The four short emails below are self-explanatory. 1-4 from bottom to top:
1. Letter of invitation from St Andrews Debating Society
2. SPSC seeks clarification
3. Clarification - Israeli diplomat will be invited
4. SPSC response, declining invitation, explaining rationale, and calling for diplomats of Apartheid State to be boycotted
4. On 9 February 2017 at 09:58, Scottish PSC wrote:
Thank you for the invitation to participate in a forthcoming debate at St Andrews Student Union, which we must decline due to the inclusion of a representative of the State of Israel.
The motion to be debated seems somewhat eccentric given the worldwide condemnation of Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights bodies. A better motion might be Israel should be taken to the ICC (International Criminal Court); it would be more in tune with British public sentiment.
We debate on public fora with individuals who defend the practices of the Israeli State but we respect the Palestinian call for a boycott of all institutions connected to that State. This call is supported by virtually the entirety of Palestinian civil society, including the professional bodies of both Palestinian Teachers and University Professors.
SPSC members debated two employees of the Israeli Embassy in St Andrews some years ago but we have since been persuaded by Palestinian voices to discontinue this exception to our practice of shunning Israeli diplomats, a policy afford by many organisations around the world.
Palestinian students and university faculty suffer Israeli bombing and shelling (which continued yesterday) , the destruction of their university buildings, night raids, blockades, campus invasions by armed soldiers, mass imprisonment and systemic torture. We honour their sacrifices for freedom and call on you to disinvite a representative of a racist State that denies basic freedoms to millions of Palestinians, including university students and staff.
Israeli diplomats should be boycotted, not treated as representatives of a normal state
On a personal note, I met a student at Bir Zeit University some years ago who had been jailed for the simple act of possessing a university text book (during a period when the Israeli military had closed the university – education was banned). What Malcolm Bradbury created imaginatively in Fahrenheit 451, Israel made a fact on the ground of Palestine.
You are, of course, perfectly free to ignore the calls for support from Palestinians resisting a regime that openly works to dispossess and replace them with Jews.
Some St Andrews students actively joined an earlier struggle for freedom and worked to boycott and isolate the South African apartheid regime, while others on that campus ignominiously supported that foul regime.
Today also, we take sides.
Sent: 06 February 2017 11:13
Subject: Re: St Andrews Debating Society Event
Thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly. Among others, we will be hosting a representative of the Israeli embassy on side proposition. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
2. On 5 February 2017 at 15:25, Scottish PSC wrote:
Thank you for your email and invitation, I will get back to you shortly with a full reply. In the meantime, could you let me know who will be speaking in favour of the motion?
Sent: 05 February 2017 13:39
Subject: St Andrews Debating Society Event
I am reaching out to you on behalf of the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society. On 30 March, 2017 at 7:00pm we will be holding a debate on the motion: "This House Believes That Israel is a force for good in the Middle East".
We would love to invite a guest speaker from PSC to speak in opposition to the motion, and I wanted to ask if you could put me in touch with someone from PSC who would be willing to come and speak.
The St Andrews Union is a thriving and engaging community. This event will be held in the historic Lower Parliament Hall, which was temporarily the site of the Scottish Parliament in 1685 due to an outbreak of the plague. The society itself is the oldest of its kind in the English-speaking world and is consistently ranked as one of the worlds best debating societies. Our weekly public debates attract guest speakers from the fields of business, journalism, academia and policy to name a few, and is free for all guests to attend. The event will be attended by hundreds of bright, motivated students who will be interested in listening to and engaging with your association's thoughts.
We would be both honoured and grateful if someone from PSC would be willing to speak for us. We are of course willing and able to cover any necessary travel and accommodation costs should they be required, and we take all of the speakers to dinner beforehand.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Internal Secretary, Union Debating Society