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Tel Aviv University
Delegitimization of Israel at SOAS University of London Legitimized by TAU Faculty

Editorial Note

Last month Britain saw some 176 anti-Israel events, in churches, community centers, galleries and over 70 of them were on university grounds. Many related to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Leading in the list is SOAS University of London, which hosted an event by its Centre for the study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law. The conference was titled "Balfour@100: A Century of International Law In Palestine," on November 18. IAM reported before that SOAS is well-known for anti-Israel activism due to the large number of Arab students and faculty.  The conference invitation reads, "For international lawyers, the centenary provides an occasion to reflect on a century of international legal engagement with Palestine: from Balfour 1917 to the United Nations Partition Plan 1947; from the Occupation in 1967 to the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987."  The four panels of speakers were titled as following, Panel 1: Balfour@100, Panel 2: Partition@70, Panel 3: Occupation@50, and Panel 4: Intifada@30.

Participants were all anti-Israel who attacked it from every possible angle. One such a speaker was Nimer Sultany of SOAS, a staunch supporter of BDS.  In general, Sultany's scholarship is on attacking Israel, for example "Redrawing the Boundaries of Citizenship: Israel's New Hegemony" postulates a new consensus in Israeli Jewish society with regard to the Arab minority, "the New Zionist Hegemony"; "Activism and legitimation in Israel's jurisprudence of occupation" claims that "Colonial law need not exclude the colonized in order to subordinate them"; Israel and the Palestinian Minority 2004, analyses, inter alia, "Expressions of Racism and Discrimination." In this conference Sultany's lecture was "Against Zionism (including Liberal Zionism)."

Two Israeli scholars, Anat Matar and Aeyal Gross, both from Tel Aviv University, provided "Israeli flavored" legitimacy.   The former spoke on "Securing Occupation: The Threat of the Political Prisoner."  The latter's lecture was titled "Occupation: Between Fact and Norm; Between Form and Function," he is a visiting academic at the SOAS Centre for the study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law, as well as an associate member at the Centre for Palestine Studies. 
The conference has made an unethical use of the LGBTQ community by hosting a panel at the end "Queer in Populist Times."  Ironically, the Palestinians, the focus of the conference, persecute the LGBTQ community.  Gross, who himself a member of the community, like most of his pro-Palestinian peers, does not deal with the violence against LGBTQ in the Palestinian society or, for that matter in the Muslim world.  Instead he resorts to cheap rhetoric such as in 2009 when he accused Israel of killing Palestinian children and youth: "the obvious question is whether in a society where shooting at children of the 'other' is the norm, we should be surprised that GLBT children become the target of similar violence.  Do rallies of the sort held in Tel-Aviv allow not only the cabinet ministers who participated, but also the general public which came to offer its support, to feel enlightened and liberal, while it is in fact indifferent or worse to Israel’s widespread killing of Palestinian youth?" Gross should know better, Israel offers refuge to fleeing Palestinian LGBTQ.

IAM has previously noted that, like Matar and other academic activists, Gross spends an inordinate amount of time on his political pursuits. He recently applied for a position as a mandate holder at the UN Human Rights Council. In his application form he wrote of how the academia enables him free time to pursue activism, "I have no doubt I can dedicate a total of three month a year (at least) to the mandate: As my employment is in academia, and I am a tenured full professor, I can dedicate time to the mandate with the flexibility that academia allows. My teaching is usually spread over two terms of up to four months each, so the remaining four months of the year can be mostly dedicated to the mandate, this in addition to time I can dedicate to it during term alongside my teaching and my academic research. This beyond the overlap between my research agenda and the mandate - I am sure they will enrich each other. I can schedule most travel and visits off term but if needed can accommodate travel during term. Also hope to be on sabbatical for 1 or 2 years in the next few years which will allow even more time."

Much of Gross's activism is detailed in the acknowledgments of his latest book The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation, "Back at Tel Aviv, I benefited from my involvement with several human rights organizations. I am a member of the board in two of them – the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Gisha: Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement. At ACRI, I especially thank the lawyers who headed the department dealing with the Occupied Territories – first Limor Yehuda and later Tamar Feldman. Interaction with them and with the practicalities of legal work regarding the Occupied Territories enriched my perspectives. At Gisha, I am particularly grateful to the founders, Kenneth Mann and Sari Bashi. Sari was the organization's first executive director. By (literally) asking me on board, she and Kenneth ensured my constant interaction with their work on Gaza, which has been extremely significant to my research and my writing. Many thanks to Eitan Diamond, who succeeded Sari as Gisha's executive director, for his continued engagement and for our many conversations on related topics, also during his previous positions first in B'Tselem and later with the International Committee of the Red Cross. My consultative role in the reports that Gisha issued on the occupation of Gaza after the disengagement, the first one written by Kenneth and Sari, and the second by Sari with Tamar Feldman (when Tamar worked at Gisha before moving to ACRI), intertwined with and broadened my writing. ACRI and Gisha were involved in some of the litigation discussed in the book. The opinions expressed in the book, however, are solely my own. Some of the discussion concerning Gaza in Chapter 3 draws on an article I co-wrote with Tamar Feldman on food security in Gaza, and I am grateful for this cooperation. My first academic article on occupation was co-written with Orna Ben-Naftali and Keren Michaeli, and the ideas laid out in that article form the basis for some of the arguments in Chapter 1 of this book. I am grateful to them both. I owe special and warm thanks to Orna for our many years of thinking together on the topic over much wining and dining, and for her enduring friendship. I am grateful to Duncan Kennedy at Harvard Law School for his interest in this project and for his support ever since he was one of my dissertation advisors."  

IAM has never denied that academic freedom is essential to the university.   But Gross, Matar and others abuse this right.  The tax payers who support the faculty would feel cheated had they known that activists spent so much time, as Gross noted, on extra  curricular work which does not help the student.  In no other Western country such flagrant abuse would be permitted in a public university.  No wonder then that Gross can devote so much time to "thinking together on the topic over much wining and dining." As the saying goes, "nice work if you can get it."

Balfour@100: A Century of International Law In Palestine
Date: 18 Nov 2017
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: DLT, Main Building
Type of Event: Panel Discussion
Speakers:  Anna Bernard, Matt Craven, Catriona Drew, Zeina Ghandour, Aeyal Gross,  Ardi Imseis, Vidya Kumar,  Mazen Masri,  Yossi Rapoport, John Strawson, Nimer Sultany, Yair Wallach,  Lynn Welchman.    
Concluding Address: Nathaniel Berman, Brown University 
The 2nd November 2017 marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild expressing  British support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.  For international lawyers, the centenary  provides an  occasion to reflect on a century of international legal engagement with Palestine: from Balfour 1917 to the United Nations Partition Plan 1947; from the Occupation in 1967 to the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987.
Organiser: CCEIL, SOAS University of London & Centre for Human Rights in Conflict (CHRC) UEL


Balfour@100: A Century of International Law in Palestine  

Time:                   Agenda:                     Panelists

9:00 Coffee & Registration (G3) 

9:30 – 11:00                          Panel 1: Balfour@100              Zeina Ghandour, Birkbeck, University  of London

‘In Anticipation of Armageddon – The Balfour Declaration as  (wish) fulfilment of ancient  prophecy’

Yossi Rapoport, Queen Mary  University of London

‘Balfour and Settler Colonialism: A Global Perspective’ 

                                                                                                  Nimer Sultany, SOAS University of London

‘Against Zionism (including Liberal Zionism)’ 

                                                                                                  Catriona Drew, SOAS University of London

'Balfour and Population Transfer: An International Legal Affair' 

                                                                                                  Chair: John Strawson, University of East London 

11:00 – 11:30 Morning Coffee (G3) 

11:30 – 12:45                     Panel 2: Partition@70                   John Strawson, University of East London

‘Partition at 70’ 

                                                                                                  Yair Wallach, SOAS University of London

‘The Racialised Logic of the Palestine Partition’ 

                                                                                                  Mazen Masri, City, University of London

‘Partition and the Consolidation of Settler-Colonialism’ 

                                                                                                  Chair: Catriona Drew, SOAS University of London 

12:45 – 13:45 Lunch Break 

13:45 – 15:00                   Panel 3: Occupation@50               Aeyal Gross, Tel Aviv University /SOAS University of London

 ‘Occupation: Between Fact and Norm; Between form and Function’ 

                                                                                                  Ardi Imseis, University of Cambridge

 ‘Prolonged Occupation of Palestine: The Case for a Second Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice’ 

                                                                                                  Anat Matar, Tel Aviv University

‘Securing Occupation: The Threat of the Political Prisoner’ 

                                                                                                  Chair: Kate Grady, SOAS University of London 

15:00 – 15:15 Afternoon Tea (G3) 

15:15 – 16:30                  Panel 4: Intifada@30                       Lynn Welchman, SOAS University of London

‘Before the Crits: Human Rights as Resistance in the First Intifada' 

                                                                                                  Anna Bernard, King’s College London

‘A lawyer is a useless Sāmid. Writing, rights, and resistance in Raja Shehadeh’s The Third Way’

                    Vidya Kumar, University of Leicester

‘Intifada and the Right to Revolution and Resistance in International Law’

                                                                                                  Chair: Matt Craven, SOAS University of London 

16:30 Concluding Address                                                        Nathaniel Berman, Brown University 

17:00                      Centre for Gender Studies (KLT)               Queer in Populist Times



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