Brazil: University cancels Mid-East peace lecture after threats

University of Pernambuco cancels lecture on Arab-Israeli peace process hours before it was to take place after series of threats.

Marcus M. Gilban/JTA ,


A Brazilian public university canceled a lecture about the Middle East peace process after the organizers, speaker and institution were threatened.

The University of Pernambuco claimed force majeure, or unforeseen circumstance, to call off the lecture titled “Dilemmas in the Peace Process between Israelis and Palestinians” hours before it was scheduled to take place at its campus on Thursday afternoon in Recife, the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported.

“I had to cancel the event for security reasons. Since 8 a.m. the Pro Palestine Muslim Association of Recife called me and threatened myself, the speaker and the university in a tough and harsh way,” said a statement addressed to university staff from Karl Schurster, the event moderator.

On Tuesday, the pro-Palestinian group released a statement calling for a boycott, stating that the program required a Palestinian Arab speaker. Andre Lajst, a renowned Jewish political scientist who was scheduled to be the speaker answered with a public post and video on social media.

“While they preach boycott and academic censorship, we make room for them and invite: appoint a representative to discuss with me in a peaceful, democratic and respectful dialogue,” said Lajst, who heads the Brazilian branch of StandWithUs.

Lajst lamented the university’s decision to cancel the event.

“We did the opposite that Palestinian organizations in Brazil normally do: We opened our event to an entity with opposing visions to ours,” Lajst told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Unlike private universities, public institutions place a wall of resistance for either ignorance of decision makers or anti-Semitism or Judeophobia translated as prejudice against Israel.”