“It fails the 'Preference versus Prejudice Test': a preference for an alternative government of Israel is legitimate. A desire for its replacement by a 'State of Palestine' reflects a prejudice denying the right of sovereignty to the Jewish people.”
Paris, 30 March 2015
Writing to Southampton University incumbent Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam and incoming Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, drew attention to a conference announced on their University website, scheduled for 17-19 April.
Entitled “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism,” the notice claims this to be unique because it concerns the legitimacy in international law of the Jewish State of Israel. 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.
The letter contended that “this programme is not an academic debate, but a political exercise to delegitimize and delete from the map the sovereign state of the Jewish People.”
Samuels lamented that:
“-first, it fails what I call the 'Preference versus Prejudice Test': a preference for an alternative government of Israel is legitimate. A desire for its replacement by a 'State of Palestine' reflects a prejudice denying the right of sovereignty to the Jewish people. Among the 195 member-states of the United Nations, only Israel is so singled out.
-second, most of the Middle East is not composed of ‘nation-states’ in the European sense, based upon a common language and a historical core geography, albeit subject to conquest and defeats.
The Middle East is composed of “state-nations,” as creatures of colonial accommodations and feudal mortgages granted to tribal leaders:
- Iraq is not Babylon reborn, but – as in Jordan which is not the Biblical Moab – a British sop to the Hashemites as compensation for attributing Arabia to the tribe of Saud.
- Syria is not Assyria reborn – nor did Lebanon precede modern Maronite Christian settlement. Statehood followed French suzerainty out to rival British control of the neighbouring principalities.
The Anglo-French World War One alliance was crowned by sharing the spoils from a dismantled Turkish empire, though London came out best with the oil of Iraq and Arabia and the prestige of the Holy Land.
- Egypt is not the Land of the Pharaohs reborn, but became – through the Suez Canal – a strategic way station to India, the jewel in the imperial crown.
-'Palestine' could not be 'Philistia' reborn, for 'Palestina' was a Roman concoction to punish the Jewish rebels against the Emperor, by deleting their name from the map. Resurrected by the Church to keep the Jewish narrative out of Christian supercessionism, the only official 'Palestinians' in the British Mandate were, ironically, His Majesty's Jewish subjects.
- The only reborn nation in the region that speaks the same language and shares the same faith as its Biblical forebears is the State of Israel.'”
The Centre alerted the Vice-Chancellor that “Southampton University is to be hijacked by a conference that implies a genocidal intent towards the Jewish State, but also sets a dangerous precedent for 'state-nations' in Africa, Latin America and even Europe, as the same charges may similarly “be posed by [their] very nature.”
Samuels warned that “claims to spurious peoples, denouncing their right to exist, are redolent of Nazism and invoke contemporary nationalist and rightist extremism.”
The Centre stressed that “Zionism has existed for 2,000 years in Jewish liturgy and practice. It is the national liberation movement for self-determination of the Jewish people that brought its reborn sovereignty to fruition.”
The letter added that “though Southampton University will not undo that miracle, its conference will serve as one more step in the identity theft of the Jewish narrative which, according to the European Union Working Definition, can be described by only one word: ‘Antisemitism’.”
“Above all, we suggest that the fallout cannot serve academic interests and urge that appropriate measures be taken to prevent this abuse of Southampton University's good name,” concluded Samuels.