Tuesday, May 05, 2009

NK "rabbi" speaks at Oxford

A Muslim group at Wolfson College at Oxford tried to book a Neturei Karta "rabbi" to speak, using underhanded means, and the college was accused of "censorship" by not going along:
A University of Oxford college has been accused of stifling free speech after it cancelled a lecture by a controversial anti-Zionist rabbi.

Rabbi Ahron Cohen was to present a paper entitled “Zionism is not Judaism, Anti-Israelism is not Anti-Semitism” at Wolfson College, a postgraduate college, on 30 April.

The lecture was part of a monthly forum organised by the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford (MECO), which booked the venue.

Taj Hargey, chairman of MECO, said the college cancelled the event on 29 April and that Wolfson’s president, Hermione Lee, told him that she had been inundated with complaints from students about the speaker.

He told Times Higher Education: “They are saying there is a booking anomaly, but that is not the real reason for the cancellation. The real reason was student pressure. We have offered to pit a Zionist in a debate against Rabbi Cohen, but that has not been accepted. Free speech has lost, and censorship has won.”

A spokeswoman for Wolfson College said the lecture booking was cancelled because it was not “made transparently”.

“Wolfson supports free speech and is happy to host speakers of all opinions,” she said. “However, where a speaker is likely to be controversial or provocative, or has the potential to cause offence to college members, it is the college’s policy to discuss among the governing body whether and how to hold the event, including whether opposing voices should be included in the event.

“As this speaker was booked under the identity of a college member who knew nothing about the booking and the real identity of the speaker became apparent only yesterday, there was no opportunity to hold these discussions. This left Wolfson with no option but to tell the organisers that the venue was no longer available.”

What is interesting is that this article didn't mention that the "rabbi" spoke anyway:
The talk had to be moved at the last minute after the management of Wolfson College, where the talk was to be held, cancelled the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford’s booking.

Its new location, St Edward’s School in Woodstock Road, was only revealed an hour before the talk took place.

MECO chairman Dr Taj Hargey said: “It went very well in the end."

Isn't it interesting that MECO chairman Taj Hargey tells the international Times Higher Education that they were "censored" without mentioning that the lecture ended up taking place?

Speaking of NK, a commenter wrote that he didn't believe that NK had been condemned by virtually every Chassidic and charedi group, as Arutz-7 had reported in 2002. I didn't find any independent confirmation of the 2002 letter that A7 mentioned, but their are many condemnations from other groups including Satmar - and even including the main Neturei Karta from which the tiny radical branch split, as this statement from the anti-Zionist larger group shows:

To clarify and to enlighten
It is now close to 60 years since the Zionists established their rule over Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel) by founding the impure Zionist state, which brazenly stole the name "Israel" and has waged a full and open war against God through its mere existence... And this new path, which has never been the path of our forefathers and our rabbis, to replace the study of the Jewish viewpoint regarding the exile with matters of state and political affairs, and to mingle with the peoples, and to try to bring about the dismantlement of the Zionist state by force... And because of this we have found it to be our duty to clarify:

That these actions go straight against the views of the leadership of Neturei Karta,
And it is the total opposite of the ways of Neturei Karta

We must clarify how much we have been hurt by the huge desecration of God's Name caused by these actions and it is impossible to remain silent on this issue.

And we must also mention that the tiny NK's "foreign minister" received tens of thousands of dollars from Yasir Arafat:
The first letter is a receipt in Arafat's handwriting for a payment to Moshe Hirsch for $25,000; there is a similar letter authorizing $30,000. The second letter is from Hirsch to Arafat that mentions a "misunderstanding with a messenger," presumably one that was to deliver one of his payments.