Ireland / 19-03-2017
University in warning to organisers of anti-Israel conference
A top Irish university has warned the organisers of a three-day conference debating the right of Israel to exist about claiming the event has the backing of the academic institution.
Officials at University College Cork intervened after promotional material for the International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility event continued to use wording and imagery connected to the college.
The controversial event, which takes place on March 31 – April 1, will take place at Cork City Hall on its first two days – while a third will see organisers rent a venue on the UCC campus.
Last month the JC reported how UCC managers were left fuming when event organisers, who include Professor James Bowen, the chair of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair and head of the UCC computer department, advertised the three days as taking place at the university, without gaining health and safety approval in advance.
No fewer than five of the conference organising committee are professors at UCC, but the university authorities confirmed last month that “ it is not a university-sponsored or promoted event”.
On Monday a UCC spokeswoman confirmed they had asked organisers to correct promotional material over “an incorrect reference to the conference taking place in UCC whereas the situation is as we know that the first two days will be in City Hall and the final day in UCC. “
The original conference was cancelled by the University of Southampton in 2015, and delayed by Cork earlier this year, after Jewish leaders and MPs including former Conservative chief whip Michael Gove called it a “Israel hate-fest”.
Others speakers include anti-Zionist historian Ilan Pappe and Professor Oren Ben-Dor from the University of Southampton.
The Israeli embassy in Ireland yesterday issued a further condemnation of the event.
A statement to the JC said:” The Embassy of Israel is dismayed that a platform is being provided by Cork City Council and UCC to individuals who question the very existence of the State of Israel.
"Israel is and has always been making continuous efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, based on the principles of two states for two peoples.
"We are saddened that Cork City Council and Cork institutions, rather than choosing to engage and support activities which promote cooperation and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, prefer to support conferences such as this, which only preserve the conflict and deepen the rift between people.“