Geoffrey Alderman gagged at the Belfast festival

Statement by NIFI: 19 October

We would like to clarify a report in today’s Belfast Telegraph.
Northern Ireland Friends of Israel did not object to senior Jewish academic Geoffrey Alderman being included on the panel at the Belfast Festival event “Conflict in the Middle East”.
In fact, we contacted the Festival organisers because the original two speakers, Professors Beverley Milton-Edwards and Avi Shlaim, are both unsympathetic to Israel. The Festival organisers agreed the event was unbalanced and agreed to issue a late invitation to a third speaker, Professor Alderman (whom we had approached to see if he was available).
For the Belfast Festival to then disinvite Professor Alderman from the panel was both discourteous and betrays the Festival’s commitment to open debate and inclusivity.
In recent years the Festival has hosted George Galloway, Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky who are all hostile critics of Israel without inviting anyone from an opposing position.
NIFI is working to ensure that Israel’s case is put reasonably and fairly to the people of Northern Ireland.
We call upon the University authorities to explain why Geoffrey Alderman was invited to this event  and at whose behest he was disinvited.
Steven Jaffe and Terry McCorran
Co chairs, Northern Ireland Friends of Israel