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Harvard Cancels Irish Poet's Visit After Controversial Remarks

November 13, 2002|From Associated Press

BOSTON — After student complaints, Harvard University said Tuesday it had canceled a reading by an Irish poet who compared U.S.-born settlers in the West Bank to Nazis and said they should be "shot dead."

Tom Paulin, an Oxford University lecturer, was scheduled to appear Thursday as part of the English department's Morris Gray Lecture series.

But in an e-mail to English majors Tuesday, department Chairman Lawrence Buell said the reading had been canceled "by mutual consent of the poet and the English department."

Buell also apologized for the "widespread consternation" the invitation to Paulin had caused. He said Paulin was invited last winter, before his controversial remarks, solely because of his poetic achievements.

Benjamin Solomon-Schwartz, undergraduate president of Harvard Hillel, said he was heartened by the university's decision, adding that Paulin's comments crossed the line between opinion and "being inhumane."

In April, Paulin was quoted in an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram Weekly, saying that American Jewish settlers should be "shot dead."

"I think they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them," he said.

Paulin also said he understands "how suicide bombers feel," but suggested that guerrilla warfare would be more effective because attacks on civilians could create a sense of solidarity.

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