Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Mark Regev, hosted a discussion on the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Thursday, marking the first visit of an Israeli diplomat to the university in 12 years.
Ambassador Regev said after the event that he “enjoyed an engaging discussion about Israel and the Middle East with SOAS students”, and thanked the University Jsoc who organised the event and those who attended.
In an article published in the Times of Israel on Friday, Ambassador Regev wrote about his experience, highlighting that a visit to SOAS, which specialises in courses on the Middle East, “ought to have been routine” and that it was regrettable that “no Israeli government voice had been heard at SOAS”.
The Ambassador also noted the “troubling trend” by academics at the university to “rewrite history and portray Israel as a colonial imposition on the region’s indigenous peoples”.
He wrote: “This groupthink tends to ignore the central role played by the West in the formation of several nations in the Middle East…while falsely portraying the Jews as infiltrators and the Jewish state as imperialist”.
He said: “These same voices speak of Israel as a serial aggressor, dismissing the history of Palestinian rejectionism and casting murderous attacks against innocent civilians as some form of heroic resistance”.
Speaking about SOAS’s history of providing a platform for anti-Semitic speakers and individuals who have “sympathised with terrorists”, the Ambassador said that “those who have expressed support for the Middle East’s only true liberal democracy” have been “ostracised” and are not welcome on the university’s campus.
Emphasising the importance of discussing Israel, Mr Regev wrote: “One cannot do justice to the study of the Middle East while wilfully dismissing one of the region’s vital geopolitical, military and economic actors”.
The Ambassador concluded: “Serious study of the Middle East requires that SOAS students continue to be given the opportunity to hear Israel’s case”.
The event, which was organised by SOAS Jewish Society and Model UN Society, was met with demonstrations in support of Regev and in opposition of Israel.