A UNIVERSITY debate over whether Israel is an apartheid state was cancelled following a dispute over the appearance of David Collier, the blogger and activist who gathered evidence which led to a Labour investigation into anti-Semitism.

Mr Collier arrived in Glasgow from London to speak at the University of Strathclyde discussion last Thursday for the proposition that "this house does not support claims that Israel is an apartheid state".

But the event, organised at the university was cancelled after Holocaust historian professor Henry Maitles from the University of the West of Scotland's school of education who was due to speak against the motion pulled out and no replacement could be found.

Prof Maitles said he objected to Mr Collier's involvement in the by Strathclyde Students for Academic Freedom-organised debate believing his past actions had sought to "smear" the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the political left.

The Herald:

The academic who is a member of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace, which opposes Israeli policies that undermine the rights of Palestinians, said: "I was not informed that David Collier was speaking for the other side until later. His recent involvement in a report which sought to smear Jeremy Corbyn and indeed the left in general as anti-Semitic meant that i did not want to give legitimacy to any aspect of his work.

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"Whilst he has the right to say what he wants, I believe that to debate with him could give credibility to his smears.

"I have a history of engaging in debate and am not afraid of it. Just three weeks ago I debated at a conference in Vienna on the left and anti-Semitism. There does though come a point where I am not prepared to give credibility to someone who has produced a scurrilous, poorly researched smear on Corbyn and the left as antisemitic."

The Herald:

Earlier this month an anti-Semitism group said evidence gathered by Mr Collier suggested Jeremy Corbyn was said to be among members of Palestine Live until just before he became leader in 2015.

Labour have insisted there was no suggestion Mr Corbyn had made any anti-Semitic posts.

Mr Collier is a UK businessman who lived in Israel for nearly 20 years and whose blog is dedicated to "researching anti-Semitism inside anti-Zionist activity".

After the cancellation Mr Collier said he did not see why the university cannot "learn the message" from what has happened.

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Mr Collier had criticised the lack of a challenge over university events generally held around the UK in support of Israel Apartheid Week.  Organisers describe the week as "an international series of events that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid system over the Palestinian people".

It also seeks to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which works to end international support for Israel's "oppression" of Palestinians and pressure the nation to comply with international law.

Mr Collier said: "Strathclyde University were to hold a debate and I was looking forward to it because it would give me the opportunity to come up and set the record straight.

The Herald:

"As soon as they realised their lies and propaganda are going to be challenged, they just backed down. They've let everybody down, there is now no debate and I am on my way home again.

"These societies on university campuses are pushing propaganda every chance they get, and they do it because they are unchallenged and get away with it.

"As soon as someone comes along and says you have to explain this and that I want to challenge you, what you are saying is not right, then they run away. I don't see how the university can't learn the message. "Because if they are not willing to put their propaganda down to an academic challenge, then it has no place anywhere on a campus."

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It is believed that there are plans to reconvene the debate.

Nine years ago, the university bent to activists' pressure by agreeing to cancel a contract with Israeli water cooler supplier Eden Springs. The university also agreed that a scholarship programme would be established for Palestinian students.

Dr Peter West, the secretary to the university, said of the agreement: "The university expresses its deep concern about the plight of the people of Gaza. We are particularly aware that the infrastructure of higher education has been damaged, making it particularly difficult for Palestinian students to pursue their studies."