Cork University to host 'anti-Israel hate-fest'

At the end of March this year University College Cork will host a three day conference which is scheduled to include a discussion on whether Israel has any right to exist


An anti-Israel conference cancelled by Southampton University following furious protests from the Jewish community is now set to go ahead on a different campus - in Ireland.

University College Cork will now host the three day conference, which includes discussions on the very right of Israel to exist, between March 31 and April 2.

Two years ago, the Board of Deputies and MPs including Michael Gove and Eric Pickles were among those to condemn the original plan to stage the conference at Southampton University in March 2015. Mr Gove described it as an “anti-Israel hate fest.”

Following widespread opposition to the event from Jewish organisations including a Zionist Federation petition containing 6,400 signatures, Southampton University announced they were postponing the event due to "safety concerns."

Southampton University rejected a second attempt to hold the conference, which is titled "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism," on their campus last year. But now organisers, including University of Southampton Professor Oren Ben-Dor and Professor Suleimann Sharkh, have expressed “excitement” that the event will now go ahead in the Republic of Ireland

UCC professor James Bowen praised the decision to host the event in Cork saying “academic freedom is still fairly well protected, unlike in the UK, where it seems to have come to be regarded as a disposable luxury”.

The line-up for the Cork event is believed to feature many of the speakers who had originally been scheduled to appear in Southampton.

One confirmed participant is University of Buckingham Professor Geoffrey Alderman who said that he was “very pleased the conference is going ahead, very sorry it is not going ahead in the UK”.

Although a committed Zionist who has “come under enormous [Jewish] communal pressure to pull out of this conference”, he is delighted to be delivering a paper titled “Jews, Judaism and the Jewish state: ethnic rights and international wrongs”.

In 2015, Jewish and pro-Israel groups in the UK were said to have put “political pressure” on conference organisers who called the attacks on the event an attack on free speech.

In a statement the organising committee, who include five academics from University College Cork, said:”Recent developments in some countries – particularly in the US and the UK – have evidenced an chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy.

“The history of this conference reflects these developments. Originally it was planned to hold the conference at the University of Southampton, but growing pressure on academic freedom in the UK forced a decision to move the conference to Ireland.”











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