Britain Today

Professor Alderman, In A Hotel Room, In Belfast

As I write, Professor Geoffrey Alderman is lying in bed in a hotel room in Belfast.

He had been invited by the Belfast Festival to take part in a debate on the Middle East, where he was to appear on a panel with Professors Avi Shlaim of St Anthony’s College, Oxford and Beverley Milton Edwards, of Queens University, Belfast. Shlaim, you know. Milton Edwards is a founder of the pro-Hamas and Hezbollah lobbying organisation, Conflicts Forum.

This is what happened next:

[O]n Friday Professor Alderman says he received an email from [festival director] Mr [Graeme] Farrow withdrawing the invitation to be on the panel.

Mr Farrow told him that he had made “a mistake in agreeing to extend an invitation to you Geoffrey without consulting the academics in question”.

After a meeting with Mr Farrow early this afternoon, Professor Alderman said he had given the organisers three options: to allow him to join the panel and if his fellow-panellists were to object, “they could stay away”: to let him to take part while sitting on a separate table: or simply to call off the event.

The event took place.

From what I can tell, either or both of the other professors refused to sit on a panel with Professor Alderman. Professor Alderman is a Jew who supports Israel’s continued existence. One might fairly infer that this was their reason for refusing to participate in an event with them. Is it that they regarded any defence at all of Israel as illegitimate?

Why did Queen’s University Belfast turn a balanced debate into what must have amounted to a publicly subsidised delegitimisation of Israel, and a symbolic affirmation that nothing else should be permitted?

What about the waste of money – flying Professor Alderman out to Belfast, putting him up in a hotel room, and then flying him back – all paid for out of our taxes, chiz chiz!!

Can I just make one, small point?

Jews are quite paranoid. Well, you can see why that might be. For that reason, you might hope, really, that Graeme Farrow and Queens University Belfast might do their bit not conspire with maniacs to behave like utter wankers.

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