Jews who oppose this event are misguided

In 2014 I answered a call for academics to present papers at a conference then being organised at the University of Southampton, on the theme International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism.

January 06, 2017 14:20

As luck would have it I already had some material prepared that seemed to me ideally suited. So I contacted the conference organisers and was pleased that my proposal — to address the conference on the subject of “Jews, Judaism and the Jewish State: Ethnic Rights and International Wrongs” — was accepted.

The conference was due to be held in April 2015. But it never took place. A loose alliance of well-meaning but thoroughly misguided and ignorant British Jews — dismissive of the concept of academic freedom, which they clearly did not understand — lobbied hard and even threatened to demonstrate. The weak senior management at Southampton University took fright, and reportedly insisted that the conference organisers pay almost £25,000 for the security that was now deemed necessary.

This was an outrageous demand, which the organisers could not possibly meet. The conference, now much postponed, will still take place, but in the Irish Republic. And it is there, at University College Cork, that I will deliver my paper arguing that under international law — and whatever Theresa May and Boris Johnson (not to mention Barack Obama and the UN Security Council) may think — Jews are in principle entitled to settle in any part of the geographical area of Mandate Palestine west of the Jordan River.

I don’t need to be told that the overwhelming majority of participants in the conference are hostile to the Jewish state and even dismissive of the Jewish right to national self-determination in the Jewish homeland. These facts makes it all the more important that an alternative voice is heard.

Geoffrey Alderman is a historian 
and author

January 06, 2017 14:20

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