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April 3, 2015 4:03 pm

Bittersweet Reception to Cancelation of Anti-Israel Hatefest at Southampton University

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The front of Avenue Campus, University of Southampton. The school canceled a conference questioning Israel's legitimacy. Photo: Wikipedia.

The UK’s Southampton University faced continued criticism on Thursday after it canceled an anti-Israel conference aimed at questioning Israel’s legitimacy.

Southampton University’s statement is an embarrassment on all counts,” NGO Monitor Executive Director Gerald Steinberg told The Algemeiner on Thursday. “These officials should have denounced the event in terms of its substance — a pseudo-academic conference to promote hate against Israel and the Jewish people.

“Instead of acknowledging the damage to the university’s image and donor income, they invented a threat of violence from protesters, which is patently false and demeaning.”

Southampton University was scheduled to hold the conference on April 17-19 entitled, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism.” According to its official description, the event concerned Israel’s right to exist and would have focused on “exploring themes of Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism; all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.”

After receiving sustained backlash regarding the conference’s subject matter, Southampton University released a statement on Thursday saying they were “obligated” to cancel the event “because of risks to safety and public order at and near the conference.”

Like Steinberg, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, also believes the university’s administration should have spoken up against the conference in addition to canceling it.

“Of course it would’ve been a lot better if the head of the university said we’re not in business to sit down and have discussions about the disappearance off the face of the earth of democracies,” he told The Algemeiner. “The academic bigots who hate Israel and hate the Jewish state will have to go shop their wares somewhere else, and they will.”

Cooper said the initial scheduling of the event shows how far anti-Israel supporters have come in their efforts to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. He said enemies of Israel who cannot and have not won in direct battle on the merits of their arguments are instead “pushing forward in the asymmetrical war on campuses, universities, churches and other international venues.”

“This is a very, very, very important defeat – not so much a victory for us,” he said about the event’s cancelation, “but a defeat of those who are trying to literally set the stage for the destruction and disappearance of the Jewish state. Nobody should be patting themselves on the back. It’s a wake up call and a reminder to everyone going into Pesach that these kinds of attacks will continue.”

In its statement, Southampton University said it was impressed by the “commitment” of event organizers to include a “broad spectrum of views,” a claim which Steinberg believes is “clearly absurd.” He said that events like this one often “exploit the language of ‘international law'” and most of the speakers are “radical ideologues affiliated with fringe NGOs — the modern political equivalent of alchemists claiming to convert lead into gold.”

The event’s organizers included Southampton University professor Oren Ben-Dor, whom Cooper described as “an Israeli who wants to see the end of Israel, or a former Israeli.” Cooper said further that he was outraged by the university’s praise for people who have the “chutzpah” to promote the discussion of a nation’s disappearance. He said the notion that they would praise anyone involved with “such a hateful despicable undertaking is disappointing to say the least.”

“Are they going to praise the Al-Shabaab terrorists today who are fully committed when they murdered 147 Christian students in Kenya, asking them first if they were Christian or Muslim?” Cooper asked. “Will the head of the university also praise them for their commitment? The Nazis were committed, Al-Qaida is committed, Al-Shabaab is committed. They’re all committed to their views. If you can’t take a basic moral stand of where the red line is drawn you have got a problem.”

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  • Jack

    The only exceptional-ism shown concerning Israel and the Palestinian dilemma is that shown by Israeli’s, who upon their return to their homeland did not exterminate the Palestinians, as Hamas would do to Israeli`s, as the PLO would do to Israeli`s.
    While the Old Testament does incite `an eye for an eye`, it would be a sin against God to apply it literally.
    Those fundanMENTALists who insist on this behavior will become subject to criminal sanctions.
    So will the P.A.
    They hope to use the ICC against the victims.
    The ICC will be used against criminals.

  • terence patrick hewett

    As an alumnus of the University of Southampton, amongst other asylums, I shall make an attempt to inject some sanity into the discussion.

    It seems to me there is an imperfect idea abroad as to how universities function. These institutions are comprised of Faculties with a great deal of independence of action, overseen by the University Council, Court and Senate which are concerned with executive overall planning and management. In other words part of their remit would be to sanction (or otherwise) the alleged naughtiness in question.

    At this point it would be apposite to note that the University has an historic Jewish legacy in that the President 1910-1934 was the religious thinker Claude Montefiore; the great nephew of Sir Moses Montefiore the philanthropist and humanitarian. It is also home to the Parkes Institute (a unique centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations across the ages and are a community of scholars, archivists, librarians, students, and activists) The Institute is based on the Special Collection of the Parkes Library (the Parkes Library deals with Anti-Semitism: Parkes began collecting books whilst working for the International Student Service in Europe during the 1930s. On his return to Britain in 1935, following an attempt on his life by the Nazis, he made the collection available to other scholars) It consists of some 28,000 books and journals, published from the 15th century to the present day. Also the Survey of Jewish Archives concerning Jewish Genealogy, Refugees in the Twentieth Century, Holocaust and War Crimes. The University is also home to the Wellington Papers, Mountbatten Papers and Palmerston Papers.

    The alleged naughtiness in question appears to emanate from the Faculty of Law and I have observed that law faculties cover a multitude of sins and sinners of both the studential and academic varieties. For instance: one Albie Sachs, ex-terrorist and Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa taught in the Southampton Law Faculty in the 1970s: so one should not be surprised at this sort of stuff emerging from that quarter.

    When I was at Southampton I observed the activities of some members of the Islamic Society with interest:

    Posted by myself on the Spectator website in 2003 and 2009 in a similar discussions:

    “Nine years ago I did my second science degree at a Russell Group university. One night the university Islamic Society filled the campus with posters of such revolting anti-Semitic content they would have been at home in the Munich of the 1930’s and I spent the next morning stripping them off the walls of the campus. The situation seems to have got worse.” That university was Southampton.

    After that episode the minutes of the both the Jewish Society and the Islamic Society vanished from the Student Union notice-board never to return: I concluded that the innocent as well as the very-much-guilty were being punished in the name of a bit of peace and quiet.

    Southampton University is primarily a scientific and research institution and many in the sciences look with a very jaundiced eye on these activities

    The attitude of those engaged in the sciences seems to be typified by a post by correspondent “JN” on the website “Spittoon” on March 11th 2011 in response to the announcement that Moazzam Begg was to give a lecture on Jihadi Terrorism at Southampton Islamic Society:

    “As a member of the university I’m shocked they put on this kind of event. Surely the Islamic Society should be trying to distance themselves from terrorists – apparently not. Anyone who knows the facts knows he did train as a terrorist. If this was the other way around there would be no way someone with the opposite view would be allowed to put a talk on. I’m surprised he’s even let into the Physics building given the funding for several projects coming from the MOD.”
    The outgoing Vice Chancellor as Executive Officer does need to answer some questions as do many other VCs of other universities concerning the activities of their respective Islamic Societies; since I believe you cannot fit a cigarette paper between the lot of them. Some members of the Southampton University Islamic Society have got a great deal of previous form.


    Anjem Choudary was chucked out of Southampton University because he could not hack his 1st year medical exams and became – yes you’ve guessed it – a lawyer and it seems he was not much good at that either: he was removed from the roll of solicitors in 2002.
    Although Southampton University, in its various manifestations, is only 153 years old and cannot yet rival the much older Oxbridge list of traitors and criminals: it is trying it’s best to catch up!

    • Israel Israel

      Excellent comment. Very instructive.

    • babs

      So Anjem Choudry went to South Hampton and became a lawyer and the British gov’t deems him unemployable and on benefits? I have seen him on many TV appearances and videos at protests. Why is he deemed unemployable?

  • E Pluribus Wombat

    Every single member of the staff and every single enrolled student needs to be barred from entry to Israel for life.

  • It is about time that one university holds up for what is the right thing to do. We all need to realize and enforce that Schools and all learning institutions are to learn to be more productive citizens not hate mangers. It is a small planet ind we all need to find ways to get along and live in peace.

  • steven L

    Israel failure to claim her rights to J & S shows extreme weakness. And the world therefore believes that it can undermine Israel. The Muslims have rejected the gesture from Ben Gurion. It is high time to withdraw this gesture and annexe what is hers.
    IL keeps repeating that the area is very tough but does not show conviction,power or fortitude. This give courage to the enemy. And they are legions in the West, the ME and Africa.

  • steven L

    An embarrassment to democracy; a testimony to the extend of European bigotry, STUPIDITY. and antisemitism!

    • American

      The real Semites are the Palestinians, dolt. 🙂

  • The principal argument for the elimination of Israel is that it is a colonial settler state. So why isn’t elimination of the U.S. and several dozen other colonial settler states on the world agenda?