Concordia extends invitation to Barak
Last Updated Fri, 05 Nov 2004 10:54:18 EST
MONTREAL - A Montreal university has reversed a controversial decision and
will allow a former Israeli prime minister to speak on campus, despite fears
that rioting that broke in 2002 will be repeated.
Last month, Concordia University was accused of gagging free speech when it
refused to allow Ehud Barak to speak on campus.
The university offered to co-sponsor Barak's appearance at another location,
arguing that it couldn't adequately secure any building on campus.
Two years ago, it was forced to cancel a speech by Barak's predecessor,
Benjamin Netanyahu, after pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students clashed
Barak may speak in May
But Concordia spokesperson Dennis Murphy said Thursday that the school now
plans to allow Barak to speak on campus, possibly in May.
Sylvain Abitbol, head of the Jewish philanthropy group Combined Jewish
Appeal, called Concordia's about-face a step in the right direction.
It's a victory of free speech and a defence of Canadian values, Abitbol
Pro-Palestinian student groups have denounced the visit, calling Barak a war
The university's initial offer to help host Barak off campus was rejected by
both Barak and the Jewish student group Hillel, which had extended the
invitation to Barak.
The decision to host the former prime minister comes as B'Nai Brith prepares
to file a human-rights complaint against five universities, including
Concordia, for failing to protect Jewish students from
Written by CBC News Online staff
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