Kent university Jewish society used as front by Israel’s UK embassy

Michael Freeman on Good Morning Britain in August 2018 defending Israeli shootings of protesters. (ITV)

Israeli diplomat Michael Freeman used two student societies as fronts in an attempt to dupe a British academic into “debating” him.

Witnesses have told The Electronic Intifada his 2017 talk at the University of Kent was “propaganda” and “a well-orchestrated fraud.”

Guarded by personnel from the Israeli embassy, the event was jointly organized by the Current Affairs Society and the Jewish Society.

Professor Glenn Bowman had agreed to a discussion with an academic on the impact of the Balfour Declaration – to “facilitate encounters with experts from a variety of practical and academic fields,” the students initially claimed.

But a few hours later student Sam Williams wrote to Bowman apologizing for their “misleading email” and saying that the other speaker would in fact be Michael Freeman from the Israeli embassy.

Freeman is a career diplomat for Israel who is neither an academic nor an expert. Born in the UK, he settled in Israel in 1998.

Bowman, who is now retired, told The Electronic Intifada that he pulled out after he learned the event was essentially a public relations exercise by the Israeli embassy, and did not attend.

A member of university staff who did attend told The Electronic Intifada that it was “a well-orchestrated fraud of an event.” The staff member spoke on condition of anonymity.

War against BDS

Now an adviser to Israel’s foreign ministry in Jerusalem, Freeman was at that time in charge of leading the Israeli embassy’s war against BDS, the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Britain.

Bowman is a supporter of BDS.

Bowman asked the students for an explanation for the abrupt change. Bowman says he was told by Jewish Society president Chantal Cohen that the group had been “unable” to find a Jewish academic to talk about Balfour – despite having apparently spent only a few hours looking.

The event went ahead on 13 November with Freeman alone. A member of the Jewish Society chaired the event after Gaynor Johnson, the initial moderator, also pulled out.

The event on campus was heavily policed – by the Israeli embassy itself.

Bags and bottles of water were not permitted and had to be left with campus security in another room. Pre-registration and identity cards were required to enter the room.

It was “infuriating,” recalled the head of the Palestine society at the time, a “standard propaganda talk.” “I’m not sure why I didn’t boycott it. Probably looking back I should have.” The ex-student, a Jordanian of Palestinian ancestry, spoke on condition his name not be revealed.

According to a second source who was in the room at the time, “there were a number – I estimate around four or five – of what I strongly believe were private security personnel at the event that had come along with Mr. Freeman.”

The Jordanian-Palestinian student said they had been “official looking men” who were “suited up” and were not either campus security nor normal private hire security guards. They had no IDs he could see. They were “like secret service men” with “a menacing look on their face.”


It is likely they were Shin Bet security agents from the embassy in London.

Israel’s domestic secret police force the Shin Bet says on its website it is responsible for security at its embassies overseas. In 2017, a Shin Bet agent from the embassy in Amman shot dead two Jordanians, reportedly after a dispute over furniture.

At home, the Shin Bet routinely uses torture against Palestinian detainees, including children.

Sam Williams, Chantal Cohen and the University of Kent did not reply to requests for comment.

The University of Kent’s Jewish Society is affiliated to the Union of Jewish Students – a Zionist organization dedicated to promoting Israel’s interests in the UK.

In 2017, an undercover Al Jazeera series revealed that the UJS receives funding from the Israeli embassy in London.

Michael Freeman also featured in Al Jazeera’s series, The Lobby.

He is seen attempting to recruit the network’s undercover reporter to work in the Israeli embassy. “Robin” had been posing as a pro-Israel activist within the Labour Party.

At a gathering to listen to a speech by anti-BDS minister Gilad Erdan, Freeman surprised the undercover reporter by whipping out Robin’s fake resume, and discussing the prospect of him working on “the whole BDS piece, doing research into the different BDS movements, who they are, what they are” for the Israelis.

Only a month before his appearance at Kent university, Freeman held a similar event at the University of Bristol, which was protested by students in solidarity with Palestinians.

David Miller

Bristol university professor David Miller is currently facing calls for his sacking by Israel lobby groups outraged by his opposition to Zionism, Israel’s racist state ideology.

Last week he told pro-Israel newspaper The Jewish Chronicle of his concern that “Jewish students on British campuses [are] being used as political pawns by a violent, racist foreign regime engaged in ethnic cleansing.”

Events at Kent university in 2017 are a perfect illustration of Miller’s point.

The Kent university staff member who had been in the room told The Electronic Intifada that Miller’s view that students on British campuses are being used a “pawns” by the Israeli embassy was “100 percent true” from his experience of the event.




Yes, David Miller says these Jewish Students’ Societies are basically pro Zionist organisations, nothing to do with Jewish religion or culture, and no left wing Jewish student would go near them. It’s a very clever tactic, isn’t it, to disguise a hideous political outfit as a cultural organisation and claim racism whenever anyone opposes you. This is what Israel is doing all over the world and people have to call it out. Not easy though. Note how Asa Winstanley’s sources won’t give their names and I admit, in the current climate, if I were still a working professional in the university sector, neither would I.😔 It is therefore, incumbent on everyone who can call this out, to do so loudly and at every opportunity.


What is most obvious about this incident is the arrogance of the Judaic theocrats. As Flapan has argued, they are so convinced of their status as victims, so sunk in interpreting everything through the lens of the Nazi genocide which they manipulate to serve the Jewish State, they believe they can d nothing wrong. That is a form of pathology, however you look at it; but what this shows, once again, is that lying and deception are treated as legitimate by the Israel lobby. Everything they do is right. Killing Palestinians is right. Lying about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is right. Calling Corbyn a "f....... anti-Semite" is right. Forbidding shampoo to be imported into Gaza is right. Turning away 4,000 displaced persons from Palestine in 1947 and sending them back to Germany was right. A propos, the much-praised play, Rose, by Martin Sherman, recently revived to great acclaim with Maureen Lipmann, implicitly preserves the lie that it was the Brits who turned the Exodus away from Palestine. Not so. It was the followers of Herzl. They won a propaganda coup in their campaign to prevent partition by spreading the lie. The Exodus event is an egregious example of Zionist anti-Semitism, that uncontroversial and despicable phenomenon which, according to the Israeli lobby doesn't exist. The followers of Herzl are such morally compromised cynics they sacrifice their own people in the pursuit of their theocracy; because that's what Israel is. Not a democratic State but a Jewish State. Iran is not a democratic State. It's a theocracy. But no one pretends otherwise, while half the world proposes that Israel is a democracy. Tush. This is why people like Freeman have to be so dishonest, because the truth is so appalling. The truth that the followers of Herzl are anti-democratic racists. That truth needs to be re-iterated over and over until the Judaic theocrats are removed from power and democracy allowed to thrive.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).