Students meet SOAS head over campus intimidation


The director of SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London) has held an emergency meeting with Jewish students who say they are too scared to go to lectures following a campus vote to boycott Israel.

On Wednesday, Jewish students complained to Paul Webley about the intimidation they had experienced as they campaigned against the vote.

Incidents at SOAS in the past week have included a Jewish undergraduate being told "why don't you and your family f*** off to Israel", Jewish students being afraid to enter their common room in case they were verbally abused and an undergraduate avoiding lectures because he felt too scared to attend.

After the meeting Mr Webley told the JC: "Feeling intimidated is in the eye of the beholder. We need evidence in order to take action. We need to distinguish between being offended and intimidated."

Staff and students at SOAS last week voted to implement a boycott of Israel in a "referendum" held by the student union.

Mr Webley said the vote amounted to no more than an "opinion poll".

Jewish and pro-Israel students said that they had been subjected to harassment since the "no" campaign was launched in January.

Economics undergraduate Avrahum Sanger said: "I felt intimidated to show my face on campus.

"We seem to be fighting against the whole university."

Jewish Society president Moselle Paz Solis said: "Boycott supporters call us racists, occupiers, elitists, pro-genocide and ethnic-cleansing."

Mr Webley said the students would need to make a formal complaint before the university could act.

"I am not saying that these things haven't happened but we need evidence, then we can deal with it."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive