The Guardian reports that the School of Oriental and African Studies has paid out £15,000 to a former student for distress he incurred while attempting to study there:
Soas University of London has refunded a student £15,000 in fees after he said he was forced to abandon his studies because of a “toxic antisemitic environment”.
The university may also order a fresh independent investigation into complaints made by the student over antisemitic behaviour on campus.
The nub of the matter is this:
According to UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), which provided legal assistance to Lewis, the student lodged a formal complaint in May 2019. He said the stress and extreme discomfort caused by the “toxic antisemitic environment” had exacerbated his anxiety and mental health issues. He felt he had no alternative but to leave the university and return to Canada, and demanded his tuition and related fees be refunded.
The UKLFI blog post detailing the matter is here. Over the preceding months there has been some campaigning at SOAS against the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. The Jewish Chronicle reported on this, UCU were at the centre of it. It would appear to demonstrate how SOAS got into this position in the first place.
SOAS UCU passes motion to protect academic freedom and reject pressure for the adoption of the IHRA definition by educational institutions – 92% voting in favour!https://t.co/jIkfSvuAj1
— SOAS UCU (@UCUSOAS) November 30, 2020
Last year The Jewish News reported on a SOAS event organised by the pro-Hamas group Europal Forum running a day long session on their campus. Europal published a booklet which made the claim that Jews are descended from Khazars. Naomi Wimborne Idrissi a Jewish Voice for Labour activist (who has recently been suspended from the Labour Party) was brought in to run a session on antisemitism. She has quite a long relationship with Europal:
THREAD – Once again @JVoiceLabour have stepped forward to show that when it comes to Jews and antisemitism they really don’t have a clue. Just last month JVL activists Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Steve Tiller are advertised as offering training to @EuroPalForum pic.twitter.com/qcSZ1ZUCJ1
— Harry’s Place (@hurryupharry) May 8, 2019
What’s interesting to note is that a lot of the people who would recognise racism in situations where no racial epithet is specifically mentioned (eg police stop and search) are highly resistant to recognising that it’s possible to be antisemitic without saying the word Jew.