Pro-Israel academic pulls out of Cork conference in protest of Falk invite

Pro-Israel academic pulls out of Cork conference in protest of Falk invite

Professor Alan Johnson condemned the invitation of controversial anti-Israel critic Richard Falk as 'an attempt to normalise anti-Semitism

Richard Falk
Richard Falk

A pro-Israel academic has pulled out of conference in Ireland, after it became apparent it was featuring anti-Israel critic Professor Richard Falk.

One of the only academics due to speak in support of Israel at a conference in Cork in Ireland next week has cancelled in protest, after organisers invited a controversial Israel critic to present.

Professor Alan Johnson from UK-Israel think-tank BICOM said Falk’s invitation to the conference in Cork, meant the three-day event was now “an attempt to normalise anti-Semitism” and he withdrew his attendance.

“I have informed the organisers that I will no longer be participating,” he said. “I had agreed to participate in an academic conference to present a paper in defence of Israel’s right to exist. But by inviting a speaker who espouses anti-Semitic conspiracy theories the conference is now objectively an attempt to normalise anti-Semitism and I cannot attend such an event.”

This comes after the University of East London cancelled an event with Falk, the Emeritus Professor of Princeton University, who accused Israel of war crimes in his role as UN Special Rapporteur to Palestine from 2008-14. He was due to speak at UEL on Tuesday night, before the  event was pulled at the last-minute.

The University cancelled the event, saying it took “the difficult decision” because “it became clear, the day before the event, that the University’s External Speakers Policy had not been adequately followed”.

Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “Yesterday, the Board of Deputies and Jewish students made urgent representations to the authorities at Middlesex University about the planned talk by Richard Falk. Whilst we are relieved that this man, who has endorsed and shared antisemitism, will no longer be receiving a platform from Middlesex University, we believe that his invitation, despite his noxious track-record, shines an unflattering light on those whose hunger for fake news and Jew-bashing far outweighs their appetite for peace in the Middle East. Sad as this is, it is good that university authorities are finally waking up to it.”


The event, which had been advertised on the University’s own Events page, had been due to launch Falk’s new book ‘Palestine’s Horizons: Towards a Just Peace,” but the University’s senior management team is understood to have only found out about it on Monday.

The spokesman denied that this was an attack on free speech, saying: “We strongly believe that universities should be a place of debate and free speech. We would consider welcoming Professor Falk to our campus on another occasion if the appropriate policies and procedures were followed.”

It follows Falk’s appearance at a similar public book launch event on Monday morning at London School of Economics (LSE), during which pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists engaged in shouting and screaming, with two ejected.

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