A model solution

September 16, 2015 19:56

So-called academic conferences on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have been a constant thorn in the side of our community.

They are not only an affront to us by questioning the legitimacy of Israel but they have also sought to undermine the position of our community by “weaponising” academic discourse to advance a political cause.

When the Jewish Leadership Council heard of the conference on “Settler Colonialism in Palestine and Workshop on the Naqab Bedouin” we felt the title and content was morally unacceptable.

It is vital that students feel there is a safe space for them to support Israel. Here, the call for papers was so narrow and timed in a way that it was clear that the organisers did not want to receive any that contradicted the conference.

We must recognise that it is not for us to interfere with academic freedom. By having constructive and respectful talks with Exeter University and Universities UK, the JLC has created a model for positive discussion between our community and universities across the UK.

It means that, if there are such conferences in the future, the university concerned and the JLC can work together to find a solution. We will aim to create a safe space for opposing views, those that support the State of Israel, to be heard in academic debate.

I pay tribute to Sir Steve Smith, the Exeter vice-chancellor and his leadership team, for recognising this as a charged issue and for working with us. We hope that by creating conditions for a fair exchange of views we will have created a lasting legacy.

September 16, 2015 19:56

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive