Ben White, David Irving, An Israeli And Oxbridge Types.
If you ever watch the Chariots of Fire film you will see an example of upper class English antisemitism, as John Gielgud’s character (the Master of Trinity) sneers at Harold Abraham’s use of a professional coach, and makes a few snide comments about “Hebrews”.
It’s not a big part of the film, but it does set the tone of how Jews have been seen by Oxbridge types over the years. Something to sneer at, something not quite “English” and it’s all done with impeccable accents and characteristic English understatement.
I can not say if that attitude is still prevalent amongst Oxbridge types, but the recent treatment of an Israeli historian suggests to me that might be the case.
Readers will remember how Oxford and Cambridge are famous for their debates, for inviting controversial figures and debating the issues of the day.
In 2007 the Hitler loving, David Irving, mainstay of the Holocaust denying circuit was down at Oxford. A year after that the dictator loving, George Galloway, was invited to speak at Trinity College, Cambridge.
There was no question of ever stopping Galloway from speaking, despite his fondness for Saddam Hussein, questionable performance on Big Brother and defence of the Iranians theocracy on his weekly PressTV show. No question whatsoever.
I am sure if we could look through the invitations sent out by the Oxbridge colleges then we might find any number of other unsavoury individuals, including Irving and Galloway, none of whom were stopped from giving their speeches.
None, that is, except an Israeli historian, Benny Morris.
There was a Facebook campaign to coercethe Cambridge University’s Israel Society and it seems to have worked, the event was cancelled. Whether or not there were any threats or intimidation I do not know, but I would not preclude it.
What I found rather interesting was the instigator of this open attack on freedom of speech, was not a firebrand graduate or a died-in-the-wool militant, rather it was our old friend, Ben White.
Some may suggest that Ben White was being spiteful, inconsistent, non-Voltairian or just a small minded bigot.
I could not possibly comment, but when I see his name and remember his activities, I always think of Chariots of Fire.
Sorry, if it wasn’t obvious but the creator of the Cambridge protests Islamophobia on campus was Ben White.
Update 2: Over at The Heathlander an interesting argument is posed:
“Firstly – and I apologise for spelling this out, but evidently some people have genuinely failed to grasp it – the right to “free speech” does not entail the right to a platform at the University of Cambridge to spout racist garbage. It certainly does not entail the right to invite an unabashed racist to speak at the University of Cambridge without provoking serious opposition from students who have to live with the consequences of an atmosphere poisoned by racism.“
Strong points, except that’s already happened a few times and it is Jewish students that have to live with the outcome of anti-Jewish racism, which is a consequence of the continued obsession with Jewish nationalism, otherwise known as Zionism.
We shouldn’t forget that in 2006, the Cambridge Union debated the motion “This House believes that Zionism is a danger to the Jewish people”.
Over at the Electronic Intifada Ben White gloated in a rather predictable fashion. [Warning, linked to cache copy]
Cambridge has one rule when it comes to Jews and another for everyone else.
There is not the slightest concern that these motions, attitudes and the constant drip drip of Anti-Zionism do stir up anti-Jewish racism and put Jewish students and staff in a very difficult situation. No, there is no concern for their well-being.
Update 3: The Cambridge tab hasn’t fully researched their article, otherwise they would see that the creator of the Facebook group was not Jamie Stern-Weiner, but Ben White, as the screen shot above clearly shows. I have no doubt that Jamie Stern-Weiner did a lot of the leg work, presumably under White’s direction.
Update 4: There’s an article on JC and the debacle at Cambridge. Apparently as a result of attacks on him Benny Morris has been invited to lecture at the Department of Political and International Studies, with an expected larger audience.
Update 5: I am grateful to Seismic Shock and James Mendelsohn for reminding me of how intolerant Ben White is, when he has the opportunity to control the freedom of speech/expression of others. This is a good summary of his attitudes.
Update 6: Cambridge was not particularly concerned with the sensitivities of Jews when they invited Jean Marie Le Pen in 2003, even though they were well aware of how abhorrent it was:
”The university’s Jewish Society said Mr Le Pen’s invite was “offensive to all minority students in Cambridge and a danger to student security”.”
It still went ahead so you might conclude that Cambridge is happy to invite and pander to a French neofascist, with a history of antisemitism, but not a world-renowned Israeli scholar and historian, who happens to be Jewish.
Update 7: One of my eagle eyed readers, zkharya, spotted, this in the Varsity Magazine:
“Renowned Israeli historian and Cambridge alumnus Professor Benny Morris has condemned the decision to cancel his talk after accusations of “Islamophobia” were made.
Speaking to Varsity yesterday, Morris said, “I believe that the attempt by several Cambridge students and a lecturer to prevent me lecturing in Cambridge is a violation of basic rights of free speech – just as preventing publication of cartoons depicting Jesus, Moses or Mohammad are violations of free speech.”
Morris also criticised the Israel Society for caving to pressure and cancelling the talk. He said, “I think the Israel Society’s bowing to Muslim-Arab pressures to cancel the lecture was a terrible mistake, evidence of weakness and a bad precedent.” “
Update 8: Jpost has an article too, it remarks on the double standards applied at Cambridge.