Noah Lewis was called a “white supremacist Nazi” and accused of covering up war crimes when he proposed to write a dissertation on bias against Israel at the United Nations. He said that fellow students labelled him and other Jews pejoratively as “Zionists” and left antisemitic slurs on lockers, desks and toilet walls.
The student, originally from Canada, matriculated in 2018 but lodged a formal complaint in May 2019 after finding his mental health adversely affected by the stress and extreme discomfort caused by the ”toxic antisemitic environment” which ultimately led him to quit the University and return home.
In July 2019, the University offered an apology for the ”emotional trauma…experienced due to the perceived antisemitic discrimination which he had to endure” and recommended compensation of £500.
Mr Lewis appealed the decision with assistance from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), however, and in March 2020 the appeal panel determined that the original decision ”had not been adequate” and recommended an external investigation, even if the University reached a settlement with Mr Lewis.
A settlement has reportedly been reached, with Mr Lewis refunded £15,000 in full in December 2020.
Jonathan Turner, Executive Director of UKLFI Charitable Trust, said: ”The panel grasped the nettle and has set a benchmark for best practice which should be followed in other cases of an antisemitic environment. We hope that other students who experience antisemitism at universities will now be encouraged to object.”
A spokesperson for the University said: ”SOAS is extremely concerned about any allegations of antisemitism at our school. Diversity is key to the SOAS mission and we want all our students to feel welcome and supported in their studies. We cannot comment on any individual student case or the outcomes of any appeal. However, where we have established an independent panel as part of a complaints process, we would of course consider the findings of such a panel thoroughly and take appropriate action.”
SOAS has long been a hotbed of antisemitism among UK campuses and has not adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism. Last September, a professor at the University labelled Israel as a “virus” and said that it “exploited the Holocaust” for its own political agenda.
If any students are concerned about antisemitism on campus or need assistance, they can call us on 0330 822 0321, or e-mail [email protected].