university of cambridgeUniversities and ‘free speech’ arguments are back in the news again. This time at Cambridge, with the Evening Standard running a story about the University of Cambridge being ‘slammed by senior academics over a ‘crackdown on free speech’ at a student Palestine event.

Social media is also full of a petition, aimed at criticising Cambridge for forcing a change in the chair for the event.

The entire argument is bogus. On both sides.

I should know – I was there.

The University of Cambridge motto reads – ‘from this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge’. What I witnessed on Wednesday was the opposite. The only thing the students gained was hate and ignorance.

There were three speakers:

I was clearly in the presence of hard-core anti-Israel royalty.

The talks begin and we get to hear Barghouti first. A polished performance he has probably delivered 1000 times before. I lost count of the number of times Barghouti mentioned  ‘settler colonialism’ and ‘apartheid’. I also lost count of the number of lies and distortions that were delivered to the audience.

Division and hate

Aside from the historical distortions, and constant plugging of the ‘boycott Israel’ campaign, all of the sub-text messages were socially, racially and ethnically divisive.

The speeches are all about identity politics. ‘White privilege’, ‘Black lives matter’ and a recurring theme that ‘Blacks and Palestinians’ are the same . ‘Intersectionality’ is mentioned maybe 30 times. This becomes the entire theme of the evening.

I am not part of their exclusive group. These people are insistent we are all different. Apparently we are different because of our colour.

The entire case is a simple one. Jews are white European colonial settlers, and as the privileged group are part of the crimes of the ‘mother state’. Everyone who is not white is part of the same anti-colonial struggle. Whites can applaud them from the sidelines, (feeling guilty for their crimes of course), but can never truly be one of those ‘throwing off the shackles of colonial rule’.

I never get the ‘white guilt’ part. Put aside the fact that it is like me blaming my neighbour for evicting the Jews from England in 1290. Just who is guilty for what? The white person in the third row, whose ancestors may have sat rotting in a debtors jail, or in a workhouse, needs to feel guilty about what exactly?

It is distasteful divisive politics.

Broken format

To address the central arguments over a ‘neutral’ chair: In reality the entire discussion is bogus. A ‘neutral’ chair is required when vigorous debate is allowed, as a way of maintaining balance and order. These political propaganda exercises are choreographed, with three ‘agreeing’ speakers. So my first question to the University of Cambridge is this:

What is the point of having three speakers, if there is no, and I mean no, dissent at all between any of them?

Once three speakers all agree with each other, then what is the role of the chair? As hostility can now only come from the audience, the chair is now committed to maintaining order, which means limiting any possible dissent, to a very quick question, that can and will be dismissed by all three speakers. Someone took 40 seconds to ask a question and it was pointed out by the chair it was too lengthy.

If the person raising the question tries to add context, or indeed point out that the question has not been answered properly, then the chair will silence him. In other words, a neutral chair in such a circumstance is pointless, his defined role is to enable and protect the propaganda.

This was the type of discussion being delivered at the University of Cambridge. It isn’t free speech at all, far from it. It is hate speech being protected inside a place of learning that is regarded as one of the best in the world. How is anyone allowed to present such a choreographed political anti-Jewish diatribe without giving room for an organised response? I don’t care that they talk, I object to lies effectively going unchallenged in a place of learning.

Racial propaganda behind the protest

On a related note, everyone who spoke made a protest about being forced to change the chair for the debate. There had been complaints because the intended chair was Ruba Salih from SOAS. At the event, three reasons were given for her exclusion. Bouattia implied it was racially motivated, Asad Rehman,  implied it was because she was a ‘woman of colour’, and then the organiser of the event, who implied it was because she is ‘Muslim’. This video shows all three examples:

The truth is that had the speaker been a white British anti-Israel activist from Cambridge, exactly the same arguments would have been raised. Even when the ‘neutral chair’ was explicitly questioned on the subject of neutrality, and had the opportunity to add clarity to the reasons Ruba was sidelined, he opted for further obfuscation.

Ruba Salih was not considered neutral because she is an activist, on the side of the panelists, and her race, religion, and skin colour have absolutely nothing to do with any of it.

This is an example of how the petition is being distributed online:

Cambridge petition

Which makes it entirely fraudulent. Nobody was dropped because of their colour or religion, and both online, and at the event itself, this is the way the petition was being sold. Cambridge have every right simply to throw the damn thing away.

Second question for Cambridge:

Why at no point during the proceedings, even as a petition was handed around, were any of the students told that the ‘racial’ and ‘religious’ reasons publicly given for Saleh’s exclusion were entirely bogus?

Promoting racial hatred at the University of Cambridge

Perhaps, if the topic were over the laws of physics, or economics, the effects of permitting a one sided regressive propaganda campaign to be unleashed on students, would simply be to make them more stupid. However, this isn’t about the laws of physics. These people are spreading lies that deliberately target a racial /religious group. The entire campaign is designed, through distortion and lies, to turn one tiny Jewish democratic state into a focus of hate for all the ‘oppressed’ people of the world. It isn’t promoting science, it isn’t furthering knowledge, it is about teaching students to hate a specific people.

My third question to the University of Cambridge is this:

Dozens of students were fed vicious lies, that were left unchallenged by any of the participating panel. As this flaw is created in the design of the event, what steps do you take to address the racial hatred that is propagated during the event?

(I would gladly return to Cambridge, and highlight the lies and distortions that were delivered, I am certain I could conduct the exercise in 45 minutes.)

Finally, let me address the University response as reported by the Evening Standard newspaper:

‘In this instance, following calls from the organisers for extra safety measures, a neutral chair was provided to ensure that all sides were represented in what is an important and often emotionally charged debate.’

So a fourth question:

If panel member ‘A’, agreed with panel member ‘B’, who agreed with panel member ‘C’, and the role of the Chair was to ensure the panelists were the only ones in the room allowed to speak freely, then how on earth were ‘all sides represented’?

The entire free speech argument is bogus. The only speech being denied is a right of response. So much so, that towards the end, I felt physically unwell. The attacks were relentless. Bouattia for example, claimed that in 2009 or  2011, the Israelis ‘carpet bombed’ the people of Gaza. Israel was even referred to as a ‘despotic regime’.

What is occurring is insidious. The argument of free speech is being turned on its head, in a perverse manipulation of the truth. Why won’t these lying cowards put their arguments up for challenge? Why is that cowardice supported by a university?

This isn’t SOAS, in some ways it is worse. Inside the London Universities, there is less discipline. Which results ironically in greater challenges to speakers, as those asking questions are neither as disciplined, nor as polite. As the smug, Chair at Cambridge continually insisted, the only permissible challenge would be short and respectable. How do you politely challenge a lying anti-Jewish speaker in less than 30 seconds?

 

 


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29 thoughts on “The University of Cambridge – teaching ignorance and hate

  1. I was there, in the front row. After Barghouti spoke I held up a small (A4 size) sign in a ‘silent protest’. The sign said “Barghouti wants one State which means no Jewish self-determination. To call for that is antisemitic. Cambridge is hosting an antisemite. ” All this is factually accurate. See the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism, accepted by the government. Barghouti’s speech was profoundly offensive to most Jews. His assertion that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ is utter rubbish. His statement that the Israeli government sterilises women without their consent was slanderous.

    The ‘neutral’ chair was Paul Mylrea, Cambridge’s head of Communications. Even b4 I held the sign up he was smirking at me. He had clearly been warned. He warned me that if I help up another sign – even silently – he would throw me out.

    But after Bouattia spoke I did hold up a sign: “Malia Bouattia: Is Cambridge a “Zionist Outpost” too?” A reference to Bouattia’s statement that Birmingham University is “something of a Zionist outpost”.

    So he threw me out. Seems that even a silent protest in the face of racism against Jews is forbidden in Cambridge. “Victim Becomes Perpetrator” ………..

    So I stood in Mill Lane with my Israel flag in protest. Even that was too much for Mylrea. I was told that he warned people to leave by the back entrance. How absurd, to warn students away from a man carrying a flag. Victim Becomes Perpetrator again.

      1. But anyway for Auld Lang Syne

        Stephen Oryszczuk
        Stephen Oryszczuk is the Jewish News Foreign Editor
        Follow or contact:FacebookTwitterRSSWebsiteBLOGS EDI
        When I was young, my favourite prayer was one by St Francis of Assisi. It begins: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, j

        These days, I am reminded of this prayer whenever I read anything by a blogger who seems to be taking up ever more air in the newspaper I love.

        Let’s call him Yonatan Scoffman.

        Mr Scoffman (heretofore referred to as Scoff, for brevity) can put an argument together. But his arguments are bigoted and his actions embarrassing. He disrupts meetings, screams abuse, waves Israeli flags and gets dragged out by security.

        Often these meetings offer legitimate discussion on Israel, with open-minded audience members looking on, but to Scoff nuance and reason are the enemies of slander and character assassination, and must therefore be slain.

        To him, people are either haters (of Israel) or idiots (supporters of Israel who just aren’t as passionate as he is). He dismisses fellow Jews who don’t agree with him as ‘As-a-Jews,’ simultaneously dismissing the reasons he behaves as he does.

        To be sure, Scoff is a bigot in bigot’s clothing, but for some reason (his bigotry, possibly) we keep publishing him. I’ve tried everything – hacking the site’s homepage, wrestling the editor to the ground, turning all the office lights off and pretending to be out. Still we persist. So, in the absence of alternatives, I’ll aim to do as St Francis advises, and try to sow love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy in Scoff’s hate-filled garden of injury, darkness, sadness and despair. I’ve been given about 500 words to do it in.

        In one recent op-ed, Scoff details the young Ilford MP Wes Streeting’s treachery after Streeting points out that Gaza is suffering a humanitarian crisis (sorry, Wes, you have to pick a side). In his vehemence, Scoff lays waste to a Scottish breast surgeon who’s saved lives in Gaza, a Palestinian schoolgirl who, aged 12, really should know better, and CAABU, for using the term “occupied territories” as per the government’s own designation (but hey, who’s counting).

        Scoff then says Wes “clearly didn’t like the fact that we pooped his anti-Israel party” (I suspect Wes just doesn’t like it when people go in to shout down those they disagree with, but who knows). Wes then calls Scoff “yobbish,” which is no less hurtful for being true, but where there is darkness, Scoff, let us sow light.

        Rather than trampling on free speech in the name of it, why not attend calmly and rationally, making the case for Israel without standing, shouting, waving, hurling, unfurling, marching or speaking over the speaker? In short, why not be normal? Make your point, question, be prepared to listen, and others will respect you, and in turn, Israel’s supporters, who are all otherwise sullied by your antics.

        Just an idea.

        In another op-ed, Scoff discusses a survey on anti-Semitism, having a go at Reform Judaism for covering up the fact that Britain is a hotbed of seething Jew hatred, then taking aim at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) for setting the anti-Semitism bar too low, because why count just those who hate Jews when you can count Israel-haters too

        Scoff then re-imagines the survey to suit his own inclinations, whereupon the proportion of left-wing anti-Semites balloons from three percent to 23 percent. He says this proves that JPR’s work should be cast asunder, adding – with a semi-automatic firing of adjectives – that this “misbegotten ill-conceived fatally flawed work should never have seen the light of day”.

        Breathe, Scoff, breathe. Where there is darkness, let us sow light. Let us hoist those stats up to the sun and let our eyes adjust such that, when the sting abates and our focus returns, we see that 79 percent of British left-wingers do NOT hate Jews, as you claim, and that disagreeing with Israeli policy towards Palestinians does not a person racist make. Or words to that effect.

        In another op-ed, Scoff hacks away at the CST’s argument that “anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism”. Really, CST? REALLY? R-EA-LLY? To Scoff, anti-Zionists (those who disagree with Zionism) are one and the same as anti-Semites (those who hate Jews because they are Jews). It matters not to him if you are an established charity with decades of experience in protecting Jews and tackling anti-Semitism whose opinions are sought and respected by the police, CPS and government – you are wrong. WRONG! And he’ll say it in bold italics with double-underlining if he has to.

        Scoff then says he has “never met” an anti-Zionist who is not an anti-Semite. Yes, Scoff, when you equate the one with the other you won’t have. Then, having left the CST gasping its last breaths, Scoff has a pop at the Jewish Leadership Council for “badmouthing” the Campaign Against Antisemitism for saying that British Jews have packed their bags and bought their tickets.

        Then, suddenly, as if not to be pigeon-holed, Scoff turns and has a go at the CAA for having a go at Kevin Myers, the Irish columnist who said “Jews are not known for selling their talent at the lowest possible price”. This, to Scoff, is not anti-Semitic. That the Board of Deputies, senior rabbis, Jewish MPs, the former head of BBC News, the editor of the Financial Times, the Jewish press and Jewish radio personalities all thought so just goes to show how right he is. The whole ‘Jews and money’ thing from Myers was just “idiosyncratic,” says Scoff. Why defend Myers? Because Myers is usually nice about Israel. There are some lines you just don’t cross, and attacking Israel supporters is one of them.

        To Scoff there is no hate-filled world view not worth highlighting in thick black marker, nor any bad point made repeatedly in one op-ed that cannot be repeatedly made yet again in another. Good for him that he does not shirk from commenting on his own articles after publication, in some cases several times.

        It is gratifying to note that, for Scoff, there is no irony or hypocrisy worth worrying about. Scoff can, in the same breath, showcase a left-wing racist and tarnish everyone left of the EDL with the same brush, while simultaneously commenting on a “strategy to attribute to all Zionists the action of one. If any Jewish Zionist said or did anything negative… X uses the example to reflect the action back on all Zionists”. How interesting. The strategy seems vaguely familiar, but for the life of me, I cannot think from where.

        Scoff then returns to his raison d’etre, his core defining campaign: to tell the world that people who hate Jews and people who object to Israeli policy are THE SAME! You remember 2014, at the height of the Gaza conflict, when 200,000 people marched through the centre of London protesting Israeli action? You remember them? All anti-Semites. All.

        And that’s just the tip of the anti-Semitic iceberg otherwise known as Britain.

        Don’t even get Scoff started on God. Israel and God are the same. “Show me an anti-Zionist,” says Scoff, “and I’ll show you someone who tries to separate Judaism from Zionism.” Not to him is one a religion and the other is a movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East. “Show me someone who doesn’t like pears,” Scoff adds, “and I’ll show you someone who tries to separate pears from apples.” I jest. He doesn’t. But he may as well do.

        Where there is doubt, Scoff, let there be faith. Where there is hatred, let us sow love. Where there is… Oh, sod it. Lord, I hate to break it to you, but that ship has sailed. As Scoff himself writes, in bold and italics: “You can’t put lipstick on a pig”.

          1. I know that Scoffie. ( idiot). Being deleted under pressure from big hitting advertisers doesn’t make it less true or make it go away. I am afraid, mon ami, that it is yours forever.

            Wes Streeting may not have a screen shot but I do.

    1. You always play the victim, you foul-mouthed BFF of the BF. Stephen O nailed you good and proper.

        1. Suppose that’s what you get for hanging around Scoffie’s fundament day in, day out

  2. As anti-Zionist speakers mostly peddle historical fraudulence, I propose a series of meetings on campuses entitled something like:-
    “Does the Palestinian case have any merit” with 3 Israeli/Zionist speakers.
    As our case has far more merit, and uses facts, it should be reasonably simple to adopt similar language, emotions and tactics (deification of refugees, intersectionality, anti-colonialism etc etc etc) that the opposition uses, to buttress our case and simultaneously demolish theirs.
    Do let me know if you are interested.

    1. honestly? I believe the way to confront is confrontation. I am more than interested in participating in university events, but believe mixed panels, that drawn in crowds from both sides is the way to support real free speech. If you create Zionist events, then it will be labelled as propaganda, Zionists will turn up, anti-Zionists will disrupt, and nobody will be able to distinguish the truth from the lie. Many on their side truly believe the facts support them. If we are right, we should be confident enough to put our ideas up for direct and open challenge. In doing so, you stand the best chance of convincing others of the underlying arguments.

      bottom line – always interested.

    2. Precisely go for it. That is exactly what you are entitled to do. They will be meetings. These meetings are not meant to be debates. The whole idea of balance is bullshit.

      1. Thanks.
        I am assembling interested people, so may I add you to the list?
        The Palestinian side spews propaganda, mainly for the converted: the idea is that meetings will be aimed at both the unconverted and the converted, and will be both educational and confidence-building for Zionists and all genuine anti-racists.

        1. Nah don’t bother adding me to the list. But I wish you luck. There is only so many times one can listen to the same dirty stories

  3. To be clear, I agree with you, but I am going to suggest something that might sound disagreeable. You seem to have introduced the idea of white guilt, that doesn’t seem to be something they said. They talk about a shared culpability for colonialism among white people.

    That’s measured by who benefits the most from the process, which in Europe and America is people who are racialised as white. Benefit being measured in a comparative way. Poor white people vs poor black people, rich white people vs rich black people. As side by side comparisons each time, there are ways whites are treated more favourably. No guilt necessary, benefitting from whiteness is a feature of the system we exist within. Its possible to recognize that without guilt. Any guilt comes next, in terms of what we chose to do with that information. We can either participate in reinforcing it, or trying to change it.

    The tricky part is, on the subject of whiteness and Israel, they’re wrong. Islam was also a colonising force which benefitted muslims. Plus certain groups racialised as white now in the U.S. weren’t always seen as white. White Jewish people fall into that category and white Irish people. There’s a complicated history to how we became white.

    Their comparisons with the colonisation of Africa and treatment of black Americans and South Africans falls apart though when you scrutinise the details. But very few people do that in a serious way. So the headline sounds good because superficially Israel does look a bit like a colonial process. But it is substantially different enough to make the comparison false.

    Its not an argument that can be made easily in a debate though. They are co-opting black liberation struggles wrongly in my view, and it needs a full historical analysis to make that clearer.

    Israel’s formation is unlike any other country that was shaped by colonial occupation. That difference matters, but not to the speakers at the event you attended, for them the historical facts are inconvenient, which is why they rely on emotional arguments co-opted from genuine liberation struggles.

  4. Yawning (oscitation) most often occurs in adults immediately before and after sleep, during tedious activities and as a result of its contagious quality.

    Too much for you, David?

    1. I’m not sure whether you’ll get this reference Mikey as the quality and construct of your posts does not identify you as having English as your first language but I’ll crack on.

      English stand-up Stuart Lee does a set about TV series Top Gear in which his targets are the two main presenters. The first is Jeremy Clarkson whom he describes as a man who has extreme and offensive views for money and articulates them to an 8.00 am Times editorial deadline. The second is Richard Hammond, very much the junior partner whom Lee characterizes as the sort of toady little shit from the playground who stands behind the school bully. He has neither the bravery nor originality to have his own views but simply hides behind the bully’s coat tails and repeats his oafish remarks but in a slightly less threatening and higher pitched whine.

      Bit like you and Bellers really. I’ll let you decide which one is which.

  5. “Intersectionality” is a very dubious concept as it offends Occam’s razor NOT to complicate unnecessarily. Just play that record with the refrain, “It ain’t necessarily so….”
    Anybody faced with this sort of Moslem phalanx will find it useful to challenge them withthe fact that the entire Arab World if not thtire Moslem Worls is the result of military and cultural IMPERIALISM. Make them splutter or at least make them dance fast.

    1. When Mossad tried to recruit me at Cambridge, they all called themselves ‘David’. You’ll have to be more specific Mikey.

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