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Our esteemed teacher and scholar Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad

This is a cross-post from the University of Westminster Islamic Society

The ISOC would like to take the opportunity to clarify some of the claims being made by certain students with regards to the upcoming “Who is Muhammad” event on the 26th of February 2015.

The claims surround the ISOC inviting our esteemed teacher and scholar Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad to provide a lecture on the most important of all Islamic figures and the lessons we can learn from his life. It is also an opportunity for non-Muslims who may have any misconceptions about Muhammad to gain the clarification they seek with regards to his biography. At no point has anything related to any LGBT topics, been scheduled to be spoken about.

The claims have suggested that the ISOC inviting Shaykh Haitham to the event is an affront to the LGBTI Society and community in the University of Westminster, especially given the upcoming National Students Pride event, and there have been campaigns and petitions made to ban Shaykh Haitham from entering and lecturing on campus.

The ISOC would like to respond by assuring our respected peers, the students of the University of Westminster, that Shaykh Haitham has not been invited as an indirect affront, insult or gesture of indifference towards any part of the student community. We have invited him because, despite the bad press he continually receives, the malignant rumours and misquotations gleefully spread about him, he is one of the most knowledgeable Islamic figures in the UK, and the ISOC is honoured to invite him to speak for us. Individuals who are upset and believe Shaykh Haitham supports FGM and is a virulent homophobe have been suckered in by the aforementioned scaremongering carried out against him, a man who has given up a massive portion of his life simply to the betterment and education of a much-maligned, ostracised and pressured Muslim community in the UK. Shaykh Haitham has on numerous occasions sought to clarify his opinions but these clarifications have thus fallen on deaf ears, either through unwillingness or through being thoroughly misinformed on the part of the intended audience.

(HP: ahem)

(HP: er…)

Shaykh Haitham’s invitation has also been reviewed by the University’s Chaplain, and was signed off by him. If the University sees no issue with inviting Shaykh Haitham, having done the required research into his background and views, then this adds to the weakness of the complaints made against the Shaykh.

We would also like to remind our respected peers that the University of Westminster runs an Open Platform policy with regards to speakers. This is a basic element of the necessity to be able to think freely, discuss any topic, and dissent as one may please at Universities. Universities are considered the last place remaining where one may openly dissent without any fear of punishment, because of the need to develop ideas. Having said that, we, more than perhaps any denomination of students in the entire University, understand the fear of these platforms being used to insult. The students opposed to Shaykh Haitham’s invitation should be made aware that he has not and does not make insulting comments about any group of people and he has far better things to do than to come onto campus to insult other denominations from the student body.

The ISOC would like to also point out the irony of the situation, that when the discussion of the freedom to insult was taking place quite recently, the complaints of the Muslims stating that they should not have to accept being offended and insulted, fell on deaf ears. The claims were very real about a media-wide theme of discrediting and demonising the Muslim community, however, in this case where the claims are at the very best highly questionable and fraught with misinformation, this group of students (to whom we bear no ill-will), are demanding that they should not have to go through being offended or insulted (which they won’t be as we previously assured). It is poignant that now they are expecting others to listen to and act upon those complaints, whilst that same courtesy was not extended to the Muslim community. This is not about us against them, but a reminder that the context of their complaint flies in the face of the Muslim community who are continually subjected to offence and insult in the media and in other outlets.

We would like to remind the LGBTI Society and community of the University that they are free to invite whomsoever they please, and that we are powerless to stop them, and that we would have no intention of stopping them anyway. We respect the University’s Open Platform policy and respect the right of students to use it as they please.

And to conclude, the ISOC will not be going back on the decision to invite Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad to our event, nor will we apologise for doing so. We are not of the mindset that he has done anything wrong or that he is inciting violence and attacks against the LGBT community in the UK. We are more than happy to invite our esteemed teacher to provide us with beneficial knowledge once again, and have no qualms with looking to invite him again in the future.
-
University of Westminster Islamic Society

HP: see Haddad proud to preach death. Yet again.



West Ham fans celebrate their foreskins in song

I don’t pretend to understand the abstruse ethnic-based rivalries of British footall/soccer fandom, but doesn’t this go beyond supposedly good-natured banter about “Yids”?

Many of the comments to the video are as ugly as you’d expect.


Haitham Haddad at the University of Westminster

A familiar figure is in unsurprising trouble:

Students are mounting a last-minute campaign to prevent a preacher accused of having homophobic views from speaking at their university the day before it hosts a national gay pride event.

Haitham al-Haddad, who is alleged to have described homosexuality as “a scourge” and “a criminal act”, has been invited to talk to students at Westminster University on Thursday at an event entitled “Who is Muhammad?”

Members of the university’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) society have launched a petition, which has attracted nearly 2,500 signatures, in an attempt to block the visit and stop him from “preaching hate on our campus”.

“Alleged”? See for yourself on the man’s own website, in a piece attributed to him.

The Guardian report then notes that the petition “accuses the Saudi-born Haddad of making controversial comments about the “proper” way to perform female genital mutilation”.

“Accuses”? Excuse me?

The student union’s response too is wearisomely familiar:

The University of Westminster students’ union (UWSU) said Haddad, who was invited by the Islamic Society, had undergone the external speaker-vetting process. A statement said: “UWSU wishes to reflect the diversity of our students and enable our student leaders to deliver events which are important to them.”

Here’s some student news on that “vetting process”:

At the University of Westminster, the Interfaith Adviser is Yusuf Kaplan. As the Interfaith Adviser he not only considers and looks out for students with faith, but any with protected characteristics. There are nine protected characteristics which are protected in discrimination laws, these include age, sexuality and faith.

Last time Sheikh Haitham Al Haddad came onto campus the LGBT Society had a meeting with the Yusuf Kaplan to raise concerns. Smoke Radio can exclusively reveal that the adviser studied with the Sheikh in the years after he converted to Islam.

Ah. Hence:

A member of the LGBT society who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal also told Smoke Radio that when they challenged Mr Kaplan on the use of the word “scourge” in the Sheikh’s article he claimed that it didn’t have homophobic connotations but it was just badly translated from arabic.

Yeah yeah. In any case, there’s plenty in English, Mr Kaplan, don’t you know. Mr Haddad is proud to be a hate preacher. Quite explicitly so, as reported here recently.

“Out of justice, the kaffir (disbeliever, widely considered highly pejorative), you should have hate for him because of the kufr (disbelief) that he is carrying and you have to have love for him to endorse Islam, to endorse the haqq (truth).

We tell them [non-Muslims] the hate in our religion is different from the hate in any other religion. We might hate a person but we love good for him, OK. This is the difference. Is that clear? And therefore brothers you have to be careful. Although you hate a kaffir but you love good for him. You love that he accepts Islam. You love that he becomes a better person, although you hate him. This is difficult, but you have to have this. This is out of justice.”

Plus jihad, of course, always ever so close to Haddad’s heart, even if prison is the price:

“We cannot delete jihad from our literature. We cannot delete jihad. It is in the Qur’an, it is in the sunnah of the prophet, all the scholars agreed upon, OK.

So if someone says there is no jihad, at this moment it’s just spiritual jihad, this is not an acceptable opinion whatsoever, OK. Whether they like it, they don’t like it, whether they will take us all to prison, or they don’t, OK, it is up to them. This is the haqq (truth), we follow the haqq, OK, this is part of our deen (religion), yeah?

This is recorded, huh? Oh. But we did not say something wrong.”

Going back to the Guardian report, the university’s position seems rather odd:

The university, in response, highlighted its commitment to freedom of speech and promised the event would be monitored carefully. A spokesman said: “The University of Westminster is committed to maintaining freedom of speech and a range of views as set out in the Education Act 1986.

“As a diverse community of local and international students of many faiths, respect and tolerance is our foremost concern and we will be monitoring the event carefully and any student concerns.

“The university has a strict speaker policy, which means that all speakers are required to give their agreement to abide by a code of practice. Speakers who do not comply with this policy while on campus will not be permitted to speak at the university in the future.”

So I guess Nick Griffin would be welcome for, um, British Cupcake Day or something?

The National Secular Society has weighed in too. It notes:

“There’s no doubt that the influence of political Islam in British universities is growing and with Islamic societies frequently hosting extremist preachers, universities need to be mindful of the effect that such speakers are having on young British Muslims.

“But the best response to their poisonous narrative is open discussion and debate, where it can be systematically exposed, ridiculed and defeated.”

Oh, how to bring out my wistful liberal nature.

But I am a realist first and foremost.

Many student Islamic society meetings are nothing more than brainwashing sessions for eagerly budding extremists. Sharp debate is most unwelcome. Try it and heated accusations of “Islamophobia” and “racism” are very likely to come flying your way, hurled in no small numbers by foolish left wing students.

It’s a bit like Mr Pickles’s bind. He wants help from outside. He needs it. He’s not getting it. For asking politely, his reward was a barrage. So “tougher measures” gain more and more support in government, which is the ultimate guarantor of any “safe space” for all of us.

In this case we have Yusuf Kaplan as an arbiter. He really doesn’t seem suited to the task, to say the least.

No wonder many people just want Haddad stopped. Liberal it’s not. Understandable it is. They’ve had enough.


Salaries, benefits, cuts

Both Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind have been suspended from their respective parties following cash for access allegations. As the BBC reported:

It is claimed that Mr Straw was recorded describing how he operated “under the radar” and had used his influence to change EU rules on behalf of a firm which paid him £60,000 a year.

Rifkind seemed to forget he even had a job with a £67,000 salary.

Sir Malcolm was recorded saying: “I am self-employed. So nobody pays me a salary, I have to earn my income, but when I’m not doing something I can do what I like.”

By contrast, those who have been stripped of benefits to which they may well be entitled could be forced to pay by the government if they appeal against DWP decisions.

Here are some striking statistics.

Earlier this week figures showed that in the past year nearly 900,000 people have had their benefits stopped, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996. In recent months, however, 58% of those who wanted to overturn DWP sanction decisions in independent tribunals have been successful. Before 2010, the success rate of appeals was 20% or less.

Legal aid cuts are another problem.  Here’s just one perspective, from Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters, on the effects of limiting access to justice for the most vulnerable.

And, as an appeal court judge argues here, (in)justice aside, such cuts may represent a false economy.


Labour Friends of Ukraine

This looks like something worthy of backing by Labour party members and supporters in the UK.

The Labour Party believes and has always believed in a world governed by rules, in liberal democracy and in the territorial integrity of nations. Nowhere is the battle for those ideals more fiercely raging than in Ukraine.

Labour Friends of Ukraine exists to show solidarity with this pluralistic, democratic society in its struggle against Russian aggression.

We hope to strengthen relations between Britain and Ukraine, supporting those striving for peace, tackling corruption and taking the country further down the road towards EU and Nato membership.

We foster constructive and informed discussion within the Labour movement.

Thankfully this bunch will have nothing to do with it.

I can’t find comparable Conservative or Liberal Democrat Friends of Ukraine (I don’t need to bother looking for George Galloway’s Respect party), but there actually was a Conservative Friends of Russia, accused of close ties with the Putin regime, as recently as 2012.

I’d hate to think there’s a connection between this and all the contributions to the Tories from Russian oligarchs. I mean, despite all the evidence, and despite all the financial power wielded in London by Russians with ties to the Putin regime, I’d really hate to think that.

Update: Here’s another reason why people on the Left should oppose the pro-Russian separatists and why leftists who support them should be made to feel like the sellouts and scabs they are.

Independent trade unions are now banned in the so-called Luhansk Peoples Republic – the Order was issued on 20th January2015 by the Minster of Justice A.V. Shubin entitled: “Concerning the Ban for Registration of Independent Trade Unions on the Territory of the People’s Republic of Luhansk Peoples Republic”. The order has become fully apparent as when an attempt was made by the Indepenent Miners Union sought to register at the Barakov Coal Mine.

(Looks like something Republican governors Nikki Haley and Scott Walker could get behind, but never mind.)


Kirchneristas know whom to blame

Responding to the hundreds of thousands of Argentinians who took to the streets in a downpour Wednesday to protest the response of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government to the likely murder of AMIA bombing prosecutor Alberto Nisman, supporters of Kirchner are planning their own demonstration on March 1:

That’s right: if you zoom in on the “M,” you will notice the references to both the CIA and the Mossad:

I imagine some Argentinians are still upset the whole Eichmann business in 1960, but c’mon…


I don’t care that Muslims are standing in front of a synagogue

In the wake of a terrorist murder at a synagogue in Copenhagen many Norwegian Muslims have determined to show solidarity with the Jewish community there. They shall be taking position outside a synagogue to “guard” it through making a “human peace ring” around it.

I wish they wouldn’t.

Superficial expressions of solidarity are all well and good but what we need is something a lot more real. No sensible person ever doubted that there were plenty of Muslims out there happy to live side by side with Jews. What I would prefer is to see the Muslim community take active measures to curb the extremism in their own mosques, schools and institutions. This isn’t just what the Jews need, it’s what everyone needs.

Are any of the politicians of Europe, in whose hands lie the power to tackle Islamic extremism head on, going to do anything at all to ensure that the real problem is dealt with?

Perhaps they could work on countering Islamic extremism instead of attacking the Prime Minister of Israel for telling Jews to make aliyah. Of course I wouldn’t expect European politicians to be anything other than outraged by calls from the Israeli Prime Minister for Jews to turn their backs on Europe and move to Israel. Such calls serve as a reminder of the European failure when it comes to accepting Jewry as an integrated part of Europe.

Zionism is a Jewish and a European ideology. It was born in Europe as a response to a hatred of Jews. A hatred whose very name, anti-Semitism, was coined by a Jew hater who wanted his hatred to sound more scientific. Every time you hear someone arguing they can’t be anti-Semitic because they’re a Semite you’ll see his effort bearing fruit.

The only reason Israel exists is because of Europe’s shabby treatment of Jews. The fact that in the 21st century Jews are still abandoning Europe to flock to Israel is a harsh reminder of European failure vis a vis the Jews. No wonder European politicians are taking it personally it’s a harsh indictment of their ineffectiveness.

In April in Southampton at a conference entitled ‘International Law and the State of Israel’ Zionism will be attacked on the grounds of human rights. This is Europe’s big issue. The liberal breeding ground for ideas of tolerance, enlightenment and many other nice, fluffy philosophies will always have an issue with Zionism, a Jewish ideology that holds a mirror up to ‘enlightened’ Europe and shows it the real reflection of itself.

After all how enlightened can Europe be if the Jews can’t find a home there? Rather than deal with the ramifications of such a question European intellectuals would far rather attack and attempt to de-legitimise Israel. It’s easier and requires a great deal less soul searching.

In Southampton the usual arguments against Israel will be rolled out. Israel will be attacked as an ethnic state that doesn’t provide human rights or democracy for all it’s citizens. It will be decried as supremacist when in reality it’s existence is simply the result of Jews creating a state where they can find the equality that so eluded them in Europe. Of course if Europe had provided these rights to Jews in the first place Zionism would never have been born.

Furthermore if the Europeans had managed to create an environment where Jews were treated as equals they wouldn’t be fleeing now.

Zionism serves to tell Europeans that the societies of which they’re so proud are failing. It’s this critique which is the reason we see such utter defensiveness on a Channel 4 interview where an Israeli journalist who exposed anti-Semitism was accused of “provocation”. We see it when politicians react to an Israeli Prime Minister’s call for Jews to leave Europe with righteous indignation and personal attacks.

It’s much easier to celebrate the irrelevant actions of a couple of Muslim activists or to attack Bibi Netanyahu or even to post armed guards to synagogues than it is to change the underlying problems in European society that ensure thousands of young European Muslims are running off to fight and die in the Islamic State.

It’s this European need to pretend everything’s fine which has led to the narrative we see all around us. It is why you’ll hear a great deal about Lassanna Bathily who is being honoured with French citizenship for his role in hiding Jews during the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris than about the heroism of Yoav Hattab. He was killed attacking a terrorist who had already murdered four people. In this context it is Bathily who is turned into a hero whereas Hattab is merely consigned to a couple of news reports and a grave in Jerusalem.

Hattab, the son of the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia, didn’t fit a European narrative that would rather see a Muslim praised as a hero for locking Jews in the fridge and running away, than a Jew who attacked an armed Muslim terrorist and was killed in the process. The former narrative promotes a myth of coexistence allowing politicians to deflect calls to tackle the Islamic extremism they have allowed to flourish on their watch. The latter might, heaven forbid, see Jews encouraged to fight for themselves rather than remain at the mercy of the soldiers on their doorsteps and the government in Parliament.

When European politicians are happy to put armed guards in front of Jewish targets but refuse to tackle the issue of radical Islam, or even to name it we know that things won’t change. In this Europe the Jews will remain weak and defenceless, in need of help from a state that will show how wonderful it is by providing armed guards and words of condemnation against anti-Semitism. But Jews only need armed guards because of the failure of Europe to deal with its Jew problem, or perhaps its Muslim problem. We only need words of condemnation and soldiers outside our communal buildings because leaders throughout Europe lack the courage needed to take on the problem of Jew hatred that’s festering, like it always has, in their society.

If European politicians were serious about dealing with anti-Semitism we’d see them tackle Muslim organisations and institutions that indoctrinate their communities with hatred of Jews, Christians and democracy. Instead we have seen them celebrated by the very politicians who claim to be stamping out extremism. It’s the same mindset that saw then head of the Muslim Council of Britain receive a Knighthood at exactly the same time as then Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. One did charitable work and represented the Jewish community, the other ran an organisation which would go on to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day and call for the death of British servicemen.

But of course you can’t give a Jew an honour without giving a Muslim one too. Apparently any Muslim will do. It’s this classic mindset, this encouragement of the appearance of fair play over substantive policy which got us all into this mess in the first place.

I suppose you could call it progress that Europe’s politicians are now speaking out against anti-Semitism rather than encouraging it or even perpetrating it. But this “progress” is too little too late. We no longer need to wait for Europe’s politicians to get their act together, we don’t need to rely on Muslims standing in front of synagogues for a nice photo op allowing everyone to pretend that everything’s fine. In fact I would far rather those Muslims let us defend our own shuls and concentrated on attacking the extremism running rampant through their communities.

So for these reasons I have no interest whatsoever in Muslims standing in front of synagogues and a great deal of interest in knowing what it is that European governments intend to do to stamp out the Islamic extremism which they have for too long ignored.


Caracas mayor is latest victim of crackdown on opposition

The Independent reports:

A mayor in Venezuela was arrested in dramatic scenes yesterday after dozens of armed police broke into his office and forcibly removed him from the building.

Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma was physically escorted out of the premises by Sebin officers after being accused of sowing seeds of unrest in the country and allegedly plotting a coup to bring down the government.

A trail of supporters in the building followed Mr Ledezma, of the Fearless People’s Alliance, as he was being led away to the lifts. The government have also transferred nearly all of his powers to a newly-created body.

Opposition politician Ismael Garcia wrote on Twitter that he saw Mr Ledezma carried away and said “they pulled him out of his office like he was a dog.” The charges for his arrest, without a warrant, are yet to be known.

Here’s a video of the police hauling Ledezma away. (He is the white-haired man in the center at about 1:00.) Considering the number of heavily-armed cops required, he must be a very dangerous man:

In an address to the nation, President Nicolas Maduro said Ledezma had been arrested “so that he answers for all of the crimes committed against the peace, security and constitution of our country.”

The embattled president faces record-low popularity as the tumble in oil prices has wrought product shortages, and hours-long lines for basic goods have become something of legend in Venezuela. (Earlier this month, several news outlets reported on the saga of the $755 pack of condoms.)

In Maduro’s televised address, he reiterated a claim he had made previously that the United States was behind the efforts to unseat him. “Their coup d’etat failed,” he said to applause. “Every fascist gets found out.”

One of the country’s fiercest critics of Maduro as well as former President Hugo Chavez, Ledezma joins a number of prominent activists who have been jailed amid the political chaos, including leading opposition figure Leopoldo López. Earlier this week, López and Ledezma formally asked for a transitional government by signing an open letter, according to NPR. The arrests have inspired protests within the country and drawn strong rebukes from human rights groups, foreign governments, and American officials, current and former:

Reports have emerged of the Venezuelan regime torturing Lopez and other political prisoners.

The latest alleged coup attempt was supposedly backed by the Obama administration– which some non-Venezuelan chavistas are perfectly willing to believe. In 2013, shortly before the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, Maduro expelled the US embassy’s military attache, accusing him of “proposing destabilizing plans” to members of Venezuelan armed forces. After Chavez’s death, he claimed the CIA was plotting to assassinate one of his rivals and thus trigger a coup.

And let’s not forget who (according to Venezuela’s oil minister) was responsible for Chavez’s death.

Chavez was briefly ousted in a 2002 coup which the Bush administration tacitly (and stupidly) supported, helping him to rally support against the US, as he did with his regular claims of an imminent invasion. Thirteen years later, and with a different US president, I’m not sure many Venezuelans are buying it any more.

Of course George Galloway, Seumas Milne, Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn and the usual gang of idiots continue to stand foursquare behind the increasingly desperate and repressive regime in Caracas.

Here are some comments by a chavista on the anti-regime blog Caracas Chronicles which I think sum up what many of these people really believe:

The New York Times reported:

“All us Venezuelans that express views differing from those of Nicolás Maduro have our days numbered,” said David Smolansky, the mayor of the nearby municipality of El Hatillo and a member of the opposition party. “The question is when the guillotine falls.”

Update: The Independent reports on the endless queues for basic goods (when they are available at all), and notes:

For a glimpse of how unevenly the spoils of Mr Chavez’s supposed socialist utopia are shared, you might have passed by the old Officers’ Club and Hotel at Fuerte Tiuna, the largest military base in Venezuela, on the south side of Caracas, last Tuesday. Not everyone is allowed in of course. It is for military brass and their friends, often top party officials. A pair of heavily guarded green gates to one side of the club’s entrance leads to the house President Maduro lives in.

While the rest of the country was under a strict a dry law – a total ban on alcohol sales for the four days of Mardi Gras – the elite was having a party. The perplexing boom-boom-boom of a fiesta in full swing sounded from beyond the lobby and from up a short flight of stairs. A few more steps and suddenly there was Cancun, or a version of it. Sun chairs occupied by barely dressed bodies fringed giant pools on two different levels, cash bars were weighed down with bottles of rum, whisky and tequila. A disco dance troupe did its frantic routine for revellers to follow. It was just before noon.


UAF: Je ne suis pas Charlie

It is hard to imagine an uglier slogan than “je ne suis pas Charlie“.

It amounts to kicking the victims of appalling terrorist murder.

By contrast, the self-styled “anti-fascists” and “anti-racists” of Unite Against Fascism think it’s a great title for one of the sessions at their rally tomorrow.

Je ne suis pas Charlie: incitement of hatred and Islamophobia is not freedom of speech

Chair: Phil Turner NUJ; Nadia Henni-Moulai Journalist, author and Huffington Post columnist (France); Azad Ali MEND; Jude Woodward UAF

Note that the Islamist thug Azad Ali has himself threatened a journalist for his work exposing Ali and other foul extremists in East London.

“Yes, Atif, we’ve got a picture of you and a lot more than you thought we had. We’ve tracked you down to different places. And if people are gonna turn what I’ve just said into a threat, that’s their fault, innit?”

Why doesn’t the UAF rebrand as “Unite for Islamofascism”. That’s a far better description of their shit left politics.


Delegitimizing Israel at Southampton University

This is a crosspost from The Warped Mirror by Petra Marquardt-Bigman

In an article on “Europe’s New Anti-Semitism,” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks argued a few years ago that it was important to realize that throughout history, assaults on Jewish life always needed “justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age.” For our own time, this means according to Sacks that “any assault on Jewish life – on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state – must be cast in the language of human rights,” which is reflected in “the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Against the backdrop of deadly terrorist attacks on Jews in several European capitals in recent months, some of Europe’s political leaders – most notably French Prime Minister Manuel Valls – have passionately denounced antisemitism and pledged to fight it. Yet, the problem identified by Rabbi Sacks remains, and in the wake of the most recent attacks in Copenhagen, a Wall Street Journal editorial rightly noted that “[e]lite hostility to Israel amplifies street-level anti-Semitism.”

Unfortunately it seems that such elite hostility to Israel will be showcased at a conference scheduled for April at the University of Southampton. The official announcement describes the conference as “a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine.” The conference is supposedly “unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel;” however, as students of antisemitism will know, there is nothing “unique” about singling out the world’s only Jewish state for delegitimization.

The conference has been initiated and organized by University of Southampton professor Oren Ben Dor, and his views on the conference’s subject are no secret: the intensity of his animus against Israel is nicely illustrated in a fundraising letter for the conference, where theNahariya-born (former) Israeli claims to have grown up “in Palestine.”

Ben Dor’s fundraising letter notes explicitly that the “conference is fully hosted, and supported by the University of Southampton. The university enables us to use its hospitality services, event organisation, marketing network and financial administration for the organisation, delivery, recording of the conference. It is a remarkable achievement in itself that such a conference will be help [sic] in UK academia.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that, almost seven decades after Israel’s establishment, the University of Southampton is holding a three-day conference devoted to searching for ways to use international law to deny the world’s only Jewish state the right to exist. But arguably, Professor Ben Dor’s record of “academic” activism against Israel is hardly less remarkable: it seems that roughly half of the publications listed on his official university page are either reviews of the writings of anti-Israel propagandists (e.g. Ali Abunimah, Jonathan Cook), or contributions to various “One State” conferences and other supposedly “pro-Palestinian” events focused on the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. On hisofficial page outlining his research, Ben Dor emphasizes that his academic work “relates” to his “political activity regarding Palestine, the gist of which is a call for justice and peace in Palestine (in that order).” Ben Dor’s writings leave little doubt that as far as he is concerned, “justice” requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state; indeed, Ben Dor has even asserted that it was time to “legitimate” the “voice” of Hamas, because “understanding this voice as an ethical cry to the world to not allow Israel the right to persist in its racist self-definition is a much better way of articulating the moral message.”

This brazen attempt to not only ignore but even whitewash the genocidal antisemitism and fascism of the Hamas Charter is unfortunately not the only indication that Ben Dor has no hesitation to embrace open anti-Jewish bigotry. The “numerous articles in Counterpunch” that he highlights on his official university page also include a passionate protest against what Ben Dor calls “the constant attempts to silence Gilad Atzmon.” According to Ben Dor,

“It would be an understatement to say that debating Gilad’s voice is supremely important. No thinking person could fail to be stimulated by the deep connections Gilad makes.”

In case you haven’t heard of Gilad Atzmon, you could find out more about him on the neo-Nazi Internet forum Stormfront, where members broadly agree with Ben Dor’s view that his “voice is supremely important” – indeed, Atzmon’s writings are regarded as so important there that they are often shared and posted on the site.

Alternatively, you could have Ben Dor’s view about the importance of Atzmon’s voice confirmed by former Klan leader and avowed white supremacist David Duke, who has praised him as “perhaps the bravest and clearest thinking person of Jewish descent in the world.”

The admiration is mutual – this is what Atzmon said in an interview last year:

“The left is devastated by David Duke for instance. He was in the KKK when he was young. But here is something quite amazing: I read him and I was shocked to find out that this guy knows more about Jewish identity than I do! How could a supposedly ‘racist’ Gentile who probably never entered a synagogue knows [sic] more than I do about Judaism? The reason is in fact very simple: he is a proud white man.”

One could fill pages upon pages to document Atzmon’s well-deserved popularity among Jew-haters, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. So Ben Dor was wrong to complain that Atzmon is being silenced: he gets plenty of publicity at all the sites frequented by bigots looking for their daily dose of stories about Jewish cunning and evil. And Ben Dor himself has repeatedly done his part to promote Atzmon and his odious views, including evenhosting him at Southampton University. Why not also invite Duke if the “supremely important” Atzmon recommends him so enthusiastically as an expert on “Jewish identity”?

To what extent Ben Dor actually agrees with Atzmon’s “gutter anti-Semitism” is hard to ascertain given that he likes to write in a style that reflects his fascination with the nowutterly disgraced German philosopher Martin Heidegger; but there can be little doubt that Ben Dor shares Atzmon’s conviction that Israel is an absolute evil that cannot be allowed to exist. While Atzmon has expressed the view that even Nazi Germany was less evil than Israel, Ben Dor has repeatedly described Israel as utterly immoral and has denounced the Jewish state as “a terrorist state like no other” and demanded that “the herrenvolk (master race) nature of its democracy” must be openly debated.

Ben Dor certainly knows that it is generally regarded as antisemitic to equate Israel with Nazi Germany and to argue that the world’s only Jewish state is too evil to exist. Yet, it seems that this is what Ben Dor is arguing in his political writings, and given his own emphasis on the connection between his academic work and his “political activity regarding Palestine,” the planned publication of the proceedings of his conference at the University of Southampton may turn out to be of interest not only for anti-Israel activists in and out of the Ivory Tower, but also for researchers studying 21st-century antisemitism and the ‘elite hostility to Israel’ that provides ostensibly new justifications for the oldest hatred.