SOAS ‘ignored claims of institutional antisemitism’

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SOAS ‘ignored claims of institutional antisemitism’

London uni paid out £15,000 to student Noah Lewis last year after he complained that a “toxic antisemitic environment” that forced him to drop out.

Pro-Israel and Palestine protestors outside SOAS building in 2017
Pro-Israel and Palestine protestors outside SOAS building in 2017

A London university has been accused of ignoring allegations of institutional antisemitism by an academic it asked to handle an antisemitism complaint.

SOAS paid out £15,000 to student Noah Lewis last year after he complained that a “toxic antisemitic environment” at the university forced him to drop out.

An appeals panel that heard the complaint, chaired by David Hirsh, a senior lecturer in sociology at Goldsmiths, and included two others, recommended an external investigator conduct a comprehensive inquiry into whether the university has a problem with institutional antisemitism.

But according to an email from Hirsh to university staff last month, which was also copied to the government’s antisemitism adviser, the recommendation has been ignored.

“The panel I chaired made clear and unanimous determinations which have so far been completely ignored,” wrote Hirsh. “This is further prima facie evidence that there is a problem of institutional antisemitism at SOAS.”

The panel recommended the inquiry in March 2020 – but, to date, no such inquiry has been forthcoming, said the academic.

“SOAS is powerful and has felt itself able just to ignore the finding of its own appeals panel. It has not felt the need to respond to it or to explain its decision,” he added.

A spokesman for the university denied it had a problem with anti-Jewish racism and said it had gone above the requirements placed on universities in developing a new ‘discrimination’ charter. “We stand firm against antisemitism, as we do against all forms of discrimination,” he said. “Most importantly, we do this in a manner which is consistent with the principles of academic freedom.”

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