Organisers claim the university’s vice chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam has ignored them
Although the university said it was still in “discussions” about the future of the symposium, organisers, which include two professors at the university, said they have already been given the boot.
They said they were told the university didn’t have enough resources to deal with twin groups of pro and anti protesters and threat of angry clashes.
They had described the conference as: “Unique because it concerns the legitimacy in International Law of the Jewish state of Israel.”
The description on the university’s website adds: “Rather than focusing on Israeli actions in the 1967 Occupied Territories, the conference will focus on exploring themes of Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism; all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.”
A petition calling on the cancellation of the conference attracted more than 6,400 signatures
This is a sad decision for freedom of speech
Following mounting pressure the university fears the safety of staff and students could now be put at risk.
A spokesperson for the institution said: “The University of Southampton is in discussion with the organisers of the conference ‘International Law and the State of Israel’ about the possibility of withdrawing permission for the event to be held on campus.
“However, this review process is still ongoing.
“Any decision will be judged purely on considerations around the health and safety of our staff, students and for the general public.”
Upset organisers claim their right to freedom of expression has been taken away from them.
The university fears students, staff and visitors could be put at risk
It added: “Freedom of speech inherently involves taking risks, and hence the presence of risk cannot be used to curtail it!
“The UK Government and many other governments have refused to give in to attempts by Islamic extremist to stop the publication of pictures of Prophet Mohammad despite serious risks of violence.
“The correct response by the governments was to confront and contain that violence and not to cancel the publication of these pictures by Charlie Hebdo and others.
“This is a sad decision for freedom of speech and for historic Palestine (which includes what is now the Jewish State of Israel and the 1967 Occupied Territories) and all the people who live there.”