me know when each of these debates is taking place at LSE in the near future. If they are not, or if you believe that any of those are issues should NOT be debated in public, then am I allowed to call you an anti-semite? Because I am afraid that is the only valid conclusion to draw.


>As you note, Dr Chalcraft proposed the motion and a professor from UCL opposed it. The motion failed.; You suggest that Dr Chalcraft’s view cannot be consistent with our claim that the Middle East Centre will provide balanced and informed analysis of the region. I do not agree.

Since Dr Chalcraft is listed on the LSE website as a manager of the Middle East Centre I think any rational person would tend to agree with me and not you. Oh and by the way independent attendees of the debate (I was not there) felt that Dr Chalcroft destroys the credibility not just of the Middle East Centre but of LSE as a a whole.

> You go on to say that you “can no longer believe the claim that the Middle East Centre was in no way to blame for the map” in our magazine which you have complained about before. I find this a remarkable assertion. Effectively you are accusing me and Claire Sanders of lying to you. We have explained clearly the circumstances in which the map was chosen and have explained that it is unfortunate. But it was not a matter for the centre itself.
I do not know if you are lying or if this was an incredible coincidence. If it was the latter then I apologise. But when I hear yet again that LSE this week supported further outrageous behaviour by anti-Israel fanatics of the PalSoc (brandishing fake guns and blood and intimidating Jewish students) then perphaps you will apologise for allowing, under your Directorship, a fine institution to have become a place where irrational anti-Israel activities dominate the campus and Jewish students no longer feel comfortable or safe.

Finally, here is Sir Howard Davies's helpful response (received 29 Jan 2011) to the above:

Your comments are not worthy of reply.

It is no wonder that LSE has become the number one Israel hatefest centre under his directorship. He is a complete asshole.

Yet another update to this story here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

LSE's anti-Israel Middle East Centre: Update

In response to the discovery here that LSE was advertising its new Middle East Centre with a map of the Middle East that eradicated Israel, the LSE's Vice-Chancellor Sir Howard Davies replied (on 13 January 2011) as follows:

"Thank you for your e-mail concerning the map which was used to illustrate a story about our new Middle East Centre in LSE Connect. This was an error on our part which you are quite right to point out.

I have spoken to Claire Sanders, the editor of LSE Connect, who has just returned from sick leave. She will be e-mailing you separately, but has assured me that the use of this particular map was entirely unintentional.

The map was chosen at the design stage simply to brighten and illustrate a page of text - unfortunately we didn't look closely enough at the image (as we should have) to see that it was entirely inappropriate. The map in question came from a collection of stock images held by an external agency - and I have been assured that we will not use this agency again. It has already been removed from the online version of the magazine and an apology for this mistake will be printed in the next edition of LSE Connect.

Above all, I would like to stress that the Middle East Centre was entirely uninvolved in the error. The centre is determined to provide balanced and informed analysis of the region, to include Arab states, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan."
So, a very hopeful response. Except that on 11 January 2011  a debate took place at the LSE in which Senior Lecturer Dr. John Chalcraft proposed the motion: "This House Believes in an Academic Boycott of Israel".  It turns out that this is the very same Dr. John Chalcraft who is listed as part of the management team of the Middle East Centre on the LSE's website. This is not exactly with Howard's claim that "The centre is determined to provide balanced and informed analysis of the region...."

In this light of this simply incredible revelation it is difficult to believe the claim that The Middle East Centre was blameless for the map that eliminated Israel in LSE Connect.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The futility of Israel's new rules of engagement

A typically brilliant article by Michael Totten describes in detail the extent to which the Israeli army will go to minimise civilian casualties in any future war.

The problem with the strategy is that it guarantees that Israel will be incapable of decisive victory. It also guarantees excessive and unnecessary losses of Israeli forces. For example, although it is known for certain that Hezbollah (and of course Hamas) is using mosques and clinics as both command centres and weapons storage facilities, the IDF will not be allowed to attack them.

Israel took excessive care in both the 2006 Lebanon war and the 2009 Gaza war to minimise civilian casualties - more than any other military force in history - and yet the world still condemned her. In response to pressure from the left-wing judiciary in Israel, the IDF announced in 2010 that it was instigating even tighter rules of engagement for future conflicts. Some of the fruits of this change are evidenced in Totten's report. But none of that will make an iota of difference to world reaction, which will still condemn Israel no matter what. The very act of self-defence by Israel is illegitimate in the eyes of most of the world.

The terrorists of Hezbollah and Hamas must be laughing their heads off at the extent Israel will go to appease world opinion. And they will be futher stockpiling weapons in mosques, schools and hospitals.