The University of Sussex is investigating after emeritus professor of International Relations, Kees van der Pijl, tweeted: “Not Saudis, Israelis blew up Twin Towers with help from Zionists in US govt”.
The tweet came in response to a criticism of US sanctions on Iran. He followed the claim with a link to a webpage set up to “collect evidence that the Israeli deep state was involved in 9/11”. The page makes up part of the website WikiSpooks, which identifies as an “encyclopedia of deep politics”, and is dedicated to discussion of high-profile international political issues. The specific page which Professor van der Pijl links in his tweet references 9/11 conspiracy theories and looks to support the claim that the Bush Administration was involved in the attacks, with the intention of mobilising public support for previously planned wars.
“I have studied the 9/11 issue for years because it is the starting point for the endless war that the world has been plunged into and which now have wrecked the lives of millions, and which may soon see an attack also on Iran although I hope sanity will prevail.” Van der Pijl told The Badger.
“Of course the attacks, branding me an ‘antisemitic conspiracy theorist’ are not pleasant but they are all one-liners using the same words whereas the positive comments (just look under the Independent article) are often informative and heartening.”, he added.
Professor Van der Pijl was recently on campus launching his new book, Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (2018), which International Relations students were invited to attend. The professor’s work covers four main areas within the International Relations discipline, including issues concerning British foreign relations and the global political economy. Despite being known on campus for his sometimes controversial political opinions, van der Pijl is nonetheless a respected figure and won several awards for his contribution to Sussex’s IR department.
The Sussex Jewish Representative Council has called for the ex-professor to have his emeritus status revoked, tweeting: “This type of hate-mongering has no place in society, least of all in academia”.
Van der Pijl has since criticised coverage of the issue saying that The Daily Mail published inaccurate information: “Here’s quality journalism for you. ‘Israel’–I wrote ‘Israelis’. ‘Mocking replies’–a wave of one-liner abuse, true. But far more numerous detailed and informative responses. ‘Facebook post’. I am not on Facebook.”.
When The Tab approached him for comment about his tweet van der Pijl replied: “an article about one sentence?”.
The ex-professor has also continued to tweet since his initial comment: “After my remark on Zionist responsibility for 9/11, the ‘Israel lobby’ is no longer an empty term for me. Yet we have to put an end to the murderous ‘War on Terror’ ((c) Netanyahu 1986) that now has Iran in its sights.
Amongst hundreds of responses the original tween garnered, one reads:“@SussexUni do you accept crazy tinfoilers based on diversity policies?”’.
In 2015, Church of England vicar Reverend Dr Stephen Sizer, who studied Geography at Sussex, shared the same WikiSpooks article promoting the conspiracy theory. His post came in the week following Holocaust Memorial Day. The Reverend was subsequently banned for six months by the Church of England from using social media to comment on the politics of the Middle East.
With regards to Professor Van der Pjil’s tweet, a spokesperson for the University told The Badger: “These are the personal views of our previous member of staff and he is not representing the views of the University in any way. The title of Emeritus Professor is automatically given to Professors who retire at the point of leaving the University and due consideration would need to be given to any change.”