Learned debate? It’s no more than a hate-fest

I note with considerable dismay and concern that a conference, which was essentially rejected by the University of Southampton, almost two years ago, now appears to have found a home in Cork.

January 06, 2017 14:20

The explicit intention of the conference is to advocate for the destruction of a member state of the United Nations — the state of Israel. We are entitled to ask why the organisers reserve their hostility solely towards the world’s only Jewish state. .

Given that the aim of the conference is self-evident from the title and and given that the overwhelming number of speakers will be speaking in support of this aim, then the conference is by no means a genuine search for academic truth. In reality this is no more than an anti-Israel hate-fest dressed up as academic discussion.

The stated aims of the conference directly contravene Irish government policy. Ireland is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organisation which in March adopted an important definition of antisemitism. The definition categorises the demonisation of Israel as antisemitic. Only last month the British government adopted the definition for internal purposes and other governments are expected to follow.

Experience has shown that where a narrative aimed at the destruction of the Jewish state is allowed to flourish, antisemitism follows. One only has to look at recent events in the British Labour Party.

I am in touch with the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, which will be making representations to the authorities at University College Cork and the Irish Government.

I urge them to reach the same conclusion as the University of Southampton and decide that this spurious event has no place at any self-respecting university.

Jonathan Arkush is president of the Board of Deputies

January 06, 2017 14:20

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