Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev spoke at SOAS last night, met with a protest of around 200 people.
The protest, organised via Facebook, appealed “for people of conscience around the world” to attend in solidarity against the Jsoc organised event.
I attended as part of the Pinsker Centre to show my support for Israel and Mark Regev and to have a dialogue with the counter-protesters.
Dialogue is missing in this conflict. Both between Israel and the Palestinians but also here, in the UK, between those supporting each side. Protests are fueled by hate and people cannot see behind political opinion. That is what you are defined by, not how you act towards your fellow man, but who you support in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Zionism is used as a derogatory term when it is not. It is the support of self-determination for the Jewish people.
I spoke to twelve people protesting against Mark Regev’s presence at SOAS. I simply asked what is Zionism?
The first man I spoke to did not answer this question. Instead he called the Jews that perished in the Nazi gas chambers, cowards.
This man’s blatant antisemitism is the reason he attended this protest. He has a warped view of history and a lack of knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The lack of knowledge about the conflict was evident with the other people I engaged with. Some refused to talk to me, either because they did not know much about the conflict, or because they received the following leaflet. I suspect the former.
One girl admitted she didn’t know why she was there and if I convinced her friend they shouldn’t be, they’d leave.
I don’t believe people know enough about the conflict when they turn up to these protests. They have been told to hate Israel but they don’t really know why. Dialogue is a way to prevent this and to pave the way for a peaceful coexistence.
Everyone has a right to free speech whether it is through peaceful protesting or listening to Mark Regev speak. It is however a shame people attend protests misguided and it goes without saying that antisemitic rhetoric is unacceptable.