Controversial anti-Israel conference launches with keynote speech from Richard Falk

Gathering of academics in Cork, Ireland will challenge Israel's right to exist


Organisers of a conference questioning the right of Israel to exist have defended a speaker repeatedly accused of dabbling in antisemitism.

Richard Falk will today deliver the keynote speech at the event in Cork, Ireland.

The American academic has sparked fury among Jewish organisations for  backing a book by antisemitic author Gilad Atzmon and once posting an anti-Jewish cartoon on social media.He has also written a UN report which attempted to brand Israel an apartheid state.

Last week, speaking events featuring Mr Falk were cancelled by two UK universities.

But a spokesperson for the Cork conference last night claimed Mr Falk, who was himself born Jewish, represented  "the diversity of opinion among Jews towards Zionism and Israel".

Mr Falk is one of 40 speakers appearing at the three-day conference which is titled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” and was originally scheduled for Southampton University in 2015.

The only pro-Israeli voice will be former JC columnist Geoffrey Alderman. 

The event spokesperson added: "Like Prof Falk, Prof Alderman is a non-Israeli Jew and their differing perspectives is not widely reported and which this conference will highlight."

But Barry Williams of pro-Zionist pressure group Irish4Israel told the JC: "Richard Falk's extremist comments once again show this conference has nothing to do with peace or promoting a greater understanding of the conflict.

" Instead, it is a one-sided echo chamber of academics who will cheer each other's hate."

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