Jews reportedly barred from UK campus lecture on Israel’s ‘reproductive sabotage’

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A British university distanced itself from faculty accused of barring Jews from a public lecture that they organized on campus about Israel’s alleged “reproductive sabotage” against Arabs.

A spokesman for the University of Warwick, located 90 miles northwest of London, said Wednesday’s 17 event “was organized by group of researchers and students” and “was not organized by the University.” The university has received a complaint concerning the alleged barring by the university’s  Lisa Tilley of at least three Jews from the event, which was advertised as open to the public, the spokesman also said.

“A complaint has been made to the University about this event which we are now considering and which we will respond to,” university spokesman Tom Frew told JTA.

According to David Collier, a journalist and blogger on anti-Semitism, Tilley stopped him and two other Jews, Mandy Blumenthal and Yochy Davis, at the entrance to the lecture room, asked to see their identity cards and refused to admit them into the room after inspecting them.


Tilley, a member of the faculty at Warwick’s School of Politics and International Relations, was not reachable on her work phone Friday and did not reply to a JTA query about the discrimination complaint by Collier.

The event was a lecture by Sigrid Vertommen, a researcher from the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London. The invitation to the event said that Israel’s policy of subsidizing multiple fertilization procedures to its citizens is “primarily aimed to serve the reproductive rights of its Jewish population at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population.”

Israel has 1.2 million Arab Palestinian citizens, who are entitled to the same medical treatment as Israeli citizens.

“Rather than understanding Israel’s fertility policies in terms of rights, choice, peace and reconciliation,” the invitation to the event read, “it will propose a reproductive sabotage framework.”

Vertommen did not reply to a JTA request for comment.

Shimon Samuels, the director of international relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told JTA that the “blood libel” of calling Israel’s fertility practices as “reproductive sabotage” betrayed an “anti-Semitic bias” that contributes to making the University of Warwick “the leading university in the United Kingdom in terms of denying Israel’s right to exist,” which he said translates itself to the intimidation and discrimination of Jewish students.

In 2013, the university paid $1,380 to an Israeli student, Smadar Bakovic, as compensation for failing to find her a new supervisor after she complained that the one assigned to her had a bias against her because of her country of birth.

Frew, the university spokesman, did not reply to JTA’s request for a reaction on criticism against the university for hosting Vertommen’s lecture.