UK Jewish Group Threatens Lawsuit Against London University Following Student Support of Hezbollah
by Dion J. Pierre
A leading Jewish nonprofit in the UK is threatening legal action against University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), following a student led pro-Palestinian group’s posting on social media quotes by the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah.
On Saturday, Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), citing reporting by Jewish Chronicle, publicized that SOAS’s Palestinian Society posted on Instagram a Nasrallah quote that said, “The law of executing Palestinian prisoners will increase the faith, courage, and willingness of the Palestinian youth to carry out operations, and this measure is a foolish one…Everything that is happening now indicates the end of the Zionist entity.”
In another post, the group shared a video of a girl saying, “The Jews are hateful.”
In 2020, the UK government added Hezbollah to its list of proscribed terrorist organizations, eliminating a legal distinction that previously existed between its political and military wings and making it illegal to, for example, to “invite support” for the group or “express an opinion or belief that is supportive” of it. Penalties for violating the proscription laws’ ban on expressing support for Hezbollah, per the Terrorism Act the UK passed in 2000, include six months in prison and a $6,124 fine.
Allegations of antisemitism have persistently dogged SOAS, according to Jewish Chronicle. In 2021, University of London professor David Hirsh, after leading a panel that investigated a complaint of antisemitism that resulted in a Jewish student’s withdrawing from the university and receiving an $18, 376 settlement, said in a public letter that evidence of “institutional antisemitism” at the school warranted a larger, internal inquiry of the problem.
University of London denounced Hirsh’s conclusions, arguing that “the route we have chosen to tackle discrimination goes well beyond the requirements placed on universities and other public institutions.” It has not, however, adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is widely considered the world’s best resource for guidance in determining what is and is not antisemitic.
In another incident, an SOAS professor called Israel a “Western virus” during an event in 2020.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.