Academics and Israel


Sir, – Dr Kevin McCarthy attacks the projected University College Cork conference on “International Law and the State of Israel” on the grounds that “the right of scholars to debate and discuss each other’s work . . . cannot happen if academics from Israeli institutions are boycotted from participation simply because they are deemed by some to hold indefensible opinions” (January 27th).

Dr McCarthy’s point is perfectly correct and entirely irrelevant. No Israeli academics, as individuals, are boycotted from participation in any event in Ireland; the same applies to Israeli artists, filmmakers, sportsmen and sportswomen, etc.

As Academics for Palestine Ireland puts it: “It is important to note that the Palestinian call for a boycott is a call to boycott institutions, not individuals . . . the boycott applies to academics and scientists only when they are representing their universities . . . There are no exclusion clauses, hence no tests of individual ‘correctness’.” – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.

Sir, – Mike Jennings (January 26th) expressed his deep concern on behalf of the Irish Federation of University Teachers that a proposed conference in University College Cork that included the concept of ” legitimacy ” in its title has been deferred.

“Legitimacy” I take to mean the tired old theme of Israel’s “right to exist” being once again trotted out, as if it were any less axiomatic, than for example, Ireland’s right to exist.

The recent critical analyses of the 1916 Rising to which Mr Jennings refers did not, so far as I recall, call into question Ireland’s ” right to exist ”, but questioned method and timing.

As for his hope to learn a lot from the panel on this topic, their views are well known, entrenched, and involve prescriptions for Israel which, if implemented, would leave its existence precarious if not totally untenable. – Yours, etc,