Statement on the list of academics supporting S’ton U

I am neither an activist nor an extremist. I am simply a concerned father whose child is doing terror drills rather than fire drills at school. I used to walk into school alone, he goes to school behind special security systems; what message does this give to him about his environment? I have been against the vicious and spiteful anti-Jewish conference at Southampton since I was first made aware of it. It has a political aim, which will in all likelihood increase anti-Semitic activity in the UK. It has rightly been met by massive opposition by all those who see it for what it is.

Recently an online petition was published claiming to be a global petition of academics in favour of the conference on the grounds of free speech. I have followed the petition and until yesterday listed the signatures on my site, noting by their names, whether or not these academics had, in the past, engaged in anti-Israeli activity (is the motive really free speech). I will not be doing so any more – and didn’t bother linking it to this blog, this is why:

* The petition seems to have been started and promoted by people who actively boycott Israel. Theirs is not a cry for academic freedom, but a call to arms. Everyone is allowed to speak freely in the UK, except Israelis.

* Whilst comparing the list to anti-Israeli boycott lists it became apparent that the list was being generated using mailing lists used when creating anti-Israeli boycotts.

* The vast majority of these academics have participated in anti-Israeli boycotts. The number who haven’t is staggeringly small.

* The vast majority do not believe in absolute freedom of speech,  it is therefore incredibly ironic they would claim to support a conference that if it were to go ahead with Israeli academics they would have picketed and boycotted. It is absurd.

* I have been informed that several of the names on the list are bogus.

* I am aware that yesterday at 10:51pm, an email was sent to the petition email address. It was not sent from an academic email address, but rather a free instantly created one. The name on the email was that of an Irish friend of the one who sent the email. This is the email:

email2 * The name on the email, unlike the other fake ones I was informed of, is deliberately farcical. It is Hamman Harasha (or the ‘evil haman‘) from the Purim story. To drive home the joke, the compiler made him a Professor of ancient Persian studies at a University in Iran, referencing the location and timing of the biblical story. It is clearly a hidden joke.

* No communication was received from those compiling the list, no confirmation email, no request to see academic credentials and clearly no follow up or double check online. They had accepted an entry from a free email account with a bogus name. It could have been an 8 year old child using a Harry Potter novel for inspiration.

* Early today, on the 19th March, the list of academics increased from 369 (almost all boycotters) to 700. Included online in that new list was our friend Hamman, the newly promoted professor in the Iranian University. Apparently he is now an academic who supports the conference. This is a screen shot with the name highlighted.

hamman * Most of the UK press were notified.

* At some point during the day, as the joke went viral on social media, the organisers removed the name. They haven’t yet removed the others.

* This list is worthless. Beside simply being an email shot amongst a few academics who have previously signed up for anti-Israeli petitions, we know there are no checks whatsoever made against any name on the list. Even the basic request of an academic email address is not being followed.

* It belongs in the bin and I will no longer be paying any attention to it. I suggest if anyone mentions it, you refer them to this post.