The problem is that most people simply do not understand how the discursive position of the debate not only sets up Israel to fail, but also compounds the inaccurate and therefore unjust worldview that the Jewish state is a rogue and oppressive one. The very reason I felt compelled to conduct the analysis.
The response I received from Ben Dor has entirely failed to refer to the points I raised, choosing to ignore and patronise, instead of face up to and address. This was expected not least due to the accuracy of the analysis , but also as Ben Dor and Southampton’s behaviour has been arrogant from the off. Furthermore, this failure to address the points raised, provides little hope that materials which may incite racial hatred, will be accurately screened pre-“debate”.
For ease of reference, the points I raised were:
1. The embedded discourse pertaining to the words “the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine to the foundation and protection of a state of such nature” are wholly without any context or reference to anything other than the title, such title questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish State and, as such, discursively positions Israel as the Aggressor and the Palestinians as the Victims at the hands of such Aggressor.
2. Positioned by the words “… and asks what role International Law should play in the situation” compounds and expands exponentially the aforementioned embedded negative symbol of Israel as the Aggressor into that of “illegal Aggressor”. Therefore Conference speakers and attendees have no choice in their minds, except to take the position of “Rescuer” to bring the perceived “illegal Aggressor” to justice.
3. The words “thus enabling a much needed platform for scholarly debate and disagreement” provides further mechanism with which to embed the meaning. As such, this sets up an essentialist position which must therefore argue against Israel’s legitimacy. Put simply, Israel is guilty as charged prior to “debate”.
Finally, if antisemitic material which includes antisemitic rhetoric and/or imagery is discovered to be presented at this conference, the University of Southampton and yourself must take responsibility for inciting racial hatred.
Since the research and writing of David Collier began and publication of my open letter, Southampton have attempted to distance themselves from the Conference, unashamedly blaming the lack of attendance by the Israelis for the bias.
The statement now reads: “Diligent efforts, including face-to-face meetings with leading intellectuals in Israel, were made to ensure the widest range of opinions possible. Those who chose to abstain, however, cannot derail the legitimate, if challenging, academic discussion the conference will inspire.
The conference organizers are grateful to the University of Southampton for ensuring academic freedom within the law and for taking steps to secure freedom of speech within the law. The conference organizers accept that the granting of permission for this event does not imply support or endorsement by the University of any of the opinions to be expressed at the conference.”
This is the most cowardly of moves so far. David Collier’s research into the “academics” [mainly boycotters] attending the conference illustrates that such individuals, due to their BOYCOTT position, are unwilling to engage with Israelis in academic debate. Thus denying their attendance by slamming the door in their faces. As proven by the analysis, this is not simply a “lion’s den” with which we must provide a couple of brave souls to enter: even if we were to have 100 speakers, Israel is simply positioned as an illegitimate oppressor responsible for the suffering of the “Palestinians” and therefore something must be done about its right to exist. No other conclusions can be drawn.
Finally, the “freedom of speech within the law” is alleged to be supported by a number of “academics”. Citing David Collier “Early today, on the 19th March, the list of academics increased from 369 (almost all boycotters) to 700. Included online in that new list was our friend Hamman, the newly promoted professor in the Iranian University. Apparently he is now an academic who supports the conference.”
As such, the list entirely lacks credibility and proves beyond any doubt that this fictitious fabrication of “academics” is simply another wheel in the cog of the vehicle of the longest hatred specifically designed and constructed in order to delegitimise the Jewish State.
Amanda Perl, MSc., BSc (Hons), MBPsS