Andrew Tettenborn: Academia conspires to undermine Israel’s right to exist

A bleak insight into the state of higher learning in the British Isles today. Together with many other academics, I got an email this morning inviting me to a conference at Cork University in Ireland next month on “The State of Israel and International Law: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” – an “interdisciplinary debate”, no less, with a “highly exciting programme, about one of the most pressing issues of our time”.

Really? A glance at what is known about the ten organisers listed on the conference website makes interesting reading.

Exhibit one: an “independent researcher”, co-founder of Southampton Students for Palestine, specialising in “anti-colonial movements and the universal struggle for justice.”

Exhibit two: a Southampton professor of law and philosophy, an enthusiast for academic boycotts of Israeli universities who has described opponents of this as "sophisticated accomplices to the smothering of debate" (!!).

Exhibit three: a California law professor, another Israeli boycott man and proponent of the one-state Palestine solution.

Exhibit four: a computer science professor from Cork, former coordinator of the Cork branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Exhibit five: another Cork academic who has publicly said that he will not accept invitations to visit or cooperate with Israeli universities, act as referee for them, or participate in any conferences connected with them, or otherwise co-operate with them.

Exhibit six: a Cork sociology lecturer with a history of working for the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, a charming outfit which denies the existence of terrorism against Israeli citizens and describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” (besides having received money from – wait for it – the EU we know and love).

Exhibits seven and eight: lecturers in geography and applied social studies who have called for a moratorium on support for Israeli universities and pledged not to engage in any professional association with Israeli academic or research bodies.

Exhibit nine: a law lecturer whose publications include “Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

Exhibit ten: a Southampton electronics professor and head of the local chapter of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

This event is not only repulsive. It has form, big time. When it was first mooted in 2015, Southampton University, having agreed to take it, changed its mind and banned it (much to the disgust of that uplifting website the Electronic Intifada, which of course accused the “Israel lobby” of backroom manipulation): not on the obvious basis that it was indoctrination masquerading as education and hence unworthy of any respectable seat of learning, but on public order grounds.

An attempt in the courts to have the ban overturned, interestingly enough with the redoubtable Phil Shiner’s firm Public Interest Lawyers leading the charge, failed. Hence the switch to Cork. But however high-minded the decision of Cork to host it, one suspects this high-mindedness could have been better directed. Some might even mouth Stalin’s references to “useful idiots” – or its Arabic equivalent – in this connection.

A depressing fact. There can be little doubt that this whole project is essentially a co-ordinated and unpleasant political attack by a group of zealots on the right of Israel to exist, which has been deliberately dressed up in pseudo-respectable intellectual garb as an academic conference. Yet even though the episode as a whole has received its share of publicity, we have heard virtually not a squeak from academia complaining about it. It makes one wonder sometimes what our universities are for.

(Image: Kristoffer Trolle)

Andrew Tettenborn

  • TheStoneMan

    Unfortunately our universities, like all left-leaning establishments are virulently anti-semitic. Why? I have no idea.

  • Colkitto03

    I wonder who is paying all the expenses for this jolly?
    I hope the costs are not coming out of student fees.

  • Owen_Morgan

    I’ve been wondering for quite a while what our universities are for. If any sane person were asked to pick the one country in the Middle East which is democratic, has freedom of religion and equal rights, he or she would pick Israel. Not much competition, after all. Now pick the country in that region which is a powerhouse of intellectual activity, scientific discovery and innovation… Israel, again.

    In a sane world, universities would be competing for Israeli contacts.

  • AKM

    Rather like journalism and the law, far too many people have become academics for entirely the wrong reasons. They wanted to use the media, the law and science to ‘make a difference’, which is code for furthering left-wing political objectives. What they have in common is a complete disregard for the entire concept of objective truth. They see nothing at all wrong with cherry-picking facts to suit their preferred narrative or, if that isn’t enough, just making up facts and repeating them as if they’re true. Far too many people still believe them, unfortunately, but any residual respect for their institutions is fading, year on year.

  • KarenHarradine

    Useful idiots indeed. Thank you so much for writing this great piece Andrew.

  • Colkitto03

    UK university applications have dropped 5% this year. The time will come when Universities will have to review paying the ‘academics’ described in the article above.

  • It is possible for a state to be both Jewish and democratic. If its citizenry contains a Jewish majority. But a state comprised of Israel and the West Bank, or call it what you will, is never going to contain a Jewish majority. That is just a fact.

    In fact, Israel itself has largely given up on a Jewish majority, and will now settle for any kind of non-Arab one. It will take in Russians who refuse to eat kosher food, and who insist on taking their Israeli Defence Force oaths on the New Testament alone. It will take in, or at least it now contains, Russian Nazis; yes, really. It will take in East Africans who have invented a religion based on the Old Testament brought by Christian missionaries. It will take in Peruvian Indians “converted to Judaism” and then put on the plane, in a single and remunerated action. It will take in absolutely anyone at all, so long as they are not Arabs. Even the Pashtun, who are now classified as a Lost Tribe with a view to airlifting them to Israel in future, since at least they are not Arabs. They are Sunni Muslims, of course. But that is not the same thing. Not the same thing at all.

    The Arab fifth of Israel’s current population, the majority in about half of its land area, has a very tough time. But its members have the vote. There have been Arabs in every Knesset. If Israel proceeds down its current path, then it will have to allow citizens of some ethnicities but not others (or of one, anyway, and that the majority) to vote, to live anywhere rather than only in certain designated areas, and so forth. There is a word for that.

  • UKCitizen

    The problem with intellectuals is that they are just better at coming up with convincing arguments to support their delusions and beliefs both in their own minds and to the world at large. Doesn’t make them necessarily right about anything but they can dismiss anyone else with intellectual snobbery.
    Basically, we lost the universities years ago to the cultural marxists.

  • We never see debates about South Sudan, Western Sahara, Tibet, Catalunya or any other part of the world with a conflict similar to that facing Israel, despite the glaring similarities in other parts of the world. The only reason for such glaring hypocrisy is anti-Semitism, one of the oldest forms of racism, which today masquerades as “anti-Zionism”. In other words, the belief that the Jewish people have no right to live as a people in their ancestral and historical homeland. In other words, anti-Semitism.

    • Rob

      Your post could increasingly apply to the UK given the population replacement strategy adopted by the ruling Oligarchy since the late 1990’s. Indeed, the concluding sentence of your post could be slightly amended to read “In other words, the belief that the British people have no right to live as a people in their ancestral and historical homeland. In other words, anti-British.”

  • Rob

    I wasted almost 30 years of my adult working life as a UK based academic. Being very busy and subject-focused, for far too long I failed to notice just how narrow-minded and ideological a large proportion of my former colleagues actually were and just how pathetically ill-judged and lacking their claims to “expertise” were outside their chosen academic specialism.
    Students today rightly complain about the high cost and poor value they get from higher education. Though I didn’t have to pay directly for my degree course 40+ years ago, I reckon that I’ve subsequently paid a much greater price for my 30+ years of post-graduate “education” (I now realise too late that I could have done something useful with my life instead).