Students and academic activists condemned the university for making threats to cancel Palestine Society’s upcoming event
In the weeks leading up to a BDS event to be held on Cambridge’s campuses, during which the founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, would speak, controversy reigned as Cambridge made threats to cancel the entire event.
Barghouti’s organization calls for a total academic and cultural boycott of the country of Israel, and the organization – as well as Barghouti – have been often accused of being anti-semitic.
Among Barghouti’s controversial statements is that Israel is equivalent to an apartheid state.
Barghouti is a resident of Israel and has graduated from the University of Tel Aviv. In the early months of 2017, he was charged with tax evasion and subsequently arrested.
StandWithUs petition to allow Barghouti’s event to take place garners massive support from students and fellow universities alike
One of the organizers of the event, student Ed McNally, accused Cambridge of “bowing” to outside pressures from a lobby group favoring Israel.
Hundreds of students signed a petition demanding the event take place, and even other universities throughout Britain supported the petition.
The petition declares that Barghouti is a victim of “intimidation” by the Israeli government and that he was being targeted due to his stance defending human rights.
The petition also states what McNally alleged, that Cambridge is being pressured by “pro-Israel” sources to prevent Barghouti from speaking.
In the official petition statement, Cambridge’s threats to prevent the event from taking place is referred to as an attack on academic freedom.
The university also attempted to replace the designated chairperson, Ruba Salih, for the event, claiming that Salih’s Palestinian background would prevent her from monitoring the debate in an “open” and “robust” manner.