Hundreds of Jewish Students Protest Upcoming University College London Event With Hamas Supporter, Antisemitic Speaker
Hundreds of Jewish students and campus leaders have voiced their objections to an upcoming event at University College London (UCL) with two controversial speakers — one with a history of making antisemitic remarks and another with ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Miko Peled, an Israeli-American activist who was disinvited from speaking at Princeton University in 2016 after tweeting that “Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves,” is scheduled to speak at UCL on Friday. He will be joined by Azzam Tamimi, a British-Palestinian academic who said at Queen Mary’s University in 2012, “I have a great honor to be close to Hamas.”
The planned event — organized by the school’s Friends of Palestine Society — drew strong objections from the Jewish community, with more than 200 students signing a letter sent to UCL’s provost and vice provost by current and former heads of the school’s Jewish Society and Friends of Israel Society on Monday.
“It is simply unacceptable that a man who has voiced antisemitic views — and an academic associated with terrorism directed against Jewish people — are allowed to speak, completely unchallenged by Jewish students,” the students noted.
They cautioned that the event may have been “purposefully arranged” to take place “on a Friday night — the Jewish Sabbath — in order to deprive the vast majority of Jewish students of the opportunity to challenge hatred likely directed against them.”
The students urged administrators to amend “the date and format” of the event, in order “to allow students the opportunity to challenge what we strongly consider to be racism and bigotry of the worst kind.”
Alexandra Taic, president of UCL Friends of Israel Society, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that administrators had not yet responded to the letter.
Taic — also a fellow at the advocacy group CAMERA — added that while Jewish participation in the event will likely be “very limited” due to its timing, she hopes to have “as many members as possible” attend the talk, “bare witness and challenge the speakers.”
Spokespersons for the university did not reply to requests for comment by press time.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) warned in a statement last week that Peled and Tamimi had histories of making “violent and antisemitic” comments, and urged the school’s student union to cancel their event.
“By failing to uphold their own guidelines and providing a platform for these openly hostile speakers, UCL Union is neglecting the welfare and wellbeing of its Jewish students,” UJS wrote.
These concerns were shared by the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), which observed that “Miko Peled’s views engage the International Definition of Antisemitism and his invective is threatening to the safety of Jewish students.”
CAA noted that a talk organized by UCL Friends of Israel Society last year was met with hostile protests, resulting in the reported assault of three female students, and that a subsequent inquiry by UCL into the incident found that the university failed “to adequately protect freedom of expression on campus.”
Charles Hymas — a spokesperson for UCL — told The Algemeiner last week that the university “supports freedom of speech provided it stays within the law,” noting that “procedures and protocols for such events have been instituted” in order to maintain student safety.
A report published by the Henry Jackson Society think tank in September found that several major British universities hosted Islamist speakers with a history of endorsing terrorist groups, demonizing Jews and defaming Israel during the 2016-17 academic year.
Of the 112 events listed by the report, the most — 14 — took place at SOAS University of London, followed by six each at Kingston University and UCL.