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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Israeli ex-leader facing conviction cancels UF Accent visit

Now facing a bribery conviction, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert canceled his appearance for Accent Speaker’s Bureau next week.

On Monday, Olmert was convicted of receiving bribes during his time as mayor of Jerusalem.

Olmert was scheduled for an interview on April 9 with MSNBC foreign policy contributor Rula Jebreal at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Accent chairman Daniel Landesberg said the bureau was not given a reason for his cancellation. But if Olmert still wanted to speak at UF, even with his conviction, Accent would have allowed it.

“We strive to bring controversial speakers,” he said. “If he still wanted to come, we would have had him.”

Accent had not yet paid Olmert and Jebreal their combined $45,000 for the event.

The bribery conviction is not Olmert’s first time facing charges.

Olmert resigned as prime minister in 2009 after corruption charges were made in another case.

Rami Okasha, a 21-year-old UF electrical engineering junior, said that because of Olmert’s past, he was offended that Accent had decided to bring him to UF.

“I think it’s wrong,” said Okasha, president of Students for Justice in Palestine. “Why should they be giving a person like that the platform to speak, even if he was the prime minister?”

Accent does not have a speaker lined up to replace Olmert and Jebreal.

Amanda Tankel, a 21-year-old UF finance junior, said she is disappointed that the event was canceled.

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“I was really excited about it,” she said. “When I found out it was canceled, I jumped to the worst conclusion. If they were canceling it because of the protests against an Israeli official coming to speak, that’s where my issue would have lied.”

[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 4/1/2014 under the headline "Israeli ex-leader facing conviction cancels UF visit"]

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