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March 22, 2015 4:53 pm

University Facing Backlash for Conference Questioning Foundation of Israel

avatar by Chris Coffey

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The front of Avenue Campus, University of Southampton. Photo: Wikipedia.

A British university is under pressure for a conference next month that will question Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, in addition to the Jewish state’s right to exist under international law.

Organizers are calling the conference “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility, and Exceptionalism”, and plan to hold it at the University of Southampton (UK) from April 17-19th.  The conference will feature a host of anti-Israel lecturers and will specifically focus on the “the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature.” The conference also “aims to explore the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine,” and will examine the “ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians and associated injustices.”

The conference is being organized in part by Professor Oren Ben-Dor. According to The Telegraph “Ben-Dor is Israeli born and has written that Israel is an apartheid state and has been since its inception.” CounterPunch, a website which has been accused of antisemitism, published a piece in 2007 by the Southampton professor entitled “Why Israel Has ‘No Right to Exist’ as a Jewish State.”

As first reported in The Telegraph, thousands have called on the university to cancel the conference. Over 4,800 protesters have signed a petition at calling the conference a “Kangaroo court” in which “Israel is presumed guilty of the crime of existing, while no other state is being put on trial in this way.”

The petitioners also questioned the timing of the conference given recent attacks:

At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise throughout Europe, it is a disgrace that a respectable university would provide a platform to legitimise the idea that the Jewish homeland – of all the countries in the world – is somehow abnormal.

The dispute over the conference is also raising issues about the University of Southampton.

Organizers said in a statement that the event “does not imply support or endorsement by the University of any of the opinions to be expressed at the conference.”

Still, a partner in a London law firm told The Telegraph that he might think differently about hiring from the university:

This is a one-sided conference, not a debate and I would want to raise serious questions about what students at this university are being taught and what the university believes. If Southampton allows teaching which does not present both sides of a case it would raise doubts in my mind about the suitability of a candidate from its School of Law. I would not look so favourably on those CVs.

Among others attacking the conference is Member of Parliament Mark Hoban, who called it “provocative.” Vivian Wineman, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said he expects the university “to take all necessary steps to ensure it does not become a platform for extremists”.

According to The Times, Joachim Schlör, director of the Parkes Institute, a center for the study of Jewish history based at Southampton University, said: “A conference that singles out Israel and invites the questioning of its very existence cannot be supported by a group of academics dedicated to the study of Jewish history and culture.”

A blog called Free Speech Southampton is attempting to drum up support for the university. It issued a statement dated March 15th commending the university’s administration for its “resolute defense of academic freedom.” The site expressed its desire that the conference “go ahead as planned.” Over 750 people have expressed support for the blog statement.

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  • Gutta Schnapper

    The Hyksos were a race of parasites who enslaved Egypt. It took the Egyptians hundreds of years to regain their freedom and even then, after a battle, these shekel snatchers had to be bribed to leave. They made their new capital in Jerusalem.

  • RobiMac

    How do ya like that? Israel has traitors too. WOW!

    • Here in London most anti-Israel campaigns are led by Israelis or local Jews. Israel’s unwritten constitution was based on Britain, to wit a neutral head of state, who appoints a PM best able to form a Govt.,an official religion headed by two archbishops or chief rabbis, an independent judiciary, state aid for faith schools . . . Britain and British Jews have played a major role in building the State, and Brits are generally not against Israel. Few Brits, however, have time for Islamists trying to take o0ver the wo0rld

  • Tony Rice

    This makes me feel ashamed of Southampton University, the City I come from and still live half my time. To make it worse, the photo of the part of Southampton University , which is where presumably the debate will take place, was previously Taunton’s Grammar School, where I was taught. Far better days.

  • Why should Israel’s right to exist more in question than that of all other middle east nations? All of the borders were arbitrarily set by the French and English, only Israel’s was determined by GOD.

  • Monty Pogoda

    Ben Dor is a self hating Jew. By my standards I would put him on FREEZE in Siberia.

  • Hillary

    Many Israeli professional archeologists, searched ancient sites to prove that the Conquest of Canaan really happened but no proof has ever been found.
    Zero mention of the exodus, the conquest of Canaan or even King David has been found. They just total fiction.
    Israel appears for the first time in sound archeological findings in Assyrian inscriptions, which describe a coalition of local kingdoms which tried to stop the Assyrian advance into Syria. Among others, King Ahab of Israel is mentioned as the chief of a considerable military contingent. Ahab, who ruled today’s Samaria (in the north of the occupied West Bank) from 871 BC until 852 BC marked the beginning of the entry of Israel into proven history.
    Incredible as it sounds, four generations of devoted archeologists, with a burning convictions & huge resources, did NOT produce any evidence.

    As Professor Israel Israel Finkelstein the leading Israeli archaeologist explained in his book “The Bible Unearthed ” Judaism is based upon mythology.

    • King David lived about 3,000 years ago. How much archaeological evidence would you expect to find? I was with William Foxwell Albright in Johns Hopkins and he had a far more positive view of Biblical history. I assume you’ve read his major works.

  • Ben Lopez

    This university should be closed down and the proffessor fired from his job,he is not a christian american!!god will take care of this and protect the jews anyway.

    • Ben Lopez

      God will stand strong with isreial,ha!

  • Does the university have noting better to do? Before the dean proceeds he should visit Israel and then make his decision.

  • steve


  • How about the world ignoring the ill treatment of Jews and Christians in all these Arab
    countries. What terrible double standards.

  • ric b

    To be fair the university must speak about the right to exist of countries with state religons;i.e official Moslem countries as Saudi Arabia,Iran,Pakistan,Egypt, JordanIndonesia,plus others.England,where the monarch must be the head of the Church of England also should be a subject. China where atheism is preferred and houses of faith must be acknowledged to be tolerated also should be a subject.Russia that only tolerates historical faiths and not newer ones also should be a suject.All countries that murder gays and heretics(Iran,Saudi Arabia,Uganda? ect.)should be subjects.Israel has Christian,Moslem,gay and atheists as citizens. Does this university have judeophobia?

  • The publication of this book for the English-speaking world requires
    an introductory remark as dealing with Russia’s history and its
    connection with middle Europe – it touches in the main upon only one
    aspect of the European and American West. One could say that it is
    often a negative shadow or ‘double ‘ of the West that is shown in this
    book —- which, however, has also influenced the development of
    mankind in recent history.
    This circumstance does not alter the fact that the whole of the
    English – speaking West has the crucial task of leading the fifth
    cultural epoch, the period of the developing consciousness soul, which
    will run its course for another 1,500 years. It will therefore be of
    immense importance whether now and in the future the English –
    speaking part of humanity will use its time of spiritual leadership
    for helping all mankind to come to a new spirituality, or whether it
    will contribute to the possibility of a final fall into materialism.
    In other words, the central question is: Will the West promote a free
    development of human individuality or, alternatively, humanity’s
    entrapment in a dependent and manipulated state? The former
    possibility is the great task of the West for the whole of mankind.
    The second is a temptation of power which emerges from the ‘double’ of
    the true being of the English – speaking world, and which constitutes
    the biggest hindrance on the way to the realization of its true task.
    The parts of this book which deal with the present activity of this
    ‘double’ can help the western peoples to come to a recognition of it.
    Such recognition is in itself already the first step in the final
    overcoming of this disastrous, negative influence. To reiterate, the
    future of the whole of mankind depends on the extent to which this
    goal is realized.
    The Spiritual Origins of Eastern Europe
    and the Future Mysteries of
    The Holy Grail by Sergei O. Prokofieff

  • Adrian Korsner

    To hell with all of them. Hatred for the Jews trumps everything.
    The World’s concerns over terrorism resulting on Theresa Mays’s statement in the UK today seems to ignore her very words when they involve Israel. The fact that May can express the concerns she has and yet allow the Southampton conference to go ahead speaks volumes.
    Its the same free speech to accuse Israel of not being a valid state as it is to call Islam a religion of hate.
    One is OK, the other not.
    The world slowly gathers the dangers of Islamic terror and Iran’s bombs but can’t see that those are the very dangers that ‘The Canary In The Mine’ (Israel) is already in danger. Wake up world you may not like the results of your actions!

  • Simone

    The British public should be calling on the government to stop funding this university.

    Purely by association and the fact that it allows such an abhorrent meeting calling for a judenrein middle east, is no different than the Nazis working with their Arab allies during WW2 – the University of Southampton has endorsed this racist/anti-Semitic sentiment.

  • Essara Mario.

    Such conference is a shame, and the organizers a disgrace.

  • VictorMc

    Southampton, this is the same place that got an innocent family arrested and chased across Europe for taking their cancer sick child out of one of their filthy backward NHS hospitals for treatment in Czech republic. Apparently the child cured NOW. Any apologies from the rats? What’s with Southampton?

  • Per Ardua

    The UK’s right to exist is already challenged by the Scots.

  • The British have contributed a lot to the desperate situation in Israel today by their duplicity during their Mandate for Palestine 1920-1947. The Mandate was specifically “to facilitate the immigration and settlement of the land by the Jewish people.” Instead, the British made common cause with the Arabs, did everything in their power to impede Jewish immigration, let alone ‘settlement of the land’ by the Jewish people. They had to be driven out in ignominy by the courageous Irgun. But much damage had been done and continues to have its hateful effects. Not surprised by this University’s planned event.

  • The British, having contributed a lot to the desperate situation in Israel by their duplicity during their Mandate for Palestine 1920-1947. The Mandate was specifically “to facilitate the immigration and settlement of the land by the Jewish people.” Instead, the British made common cause with the Arabs, did everything in their power to impede Jewish immigration, let alone ‘settlement of the land’ by the Jewish people. They had to be driven out in ignominy by the courageous Irgun. But much damage had been done and continues to have its hateful effects. Not surprised by this University’s planned event.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    When does free speech and academic inquiry devolve in a mockery of free speech and academic inquiry? This is a perfect example.

  • dante

    at the end of the Second World War, there were tens of millions of refugees all over europe. ALL OF THOSE REFUGEES HAVE BEEN ASSIMILATED IN THE COUNTRIES IN WHICH THEY FOUND REFUGE.

    the Arabs decided that they could not tolerate Jewish self-determination in any form: they rejected the establishment of a Jewish state in the ancient Jewish patrimony (the Jewish Homeland thousands of years before the Arab conquest). there are over 20 Arab countries but a single small Jewish state in the Jewish Homeland was intolerable! the Arabs declared war and, as a result, somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 Arabs were displaced, some only by a few miles. a decision was, then, made by the Arab countries that the refugees would not be resettled but that they would be used in a campaign against the Jews. resettlement was regarded as treason.

    the resettlement, integration, and normalization that is taken for granted in europe (even across barriers of language, culture and religion) was unanimously rejected by the Arabs for what came to be known as the “Palestinian Arabs” (even though the Arab refugees were indistinguishable linguistically, culturally and religiously from the people with whom they settled).

    war was their choice.
    hatred was their choice.
    rejection of normalization was their choice.

    but, they blame the Jews. and, mirabile dictu, they have found allies in western universities. it is a sign of Western pathology. and, the use of a harsh and completely different set of standards to judge the Jews is, by definition, anti-Jewish. a further symptom of the pathology of the West is the eager adoption of anti-Semitism. one should not expect any insight, much less, shock or revulsion, at Southampton. on the contrary, one can anticipate the expression of support for open calls for genocide and jihad.

    a final note: any moron who slanders Israel as a racist or apartheid regime or worse, displays such profound ignorance of Israel, ignorance of racism, ignorance of apartheid, and ignorance of history, that the slander can only be the product of stupidity and hate.

  • steven L

    It is amazing that none of these IDIOTS (EU & US) EVER question the creation of the other states born from the liquidation of the Ottoman empire. That in itself stands for ANTISEMITISM.

  • steven L

    The authorities who have allowed and supported this farce to go on should be punished for promoting and supporting antisemitism.


      Do not cancel the conference. Move its venue to the toilet
      of the university. The material and the lecturers and the public will find the location entirely adequate.

  • This is beyond disgusting. This University should be shut down until they have a new faculty devoid of anti-Semitism.

  • Cynthia

    The rivalry between Israel (Jacob) and Ishmael the tribes known as Muslim, is centuries old. Gods birthright promise to Abraham, flows through the son’s of Jacob renamed Israel. Her people in the region have a claim that is older than any of the modern Arab states. GOD put Israel over the whole of the region the British after WW1 called Palestine, way before the Palestinian people were ever recognized. Turkey, Jordan, Sainai and parts of the northern region of the Arab Peninsula were given to the 12 count them TWELVE sons of Jacob. The palestinian’s or so-called palestinian’s were and still are nomadic people, they never EVER had a homeland in the history of this planet. Only in the last 50 years have they had supporters of a nation or state. Jordan kicked them out, and surely doesn’t want them back, so they go after the small state of Israel because of eons old hate that never seems to go away. Israel is currently made up of the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, there are 10 others tribes which have been identified as those who migrated north (read Josephus’s account in the History of the Jews). There are several maps which show the original lands that GOD gave to Israel, and no one will take them away from the people of GOD unless GOD lets them. This may happen with the advent of the prophecy’s outlined in the Book of Revelation. The so-called “Lost” 10 tribes were never lost, the Jerusalem church under James knew where they were. With their migration north, they settle in much of Europe, and then in the USA when the people began to settle here. The history is very easy to find, and is substantively upheld by Archeology and science in every discipiline. These symposiums only serve to spread more Hate into this world, and all the Israeli people want to do is to live in Peace. Selah

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    It is really a kangaroo trial against the only Democratic nation in the Middle East. What a farce and that Professor Oren Ben-Dor is another addition to the thousands of self hating Jews. Shame on him. He make me sick.

  • art

    Follow the money. Who is financing these so called professors? Who is sponsoring the conferences? Once again the world is questioning the right of Jews to live

  • mistinguette

    The disgrace of British imperialistic anti-Semitism ought not, in 2015, be getting a pass. this university is unworthy of the nomenclature of university. It ought instead to be renamed Toilet of Southampton. They have the right to transport themselves to the wonderful precincts of palestinian arabs and their lovely murderous kinfolk making a rubbled ruin of the Middle East. Anti-Semitism seems the only bias that gets the endorsement of otherwise pantywaist cowards who kowtow to the stupid, the underachieving, the monstrous, the terror inflected.

    Shame on them. May the monies fleeing from their coffers find its way to decent institutions worthy of the term education.

  • Hill

    Ben Dor must be a descendant of one of the Capo that escaped death at the Nazi death camps. I hope they get him and his seed this time. Academic? Of what exactly. All these so called academics write papers for each other, coauthor each other’s papers, view and sight each other’s papers and that is how they raise their credibility. After all that schmock Abbas has a doctorate too, one of the architects of the Munich massacre in 1972. He has a doctorate and has written acclaimed papers and books. Go figure. It is about time people woke up to who these so called experts really are.