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University of Edinburgh Re-Names Building Over Namesakes 260-Year-Old Comments on Race

The University of Edinburgh has renamed a building that was dedicated to an 18th-century philosopher..

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The University of Edinburgh has renamed a building that was dedicated to an 18th-century philosopher due to his “comments on matters of race” that “rightly cause distress today.”

Campuses should reflect “contemporary and historical diversity” and there are “sensitivities” around asking students to use a building named after David Hume, one of Scotlands most lauded philosophers, the university said in a statement on Thursday.

The David Hume Tower will be temporarily known as 40 George Square until a full review has been carried out.

The building renaming is part of the universitys diversity and race-related committees ongoing evaluation, which has been “energized” by the death in May of George Floyd in the United States, the university said.

University of Edinburgh,
University of Edinburgh,
Old College at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, which was founded in 1852, making it the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world. (Kim Traynor/Public Domain)

The committees work was also influenced by the “ongoing campaigning by the Black Lives Matter movement,” and the committees Equality and Anti-Racist Action Plan was “accelerating and amplifying” their efforts.

Pressure on the university to rename the building also came in the form of an online petition started 3 months ago and signed by over 1,800 people.

“Nobody is demanding we erase David Hume from history. However, we should not be promoting a man who championed white supremacy,” wrote Elizabeth Lund, the petitions author. “That is mutually exclusive with the goal of reducing the harm caused by racism at Edinburgh University to students of color.”

Criticism

University of Edinburgh staff as well as politicians have criticized the decision to rename the David Hume Tower.

Asanga Welikala, a lecturer in public law at Edinburgh Law School and the director of the Edinburgh Center for Constitutional Law, said that he has been inspired by Hume and doesnt agree with the re-naming decision.

“David Humes thought has inspired me throughout a 20-year career working to further constitutional democracy in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa,” he wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

“As an employee of Edinburgh University I was not consulted in this,” added Welikala, who is also a research fellow at the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in Sri Lanka.

I do not agree with this decision. David Humes thought has inspired me throughout a 20 year career working to further constitutional democracy in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. As an employee of Edinburgh University I was not consulted in this. https://t.co/uRV19e052H

— Dr Asanga Welikala (@welikalaa) September 13, 2020

David Hume was an empirical philosopher born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1711, and was a leading voice, along with his friend Adam Smith, in the Scottish Enlightenment—a period that led to the development of modern economics, sociology, and linguistics.

His most famous works include “A Treatise of Human Nature” (1739–1740), “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” (1748), and “An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals “(1751), as well as the posthumously published “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion” (1779).

Jonathan Hearn, a professor of political and historical sociology at the university, wrote on his blog Uneasy Essays, that Humes comments in a footnote to an essay he wrote in 1753 were “racist, offensive, and worthy of condemnation.” But he still admired him.

“Hume deserves to be criticized for this belief, and if that were all there were to him, to be largely forgotten,” Hearn said.

“But his copious writings on philosophy, history and political economy are full of profound and lasting insights into human nature and history, that do not absolve, but do outweigh this error. …

“By all means, criticize his errors, debate his ideas, and if necessary, remove his name from buildings. But he deserves to be remembered,” Hearn said.

The University of Edinburgh said, despite the renaming and the coincidental discontinuation of the David Hume Fellowship, they were committed to “scholarship, teaching and learning around David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment.”

Wrong to be Ashamed

Maurice Golden, the Scottish Conservative culture spokesman, told The Telegraph that “David Hume is one of the greatest and most influential Scots in history.”

“Its wrong to suddenly be ashamed of someone who is clearly not known across the world for his links to the abhorrent slave trade. He is globally renowned as a philosopher and thinker,” he said.

Golden also called for “a more reasonable, mature, debate about the rights and wrongs of the past.”

“We can proudly respect our history and recognize when people got it very wrong at the same time,” he said.

“This decision does not do that.”

In a tweet, Conservative Member of Parliament Neil OBrien also spoke out strongly against The University of Edinburghs decision, calling it a “cowardly, stupid, craven, pathetic, spineless, dumb thing to do.”

The University of Edinburgh is a member of the Russell Group, a group of 24 top UK universities.

A spokesperson for the group told The Epoch Times in an email that “Our members are autonomous institutions and take their own decisions on these matters.”

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Benjamin Netanyahu calls to block Israel’s newly formed coalition

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Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out at a newly agreed coalition which looks set to remove him from power after 12 years as prime minister.

Mr Netanyahu called on right-wing members of parliament to block the coalition from taking office.

Eight opposition parties reached an agreement to work together to form a new government late on Wednesday.

But the group, from across Israel’s political spectrum, still needs parliamentary backing to take office.

No date has so far been set for such a vote in the Knesset (parliament). But it is expected to take place next week at the latest, and there is still a chance this newly formed coalition could be upended by defections.

In his first comments since the coalition was announced, Mr Netanyahu urged members of the Knesset “elected by votes from the right” to oppose the coalition.

In a post on Twitter, he criticised them as “left-wing” and “dangerous”. He has previously called the proposed new government the “fraud of the century”, saying it endangered the state and people of Israel.

Observers have already noted that Mr Netanyahu – who failed to form his own coalition despite his Likud party winning the most seats in the March vote – is likely to try to prevent the group getting the support it needs.

News of a fresh coalition emerged late on Wednesday, when Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party, called President Reuven Rivlin to let him know that agreement had been reached.

He pledged to form a government which would “work in the service of all Israeli citizens… respect its opponents and do everything in its power to unite and connect all parts of Israeli society”.

However, Mr Lapid will not become prime minister immediately. Under a rotation arrangement, the head of the right-wing Yamina party, Naftali Bennett, would serve as prime minister first before handing over to Mr Lapid in August 2023.

The coalition members span the full spectrum of Israeli politics with little in common apart from their plan to replace Mr Netanyahu. For the first time in decades, the government will include an Israeli Arab party.

An image carried on Israeli media showed Mr Lapid, Mr Bennett and Mansour Abbas, leader of the Arab Islamist Raam party, signing the agreement, a deal many thought impossible.

The other five parties included in the agreement are:

  • Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) (centrist) – led by Benny Gantz (eight)
  • Israel Beiteinu (centre-right to right-wing nationalist) – led by Avigdor Lieberman (seven)
  • Labor (social-democratic) – led by Merav Michaeli (seven)
  • New Hope (centre-right to right-wing)- led by Gideon Sa’ar (six)
  • Meretz (left-wing, social-democratic) – led by Nitzan Horowitz (six)

If the coalition fails to win the support of a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, there is a risk of a fifth election in two years. All eight parties were needed to secure the 61-seat majority.

Reaction to the agreement has been mixed. According to news agency AFP, other parties representing Israeli Arabs – who make up 20% of the population – have said they will oppose a government led by Mr Bennett, who rejects the concept of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, right-wing politicians have also voiced concerns. “The left is celebrating but it is a very sad day for the State of Israel,” Miki Zohar, a prominent Likud member wrote on Twitter, saying the right-wing parties in the coalition “should be ashamed”.

But elsewhere there was jubilation. Protesters who had been demanding Mr Netanyahu’s resignation danced in the street.

Some were just relieved at the prospect of an end to the political turmoil which has seen Israel hold four elections in just two years as politicians struggled to find someone to unite behind.

“I think that the political situation has been deadlocked for too long,” protester Zvi Yosef told Reuters news agency. “We have to try something new, even though it’s a little bit scary and there’s a lot of unknowns. But at the moment, I don’t see any other option.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-57340973

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Federation of African Journalists “dismayed” by UAE attempts to manipulate African Journalists

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Agencies – Federation of African Journalists accused UAE of “attempts” to manipulate the work of African Journalists. During a conference held this week, the federation issued an urgent resolution which attacked United Arab Emirates due to its efforts to affect the work of the federation and African journalists.

The press release said, “We, the delegates attending the African Journalists Leaders’ Conference from five regions of the African Continent, being held in Accra, Ghana, from 1st to 2nd June 2021, under the auspices of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and hosted by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA)”

The press release announced a number of points stating:

“With dismay recent attempts by external elements from the United Arab Emirates who deliberately tried to manipulate journalists’ organisations in Africa to issue public statements or campaign against 2022 FIFA World Cup, that will be hosted by the State of Qatar.”said the statement

The organisation expressed serious concerns about how UAE is trying to push for political disputes and drag African journalists into activities beyond their primary interests, scope and mandate.

It also added that “Serious challenges facing journalists in Africa in covering adequately global events such as the World Cup.”

The federation rejected what it described as “despicable attempts”to use and manipulate African journalists and their organisations as tools to challenge the organisation of 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

It reiterated its full support of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to the position taken by the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC) about the labour rights situation in Qatar and note the unparalleled progress so far made.

It has also demanded that African jour alista have full access to 2022 FIFA 2022 World Cup so they inform African peoples about these global soccer events.

It has called upon the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the qualifying National teams from Africa to be vigilant about these manipulative attempts and ensure Africa’s dignified and prominent participation in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The statement made an appeal to CAF and FIFA to investigate and penalize the people and forces behind this unprecedented interference in global soccer events which has the potential to compromise African journalists reporting on the world’s biggest football event.

It also added that, “Mandate the Steering Committee of FAJ to develop a close working relationship with CAF to facilitate and advance the work and interests of African journalists.”

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Dozens of Palestinians injured in police clashes as Jewish extremists chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ march in Jerusalem

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Clashes between Palestinians from east Jerusalem and Israeli police around the Damascus gate entrance to the Old City erupted in a night of unrest that earlier saw Jewish extremists marching through another city street shouting “Death to Arabs.”

The violence marks a high point so far in a new phase of complex heightened tensions in the city which began a week and half ago around the start of Ramadan, and prompted an unusual statement Friday morning from the US embassy in Jerusalem in which it called on “all responsible voices [to] promote an end to incitement.”
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the area around the Damascus gate Thursday evening to protest the closure of the plaza space in front of the gate, a popular place for young Palestinians to hang out, especially during Ramadan.
Glass bottles and rocks were thrown at police, who used stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons spraying foul-smelling ‘skunk water,’ in an effort to disperse the crowds.
At one point, a group of young men managed to break down a pole with a security camera mounted on top and set it alight, temporarily creating a barricade.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said 105 Palestinians were injured, of which 22 required treatment in hospital.
Close by, police used barricades of their own to prevent a march by hundreds of supporters of the Jewish extremist ‘Lehava’ movement from reaching the same area.
Videos on social media show hundreds of people marching down one of Jerusalem’s main thoroughfares, Jaffa Street, towards Damascus Gate chanting repeatedly “Death to Arabs.”
Israeli media reports Lehava supporters threw rocks at police, and videos on social media show police water cannon being used to disperse them.
Lehava has been emboldened by the recent election to the Israeli parliament of several extremist-racist politicians, all of whom have been openly courted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his ongoing attempts to form a new government.
Tensions have been heightened further by a number of videos posted to Tik Tok over the last couple of weeks apparently showing acts of assault, including one purporting to show a Palestinian youth slapping two religious Jews riding the city’s light rail tram service
.
The violence continued well into Friday morning with incidents reported across the city, including one captured on video apparently showing Palestinian youths repeatedly kicking a Jewish man in east Jerusalem as he lies on the ground attempting to protect his head.

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