Speaker who called Jewish people ‘ghetto dwellers’ due to give talk at Edinburgh University

Edi’s Jewish Society said it was ‘concerned about a number of his previous antisemitic statements’

The University of Edinburgh has arranged for Dr Salman Abu Sitta to give a seminar, despite his accusations of being “antisemitic” and calling Jewish people “a bunch of ghetto dwellers.”

The Jewish Society at Edinburgh said it was “concerned about a number of previous antisemitic statements” by Dr Salman Abu Sitta, who is the founder and president of the Palestinian Land Society.

Abu Sitta told The Tab Edinburgh he believes “students need to be correctly informed” and claimed “malicious mail” is “circulated by the Zionist network of defamation”, saying that he could “tear every misquote to shreds”.

In response to claims about the controversial speaker, the university said that they “encourage respectful debate and discussion whenever there are differences of view or opinion.”

The event is due to take place on the 8th of November at Usha Kasera Lecture Theatre in Old College, and is on the topic: “On the Centenary of the British Mandate Era in Palestine (1922-1948): Dr Salman Abu Sitta’s Address to Balfour”.

The talk is on the “establishment of British Mandate in Palestine … as instituted under the League of Nations.” Lord Arthur James Balfour was at the time Britain’s foreign secretary and the University of Edinburgh’s chancellor. As well as Balfour’s promise that endorsed Britain’s support for the “establishment of a ‘national home for the Jewish people’ in Palestine, while simultaneously denying the recognition of Palestinian peoplehood with national rights to self-determination”.

The talk’s information page says this decision would later “come to sow death and destruction in Palestine through means of forced expulsion and colonial dispossession, setting into motion an on-going structure of settler-colonialism and displacement today.”

Key speaker Dr Salman Abu Sitta has been accused of antisemitism. Videos show him calling Jewish people “ghetto dwellers”, claiming “only Jews are immune from … criticism” and that antisemitism “is an instrument of defaming Palestinians.”

Dr Sitta has previously said: “We have no intention of forfeiting Palestine for the ghetto-dwellers in Europe who came to take our land.” He went on to claim that the Gaza Strip was a “concentration camp”.

The University of Edinburgh Jewish Society told The Tab Edinburgh: “Edinburgh University Jewish Society has been made aware of a controversial speaker, Dr Salman Abu Sitta, who has been invited to speak on campus. We are concerned about a number of his previous antisemitic statements, and are in the process of making representations to the university.

“Antisemitism and racism of all forms should never go unchallenged, and has no place on our campus. Edinburgh University Jewish Society will continue to fight to eradicate hate, and represent the entire Jewish student community.”

In response to the claims, Dr Salman Abu Sitta told The Edinburgh Tab: “I replied to you because I believe students need to be correctly informed. I do not normally reply to the malicious mail which is circulated in bad faith.”

“The source of all this mail, circulated by the Zionist network of defamation, is the Jewish Chronicle article by Ben Bloch. The rest is the work of copy/paste Zionist regiments. I could tear every misquote to shreds. The Jewish Chronicle will be dealt with later.

“I do not want to fall in the trap of diversions. British activists supporting justice in Palestine can deal with them. My talk at Edinburgh University is on the British Mandate and Balfour Legacy. Let any one with good faith attend and ask questions. I have no problem in replying.

“I pose a question to all well meaning people: WHO IS AFRAID OF TRUTH? ONLY THE CRIMINAL.”

The Tab Edinburgh contacted journalist Ben Bloch, and he declined to comment.

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “The University is committed to freedom of expression and academic freedom. Staff and students should feel able to discuss controversial topics, and that different viewpoints are respected.

“Given the size of our community, it is inevitable that there will be differing views amongst its members. We encourage respectful debate and discussion whenever there are differences of view or opinion.”

The University’s full statement on academic freedom and freedom of expression can be found here.

Cover picture credit via YouTube.

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