President of University Takes Unprecedented Step of Closing The Campus for Two Days
Paris, 28 February 2012
The President of Paris University VIII has taken the unprecedented step of closing the University campus for two days rather than allow a "Israel Apartheid Week" conference to convene at the suburban Paris School. Professor Pascal Binczak, President of the University withdrew initial authorization following a warning from the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the event could degenerate into a threat to public order and endanger the Jewish community.
Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director of International Relations, who is based in Paris hailed "the decision to banish hate from the campus. We hope it will serve as a precedent across Europe". The keynote speaker for the conference Omar Barghouti, who is the leader of the international BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) campaign against Israel, along with other presenters spoke at an alternative off-campus venue.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, currently in Paris, added "that the issue here is not freedom of speech— the event proceeded off-campus, but of a decision by a University president not to allow the institution of higher learning he heads to be co-opted by those seeking to demonize and de legitimize the democratic Jewish state of Israel. It is unfortunate that Harvard University is allowing a "One State Solution" conference to proceed this weekend, thus letting its good name to be leveraged by those who see the only way for "peace" in the Holy Land is to eliminate the Jewish state", Cooper concluded.