Israeli Organizer of U.K. Conference on Israel's Right to Exist Remains Defiant

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A demonstrator with face painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag protests outside the Israeli Embassy in west London July 26, 2014.Credit: Reuters

An Israeli expat and an outspoken critic of Israeli policy defiantly defended a conference questioning Israel's right to exist that he helped organize in Southampton University in Britain.

"People feel uncomfortable to have a real dialogue, and the conference came out of this feeling," Professor Oren Ben-Dor told TheMarker Sunday. "This is exactly the reason to participate and not call on cancelling."

Called "International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism," the conference "aims to explore the relatedness of the suffering and injustice in Palestine to the foundation and protection of a state of such nature," its organizers say on the conference website.

When asked if he were aware of the fact that the conference is liable to stir anger among many in Israel, Ben Dor responded, "I invite everyone to register and join the conference. If there is anger, it is a symptom because of which we need to participate in the conference. It is open to all positions. We invite everybody to come and listen and influence and be influenced.

Ben Dor, who teaches law and philosophy in Southampton University and has termed Israel an apartheid state in the past, said it was irrelevant whether the conference brought into question Israel's legitimacy. "The question is tied to the conference's content and not the question of its existence."

Meanwhile, the conference has caused uproar in Britain, as thousands of people have signed an Internet petition calling on its cancellation. The main concern is that the conference will serve as a platform for expressing anti-Semitic positions. Britain has experienced a number of high-profile anti-Semitic incidents.

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