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Political Philosophy Society Cause Controversy

Feb 08 2008 11:18
Ashley Brown
ICU's Political Philosophy Society have criticised "inaccurate and hasty" reporting for controversy surrounding Tuesday's event on the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Azzam Tamimi on BBC's HardTalk

This week has seen ICU's Political Philosophy Society (PPS) hold a "Conflict Case Study Week", with the launch event causing conflict of its own. The line-up for the launch event, on the Israel/Palestine conflict, was to include Professor David Newman (Ben-Gurion University) and Dr Azzam Tamimi (Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, London).

This line-up began to cause controversy last Friday, when Professor Newman was shown footage of Dr Tamimi apparently voicing his support and admiration for suicide bombers. Newman withdrew from the debate, refusing to share a platform with someone who condoned suicide bombing. His decision was reported in the popular Jerusalem Post and other Israeli media. At the event the society issued a statement condemning the standards of journalism used by the Post, claiming it was an attempt to "malign the reputation of [their] society, [their] university and all speakers involved". The full statement is at the end of this article.

ICU PPS arranged for an alternative speaker to Dr Tamimi, which allowed Prof Newman to rejoin the panel, with the event going ahead as planned. However, this change caused controversy in itself, with the event organisers receiving a series of angry emails from those who thought Dr Tamimi should have been allowed to speak, containing accusations of pro-Israeli bias and Islamophobia.

The pre-event controversy spilled over into the event itself, with some attendees demanding an apology for the treatment of Dr Tamimi and one even saying "...I also support suicide bombing, in that case".

Dr Tamimi has been invited to another PPS event in the near future.

The society issued at a statement at the event which they have asked Felix and Live! to publish:

Regarding the launch event in our ?Conflict Case Study Week? entitled ?Israel/Palestine?, the panel was not as it was originally advertised and Dr Azzam Tamimi was replaced by Ghada Karmi. This change in speakers took place to carry on with the event as we originally intended it to be, where representatives from all countries would be present, which would not have been possible with the original panel due to some irresolvable differences.

The sad fact is that some inaccurate and hasty reporting from the Jerusalem Post made the situation worse in what we feel was an attempt to malign the reputation of our society, our university, and all speakers involved. We would like to protest such poor journalism and will do what it takes to clear our name. We have also received criticism about limiting freedom of expression and being sensitive to external influence. To that effect, we would like to make it known that an offer to appear at a debate in the near future has been made to Dr Tamimi and he has accepted.

The Imperial College Union Political Philosophy Society reserves the right to call upon any speaker it chooses to in its endeavor to promote a fair and free exchange of dialogue and ideas.

Ammar Waraich, ICU Political Philosophy Society

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Discussion about “Political Philosophy Society Cause Controversy”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 08 2008 11:27

Here's a link to the HardTalk programme which caused Newman to pull out originally:

Good luck if you can view it, I've been trying for two days to get the thing in a format Live! can use.

Feb 09 2008 11:04

Reminds me a bit of what went on at Oxford earlier in the year. Although Oxford Union chose Nick Griffin knowing what he is like, and there does not seem to be any evidence that ICPPS knew that Dr Tamimi had those views before he was invited.

Feb 10 2008 09:06

If the ICPPS deemed it necessary to disinvite Dr Tamimi because of his support of suicide bombings and his refusal to recognise the legitimacy of Israel how can they then invite him back to speak at some later date? What is more, since it is clear that supporters of Israel will not share a platform with this man and that under such circumstances the ICPPS will not invite him does this imply that his invitation is to talk unopposed?

And indeed, even if he were opposed can the ICPPS truly justify inviting a supporter of terrorism and providing him with a platform from which to spread his hate?

Feb 17 2008 00:27

i have seen tamimi on hardtalk and other things.

his views are nothin we cant challenge, i say bring him back.

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