Tel Aviv, 25 Jumadil Akhir 1436/15 April 2015 (MINA) – Organisers of a conference on Israel and international law have failed in their bid to overturn a decision by the University of Southampton to cancel the event, previously scheduled for this weekend.
A High Court judge in London today rejected the organisers’ application for a judicial review, with the university claiming that the conference had in fact merely been “postponed.”
Pro-Israel groups have been pressuring Southampton for months to stop the academic gathering. Middle East Monitor (MEMO) quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
The legal challenge was launched earlier this month, following the university authorities’ decision to cancel the conference on the grounds of “risks to safety and public order.”
The news comes as a blow to organisers and their supporters, in what has been described by campaigners as an unprecedented attack on academic freedom in the UK.
In response to a campaign by the Jewish Leadership Council, Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Zionist Federation, more than 900 academics, including dozens from Oxbridge, Russell Group universities and Ivy League schools, signed a statement in support of the conference.
The list of signatories included more than 30 researchers, lecturers and professors at Southampton itself, with senior officials referring unhappy staff to a “HR hotline.” In addition, more than 10,500 people have signed a public petition condemning the cancellation, and supporting free speech.
The backlash has already prompted a number of Israel advocates to publicly question the wisdom of campaigning for the cancellation of an academic conference. A piece in Ha’aretz described the affair as “a tactical and a moral defeat” for Israel’s defenders. (T/P002/R04)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)