Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anti-Israeli Propaganda Group Recruits in Swedish Colleges

It is distressing to read on a small anti-Israeli boycott group’s homepage that the group has been using the Malmö Högskola (Malmö University) campus as a recruiting base for their organization. These are public facilities funded by the Swedish taxpayers.

Students attending the meeting in Malmö University

According to the group’s website, an open meeting was held on campus at Malmö University in order to gain more supporters for their distasteful cause. The aim of the meeting was also to form a new group during the spring of 2010 that would be directly connected to Malmö Univeristy.  Prior to the meeting the small faction known as “Isolate Israel” had also managed to put up flyers and posters within Malmö University to call attention to the fact that the school conducts an academic exchange program with Ben Gurion University in Israel. According to the group, this program must end as Israeli universities indirectly contribute to the “occupation of Palestinian territory”. 
As a result of the meeting at Malmö University, a very small new group has formed that will investigate new ways to boycott Israel.

This small anti-Israeli group had no difficulty holding its meetings on campus at Malmö University. On the other hand, authorities at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm [Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH)] tried to stop the spread of similar propaganda on their campus.

During early February 2010, a member of the staff at KTH, Prof. Emeritus Dick Urban Vestbro (Left Party) wanted to hold a seminar on KTH’s campus discussing an academic boycott of Israel.

The invitation read as follows:

Welcome to a seminar to discuss the case for boycotting Israel [...].
Keynote  speaker: the Swedish-Israeli artist Dror Feiler, President of European Jews for a Just Peace
Assoc. Prof Jan-Erik Gustafsson will report about the Birzeit group for international academic boycott
Representatives of the KTH Ethical Committee and other key persons at KTH have been invited to address the meeting
Moderator: Prof Emer. Dick Urban Vestbro

KTH decided to act fast and stopped the seminar that was to be held on campus. According to the blog “Fred I Mellanöstern” (Peace in the Middle East)  it was both the Dean as well as KTH’s Ethical Committee that put a halt to the planned seminar.

In the daily newspaper Aftonbladet (not available online) one could read that:
”Dean Peter Gudmundson put an end to a meeting yesterday at KTH which intended to discourage all academic cooperation with Israel. The school’s facilities are not allowed to be used for political meetings, as decided by their Ethical Committee; KTH will not promote foreign politics which go against the line of the Swedish state and KTH’s campus will not be used for anything else other than academic activity.

Dean Gudmundsson from KTH further states:
“We don’t lease out facilities for political propaganda. The internal discussion is, of course, free but this is an invitation to a public meeting.. We have rules for how our facilities are used.”

Still, on February 15th, the “boycott-Israel” meeting was held illegally on the grounds of KTH.

It is clear that KTH in Stockholm holds true to its principles as an academic institution and the laws of the Swedish state. It is unfortunate that the meeting was still conducted illegally at KTH.

Conversely, Malmö University and its Dean seem to be clueless as to what is going on.  They should be advised to take a look at what is going on inside their own gates. By doing this they will be able to prevent that illegal political propaganda which currently is being spread around under the cover of Malmö University’s name.

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