Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Finland: Top university welcomes BDS conferences but refuses to host Israel seminar

Via European Coalition for Israel:
The European Coalition for Israel (ECI) has been denied access to a leading Finnish university with the explanation that such an educational event with a focus on Israel and Human Rights does not comply with the values and principles of the university. Having been asked for clarification of the decision, the administration refused to give a specific reason other than saying that it was a high-risk security event and that it had a political message. Despite these claims, the same university has in the past hosted several Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) events. The BDS movement has been declared to be anti-Semitic by both the German Bundestag and the Austrian Parliament, and by applying double standards to the Jewish state, also to be guilty of the new anti-Semitism today as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

“Being categorically denied access to a public venue at a state-funded university poses a great threat to freedom of expression in a pluralistic and democratic society which is said to promote dialogue and diversity of opinions”, said ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell on Monday March 9th. “If the administrators are able to silence voices which they do not agree with politically, this raises the obvious question on whether the university is meeting the requirement for public funding.”

As a next step ECI will seek an audience with the rector of the university concerned, as well as raise the issue in the relevant committee within the Finnish parliament. Meanwhile, ECI together with 15 other Finnish friends of Israel organisations hosted the “Fokus Israel” main event, a panel discussion on Monday at Think Corner of the University of Helsinki, where the theme of the evening was also Israel and Human Rights.
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