Tuesday, 03 March 2015
The “Israeli Apartheid Week”, which should have started on Monday evening at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), has been cancelled. Lucas Catherine, the main speaker for the opening evening, has refused to appear after the University asked her to change the content of her program. The VUB Rector Paul de Knop made the decision due to pressure from the Israeli ambassador and the Belgian League against anti-Semitism (LBCA). The “Israeli Apartheid Week” is an event that takes places simultaneously in several countries, including Israel. The event wants to inform people about “the Israeli apartheid policy in regard to Palestinians”. It calls for “boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions” against Israel. In Belgium, the Comac, the young people’s PTB movement, was organising the event. “Our program was set out a long time ago, but it was only after contact between the Rector and the Israeli ambassador that the former started to make demands”, says Comac’s Olivier Goessens. The University has asked students for a more open debate, where more points of view can be taken into account.
It is mainly the Skype discussion with the Palestinian activist Khalida Jarrar that bothers the Israelis. He is part of the Popular Palestinian Liberation Front (PPLF), which is on the United States and European Union’s list of terrorist organisations. According to Joël Rubinfeld from the LBCA, it is irresponsible to give a platform to someone who is part of a terrorist organization in the current climate of anti-Semitism and terrorist threats. “Khalida Jarrar is an elected MP and is the Palestinian representative for the European Council. And 32 EMPs want the PPLF taken off the list of terrorist organisations”, says Olivier Goessens.
An online petition “against the censure of Israeli Apartheid Week at the VUB” has been launched. The rector invited the students organizing the event to a meeting on Tuesday at 10.30.