Prof. Geoffrey Alderman, patron of the UK Council on Academic Freedom
to speak at BGU and Ariel University Center
Professor Geoffrey Alderman, Michael Gross Professor of Politics &
Contemporary History at the University of
Buckingham (UK) and Patron of the UK Council on Academic
Freedom, will lecture on "The limits of Blackmail,
Deligitimisation and Slander (BDS) as Instruments of Scholarly
Discourse" at Ariel University Center, Israel, on
Wednesday 30 March at 1.00 pm.
Prof. Alderman will address a seminar on "Intellectual Freedom and
Academic Obligation" at Ben Gurion University
of the Negev, Israel, on Monday 28 March 2011 at 2.00 pm.
Both events are opened to the public.
Professor Alderman encourages those of different views to attend
these events and participate in the discussions.
Prof. Alderman will be making the following points at BGU: 1. In normal
times any university academic should be free to make any kind
of statement critical of her/his government and/or her/his university,
with two provisos. 2. These provisos are that she/he must not incite
violence and should not - without extremely good reason - bring her/his
institution into disrepute. 3. When a country is at war these are not
'normal times.' 4. The example of the UK during the Second World War
illustrates this. 5. During WWII, in the UK, there was no freedom of speech -
even for academics. People could be (and were) arrested and imprisoned
without charge. There was widespread censorship of the media, and
even of private communications. The "Home Guard" had the authority to
shoot suspects (the vast majority of whom turned out to be innocent) on
sight - and did so. At the extreme, a few British citizens were actually
hanged for acts regarded as falling within the meaning of Treason
as defined by the sweeping Defence of the Realm Act of 1939 and
other legislation. 6. To criticise one's own country and its policies
is one thing. During WWII there were plenty of critical debates in
the Westminster parliament and plenty of critical letters were printed
in the newspapers. But to incite others - for example other countries
or academics in other countries - to impose sanctions of whatever sort
against one's country at a time of war - is likely (I am sorry to say) to fall
within the definition of treason, and would certainly have fallen within that
definition [giving comfort to the enemy, aiding & abetting enemies of His
Majesty, etc] in the UK during WWII. 7. This would be the case no matter
how well-intentioned the person may be who makes such criticisms or
articulates such incitements. 8. Academic freedom is not academic
license - i.e. the right to say anything whatever the consequences.
At Ariel University Center, Prof. Alderman will concentrate on the
dangers posed by BDS to the very concept of academic freedom - making
the espousal of a particular set of political principles the price for entry into
academic dialogue, which he will argue is essentially fascist and totalitarian
in nature: "It's what we associate with Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia."
Geoffrey Alderman is an
academic and journalist specialising in modern British and European
history and British and American politics. He is an internationally
acknowledged authority on voting behaviour, pressure groups and the
impact of religious and ethnic groups on political life. He has also written
extensively on problems of quality and standards in university education.
Geoffrey Alderman studied history at
Oxford, where he completed his BA and DPhil; amongst his teachers
were Sir Martin Gilbert, the late AJP Taylor and the late Dr Cecil Roth.
From 1972 until 1994
he taught history and politics in the University of London, at which in
1989 he was promoted to a Personal Chair. From 1989 until 1994 he
was Chairman of the Academic Council of the University of London
and (1992-93) Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Standards. In 1994
he accepted appointment as quality supremo at Middlesex University,
where he became Pro Vice-Chancellor (Quality & Standards). In 1999
he crossed the Atlantic to become Vice-President of Touro College,
New York, and in 2002 he re-crossed the Atlantic to become Senior
Vice-President of American InterContinental University London (2002-6).
In June 2007 Geoffrey joined the University of
Michael Gross Professor of Politics & Contemporary History.
Geoffrey holds a number of
visiting and emeritus professorial titles. In 2007-08 he was a Visiting
Research Fellow at the University of London's Institute of Historical
Research; he is currently Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Theology &
Education at York St John University, Professor of Education at
TUI University, Los Angeles, USA, and Chief Academic Officer
of the Bloomsbury Business School. In 2010 he was appointed
a Guest Professor at Ariel University Center, Israel, and a Visiting
Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies.
Professor Alderman is the author, co-author and
editor of some 15 books, including Modern British Jewry (2nd
end, Oxford University Press, 1998)and Controversy and Crisis:
Studies in the History of the Jews in Modern Britain (Academic
Studies Press, 2008). He is also an Associate Editor of the New
Dictionary of National Biography, in charge of all post-1800
Jewish entries. He writes irregularly for the Guardian and the
Times and regularly for the Jewish Chronicle. Amongst his
numerous other publications are his birth announcement and
a number of obituaries, including two (as yet unpublished)
of himself. He appears frequently on radio and television
as an authority on the Jewish world, the politics of the Middle
East, and issues of quality and management in higher education.
In 2006 he was awarded the higher doctoral
degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Oxford in respect
of his published work in the field of modern Anglo-Jewish history.
At a ceremony in London on 6 March 2011 Geoffrey was named
as the recipient of the Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism 2011.