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Boycott Calls Against Israel
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Israel: Troubled Relations

27.04.16

Editorial Note

In the last several years the London University School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Israel have had a very troubled relations.
On the 27th of April Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to England will speak at a conference there. He was invited by the Jewish and UN societies. When the invitation was announced it was met with a barrage of resistance from pro-Palestinian student groups who "have promised to go ahead with an Apartheid off Campus event" on the day of Regev’s visit. In particular they opposed the invitation because "SOAS community" has passed a BDS referendum in 2015.

However, officially SOAS administration spoke out against the referendum.  In a statement released to the media on 3 March 2015, SOAS announced that it had no legal obligation to comply with the BDS poll because of a number of factors; 1)  BDS opinion poll was organised and run by the Students’ Union which is "an organisation independent of SOAS, University of London;" 2) the poll has not been endorsed by SOAS; 3) the organizers of the poll did not meet legal standards. "While the poll has been described as a ‘referendum’ by the Students’ Union, no details were provided in advance for what would make it quorate or valid. In addition, less than 30% of the SOAS community responded." The announcement stated clearly, "the School has no legal obligation to act on the result of this vote." 

Some 40 SOAS groups have endorsed the demand to cancel Regev's visit.  Middle East, Arab, Islamic, and Iranian societies feature prominently in the list.  Among the unlikely supporters are SOAS Israel Society; SOAS Men’s Football Club; SOAS Martial Arts Society; SOAS Herb Society; SOAS Origami society; SOAS Capoeira Society; among others.    

Richard Galber, a mature SOAS student commented last September on the troubled relationship: "After spending two years at SOAS it is apparent that the vehement anti-Israel sentiment is widespread among both students and professional teaching staff. The anti-Israel sentiment often morphs into anti-Jewish antisemitism where the word Jew and Zionist became effortlessly interchangeable."

Among the numerous incidents, in 2011, a SOAS part time lecturer Mohammed Abdelkarim was caught biting Dean Gold on the face during a tussle, smashing his camera.

SOAS's lecturer Adrian Hilton explained that "Pretty much all student societies at Soas have no choice but to conform to the Islamo-Marxist orthodoxy. Last year, an Israeli student was ejected from the Israeli Society (which is staunchly ‘anti-Zionist’) for having the temerity to oppose the boycott. There is little or no tolerance for anyone who objects to the demonisation of Israel and the casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking that only one religion is tolerated on campus. There’s a designated ‘multi-faith’ prayer room, but the noticeboard has only Islamic information... The Soas student constitution prohibits societies based on race, yet the entire student body defines itself in terms of concentric circles of ethno–religious rhetoric, each competing for dominance..." When Baroness Amos has held a meeting with Regev, the student reaction on Facebook was nasty "She knows she brings shame to Soas"; "Regev is an abhorrent racist"; "Who the hell meets a vile Zionist terrorist who defends the mass murder of children?"

When it comes to Israeli critics of their country, SOAS can be very welcoming.  On the 1st of June, SOAS will be hosting a book launch with Aeyal Gross (Tel-Aviv University and SOAS). The publicity release of the book The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation, states the following: "As Israel's control of the Occupied Palestinian Territory nears its fiftieth anniversary, The Writing on the Wall offers a critical perspective on the international law of occupation. Advocating a normative and functional approach to occupation, it analyzes the application of humanitarian and human rights law, pointing to the risk of using the law of occupation in its current version to legitimize new variations of conquest and colonialism." Another speaker on this panel is Hagar Kotef, an expert on Checkpoint Watch. 
 
While the SOAS administration stressed its commitment to a free exchange of ideas, "SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions in a mutually respectful and collegial environment. This can only be conducted effectively in an atmosphere of open enquiry, mutual tolerance and intellectual freedom."  The roster of speakers indicates the opposite. No effort to diversify the offerings was made.

It seems clear the SOAS administration is reluctant to confront the illegal BDS poll or to insist on a variety of point of view, making its commitment for a neutral platform sound hollow.





The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation
Wed, 31 May 2017, 23:00 -
Thu, 01 Jun 2017, 22:59
Speakers: Matthew Craven; Hagar Kotef; and Nimer Sultany
Date: 1 June 2017Time: 4:00 PM
Finishes: 1 June 2017Time: 6:00 PM
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)
Type of Event: Book Launch With Aeyal Gross (Tel-Aviv University, SOAS, University of London) 
Chair: Catriona Drew 
As Israel's control of the Occupied Palestinian Territory nears its fiftieth anniversary, The Writing on the Wall offers a critical perspective on the international law of occupation. Advocating a normative and functional approach to occupation, it analyzes the application of humanitarian and human rights law, pointing to the risk of using the law of occupation in its current version to legitimize new variations of conquest and colonialism.All Welcome! 


==================================================================


Soas university students plan protest against Israeli ambassador Mark Regev

by Nick Clark
 
 
Students at the School of African and Oriental Studies (Soas) in central London are set to protest next week against a planned visit by Israeli ambassador Mark Regev.
The university’s Jewish and UN societies have invited Regev to speak at Soas next Thursday. Management have allowed him to speak despite a 75 percent vote in favour of an academic boycott of Israel in a students’ union referendum in 2015.
Students from a wide group of student societies at Soas have put out a statement. It said, “Regev will be speaking at our university as an official representative of the Israeli state, not in a personal capacity.
“He is being given the cover of an academic setting to put forward official state positions on the on-going expansion of illegal settlements, the siege of Gaza, land thefts, and discriminatory laws imposed on Palestinian citizens of Israel.”
It added, “This is not an academic debate, informed by fact and reason, it is an official exercise in state propaganda.”
As spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 2014 Regev defended Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians.
He became Israel’s ambassador to Britain in 2016 with a mission to combat growing support for Palestine and the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
In recent weeks university Palestinian societies have faced coordinated and well-organised attempts by pro-Israeli groups to shut down their events. Societies at London universities and around Britain have been smeared with accusations of antisemitism for hosting pro-BDS events.
In one instance the Palestinian society at Uclan university in Preston, Lancashire, was forced to relocate a public meeting on BDS off campus. Uclan management cancelled the meeting without first informing the students after a lobbying campaign by a group calling itself North West Friends of Israel.
Provocation
Regev’s planned Soas visit is a carefully planned provocation. There is strong support for Palestine at Soas, which was one of the first universities where students voted to endorse BDS.
There were also protests last year after Regev met with Soas director Valerie Amos.
But it has been singled out by pro-Israeli groups because of this, with claims that support for BDS made Soas “unsafe” for Jewish students.
University management have agreed that the Israeli embassy will be in charge of security for the event.
This means Regev will be accompanied by armed guards, and that the embassy will collect details of everyone attending the speaking event.
But students at Soas have promised to go ahead with an Apartheid off Campus event on the day of Regev’s visit.
The students’ statement says the event will be “a day where the Soas community will celebrate its diversity and struggles with teach-outs on resistance movements, the situation in Palestine and their relevance in the UK today”.
They called on everyone who believes in “justice for the Palestinian people” to join them on campus.
5.30pm, Thursday 27 April, Soas, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0XG



=============================================================



SOAS Palestine Society
14 April at 17:15 ·
 
SOAS Community Statement: Apartheid Off Campus

It has come to our attention that the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, will be coming to SOAS on the 27th of April at 19:00. Mr Regev is a well known former spokesperson for the Israeli state who came to international prominence through his defence of the brutal and repeated attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, including the many violations of human rights and international law carried out throughout these operations.
Firstly, Mr Regev will be speaking at our University as an official representative of the Israeli state, not in a personal capacity. He is being given the cover of an academic setting to put forward official state positions on the on-going expansion of illegal settlements, the siege of Gaza, land thefts, and discriminatory laws imposed on Palestinian citizens of Israel. This is not an academic debate, informed by fact and reason, it is an official exercise in state propaganda.
This comes flying in the face of a landslide (73%) SOAS vote that included the entire SOAS community, contract staff, academic staff and students, in favour of endorsing the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines, explicitly state the refusal to host official representatives of the Israeli state.
The response to the announcement of the event only confirms the SOAS community’s stance. For example, over 100 members of the academic staff have already signed a statement rejecting Mr Regev’s presence on campus.
Secondly, through allowing this event to take place, the school is failing to uphold its basic duty of care to staff and students, Palestinians in particular. Israel’s latest "anti-boycott law" stipulates that individuals (both foreign nationals and Palestinians who hold foreign passports) who publicly support the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) for justice and equality, can be banned entry into the country.
This law is a blatant breach of free speech and academic freedom. It puts SOAS community in an extremely precarious situation, especially since a number of current staff and students have been denied entry into Israel/Palestine. This is despite the repeated efforts by the school to address these questions of academic freedom. Additionally, this law is yet another example of many attempts to dehumanise Palestinian narratives and criminalise movements and individuals striving to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and human rights.
The environment created by this event is unsafe for Palestinian students, many of whom have suffered directly at the hands of the Israeli security services. The Ambassador will be accompanied by armed embassy security personnel (whether the arms are concealed or carried openly). Many students fear for their safety with Israeli security personnel roaming our campus. Palestinian staff and students would be subject to the same questioning and searching they suffered living under military occupation in Palestine should they attend a public event.
Thirdly, SOAS management cannot guarantee that this event will take place within the acceptable boundaries of academic freedom and free speech, free from intimidation of all participants. The School has ignored a letter of concern by Palestinian students who asked how the School proposes to guarantee that information about attendees will not be passed on to the embassy through the ticketing mechanism, and how the School proposes to deal with the presence of armed security personnel on campus. It is completely abhorrent that SOAS administration has stated that this visit can go ahead without consulting Palestinian students and staff as part of the risk assessment for the event. Effectively excluding Palestinians from this event.

Indeed, in their latest correspondence to staff, SOAS management claims to be upholding the right to free speech while also taking into account the concerns of all those affected by the event. It is clear that this is not the case as SOAS administration has effectively ignored letters from staff and Palestinian students and refused to engage with Palestinian students especially.
In response, the SOAS community calls on all students, trade unionists, and concerned individuals who believe in the importance of democracy, the right to academic freedom, educational environments free from intimidation and physical threats, and justice for the Palestinian people to join the ‘Apartheid Off Campus’ day on the 27th April in the afternoon at SOAS. A day where the SOAS community will celebrate its diversity and struggles with teach-outs on resistance movements, the situation in Palestine and their relevance in the UK today from 17:30.
Signed:
• SOAS Decolonising Our Minds Society
• SOAS Justice For Workers - End Outsourcing
• SOAS Fractionals For Fair Pay
• SOAS Labour Society
• NUS Black Student Campaign
• SOAS LGBTQ Society 
• SOAS Femenist Society
• SOAS Syria Society
• SOAS Palestine Society
• SOAS Israel Society
• SOAS Islamic Society
• SOAS Iraqi Society
• SOAS Ahlubayt Islamic Society
• SOAS Transnational Diplomacy Association
• SOAS Men’s Football Club
• SOAS Against Human Trafficking
• SOAS Canadian Society
• SOAS Kashmir Solidarity Movement
• SOAS Afghan Society
• SOAS Teach First Society
• SOAS Albanian Society
• SOAS Martial Arts Society
• SOAS Spoken Word Society
• SOAS Kurdish Society
• SOAS MENA Society
• SOAS Goes to Calais
• SOAS Ceilidh Band
• SOAS Herb Society
• SOAS Origami society
• SOAS Shia Theology Society
• SOAS East Africa Network
• SOAS Yemen society
• SOAS India Society
• SOAS Mehfil e Urdu
• SOAS Pakistan Society
• SOAS Capoeira Society
• SOAS Sri Lanka Society Bookstall
• SOAS Food 4 Luca
• SOAS Detainee Support
• SOAS Solidarity with Refugees and Displaced People's Society
If your society wants to add its support to this statement, please email: apartheidoffcampus@gmail.com
#apartheidoffcampus

============================================================


SOAS community statement: Apartheid off campus
April 15, 2017  Written by SOAS community  Published in Opinion  

      
As Mark Regev prepares to speak at SOAS later this month, students have called a protest against his proposed visit
Palestinian students and student societies across SOAS have called a protest on 27 April in response to the proposed visit of Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev. Many staff and students are particularly incensed that management has entered direct negotiations with the Embassy, despite the fact that the visit was initially proposed by two students societies: the UN Society and the Jewish Society.
 
SOAS management has also agreed to have the Israeli Embassy control security for the event, including allowing the Embassy to take details of everyone entering the meeting. Palestinian students wrote a letter to management outlining their concerns over free speech and safety, which was ignored.
 
Over one hundred staff members have signed a letter to management strongly opposing the event, and any event that takes place on campus and seeks to normalise the actions of the Israeli state or any other repressive regime. The letter also affirms solidarity with the Palestinian people and in the fight for justice. Here we reprint the statement prepared by student societies at SOAS, and support the call to protest on 27 April at 4pm opposing the presence of Mark Regev on campus.

It has come to our attention that the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, will be coming to SOAS on the 27th of April at 19:00. Mr Regev is a well known former spokesperson for the Israeli state who came to international prominence through his defence of the brutal and repeated attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, including the many violations of human rights and international law carried out throughout these operations.   

Firstly, Mr Regev will be speaking at our University as an official representative of the Israeli state, not in a personal capacity. He is being given the cover of an academic setting to put forward official state positions on the on-going expansion of illegal settlements, the siege of Gaza, land thefts, and discriminatory laws imposed on Palestinian citizens of Israel. This is not an academic debate, informed by fact and reason, it is an official exercise in state propaganda.  

This comes flying in the face of a landslide (73%) SOAS vote that included the entire SOAS community, contract staff, academic staff and students, in favour of endorsing the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.The Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) guidelines, explicitly state the refusal to host official representatives of the Israeli state.   

The response to the announcement of the event only confirms the SOAS community’s stance. For example, over 100 members of the academic staff have already signed a statement rejecting Mr Regev’s presence on campus. 

Secondly, through allowing this event to take place, the school is failing to uphold its basic duty of care to staff and students, Palestinians in particular. Israel’s latest "anti-boycott law" stipulates that individuals (both foreign nationals and Palestinians who hold foreign passports) who publicly support the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) for justice and equality, can be banned entry into the country.   

This law is a blatant breach of free speech and academic freedom. It puts SOAS community in an extremely precarious situation, especially since a number of current staff and students have been denied entry into Israel/Palestine. This is despite the repeated efforts by the school to address these questions of academic freedom. Additionally, this law is yet another example of many attempts to dehumanise Palestinian narratives and criminalise movements and individuals striving to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law and human rights. 

The environment created by this event is unsafe for Palestinian students, many of whom have suffered directly at the hands of the Israeli security services. The Ambassador will be accompanied by  armed  embassy  security  personnel (whether the arms are concealed or carried openly). Many students fear for their safety with Israeli security personnel roaming our campus. Palestinian staff and students would be subject to the same questioning and searching they suffered living under military occupation in Palestine should they attend a public event.

Thirdly, SOAS management cannot guarantee that this event will take place within the acceptable boundaries of academic freedom and free speech, free from intimidation of all participants. The School has ignored a letter of concern by Palestinian students who asked how the School proposes to guarantee that information about attendees will not be passed on to the embassy through the ticketing mechanism, and how the School proposes to deal with the presence of armed security personnel on  campus. It is completely abhorrent that SOAS administration has stated that this visit can go ahead without consulting Palestinian students and staff as part of the risk assessment for the event. Effectively excluding Palestinians from this event.  

Indeed, in their latest correspondence to staff, SOAS management claims to be upholding the right to free speech while also taking into account the concerns of all those affected by the event. It is clear that this is not the case as SOAS administration has effectively ignored letters from staff and Palestinian students and refused to engage with Palestinian students especially.

In response, the SOAS community calls on all students, trade unionists, and concerned individuals who believe in the importance of democracy, the right to academic freedom, educational environments free from intimidation and physical threats, and justice for the Palestinian people to join the ‘Apartheid Off Campus’ day on the 27th April in the afternoon at SOAS. A day where the SOAS community will celebrate its diversity and struggles with teach-outs on resistance movements, the situation in Palestine and their relevance in the UK today from 16:00.   

Signed:  •  SOAS Decolonising Our Minds Society •  SOAS Justice For Cleaners •  SOAS Fractionals For Fair Pay •  SOAS Labour Society •  NUS Black Student Campaign  •  SOAS LGBTQ Society •  SOAS Syria Society •  SOAS Palestine Society •  SOAS Israel Society •  SOAS Islamic Society  •  SOAS Iraqi Society •  SOAS Ahlubayt Islamic Society •  SOAS Transnational Diplomacy Association •  SOAS Men’s Football Club •  SOAS Against Human Trafficking •  SOAS Canadian Society •  SOAS Kashmir Solidarity Movement •  SOAS Afghan Society •  SOAS Teach First Society •  SOAS Albanian Society •  SOAS Martial Arts Society •  SOAS Spoken Word Society •  SOAS Kurdish Society •  SOAS MENA Society •  SOAS Goes to Calais •  SOAS Ceilidh Band •  SOAS Herb Society •  SOAS Origami society •  SOAS Shia Theology Society •  SOAS East Africa Network •  SOAS Yemen society •  SOAS India Society •  SOAS Mehfil e Urdu


======================================================

SOAS statement on Students' Union's BDS opinion poll
3 March 2015

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions opinion poll which took place at SOAS last week was organised and run by the Students’ Union. The Students' Union is an organisation independent of SOAS, University of London. The poll has not been endorsed by SOAS.

While the poll has been described as a ‘referendum’ by the Students’ Union, no details were provided in advance for what would make it quorate or valid. In addition, less than 30% of the SOAS community responded.  As highlighted in the Students' Union's own correspondence, the School has no legal obligation to act on the result of this vote.

SOAS is committed to maintaining a neutral platform and ensuring that all members of our diverse community are free to express their opinions in a mutually respectful and collegial environment. This can only be conducted effectively in an atmosphere of open enquiry, mutual tolerance and intellectual freedom.

ENDS


======================================================


NOVEMBER 8, 2016

Watchdog: London University Lecture Equating Nazism, Zionism Highlights School’s ‘Poor Record’ in Cracking Down on Antisemitism

by Lea Speyer

A lecture last week at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London highlights the school’s poor record when it comes to cracking down on Jew-hatred, a British watchdog group told The Algemeiner on Monday.
A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) — which filed an official complaint with SOAS Director Baroness Amos about a lecture delivered Thursday by author Thomas Suarez — said that not only were antisemitic comments made during the talk, but they were left unchallenged by the SOAS Palestine Society, the group that hosted the event.
According to the CAA complaint — obtained by The Algemeiner — Suarez told attendees that “Zionism was a parallel movement to Nazism,” and claimed, “Israel can hold Jewish identity ransom,” as Zionists have “conspired to try and increase antisemitism in order to force Jews to Palestine.”
 
He went on:
Israel has one of the largest militaries, but its most powerful weapon, the weapon without which all of its others would be impotent, is its narrative, its creation of its autobiography. This narrative does not merely put a pretty gloss on this reality, as all nations have their narratives, it actually turns the truth upside down. And this complete arsenal in this narrative is embodied in a three-word bullet. That bullet is a three-word phrase: “The Jewish state.” This is a unique phenomenon in the world. No other nation has such a device as this. Israel does not use Judaism as a national religion. In fact, I may be wrong, but as far as I am aware, Judaism is not a national faith of Israel. Rather, crammed into those three words are all of Jewry, Judaism, Jewish history, culture, persecution, and most cynical and exploitative of all, the Holocaust. This three-word phrase expropriates all of these into a human shield.
“SOAS is already often referred to as the ‘School of Antisemitism,’ as it repeatedly and severely violates the International Definition of Antisemitism and many of its own policies on ethics, diversity, tolerance and free speech,” the CAA spokesman told The Algemeiner. “But Suarez’s rhetoric will serve to intimidate Jewish students even further.”
The watchdog group called on Baroness Amos to investigate the role of the SOAS Palestine Society and the Student Union “in organizing and supervising the lecture, and pursue disciplinary proceedings against any students who broke SOAS’s rules, as well as passing evidence to the police where you believe that crimes have been committed.”
“Baroness Amos, Jewish students are currently feeling threatened and isolated…SOAS has the opportunity and obligation to show in the firmest possible manner that those who engage in antisemitism at the School will suffer dire consequences for their actions, and that those who belittle or tolerate antisemitism will similarly be shown no quarter,” the CAA complaint stated.
This hate speaker described Jewish national self-determination as 'racist fascist cult"; why has @SOAS given him a stage on campus?
In June, as The Algemeiner reported, a British academic said that Jewish and pro-Israel students at SOAS are “bludgeoned into the acceptance of Islamo-Marxist political orthodoxy,” and have become a persecuted minority.
In response to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment, an SOAS spokesperson stated:
A wide range of opinions and views are expressed at events held at SOAS and it does not mean that the school endorses or supports the views. In relation to the event referred to, this was not a SOAS-organized or -run event. It was organized by a student society, which operates under auspices of the Students Union —  a separately constituted body from the school itself. We are looking into the letter of complaint sent to us by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and will respond to it.
 
 

 ================================================================
London university condemns Israeli government after senior lecturer ban
Dr Adam Hanieh was detained upon entering Tel Aviv and banned from entering Israel for ten years
Rachael Pells, James Smith 
17 October 2016 
The Independent Online
The director of SOAS University has condemned a move by the Israeli government to detain a senior lecturer and ban him from entering the country for ten years.
In a letter to the Israeli Embassy, former UN official Baroness Valerie Amos called the decision to deport Dr Adam Hanieh “an arbitrary breach of academic freedom”.
Dr Hanieh travelled to Israel in September in order to give a lecture on social sciences at Birzeit University in Palestine. He was due to deliver three classes to PHD students at the university, but was detained upon arrival at Ben Gurion airport.
According to the university, Dr Hanieh was questioned for ten hours and taken overnight to a detention centre before he was returned back to London the following day.
A representative of the Israeli Ministry of Interior informed him that he was banned from entering the country for ten years.
Writing to embassy representatives in the UK, Lady Amos expressed “serious concerns” about the academic’s treatment, demanding an explanation into the reasons behind the ban.
In an update on Monday, a SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) university spokesperson said: “Unfortunately no satisfactory response has been forthcoming, thus confirming our belief that this is an arbitrary breach of academic freedom.”
Dr Hanieh is one of a number of academics who are said to have been denied entry to Israel, according to the London university. In 2015, a research student was said to have been deported under similar circumstances.
Officials from Birzeit University have also spoken out against the action. 
A spokesperson said: “This policy represents an attack on Palestinian academic freedom, and is routinely practiced at the two entry points, the airport in Tel Aviv and the Jordan valley crossing from Jordan.”
“Birzeit University is not surprised by this latest instance of the policy, and hereby draws attention to its destructive effects.”
An Israeli source said Dr Hanieh was an “ardent hater” of Israel and had previously spoken out against the government through his work. 
The source said: “It’s ironic that a man such as Dr Hanieh who has not only called for Israel to be boycotted and isolated, but also rejects the very idea of peace between Israel and its neighbours, including the Oslo Accords, should be so upset at not being able to visit Israel.”
According to the university, which specialises in the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, access to a country like Israel is “of vital importance” to its teaching and research. 
A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in London said they had received Lady Amos’s letter and that the matter was being looked into.

======================================================================================================


Updated statement on the deportation of SOAS academic Dr Adam Hanieh from Israel

17 October 2016
On 12 September 2016, a member of SOAS academic staff, Dr. Adam Hanieh, traveled to Israel in order to lecture in the Ph.D. Program in Social Sciences at Birzeit University. Dr. Hanieh, who is a Senior Lecturer in Development Studies, had helped develop the curriculum for this program and was due to deliver three classes to the first cohort of PhD students. On arrival at Ben Gurion airport he was held for questioning over a period of ten hours, taken overnight to a detention centre outside of the airport, and then returned back to London the following morning. A representative of the Israeli Ministry of Interior informed him that he was banned from entering the country for ten years.

Immediately following this incident, SOAS Director Baroness Valerie Amos wrote to the Israeli Embassy requesting an explanation. Unfortunately no satisfactory response has been forthcoming, thus confirming our belief that this is an arbitrary breach of academic freedom. This is not the first time that members of the SOAS community have been denied entry to Israel. Ensuring access by staff and students to the regions in which we specialise is of vital importance to the university’s teaching and research. It is also critical to our ability to develop and strengthen ties with academic institutions outside of the UK.

SOAS is committed to academic freedom and will continue to work to ensure full access for all its staff and students.

==========================================


SOAS statement on the deportation of SOAS academic Dr Adam Hanieh from Israel

16 September 2016

Earlier this year the Director of SOAS Baroness Valerie Amos met with the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom to express strong concerns about the detention and deportation of a SOAS research student at Ben Gurion airport in 2015. It is deeply worrying that Dr Adam Hanieh another of our members of academic staff has been prevented on 12 September legitimately accessing the country and deported on 13 September. We are writing to the Israeli Embassy to raise our serious concerns and ask for further information.

SOAS has a large number of academics actively engaged in research on the Middle East across a broad range of disciplines. Ensuring our researchers have appropriate access to the regions in which we specialise - Asia, Africa and the Middle East - is of critical importance to our work.



==============================================================================


ANTI-ISRAEL GRAFFITI FOUND DEFACING UK CAMPUS AFTER AMBASSADOR'S VISIT

BYDANIEL J. ROTH   APRIL 8, 2016 22:11  
A day after envoy Regev visited London's SOAS campus, protests erupted by anti-Israel activists demanding an apology from the university director.


Anti-Israel graffiti defacing the campus of a British university with vulgar slogans was being removed after the Jewish state's new ambassador to the United Kingdom paid a visit to the London campus earlier this week, The Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday. 

Ambassador Mark Regev on Wednesday toured England's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) having been invited by the university's director, Baroness Valarie Amos.


Shortly after his departure, however, anti-Israel graffiti was discovered scattered about the school's campus including "F**k  Regev, Amos and Israel. BDS or else."

A day after Regev visited the SOAS campus, protests erupted by anti-Israel activists demanding an apology from the university director. 

In response to the graffiti's discovery, Amos' office released a statement: “With regards to the graffiti, we have started the removal process and some of the graffiti is no longer legible." The statement continued by noting, “the removal process must be carried out carefully.”

The Union of Jewish Students on campus said in the wake of the Regev visit that the actions of the protesters were “extremely disturbing” but not at all surprising.

Earlier this year, 1,283 SOAS students voted in favor of cutting off ties with Jerusalem's Hebrew University through a Boycott, Sanction and Divestment campaign. 

In February,  SOAS was the epicenter of "Israel Apartheid week" events that featured numerous speakers including Sahar Francis of the prisoner rights group Addameer, who alleged that Israel harvests organs from Palestinians. 

According to the Telegraph, another speaker at the event, Malia Bouattia of the UK’s National Union of Students said that the British government’s campaign against Islamist extremism was being advanced by “all manner of Zionist and neo-con lobbies.”

In addition, the Facebook invite for the event referenced the current spate of Palestinian terrorism, saying that that Israeli Apartheid Week 2016 was “Inspired by the ongoing popular resistance across historic Palestine” and comes as “Palestinian youth and students across historic Palestine are intensifying their struggle against a decades-long brutal Israeli settler-colonial regime.”

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this article. 


==============================================================================



A School of Anti-Semitism?
Jewish students no longer feel safe at the School of Oriental and African Studies

Adrian Hilton
11 Jun 2016

As a teacher and lecturer, I’ve had a fair amount of indirect contact with Soas — the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University. I first met one of its doctoral students in 2001, around the time I began to send my A-level students to join its impressive list of alumni, which includes government ministers, ambassadors, diplomats, judges and a Nobel laureate. It has also produced impressive research tomes of international renown and is always high up in the university league tables. A sea of diversity under one scholastic sky, with so much to learn through intercultural exchange. For many, the Soas library is a place of pilgrimage.

But I’d now think twice before writing a Ucas reference to send one of my young students there. Not because I’m into the cotton-wool cladding of ‘safe spaces’ against freedom of expression: on the contrary, I view academic study as battleground of radical ideas. But I also value an academic environment in which minorities are not intimidated into self-censorship or bludgeoned into the acceptance of Islamo-Marxist political orthodoxy.

‘When I started there, Indology had presence,’ recounts Dr H, who doesn’t want his name published for fear of repercussions. ‘The corridor I found myself in was that of the South Asian languages department, and it was vibrant. Lecturers had open doors and you were easily acquainted with half of them, even if they didn’t teach you personally. There was a spiritual interest in India and its exoticness, and the number of students was vast. Now, the corridor is quite lifeless.’

School-of-anti-semitism3

This isn’t a consequence of a fall in demand for ‘exotic’ courses, or the fact that students are now encouraged to be more ‘sensible’ about qualification ‘relevance’ in the competitive world of employment. ‘The Soas common room used to be home to a mix of zany students from fascinating backgrounds flaunting their attention-grabbing idiosyncrasies. It was part of what made the place special,’ says Dr H. ‘But it’s now a very different place.’ He pauses. ‘It’s very Muslim-dominant — you can see it all around. You walk into the common room when it’s busy and you feel like you’re in an Arab institution. Before, I didn’t feel a part of the minority because no one was in a minority or a majority: everyone was different and you got to know all sorts of people. But now I do.’

Dr H is a thoughtful Hindu scholar and he acknowledges that he may be guilty of over-sensitivity as a Hindu in a mainly Islamic environment. ‘I do uncomfortably feel a little like a cautious kafir,’ he says. But the experience of other non-Islamic minorities at Soas, such as many of the Jewish students, suggests Dr H is not being paranoid.

Earlier this year, Soas held an ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ , culminating in a vote to ‘boycott’ the Jewish state: not a student protest, but an official, university-sanctioned boycott. Needless to say, there have been no comparable protests against Syria, Saudi Arabia or China, which have far worse human rights records. You might forgive a bit of idealised student geo-political ignorance, but Soas’s decision to boycott Israel was made with the endorsement of the school’s academic staff. The vote was preceded by a six-week campaign during which an ‘apartheid wall’ was constructed and anti-Israel activists went around menacing their fellow students with fake machine guns. Little wonder that Soas Jewish Society president Moselle Paz Solis said the whole experience had left some students feeling isolated. ‘We are too scared to go anywhere so we walk in a group to the station,’ he says. ‘People come up to me and say I heard you hate Palestinians.’ She doesn’t, of course. But such is the ferocity and political dishonesty of the campaigners that Jewish students are considered fair game by some of their more impressionable fellow students.

‘I was surprised that a majority of the academic staff voted in favour of a boycott that left so many Jewish students felling vulnerable,’ says Dr H. ‘But if Arab and Islamic courses are increasing, as they are, then surely the number of academics in those areas will be too.’


Pretty much all student societies at Soas have no choice but to conform to the Islamo-Marxist orthodoxy. Last year, an Israeli student was ejected from the Israeli Society (which is staunchly ‘anti-Zionist’) for having the temerity to oppose the boycott. There is little or no tolerance for anyone who objects to the demonisation of Israel and the casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking that only one religion is tolerated on campus. There’s a designated ‘multi-faith’ prayer room, but the noticeboard has only Islamic information. There’s no prohibition on the monthly meditations of the Urdu/Panjabi poetry-lovers’ group, but those who use the room are expected to conform to Islamic precepts. ‘If I was doing my Hindu prayers to íshvar (Skt. ‘Lord’), then that wouldn’t be a problem,’ says Dr H. ‘But a múrti (Skt. ‘image/statue’) would not be permissible in the prayer room as it violates the sanctity of the place.’ So the Soas prayer room is welcoming to people of all religions, provided they observe the diktats of the sharia. Small wonder the room is used almost exclusively by Muslims.

The Soas student constitution prohibits societies based on race, yet the entire student body defines itself in terms of concentric circles of ethno–religious rhetoric, each competing for dominance. You can be thrown out of a meeting for being insufficiently black, or have your fraternal entreaties dismissed with: ‘Get lost, I’m Muslim.’ Even Soas’s director, Baroness Valerie Amos, is expected to toe the line. On 6 April, she held a meeting with Mark Regev, Israel’s new ambassador to the UK, which for obvious reasons wasn’t publicised in advance. When news leaked, the student reaction on Facebook was savage: ‘She knows she brings shame to Soas’; ‘Regev is an abhorrent racist’; ‘Who the hell meets a vile Zionist terrorist who defends the mass murder of children?’

First a protest page was set up on Facebook called: ‘V. Amos complicity in Israeli War Crimes: Emergency Demo’, then an angry mob crowded into the corridors leading to her office, baying and chanting. ‘Will be around later on to fuck shit up,’ tweeted the trans and gender-identity officer for the Soas Student Union executive, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Israel is unique in the entire Middle East for its unqualified acceptance of pan-sexuality and gender diversity.

This is all quite sad, because Soas has pioneered so much. Tudor Parfitt, emeritus professor of modern jewish studies, has done Indiana Jones-style work on remote Jewish communities like the Lemba of South Africa. But it is certainly questionable whether Soas is complicit in the general hostility to its Jewish population and its imaginary ‘Israeli’ agents because it allows students to organise themselves into warring ethno-religious factions and then sides with some and not others. After all, it’s far easier to target Zionist phantoms than question your own bigotry or confront the illiberal political reality of many Arab states. Soas has become a regressive institution in which the next generation of government ministers, international ambassadors, diplomats, judges and Nobel laureates can wallow in their anti-Israel delusions, while turning a blind eye to the world’s most repressive regimes.


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Fear over anti-Israel protests at SOAS
Naomi Firsht February 26, 2015

Anti-Israel students targeted fake machine guns at each other and recreated shootings at a university campus this week.

The scenes were part of Israel Apartheid Week at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London.

It is believed the demonstration was intended to be a mockery of Israeli military checkpoints, and was performed next to an "apartheid wall" erected by students.

The actions came as the university's student union held a referendum on whether to extend its boycott of Israel and implement an academic boycott of the country across the campus.

The union first boycotted Israel in 2005, but now wants to encourage the entire university to impose such measures and end a link-up with Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

We are too scared - so we walk in a group to the station
The vote was open not only to students, but academics, cleaners, security guards, caterers and support staff at SOAS. Voting was due to close today.

The student union's own executive led a six-week campaign in support of a "yes" vote.

In a statement, student union executive members Georgie Robertson, Kabir Joshi and David Suber said: "We have received some constructive criticism from members of the Soas community who have rightly believed that the union has a bias when it comes to the referendum. This is correct."

They said any suggestion of neutrality on the issue would be "dishonest and false".

It is understood one officer has been dismissed over the vote.

The Union of Jewish Students said it was supporting those fighting the "biased" referendum.

SOAS Jewish Society president Moselle Paz Solis said apartheid week had left students who support Israel feeling "isolated".

"We are too scared to go anywhere so we walk in a group to the station. People come up to me and say I heard you hate Palestinians," said the 21-year-old Guatemalan.

At a boycott debate on Tuesday, the student union selected the speakers both for and against the argument, despite Ms Paz Solis asking to help choose the anti-boycott panellists.

One mature Israeli student claimed SOAS's Israel Society had been hijacked by pro-boycotters. Richard Galber said he had been thrown out of a society meeting a fortnight ago when he challenged attempts to impose sanctions on Israel.

The 63-year-old said: "It seemed to be an anti-Israel society. They asked me to leave.

"I have never felt so un-belonging as at that meeting. It was a very unpleasant sensation. I assumed an Israel Society would be welcoming to Israelis."

A SOAS statement said: "We do everything we can to preserve our neutrality, to ensure that we do not compromise our researchers or anyone else."


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'Zionists always lose' chant as SOAS cheekbiter is acquitted of assault
Anonymous
January 26, 2012


A PhD student who bit a pro-Israel campaigner on the cheek at SOAS Israel Apartheid Week has been acquitted of assault.

Mohammed Abdelkarim was accused of biting Dean Gold on the face during a tussle on March 20 last year, smashing his camera to the ground. He was cleared of both assault and criminal damage. Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists in the public gallery cheered and whooped as the verdict was announced, shouting, "Zionists always lose," at Mr Gold's family and friends as they left court.

The scuffle took place as Mr Gold was filming an unidentified man making obscene remarks about the Holocaust.

In footage played to the court, a middle aged man rants to the camera: "Six million Jews lined up outside the gas chambers like lambs to the slaughter." Mr Gold said: "I was very distressed. I thought, this must be illegal. I remembered I had my camera, so I asked him if he minded being filmed."

Mr Abdelkarim is then heard approaching and asking the man if he minds being filmed, telling the man he will "knock it [the camera] off" if he does not wish to be filmed.

But the subject replies: "I have nothing to hide." Mr Gold alleged that Mr Abdelkarim then launched himself at him. "He was growling and my cheek was pinned between his teeth, I felt like he was trying to bite my ear off. I could feel his breath and him moving towards my ear. My cheek was clamped, vice-like, in his teeth."

The defence argued that it was Mr Abdelkarim who had been first punched by Mr Gold, and then pinned in a bear hug, before resorting to biting Mr Gold in order to free himself.

Srikantharajah Nereshraaj, defending, said the pro-Israel activists had been present to "disrupt, antagonise and provoke reactions" at what he described as a "Palestinian cultural event."

Mr Abdelkarim said the Israel campaigners had apparently ignored his requests not to take pictures of his two young children. Israeli film student Roy Goldman, who was called as a witness, agreed that he had been filming and taking pictures at the event.

Mr Abdelkarim told the court he was "not a political person" and had come to the event with his family for food and face-painting. "I did not want my children appearing in any footage at all," he said. He had noticed Mr Gold filming. "I could see they [his children] would appear in the background."

Both men were originally charged with assault, but charges against Mr Gold were dropped. Three witnesses from the pro-Israel campaign outside the university gave evidence, as did others attending the event.

District Judge James Henderson said political points of view of the witnesses on both sides had affected "what they saw and how they interpreted it." But, he said, although there were inconsistencies in the accounts given by prosecution witnesses Mr Goldman, Stand With Us organiser Gili Brenner, and Anthony Coren, he had "no reason to disbelieve them."

But Kuwait-born Mr Abdelkarim, 44, a father-of-two and part-time university lecturer, was also "consistent and believable", the judge said. "A man out with his children and paediatrician wife is an unlikely man out for trouble. But even a family man can be provoked and lose their temper and lash out".

Dismissing the charge, he said: "I cannot be sure that Mr Abdelkarim was not acting in self-defence. The prosecution has not proved that".

Stand With Us director Joy Wolfe said: "Clearly this is a disappointing outcome, but it is not the first time and won't be the last that a court has been unable to convict 'beyond reasonable doubt.'

"Not surprisingly the PSC and Jews for Justice for Palestinians were on hand to gloat, but Dean Gold and his witnesses can walk away with their heads held high, knowing the reality of what happened to him."

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SOAS taught Gaddafi son, hosts al-Qaradawi
Martin Bright June 15, 2011
The country’s most prestigious university for the study of the Middle East provided one-to-one English tuition to Mutassim Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan dictator.


The country’s most prestigious university for the study of the Middle East provided one-to-one English tuition to Mutassim Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan dictator, who acts as his national security adviser. It also hosts the controversial Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi on the editorial board for its Journal of Islamic Studies.

The information from London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies is contained in an answer to a Freedom of Information request from Harlow MP Robert Halfon, and Student Rights, an organisation that tackles extremism on campus.

The college confirmed that Mr Gaddafi received private tuition at SOAS for a four-week period in 2006, for which the college received £5,500. The SOAS response also confirms that a distance-learning deal was struck with Al-Fateh University in Libya, just months before the Arab Spring uprisings, in which SOAS received £148,000 for course materials and teaching.

A report from Student Rights, based on the disclosures, shows that SOAS also received donations of £755,000 from the Saudi royal family over the past four years. That money was used to fund the college’s Islamic Studies Centre, and a Journal of Islamic Studies. The editorial board of the journal includes Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has supported suicide bombings and acts as the spiritual inspiration for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone caused outrage when he invited Sheikh al-Qaradawi to London in 2004. He has since been refused entry and is also banned from the United States and Israel. In February he returned to Egypt where he led Friday prayers on Tahrir Square.

The university has issued a lengthy response  to the Student Rights report. On the issue of Sheikh Al-Qaradawi’s membership of the editorial board of a journal hosted by SOAS, it said: “Professor Yusuf al-Qaradawi and some other editorial advisers from the Middle East only advise on the Arabic section of the Journal, and not on the English section. His academic peers and Muslim scholars in the UK and across the globe consider him to be one of the most outstanding scholars of the Quran in the Arabic and Islamic world. No political or other consideration was involved in asking him to be on the board.”

It added that comments attributed to Yusuf al-Qaradawi in the Student Rights report, endorsing suicide bombings and the killing of pregnant women were “not compatible with SOAS’s values, or our views on hate speech, and would not be allowed on campus”.

Since 2007, the Saudi royal family’s investment in SOAS has increased from an initial £100,000 a year to £200,000 in 2008 and £230,000 in the last tax year. Saudi funding, including gifts from Saudi Arabian Oil and the King Saud Foundation, now accounts for nearly 14 per cent of all donations to the institutions. The director and pro-directors of SOAS also received a gift of cufflinks made of Saudi riyals (the official coinage), which are worn on official occasions.

The lion’s share of the funding went to the Islamic Studies Centre at SOAS, which is headed by Professor Mohammed Abdel Haleem, who also edits the Journal of Islamic Studies. Professor Haleem is widely regarded as a moderate and received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008.

However, he is also a trustee of the Saudi-funded King Fahad Academy in East Acton, which was discovered to have used textbooks describing Christians as “pigs” and Jews as “apes”.

Fellow trustees include the Saudi ambassador, Prince Mohammed al-Saud, and several other members of the Saudi diplomatic mission. In 2007, the school’s principal, Dr Sumaya Alyusuf admitted on the BBC’s Newsnight programme that the textbooks were used, but said the passages concerned had  been misinterprested. At the time, Jewish MP Louise Ellman said the school was part of a concerted initiative by the Saudi government to instill extremism in the UK Muslim population.

Mr Halfon said: “I am deeply concerned at the findings of this report by Student Rights, following the recent Freedom of Information request that I made to SOAS. I will be raising this further in parliament at the next opportunity and will be writing to the vice-chancellor of SOAS asking for an explanation".

The Harlow MP has been at the forefront of the campaign to force universities to reveal their funding from Middle East sources. He led the charge against the London School of Economics, which took a £2.2 million donation from another son of the Libyan dictator, Said al-Gaddafi. In March, the LSE’s director Sir Howard Davies was forced to resign as details of the relationship came to light. Mr Halfon’s own grandfather, an Italian Jew from Tripoli, was forced to leave the country after a series of antisemitic pogroms.

The revelations will be deeply embarrassing to SOAS, which has worked hard to allay its image as a centre of Islamist activism.

SOAS fiercely denied that the Saudi donations compromised academic freedom or bought influence. Its spokesman insisted: “SOAS goes to great lengths to ensure that academic and editorial decisions are made with integrity.  We do not permit donors or funders to influence academic work (research content or teaching) or the selection of academic staff, scholarships or any other students.”

Student Rights report



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