Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

Cambridge University student group to host far-right Israel minister

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (L) in Jerusalem on 12 September 2018 [Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett (L) in Jerusalem on 12 September 2018 [Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images]

A student society at the University of Cambridge has been slammed for its decision to invite notorious far-right Israeli minister Naftali Bennett for an event on campus next week.

According to the report in student paper Varsity, Cambridge’s Middle East and North Africa Forum (MENAF) will host the Jewish Home party leader on 19 November, an event condemned by Cambridge University Palestine Society (PalSoc).

“There is no place for Naftali Bennett and his violent, colonial politics of hate in Cambridge,” said a spokesperson for PalSoc, which has urged MENAF to cancel the event.

Bennett is a vocal opponent of Palestinian self-determination and statehood, and his party calls for Israel to unilaterally and illegally annex the majority of the occupied West Bank.

Read: In first, UK university divests from firms supplying Israel army

The minister, who has previously declared that “Israel belongs to the Jews. Period”, is also a vocal proponent of internationally-condemned policies of collective punishment, and in 2013, declared: “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.”

A spokesperson for PalSoc told Varsity: “Bennett’s response to the white supremacist massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh included a disgraceful defence of Donald Trump. Given their track record, we are not surprised MENAF invited Bennett, but we nonetheless urge them to cancel the event.”

They added, “the far-right extremism and violent colonial racism Bennett represents are antithetical to the values of freedom, tolerance and equality held to by most in Cambridge.”

MENAF defended the event on the grounds that Bennett “is a rising star in Israeli politics and represents the views of a sizable portion of the Israeli population and its government”. MENAF also claimed that Bennett had reached out to them to host the event.

Read: Israel’s covert influence campaigns in the West

The Varsity noted how MENAF “has previously come under criticism for the funding they received from the [pro-Israel] media-monitoring and research organisation Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)”.

MENAF told Varsity that they no longer receive sponsorship funding from CAMERA, but did not clarify whether they currently receive support from any other pro-Israel organisation.

Categories
IsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
The Palestinian History Tapestry: Exhibition and Panel Discussion