SOAS in (predictable) hysterics over an invitation to Israel’s ambassador
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I do not know Mark Regev personally, more’s the pity. He has always struck me as a canny and capable media performer and an intelligent and erudite spokesman.
SOASHe is undoubtedly used to cold receptions and unpleasant interrogations. Still, one is inclined to wonder at his boldness. Having last year ceased to be Netanyahu’s spokesman in order to become Israel’s ambassador to the UK, he would have been forgiven for enjoying the relative peace and quiet afforded by his new, (ostensibly) less public role. You would not, perhaps, have expected him to take up an invitation to speak at SOAS, the University of London’s unofficial madrassa and School of Protest. Mr. Regev has been to SOAS before, and witnessed the violent reaction ‘provoked’ by the mere fact of his presence. So he will have been expecting the torrent of vile abuse, the announced protests, the petitions, and the angry demonstrations that began almost as soon as some fool deigned to inform the ‘SOAS community’ of the planned visit. Given the violence which resulted from similar protests at UCL late last year, and the threats issued at the last round of protests at SOAS (the trans and gender-identity officer from SOAS SU tweeted that… err… xbrey would ‘be around later on to fuck shit up’) we find ourselves in the absurd situation where an ambassador from an allied nation speaking at an English university must be praised for his bravery. I should declare an interest before wading further into the mire. I consider myself a friend to Israel. It is a modern state, more progressive and tolerant than it is fashionable to admit (and certainly more so than any of its neighbours). A large part of its population is sane and generous and secular; it is this faction which has raised wealth from barren and oil-less deserts, creating and maintaining and improving the only democratic state between Cyprus and India, and doing much to fight against reactionary overreach by their own nation even whilst Islamist crypto-fascists fire rockets at them. They deserve our thanks. Instead, they are subjected to boycotts, divestment and sanctions; a BS movement (or was that BDS?), led by our own supposedly tolerant, progressive and enlightened students, which could not tell and does not care about the difference between Yesh Atid and the Hasidic lobby, and which would rather side with the racist, fanatical and rejectionist Hamas than the Muslim democratic reformers in The Joint List. The SOAS set claims to ‘protest apartheid’. It is curious, then, that they should ally themselves with a faction which states in its founding charter that its territory, and indeed the world, must be judenrein. It is because I support the state of Israel that I strive to be a stern critic of the Likud-UTJ-Jewish Home coalition government. The constant and undignified obeisance paid to the ultra-Orthodox right undermines Israel’s great potential, and is almost the sole reason that Israel’s secular population lacks the support of a written constitution. And no sane person can claim that Israel’s handling of the Palestinian question is beyond reproach. The ‘SOAS community’ has helpfully published a whole litany of objections to Mr. Regev’s presence in the form of a mini-manifesto, signed by everyone from the ‘Decolonising Our Minds’ society to the ‘SOAS Herb Society’. Mr. Regev, if he is allowed to speak at all, will almost certainly be too polite and measured to address them specifically. I, on the other hand, am not a diplomat, and I have one or two questions for the SOAS ‘community’ that I thought I would share with you.
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