A university in Ireland has cancelled an academic conference which was scheduled to debate the legitimacy of the state of Israel at the end of March. The Irish Times reported that the university advised the organisers to come up with special security plans if they wanted the university to host the event at another date.
The conference entitled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism,” was scheduled to take place at University College Cork (UCC) from March 31st to April 2nd, featuring speakers on both sides of the debate.
Contrary to expectations, the UCC Management Team, which is charged with the management of operations, decided at a meeting earlier this week not to allow individual academics working in UCC to host the conference, claiming that it will cause disruption for students and staff.
The management team stated that the university security infrastructure and staffing is inadequate to deal with the level of security required for the event given that it had already received notice of protests. They added that bringing in additional security would have cost implications.
In 2015, the University of Southampton also cancelled a similar conference citing security reasons. College Cork noted that the event was not sponsored or promoted by the university, but had been launched by academics.
In a letter to the university’s president, Michael Murphy, the Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign called the cancellation an infringement of academic freedom.
“This is an important conference that promises to be a crucial intellectual event with many senior international academics participating,” the letter said. “Yet there have been disturbing reports in the press that this conference may be cancelled owing to pressure from Zionist groups.