Posted Friday, May 11, 2001

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What us, an international conspiracy?

Certain groups and individuals sought to stir up unfounded fear and approbation among students with manipulative and misleading statements designed to further their political ends. . .

-- Amy Harland, this year's President of Oxford Union


London, Friday, May 11, 2001

Oxford bar on Irving applauded

[See editorial opinion]

Bernard Josephs

Jewish ChronicleJUBILANT student activists this week hailed the Oxford Union's last-minute cancellation of an invitation to Holocaust-denier David Irving to participate in a "freedom of speech" debate.

Protests against Mr Irving's involvement culminated in an an about-turn by the organisers on Wednesday -- the day before the debate.

In an angry statement, Oxford Union president Amy Harland said the decision had been forced by "a small but very vocal minority.

"I find it disheartening that certain groups and individuals sought to stir up unfounded fear and approbation among students with manipulative and misleading statements designed to further their political ends," she said.

The cancellation followed an all-night meeting of union members on Tuesday, resulting in a 95-15 vote urging Ms Harland to disinvite the right-wing author.

When Mr Irving lost a High Court libel case against academic Deborah Lipstadt last year, the judge's ruling described him as "racist and anti-Semitic" and said he had shown "Hitler in an unwarrantedly favourable light."

Welcoming the Oxford Union decision, the National Union of Students said an "unprecedented display of unity" had forced the issue.

Noting that the invitation to Mr Irving had been made at a time of increased racial tension on campuses, it applauded the Union of Jewish Students for spearheading the opposition, which had also included Hindu, Sikh and Muslim students.

"The tragedy is that the Oxford Union felt it acceptable in the first place to invite someone who questions whether six million Jews were killed by the Nazis and casts Hitler in a positive light," an NUS spokesman said.

Also "delighted" at the outcome was David Mitchell, of the Oxford University Jewish Society, who said he hoped that "this kind of thing will never happen again."

Ms Harland said she was "deeply saddened" at having to cancel the debate.

"I remain convinced this would have been a valid and important discussion," she said. While unable to ignore a vote taken according to the union's rules, she felt that "this perhaps calls into question the procedures themselves and their openness to being cynically abused."

Mr Irving reacted to the withdrawal of the invitation by saying: "I don't want to embarrass the Oxford Union, but this kind of thing only encourages anti-Semitism -- which is what elements in the Jewish community want."

There was a second blow for Mr Irving this week when several of his books were removed from Westminster council libraries -following "concern" from library-users, a council spokesman said.

Related items on this website:

  Oxford Union debate update
  [Jewish] Academics threaten boycott over Irving

Attempts by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to silence and smear Mr Irving:

 On July 17, 1991 Neville Nagler of the Board of Deputies asks the German secret service to silence David Irving's Lectures in Germany. The Verfassungsschutz replies confidentially to him on August 9, 1991: German and English texts.
  Eye-witness account of a secret meeting at the Board's London headquarters on December 12, 1991 organises Pressure on Macmillan Ltd., David Irving's London Publisher, to violate their Contracts with him
 "Confidential: David Irving Biographical Information" Libellous smear reports, compiled in 1991 and 1992, supplied anonymously by Michael Whinge of the London Board of Deputies of British Jews to Canadian Jews to plant in Ottawa files, June 1992.
  On June 22, 1992, the Austrian Ambassador in London assures Neville Nagler of the Board that a Warrant is out for the Writer's Arrest
Unnamed Oxford professor of politics put secret pressure on Macmillan Publishers Ltd (1992) to violate their publishing contracts with Mr Irving
  Jewish agitators put pressure on St Martins Press (1996) to violate their publishing contract with Mr Irving

 Index to the Traditional Enemies of Free Speech

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