IHRC has written to the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner criticising her involvement in attempts by the Daily Mail to paint as anti-semitic the launch of a book by the Palestinian-American academic Dr Hatem Bazian.
In an article dated 17 November on the alleged rise of anti-Semitism on university campuses the Mail quoted Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton Under Lyne, as saying she would speak to party leader Jeremy Corbyn about his attendance at the launch last December of a book whose author the Mail described as ‘extremely anti-Semitic’. The event was hosted by IHRC.
Dr Bazianís book Palestine…it is something colonial frames the creation of the Zionist state as the last settler colonial project to be commissioned in the late 19th early 20th centuries. In locating Palestine’s modern history around settler colonial discourses Dr. Bazian’s book provides a context to understand and relate to the Middle East conflict, highlighting how Zionist settler colonialism shares many features with other colonialism such as the normative deployment of violence, religious justification, garrison state sponsor, transformation of the land and geography, and the constitution of a new colonial epistemology as well as the expulsion of an indigenous population and negation of its very existence.
IHRC refutes any suggestion that we are anti-Semitic or provide a platform to those who are. IHRC has never, and will never, platform any speaker who espouses racist views, including anti-Semitic views.
We view Angela Rayner’s intervention as an attempt to muzzle any criticism of Israel under the pretext of anti-Semitism.
“To describe Professor Bazian’s work or this event as anti-Semitic is deeply worrying. Either you have not read the work or you view all criticism of Israel to be illegitimate and should be silenced. In either scenario, your intervention is extremely damaging for free speech and political debate in the UK,” states the letter. “We find it deeply troubling that a democratically elected official like yourself should seek to demonise pro-BDS political opinions that are critical of Israel by labelling it anti-Semitic.”
Dr. Hatem Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Editor-in-Chief of the Islamophobia Studies Journal and Director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Bazian is also a co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim Liberal Arts College in America, the National Chair of American Muslims for Palestine, Board Member of Islamic Scholarship Fund, and Board Member of the Muslim Legal Fund of America.
The letter also clarifies that Mr Corbyn never attended the event. He was passing by, on his own personal business, and members of the audience asked him for photographs, to which he kindly agreed.
Notes to editors:
The full text of the letter can be read here
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