A few weeks ago, an anti-Israel conference took place in the Irish city of Cork. Zionist activist David Collier went along, and wrote three articles on his blog, detailing the hideous event. A subsequent event was planned for Trinity College Dublin, which attempted to legitimize an academic boycott, or as CAMERA tipper Robert Harris puts it, “a boycott of those Israeli academics that do not savagely condemn Zionism”.
Based on Collier’s description, here is a beginner’s guide to the world of anti-Israel conferences.
1. Expect to hear more exceptionally ridiculous claims
Over the course of the three days, the following ridiculous claims and suggestions were made at the conference:
- The Palestinians are the Jews of the Bible.
- Zionists deliberately mistreat their own children, to train them to be cruel to Palestinians.
- Five Mossad agents stood across the Hudson River, cheering as the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, before being arrested.
- Israel owes the Arabs reparation for removing Jews from Arab lands.
- Capitalism is leading the world to environmental disaster, so human existence is dependent on a return to nature, and the front line of this battle is the battle against Israel.
Just a reminder, this is a conference of academics, hosted by a university.
2. There will be no real study of a topic, just Israel-bashing
Generally the goal of an academic conference is to present different points of view, in order to further knowledge about a topic. However, anti-Israel conferences are aimed at pushing one point of view, and one point of view only. Over three days of speeches, there was only one speech by someone who defined himself as a Zionist. The only difference of opinion that can be found at these conferences is in the degree to which they hate Israel – do they think it is merely racist, or are they similar to the Nazis? (This point was discussed at one point in the conference.) One speaker even gave a talk about the pressing question of whether Israel is apartheid or colonialist, demonstrating the wide range of opinions and viewpoints available at the conference.
3. There will be few Palestinians, and a very specific type of Jew
Ironically, the noble struggle to better the lives of Palestinians takes place at conferences with few, if any, Palestinians. On the first day of the Cork conference, there were twelve speakers, of whom one was Palestinian, and even he was a Palestinian who lives in the UK. As David Collier points out, it is very simple for a Western academic, living in the comfort of his own country, to be all ideological, and to tell the Palestinians that they need to keep struggling – he can share his opinions without them having any actual impact on his life. But do Western academics necessarily know what is best for the people on the ground?
There are also Jews invited to speak at these conferences, but of the most fringe type. An ultra-orthodox Jew who claims to be a “Torah-true” Jew, gave a talk about how Judaism and Zionism have nothing to do with each other. This clearly ridiculous view is that of a group of fringe extremists, but the “academics” are not interested in studying the depth of the connection between the Jewish people and Israel, to be more informed about the Jewish side of the story, but are interested only in confirming their own one-sided view of the conflict.
If this beginner’s guide has made you never want to attend an anti-Israel conference, it has achieved its goal. These conferences are shams, where complex issues are simplified, one side is demonized and where ever more ridiculous theories are concocted and shared. And they only serve to make peace less likely.
Contributed by Aron White, CAMERA intern