Leeds University Students Meet Terrorist Online

Are we too tolerant of freedom of speech in the UK?

University authorities are concerned that 76-year-old Leila Khaled addressed Leeds University students and academics last Friday. She took part in a Zoom meeting promoted by the school’s Palestine Solidarity Group.

She is a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organisation, and took part in hijacking two airline flights in 1969 and 1970.

It seems that she receives a significant number of invitations to speak at events, often prompting disputes about freedom of speech.

Two other planned events featuring Khaled were cancelled by Zoom in recent weeks, one at San Francisco State University and another at the University of Hawaii.

Zoom said those events violated its terms of service. That is because Khaled still supports terrorism, telling Friday’s meeting that:

“We have used all means of struggle and we are still determined to continue
using all means of struggle, including armed struggle.”

Leila Khaled


Equally concerning is that Adam Saeed, chairman of the event, claimed those at the meeting did not endorse terrorism but then went on to say that under international law:

“People are entitled to resist occupation by any means they see fit.”

He thus portrayed Israel as occupying other people’s land when in fact it has legal ownership, which was granted in League of Nations meetings held in San Remo, Italy, in 1920 and 1922.

Such distortion of facts is troubling for young people at a university, especially when the chairman of the event adds:

“Everything that she said about international law is true.”

To credit a terrorist as speaking completely correctly about international law is lamentable.

Professor James Dickins from the university’s Arabic department also attended the event and gave a speech to students following Khaled’s address, adding academic weight to her involvement.

He has previously signed a letter claiming the IHRA definition of antisemitism conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism – a claim that many academics are using to avoid supporting that definition.

Leeds Jewish Society and the Union of Jewish Students are understandably disturbed that the event took place, saying:

“It is imperative that Jewish students are able to access academic spaces, 
both virtual and physical, free of hate and prejudice.”