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January 26, 2017 2:38 pm

UK University Student Body Notorious for Anti-Israel Radicalism Rejects Motion to Allow Jews on Campus to Define Antisemitism

avatar by Rachel Frommer

SOAS. Photo: Wikipedia

SOAS. Photo: Wikipedia

The student union of a British university notorious for anti-Israel activity on its campus this week denied Jews in its ranks the right to define antisemitism.

At a general meeting of the student body at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), an emergency motion that sought equality for Jewish students was passed by an overwhelming majority, but only after a key clause in the original wording — “Jewish students should be given the right to self-determination and be able to define what constitutes hatred against their group like all other minority groups” — was deleted.

SOAS Students’ Union co-president of democracy and education Ali Ahmed Habib told The Algemeiner that the Students’ Union was “delighted” that the new version of the Jewish equality motion was passed and “looks forward to working on its outcomes in the months ahead.”

But, Jewish Society president Avrahum Sanger, who drafted the original motion, wrote on Facebook that though he was glad certain of its elements — such as introducing a new interfaith prayer area and kosher food options — were passed without controversy, he was “outraged” by the removal of the “self-determination” clause.

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“Our Union General Meeting, which consisted mainly of non-Jewish students, has told Jewish students that it is one rule for them and another for every other minority group,” he wrote.

Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) — which is currently conducting an investigation into charges of rampant antisemitism at SOAS — told The Algemeiner, “British Jews have every right to define antisemitism in the way that is most appropriate to them…SOAS has no business at all dictating to Jewish students which definition of antisemitism they should use, or what they are allowed to be offended by.”

A number of Jewish students at SOAS declined to go on the record with The Algemeiner about their disappointment in the upshot of the vote, with one explaining that the school “is a reactionary place. It’s better to be careful.”

The Jewish equality motion was not the only controversial topic at Tuesday night’s general meeting. According to a recording provided by David Collier, who runs the blog Beyond the Great Divide, one speaker, who identified himself as “Batan,” made the following statement regarding a motion on “external organization hosting events”:

We need to be careful with organizations and speakers speaking at our university. For instance, an organization that has any affiliation or any links to a Zionist or Netanyahu or to a Zionist ideology. There will not be any tolerance of such organizations to host an event or speak on any topic regardless.

Another resolution demanded that SOAS support the suspension of the Jewish vice president of the National Union of Students, Richard Brooks, who was seen in undercover footage published by Al Jazeera‘s recent project on the “Israel lobby infiltrat[ing the] UK student movement.” The motion slammed Brooks for having participated in an UJS trip to Israel and for being “willing to work alongside the Israeli Embassy.” The motion demanded that any form of “participation with” that body goes against SOAS’s “support for the BDS campaign.”

A spokesperson for SOAS told The Algemeiner, “We regret that any students at the students union general meeting found any views being expressed offensive. Freedom of speech does not mean the expression of views which are antisemitic or which are otherwise illegal or incite racial hatred.”

As The Algemeiner reported on Tuesday, reformed radical Islamist Maajid Nawaz said on his popular British radio program earlier in the week that Jews on campuses are “bullied [and] stigmatized…under the guise that criticism of Israel is not antisemitism.”

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