London university accused of fostering 'antisemitic,' 'toxic' environment

The appeal, spearheaded by UK Lawyers for Israel, presented evidence of the dismay of Jewish SOAS students' within the overall environment and the school's handling of the situation.

School of Oriental & African Studies, London  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
School of Oriental & African Studies, London
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) allegedly fosters a "toxic, antisemitic environment," according to an independent appeals commission.
The appeal was made by SOAS student Noah Lewis, who won his initial ruling but appealed because the school should "address the issue of institutionalized antisemitism and a toxic atmosphere," the Algemeiner said.
As a result of this appeal, the latest decision awarded a much higher settlement amount and in the university’s Appeal Panel recommending that there be a continued investigation into the root cause of the antisemitic environment at SOAS.
The Lawfare Project and the United Kingdom Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) Charitable Trust assisted Lewis with his appeal of an initial decision in which he was awarded a small settlement, but in which the school failed to address the broader culture of antisemitism on campus. 
The appeal presented evidence of the dismay of Jewish SOAS students' within the overall environment and the school's handling of the situation.
According to the Algemeiner report, the panel recommended that the school revisit the issue of antisemitism on campus. Examples of the "toxic" environment include the Student Union (SU) parading its support of the BDS movement; Jews who were not anti-Israel being generalized as "Zionists"; and Lewis's proposed dissertation on the systematic UN bias against Israel garnering condemnation from his peers, among others.
One student said that “the Student Union, which represents the total student body, consistently fails to respect the identities of Jewish students on the same level as other minority groups," according to Algemeiner. Others stated that they were either "shocked by the amount of antisemitic attitudes on campus" or felt "unwelcome and uncomfortable at SOAS."
The school and Lewis reached a settlement agreement to the tune of 15,000 pounds sterling, following his request to have his tuition and expenses refunded. However, there was no follow-up or investigation into the issues on campus, which prompted Lewis to seek further legal action.
In the March ruling, the school commission stated that they "considered the objection that it would be inappropriate for every complaint from any individual student to trigger a full scale and meticulous, perhaps external, investigation of the whole culture at the school and the Student Union."
The independent commission recommended an immediate investigation into these allegations, to be performed by a committee separate of any affiliation to SOAS or the SU, and that the selection of the committee should involve the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and the UK government’s independent antisemitism advisor.
"The panel grasped the nettle and has set a benchmark of best practice, which should be followed in other cases where there is prima facie evidence of an antisemitic environment,” said executive director of UK Lawyers for Israel Charitable Trust Jonathan Turner. “We congratulate Noah Lewis on pursuing the complaint – and hope that other students who experience antisemitism at universities will now be encouraged to object."
“What happened to Noah Lewis should never be considered acceptable at a place of higher learning," said The Lawfare Project executive director Brooke Goldstein. "The Lawfare Project is glad to see that, with this settlement and continued investigation, SOAS is working to right this wrong and ensure that its Jewish students and faculty members can feel safe and welcome on campus.”