Southampton University ‘reviewing position’ over Israel conference, says Board leaders


University of Southampton is said to be reviewing its position on a conference on Israel delegitimisation following a meeting with the Board of Deputies.

Board president Vivian Wineman and vice-president Jonathan Arkush went to Southampton on Wednesday to meet the university vice chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam to discuss the conference “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism” which is due to take place next month.

Mr Wineman said: "We put forward very strong concerns. The conference is formulated in extremist terms, has attracted toxic speakers and is likely to result in an increase in antisemitism and tension on campus.

“The university is reviewing its position and is considering all the options open to it."

According to research by the Fair Play Campaign Group, the vast majority of speakers are known anti-Israel activists. Richard Falk, the former United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, is due to speak at the event, as are anti-Zionist Israeli academic Ilan Pappe and Palestinian activist Ghada Karmi.

Mr Arkush said: “The meeting was extremely friendly. We were listened to with great care.

“If you are a body hosting an event like this you have to take into account scenes such as we saw on the streets of London during last summer's conflict in Gaza and consider very carefully whether they might be replicated on campus.”

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