|Anti-Israel protest, Southampton, 2014; photo Daily Echo|
The conference is entitled "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism".
A look at the Law School's website here reveals that the organising committee of the conference includes Professor Oren Ben-Dor (an ex-pat Israeli who has a history of Israel-bashing pro-BDS activity), Professor Professor Suleiman Sharkh (whose speciality is evidently not law but electrical engineering), and Ms. Juman Asmail (a Palestinian student activist). American Professor George Bisharat is also seminally involved.
Announces the website:
'This conference will be the first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine. It is unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel. Rather than focusing on Israeli actions in the 1967 Occupied Territories, the conference will focus on exploring themes of Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism; all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.
The conference aims to explore the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine to the foundation and protection of a state of such nature and asks what role International Law should play in the situation. It will take place over a whole weekend and will involve leading thinkers: scholars from law, politics, philosophy, theology, anthropology, cultural studies history and other connected disciplines
Key speakers and various panels will diagnose the legal position with regard to the nature of Israel thus enabling a much needed platform for scholarly debate and disagreement.'The Jewish News reports, inter alia:
'Tory peer Lord Leigh said: “It is very disappointing that a distinguished university like Southampton has organised this conference. They have never held a conference questioning the right of existence of any other country.”....
Despite opposition from Jewish community leaders – several of whom have lodged protests with the university’s vice-chancellor – organisers have pressed ahead with the convention on 17-19 April, saying they hope it will “serve as a platform for scholarly debates rather than positing an activist aim”.
Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson ...said: “We are gravely concerned about this unbalanced, delegitimising conference, which will have a detrimental impact on cohesiveness. We have asked the vice-chancellor to reconsider.”
He added: “It’s a fine line between academic freedom, which we all cherish, and delegitimisation and discrimination. This conference seems to hover around that line.”' [Emphasis added]