The Cambridge University Israel Society have cancelled a talk by former Cambridge student Benny Morris after pressure from students.
The political historian, who was due to speak at Catz, has been accused in the press of ‘Islamophobia’.
The decision to cancel the talk was made by Israel Society after a letter was sent to CUSU signed by over a dozen University employees and students, including committee members of the CU Islamic Society, and English Faculty staff.
The letter called on CUSU to “reassure the university’s Muslim students” by condemning the talk, asking “What would happen if a registered CU society invited someone to speak who was on record speaking like this about the ‘Jewish mentality’, or who described British descendents of Caribbean immigrants as a ‘dangerous threat’ that has ‘penetrated’ the West?”
King’s student, Jamie Stern-Weiner led a campaign on Facebook to have the talk cancelled. The group, which today had 40 members, described the invitation extended to Morris as “offensive and appalling” and questioned why “an official student society would want to invite such an individual”.
Stern-Weiner said “This is not a political issue, it’s about making a clear stand against hateful opinions and the impact they have on the atmosphere on campus.”
Such “hateful opinions” include Morris’s belief that ethnic cleansing can be justified when dealing with Muslims and Palestinians.
In an interview in 2004 he said that Palestinians should be “contained so that they will not succeed in murdering us. Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.”
Other controversial remarks include the following, printed in his book One State, Two States:
“Arabs, to put it simply, proportionally commit far more crimes… [and] lethal traffic violations than do Jews. In large measure, this is a function of different value systems (such as the respect accorded to human life and the rule of law)”.
The Israel society posted an update on their website following the cancellation, stating “We want to clarify that the intention of the Society was never to give racism a platform”.
They also apologised for any “unintended” offence caused to university members and antiracism campaigners.