Apology for academic barred for Israel views

By Jessica Elgot, November 5, 2010
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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But his invitation was withdrawn after organiser Graeme Farrow said that the invitation had been a "mistake" as he had not consulted the other panelists.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