Students and academics at Soas University of London have said a visit by the Israeli ambassador Mark Regev this week could lead to serious tension and substantial distress on the campus.This is not a spoof. This is not satire. This is seriously what supposed academics are claiming will be the outcome of an Israeli representative speaking on campus, a single Zionist speech among the hundreds of anti-Zionist talks, activities, lectures and boycotts that infest SOAS every year.
Regev has been invited by two student societies to speak about the Middle East and prospects for peace on Thursday, but his visit has been criticised as provocative by other staff and students who are planning a protest.
More than 150 academics from Soas and other UK universities, plus 40 student societies at the university, have written to the Soas director Valerie Amos urging her to intervene to stop the meeting on Thursday at which Regev is due to speak.
A letter signed by more than 100 Soas staff says: “We fear that if this provocative event proceeds as planned, it will cause substantial distress and harm to many of our students and staff who are, have been or will be affected by the actions of what a recent UN report refers to as the Israeli ‘apartheid regime’.
“The event could further cause serious tension on campus and result in a charged atmosphere that will be detrimental to the wellbeing of all faculty, staff and students.”
The students’ union challenged the university authorities over the staging of the event, raising concerns about possible safety and security risks posed by the ambassador’s visit and “the inability of students and staff – in particular Palestinian students – to participate openly in the debate, because of possible repercussions on their ability to enter Israel/Palestine”.Apparently Israel is completely unaware of the anti-Israel activities they do the other 364 days of the year, but they will have Mossad operatives taking names on the day of the Regev speech just looking for excuses to ban Palestinians from coming home.
Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, one of the organisers of the academics’ protest letter to Lady Amos, said: “Holding this meeting at Soas, where staff and students have voted overwhelmingly in support of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, and in support of Palestinian rights, seems like a deliberate provocation.”Calling for the destruction of Israel isn't a provocation. Holding a speech defending it is.
A statement posted on Facebook by the Soas students’ union said: “We stand with the Soas community in expressing our concern at Mark Regev’s presence on campus, and in rejecting the idea that our spaces of learning should serve as avenues for officials to put forward state propaganda.”But perhaps the most outrageous comment about this speech came from Yair Wallach, the chair of the Centre for Jewish Studies at SOAS, who said “We see little value in the talk itself. This is the view of myself and other colleagues at the Centre for Jewish Studies. Therefore we suggest that the JSoc and the SOAS UN society reconsider the event.”
That is how thoroughly anti-Israel SOAS is. Even its "Jewish studies" leaders are against the idea of even hearing an Israeli representative speak.
Here is a list of speeches, available on podcast, hosted by the SOAS Student Union over the past couple of years that are considered to have more value than a speech by a representative of Israel. "Twerking as an act of resistance" sounds like it is hugely valuable.
The last time a representative from Israel visited SOAS in 2005, someone pulled a fire alarm at the outset of the speech, delaying it for an hour.