During his talk, Israeli ambassador told protesters outside: “Israel is not going away.”
According to Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev was present at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He told hundreds of protesters, who gathered in front of campus, “that Israel is not going anywhere”. He became the first diplomat from Israel to speak at SOAS in 12 years.
Outside the event, organized by SOAS Jewish Society, some 200 protesters gathered, including many who claimed that Regev’s presence on campus was an affront to SOAS Student Union’s BDS policy.
Footage was released of protesting Mark Regev’s speech. Those, including a man who claimed to be victims of the Holocaust, were cowards. An observer from Human Rights Watch Jewish described the protest as organized Jew-hate.
As yet, no anti-Semitic incidents have been reported to the police, and it is unclear whether SOAS will be investigating the protesters.
More than 1000 people registered interest in the protest, titled by organizers Apartheid Off Campus. Publicity for it described Regev as the public face of Israeli barbarism.
A counter-rally was also organized by supporters of Israel. Despite a tense atmosphere, the protest did not turned violent.
In the run-up to the event, more than 100 SOAS staff called on SOAS to cancel the event, expressed concern that the protests harm many of students.
He spoke about his political experience then answered questions from the crowd, which varied from dealing with anti-Semitism to questions of border walls and settlements.
He said: “”If I’m a provocation, then I apologize. But I think there is a problem that people view Israel through a colonial prism.” Regev added, that “We have made mistakes… The question is can we learn from them. If you look at public debate, Israel is a very self-critical society.”
Regev spoke topical issues including settlements, claiming Israel is “not building new settlements, we’re building inside existing communities”.
On Israel’s global relations, he said the Jewish state wants “to try a regional approach, bring in the Arab states into the peace process”, and added that President Donald Trump was ‘good news’.
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