UK Zionists plot to force Southampton University to cancel conference on Israel and international law

University of Southampton

Nureddin Sabir, Editor, Redress Information & Analysis, writes:

Britain’s top Zionist lobbyists have launched a campaign to exempt criticism of Israel from the right to free speech.

The lobbyists, who include the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Union of Jewish Students and the UK’s Zionist ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, are angry at plans by the University of Southampton to hold a conference on Israel and international law.

According to the university, the conference, the brainchild of Israel-born Oren Ben-Dor, Professor of Law and Philosophy at Southampton,

will be the first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine. It is unique because it concerns the legitimacy in international law of the Jewish state of Israel. Rather than focusing on Israeli actions in the 1967 occupied territories, the conference will focus on exploring themes of legitimacy, responsibility and exceptionalism, all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.

The conference, the university continues in a posting on its website,

aims to explore the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine to the foundation and protection of a state of such nature and asks what role international law should play in the situation. It will take place over a whole weekend and will involve leading thinkers: scholars from law, politics, philosophy, theology, anthropology, cultural studies history and other connected disciplines.

Key speakers and various panels will diagnose the legal position with regard to the nature of Israel thus enabling a much needed platform for scholarly debate and disagreement.

Scholarly debate about Israel, however, is out of the bounds of freedom of speech, including academic freedom, according to the Israel lobbyists, who say that to subject Israel to such academic scrutiny is “to surpass the acceptable”, the right wing Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, reports. They accused the conference organisers of seeking to “blacken, demonise and delegitimise” the Zionist state, which continues to defy international law and stands accused of grave war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Zionist lobbyists have resorted to familiar bullying tactics to force the University of Southampton to ban the conference.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Southampton’s refusal to give in to Zionist pressure “was cited at a private meeting held last month between top [Jewish] communal leaders and four vice-chancellors from Universities UK”, an umbrella group representing all UK university heads.

It said that the “Jewish representatives”, who included ambassador Gould, “tried to frame a debate as to where the line is crossed between freedom of speech and discourse which affects Jewish academics and students on UK campuses”.

By framing the issue in this way, the “Jewish representatives” deliberately conflated the interests of British citizens of the Jewish faith with those of the state of Israel – a common ruse used by Israeli hasbara, or propaganda, agents to silence criticism of Israel.

At the time of writing, the head of the University of Southampton’s Law School, Hazel Biggs, has refused to buckle to the Zionist lobbyists’ bullying. Whether or not she can remain steadfast until the conference takes place on 17-19 April is an open question, especially since the Zionist campaign has now been joined in by several Israeli stooges from the UK parliament.

Gilad Atzmon adds:

While Britain’s Jewish lobby is doing its utmost to prevent the academic conference from taking place, what is far more embarrassing is the deafening silence of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

In spite of the fact that the conference is ground breaking in terms of the academic treatment of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, the PSC is yet to offer any public support to the University of Southampton or the conference organisers.

That the PSC has become an impotent, Zionised body is not exactly hot news. However, the current silence may well suggest that we are actually dealing with a controlled opposition apparatus.

I would be delighted to be proven wrong. I would expect the PSC and its director, Sarah Colborne, to immediately denounce the Zionist campaign against the planned conference at Southampton. Failing to do so would suggest that the PSC has very little to offer the Palestinian people and their cause.

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