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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Last night, Israeli historian Benny Morris, previously a darling of the anti-Israel left, was scheduled to give a talk at Cambridge University:

benny morris-4.jpg

Benny Morris - next week!

Professor Benny Morris will be in Cambridge next week to talk on "1948 Revisited" and answer your questions...

Oops. Unfortunately, Benny Morris has shown he not only can write a book, but he also has a brain, and his statements over the past few years have un-endeared him to his former allies, and you can guess that someone who doesn't toe the line on Israel was not quite welcome at a British University. A protest was ignited: Cambridge protests Islamophobia on campus. Yeah, that's right, Benny Morris..."Islamophobe." Gutlessly, the Israel Society (of all things), caved:

Event Change: Thursday 4th February

We will be screening "Promises" (below) this Thursday instead of Professor Benny Morris' presentation on "1948 Revisited."

We understand that whilst Professor Benny Morris' contribution to history is highly respectable and significant, his personal views are, regrettably, deeply offensive to many.

We want to clarify that the intention of the Israel Society was never to give racism a platform. We had hoped to listen to a historical presentation on "1948" followed by a Q&A - a space for anyone, including those with grievances, to challenge Morris.

Ultimately, we place respect for those who have been offended above the importance of hosting this speaker. As such, in response to complaints about this speaker, we have cancelled this proposed event, and apologise for any unintended offence.

We do still hope to see you on Thursday!

Oh please! We surrender! Just don't hurt us! Gosh, we didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings. So Benny Morris was fine as long as he was politically correct, but now that he's no longer useful... Way to fight, guys. Instead the group is showing a milquetoast film. This is the full on sacrifice of exposing students to a good and interesting speaker for the sake of political correctness. One wonders how sensitive the Israel haters on campus are to the concerns of Jewish students. Care to bet the answer is "not very?"

Update: Story in the local Cambridge press: 'Islamophobic' Talk Cancelled



22 Comments

What a gaggle of pathetic wankers. "Give racism a platform." Give me a farkin break. What's an address from an historian got to do with racism? Is veracity now racist? Caviling little pusses. Ought to be entirely ashamed of themselves. I'm coming to think that all Brits--of any stripe--are doomed.

Oh this is outrageous.

Benny Morris is one of the most balanced historians out there and he most certainly is no Islamophobe.

It's true he was badly frightened by the Intifada.

Well who wouldn't be.

Unbelieveable.

It fits with the discussions about British antisemitism though.

How true. And when a future talk by Jimmy Carter or George Galloway gets postponed, I'm sure it will report "Antisemitic talk cancelled."

Benny Morris has made some robust remarks about Palestinians. But the idea that he is "Islamophobic" is absurd. He has taught Jewish and Muslim students alike. He is concerned about terrorism but he is not, repeat not, "Islamophob......ic".

And I have sat through countless anti-Israel meetings at British Universities, many of which have crossed the boundary into antisemitism.

This is a misguided decision. Cambridge Israel Society invited him in the full knowledge of who he is, what he stands for and what he has said. They were wrong to cancel him. I understand pressure was brought to bear on them to cancel by the Student Union. That was also wrong.

(I have some knowledge of what has been happening at Cambridge as I spoke there last year, to a very good meeting organised by Cambridge Gaza Solidarity).

You spoke at a "very good meeting organised by Cambridge Gaza Solidarity"? Now that sounds interesting.

I spoke on condition the Chair was unbiased and he was, it was an excellent History academic. Of course I was in a minority on the platform, the only one of 4 speakers to support Israel, but I got a fair and polite hearing.

At a UK University in 2009 that counted as a "very good meeting"........

http://www.oyvagoy.com/2009/02/23/support-jonathan-hoffman/

Here's the blog on it, you will find my account in the thread:

"I pushed for a strong and independent Chairman and Jessica (the excellent organiser) got Professor Christopher Clarke, a historian, of St Catharine’s College who was absolutely fantastic. We went from 7:40 until about 10:00 with 100-150 people there. People were generally appreciative that I agreed to be there which was welcome.

Highlights: When asked to support the continuation of a Jewish State, the other three equivocated. The JFJFP representative said ‘it depends what you mean by Israel’ Yet the JFJFP statement says “Peace in the Middle East … must be seen as just by both sides”. The questioner who asked ‘why should there not be one Jewish State when there are 25 Muslim States and 30 Christian ones?’ was jeered. A number of the audience said ‘Jews use the charge of antisemitism to suppress criticism of Israel’ which is nonsense. (The ‘Livingstone Manoeuvre’) People who say that can never give examples. It is simply an attempt to remove the opprobrium from antisemitism. After the meeting one of the organisers told me that the Panel was ‘balanced’ because three out of the four speakers was Jewish….

One questioner (you know who you are) asked whether Israel ’s ‘racially-based’ citizenship law was the same as the Nazis’ Aryan laws. An unashamedly antisemitic question (he knew exactly what he was saying) but no one seemed to bat an eyelid. I should have remonstrated but I was so surprised I just said something like ‘that question goes very near the border you know’"

Thanks, Jonathan. That is a very positive report (as far as it goes -- that we should consider the fact that you were treated in a civilized manner a victory is a bit sad, you know?).

It's very sad.

Other than commiserate - which (don't get me wrong) is much appreciated - what do you suggest should happen ......

Not sure what you mean? Do you mean what should happen with regard to the current situation? Not knowing the exact situation I can't prescribe anything, just comment on what I'm seeing and make people aware of it. If knowing that there are people watching gives some folks a bit more starch for the next time, then so much the better.

Benny Morris has been invited by Cambridge University to give a lecture on Friday morning at the Centre for International Studies.

Aha! Well that's good news. Starts a bit of a rescue of the University's reputation and takes a bit of the pressure off the students themselves. The Uni should have been supporting the students in the first place, but I would interpret this as an attempted save, no?

Here's what Sky's Foreign Editor Tim Marshall has to say about it all:

http://blogs.news.sky.com/foreignmatters/Post:62f5454e-14dc-49bc-b103-755021eff5ab

"They're at it again. Our future parliamentarians, jurists, and all round bankers are busy stifling free speech at one of our top Universities."

From the Sky News link:

snip

You can make the argument that the IS should not have invited Mr Morris, but that is to miss the point. A hate campaign against all things Israeli has infected the campuses of Britain and in turn is in danger of engendering a climate in which Voltaire's maxim is changed to 'I will defend to the death your right to say something as long as I agree with it'. The anti-Israel crowd frequently resorts to bullying tactics.

snip

Gee, somebody please tell Mearscheimer and Walt.

Re Morris and some of his uglier comments - I often disagree with him but:

It's easy to criticize people who live in war zones.

This goes for verbal attacks on the Palestinians also - clearly a state of endless violence is going to screw up peoples' heads. That's painfully obvious in Afghanistan too and in the radicalization of people in the border regions and in Iraq, who attack their own neighbors - also in Lebanon, where civil society is fragile and always menaced.

I think, when we talk about the "Roadmap" and so forth, everybody is ignoring the trauma produced by decades of war. No "roadmap" or set of demands or even borders, in an of themselves, will cure deeply internalized fear that sometimes results in open hate.

Our own military is suffering from PTSD, imagine what it's like on the ground, when life itself is always uncertain.

The Unis were radicalized in the 60s. They have a long history of villifying and bullying groups they dont approve of. Whole departments devoted to that purpose. Now it seems the Middle Eastern departments have a new favorite group to wage a hate campaign against and bully people and organizations and institutions.

There is nothing new here.

Radical politics are protected on Unis, because the New Left Radicals like it that way.

Sophia,

It's easy to criticize people who live in war zones.

Yes there is that aspect, but consider living in close contact with a culture that refuses to accept your culture and makes it quite plain, in daily life.
The tension is quite palpable at times unless one is a tourist oohing and aahing at the quaint native customs and quite oblivious of the arrogance of the overlords of the dhimmi.

As for those terrible things that Morris said, like caging "them"; nasty no doubt to you, but for those suffering the onslaught of suicide bombers poring over the unfenced border and murdering one's children what should he have thought of?

Well Cynic that's my point - Morris' comments have to be taken into context, due to the wartime conditions. He was shaken to the core by the extreme violence of Intifada II. He's written that he was shocked by the degree of hatred expressed by those human bombs, by people who would sacrifice their children to harm Israeli children, and is at a loss as to how to deal with that.

He was also writing about worst-possible-case scenarios, in which Israel would be menaced by neighbors with nukes. People take what he's said, find it disgusting but don't read the whole of his commentary. Much of this has dealt with truly existential threat, not the daily and potentially lethal but fairly low-level menace.

By the same token, some of the reactions against Israel are also the result of the war. This has been going on for decades and it is worsened by constant propaganda, per this piece in the JP by Ray Hanania:

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=167767

He speaks of the nonstop airing of pictures from Gaza - mangled children - all over the Arab world, which is already infected with antisemitic propaganda.

We saw this before of course, with the al Durah story and more importantly the images.

After the fact, it doesn't do much good to sue France2 for example because the damage has already been done. It's like trying to undo the image of Christ on the cross, if you'll forgive the analogy -

Similarly no amount of arguing against the Goldstone Report, however principled and correct, will undo the damage done by those images of bleeding children.

It's beneficial for history and well worth the effort to clarify the record and show how incitement results in violence - but what do you do about the people who are already dead, maimed, bereaved and radicalized?

Unfortunately this is all added into an already toxic environment.

It's a vicious circle. People already believe that "the other" is anathema and have broken bodies to prove it - in this context how can peace be achieved?

I think one has to start with two things: reduce violence to a minimum so as to cool things down and also work on the incitement, which is fueling the conflict.

I believe that antisemitism has been a primary driver in the Arab/Israeli conflict from Day #1. I think it's much worse and of far longer standing than Benny Morris' supposed "Islamophobia" and/or a general lack of knowledge about Arab culture, which has been a problem, admittedly, though not so much among the Sephardim and the Mizrachim who are much closer to it and could be a vital bridge between worlds. So can Israeli Arabs/Palestinians who are open-minded, people like Khaled Abu Toameh, who sees the humanity of everybody involved.

But Western media, NGO's and universities which participate in incitement are helping create further conflict and that's mostly coming from an anti-Israel, even antisemitic perspective.

Another thing that's bad and is upping the ante in Israel: the "War on Terror" has gotten mixed in and now we see Israel blamed for all the ills that have befallen the Muslim world, which is patently ridiculous but nevertheless very dangerous.

Also in that context it's impossible to suppose that some Israelis wouldn't harden their positions against the Arabs. They're targets too after all, for many decades too, which young people in particular don't seem to realize, nor do they know much about Middle Eastern history or even WWII era history.

I think it's possible to mend things but first the problem of bigotry and incitement have to be acknowledged and addressed. Otherwise no real peace will ever be accomplished because the fault lines, hate and mistrust run too deep.

I think we've seen the same thing in Iraq, where formerly normal, neighborly relationships between Shi'a and Sunni have been shattered by terrorist attacks and old religious hatreds re-ignited.

Sophia,

One must look to the recent past to events from the late 19th century and on to get the context.
The Arab riots of the 1920s.
The British behaviour in the region by which they are known as perfidious Albion.
One must also understand the culture of Islam, some 1400 years of it, and what its holy books preach.

The Arab League has been against the facts on the ground from day one and for that they hold the Arabs known as Palestinians hostage in "refugee camps" as canon fodder in their fight against the Jews.
The media could tell the story with the context intact but do not for the sake of their agenda. They have no integrity in the same manner as academia trashes the ideals of Voltaire and others and reduces them to clichés.
Everything seems to be rotten in the state of Denmark Earth with even the scientists crookedly cooking the books to promote their money grubbing AGW; and they complain about the bankers and corporate managers receiving bonuses. What hypocrisy assails society.

Antisemitism was never dead, it just went underground until it was safe enough to rear its head again with new slogans to carry it forward.

You guys do know Morris is speaking today at 12.30pm at Cambridge’s Department of Political and International Studies?

Pure hypocrisy, look at the alleged bigots who have spoken at the university - check out Jerusalem Post www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=167972

Radical racist group MPACUK have sent a letter to the Islamic Society congratulating them on their victory!

This whole incident stinks.

Link to Jerusalem Post article

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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