Apology for academic barred for Israel views

By Jessica Elgot, November 5, 2010
Professor Geoffrey Alderman

Professor Geoffrey Alderman

The Belfast university which snubbed JC columnist Professor Geoffrey Alderman by withdrawing his invitation to a panel discussion on the Middle East has sent a written apology.

Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Professor Peter Gregson said he offered a “full and unreserved apology” to the University of Buckingham professor who could not speak at the Belfast Festival.

Professor Alderman, known for his outspoken pro-Israel views, is a guest professor at Ariel College in the West Bank.

Last month, he was invited to speak on a panel "Conflict in the Middle East" alongside Professor Avi Shlaim, of Oxford University, a leading academic critic of Israeli policy, and Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards of Queen's, the author of several books on the Middle East including a recent study of Hamas.

But his invitation was withdrawn after organiser Graeme Farrow said that the invitation had been a "mistake" as he had not consulted the other panelists.

Professor Alderman, who had booked flights and a hotel in Northern Ireland, threatened to complain to the Quality Assurance Agency, which monitors academic practice, and to one of the festival’s funders, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

A spokeswoman for QUB said: “The festival office made a full and unreserved apology to Professor Alderman.

“The Vice-Chancellor endorsed this apology on behalf of the University and Professor Alderman has accepted it.”

Last updated: 1:20pm, November 5 2010