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Final Update on Israeli conference in UCC

Following on from previous reports here in the Express, we have a final update on the conference on the legitimacy of the state of Israel. The conference, titled International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility will be held in Cork from 31st March to 2nd April.

The conference is scheduled to go ahead, contrary to previous reports in the media that it had been cancelled due to security concerns. Such security concerns along, with others relating to the disruption to students, are now resolved as the conference will be jointly held with Cork City Hall and UCC. The inter-disciplinary programme will feature papers and presentations from over forty eminent speakers and undoubtedly spark great discussion and debate on one of the most important contemporary issues in the world today, according to organisers. The event has been endorsed by several prominent individuals including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, John Pilger, Ken Loach, amongst others.

Organisers of the event are reportedly delighted that they are in a position to host the event in UCC following two previous failed attempts to hold a conference with a similar theme in the University of Southampton due to concerted and organised opposition by what event organisers describe as “a small minority.” The event has been accused of being anti-Semitic and biased against the state of Israel, claims which are strongly refuted by the organisers and deemed “false.” According to the organisers this is an important conference which will “raise questions that link the suffering in historic Palestine to the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature. It aims to generate a debate on legitimacy, exceptionalism and responsibility under international law as provoked by the nature of the Israeli state. It will also examine how international law could be deployed, expanded, and even re-imagined, in order to achieve peace and reconciliation based on justice.”

The first of its kind, the conference constitutes a ground-breaking historic event. According to organisers the event will contribute to the pursuit of justice and enduring peace for Palestine. The conference is unique in the sense that it is in contrast to most of the attention focused on Israel which deals with Israel’s actions in the 1967 occupied territories, whereas this conference seeks to expand the debate and examine the surrounding nature of the state of Israel and the legal and political reality within it.

The conference has been subject to serious opposition since it was first announced and has already been the source of great controversy and debate. In addition to being prevented from going ahead in the UK, which included the issue being raised and the conference being opposed by MPs in the house of commons, It has also faced significant opposition with the threat of protests aimed at disrupting the event resulting in security concerns being cited as reason against the conference being held. There have also been other forms of opposition, as one of the keynote speakers, Professor Richard Falk, who is one of the two authors of a recently published report, “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” (February 2017) which has been the object of attack by the US and Israel, leading to the UN Secretary General asking the director, Samira Khalaf, of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia to withdraw the report.  Instead Samira resigned from her post. Furthermore, there have been issues surrounding the reporting of the event and misinformation with numerous articles and reports suggesting the conference in UCC had also been cancelled due to security concerns, such reports prompted UCC to release a statement to the contrary.

The conference is scheduled to go ahead with both staff and students alike being encouraged to attend. For the full programme and to register, please visit www.israelpalestinelaw.com/.