A case study in anti-Semitism within British academia

Here at CiF Watch we, like many others, have for some time been following the very worrying events taking place with alarming regularity in too many British universities.

From the cancellation of lectures by some pro-Israeli speakers, through the heckling and intimidation of others, to the despicable attacks upon Talya Lador-Fresher (Israel Deputy Ambassador to the UK) last year in Manchester and a protester outside SOAS just recently, these events indicate beyond all doubt that something is seriously amiss in the higher education system of Great Britain. Ambassador Ron Prosor apparently thinks so too.

“Speaking at a conference on British-Israeli diplomatic relations at the think-tank Chatham House, he said there had “never been so much hatred and hypocrisy towards the state of Israel in British universities.”

Just as there seems to be very little enthusiasm in those same establishments to face up to the issue of Islamist radicalization within the confines of their protected walls, or the long-since known (but recently further publicized) subject of the funding of some of those institutions by human-rights abusing regimes and dictatorships, nothing very effective appears to be being done to counter the virulently anti-Israel (and sometimes anti-Semitic) atmosphere in what are supposed to be bastions of free debate and liberal enlightenment.

A post (which recently generated some renewed interest) on the Daphne Anson blog regarding the Leicester University lecturer Dr. Claudia Prestel raises some questions as to just how committed the management of British universities are in combating extremism in their institutions. As pointed out in the post, Dr. Prestel has links with the Leicester branch of ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’. She has written for their magazine and spoken together with the chair of that organization, Ismail Patel, at an event organized by the Leicester University Palestine Support Group. She is also a supporter of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Some might say that what Dr. Prestel or any other university lecturer chooses to do with his or her free time is nobody’s business. Others might raise reasonable concerns that perhaps the political opinions of such lecturers do not always remain outside the lecture hall.  What I found particularly interesting about this specific case is that Leicester University runs a centre for the study of the Holocaust, of which Dr. Prestel is also a member. And yet nobody in that institution seems to think it inappropriate that she should maintain connections with an organization which has quoted Holocaust deniers on its website, headed by a man who supports a terrorist organization with genocidal aspirations of its own.

‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ is one of the more extremist Islamist organizations at work in Britain today. It supports the Muslim Brotherhood-linked charity ‘Interpal’ (proscribed by the US Treasury) and advertises it on its website. It collaborates with the Khomenist Iranian-funded faux human rights organization known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission in organizing events such as Al Quds day at which public support is expressed for the Iranian proxy militia Hizbollah.

Advert for Friends of Al Aqsa sponsored event

Ismail Patel himself is a member of the red-green ‘Stop the War coalition’ and has represented that body at a Hizbollah conference. He is a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated ‘British Muslim Initiative, has been involved in the organization of the annual ‘Islam Expo’ hate-fest, is a member of ‘Conflicts Forum’ which advocates engaging with terrorists and was a passenger aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’ which tried to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza last May. The voyage was co-sponsored by the Turkish organization the IHH which is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Union of Good’. Patel’s recommended reading list includes the work of Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy who does not believe that there was a Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe or that there were gas chambers.

One wonders if those attending last year’s conference on the subject of Holocaust Denial at Leicester University’s Centre for Holocaust Studies were aware that one of the associate members of that centre rubs shoulders with Islamist extremists who are not averse to a little denial of the Nazi Holocaust themselves and support both Hamas – with its genocidal charter – and the Iranian regime infamous for the Holocaust denial of its president.

One especially wonders whether the management of the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust Studies and Leicester University as a whole consider Dr Prestel’s extra-curricular associations appropriate under the circumstances and whether or not they have given any thought whatsoever to the fact that allowing people such as Ismail Patel to speak on their campus is precisely the sort of supine approach which is contributing to the spread of increasingly violent extremism in universities throughout the British Isles.

As people who study racial hatred as a profession, one would hope that they would be able to make that rather obvious connection.

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