There has been considerable controversy recently emanating from allegations that Jewish individuals were barred from a lecture taking place at the University of Warwick. The lecture was based around the topic of alleging that Israel was intentionally undermining the fertility of Palestinians. While a controversial topic in itself, the event attracted further controversy over the allegations of three Jewish individuals being barred from entering. This has inevitably provoked a furious response, with many accusations of antisemitism. Read on for the full story.
The incident happened at a public lecture, being taken by Sigrid Vertommen, an academic at King’s College London. As mentioned, the lecture tackled the topic of Israel’s effect on the fertility of Palestinians. The discussion centred around Israel’s policy of subsiding multiple fertilisation procedures for its citizens – and the effect this has on the Palestinian population. While certainly a controversial topic, the Jewish/Israeli society of the University suggested the event wasn’t anti-Semitic, according to the Jewish Chronicle.
David Collier – who blogs on antisemitism, suggested he was barred from the event, along with two other Jews – Mandy Blumenthal and Yochy Davis. They appeared to encounter difficulty when they attempted to enter the event. They alleged that Lisa Tilley – a faculty member of Warwick’s School of Politics and International Relations – was responsible, refusing to allow them to enter after inspecting their identity cards. Collier wrote a blog entry on the incident, which you can read here. Tilley contacted the Jewish Chronicle, suggesting that any allegation of antisemitism was ‘completely false’.
This case however provoked a furious response, with much anger directed at the University of Warwick – despite the event not having been arranged by the University. Shimon Samuels – the director of International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center – a Jewish human rights organisation – suggested the University of Warwick was the ‘leading University in the United Kingdom in terms of denying Israel’s right to exist’. The University of Warwick responded by saying that the event had been ‘organised by a group of researchers and students’ – not the University.
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The topic of Eugenics is continuously controversial. The allegations are unfortunate – and have provoked a serious backlash. While the University of Warwick has suggested they had very little to do with the event, a staff member seems to have played a major role in the case, while the lecture did take place on University grounds. However, freedom of speech is crucial at Universities, and not everyone has denounced the event as ‘Anti-Semitic’. A conclusion to this case remains to be seen, with the University set to investigate.