After reading the transcript of Baroness Amos’ testimony to the UK Parliament’s Human Rights Committee (for its Inquiry into Freedom of Speech at Universities), I submitted the following evidence to the Committee …..
In her oral evidence to the Committee Baroness Amos said that she does not feel that reports about SOAS being antisemitic are fair. They are perfectly fair. SOAS is institutionally antisemitic. See my blogs here here and here.
Hardly surprising that a handful of ‘events about Palestine’ have been ‘disrupted’. They were antisemitic. For example, the Centennial SOAS Lecture given by Rajeh Shehadi. He demonised Israel continually for an hour. He unremittingly distorted the facts. He blamed Israel for murders which were KNOWN to have been committed by Arabs. He unceasingly suggested parallels of Israel with Apartheid. He said Israel kills people ‘they don’t like’. He lied that Israel insists that children with cancer in Gaza have to be accompanied by someone over 55 before they can leave for treatment. The Lecture reeked of antisemitism. Calling Israel an Apartheid State is antisemitic (claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour).
Baroness Amos mentioned the visit by Israel Ambassador Mark Regev (April 2017) in support of her claim that SOAS is NOT antisemitic. What she failed to say was (i) this was the first visit by an Israel Ambassador for 12 years and (ii) that no SOAS academic (including her) was willing to chair the meeting (a Chair had to be recruited from another London University). What she also failed to say was that she was perfectly willing to chair the Shehadi meeting and at the end she sang his praises despite (?because of?) his stream of invective against Israel, which included antisemitism.
So bad are things at SOAS – and so cowed are the few Jewish students – that even the Israel Society has been taken over by anti-Zionists. Its title is now a misnomer – it should be called the anti-Israel Society.
Repeated complaints to SOAS have got nowhere. Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, said that his meeting with Baroness Amos in 2017 was “the least satisfactory meeting I have held in eight years with something like 30 vice-chancellors”.
‘Free speech’ must be subject to the normal constraints regarding for example incitement to hatred. In view of the fact that they allow a University to be institutionally antisemitic with apparent impunity, the constraints urgently need revisiting.
Extracts from Baroness Amos’ testimony