Tel Aviv is not allowed to celebrate its centenary: SOAS students vote to picket the Tel Avivian academics

telavivbeachEmergency Motion

passed by SOAS Students’ Union Today

Stop the Celebration of Tel Aviv while Gaza Burns

Proposed By: Sobhi Samour

Seconded By: Elian Weizman

This Union Notes:

1. That SOAS is hosting an event under the umbrella titled ‘Tel Aviv University Special Lecture Series marking Tel Aviv Centennial’ taking place at the same time as Israel is waging a war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

2. Israel is responsible for ethnically cleansing 750,000 Palestinians in 1948, on whose lands and properties, the state of Israel was later established.

3. In the process of Israeli ethnic cleansing, more than 400 Palestinian villages were partially or totally destroyed

4. In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the occupation of which remains till today.

5. The Israeli government has built one of the most powerful armies in the world.

6. Since December 27th, the Israeli government is unleashing the full force of its military might in an all-out war against an essentially defenceless population in the occupied Gaza Strip.

7. That academic institutions and academics should uphold ethical principles and the universality of human rights.

This Union Believes:

8. Tel Aviv, as the seat of Israeli political and economic power, houses the masterminds of Israel’s longstanding policies of ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and military subjugation. It is hence particularly emblematic of Israeli apartheid and colonial rule.

9. The existence and expansion of Tel Aviv are products of the Zionist project of erasing the physical presence of the Palestinians, their culture, heritage and memory.

10. These realities enumerated above are conspicuously absent from the Special Lecture Series and thus make the lectures political propaganda on behalf of Israel and its ongoing project of colonial dispossession.

11. That academic institutions should not provide platform for colonialists to promote the results of their atrocities and ethnic cleansing.

This Union Resolves:

12. To put pressure on the SOAS director and all relevant parties to cancel the series of lectures celebrating Tel Aviv centennial, as Tel Aviv represents a colonial city built on ethnic cleansing.

13. To support the letter sent to the directorate by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

SA men blockade the University of Vienna, to prevent Jews from entering

SA men blockade the University of Vienna, to prevent Jews from entering

21 Responses to “Tel Aviv is not allowed to celebrate its centenary: SOAS students vote to picket the Tel Avivian academics”

  1. David Says:

    Photo caption:
    “SA men blockade the University of Vienna, to prevent Jews from entering”

    Didn’t there use to be a saying on Engage that whoever mentions the Nazis first, has lost the argument?

  2. Mikey Says:

    I attended a lecture by Colin Shindler last night at SOAS. At the beginning he noted attempts to stop the lecture series, but insisted the lectures would be going ahead.

  3. Another Observer Says:

    Apparently Jews now are not allowed to mention the Holocaust unless it is as a mode of instruction of moral proprietary.

    SOAS is attempting to stop Israeli Jews from entering their building so as to carry out the work they do. This picture is merely pointing out that such things have happened before; things that, until a couple of years ago, the very same people doing the blocking now were shouting “never again”! My, how things change!

  4. Mira Vogel Says:

    Good for him, Mikey. I’ve been sorry to miss the 100 Years of Tel Aviv series so far but I’ll be making some of the others, and am looking forward to them (although not the picketers). I’ve been to a great many thought-provoking lectures at SOAS on the ME – and also a few scarey ones organised by anti-Israel, including some years ago before I knew the lie of the land – one which was advertised as an evening of Palestinian music with a famous guitarist – but when it began there was no sign of him. Instead some Palestinian students took to the stage and performed various vignettes, and at one stage did a dance dressed as militants with machine guns during which we in the audience were to rise from our chairs and cheer for war. It seemed to go down very well but I wasn’t even slightly up for that, so my friends and I left early. Luckily, Colin Schindler is a tuffie.

  5. James Mendelsohn Says:

    The motion isn’t even consistent, how can a city 100 years old be emblematic of “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing”, “military subjugation” etc all of which are alleged to have taken place from 1948?!

  6. Bill Says:


    That’s Goodwins law, but when the Jackboot fits…

  7. Evan Says:

    Interesting thats points 1 and 2 of this “Emergency Motion”, which indict Israel for “ethnically cleansing” the Palestinians and destroying 400 villages make no mention that these took place during or after a war declared on Israel by its Arab neighbours. Leaving out this important context is intellectually dishonest.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    James, you expect consistency from these baby intellectuals (with the stress on “baby”)? Or are you being ironic? If they were consistent and even half as clear-headed as they think they are, they would be calling down a “plague on both your houses”. Makes one long for old-fashioned (but non-Bolshevik) Marxist dialectics:at least they knew _how_ to put together an argument (sorry, Karl, no offence!).

    Their case would be stronger if they followed the Suissa line: what both sides are doing is appalling, but Israel is worse. And, no, I don’t accept it either, but it makes for a better case and an easier one to defend in debate. These encouragers of antisemitism and antisemites couldn’t win a debate that wasn’t rigged from the outset, bercause they beg the question. Any genuinely impartial audience presented with the evidence would bury them.

    BTW, did anyone else in the UK see Dershowitz last night on Newsnight, at about 11.00pm GMT? (If you missed it, catch it on, and follow the links.) He made mincemeat of the SOAS Prof of International Law on accusing Israel of war crimes (but not Hamas, of course – now _that_ would have been proportional). The latter did have an unfortunate tv manner, managed to look shifty even when making good points, whereas Dershowitz looked straight at camera all the time.

    Has the SOAS Director(ate) spoken yet? If so, what have he/they said? They should have told the SU to push off with their call to break the UK law on discrimination, let alone destroying the very raison d’etre of the academy: academic freedom.

    These idiots don’t realise that it is indivisble – an attack on it anywhere is an attack on everywhere. What defence will they have when _their _ right to free speech is attacked and denied?

  9. Evan Says:

    Furthermore, what’s with the line that Tel Aviv is a “colonial city, built on ethnic cleansing”? Tel Aviv was established on purchased land, as James says, nearly 40 years before the 1948 war. This is just another example of Israel-bashing for the sake of it.

  10. Eric Lee Says:

    The people who wrote this are actually students? At a university? Extraordinary.

    Typically, they pick the one city in Israel that is probably completely clean of the charge of having been built on Arab land. As any historian will tell you, Tel Aviv is built on sand dunes that apparently humans never occupied before, ever.

    And of course, if Tel Aviv is the center of anything in Israel, it is its modern, secular, left-wing side — it is the heart of the Israeli peace camp.

    Good choice, assholes.

  11. Uri Golomb Says:

    Eric: “And of course, if Tel Aviv is the center of anything in Israel, it is its modern, secular, left-wing side — it is the heart of the Israeli peace camp.”

    Indeed, there are those within Israel who would boycott Tel Aviv (if they realistcally could) for being too leftist; the phrase “The Tel Aviv State” is used in Israel to refer to a (largely imagined) coterie of naive, aloof, anti-Zionist leftists, who live in a virtual bubble, speak endlessly of the sufferings of Arabs but ignore the suffering of Jews in southern Israel, deny the right of Jews to have their own state, and would gladly hand everything over to the Palestinians. That’s nonsense, too (and I say this as left-wing, Zionist Israeli living in Tel Aviv), but even the existence of the stereotype exacerbates the irony of the SOAS SU decision.

  12. fred Says:

    Eric Lee:

    “As any historian will tell you, Tel Aviv is built on sand dunes that apparently humans never occupied before, ever.”

    Not so – the following is from an article on titled “A Palestinian Village in the Heart of Tel Aviv?”
    Michael Jacobson and Sima Tzafoni of the architecture department at Bezalel Academy are fervently opposed to the erasure of the memory of the Palestinian village: “While many good people, and I among them, were raised on the conception that Tel Aviv was a city born from the sand, it is astounding to discover that the city includes within it a number of sites which until the outbreak of the War of Independence were the sites of Arab villages,” said Jacobson at the symposium at Zochrot.

    “Tel Aviv was not born from the sand, was not ‘born from the sea’ and certainly did not ‘walk through the fields.’ Tel Aviv is not just Herzl, Jabotinsky, Arlosorov, and Ben Gurion, it is also the abandoned Arab villages – Sheikh Muwannis, Jammusin, Salame and Summeil.

  13. fred Says:

    note as well this call from Zochrot, from 2005. Info at the link says the university has thus far ignored the request, though there’s no date given.

  14. Gil Says:

    Fred, Eric Lee is right and you are wrong. Tel-Aviv was founded on emptry sand dunes around 50 years before Israel’s war of Independence. During this war many Arabs abandoned their homes because they preferred to listen to their leaders who told them that they would return with the victorious Arab armies. Therefore, they were let down by their own people who wanted to see a judenrein Palestine.

    Also, the Arabs of Haifa were implored not to leave by the Jewish leadership. Indeed, those that stayed are thriving today. Those that left lost out.

  15. Gil Says:

    Apologies for my above typos. I’m just furious at the willingness of so many people (including moronic Jews) to hold Israel and Zionism to some utopian standard of behaviour. As if the world is not as Hobbes described it in Leviathan, but rather a paradise with only the Jews to spoil things.

  16. Joshua Says:


    I was wondering whether you also have the names of the original villages on which Toronto, New York, Sydney, Auckland, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City now stand?

  17. Paul Frenkel Says:

    Regardless of what the BBC, Guardian (and the SOAS student union, apparently) would like you to believe, Tel Aviv is also not the seat of Israel’s ‘political power.’ In any sense whatsoever. Though it is the seat of the country’s economic power. It’s also a rather nice city, with great restaurants, tho like any large metropolis it has an over-representation of saddoes, sleazoids and lost souls. In my humble (Jerusalemite) opinion, anyway. 😉

  18. fred Says:

    Gil & Joshua: I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suppose that you, like me, oppose the attempts to silence the Israeli lecturers from Tel Aviv at SOAS.

    So I assume we share the same principles, and you’ll support Zochrot’s request that Tel Aviv University recognize the history of its campus:
    Tel Aviv University is asked to acknowledge its past and to commemorate the Palestinian village on which grounds the university was built. [….]

    Only with the pressure of the academic world can Sheikh Muwanis regain the recognition it deserves. This may a minor issue compared to the increasing violence and tension in the region, but what it symbolizes is a key factor in the peace process. Remembering, acknowledging and accepting are key pillars in this process.
    I dont know if this will work when pasted — it’s from Benny Morris. I found it by googling his name and “Sheikh Muwannis”,M1

    Morris takes a thorough look as to why the people of Sheikh Muwannis left, and didn’t return. The Alexandroni tried to protect them, but five notables from the village were kidnapped by, Lehi, which shook the villagers confidence. Arab authorities in Jaffa told them to stay put, in fact. The village did not particiate in the revolt or host the ALA, and kept good relations with the Haganah.

  19. fred Says:

    con’t: here’s Morris, P. 28 of the Palestine Refugee Problem Revisted: “And the kidnapped notables appear to have been released already on March 23 into Haganah hands and returned to Sheik Muwannis. But the confidence of the inhabitants north of the Yarkon had been mortally undermined. During the following days, the inhabitants of Sheikh Muwwanis and Abu Kishk started to evacuate and move to Qaliqya and Tul Karm after giving power of attorney to Yosef Sutitsky of Petah Tikva to negotiate protection for their abandoned properties. Tawfiq Abu Kishk and his men held a large, parting banquet for their Jewish friends on 28 March; ‘the sheikh took his from the place and the [Jewish] people with moving words. ‘ For their part, the Yishuv almost immediately set about allocating Sheik Muwannis’ land for Jewish use.”

  20. newcentrist Says:

    “Tel Aviv, as the seat of Israeli political and economic power, houses the masterminds of Israel’s longstanding policies of ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and military subjugation. It is hence particularly emblematic of Israeli apartheid and colonial rule.”

    Brilliant students like these should know Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, is the center of political power in Israel.

    Plus, as Eric and Uri have pointed out, Tel Aviv is arguably the most liberal/left-leaning city in the country.

  21. Eli Says:

    Tel Aviv is not the seat of the political power in Israelm but Jerusalem is the city that houses the parlimanet, the supermet court of justice, and the goverment offices.
    there fore i do not c any reason why tel aviv should not celebrate, not to mention that Tel Aviv was built on an EMPTY ground in 1903, and not on palestinan villages.

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