Southampton University wimps buckle under Zionist pressure to kill ground-breaking conference
Stuart Littlewood writes:
In an earlier article, “How to deal with Israel’s stooges: Don’t argue, don’t engage, just ignore”, I pointed to the case of the University of Southampton, where the Board of Deputies of British Jews has been leading attempts to bully it into cancelling a ground-breaking academic conference on international law and the state of Israel. And a very sad case it turns out to be.
The organisers – the Southampton Law School – say they’ve been told the health and safety risk posed by likely demonstrations is too great.
In a statement published on the internet, the conference organisers rejected the university’s excuses, saying:
The university claims that it does not have enough resources to mitigate the risks despite a clear statement from the police confirming that they are able to deal with the protest and ensure the security of the event. As the law stands, the university is legally obliged to uphold freedom of speech… the requirement of minimising risk should also fall onto the police as the agency that is entrusted with the enforcement of the law (freedom of speech) and the provision of security… It is very clear from the police’s report that they are more than capable of policing the conference and ensuring the safety of university staff, speakers, delegates, students and property.
So the advice, “Don’t argue, don’t engage, just ignore” didn’t sink in. The fools let the whiners in the door and handed them an important victory in the Zionists’ desperate campaign to silence any serious debate on Israel. The organisers say they are seeking legal emergency measures to prevent the university from cancelling and persuade it to properly collaborate with the police so that the anticipated demonstrations can be managed.
The Guardian reported that among those who condemned the conference were the Board of Deputies of British Jews and MPs, including Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, and Caroline Noakes, MP for Romsey and Southampton. The Zionist Federation UK arranged a petition with more than 6,400 signatures opposing the event. A counter-petition, signed by more than 800 academics, urged Southampton to resist the pressure.
The Board of Deputies complained that the conference lacked balance and focused on “delegitimising the state of Israel”. Their president, Vivian Wineman, claimed: “It is formulated in extremist terms, has attracted toxic speakers and is likely to result in an increase in anti-Semitism and tension on campus.”
Jewish News said the conference was being organised by Israel-born Professor Oren Ben-Dor, who had previously called Israel an “arrogant self-righteous Zionist entity”. Among the listed speakers was the Princeton University professor and former UN special rapporteur, Richard Falk, who has faced condemnation over his comments on the Middle East, including his suggestion in 2013 that Israel had “genocidal” intentions” towards the Palestinians.
Well-known British journalist Ben White has started another petition urging the university to allow the conference to proceed as planned.
“There is ample time for any concerns regarding the safety and security of university staff, students and conference participants to be met. The university must fulfil its legal obligation to protect free speech and academic discussion,” it says.
The conference was scheduled for 17-19 April.
Under the spotlight is the vice-chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, who has announced he’ll soon retire. Nutbeam is an academic fat-cat with a package of GBP 333,000 a year. The organisers complain that they’ve been unable to meet with him to consult on the organising of the conference, and to invite him to open it.
“On the other hand, the vice-chancellor has met with pro-Israel representatives without ever calling us to attend meetings and we, as professors in the University, feel disempowered and marginalised by this disrespectful behaviour.”