Tucked away on the ‘Hampshire & Isle of Wight’ regional page in the ‘England’ section of the BBC News website’s UK page is an article published on March 31st 2017 under the headline “‘Chilling repression’ leads to Southampton conference move“.
The BBC website’s visitors are told that:
“An academic conference which raises legal questions about the state of Israel has got under way at the third attempt.
The three-day meeting opened in Cork, Republic of Ireland, after two failed efforts to hold it in Southampton.
The organisers, two professors from the University of Southampton, accused their employer of blocking the event in 2015 and 2016.”
Later on, readers find the following:
“Ahead of the cancelled 2015 conference, the pro-Israel The Zionist Federation UK garnered more than 6,700 signatures opposing its staging, while a counter-petition signed by more than 800 academics urged the university to resist the pressure.
The university said it withdrew permission for the event because “the safety of staff, students and visitors could not be guaranteed”.
A second conference due to be held in 2016 was cancelled when the university imposed conditions including a £25,000 fee to cover policing and security costs.
In April 2016, professors Oren Ben-Dor and Suleiman Sharkh lost a High Court case in which they had argued that the cancellations put “academic freedom” at stake.””
Readers are also provided with quotes from one of the organisers and a link to a nine year-old BBC article by Jeremy Bowen is promoted:
“Prof Sharkh said on Friday there were no demonstrators outside the conference in Cork.
He said the move from Southampton reflected a “chilling repression of academic freedom when it comes to critique of Israeli state policy”.
The conference’s keynote speaker, Prof Richard Falk, has previously said Israel’s actions in the Palestinian Occupied Territories possessed characteristics of colonialism and apartheid.“
Neither were they told that one of only two pro-Israel speakers at the event (out of around 40) withdrew his participation.
“Founder and senior editor of Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM), Professor Alan Johnson, said that he will not be attending the “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Exceptionalism and Responsibility” conference in Cork, Ireland later this month due to controversial author Richard Falk’s participation. […]
“The organizers have issued an invitation to Richard Falk to give a keynote speech… by inviting a speaker who espouses antisemitic conspiracy theories the conference is now objectively an attempt to normalize antisemitism and I cannot attend such an event,” he added.”
So what exactly went on at the event the BBC would have its audiences believe was an “academic conference”?
“The claim that Zionism is based only on “blood and might” and seeks to do away with the “meek” Jew came from the first speaker, Dr. Hatem Bazian, professor of Near Eastern studies at University of California Berkeley. Bazian accused Zionists of adopting “a racist, genocidal and exclusive world view” and claimed they had “embarked on a national project of settler colonialism.” […]
Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, a prominent researcher on the Palestinian right of return, told a hugely supportive audience that the only barrier to such a move was what he described as Israeli “apartheid.” […]
Displaying maps and graphics of population densities in Israel, the civil engineer accused the state of perpetrating “the most comprehensive ethnic cleansing operation in history.” […]
On the opening day of the conference, Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton and former UN special rapporteur, described the foundation of the state as “the most successful terror campaign in history.” […]
Meanwhile Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky from the London University School of Oriental and African studies provoked major controversy when she used the Nazi term “untermensch,” meaning sub-human in English, when outlining what she alleged were Israel’s “crimes against humanity.””
One of the people who attended the event noted that:
“The words of the Passover Seder were scrolled out on screen to show how the Zionist paranoia and desire to be hated is deeply connected to the Jewish need to have an enemy to sustain its identity.”
“We were told (in a particularly poor “academic paper” even by the standards of this conference) that the end of times were here environmentally and our days were numbered unless we stopped Israel in its tracks. Why you might ask? WARFARE (threatening the whole Middle East – Iraq, Syria) was shouted, followed by “9/11″. This passed without remark. Indeed in the question period, John McGuire, Professor Emeritus from UCC continued the theme of Israel’s involvement in all things nefarious by connecting Shannon Airport, US troops passing through and CIA torture. This opened the floor for Joel Kovel to take the floor again to expand on his 9/11 theories. Did we know that when the towers were burning there were 5 mysterious “painters” cheering in the shadows? Arrested at the time but soon “disappeared off the face of the earth”? “Mossad” was shouted by audience members and “academic ecosocialist” speaker alike. “
The three days of defamation and delegitimisation of Israel seen in Cork should come as a surprise to no-one: the event’s activist organisers had made it clear well in advance that their intent was to question the very existence of Israel and their motive political rather than academic.
“This conference will be the first of its kind and constitutes a ground-breaking historical event on the road towards justice and enduring peace in historic Palestine. It is unique because, while most attention today is directed at Israel’s actions in the 1967 Occupied Territories, the conference seeks to expand the debate surrounding the nature of the State of Israel and the legal and political reality within it.
The conference will raise questions that link the suffering in historic Palestine to the manner of Israel’s foundation and its nature. It aims to generate a debate on legitimacy, exceptionalism and responsibility under international law as provoked by the nature of the Israeli state. It will also examine how international law could be deployed, expanded, and even re-imagined, in order to achieve peace and reconciliation based on justice.”
Nevertheless, the BBC News website elected to inaccurately pass off a patently political event as an “academic conference”, to portray delegitimisation and defamation of Israel and Jews as “critique of Israeli state policy”, to depict Richard Falk as a benign academic and to steer audiences towards the view that the event’s organisers suffer “chilling repression”.
How all that got past the supposed BBC editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality is anyone’s guess.
Hidden Agenda at Southampton University? (UK Media Watch)