The Academic Friends of Israel
Please sign the petition opposing the 'Antisemitic' Israel conference at Southampton University
Southampton University, one of 24 members of the British Russell Group of Institutions which have distinguished themselves as research-led universities of international quality is to hold a conference on the 17-19 April 2015 questioning both the legal and moral right of the state of Israel to exist.
The conference "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy,Responsibility and Exceptionalism" is described by the organisers as “the first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event ... it is unique because it concerns the legitimacy in international law of the Jewish State of Israel.”
The event will be addressed by over 80 academics from Universities around the world, including the USA, Britain, Australia and Israel. The organisers, who include Southampton law professor Oren Ben-Dor and George Bisharat, professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law; have said that the conference will “engage controversial questions concerning the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature, including ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians and associated injustices.” Ben-Dor and Bisharat have committed themselves in the past to the delegitimisation of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian State.
The majority of speakers at this one-sided conference support a boycott of Israel include Richard Falk, the former United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and anti-Zionist Israeli academic Ilan Pappe.
Criticising Israeli policies is acceptable in debate, but denying its right to exist veers into Antisemitism. As French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared: “Antisemitism, this old European disease…hides itself behind a fake anti-Zionism.” It discriminates against the Jewish people, denying them the right to self-determination which is enshrined in international law. Such historic prejudice lies behind much BDS activity.
In deference to the principle of freedom of speech, The Academic Friends of Israel are not calling for cancellation of the conference. Nor are we calling for a more balanced program. Such bigotry cannot be balanced.
Please sign our petition which calls on the University of Southampton to distance itself from the upcoming conference by removing it from campus, in order to avoid giving the event credibility and official approval to bigotry and Antisemitism.