Leeds University Union Threaten to Ban My Speech on Palestine 224

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.

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224 thoughts on “Leeds University Union Threaten to Ban My Speech on Palestine

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  • Richard Seaford

    I gave the first lecture for Israeli Apartheid Week at Leeds University last Monday (27th). I too speak impromptu, but was not asked for a summary. The University had imposed a student chairperson, who was fine. I announced at the beginning that the lecture and discussion was being recorded, to prevent the possibility of bogus accusations of anti-Semitism. I suggest that you do the same, and ensure that it is recorded. Several Universities are succumbing to government pressure, based on a definition of antisemitism that deliberately seeks to close down discussion of Israel-Palestine by conflating it with anti-semitism. This is happening because the Israel lobby knows that it is losing the debate big time.
    Professor Richard Seaford.
    University of Exeter

  • mary prendergast

    Lesley”Great Britton is NOT GREAT any more “infact it is now at the bottom of the pile,” ln the Gutter”better describes it. I used to be proud to be British “born and bread in England” l Was

    very patriotic. “I now feel ashamed”. Britton is rapidly going down the path “too Doom” lt is not too late. “We are a fighting nation”and always have been. Peoples of Brtton stop winning, put your money where your mouth is and get off your asses and fight for what is your Birth right and bring about change. Your fathers and forefathers have died “my Father included”
    to save Britton. Dont lay down and let this mob distroy all that has been faught for. They are not in power for the workers “or the shirckers” They are in power literally for the wealthy. The National Health Systom will soon be a thing of the past,or will soon be practacly none existant. What is happening in the UK is disgraceful. People of the UK “you voted to get out of the EU now go to the wire. You Know What You Have to do sooooo DO IT

  • Alan M

    I agree with your comments. I have attended both Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israel talks, and somewhere between there is the truth, and a way forward. You state in your narrative that Palestinian should receive more compensation than restitution. Does this also apply to Jews who in many cases were forcibly moved from their former homes in North Africa, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yeman and Iran etc.,

    This is why it is so important that speakers from both sides of the discourse are given the opportunity to speak, and not forced to abandon their talks down to either censorship or student pressure. There will always be the odd hate speaker who will cross the divide from constructive debate to either antisemitism or race hate. These should be shouted out for who they are, and never given a platform at any University in the UK.

    Did you talk at Leeds University actually go ahead at the end of the day?

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