Think tank head advises students to keep hate preachers off campus
Writer and think tanker Douglas Murray has urged pupils at UCL to “make their voices heard” following the university’s decision to cancel a talk by an extremist preacher.
Mr Murray, who is director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a think tank, spoke to more than 50 pupils at the London university in a lecture organised by the JSoc and asked them to ensure preachers of hatred are not invited on to campus.
Opening the lecture, entitled Truth and Error in the Media’s Portrayal of Israel, Mr Murray said: “Radicalisation on campus is one of the most troubling upsurges of hatred of our time.
“My centre has repeatedly asked this university and others not to host people who are active members of terrorist organisations, and time and time again we come across universities not willing to make a moral judgment.
Make your feelings known to your seniors
“I ask that you make your feelings known to your seniors.”
Last week, the university cancelled a lecture due to be given by Islamist preacher Abu Usamah, who has been recorded saying homosexuals should be “thrown off a mountain”.
During a Q and A session, Mr Murray was grilled by pupils on his view of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme about the Israel lobby, which he described as “p*** poor journalism”, what Gilad Shalit’s release will mean for Israel and his opinion of UN resolutions.
He added: “One of the most important things that can be done by students on campus is to stand up and act to stop people coming on campus preaching murder and hatred.
“It’s astonishing in 2009 that people still come onto campus who support the murder of Jews and homosexuals.
“The only way to stop this is for students to make their voices heard and say it’s unacceptable that such a state of affairs goes on.”
Miriam Trent, education officer at UCL’s Jewish Society, said: “I thought the lecture was excellent. It’s nice to see someone so supportive of Israel and give a different outlook.
“These subjects are often discussed here and it reminded us to keep an eye on what speakers come in to campus.”
Meanwhile, the Israel Society and Middle East Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London jointly hosted a talk by members of the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Club — who have lost their children to conflict — in an attempt to build bridges by empathising with the suffering of the other side.
Students from both societies listened to Robi Damelin, who lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper, and Ali Abu Awwad, who lost his brother, Yousef, to an Israeli soldier, speak about their grief and belief in dialogue.
Ayya Harraz, co-president of the Middle East Society, said: “If two people take the initiative to join hands and work together, we set an example. We should address our similarities, not our differences.”