Israeli Professor Questions Israel's Legitimacy

Oren Ben-Dor, professor of law at University of Southampton, organized conference for April that challenges Israel's establishment.

Cynthia Blank ,

Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)
Anti-Israel boycott movement (file)
Reuters

A British university will host in April a conference, organized in part by a well-known Israeli-born professor, which will examine the "legitimacy" of Israel's existence.

The conference, scheduled for April 17-19 at the University of Southampton, is titled "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility, and Exceptionalism."

According to the university's website, the conference will discuss "controversial questions" about Israel's establishment, including "ongoing forced displacements of Palestinians and associated injustices."

Oren Ben-Dor, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Southampton, is one of the organizers of the event. 

Ben-Dor, born in Nahariya, has announced his support several times for academic boycotts of Israel universities. He has also attacked Israeli military policy in past operations with Hamas, as well as during the Second Lebanon War.   

"People feel uncomfortable having genuine dialogue and from that place came this conference," Ben-Dor said in a statement to Haaretz. "This is precisely why [people should] participate instead of calling to cancel."

When asked if he was aware that the conference would cause huge anger in Israel, Ben-Dor essentially avoided the question, stating instead that he invites everyone "to register for and attend the conference."

"If there is anger, it's a symptom that shows people they should attend the conference - it's open to all positions. We invite everyone to come and listen, to influence and be influenced. 

According to Ben-Dor, questioning the legitimacy of Israel is "related to the content of the conference and not to the question of its existence."



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