The University of Edinburgh has refused to cancel an event with American-Israeli activist, Miko Peled, who demanded that delegates at the Labour Party Conference this week should have the freedom to engage in debate as to whether the Holocaust actually happened. The event is scheduled for 19:30 today at 50 George Square at Edinburgh University, and is being organised by the Scottish Palestine Forum.
Campaign Against Antisemitism wrote to the University administration to raise our concerns about Mr Peled and called for the event to be cancelled. The University responded by confirming that the event is to go ahead on the grounds of “allowing freedom of speech to flourish”.
This week, Mr Peled made national headlines by demanding at the Labour Party Conference that delegates should have the freedom to engage in debate as to whether the Holocaust actually happened at all. He said that people should be free to ask “Holocaust, yes or no” because “there should be no limits on the discussion.” He additionally reportedly proposed that Israelis should be treated like Nazis. His remarks prompted widespread condemnation from politicians and the media.
Mr Peled has form. For example on 23rd May 2016, speaking at an art gallery in Euston, London, Mr Peled reportedly alleged that the Labour Party’s antisemitism furore is being fabricated by “Zionists”, allegedly saying: “Everyone knows this entire antisemitism thing is nonsense”. At the same event, Mr Peled is also said to have alleged that Islamophobia is a strategic invention of “Zionists”, reportedly claiming: “If anyone has any doubt, that this entire Islamophobia thing isn’t coming directly from pro-Israeli groups, then excuse me you are out of your mind. Absolutely. And when you look at each case, individually you will see, the hand, the fingerprints of some Israeli lobby, some pro-Zionist groups.”
More recently, on 14th September 2016, Mr Peled tweeted about a new aid package granted to Israel by the United States, writing: “Then theyr surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves. #apartheidisrael doesn’t need or deserve these $$.” In response, his forthcoming event hosted by the Princeton Committee on Palestine was cancelled on the basis that: “The last string of tweets are antisemitic and hateful, which are counterproductive to an educational event on the conflict.”
Mr Peled’s views have, in the past, engaged the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by both the Government of Scotland and the Government of the United Kingdom. We are therefore extremely disappointed by the University’s decision to defend Mr Peled’s freedoms without defending those of Jewish students.
The University has released a statement saying: “We want our campus to be an environment that is safe and welcoming to all and do not accept racism or bigotry of any kind. The University is also committed to fostering an environment in which freedom of speech is allowed to flourish. The right to debate and express differing views is central to the University’s ethos – but it must be done with respect for others. We always seek to ensure such debates are conducted in an appropriate way in line with our own policies around dignity and respect and with regard to our obligations under the Equality Act.”
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