In this third webinar, we debated specifically the silencing of Palestine and Palestinian voices. Though attempts to silence speech on Palestine and Palestinian voices is not new, there has been an intensification of repression across the West, particularly in parts of Europe, the UK and in the US. Some of this occurs though specific tools such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition’ of antisemitism (IHRA), which conflates criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Jewish racism.
Much of this represssion is also happening across social media platforms, which are employing various tactics to subdue speech deemed supportive of Palestinians or critical of Israel. The current war in Gaza—which has included the destruction of every university in Gaza—has considerably aggravated the attack on the academic freedom of Palestinians and those who speak out about Israel-Palestine and Palestinian rights. Government officials across the West have condemned anti-war protests, and Palestine-related events at several universities have been cancelled. This is also happening in cultural spaces.
For instance, Adania Shibli, a Palestinian writer, had her award ceremony at the Frankfurt Book Fair cancelled. For this webinar, we decided it would be essential to centre Palestinian voices, so we invited three Palestinians to speak about the topic: Samer Abdelnour, Marwa Fatafta, and Muhannad Ayyash. Our speakers gave us both an overview of what is happening at universities and the social media landscape, with a focus on the UK, Germany, and Canada. Moreover, we thought it relevant to have a Palestinian involved in the whole process, so we invited Samer Abdelnour, one of our speakers, to collaborate with us.