Violence almost broke out today at a counter protest against a stall promoting the Union of Jewish Students’ (UJS) new campaign.
The ‘urgent’ protest, led by the SOAS Palestinian Society, was arranged in response to perceived provocation from the UJS. Members from the UJS with Israeli flags tied around their shoulders were handing out flyers on the main steps outside SOAS.
The flyers promoted Bridges Not Boycotts, a campaign supported by We Believe in Israel and the Board of Deputies which aims to stop Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements on campus.
A scuffle occurred as a member of the crowd, tried to forcefully take an Israeli flag out of a bag belonging to a member of SOAS Jewish Society (JSoc).
The individual who tried to take the flag was not a member of SOAS Palestinian Society and it is unclear if he is a student at SOAS.
He was confronted by a member of the JSoc but was prevented from escalating the situation by other pro-Palestinian protesters and left the scene shortly after.
JSoc had arranged the stall at SOAS and was filming the counter protest. The owner of the bag was also accused of being “not even Jewish”. Avrahum Sanger, SOAS JSoc President, has promised to file a formal complaint to the university about the incident.
The SOAS Palestinian Society rallied students in the Student Union (SU) before holding a counter protest over what they perceived as provocation from the UJS. BDS has been a part of SOAS SU policy since 2004, and in February 2015 73% of the students and staff voted to instigate an academic boycott of Israel.
A member of Palestinian Society, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Many Palestinian students find it traumatising for a Zionist presence to be on campus.” They also told London Student that many fear video footage may be used against them or their families back in Palestine.
Sanger, who organised the stall, has said it will be setup again tomorrow in the same place and time. A stall has been planned by the SOAS Palestinian Society tomorrow to promote the upcoming nationwide Israeli Apartheid Week.