Sunday, November 15, 2015

LSE's Middle East Centre hosted a workshop on Israel - but only invited anti-Israel activists to speak

See 9 Dec 2016 update

I am in the middle of correspondence with Professor Craig Calhoun, Director of LSE in connection with issues of antisemitism and discrimination by the LSE's Middle East Research Centre. This is partly based on the fact the Centre's leading members recently signed the boycott Israel letter, but there are other issues going back several years. I cannot yet reveal all of the details of the dispute, but Calhoun has really shot himself in the foot with the following defence against one of the accusations (namely that the Centre discriminates against Israel). He said:
 The Centre holds events on Israel. The last one was a public event in September on “taking the pulse of Palestine-Israel 20 years after Oslo”. The Centre was also involved in hosting the Israeli Ambassador in February 2015 for an LSE public lecture. In addition, the Centre has a Visiting Fellow, Dr Rebecca Steinfeld, who works on Israel.
Here is my response to that particular defence:
It turns out that this response is rather embarrassing for you since it would be difficult to find better examples that prove the accusations I have made about the Centre's discriminatory policy against Israel.  Let's analyse each of these examples in turn: 
"The September event". First of all its title was not simply “taking the pulse of Palestine-Israel 20 years after Oslo” as you state. Its full title was “From the River to the Sea: taking the pulse of Palestine-Israel 20 years after Oslo” I suspect you missed out the start of the title since those are the very words chanted by anti-Israel fanatics with the objective of a ‘one state solution’ without Jews. Of more substance however, is the fact that the event involved seven speakers, every one of whom is an anti-Zionist activist. Is that what you call balance? They were:
  • Mandy Turner: She is as a member of the anti-Zionist "al Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network". In addition to being one of your Visiting Fellows she is also the Director of the Kenyon Institute  (Council for British Research in the Levant) in East Jerusalem. This Institute has supported the BDS campaign which ultimately seeks the total destruction of Israel as a Jewish State.
  • Cherine Hussein: a fourth rate academic whose only publication seems to be her pretentious PhD which argues for the abolition of the Jewish state in favour of a one-state Palestine ('from the river to the sea').
  •  Mansour Nsasra: he is a researcher focused on the Arab Bedouin residents of Israel and obsessively promotes a false and antisemitic narrative of  Jewish settlers forcing the Bedouin from their homes.
  •  Toufic Hadad: a Palestinian socialist fanatic who seeks the destruction of the Jewish State and pushes the "Israel is an apartheid state" lie.
  •  Dimi Reider: the token "Israeli". Except, as with every Israeli who has actually been involved in any way with the Middle East Centre, he is an extreme leftist anti-Zionist (although, in his own words, he prefers to be called a “non-Zionist”). He writes for the anti-Zionist magazine +972 (see also here) 
  • Raja Khalidi: a "US citizen whose family comes from Jerusalem"  he writes about "the Palestinian people’s confrontation with settler colonialism." He is currently based at the Palestinian Bir Zeit University - a Hamas supporting institute with a record of both    producing and supporting terrorists who kill Jewish civilians. To get a feel for the depth of their antisemitism, last year they ejected one of the world's most active anti-Zionists (Amira Hass, who had come to speak) on the grounds that she was a Jewish Israeli.
  • Diana Bhotto: yet another anti-Israel activist who supports the total destruction of the Jewish State.
"The hosting of the Israeli Ambassador in February 2015 for an LSE public lecture"
You say "The Centre was also involved" in this. Perhaps you do not follow what happens at your own Institute? The event degenerated into a total farce with the ambassador being silenced. The report there says:

The protesters blocked 3/4 of the entrance (by their own admission) and when they couldn't stop Taub from talking, they pulled the fire alarm in order to silence him. The alarm was turned off after a few minutes and the speech continued with protesters outside screaming about Israel. One student even bore a placard stating, "murderers not welcome at LSE."
But in what sense was the “Centre involved in hosting the event” as you assert? I suspect its only involvement was in the demonstration to stop Ambassador Taub speaking because the event was NEVER even listed as one associated with the Centre. Indeed the proof of this is that the Centre publicised 8 public events in Feb 2015 (including one on 2 Feb by Dr Filippo Dionigi which was very sympathetic to the terrorist organisation Hezbollah) but the Ambassador's talk was never mentioned.

"The hosting of Visiting Fellow, Dr Rebecca Steinfeld  who works on Israel."
To cite Rebecca Steinfeld as an example of the Centre’s balanced approach to Israel is not just scraping the barrel, but an insult to my intelligence. She is an active member of the anti-Israel organisation “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”. She is not only obsessively anti-Zionist but also anti-Jewish since she has campaigned to ban one of the main pillars of the religion (circumcision) - a campaign which got her thrown off the Jewish Board of Deputies in 2011. In her truly bizarre and third rate research, which is focused on “the politics of genital alteration”,  Steinfeld claims that “Israel has established and maintained an ethnically selective pro-nationalist policy that seeks to simultaneously encourage a higher Jewish birth-rate and a lower non-Jewish one – specifically Palestinian-Arab – with the aim of ensuring a Jewish majority through internal population growth.” Her PhD supervisor was the anti-Zionist historian Prof. Avi Shlaim. Steinfeld  is also a regular writer for the anti-Zionist newspaper Haaretz where she fires incessant insults at the Jewish state.

I do not believe that you can actually provide a single example in the Centre’s six-year history where they have hosted a person or event actually representing main stream Israeli opinion. If, as either you or some of your colleagues seem to believe, that extreme leftist anti-Zionists are representative of Israeli opinion and politics, then how do you explain the fact that in democratic election after election, parties with those views have not only failed to get elected in Israel, but have been getting diminishing numbers of votes?
What is clear is that things are not getting any better at the Centre or the LSE generally. I see that just a couple of weeks ago the LSE yet again hosted an event glorifying the terrorist murder of Jews in Israel. I also see that one of the Centre’s forthcoming speakers is none other than the totally discredited antisemite Abdul Bari Atwan who already brought shame to LSE in 2010 when he made an antisemitic speech there that was captured on video. Atwan is also infamous for stating in 2010 that “If Iranian Missiles Hit Israel, I Will Dance in Trafalgar Square”.
See 9 Dec 2016 update

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Unknown said...

Nice reply. I admire how you can be so polite.