Zion­ists stop med­i­cal talk af­ter cam­paign

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY ROBYNROSEN

TWO LEC­TURES by Is­raeli-based char­ity Physi­cians for Hu­man Right­sIs­rael (PHR-I) were can­celled af­ter a Zion­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion told hos­pi­tals hold­ing the talks that they were “an­tiIs­rael”.

Miri Wein­garten from PHR-I was due to give a lec­ture, en­ti­tled The Right to Health in a Con­flict Zone, to three hos­pi­tals in Manch­ester, Liver­pool and Bury last week.

But just hours be­fore the lec­ture, the Manch­ester Royal In­fir­mary and Alder Hey Hospi­tal in Liver­pool can­celled the event.

Karen Solomon, di­rec­tor of the Zion­ist Cen­tral Coun­cil in Manches- mem­bers urg­ing them to con­tact the hos­pi­tals.

Ms Solomon said that the orig­i­nal plan was to send mem­bers to the meet­ing to dis­pute some of the top­ics.

She said: “We felt the talk was po­lit­i­cal and hos­pi­tals should not be seen to be po­lit­i­cal or hold po­lit­i­cal events. The group is bla­tantly anti-Is­rael and so we asked peo­ple to write in to say what we felt.”

A spokes­woman from the Manch­ester Royal In­fir­mary said that they had re­ceived com­plaints from the Jewish com­mu­nity and that the event was can­celled for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

She said: “It was gain­ing quite a lot of neg­a­tive feel­ing and it was felt that it might at­tract peo­ple turn­ing up that would be against the meet­ing.”

Louise Shep­herd, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Alder Hey Hospi­tal, said: “It came to our at­ten­tion that what was in­tended as a pri­vate meet­ing had in fact be­come pub­lic knowl­edge and was be­ing trailed on var­i­ous web­sites as a po­lit­i­cal is­sue.

“This was aug­mented by ac­com­pa­ny­ing dis­play boards which ar­rived ear­lier that week and which con­tained ex­plicit po­lit­i­cal con­tent.

“Alder Hey is, and will con­tinue to be, apo­lit­i­cal and has a proud her­itage of ac­tively pro­mot­ing a cul­ture of equal­ity and di­ver­sity. For th­ese rea­sons a de­ci­sion was taken to can­cel Ms Wein­garten’s visit to the Trust.”

Ms Wein­garten, PHR-I’s di­rec­tor of ad­vo­cacy, said she was “shocked” at the de­ci­sion and sur­prised to be called anti-Is­rael. She ve­he­mently de­nied that PHR-I was anti-Zion­ist.

She said: “My or­gan­i­sa­tion finds it shock­ing that com­mu­ni­ties that are so out­spo­ken against the grow­ing calls for a boy­cott of Is­raeli bodies could use the same tac­tics them­selves in or­der to sti­fle de­bate.

“If the peo­ple be­hind this had come to the de­bate and chal­lenged the con­tent of my talk that would have been an im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion. The de­ci­sion to si­lence us — and the de­bate — com­pletely is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble to us, and un­ac­cept­able.”

A con­sul­tant at Fair­field Hospi­tal in Bury, where the lec­ture went ahead, said: “The whole idea that PHR-I is an­ti­semitic or even anti-Is­rael is lu­di­crous given that the or­gan­i­sa­tion is over­whelm­ingly com­prised of Jewish Is­raelis, of whom Miri is one.”

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