Students protest SOAS director’s meeting with Israeli envoy

Mark Regev presented his credentials as Israeli ambassador in the UK Monday. (Embassy of Israel, London)

Students at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, protested on Thursday over an unannounced meeting between their institution’s director and Mark Regev, the new Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Previously the Israeli prime minister’s spokesperson, Regev is a familiar face on television screens where he has often defended military attacks on Palestinians.

He started his new role as ambassador in London on Monday.

On Wednesday, Regev posted on Twitter a photo of himself posing with SOAS director Valerie Amos, after they had had what he termed a “good meeting.”

Dozens of students gathered outside SOAS Thursday chanting: “BDS go! Amos and Regev no!”

A Facebook page set up by protest organizers stated that “by accepting the ambassador’s visit, Valerie Amos and SOAS as an institution are complicit in … ongoing colonialism.”

Apology demanded

Students also protested outside Amos’ office, calling for a free Palestine.

A coalition of student societies issued a statement condemning the meeting, saying they considered it “a flagrant violation of the principles of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, which the SOAS Students’ Union overwhelmingly voted to support in the largest student referendum ever held at SOAS last year.”

The groups demanded an explanation, and for Amos “to apologize for meeting with Mark Regev … and to accept our invitation to work together on applying the result of the democratic BDS referendum to the university.”

In an emailed response to the student union, Amos said: “I met the Israeli ambassador to follow up on a letter I had sent him about the detention and treatment of a SOAS research student at Ben Gurion airport.” She added that she saw this “as an important part of my responsibility as director.”

But Zeid Shuaib, a Palestinian student at SOAS, told The Electronic Intifada that “this visit has a political message. This is an attempt to undermine BDS, and specifically the SOAS community’s relentless support for BDS.”

An Israeli journalist on a visit to the London embassy recently reported on the “war room”-style map which details “the main campuses, the deployment of pro-Israel activists and the location of the ‘enemy forces.’”

It seems likely SOAS students are considered among such “enemy forces.”

Boycott

In February last year, SOAS students celebrated a huge victory after a referendum to endorse an academic boycott of Israel.

An overwhelming 73 percent voted in favor.

But the coalition of student groups protesting the Regev meeting charged the administration with disregarding the result.

“The student societies that supported the BDS referendum have made effort after effort to engage management to ensure that the governance of the university is kept democratic and have only been met with intimidation and aggression,” the groups said.

Relentless

While Regev was the Israeli prime minister’s chief spokesperson, he relentlessly justified Israel’s wars to the world’s media, including in the UK.

Whether it was the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, or its repeated “mowing the lawn” massacres in Gaza, Regev was there to excuse Israel’s killing of civilians.

SOAS student Roba Salibi said, “we will continue to mobilize and put pressure on the management to turn our BDS referendum result into actions, and ensure that such an offensive and outrageous act does not happen again.”

Tags

Comments

picture

If you call someone to account on the abusive treatment of one of your researchers, you are hardly likely to end the meeting with a smiling shoulder-to-shoulder photo. Unless Amos got a written or verbal apology out of Regev, of which I see no mention.
The ongoing corrupting influcence of Israel is simply amazing -

picture

Someone warned me this may be a clever piece of political manoeuvering by the Israelis - trying to cause dissension between the SOAS union and the SOAS leadership. Could a SOAS director be so naive as to let herself be manipulated in this manner?

picture

Zionists are clearly targetting SOAS. A "complete fabrication" on the War on Want anti-povery charity was published by the Telegraph, also involving SOAS and anti-semitic comments supposedly made there during Israeli Apartheid Week:
http://thirdforcenews.org.uk/t...

Ben White says on Twitter that the Jewish Chronicle has pulled down its own article based on this fake story. Here is a cache version of it:
http://webcache.googleusercont...

Shahd Abusalama

Shahd Abusalama's picture

Shahd Abusalama is a Palestinian artist from Gaza and the author of Palestine from My Eyes: Una blogger a Gaza, an Italian translation of her blog which reflects on different day-to-day political issues and injustices endured by Palestinians under the grip of the Israeli colonial occupation. She recently completed her MA studies in Media and the Middle East at Univerisity of London, SOAS. She can always be followed at @shahdabusalama.