In the Conference Hall or on the Pavement 68


I shall be speaking in Leeds today either in the conference hall or on a nearby pavement. The meeting entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” is due to take place at 6pm in the Conference Auditorium GM 01, which I am told is the big building behind The Edge sports centre. Do come if you are within reach. I shall be leaving for Leeds shortly.

Apparently the trustees of Leeds University Union will decide during the day whether I should be permitted to speak in a university building this evening. Being a polite sort of chap, I spoke with a very friendly lady for a considerable while this morning clarifying my views on Israel. I remain appalled by the process, but believe the outcome is likely to be positive. I expect the meeting will go ahead. This is the email I sent yesterday evening in response to the demand to pre-vet my speech:

This is very difficult as I do not write speeches in advance. I always speak off the cuff. I object to this procedure on principle, and have just posted this on my blog:

I am giving a talk entitled “Palestine/Israel: A Unitary Secular State or a Bantustan Solution” in Leeds University tomorrow. I have just been told by Leeds University Union I will not be allowed to speak unless I submit what I am going to say for pre-vetting.
I am truly appalled that such a gross restriction on freedom of speech should be imposed anywhere, let alone in a university where intellectual debate is meant to be an essential part of the learning experience. I really do not recognise today’s United Kingdom as the same society I grew up in. The common understanding that the values of a liberal democracy are the foundation of society appears to have evaporated.
As regular readers know well, I do not write speeches in advance but always speak extempore. My opinions on Israel and Palestine are very well documented on this blog and elsewhere. I want to see a single, unitary state in Israel/Palestine, encompassing everyone who currently lives in those territories, as a secular democracy blind to ethnicity and religion. This includes an acceptance that further forced large population movements by anybody are not desirable and the Palestinians should receive more compensation than restitution. If I am not permitted to express this view within a University, I find that truly shocking.
I should be equally shocked if anybody who held views very different to my own were not permitted to express them.
I think that if people like me are now being prevented from speaking, society has crossed a very dangerous line indeed.
I attempted to contact Leeds University Union before posting this, but was told by your after hours help desk that they have no means of contacting any person in a responsible position out of hours, not even to pass on my phone number. I find that extraordinary.

Let me state at the start that I have spoken in many scores of Universities, all around the world, including Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard etc and several times each at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions. I have never at any time encountered any violence, disruption or even heated dispute at any of my hundreds of talks, anywhere. There has never been any risk to anybody present. I always encourage discussion and positively welcome the polite expression of contrary views.

As I said, I do not write speeches in advance. But this is the outline of what I intend to say.

While I dislike agreeing with Donald Trump, he was quite right in dismissing the idea that there is an unquestionable two state solution to the conflict in Israel/Palestine. For many years now a two state solution has been impractical. The Palestinian territories are separated, overcrowded and devoid of natural resources, most tellingly water.

As a younger man I was in charge of the South Africa (Political) Desk of the FCO. The grand plan of apartheid was that the white population would have unique right of residence in most of South Africa, with the black population corralled into crowded and resourceless Bantustans, many commuting into the white areas as a cheap labour force. These Bantustans were, according to the masterplan of apartheid, to be recognised as Independent states. The FCO had a current struggle to head off Mrs Thatcher’s desire to indeed recognise the first of them, Bophutatswana, as independent after apartheid South Africa recognised it.

The parallels between the Bantustan plan and the “two state solution” are obvious and the high profile supporters of the “two state solution” are insincere. In 2002 Blair and Bush announced in the Rosa Garden they were jointly proposing the “two state solution”. Their motivation was precisely the same as Thatcher’s in pushing for support of the proposed state of Bophutatswana – to allow the formal marginalisation of the indigenous population from their land. The “two state” Palestine was never intended to be viable.

If the neo-con supporters of two states really believed what they pretended, why did they never recognise a Palestinian state? The timing and motivation of the Bush/Blair announcement was a figleaf for Saudi support of the invasion of Iraq a few months later.

The truth is that the massive injustice done in the removal of the Palestinian peoples from their lands must be addressed. Peace in the Middle East will not be possible otherwise. The Israeli people will never achieve security through intransigence.

I was also once Head of Cyprus Section of the FCO and heavily involved in UN negotiations for the reunification of Cyprus. I see many parallels between the situations in Palestine and Cyprus and believe elements of the proposed UN Cyprus peace talks might provide a blueprint for Israel/Palestine, particularly in its federal and security aspects.

I shall then move on to wider questions of Middle Eastern policy, along the lines of this talk I gave to the Edinburgh SNP Club a couple of weeks ago. You can see that here

I shall then address troubling aspects of the British/Israeli governmental relationship, including over drone killing policy, drawing on the talk I gave to the Noam Chomsky symposium at University College London last week. I attach a brief abstract of that talk. I shall also refer to the recent Al Jazeera documentary “The Lobby” and the Shai Masot case.

I do hope that is all helpful to you. I appreciate it is probably not your fault you occupy for this moment the role of thought police, but hope you realise how very wrong and undemocratic this all is. I have complied with the request to outline as best I can what I am going to say purely out of courtesy to you and Leeds University Union. It is not open to debate or negotiation.

Craig Murray


68 thoughts on “In the Conference Hall or on the Pavement

  • Republicofscotland

    Craig if the uni decides it still won’t let you speak, and you still intend to carry on speaking on a nearby pavement. It would be nice if you or someone could film the speech on your/their mobile phone.

    I’m sure most in here would want to see that particular speech, and with so many lurkers in the background, you’d still, reach a fairly large audience, also we would share it as well.

    Just a thought.

  • John

    A result of the large amount of money that guy in the Al Jazeera documentary had to distribute ?

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Good. Sustained cheering from here in the cheap seats. Stick it to ’em (etc)

  • Ian

    Well said, Craig. It is truly shocking in a university of all places that you have to be vetted and judged according to your adherence to some benighted view of what Israel supporters deem satisfactory. It is pernicious. What you believe about the situation there is irrelevant to the principle of free speech, a principle which those people are clearly uninterested in, and actively hostile to. Yet university authorities allow themselves to be intimidated and dictated to, unwilling to stand up for the basic founding principles of any university worthy of the name. Do they not have charters or foundational principles which it is their job to implement?

  • Jo

    It’s truly frightening the way this country is going.

    What next? Will the UN also ban all discussion on the plight of Palestine too on the grounds that it’s “anti-Semitic”?

  • Old Mark

    Craig

    Your email of yesterday evening gives a bare outline of what you intend to say, and your mixture of politeness and defiance in the final paragraph should, I hope, allow your planned speech to proceed in the comfort of Conference Auditorium GM 01 rather than a draughty street corner.

    Safe journey and best wishes

  • Li ~ London

    When you read ‘I shall be speaking in Leeds today either in the conference hall or on a nearby pavement’ this is an indication of how far Israel lobby interference has been allowed in our universities, NUS and beyond – individuals are being tracked and smeared. An appalling state of affairs not helped by the erosion of everyone’s civil liberties begun by Theresa May under prevent. Pro Palestine campaigners, academics etc. are particularly affected.

  • harrylaw

    Your insistence on speaking at Leeds University is commendable, however your views on the “The parallels between the Bantustan plan and the “two state solution” are obvious and the high profile supporters of the “two state solution” are insincere”. First of all, the two state solution based on the green line with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital has been embraced by every state at the UN except Israel, indeed it is the basis of International Law as regards that conflict. Your advocacy of a one state solution is also commendable [however some may say it is naive, in that there is no state, no UN Agency, no political party in the world including Israel/Palestine who has advocated such an outcome. Indeed one person who is perhaps the most authoritative voices on the subject Professor N Finkelstein had this to say in Dublin .”If you can’t get half a loaf, why not ask for the whole loaf, if it seems as if the two states is not within reach, well why not ask for one state? I can understand that reasoning , the logic of it, but you would have to convince me of two things, number one, that two states is not within reach, and you would have to convince me that one state is more within reach than two states. I think neither propositions is true, I think the second proposition is positively insane. If Israel will not abandon/give up the West Bank, if that’s true do you think it would be easier for Israel to give up a Jewish State? Does that make any sense? If two states is remote, one state is another time warp”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS4eBHz2wEU In my opinion the options are closing and it may well be that your views may need to be fought for when the Israelis try and annex the whole of the West Bank and force the Palestinians into ‘administering’ areas A and B as Bantustans as Naftali Bennett proposed not long ago.

    • lysias

      Would not the idea of one South African state without Bantustans and with equal rights for all once have seemed just as insane as the idea of one Palestinian state for both Jews and Palestinians today?

      • harrylaw

        Yes but the some of the differences are, in no particular order..
        1/ Black South Africans outnumbered White South Africans 10 to 1. Palestinians including in Gaza roughly 50/50 with Israelis in the whole of Palestine.With Palestinians split and it seems incapable of unity.
        2/ Most African states supported majority rule in South Africa and in many cases did something about it.
        Whereas the Arab league could not agree on the colour curtains to put up at their HQ.Also Saudi Arabia and the GCC states seem to have thrown their lot in with Israel in an effort to confront Iran. Saudi Arabia would sell their Grandmothers to stay in power.
        3/ As has been proven, Israel can do no wrong in Western nations eyes, the West will not sanction Israel, not in the short term at least, it will be left to ordinary people to BDS Israel.
        4/ Black African armed resistance was far more successful than any the Palestinians could attempt, it could be said that Israel might welcome such resistance as an excuse to further ethnically cleanse and expel more Palestinians, just as the assault on Gaza [because of ineffectual bottle rockets] was an excuse to cause $8 billion dollars of damage to Gaza withthe loss of thousands of Palestinian Men, Woman and Children.
        In many ways the problems are the same as South Africa faced [ Ronnie Kasrils SA Minister and Desmond Tutu have said the Palestinians are suffering more than the Black South Africans] I do not discount the benefits of a one state solution, unfortunately there does not appear to be much support for it in the place that counts, the Palestinian electorate.

        • Old Mark

          Black African armed resistance was far more successful than any the Palestinians could attempt,

          Harry L -both the S African and Rhodesian ‘armed resistance movements’ were in the main ineffective and corrupt rabbles- so they had more in common with the present day PLO ‘armed wing’ than you might think. The cutting edge given to the liberation movements in southern Africa came in the main from Cuban troops and advisors just as, on a smaller scale, the only effective military grouping in the present day Israel/Palestine struggle (on the Pals side) has been Hezbollah.

  • bevin

    It is not just the Israeli lobbies either.
    The removal of Le Pen’s Parliamentary immunity is another instance of the growing crackdown on opposition to the Centrists.
    This article is a reminder that, now that it is technologically possible to listen to almost every word said and share every thought that anyone expresses, it is merely a matter of time before the choice between barbarism and liberty will be forced upon us.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/28/big-brother-capitalism-strikes-back/
    Let everyone within reach of Leeds be there to protect Freedom of Speech and the rights of the people of Palestine to govern themselves and the lands that they inherited from their forefathers.

    • Republicofscotland

      “It is not just the Israeli lobbies either.
      The removal of Le Pen’s Parliamentary immunity is another instance of the growing crackdown on opposition to the Centrists.”

      _________

      Bevin.

      In this instance I think the EU are doing the correct thing, it will allow them to dig seriously into Le Pen’s alleged cash given to aides. Which could not be investigated properly whilst she held immunity.

      • bevin

        It is the timing that stinks: if Le Penn has been fiddling her expenses, it must have been obvious for a long time. My guess is that she has, Farage has and just about all of them do. But an investigation on the eve of the election is bullshit. The same is true of Filion.
        What is happening is that two out of the three frontrunners are being ‘investigated’. The one who isn’t being Hollande’s pet.

        • Republicofscotland

          Bevin.

          All I can add to that is, if Le Pen and Fillion for that matter, had kept there noses clean, they wouldn’t be under investigation at this time, or any other time for that matter.

          Is there a moral tale somewhere in that comment?

          I take your point on board however over the timing.

    • lysias

      The historian George Mosse, who, as a member of the German Jewish journalistic family (proprietors of the Berliner Tageblatt), himself had a chance to experience the stuff the Nazis were doing before he fled Germany, expressed the view in his book The Fascist Revolution that fascism was a totalitarianism not of the right or the left, but of the center. Gay himself, he had particularly in mind the way it imposed conventional bourgeois morality.

      • bevin

        He was right. I think Trotsky said something similar.
        It isn’t just the ‘conventional bourgeois morality’ that the Nazis imposed but the way in which they preserved the capitalist system, loosening only the restraints on its tendency to monopoly, for example, and exposing workers to the full force of supply and demand in the labour market with the power of the state ensuring their ;right to work.’
        Fascism is liberalism, unrestrained. The Nazi state ends with an economy redolent of Bentham’s Panopticon, first conceived of not as a penal settlement but as a workhouse for paupers turning a profit for investors: with millions involved in slave labour.
        Those who talk of Auschwitz often forget that it was a massive factory in which the Labour was sold to entrepreneurs by the SS- most of its victims were starved to death-as slaves often were- or died of exposure in the intense cold, wearing thin cotton clothing, were beaten ‘pour encourager les autres’ and generally drained of life, energy and hope-for profit- before being despatched.

  • Athanasius

    I wouldn’t speak on the pavement if I were you, Craig. When Christians do that, we tend to get arrested. Free speech is all well and good, but not when you’re causing “harassment, alarm or distress” saying things the other fellow doesn’t want to hear.

    • glenn_uk

      I don’t know about being arrested, various street-preachers rant away with complete impunity from my observation.

      But then, informing the public about what’s actually going on, telling truth and joining facts, is rather different to raving about some sky-spook with denouncements that anyone not sharing the same religious delusion is destined for eternal suffering.

      • Athanasius

        Ah, I understand now. Thank you for educating me. What you’re saying is that it’s only “harassment, alarm and distress” when you’re saying things the other fellow doesn’t want to hear. Ok, glad we got that cleared up.

        • glenn_uk

          Is doesn’t cause me – in your words – “harassment, alarm and distress”, far from it. I feel some pity for the deluded fool ranting about his invisible friend, and annoyance both at the intrusion and that he wishes to spread his idiotic fantasy.

          But I have seen plenty of KKKristians ranting and abusing passers-by about their God (which – amazingly enough – shares exactly the same prejudices as the street-preacher! Isn’t it remarkable?), but never seen one arrested. Telling fibs is a sin, you know.

    • Tom Welsh

      “…[W]hen some perfectly respectable person gets up and says something that everybody agrees to, that is liberty…

      “’…[L]icense is when some infernal scoundrel, who ought to be hanged anyway, gets up and says something that is true’”.

      – Albert Jay Nock, “The Disadvantages of Being Educated”

    • Bob Apposite

      “When Christians do that, we tend to get arrested”

      Get OVER yourself. Christians control over half of the occupied world and have more privilege than anyone … but in your demented minds you’re perpetually “victims” because you like the ADDITIONAL privileges playing victim gets you.

      • Bob Apposite

        Christians tend to terrorize and silence anyone who disagrees with them and the simple of truth of any PLURALISM with Christians is that the other party will be a second-class citizen.

        • Bob Apposite

          If attendance goes down in your pews, your Priests freak and agitate everyone that the world is ending – and anyone unfortunate enough to be a religious minority will be pushed into the closet.

          • Bob Apposite

            I know – I grew up in America with the “tolerant” Christians. Spoiler alert: You’re NOT.

          • Bob Apposite

            You’re no more “tolerant” than ANYONE else.
            We saw how Christians tolerated the Native Americans – they DIDN’T.

    • michael norton

      Yes, there is a steel will in The Socialist Regime of France, to have baby Hollande annointed.
      Baby Hollande will keep to the rules and stay firmly up the arse of the ruling E.U. Elite,
      something that both the extreme right wing candidates, Fillon & Le Pen will not do.
      Neither of theM will bow to the E.U.

      • michael norton

        The E.U. Elite are shitting themselves over the prospect of Marine Le Pen winning the French Presidency, she will bring the E.U. down, many pegs
        but they will not let her win, only the other day someone tried to shoot Hollande, Marine will not make it through the doors of the
        Élysée Palace

        they cannot let her, it would be the Death Knell for the ruling Elite.

    • Habbabkuk

      Yes, there’s no doubt we’re looking at a very sinister conspiracy.

      Someone in the future will make some money writing a book about it. Thierry Meyssan, perhaps.

    • Habbabkuk

      The powers that be (aka the PTB) are absolutely everywhere. They’ve even inflitrated some people’s minds (I use the last word loosely).

      • michael norton

        The E.U. Elite can not let Marine Le Pen, take the Presidency of France,
        should would destroy them.
        So, they are going to destroy her first.

  • Resident Dissident

    Given that a recent post of mine pointing out the impractibility of the single state solution given that the predominant parties are likely to be Hamas and Netanyahu was deleted by the moderators all I can say is that what goes around comes around. Of course my post may have been seen as provocative to some of the resident apologists for Hamas, but I’m sure others will find equal offence in what Craig says. Of course the answer to those who are not hypocrites is not to seek to restrict either viewpoint.

    • lysias

      For an objective view of what Hamas really represents, I recommend Paul McGeough’s book Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas .

      • Habbabkuk

        An Irish-American recommends an Irish-Australian, it’s all a bit like the Masons, isn’t it?

      • lysias

        We Irish know from experience what settler colonialism is like. Hence John Ford could make Westerns so sympathetic to the American Indians. Hence our sympathy for the Palestinians.

    • RobG

      Don’t worry about it. Probably more of my posts are deleted than yours are.

      In the meantime, whilst shouting at the effects (some of which Craig points out here) not many address the causes.

      We live in a complete lunatic asylum.

    • Old Mark

      Finding what Craig may say on this subject ‘offensive’ is no reason to restrict or impede his right to utter such a viewpoint. Like you I find his championing of a single state solution fraught with impracticalities- the idealistic internationalism Craig espouses leads him up several blind alleys, on subjects as diverse as Israel/Palestine, the EU, and on his insistence that immigration controls are inherently racist, but he holds these opinions sincerely, and on this blog and on his speaking engagements welcomes discussion and the airing of contrary opinions- precepts our universities should also support.

      • glenn_uk

        Agree with you there, OM. I have other areas of disagreement with CM too, but have no loss of respect for that. I’ve changed my position from time to time, I’d like to think he could change his on a few subjects – but that’s by and by.

        On this thread, I have been taken aback by the sheer chutzpah of the usual CM detractors, availing themselves of the leeway CM allows them on his own blog, to take him to task and denounce him for expressing concern that his views might be censored by Leeds SU!

        Perhaps irony in not understood among such people, because it’s been beaten out of their ability to even understand at a very young age.

  • Resident Dissident

    Not that two wrongs make a right but where was the defence of free speech on the many occasions when universities and student organisations sought to silence contrary views to those held by Craig and most commenters here?

    • glenn_uk

      Don’t worry – they’ve got people like you, Anon1 & Habbabkuk et al ranting away about it for all you’re worth.

      • glenn_uk

        … Plus almost all of the popular press, and all their stooges like yourself in “social media”, to pile in – don’t be overly self-critical here – you’ve got it well covered!

  • mike

    Good luck, Craig.

    in the meantime, we have the liberation of Palmyra (redux) to celebrate.

    We salute the lions of Syria.

    • Brianfujisan

      But Not the End of it Mike…How to Tame the U.S ..U.K war Machine.. ???

  • Mike

    I knew that there were certain no go areas in chinese universities but not in the UK. Really surprising and worrying state of affairs.

  • mike

    Indeed, Brian F. It’s an out-of-control juggernaut; the old state-within-a-state (super-state?) that Ike warned about. I don’t think any POTUS can change this anymore, even if he or she wanted to – it’s too big and too powerful.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ mike March 3, 2017 at 11:30
      Exactly; even Jack Ruby said it was the end of Democracy when JFK was assassinated, whilst in jail and days before his death from (induced) cancer (and he had been part of the plot, but woke up to the enormity of it when he realised he himself was being sacrificed to ensure his silence).

      • lysias

        Ruby, who had big debts, seems to have been pressured by his superiors in the Mob to kill Oswald. Who knows what he really thought at the time of the assassination of killing JFK?

        • Paul Barbara

          @ lysias March 3, 2017 at 17:22
          My understanding is that Ruby was completely ‘in the loop’; he had been tasked with getting LHO killed after the assassination, but he failed. He was then ordered to kill LHO in the police station; had he not done so, he would have been killed by the Mob.
          Ruby was also associated with the guy that ran the ‘Patsy’ who was later set up as having killed MLK.

    • lysias

      It took a 1945 to break the spell the Nazis had over the Germans, but 1945 did do it.

      I increasingly fear that an equivalent is the only thing that can reform things in the U.S.

      The Brits secretly recorded the conversations of some of the German officers they were holding as prisoners of war in Germany during WWII. I’m just now reading a book with transcripts of those conversations — Abgehört: Deutsche Generäle in britischer Kriegsgefangenschaft 1942-1945 [Eavesdropped: German Generals in British Captivity], edited by Sönke Neitzel. Quite a few of these men — and they were captured officers, mainly professional military men — came to recognize that military defeat was the only thing that could save Germany.

      • lysias

        Let me try that again with proper coding:

        It took a 1945 to break the spell the Nazis had over the Germans, but 1945 did do it.

        I increasingly fear that an equivalent is the only thing that can reform things in the U.S.

        The Brits secretly recorded the conversations of some of the German officers they were holding as prisoners of war in Germany during WWII. I’m just now reading a book with transcripts of those conversations — Abgehört: Deutsche Generäle in britischer Kriegsgefangenschaft 1942-1945 [Eavesdropped: German Generals in British Captivity], edited by Sönke Neitzel. Quite a few of these men — and they were captured officers, mainly professional military men — came to recognize that military defeat was the only thing that could save Germany.

  • Ian Fantom

    I would probably have been there had I had some notice, since I now live in Halifax! This censorship is now quite general. I used to treat universities with the utmost of respect, having grown up in a working-class family that recognised the value of education. Over the past few years I’ve been profoundly shocked by the apparently state-sponsored academic terrorism that had been going on in universities. Closing down meetings is just part of it. I’ve come across professors who mislead and blatantly lie. I’ve engaged with Sociologists who claim they’ve found statistical correlations without even doing any statistics. I’ve come across Psychologists who twist words in order to denigrate those the state will want to silence. I’ve even come across a fake academic paper by an Oxford physicist working on cancer issues. I’ve even been yelled at by a professor and former President of an American University for asking his view on my research results into the decline of the Esperanto movement in Britain. A professor who tells lies is worth nothing. A university that doesn’t allow free speech should be returning the tuition fees to all its former students.

    Best of luck with your talk. It’s not you who is on trial, but the university.

  • Leonard Young

    Universities are utterly worthless places if its Student Union, trustees or its staff, prevent a free exchange of ideas, and in this case, palpably not a speech designed to do other than enlighten. Who is trying to vet this, and where is their power to do so?

    BTW, a bit pedantic and apologies, but there is no such thing is “pre-vetting”. Vetting is by definition assessing something before it happens, so there is no need for the “pre” in front.

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