Speech by Dr. Bashir Abu Manneh: Israel, The Occupation and BDS

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bashirabum On Thursday 16th April 2015, Palestinian academic Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh, who teaches in the University of Kent School of English gave a lecture on the topic of ‘Israel, The Occupation and BDS’. The talk was hosted by Academics for Palestine and the Irish School of Ecumenics in Trinity College Dublin. Below is the full text of Dr. Abu-Manneh’s speech, which was originally posted online at the Jacobin website.

Israel, the Occupation and BDS

Supporting Palestinian liberation requires just one thing: upholding the right to self-determination.

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Academics for Palestine Ireland supports the organisers of the Southampton conference

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Academics for Palestine, a group of Irish academics – from both the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland – set up to create awareness and build the academic boycott of Israel campaign in Ireland, expresses its support for the organisers of the International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism conference which was due to take place on 17-19 April 2015, at the University of Southampton, UK. The University blocked the conference citing reasons of ‘health and safety’. In doing so, it has succumbed to pressure from Israel lobby organizations (including the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies of British Jews), who were backed by politicians such as former Conservative education secretary Michael Gove and the current Communities minister Eric Pickles.

The organisers took the case to the High Court and in her judgment Judge Alice Robinson upheld the university’s position and argued that the organisers’ academic freedom had not been impinged upon because participants could express their positions at another conference, but not at this particular conference, at this particular time.

This conference was of particular importance, not merely because of the participation of a wide range of Israeli, Palestinian and international scholars, but mostly because of the inclusion of legal scholars who were set to publicly discuss, perhaps for the first time, Israel’s very legitimacy. Its cancellation sets a precedent in terms of the topics discussed, but also because it signals the narrowing of the academic freedom of expression, a crucial issue in relation to the control that the state of Israel exercises upon its Palestinian citizens and occupied subjects in historic Palestine.

Academics for Palestine is committed to defending academic freedom, exposing the collaboration of Israeli higher education institutions with Israel’s military and armament industries and building the academic boycott of Israel until such time as it ends the occupation of Palestine and allows Palestinians to practice their basic human and academic rights. We protest against the University of Southampton’s cowardly and short sighted decision and the High Court’s upholding this decision, and we look forward to the reinstatement of this important conference in the near future.

For Academics for Palestine AfP:

Jim Roche, Dublin Institute of Technology, Chair
Dr. David Landy, Trinity College Dublin, Secretary
Dr. Ronit Lentin, Trinity College Dublin, PRO

‘Israel, Occupation, Boycott’: A lecture by Dr. Bashir Abu-Manneh (TCD ISE & AFP)

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Academics for Palestine and the Irish School of Ecumenics invite you to attend the following event:

Lecture: ‘Israel, Occupation, Boycott’
Speaker: Dr. Bashir Abu-Manneh (University of Kent)
Date: 16 April
Time: 6.00pm
Location: G16 lecture-room, Irish School of Ecumenics/Loyola Institute Building, Trinity College Dublin (East end of TCD, facing the rugby pitch).

Dr. Bashir Abu-Manneh took his BA at Haifa University and his D.Phil. at Oxford. He is Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He is author of the Fiction of the New Statesman, 1913 -1939 (2011) and numerous articles on Israel-Palestine. His new book, The Palestinian Novel: From 1948 to the Present, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Dr Abu-Manneh is a prominent contributor to public debate on the question of Palestine, and writes regularly for Znet, Israeli Occupation Archive, and Jacobin.

Statement in support of organisers of Southampton conference on ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’

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According to a statement released by conference organisers on 31 March, the University of Southampton is withdrawing its consent to host the forthcoming conference ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’, due to take place on 17-19 April 2015, citing as reasons concerns about ‘health and safety’.

Academics for Palestine, a group of Irish academics – from both the Republic of Ireland and   the North of Ireland – set up to create awareness and build the academic boycott of Israel   campaign in Ireland, urges the University of Southampton to allow the conference to proceed as planned.

We believe there is ample time for any concerns regarding the safety and security of university staff, students, and conference participants to be adequately addressed. We also believe that the University of Southampton, which for several weeks has resisted pressure from the Zionist lobby citing its full commitment to academic freedom, must now fulfil its   legal obligations to protect free speech and academic discussion, values to which the  conference organisers and all conference participants are committed.

To cancel the conference on the grounds of concerns about ‘health and safety’ shows weakness in the face of external pressure and bullying, and calls into question the University   of Southampton’s genuine commitment not only to academia and the professional activities of its own scholars, but also to the precious tradition of free speech itself.

We join thousands of academics throughout the world who have signed a petition in calling upon the University of Southampton to reverse its decision and allow the conference to go ahead as planned.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Roche, Dublin Institute of Technology, Chair
Dr David Landy, Trinity College Dublin, Secretary
Dr Ronit Lentin, Trinity College Dublin, PRO

Academics for Palestine