Academic Forum or Anti-Semitic Farce?

The aborted “eliminate Israel” confab that was to be at the University of Southampton 2 years ago has been reincarnated in Cork. This was announced at a curious press conference Tuesday at which no press appeared to be present.

Now, normally those of the far left pro-Palestinian persuasion take great offence at any attempts to connect their anti Zionism to antisemitism but not this lot, it seems. Not only have far right white supremacists given their endorsement – see Aryan Street and theuglytruth.com, (delightfully subtitled “intelligent ‘anti-semitism’ for the thinking Gentile”) but one of the Irish organisers was caught promoting the event to Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis on twitter. Piaras Mac Einri was then forced to make an announcement that antisemites and Holocaust deniers were not welcome at the event.

This is going to be quite hard to enforce, I imagine, when one of the chief organisers and keynote speakers has this to say about Jews and the Holocaust. Yes, you heard that right:

there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the Holocaust and the dealing with which has been so successfully postponed by the Holocaust.

And indeed the official twitter account for the conference seems quite unfazed by these revelations and appears to consider these views legitimate topics for academic discussion.

There'll be lots of time to discuss how Jews provoked the Holocaust.

There’ll be lots of time to discuss how Jews want to be hated and think they’re better than everyone else.

Oren Ben Dor won’t be able to accuse them of excessive surrender to political correctness that separates the zionist question from the Jewish question and risks leaving the Jewish pathology unaddressed and only dealing with the “symptom” (zionism) of this eternal primordial disease. No Siree! In fact, he might have found his true home among some of the Irish organisers of the Cork edition of this hatefest. There is a fascinating account here of how James Bowen’s tolerance for antisemitism was too much even for Tony Greenstein, a notorious Jewish anti Zionist recently suspended from the UK Labour Party for suspected antisemitism himself!

Lest one is inclined to say that perhaps Ben Dor’s views on Jews and their “pathology” is unrelated to the topic of this conference and unlikely to come up, bear in mind that the whole sordid speech was recorded at a conference titled “One State for Palestine / Israel: A Country for All Its Citizens?” at the University of Massachusetts in 2009.

Sarah Brown has more on Ben Dor here.

It all makes Mac Einri’s claim that the conference is not even anti-Israel more absurd by the minute. Every speaker to a man, except for the two token Zionist speakers (who I believe the organisers felt forced to include after the fact as they were not on the original Southampton schedule) call for Israel to desist existing as a Jewish state. For a rundown of the speakers and their views see David Collier’s thorough account. Indeed the the original call for papers was framed in such a way as to assume Israel’s guilt at foundation from the outset. One could say it is academically loaded or even that it is an activists’ powwow with academic window dressing. One only has to look at the following statement:

For its initial existence, the State of Israel has depended on a unilateral declaration of statehood….

to realise that this is no academic conference on international law. Any academic with an interest in international law and presenting and exploring the truth would not omit any mention of numerous elements of international law including the Balfour Declaration of 1916, the San Remo decision of 1920, the League of Nations Mandate decision of 1922, and UN Resolution 181 of 1947 that provided for both a Jewish state and an Arab state. Now, whether you agree with these decisions of international law or not, it is extremely nonacademic to not even mention them in a conference on international law. Unless when they say they want to “reimagine” international law, they mean retroactively!

They seem determined to have some sort of university imprimatur. They could easily have convened in a hotel or the IPSC offices in Dublin (or a beer hall in Munich) but insist on including an overpowering photo of Cork University on their Facebook page when in reality they have only rented space there as a venue. Perhaps UCC and City Hall in Cork (the alternate venue for two of the 3 days) will come to regret giving this conference an air of respectability. The decision to go ahead has already enabled one organiser to claim, despite a spokesman for UCC stating that the university was not sponsoring or promoting the event, that the conference is a UCC event and will carry the UCC logo!

Does UCC know that its image and logo is all over this "conference"?

Does UCC know that its image and logo is all over this “conference”?

The question asked by David Hirsh about the original Southhampton event needs to be asked of the President of UCC and the Lord Mayor of Cork:

How is it that a man who blames the Jews for provoking the Holocaust, and who blames Jewish use of the Holocaust for preventing the Jewish disease from being properly treated, is organising a conference about Jews and their state?

From David Hirsh again:

Is there a necessary connection between Ben Dor’s view – which is that Zionism is a manifestation of age-old Jewish evil – and the conference which he is organising – on the unique evil and criminality of Israel?

Err. yes. Do you think it is just a coincidence that the antisemitic conference is being organised by a person who specializes in antisemitic rhetoric?

If the conference is not antisemitic, why is it tolerating the pivotal role of such a person?

4 thoughts on “Academic Forum or Anti-Semitic Farce?

  1. John Grace

    Interesting to note that this has nothing to do with the School of Law or any of the international law experts who work there.

  2. Liam Hurley

    The conference itself probably isn’t antisemitic. I think it will just be a load of the usual misguided Israel talk by people who don’t understand the region at all. Maybe some of the professors in attendance might have some prejudices against Jews, but on a whole I think the conference is more poorly thought out. We have to respect the right to free speech, we were outraged when pro-Palestine students shut down the ambassador’s speech at Trinity. Okay, this is different to that, but this conference realistically poses no threat to Israel, let them yammer on about the same crap we’ve already heard 10000 times.

    The most concerning to me was that Piaras Mac Einri was promoting the conference to neo-Nazis on twitter. People who had “88” in their bio, or “Hitler was right along”, as well as a few holocaust deniers. The contents of the conference may not be antisemitic, but Piaras definitely counts antisemites as his audience.

  3. Stan the man

    The problem is that saying that Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves is fundamentally anti-semitic as is saying that Israel does not have a right to exist. I am all for free speech. But this is an antisemitic hatefest and people need to know precisely what it is, and why. It is shameful and a disgrace that an event that was too antisemitic for a British University found a safe space at Cork University and the City Council.

    1. Liam Hurley

      I haven’t seen any of the professors/organisers make that claim about Jews, but if that’s true then yes that is undeniably antisemitic. Agree that denying the right of Israel to exist is also antisemitic, however I’m sure the pro-Israel professors in attendance will rebut any claims that Israel’s existence is illegal. We’ll see how the conference goes and see what is said, I think it’s only after we hear some of the debate that we will be able to decide if it is antisemitic or not.

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