Hundreds of anti-Israel activists protested the appearance of the Israeli ambassador to the UK at a London university, where one demonstrator stated that the murdered victims of the Holocaust were “cowards.”
By: Rachel Frommer, The Algemeiner and United with Israel Staff
Some 400 demonstrators came out to protest Israeli Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev’s appearance at a prominent London university on Thursday, with one protester recorded saying that the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were “cowards.”
According to footage posted on social media, the demonstrators filled the campus of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), waving Palestinian flags and “bloodied” Israeli flags, blaring music and chanting the popular call for the destruction of the Jewish state, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free.”
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There were about 100 pro-Israel counter-demonstrators, according to eyewitnesses, some of whom attempted to converse with the other side, but reported being shoved and having abuses lobbed at them in response. The pro-Israel demonstrators also sang and chanted slogans.
Tamir Oren — director of public affairs for StandWithUs UK — told The Algemeiner that Hezbollah flags and hats were seen around the quad, which was also papered with fliers from a group called “SOAS United Against Apartheid.”
“The ambassador came to SOAS to answer the most difficult questions about Israel, and so he did,” said Oren, adding that the Q&A session covered issues such as Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and alleged IDF war crimes.
Despite Protests, Event was a Success
Khulan Dav, a member of the SOAS Jewish Society and an organizer of the Regev lecture, said the event was a success, featuring an “amazing, absolutely respectful conversation.”
Dav said it was “peaceful” inside the event venue, though at first it was difficult for the audience of some 70 SOAS students to hear the ambassador over the protesters’ loudspeakers, a problem rectified with the help of a microphone.
Dav applauded what she called “SOAS management’s shockingly helpful” role throughout the process of organizing Regev’s talk, even arranging for a taxi to transport Dav home after it ended to ensure her safety.
“I was really surprised to learn that SOAS management really is devoted to free speech,” she said. “They were determined that this event should happen.”
‘Freedom of Speech Will Always Prevail’
“Regardless of the loud chants heard outside the room, attendees were able to ask hard and interesting questions about Israel, regional politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” StandWithUS UK posted on Facebook.
“Freedom of speech will always prevail. A big thank you to the students on the ground for never giving up!”
The announcement of Regev’s upcoming talk last week led to an immediate backlash from the SOAS community. A student group that was meant to co-sponsor the event backed out days before the lecture due to the controversy. Last month, footage was released of SOAS students openly expressing support for the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations and calling for the destruction of Israel.
Some in the Jewish community wryly said the school’s acronym stands for “School Of Anti-Semitism.”
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