Irish university cancels conference on Israel

A university on southern Ireland has decided to prevent an academic conference debating the legitimacy of the state of Israel from taking place at the end of March and has advised the organisers that they have to come up with special security plans if they want the university to host it at another date.

The conference entitled International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, was scheduled to take place at University College Cork (UCC) from March 31st to April 2nd, featuring speakers on various sides of the debate.

But UCC’s University Management Team, which is charged with management of operations at the university, decided at a meeting earlier this week not to allow individual academics working in UCC host the conference, citing that the conference is due to take place during term time.

“The conference is not permitted to proceed on the dates proposed which are in term,” said the University Management Team, adding the proposed venue, the Western Gateway Building will be in use at the time and hosting a conference there then would cause disruption for students and staff.

In its statement, the University Management Team expressed “disappointment and concern” that it first learned of plans to hold the conference in UCC through discussion on social media rather than from any formal request or correspondence to UCC from the organisers.

An Irish based pro-Israel group, Irish4Israel, welcomed UCC’s decision to cancel the conference in March, alleging that the conference would not be balanced and would be “only one step above an Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally with a few academic degrees thrown in.”

“Since being made aware of this conference, Irish4Israel ….. has called for a balanced debate. With 47 visiting speakers, some 45 were hostile to Israel and two were pro-Israel. So extreme was this conference, it was even endorsed by the far right extremist website ‘Aryan Street’.”

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