University College London has cancelled an Israel Apartheid Week event organised by the Friends of Palestine Society, in the latest sign that campus chiefs are heeding warnings that the annual activities may now be breaking the law.
The event, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, was a talk titled: “Quad Under Occupation,” and invited attendees to “explore the practices which sow the seeds of racial tension in Israel”.
Speaking to Academic Friends of Israel, UCL Vice-Provost Rex Knight said it had been advertised “without the society having gone through the proper process” and had therefore been cancelled by the University.
“We are not going to give permission for the event to go ahead, as they have not followed procedure,” he said.
“As the event has, so to speak, fallen at the first hurdle, we haven’t considered it with respect to commitments to free speech within the law, and the balance with the need to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the UCL community.”
The UCL decision appears confined to one event, unlike the stance taken at the University of Central Lancashire this week, which decided against holding any activities as part of Israel Apartheid Week.
Others took a different approach. At Cambridge University, a spokesman said: “We do understand that certain events and issues invoke strong feelings among people and communities. But we believe it is important that staff, students and visitors to the University can participate fully in legitimate debate, partly so that they are able to question and test controversial ideas.”
He added: “We have no reason to believe that these events are in any way unlawful. Events will be well-chaired in order to ensure open, robust and lawful debate.”