Ireland’s top university is to host a conference in September to discuss the rights of academics to boycott Israel.
Academics for Palestine (AfP) issued a call for papers on academic freedom for the one-day event at Trinity College Dublin on 12 September, a week before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year).
Lecturers and researchers will debate whether universities can still provide space for critical thinking and engaged civil society activism, given the recent pressure on higher education institutions to cancel events linked to Israel Apartheid Week and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
On its website, AfP said “lawfare, bureaucratic strictures and threats to employment” had been brought to bear on those advocating a boycott of Israel, asking whether “effects of the neo-liberalisation of the public university on academic freedom” were such that “homo academicus should [now] also be homo politicus”.
Earlier this year, the group – which includes an Israeli-Irish lecturer – wrote to the president of University College Cork, urging him to allow a conference called International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism to take place, following “pressure from Zionist groups”.
They wrote: “It is vitally important that such interference is not allowed to happen in Ireland. We urge you to defend the principle of academic free speech and independent inquiry which is the cornerstone of Ireland’s academic tradition.”