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Richard Millett SOAS Update


The following is cross posted by our good friend Richard Millett

Thank you very much for all the support I received in light of last Monday’s Palestine Society event at SOAS when I was manhandled and told I was a “typical Israeli”, even though I am a proud Brit.

I received incredible emails from all over the world with people appreciating my attempts to cover anti-Israel meetings in London and appalled by my treatment.

I received emails from those who completely disagree with my views on Israel, but were still appalled by the way I was dealt with.

I never got to the bottom of why I was called a “typical Israeli”. Only that student knows what was in his mind.

I had a very constructive chat with SOAS who said they had been inundated with emails from both sides but who wanted to continue to welcome me to SOAS and they said they will be reviewing their filming policy.

Much has been made of my not applying for consent to film, but when I was thudded in the shoulder from behind and shouted at to stop filming I wasn’t asked whether I had been granted such permission by SOAS. As it happens I didn’t know there was a filming policy as it has never been mentioned at any SOAS event I have attended (and I have attended a fair few).

There was also at least one other person filming who, it seems, didn’t have the required permission either. Meanwhile, I always see students filming on their IPhones.

And, unless I nodded off temporarily, none of the required announcements in accordance with the filming policy were made at the start of last Monday’s meeting by the organisers themselves!

I believe that in a public space such as a university freedom of speech is commensurate with a right to cover that freedom of speech without fear or hindrance. No one should be disallowed from filming solely because of their political views.

I was targeted last Monday night because of my political views. No one else filming would have been roughed up like that. And I have never disrupted an event, despite what is being put about by my detractors.

Sadly, SOAS students, it seems, have received a highly defamatory and incendiary statement from the SOAS Student Union on behalf of the Palestine Society, which has potential repercussions for my personal safety at SOAS and which was sent to me by a concerned SOAS student. One of the paragraphs states of me:

“By now, we are well aware of his intentions. He first provokes, intimidates and insults (including racially) speakers, organisers or members of the audience and violates generally accepted conventions of public meetings.”

This is reminiscent of another SOAS talk I attended on 16th April about Israel’s Arab minority where I wasn’t even filming. At the talk I was verbally insulted by Gilbert Achcar, a SOAS lecturer, who, after I had asked a perfectly reasonable question during the Q&A, told the room that I was a “professional disruptor”, that had he known I was coming he would have barred me from attending and that I had left insulting remarks on his answering machine. He then told me to get out.

Of course I didn’t leave messages on his machine. I wouldn’t even dream of it.

Aggressive targeting of those supportive of Israel is not confined to university campuses. At the beginning of the year I was put through a torrid few months when Peter Scott and Salim Alam of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tried to have me prosecuted for harassment because of some videos and photos I posted of them demonstrating against Veolia outside the Natural History Museum in December.

I was at a reasonable distance while filming their political activism but I ended up being called into Notting Hill Police Station to be questioned about my filming and what I had written on my blog. Scott and Alam seemed to have failed to tell the police that I and others are constantly filmed and photographed for their anti-Israel blog.

To my relief the police eventually decided against any further action, but had it come to court the following footage might have made interesting viewing. It shows Salim Alam outside the now defunct Ahava shop in Covent Garden getting up close and personal to the camera of Roy from Campaign4Truth who was filming legally but still, as you can see, gets his camera whacked by one of Alam’s colleagues:

15 replies »

  1. Richard, SOAS’ reaction is not surprising but that does not make it less reprehensible.

    And oh how typical of Islamist belligerent self-pity, with a good helping of twisting the truth, was the reaction of the Palestine Society, accusations without examples, which of course must have no foundation in fact.

    They feel threatened, by ONE person and yet they are many, but that one person threatens to expose their unreasoning hatred.

    There is an Arab proverb which sums this up and which this shower seem to have got down to a fine art:

    He strikes me and weeps, and then he goes before me weeping and accuses me of striking him!

  2. Richard, you had loads of support because people know you for your amazing dedication and determination.

    You are an example to us all and I’m proud to know you mate.
    Murray

  3. Gilbert Achcar … told the room that I was a “professional disruptor”, that had he known I was coming he would have barred me from attending

    This sounds like the “events” (for debates they are not) starring the likes of Ken O’Keefe or Ben White, i.e. if you are there to make any defence of Israel whatsoever or in any way challenge the unanimous opinion of the speakers, you’re not welcome.

    Utterly pathetic.

    • How can one person, alone, present any sort of threat to these people? We know from Richard’s footage that the threat was to him!

      (Perhaps the threat comes from their discomfort about being disagreed with and having their lies exposed)

      SOAS should be ashamed to host such gatherings on its premises.

  4. I watched the video. They’re rather aggressive and intimidating, aren’t they? I noticed they didn’t try talking to you, but just walked up and ‘smack’. Good luck to you Richard, and keep up the good fight.

  5. I had a very constructive chat with SOAS who said they had been inundated with emails from both sides but who wanted to continue to welcome me to SOAS and they said they will be reviewing their filming policy.

    I don’t know what there is to review there Richard. Either it is a public meeting OR it isn’t. If it is a public meeting then I don’t see how the act of filming can be stopped. PUBLIC means PUBLIC and is different from PRIVATE or ‘members only’. Or ‘by invitation only’.

    I state these seemingly self evident truths without any legal training. I would be interested in someone with legal training commenting.

    • Don’t forget, NobblyStick, that these are Islamist sympathisers, fascistic and very insecure and rigid. They have never been taught to be comfortable with debate or anyone disagreeing with what they say. SOAS is colluding with that.

      There should have been a general announcement about filming before the meeting commenced. These charmers have the manners of pit bulls

  6. I was at a reasonable distance while filming their political activism but I ended up being called into Notting Hill Police Station to be questioned about my filming and what I had written on my blog. Scott and Alam seemed to have failed to tell the police that I and others are constantly filmed and photographed for their anti-Israel blog.

    That dark bloke was the person who complained to the police that you ‘got into his personal space’ a couple of months ago. On the video above, it seems to me that he pushes into ‘your personal space’ on purpose clearly intentionally and with an intent to intimidate you. It happens 9 seconds into the video and he pushing his ‘botoxed lips‘ right into the camera lens.

  7. Their behaviour and now this lying statement demonstrates their absolute determination to prevent Richard from filming and presenting their nasty little hate fests . They want to be able to conduct this among like minded individuals who will not question any aspect of the debate . The audience are no more than a bunch of nodding heads who go knowing they will hear what they want to be said .
    This is not how university should be . Where is the cut and thrust of intellectual debate with arguments from both sides . It does not exist here in which case why is the meeting – it’s certainly not a debate – held on Soas premises .
    It has all the hall marks of a early Nazi Germany bier Keller meeting .
    Richard shines a light on the whole sordid event and like kicking over a stone , this exposure to light causes the creatures to go scurrying about to seek out the dark in order to carry on in disturbed .
    Richard exposes the fascists using a camera which cannot lie .
    Every word of that Palestinian society statement is an outright lie .
    Why am I not surprised ?

  8. I am waiting for some bright spark from SOAS or other like-minded individuals to ask what Richard was doing there in the first place and suggesting that he shouldn’t frequent these dens of iniquity.

    The Palestine Society is doing what Islamists do best – trying to stifle debate – which may necessarily be heated but need not end in threatening behaviour. Of course they behave like fascists because they are fascists. It would suit them fine if Jews/Zionists in the UK were cowed into submission by their threats of violence. SOAS, by allowing such an event to take place on its premises, is colluding with the shutting down of debate.

    What have UK universities come to when debate can be stifled in this manner, on university premises which means that the conduct and behaviour has the imprimatur of the university? Would any of you send your children to study at such a place?

    Richard, I am proud of you, yet at the same time I am nervous about your safety. Perhaps there should be more of you, the better to wrong-foot the “brown shirts” of Islamist societies.

  9. I’m a current SOAS student. I’m politically right, I guess, and have learned to shut up at this school due to fear. The one time I got into a conversation about politics (not I/P), I got labelled as a fascist, and one guy threatened to “beat me down” if I didn’t shut up. I love the academics here, I’m not doing economics or a political course, but humanities and language, and I’ll be back next year, but I seriously am scared of some of the characters here. Just now not all of us SOAS students are like that, and we’d have your back, if we weren’t scared of these thugs.

    • Deeply worrying – its about time the Police started taking a proper interest in these places

    • Have you ever complained formally about being intimidated? What might be the worst that could happen if you did that?

      Would you be prepared to share your concerns about what you call the scary characters there with the police? You might help to prevent someone being hurt.