University bans anti-Zionist Atzmon speech

The University of Westminster has cancelled an event it was due to host featuring Israeli anti-Zionist Gilad Atzmon.

A panel discussion examining "Israel criminality in the wake of the Goldstone Retract" was due to be held in a rented room at the university on Tuesday, but was called off last week.

The event was organised by jazz musician Mr Atzmon, who hasfrequently been accused of antisemitic statements and Holocaust denial.

He has written essays questioning what he called "the Auschwitz narrative", and said burning down a synagogue could be seen as "a rational act".

A university spokeswoman said that the event had been cancelled because "necessary processes were not followed". It is believed the university was unaware of Mr Atzmon's previous controversial statements, and may have been misled about the exact nature of the event when the booking was taken.

Speakers due to appear alongside Mr Atzmon on the panel included Ghada Karmi, lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, author John Rose, and former journalist Alan Hart.

Dr Karmi and Mr Rose had already signalled their intention to pull out after learning they would be expected to appear alongside Mr Atzmon.

The event had been promoted by groups including the Stop the War Coalition, the white nationalist Stormfront movement, and the Real IRA.

In 2005, left-wing Jewish and anti-Zionist groups rowed with the Socialist Workers' Party over an invitation to Mr Atzmon to appear at SWP conferences.

A panel discussion entitled "Zionism, Jewishness and Israel" featuring Mr Atzmon, Mr Hart, Palestine Telegraph founder Sameh Habeeb and writer Karl Sabbagh, instead took place off campus on Tuesday.

Earlier this month Westminster Union elected two men linked to the extreme Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir to lead the union.

Last updated: 11:09am, May 5 2011