6th April 2006
I have put below an extract from the AUT 2006 International report which has been published ahead of this year’s conference to be held in Scarborough 10-12 May. This is two weeks before the NATFHE conference at the end of May. The AUT has yet to publish its conference motions but I anticipate that unlike NATFHE there will be nothing contentious. The other items in this digest relate to:
2. Adding their voice to the debate
A report from the Guardian on the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir at last weeks National Union of Students' conference…..read more
3. US professors accused of being liars and bigots over essay on pro-Israeli lobby
An article by two prominent American professors Stephen Walt, the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and John Mearsheimer, a political science professor at the University of Chicago arguing that the pro-Israel lobby exerts a dominant and damaging influence on US foreign policy has triggered a furious row, pitting allegations of antisemitism against claims of intellectual intimidation…..read more You can also read all about it as well as
Rebuttals of Mearsheimer and Walt - Collected by Jeff Weintraub which is posted permanently at the Engage Archive at; http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=343
4. Anti-Israel Bias at Universities Scrutinized in America
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, responding to allegations that an anti-Israel bias is rampant on college campuses, approved recommendations on Monday aimed at ensuring that Jewish college students are protected from anti-Semitic harassment…….Read the full article below
5. DePaul: The Nightmare That Keeps on Recurring
Today, the Collegiate Network announced that DePaul University in America won second “prize” in its Campus Outrage Awards, commonly known as the Pollys. Here’s how the CN put it:DePaul University has essentially declared war on free speech on campus. First, the university suspended—without a hearing—a veteran adjunct professor….. read the full article below
6.The Protocols of Zion, a film by Marc Levin
is to shown for the first time in the UK on Tuesday 2 May 06, ……….For more details see below.
Finally I read a quote recently from Professor Alan Dershowitz which many of our critics would do well to heed, it is as follows:
“We should always respect the academic freedom of everyone to take any position, but, those who take provocative positions have to assume that their views can and will be challenged, “That academic freedom does not include freedom from criticism.”Ronnie Fraser
Academic Friends of Israel
1. AUT International Policy
……The special council held on 26 May 2005 required EIA committee to look into the basis for international policy, and that it should be based on consistent principles openly debated and democratically confirmed. The committee has taken this on board and has updated policy in light of this and established the interim principles whereby the international work of the association should be directed.
Interim International Policy In considering the provision of solidarity to colleagues abroad, the AUT shall ensure that the main intention of any proposal is:
1. The protection and extension of academic freedom to teach, research, and otherwise collaborate with fellow academics around the world
2. The protection and extension of trade union rights as defined by the ILO within education, and the support of fellow trade unionists in their practice of those rights.
The Investigative Commission into Israel/Palestine has been established, and four members of council were elected by vote of council representatives. Its first meeting took place on 14 February 2006, and a further meeting on 5 April 2006. As part of the preparatory work to bring matters to council, contact has been made with both higher education representatives in Palestine and Israel, and their views have been sought. Twinning and other contact with Palestinian universities has been urged upon Local Associations, and contacts have been made with colleagues in Palestine in order to further this. However, it is clear that a number of colleagues in institutions are making their own contacts in this area, and it was the view of the EIA committee that these should be coordinated and mapped if at all possible……..
2. Adding their voice to the debate
Has better organisation or extremism made Islamic groups the biggest faction in student politics? Paul Lewis
Tuesday April 4, 2006
Huddled around an ad hoc stall at Blackpool's Winter Gardens centre last week, a group of well-organised Muslim men stood waiting for delegates at the National Union of Students' conference to emerge from the debating arena. All were dressed in jeans and smart blue T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Hizb ut-Tahrir - Falsely Accused". Handing out an eight-page pamphlet proposing that Hizb ut-Tahrir should be "allowed to speak and be challenged", they were polite, articulate and measured - but guarded. None agreed to give me their name. Some quietly admitted to being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organisation that the government has indicated may be banned. "I do not judge anything after just hearing it," one teenager - who confirmed he was "HT" - told me. "From research you can see what's going on. Hizb ut-Tahrir provides facts that are what I love about it. You get stats, names, figures ... you wouldn't get that elsewhere, especially in the media." Others simply described themselves as "Muslim students on campus" who staunchly disagree with Hizb ut-Tahrir's ideology, but defend the group's right to free speech. The T-shirts were worn in support of a controversial campaign to see Hizb ut-Tahrir lifted from a list of organisations currently banned by NUS under the union's "no platform" policy. T
he policy, first adopted in the 1970s to exclude fascist organisations from participating in NUS, was widened in 2004 to incorporate Hizb ut-Tahrir, al-Muhajiroun and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. This year, a delegate from Westminster University students' union was prevented from attending NUS conference because of his Hizb ut-Tahrir connections. The move to reinstate Hizb ut-Tahrir as a legitimate group within NUS was backed by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis), an umbrella organisation representing 90,000 students, which claims Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent and legitimate political party.
Many of those wearing the campaign T-shirts identified themselves as Fosis delegates. Fosis was established in 1962 and is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain. After nearly four decades languishing on the sidelines of student politics, Fosis now finds itself at the forefront of NUS. Two years ago, the group managed to get six candidates elected to NUS conference. This year, it had 120 - which, according to its leaders, makes Fosis the largest faction in the national student union. Widely accepted as a moderate organisation, Fosis has been praised for its promotion of interfaith dialogue and campaigns against Islamophobia. It has worked constructively within NUS and engages with other religious groups. But some fear the organisation's defence of Hizb ut-Tahrir represents a new and dangerous flirtation with radicalism. In private, senior NUS members speculate that Fosis may be influenced by a hard core of extremists.
A report published last year by Professor Anthony Glees, director of Brunel University's centre for intelligence and security studies, warned that "extremist and/or terror groups" have been operating in more than 30 universities across the country, posing a threat to national security. Glees suggested that Islamist groups including Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun are active on many campuses, but often operate under different names. "It's difficult to tell from the outside, but it's clear that the leadership of Fosis has become much more politically motivated," says Dan Randall, a member of the NUS executive committee. "On the one hand, that has clear benefits. But at the same time, that leadership is leading to very reactionary politics, for example the promotion of Hizb utTahrir this year, and anti-abortion moves last year. "Certain figures within the Fosis leadership obviously have political sympathies with Hizb ut-Tahrir.
I don't think that the majority of Muslim students share those views." Mitch Simmons, the campaigns director for the Union of Jewish Students, says he is "worried and concerned" about the group's activities at NUS. "I can't say I'm surprised, because Hizb ut-Tahrir do operate on campuses, and they do so under false names."
Officially, Fosis is careful to play down its links with a radical fringe. Its spokesperson, Amar Latif, blocked interviews with some Fosis members who had not been sanctioned to speak to the media. "I'm not shielding anyone from speaking to you," he assured me after leading away one student. "But you have to understand that these people are not here to speak to journalists." The president of Fosis, 26-year-old Wakkas Khan, from Manchester, is more open, and accepts that Hizb ut-Tahrir supporters may be among his ranks. "Fosis is a large representative body of student Islamic societies," he explains. "So, of course, we have people with sympathies towards Hizb ut-Tahrir within our fold." Khan is not, himself, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and although he says there are aspects of the group's policies with which he disagrees, he says he can give no examples. Neither does he object to the idea of Hizb ut-Tahrir gaining acceptability - and power - within Fosis. "I'm not going to say I'd prefer it if Hizb ut-Tahrir didn't get on to our executive. Isn't that democracy in action? If Hizb ut-Tahrir became the most well-oiled political group on campus, and persuaded our 90,000 members - well, that's democracy in action. "What we're saying is not that we agree with Hizb ut-Tahrir. We're saying we support their right to exist and have their voice heard. The view that Fosis has been infiltrated by Hizb ut-Tahrir is an ignorant one," he adds. "The simple fact is that all Muslim students have got a lot more organised." Jamal El-Shayyal, a leading figure in NUS politics and a spokesperson for Fosis, says: "I disagree with 70% of what [Hizb ut-Tahrir] say. But it's about time, as Muslims, we decided what is extreme and what's not." Although reluctant to support a change to the no platform policy, NUS national black students' officer Pav Akhtar says he can understand the need for debate. "There just isn't enough information about Hizb ut-Tahrir," he says. "I understand the reason why Muslim students feel they deserve the right to present evidence about the group. It's right that we have an informed debate." The motion to re-establish Hizb ut-Tahrir within NUS was voted down, but not before a tense debate. During her speech against the motion, NUS president-elect, Gemma Tumelty, declared: "Their rhetoric may have changed, but they are still homophobic, sexist and racist. We have the right to say Hizb ut-Tahrir are not welcome on campus. We have a duty to safeguard the students we represent." Wes Streeting, vice-president education-elect, used his speech to label the proposers of the motion "shameless". Others claimed opposition to the motion was "anti-Islamic". Taji Mustafa, a spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, condemned its continued proscription by NUS. "We're invited on to campuses by students to take part in discussions and radio shows," he said. "We don't call for violence or terrorism. What many people feel uncomfortable with is this idea of a McCarthyite atmosphere. "This is what goes on in parts of the Muslim world where dictators shut people down."
Whatever happened to Labour students?
It was once the breeding ground for Labour party heavyweights of the likes of Stephen Twigg and Charles Clarke. But after the Labour government claimed responsibility for both tuition fees and top-up fees, the NUS springboard for aspiring Labour politicos has, it seems, lost its bounce. For the second year runnning, Labour Students failed to put forward a candidate for the presidential elections. Their single rising star - Wes Streeting, an energetic campaigner - won the election for vice-president education. "Labour Students used to do well because they were fighting the establishment; now they are the establishment," gloated Dan Large, a presidential candidate for Conservative Future. But all is not lost.
The winning presidential candidate, Gemma Tumelty, a popular NUS insider who stood as an independent candidate, won with the backing of Labour Students. Tumelty beat Pav Akhtar, the union's national black students' officer, by just 28 votes. Speaking after her victory, Tumelty told the Guardian that while there were a lot of Labour government policies she opposed - such as those on education and the Iraq war - she believes "they've done a lot for equality". But that doesn't mean she plans to be a Labour MP. "I've no designs on being an MP," she said. "Not at the minute." "We're happy to support her," says Streeting, who described this year's conference as "the year Labour Students came back". Indeed, Labour Students did secure a dramatic change in NUS education funding policy, overturning a seven-year demand for universal grants for university students. The NUS is now committed to targeted grants under a revised system of means-testing.
3. US professors accused of being liars and bigots over essay on pro-Israeli lobby
Julian Borger in Washington
Friday March 31, 2006
An article by two prominent American professors arguing that the pro-Israel lobby exerts a dominant and damaging influence on US foreign policy has triggered a furious row, pitting allegations of anti-semitism against claims of intellectual intimidation. Stephen Walt, the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and John Mearsheimer, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, published two versions of the essay, the Israel Lobby, in the London Review of Books and on a Harvard website. The pro-Israel lobby and its sway over American policy has always been a controversial issue, but the professors' bluntly worded polemic created a firestorm, drawing condemnation from left and right of the political spectrum.
Professor Walt's fellow Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz - criticised in the article as an "apologist" for Israel - denounced the authors as "liars" and "bigots" in the university newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and compared their arguments to neo-Nazi literature. "Accusations of powerful Jews behind the scenes are part of the most dangerous traditions of modern anti-semitism," wrote two fellow academics, Jeffrey Herf and Andrei Markovits, in a letter to the London Review of Books. Critics also pointed out that the article had been praised by David Duke, a notorious American white supremacist.
Prof Mearsheimer said the storm of protest proved one of its arguments - that the strength of the pro-Israel lobby stifled debate on US foreign policy. "We argued in the piece that the lobby goes to great lengths to silence criticism of Israeli policy as well as the US-Israeli relationship, and that its most effective weapon is the charge of anti-semitism," Prof Mearsheimer told The Guardian. "Thus, we expected to be called anti-semites, even though both of us are philo-semites and strongly support the existence of Israel." He added: "Huge numbers of people know this story to be true but are afraid to say it because they would punished by pro-Israeli forces." Soon after the publication of the article it was announced that Prof Walt would step down from his job as academic dean at the end of June.
However, the Kennedy School and Prof Walt's colleagues said that the move had long been planned. The Kennedy school removed its cover page from the online version of the article but said in a statement: "The only purpose of that removal was to end public confusion; it was not intended, contrary to some interpretations, to send any signal that the school was also 'distancing' itself from one of its senior professors." "The University of Chicago and Harvard University have behaved admirably in difficult circumstances. We have had the full support of our respective institutions," Prof Mearsheimer said. The article argues that the US has "been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies" to advance Israeli interests, largely as a result of pressure from Jewish American groups such as the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) allied to pro-Zionist Christian evangelists and influential Jewish neo-conservatives such as former Pentagon officials Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle. It argues their combined influence was critical in the decision to go to war in Iraq. Writing in the online magazine, Slate, the British-born journalist Christopher Hitchens criticised the authors' "over-fondness for Jewish name-dropping" and argued that the first occasion the neo-conservatives had a significant influence on foreign policy was to press the Clinton administration to intervene on behalf of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. No AIPAC officials would comment about the controversy on the record. Yesterday Prof Mearsheimer said: "We went out of our way to say that the lobby is simply engaging in interest group politics, which is as American as apple pie."
Rebuttals of Mearsheimer and Walt - Collected by Jeff Weintraub
This piece is posted permanently at the Engage Archive.
The full 83-page version (with footnotes) was printed as a Working Paper at Harvard entitled "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," and a condensed version (without footnotes) appeared in the London Review of Books (vol. 28, #6 - 23 March 2006) as "The Israel Lobby."
4. Anti-Israel Bias at Universities Scrutinized
By Mary Beth Marklein,
USA TODAY 4.3.06
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, responding to allegations that an anti-Israel bias is rampant on college campuses, approved recommendations Monday aimed at ensuring that Jewish college students are protected from anti-Semitic harassment. The recommendations grew out of a November hearing at which speakers cited examples of anti-Semitic incidents.
One frequently cited involved a 2004 documentary that said Middle East Studies faculty at Columbia University were intimidating Jewish students who defended Israel. (A faculty committee investigated and found no evidence of anti-Semitism.) Last September, a non-profit group called "StandWithUs" showed a 45-minute documentary depicting examples of anti-Israel speakers on campuses.
The commission, an independent, bipartisan federal agency that does not have enforcement powers, also urged university leaders to "set a moral example by denouncing anti-Semitic and other hate speech," and to ensure that Middle East studies departments protect the rights of all students. It recommended Monday that the Department of Education "vigorously" enforce the federal law that bars discrimination based on "race, color or national origin," and that Congress clarify that "national origin" can refer to Jewish heritage."We should inform students of their right" to file a complaint if they believe they have been harassed, commissioner Jennifer Braceras said. Students at the University of California at Irvine, including two who said they were assaulted because they were Jewish, filed a complaint in 2004 with the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights. That case is still open. Now, "you'll see a number of suits filed," says Gary Tobin of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San Francisco.
Vanessa Zuabi, 21, a UC-Irvine senior and former vice president of the school's Society of Arab Students, says the issue is complex. For example, she says, a structure built two years ago by her group was burned down. "Controversy has gone in all directions."
5. DePaul: The Nightmare That Keeps on Recurring
by Charles Mitchell
Fire, April 3, 2006,
Today, the Collegiate Network announced that DePaul University won second “prize” in its Campus Outrage Awards, commonly known as the Pollys. Here’s how the CN put it:DePaul University has essentially declared war on free speech on campus. First, the university suspended—without a hearing—a veteran adjunct professor for daring to debate students handing out pro-Palestinian literature on campus. Next, the administration branded as “propaganda” a College Republican protest of a Ward Churchill speech on campus. Finally, college officials shut down an affirmative action bake-sale sponsored by the campus conservative club and charged the club member who organized the event with harassment.
Apparently, free speech is allowed at DePaul only as long as it accords with the political views of the university administration.Yep, that’s a pretty good summary! And as with the “first place” Polly last year (Le Moyne College’s persecution of student Scott McConnell), it was FIRE that brought DePaul’s misdeeds to public attention—from the fired professor (Thomas Klocek), to the banned CR flyers, to the silenced “affirmative action bake sale”—and we are grateful to the CN for shedding even more light on DePaul’s stunning actions.
The Protocols of ZionA film by Marc Levin
Anthony Julius and Linda Grant Will speak
Minimum Donation £15
Please secure your tickets in advance; we anticipate a full house.
Box office 020-8444-6789, open between 4.15pm and 10.00pm daily
Tuesday 2 May 06, 6.15pm Phoenix CinemaHigh Road, East Finchley, N2
Easy parking and close to the tube
The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks
Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld - Chairman of the Board of Fellows, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Henry Grunwald Q.C. - President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
John D A Levy - Director of the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
Andrew R. Marks, M.D. - Columbia University, USA
Professor Leslie Wagner CBE
Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham
The Academic Friends of Israel Ltd is limited by guarantee and registered in England No 5297417.