Friday, 13 September 2013

ANU off the rails 12/9 - the oz letters

ANU off the rails

YOU have got to hand it to the Australian National University for preferring irony over sensitivity ("ANU faces rage over conference", 11/9).
Holding a so-called academic conference on human rights in Palestine on the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on the US with keynote speaker Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, is a perfect example of the extent to which academia has gone off the rails.
Falk is notorious for promulgating and endorsing wacko conspiracy theories alleging the 9/11 attacks were inside jobs master-minded by Washington and Israel. He also blamed the Boston marathon bombing on "the American global domination project" and Tel Aviv.
His views have been condemned by the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the British, US and Canadian governments.
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What an ideal guest to give a keynote address on the anniversary of September 11. No doubt pen-pushers at the ANU will mumble something about academic freedom, rather than acknowledging that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
Mark Kessel, Caulfield, Vic
I REFER to the commentary "Israel-bashing seminar does ANU no credit" (11/9). In a democratic society, debate about human rights should be the most protected of all debates. Why is the topic of rights important everywhere except the occupied territories? Surely the effect of occupation of Palestinian land and control of the lives of Palestinians is essential information to Australians who support the activities of Israel in the occupied lands. In the mix of tensions that are the reality of the Middle East, any light on factors that contribute to those tensions should be encouraged.
George Browning, president, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Canberra

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