Irish university cancels conference questioning Israel’s legitimacy

Marcy Oster

(JTA)  — An Irish university cancelled a conference that questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel after management determined the university security would not be able to handle the expected protests.

The University College Cork said last week that the conference scheduled for March cannot take place at that time, the Irish Examiner reported. The university said it would be willing to hold the conference at a later date if organizers came up with a security plan and paid for the additional security necessary.

The conference was titled:  International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism.

The existence of the planned conference came to the university’s attention through social media, the university said in a statement about the University Management Team meeting posted on its website.


In 2015, the University of Southampton cancelled such a conference citing similar security reasons, according to the statement.

The statement pointed out that the event was not university sponsored or promoted, but had been invited to the University by academic staff of the institution.

In addition, according to the statement,  “the University’s security infrastructure and staffing is inadequate to deal with the management of security for the event given that the University is already on notice of protests. Additional security will have cost implications.”

The plan to call off the event was called an infringement of academic freedom by the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in a letter to university president Michael B. Murphy.

“This is an important conference that promises to be a crucial intellectual event with many senior international academics participating. Yet there have been disturbing reports in the press that this conference may be cancelled owing to pressure from Zionist groups,” the letter said.

Standwithus Israel had encouraged supporters to protest the conference, calling it  “Another example of shameful hatred and discrimination masquerading as an academic conference.”

The organization Irish4Israel in a tweet thanked its followers who emailed Murphy to encourage him to delay the event, but also said in a Facebook post that it had not called for the conference to be cancelled.