Edinburgh U. cancels Prosor's talk

University denies planned pro-Palestinian protest caused cancellation of Israeli ambassador's lecture.

Prosor 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prosor 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The University of Edinburgh called off a lecture by Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain Ron Prosor scheduled for Thursday, citing logistical reasons while distancing itself from a claim by a pro-Palestinian fringe group that a planned protest had caused the cancellation. Prosor had been scheduled to speak at the School of Law building at an event hosted by the university's vice principal. Under the heading "Ambassador of crime in Edinburgh, Israeli ethnic cleansing continues, Israeli ambassador not welcome," the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had organized a demonstration outside the venue asking why the university was hosting "the ambassador of the rogue state of Israel." In a press release published on Wednesday, the campaign insisted it was the ambassador who called off the event for security reasons. "The ambassador of child murder, ethnic cleansing, and threats of 'holocaust' on Gaza has called off his planned talk," it stated. "Prosor cites 'security concerns': in reality he, and Edinburgh University, realized that the planned protests would have channeled some of the fury that millions now feel at Israel's never-ending crimes against the Palestinian people." A university official told The Jerusalem Post the lecture was canceled because of logistical problems and that it would be rescheduled. "During the normal planning processes it became clear that logistical problems meant it would not be possible for the lecture to go ahead without disrupting regular lectures and seminars scheduled for the building at that time," a university spokesman said. "The university hopes to be able to rearrange this event at a venue which does not give rise to practical difficulties of this nature." On its Web site, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign published the names, e-mails and phone numbers of the organizer and chair of the event. The university rejected claims by the campaign that it had influenced the decision to cancel. However, the university official said that while it was not aware of threats being made, a number of e-mails calling for the event to be canceled were received. "The university is not aware of any threats being made to it from any individuals or groups. The SPSC's planned protest has had no impact on the decision to postpone the lecture," the official said. The university also told the Post it had responded to a member of the public who wrote to the university last week asking for the talk to be canceled. "The university is committed to free speech and open debate, within the law. On that basis it has provided a forum for a wide range of speakers over the years, some of whom have espoused views with which others have strongly disagreed. The university sees no reason why the Israeli ambassador's lecture should not proceed in that context," the university spokesman said. In 2006, the Edinburgh International Film Festival returned a donation from the Israeli Embassy in London after the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign threatened to demonstrate at the event. During his visit to Edinburgh, the ambassador visited the Scottish Parliament, where he met with First Minister Alex Salmond. During Salmond's question time in parliament, Prosor was greeted by Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and received applause from the legislators. The SPSC is also planning to protest at the Jewish National Fund dinner in Glasgow on Sunday. The fringe group said the JNF was "complicit with war crimes" and "the main instrument of Israel's segregated system of land control, privileged Jewish-only residential areas, and Arab ghettoes." "We call upon the people of conscience in Glasgow and Scotland to vigorously protest the 'holocaust ambassador's' planned visit to the Glasgow Hilton on Sunday. Prosor will participate in a sick fund-raising event to raise money for the racist JNF," the campaign said. Prosor said the university told him the event would be rescheduled due to logistical reasons. "From my point of view, we will continue to go anywhere, no matter what and regardless of obstacles, in order to state the case for Israel; this is our duty and responsibility," Prosor told the Post.