Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2015
UK Zionists plot to force Southampton University to cancel conference on Israel and international law
By Nureddin Sabir, Editor,
Redress Information & Analysis
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 17, 2015
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,
The conference, the university continues in a posting on its website,
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:
World academics rally around Southampton University’s right to hold conference on Israel and international law
Attempts by Britain’s Zionist lobby to bully the University of Southampton into cancelling a ground-breaking conference on Israel and international law has backfired, with over 250 academics from the world over signing a petition expressing their “principled and full support” for the university’s “commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate”.
Professors, lecturers and researchers from the UK, Europe, North America and beyond have expressed their “principled and full support for the University of Southampton’s commitment to freedom of speech and scholarly debate”.
For the full statement of support, and a list of the signatories, click here.
Recently, the University of Southampton has come under intense pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists to cancel a conference on Israel and international law, set for 17-19 April, on the grounds that to subject Israel to academic scrutiny is “to surpass the acceptable”.
The lobbyists 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. Last week they were joined by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles and other Israel stooges from the UK parliament.
The support of world academics for the University of Southampton’s right to free speech should come as a boost to the head of the university’s Law School, Hazel Biggs, who has refused to buckle to the Zionist lobbyists’ bullying.
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