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January 22, 2017 8:44 am

Amid ‘Security’ Concerns, Irish University Postpones Conference Exploring Legality of Jewish State

avatar by Lea Speyer

University College Cork campus. Photo: UCC.

University College Cork campus. Photo: UCC.

A conference exploring the legality of the state of Israel is being postponed by the Irish university at which it was scheduled to be held in March, on the grounds that its controversial nature could be disruptive to both students and faculty.

University College Cork’s (UCC) University Management Team (UMT) said in a statement that “security infrastructure and staffing is inadequate to deal with the management of security of the event” — titled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” — which has the potential to spark protests.

UCC officials said, however, that they would be willing to reschedule the conference, if certain conditions were met by its organizers. These include a “revised date…which is out of term and not clashing with University examinations,” and funding of any “additional…security costs.”  

UMT expressed “disappointment and concern” that it first learned of the conference through “public discourse and social media and not in a formal request for approval or correspondence directly with the University.”

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UCC also distanced itself from the conference by saying that it is “not…University-sponsored or promoted,” but rather hosted by “a number of academic staff.”

Israel advocacy group Irish4Israel welcomed UCC’s decision, while expressing “disappoint[ment that the school] has only acknowledged security concerns, but has not sought greater balance for the conference if it is to be rescheduled.”

As The Algemeiner reported, “International Law and the State of Israel” greatly aroused the ire of Irish Jewish and pro-Israel groups, which sharply criticized UCC’s decision to host the event.

A representative from the Israeli Embassy in Ireland called that the conference “incompatible with the values of democracy and…academic discussion.”

Organizers are “promoting an unbalanced agenda within academic institutions that seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel,” the embassy representative said, adding, “The prejudiced approach of such activists serves only to propagate hatred of the state and its people.”

According to conference organizers, the program aims, in part, to “generate a debate on legitimacy, exceptionalism and responsibility under international law as provoked by the nature of the Israeli state.” The event was originally scheduled to take place last year at the University of Southampton in Britain, but the school rescinded its invitation following heavy objections.

Conference topics include an examination of how the “Jewish nature of the state has profoundly affected the economic, constitutional, political and social life of…non-Jewish Arabs.” Among the speakers slated to attend and present at the conference are leading anti-Israel activists and academics.

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