Alderman 'disinvited' from Belfast Israel debate

Geoffrey Alderman

Geoffrey Alderman

The historian Geoffrey Alderman says he has been “disinvited” from a panel debate on the Middle East at the Belfast Festival due to take place tonight.

The festival’s director Graeme Farrow asked him to join Professors Avi Shlaim of St Anthony’s College, Oxford and Beverley Milton Edwards, of Queens University, Belfast, as speakers at the event.

Professor Shlaim is a noted critic of Israeli policy, while Professor Edwards is the author of a recent study of Hamas.

But on Friday Professor Alderman says he received an email from Mr Farrow withdrawing the invitation to be on the panel.

Mr Farrow told him that he had made “a mistake in agreeing to extend an invitation to you Geoffrey without consulting the academics in question”.

Professor Alderman, who has gone to Belfast, has rejected an offer to participate in the debate as a member of the audience. He said he was “appalled at the way I have been treated”.

After a meeting with Mr Farrow early this afternoon, Professor Alderman said he had given the organisers three options: to allow him to join the panel and if his fellow-panellists were to object, "they could stay away": to let him to take part while sitting on a separate table: or simply to call off the event.

But an hour before its scheduled start, the event appeared set to go ahead without his participation.
Professor Alderman, who is due to return to London tomorrow, described that as "outrageous".

Last updated: 5:38pm, October 18 2010