Posted Friday, May 4, 2001

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What us, an international conspiracy?

If the Oxford Union allows Mr Irving to appear, this would leave me with no other option than to call for a boycott from the academic community and other trade unions throughout the world. . .

-- General secretary of the Association of University Teachers, David Triesman


London, Friday, May 4, 2001

Oxford Union says it won't be 'bullied' over invitation

Academics threaten boycott over Irving

By Bernard Josephs

THE OXFORD Union was under growing pressure this week to withdraw its invitation to Holocaust-denier David Irving to participate in a freedom-of-speech debate next Thursday.

Jewish ChronicleUniversity lecturers threatened to boycott the union, and plans were being made for a large student protest outside the debate -- which officials said would not be open to the press.

Protests have also come from Labour Party activists and Jewish organisations.

Concerned at the possibility of civil disorder, local councillors said they would voice their fears to the police.

"It is just irresponsible to invite Irving when plenty of other people could speak on this subject," said Councillor Colin Cook, whose ward includes the union's headquarters. "It is purely exploitative."

In a letter to union president Amy Harland, the general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, David Triesman, said he would call on the academic community worldwide to withdraw all support.

"If the Oxford Union feels compelled to allow him [Mr Irving] to appear, this would leave me with no other option than to call for a boycott from the academic community and other trade unions throughout the world," he wrote.

He feared the debate would allow the right-wing author to claim legitimacy and "a willing public audience."

A Union of Jewish Students spokesperson said its members would be joined by Oxford's Jewish Society and Hindu, Sikh and other minority-group undergraduates at a vigil outside the union.

Dan Paskini, the chairman of Oxford University's Labour Students, pledged that they would also protest at the rally, bringing in "members from around the country."

They would also be urging Labour politicians to boycott future events at the union.

Writing to Ms Harland, Board of Deputies director-general Neville Nagler pointed out that "Irving has been condemned by the High Court as a liar and an anti-Semite.

"It can only be damaging to the reputation of any organisation which offers a public platform to such an individual," he argued.

Mr Nagler described the decision to invite Mr Irving as "obnoxious."

Ms Harland, meanwhile, maintained that the union's leadership fully supported the decision to go ahead with the debate, in which Mr Irving will be opposing the motion that "this house would restrict the free speech of extremists."

She complained that the union had been subjected to "bullying tactics," including threats to disrupt its programme for the rest of the term.

Aware of the extensive opposition to the event, she was liaising closely with the police.

"Whether freedom of speech should be restricted is, I feel, a debate which is both important and of interest to many students here in Oxford."

Ms Harland saw no irony in banning the media from a discussion on freedom of speech.

"We don't believe this event needs to have a high profile outside of Oxford," she said.

Related items on this website: Oxford Union debate update

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

Never Again: WE comment only on the outrageous cheek of these folks, who deny that they have anything against free speech, and claim indeed to be champions of human rights, even as they abrogate my right to write, to publish, and even to speak in public in my own country.

They hold me down and gag me with one hand, while pouring buckets of slime over me with the other.

The ordinary public, looking on, draws its own conclusions and says nothing -- except in private messages of support to me.

Fifty years from now when, God forbid, the Holocaust of 2050 may well come down the road, it will not be these intellectual whizz-kids, the Marvin Hiers and Marc Riches of the media world, who are lined up on the edge of the tankditches facing the machine guns of Nazis probably still unborn today -- because the guilty men will have long fled to the safe haven of whichever is the next country willing to put up with them. It will once again be the ordinary and baffled Jews who suffer, and ask the eternal words of suffering: "Why us?"

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