(JTA) — An Irish university canceled a conference that questioned the legitimacy of the State of Israel over security issues.
Administrators at the University College Cork said last week that the conference could not take place in March as scheduled after determining that the college’s security could not handle the expected protests, the Irish Examiner reported. The university said it would be willing to hold the conference at a later date if organizers came up with a security plan and paid for the additional security necessary.
The planned conference, titled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism,” came to the university’s attention through social media, the university said in a statement about the University Management Team meeting posted on its website.
In 2015, the University of Southampton canceled such a conference citing similar security reasons, according to the statement. College Cork noted that the event was not university sponsored or promoted, but had been launched by university academics.
In addition, according to the statement, “the University’s security infrastructure and staffing is inadequate to deal with the management of security for the event given that the University is already on notice of protests. Additional security will have cost implications.”
The Irish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign called the cancellation an infringement of academic freedom in a letter to the university’s president, Michael Murphy.
“This is an important conference that promises to be a crucial intellectual event with many senior international academics participating,” the letter said. “Yet there have been disturbing reports in the press that this conference may be cancelled owing to pressure from Zionist groups.”
StandWithUs Israel had encouraged supporters to protest the conference, calling it “Another example of shameful hatred and discrimination masquerading as an academic conference.”
The organization Irish4Israel in a tweet thanked its followers who emailed Murphy to encourage him to delay the event, but also said in a Facebook post that it had not called for a cancellation.