Prominent international figures from the arts industry, politics and media have endorsed a conference “International Law and the State of Israel”.
British film maker Ken Loach, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Noam Chomsky and John Pilger are amongst many other notable personalities who are backing the conference which critics claim delegitimises Israel.
In a press conference last week in Dublin, the organisers announced the full details of the conference which will run in two prestigious venues: Cork City Hall and University College Cork.
The conference is open to the public and people are urged to register by visiting the conference website. Organisers are keen to make this an international event and confirmed that they will assist anyone requiring a visa.
Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that the conference had been cancelled for the second time having previously been banned by the University of Southampton following pressure from Israel advocacy groups.
Talking to MEMO about the resistance they faced in discussing the legal and historical legitimacy of Israel in a high profile event, the organisers said that there was pressure to change the focus of the conference. There was intense Israeli lobbying to change the discussion to a post 1967 discourse on occupation.
On the accusation of anti-Semitism whenever Israel’s historical legitimacy is questioned, the organisers told MEMO: “Accusation of anti-Semitism is designed to prevent criticism of the nature of the State of Israel. The conference is based on inclusion and egalitarianism and is moved by the aspiration of justice and enduring peace for both Israeli Jews and Palestinians. How can a call for egalitarianism turn into racist one by any stretch of the imagination?”
Those who invoke anti-Semitism in this way are harming Jews all over the world
“The current various definitions of anti-Semitism is outrageous and shows how structures of powers are conscripted to ensure that certain questions are never ever asked and debated.”
The organisers hope to break the status quo about Israel by changing the focus from the legality of Israeli action in the 1967 Occupation to the legality of the nature of the state upon which the discourse of the occupation is hanging. They believe they are raising the bar of debates regarding international law itself.
The conference will take place in Cork 31 March – 2 April.