Earlier in the year, Matt Seaton, who, at the time, was the editor of "Comment Is Free" (now editor of CiF America), threatened to outlaw Guardian contributor Professor Geoffrey Alderman if he continued to write for CiF Watch. As Alderman related, shortly after penning the piece for CW he received an email from the Commissars threatening to cast him to the wind:
"Last August, "CiF Watch" was launched. Its primary aim is to monitor anti-Jewish content appearing on CiF. In November, I accepted an invitation to write for CiF Watch a piece on Peter Oborne's Channel 4 documentary Inside Britain's Israel Lobby and on Tony Lerman's defence of it on CiF."
I can now reveal that, within days of the publication of my critique, I received an email from the Guardian telling me that, if I dared to continue writing for CiF Watch, I would no longer be able to contribute to CiF. It was, I was summarily warned, "an either/or choice".
As Cif Watch noted at the time:
"How childish - but how typical. Remember when they denied Robin Shepherd the right to correct a complete misrepresentation of his book by Tony Lerman?
"Such spiteful, nasty behaviour is typical of the unreconstructed left which is in the ascendancy in the UK at present.
"It is a sign of the Guardian's lack of confidence in their editorial stance - of weakness, not strength. It means that all our other guest posters are also persona non grata with the Guardian."
This is the context that makes the recent decision, by the Director of the Belfast Festival, to disinvite Alderman from a discussion on the Middle East assume even greater relevance.
The following statement is issued by Professor Geoffrey Alderman:
"CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST" THE BELFAST FESTIVAL, 18 OCTOBER 2010
STATEMENT BY PROFESSOR GEOFFREY ALDERMAN
On 20 September 2010 I received an email from the Director of the Belfast Festival, Mr. Graeme Farrow, inviting me to join a panel convened to discuss "Conflict in the Middle East" as part of the 2010 Belfast Festival, held under the auspices of Queen's University Belfast. Mr. Farrow's exact words were: "I would be delighted if you would join our panel."
I was naturally pleased to accept this invitation.
The panel discussion is due to take place on Monday evening, 18 October 2010, in Belfast.
On Friday afternoon, 15 October 2010 I was shocked to receive an email from Mr. Farrow informing me that "a mistake" had been made in extending the invitation to me and that although I could join the audience the event was to go ahead without my panel participation. In effect, I was being "disinvited."
In a series of email exchanges with Mr. Farrow I refused to accept this situation, and I have made it clear to him that I intend to travel to Belfast tomorrow and shall expect to participate fully as a member of the panel.
I am frankly appalled at the way I have been treated, for which I hold Queen's University, Belfast, responsible.
As CiF Watch noted in the row over the possibility of losing his writing privileges at the Guardian (a paper, it should be noted, who has even given space to known supporters and even leaders of Hamas and Hizbollah) but is just as relevant to this latest incident:
"It is of course part of the creeping delegitimisation of Israel and all those who are not prepared to join the haters or stay silent. It is the same mentality as those who gagged Benny Morris in Cambridge this week, as those who want visiting Israelis arrested and as Stephen Sizer's clumsy attempts to silence Seismic Shock, using the police. It is anti-democratic and censorious."
The festival's director, Graeme Farrow, reportedly told Alderman that he had made "a mistake in agreeing to extend an invitation to you Geoffrey without consulting the academics in question".
As the Jewish Chronicle reported:
"Professor Alderman, who has gone to Belfast, has rejected an offer to participate in the debate as a member of the audience. He said he was "appalled at the way I have been treated".
"After a meeting with Mr Farrow early this afternoon, Professor Alderman said he had given the organisers three options: to allow him to join the panel and if his fellow-panelists were to object, "they could stay away": to let him to take part while sitting on a separate table: or simply to call off the event.
"But an hour before its scheduled start, the event appeared set to go ahead without his participation. Professor Alderman, who is due to return to London tomorrow, described that as "outrageous".
Professor Alderman is now sitting in the hotel in Belfast while the meeting proceeds at the University. "Outrageous" is a profound understatement to describe both the treatment Alderman received, as well as the hostile atmosphere towards Israel and her supporters consistently on display within such "elite" circles.
If you wish to protest Alderman's treatment to the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Gregson, here is his contact information:
Executive PA: Mrs Fionnuala Newton - (0)28 9097 5134; Secretary Mrs Monica Salomeia (0)28 9097 3131