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Posted Sunday, November 25, 2007

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It's very sad. Anti-Semitism is now a growing world ideology and it's regrettable that the Oxford Union will be promoting it.

London, Sunday, November 25, 2007

Row as Oxford Union votes to hear Irving

by Mark Townsend

THE Oxford Union was accused last night of 'promoting anti-Semitism' after students voted to allow Holocaust revisionist David Irving and the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, right, to address students tomorrow.

Members of the Oxford Union Debating Society voted by a margin of two to one in favour of permitting the two right-wing figures to speak at a free-speech event, despite demands that they be banned.

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David Irving comments:

I NOTE that The Observer now refers to me as The Holocaust Revisionist. I can live with that. My warning letters [1, 2, 3] are beginning to bite! I am just waiting for the right target, before I serve legal proceedings all over again. If these Schmierfinken have got the urge to lie, and the money to fight, I've got the stamina.
 As for Oxford Union, yes, I may well decide to go and speak tomorrow. I've cancelled the appointment I made for five p.m. here in Eton.
   I shall take a little dossier on that nice Austrian-born Professor Peter Pulzer ("Gladstone Professor of Government at All Souls" -- what a pompous ass!) with me to the Union, and may even open it. It is after all a Free Speech forum.

Peter Pulzer
The decision provoked an immediate backlash. Former Europe minister Denis MacShane condemned the union for 'promoting anti-Semitism', while the university's Muslim and Jewish societies said that principles of freedom of speech were 'overshadowed in this instance'.

The union's president, Luke Tryl, defended the invitation by arguing that the pair were not being granted a platform to expound their views, but would discuss the limits of free speech.

Tomorrow night's event promises to be one of the most bitter in the 184 years of the union. Police are braced for violent clashes between students and far-right groups. Some students have already received death threats from extremists. A report of racial abuse towards an Asian person campaigning against the appearance of Irving and Griffin has been received by the union.

Even before the results of the vote, the prospect of the two men speaking at the union had forced the withdrawal of high-profile figures from other debates, including the Defence Secretary, Des Browne, and television presenter June Sarpong. MacShane, who also recently pulled out of a meeting at the union in protest, said: 'It's very sad. Anti-Semitism is now a growing world ideology and it's regrettable that the Oxford Union will be promoting it.'

Others have dismissed the invitations to Irving and Griffin as a publicity stunt by Tryl, who organised the vote following the furore over the possible inclusion of the rightwingers.

Recent reports had suggested that the decision to invite the two men by Tryl, chairman of the Halifax branch of Conservative Future, formerly known as the Young Conservatives, had left him increasingly isolated and that the vote would be too close to call. In the event, he won comfortably.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing Street website calling on Gordon Brown to condemn the talk.

Tryl -- who describes himself as a 'very liberal, modern person' -- has claimed that it is possible to abhor the views of Griffin and Irving while accepting their right to be heard. 'They will be speaking in the context of a forum in which there will be other speakers to challenge and attack their views in a head-to-head manner,' said Tryl.

A previous statement by Tryl on the union's website states: 'Stopping them from speaking only allows them to become free-speech martyrs, and ... groups like the BNP do well if they look as if they're being censored.'

Stephen Altmann-Richer, co-president of the Oxford University Jewish Society, said: 'I don't think these people should be invited to the Oxford Union. By having them speak, it legitimises their views.'

Irving has served a prison sentence in Austria for Holocaust denial. [Website comment: Not so, the offence was Wiederbetätigung, Literally "Reactivating" -- The Nazi Party, that is. Go figure.] Griffin has a 1998 conviction for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


Lipstadt threw her weight into the voting fray - "No one at the Union seems to support Irving's views" | BBC report | Oxford Mail: defeated opponents now threaten violence on Monday
The Independent reports Oxford votes on whether Irving should address Union | and earns a warning letter
David Irving, a Radical's Diary: Today I must drive into London to get a haircut and some balls. I shall need them for Monday
David Irving issues a warning letter to Denis McShane: I shall without further notice issue a Claim in Defamation against yourself
Flashback to 2001: When Lord Triesman threatened a global boycott of Oxford University if Mr Irving spoke
Socialist Worker reports Oxford students plan reponse to Mr Irving's O.U. debut -- who's paying, now that Moscow won't? And he denies he's coming anyway | Scottish Student newspaper comments on Oxford Union invitation
Losing battle -- Should David Irving be a guest of the Oxford Union? asks The Times Features Editor Daniel Finkelstein (I wonder how he got that job), and may be surprised at the answers his blog gets
More outrage from usual suspects: Irving isn't a denier, says Oxford paper Cherwell
Cherwell (Oxford University) on the invitations uproar | Confronted with spook that David Irving may speak at Oxford Union, National Union of Students says, "We'll prevent it." | Outrage at STL Jewish Light What is going on here? Has the statute of limitations expired on open and overt anti-Semitism on college campuses
The Guardian's outrage: BNP leader Nick Griffin and David Irving invited to address Oxford Union, the famous speaking forum
David Irving, A Radical's Diary: Is he speaking at Oxford or not?
 David Irving issues a warning letter: "I shall without further notice issue a Claim in Defamation"
What David Irving really thinks about the Holocaust - Hitler's apologist
Why Irving regretted his days in court
A Radical's Diary: The Jewish Chronicle is becoming Irving-obsessed

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