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Israeli ambassador greeted by protests at Soas talk

An estimated 300 pro-Palestinian activists turn out to oppose presence of Mark Regev on London campus

    Mark Regev, Israel's UK ambassador, was greeted by protesters - and supporters - when he arrived to speak at a London university on Thursday evening.

    An estimated 300 Pro-Palestinian activists gathered outside the School of Oriental and African Studies and chanted slogans calling Israel an apartheid state and demanding a "free Palestine" .

    Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners, one of which read "Get lost, Mark 'Freiburg' Regev," a reference to the ambassador's family name before they had moved to Israel.

    One speaker addressing the crowd described Mr Regev as "a war criminal".

    Some 50 pro-Israeli campaigners were also present to support the ambassador, who had been invited to the campus by the Soas Jewish Society to talk on Middle East peace.

    The protests were largely peaceful with Israeli and Palestinian supporters allowed to mix freely in the university's main courtyard, under the watchful eyes of around 20 police officers.

    At one point a large Israeli flag was snatched by Palestinian demontrators and defaced to make it appear as if it was covered with blood.

    Earlier this week, more than 150 academics wrote to Baroness Amos, the director of Soas, urging her not to let Mr Regev’s talk go ahead.

    It was suggested his presence on campus would cause "tensions".

    Protesters wave a defaced Israeli flag at the Soas demonstration
    Protesters wave a defaced Israeli flag at the Soas demonstration

    A group calling itself “Apartheid off Campus” organised what it described as “an evening of solidarity and celebration with music, speeches and a rally”. Over 450 people  registered their intention to attend.

    A counter-rally, called “Censorship off Campus” was also organised.

     

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