19th Feb, 2020

Complaints made to university following claims Jews banned from talk given by pro-Palestinian academic

COMPLAINTS have been made to Warwick University following claims Jews were ‘banned’ from a talk being given by a pro-Palestinian academic.

Three would-be attendees, who were all Jewish, say they were denied entry to the public talk given by Dr Siggie Vertommen at the university campus.

The trio say they had travelled for two hours to attend a lecture titled ‘Anti-colonial Resistance is Fertile: Sperm Smuggling and Birth Strikes in Palestine/Israel’.

But when they got to the event – organised by students and researchers – they were allegedly told it was ‘private’ and barred from entering.

They claim they were denied entry as part of ‘Prevent’ – the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

David Collier, one of those barred from the talk, told the Jewish Chronicle: “We were then told that they accepted it was an open event, but they had decided that it was a closed event at some point during the day – probably at the very moment that they saw us.

“If they want to be able to have this discussion, then they have to be forced to allow criticism inside that room. If they want to have the freedom to speak, we have to have the freedom to oppose.”

Warwick University say some members of its Jewish/ Israeli society attended the event and ‘found the speaker and her content were not antisemitic, and therefore, not worthy of further comment.’

Warwick University has confirmed it has received some complaints in relation to the talk.

A spokesman told the Observer: “We are aware of this event, which was organised by a group of researchers and students. It was not organised by the university.

“Complaints have been made to the university about this event which we are now considering and which we will respond to.

“Our understanding is that people were turned away by the organisers as the very small room the organisers had booked quickly became full so they changed entry to prioritise staff and students.”

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