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University plans conference on academic boycott of Israel

Pro-boycott organisers behind event at Trinity College Dublin say it will not 'debate the pros and cons' of BDS

    Trinity College Dublin
    Trinity College Dublin

    Trinity College Dublin is to stage a conference discussing the academic boycott of Israel - organised by three pro-boycott academics.

    The event – entitled Freedom of Speech and Higher Education: The case of the academic boycott of Israel – is due to take place in the Irish capital on September 12.

    Already enlisted as a keynote speaker is Steven Salaita, the former Illinois University lecturer who once claimed Zionism had made antisemitism “honourable”.

    The organisers say the event will examine questions of freedom of speech with reference to the boycott, without debating the “pros and cons” surrounding it.

    The conference organisers are Dr David Landy, of Trinity College Dublin’s sociology department; Dr Ronit Lentin, a former Trinity professor; and Dr Conor McCarthy, of the National University of Ireland, in Maynooth, County Kildare.

    All three are members of the pro-boycott group Academics for Palestine and signatories to an AFP pledge to boycott Israel.

    Last week Trinity’s students’ union voted against a college-wide boycott of Israel by a “significant majority”.

    But a spokeswoman for Trinity said any decision on a boycott of Israel would be made by the board of the university rather than the students’ union.

    Trinity College has traditionally had strong links with Israel and Judaism.

    A professorship of Hebrew was created as far back as 1658, and today Trinity is the only university in Ireland to offer research and courses in Jewish studies, through the Herzog Centre for the study of Jewish and Near Eastern Religions.

    The Herzog Centre is named for Yitzhak Herzog, chief rabbi of Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s, and for his son, Chaim Herzog, who was educated in Dublin and became president of Israel in 1983.

    In February a campus talk by Ze’ev Boker, Israeli ambassador to Ireland, was cancelled after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied Trinity’s arts block.

    This article has been amended

     

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