Catchup meeting: African refugee protests, Sharon’s legacy, Prawer Plan

We’ll be having our first meeting of term Wednesday, 22nd January, 6 – 8pm.
We will be discussing recent events in Israel/ Palestine (and there’s been plenty!), including:

– The recent strike and protest movement of African refugees in Israel calling for fair treatment and asylum policies – “no more prisons”

– The Prawer Plan for the displacement of 30,000 Bedouin from the Negev – what was it, what were responses to it, what’s going on now

– Ariel Sharon’s death and his contested legacy
– anything else you would like to discuss

You can join the fb event and see some related readings here
It’s a good opportunity to meet us in a quite informal meeting if you’ve never been to a SOASIS event before, and we will also end with a short organising meeting to plan future events, so if you have any ideas, let us know!

Room 116, main building of SOAS Russell Sq campus. As always, our events are wheelchair accessible (please contact us if you have any access requirements we can help with) and open to all, but racism or prejudice of any kind will not be tolerated.


Screening of “The Lab” and a talk by the director Yotam Feldman

Thursday, December 5 at 7pm – Room B111 of the Brunei Gallery, opposite the SOAS main building near Russel Sq.

Link to Event:

We are happy to have Yotam Feldman with us for a screening of his recent film “The Lab” (2013) which deals with Israel’s weapons industry.

In his new documentary, Yotam Feldman explores how Israel’s weapons industries interact with the country’s politics, economy and military decision-making. Feldman sheds light on how Israeli weapons, military technology and know-how become more valuable because they have been field-tested in its wars and combat against Palestinians and neighboring countries.

Here is some information regarding the film:

This is an independent film so we kindly ask for a £3 contribution for the screening

Israeli Army ‘Refuseniks’ (Military Conscientious Objectors) : Panel Event with LSE Palestine Soc

Tuesday 26th November, 3 – 5pm @ LSE Campus, Clement House, Room 3.02

Conscientious Objectors, Noam Gur and Mia Tamarin have collectively served five prison sentences, for refusing to join the compulsory military service in the Israeli Army.

They form part of the ‘Shministim (Israeli Army Conscientious Objectors Movement), and will be exploring the reasons behind their refusal to be conscripted.

Whether you have little knowledge of the situation in Israel/Palestine, or wish to gain a unique perspective into the life of ‘refusenik’ youth in the broader context of affairs (regardless of your perspective), this is definitely an event not to be missed – and is open to all.

SOAS Israel Society and LSE Palestine Society are happy to be co-hosting this event.

18th November: Screening of “Have You Heard About The Panthers” with SOASIS, followed by discussion


Monday, November 18th at 6pm
SOAS Vernon Square Campus, V221 (may change to ULU room, TBC)

We invite you to join the SOAS Israel Society (SOASIS) for the screening of “Have You Heard About The Panthers,” a documentary by Israeli filmmaker Nissim Mosek. The film screening and discussion that follows are free and open to all.

Hoping to cast light on the struggle for equality and justice of Jews from Arab countries, Nissim Mosek sets out to document the Mizrahi Black Panthers movement in Israel. From IMDb:

In the 1970s, a new protest movement burst into Israeli politics. Calling themselves the Black Panthers, this group of rebellious young Mizrahi men was intensely critical of racism and class bias within the Israeli establishment. They embraced Robin Hood-like campaigns such as “Operation Milk,” which stole food from rich areas in Jerusalem and distributed it to impoverished immigrants. Their bold moves captured the attention of the young and disenfranchised while earning the animosity of others (Golda Meir called them “barbarians”).

Mosek’s 1970s protest film vanished suspiciously just after completion; for years it was believed to be lost, and at one point it was even rumored to have been stolen by the Shin Bet (Israeli internal intelligence agency). The recent discovery of a copy in the Jerusalem Cinematheque prompted the filmmaker to investigate the demise of the Panthers and illuminate issues of disunity that continue to reveal themselves in today’s Israel.

(Note: as of now the event is taking place at Vernon Square, but if it moves to ULU you will be notified).

Here are some pieces to prompt the discussion:

All SOASIS events are wheelchair accessible, please contact us if you have any access needs we can help you with.

The discussion will be followed by a brief organising meeting, which all are welcome to attend.

17th October: Politics of Food – dinner with SOASIS

Thursday 17th October, food7pm 1st floor staff lounge, main building (Russel Sq campus)

Who “owns” hummus? And why might it matter?
Why do stereotypes of the female home cook and male chef persist?
How does conflict affect food, diets and health?
What is the role of cherished recipes in creating or sustaining national identity and cultural memory? (Including among refugees and diaspora communities)

If these questions are getting your mind racing and your mouth watering, then you are invited to join us for an evening of dinner and discussion.
We ask you to bring a dish that has a connection to your family history or is special to you, preferably home-cooked. Please be ready to tell us a bit about it.
NB: the staff lounge has a microwave.
Printed recipes for swapping are also very welcome!!!
The discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Rebecca Steinfeld, Visiting Scholar in the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS, BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2013, and massive foodie.

Looking forward to meeting you all, and sampling your cooking! All are welcome, and there will be plenty of time to chat and get to know each other.

We will be providing disposable cutlery and crockery but please do bring your own so that we can waste less, there will be washing up facilities in the space, as well as a microwave for heating food up. The room is wheelchair accessible and if you have any further access requirements/ anything we can help you with, please get in touch. 
Rebecca Steinfeld who will be facilitating the discussion has recommended some excellent reading for the event:

Also, you might want to read this discussion between Israeli and Palestinian chefs Yotam Ottolenghi, Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt:

LOTS of great upcoming events with SOASIS and beyond

Hi everyone!

It was lovely to meet new people last night, and looking forward to meeting more of you at our food politics dinner next week. We’re going to be organising monthly film screenings this year, so watch this space for more details, and if you have anything you’d like to see, get in touch.

There’s loads of brilliant things going on at SOAS in the next few weeks, I’ll start by giving you details of the ones we’re organising, and then a selection of some other events you might be interested in… also some publicity leaflets are attached to this email. All SOAS Israel Soc events are wheelchair accessible, and please contact us if you have any access needs we can help with.

Here goes:

Thursday 17th October, 7pmDinner! and discussion on the politics of food
1st floor staff lounge, main building (Russel Sq campus)
Remember to bring your own dish 🙂 there will be microwaves in the staff lounge

Thursday 23rd Octoberfilm screening -Tinghir-Jerusalem: Echoes from the Mellah, 6 – 8pm, Khalili Lecture Theatre, main building
Fantastic, multi-award winning film about the 2000-year old Judeo-Berber culture in the Moroccan mountains. The film is in Hebrew, Arabic, French and Berber (with English subtitles). Followed by a discussion with the director! We’re very proud to have been able to help make this happen.
This Thursday, 10th October, 7.30pm in room 4426 (main building, Russell Sq campus): Film screening: Yossi and Jagger
The SOAS Queer Film soc is organising this screening of a brilliant Israeli drama by Eytan Fox, about sexuality and the military. There will also be a discussion, some related reading has been posted on their facebook group.
13th October, 2pm at Birkbeck, room B34
Beyond the Stalemate: Independent Jewish Voices host a discussion with Mustafa Barghouti
17th October (before the dinner!) at SOAS JCR
SOAS Debate Soc is running a debate about Palestinian resistance to Jewish settlements in the West Bank

26th October Palestinian hip-hop legends DAM are playing in London, hosted by SOAS Palestine Society, more info soon

Welcome to SOASIS 2013/2014

Welcome to everyone who signed up at Freshers’ Fayre, welcome back for everybody  else. Hope you’re looking forward to another year of creative, profound and unusual events – as always, let us know if you have any ideas.

You can check us out on fb here, and if you would like to be added to the announcements list, and/or the in organising e-list, email us at

Our first event:

Meet n greet Monday 7th October, 6.30pm , room B104 Brunei Gallery (Russel Sq campus)
Our first event is coming up, a good chance to get to know new faces, catch up after the summer, discuss recent news from Israel, and plan for the upcoming year. And drinks in the JCR afterwards

Events on the week marking Israeli Independence, the Palestinian Nakba, and the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

We’ve got two events this week, so take a break from the library and join us for stimulating discussion and food, all welcome as always:

Tomorrow! (Monday 15th April), 7.30pm in room 4418 of the SOAS main building.
On this day is marked Israeli independence, (Yom Ha’atzmaut) and the Palestinian Nakba. We will be marking it with a short film screening and discussion:
Homeland? On Jewishness, Israeliness and identity

Some of us will also be meeting an hour earlier (6.30pm) to continue going over issues from our AGM, feel free to join us if you would like to discuss the role and activities of the SOAS Israel Society past, present and future.

Friday 19th April, 7pm in room 4418 of the SOAS main building.
In Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, SOAS Israel society will be screening the film “Conspiracy“, starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth. The film recreates the Wannsee Conference, which architected the Final Solution.
The film will be followed by a discussion moderated by Mujahid Dattani; everyone is welcome to attend. There shall be food, and free badges with the symbol of the Jewish Combat Organisation.

Society AGM-ish on Wednesday

Our next meeting will be an informal AGM and discussion type of affair.

7pm, upstairs in the function room at the Cock Tavern, 23 Phoenix Road (5 minutes from Euston station)
We will begin with our usual round up of recent news, including the new Israeli government.
1. What does ‘Israel’ mean to us? Sharing ideas and experiences about our relationships to Israel, as a place and concept.
2. Campus Israel and Palestine related groups – how has the SOAS Israel Society been different from what usually happens on campus? have we done a good job so far? what do we think about other campus groups (including debates such as this one last week at LSE  and peace/ dialogue-oriented groups such at KCL, and this initiative at UCL)
3. What do we want to do next academic year – both general aims and specific ideas for events
4. Planning for events later this year
5. Drink and make merry

Hope to see you there, all welcome as always even if this will be your first time with us


Haggai Matar: Coins, batons and guns – Israeli economy and the Occupation

On Monday 4th March, please join us at 7pm in room 4418 (fourth floor) of the SOAS main building for a discussion about the economics of the occupation, with a talk by Israeli blogger and activist Haggai Matar
“When Israelis took to the streets in the summer of 2011 to demand social justice, they were accused of eschewing the most pressing social justice issue of the land – the occupation of Palestinian territories and the Israeli settlement project. But what is the economic mechanism of the occupation? Are the settlements the main bane of Israel’s middle class? Can the social justice movement be revived – and can it broaden to include a fight against the occupation?

Haggai Matar is an award-winning Israeli journalist, blogger, activist and unioniser, imprisoned in 2002 for two years for his conscientious objection to enlisting in the IDF. He is a municipal reporter and local union chair at Ma’ariv, one of Israel’s main national dailies, and a blogger on +972 Magazine. In 2012, Haggai won the Anna Lindh Mediterranean Journalist Award for his +972 series on the separation wall.”

After the talk, feel free to stay on for a short organisational meeting about upcoming events. Agenda to include:
– thoughts about summer term and next academic year (including idea for a reading group)
– Film screening on the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising
– Yael Berda and Eyal Weizman event later in March
– What’s going on with the Tinghir film screening (about Moroccan Jews)
– another social event soon?
– AOB, ideas for other future events
… and some of us can also report back from the Judith Butler talk last week

Upcoming events: Jewish Book Week, Human Rights Watch film festival and more

Upcoming events:

  • Our next event after this will be a talk with Israeli journalist, trade union and anti-occupation activist Haggai Matar, at 7pm on the 4th of March. More details to follow shortly.
  • Next week brings Jewish Book Week, with dozens of fantastic talks and events. Check it out! Some Israel Soc. members are particularly looking forward to Judith Butler’s talk about her new book, ‘Parting Ways: Jewishness and the critique of Zionism’. Sadly it is now all sold out, but if you’ve already got a ticket, please join us after the event in a nearby pub, call Tali on the night to find out where we’ll be (07800921828)
  • On Wednesday 27th of February the New Statesman is holding a panel discussion, ‘Israel: What comes next?’, with a brilliant set of speakers including historian Avi Shlaim, and SOAS Israel Society’s own Dimi Reider. More info on the facebook event
  • The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is in mid-March, and will include screenings of two important films about Israel and Palestine:
    The Gatekeepers + Q&A with filmmaker

    In an unprecedented and candid series of interviews, six former heads of the Shin Bet—Israel’s intelligence and security agency—speak about their role in Israel’s decades-long counterterrorism campaign. Dror Moreh’s The Gatekeepers is a rare glimpse into the untold history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the point of view of the Shin Bet. In this series of one-on-one interviews, combined with never-before-seen archival footage, Moreh gives us unfettered access to the decisions, rationalisations, and regrets of Israel’s most powerful homeland security officials.

    Screenings: Friday 15 March 21:15, Ritzy

    And Saturday 16 March 18:40, Curzon Soho. Tickets:

    The Law in These Parts+ Q&A

    In The Law in These Parts, military legal professionals talk about the legal system they helped to design and implement in its formative years. The film asks crucial questions that are often avoided: can such an occupation be achieved that includes genuine adherence to the principles of the rule of law? And what are the costs that a society engaged in such a long-term exercise must bear?

    Screenings:Saturday 16 March 16:00, Curzon Soho. Tickets:

    And Sunday 17 March 16:00, Ritzy

To inherit, expel, colonise and return: voices from the war of 1948

Our next event will be on the war of 1948 through the testimonies of its protagonists. It will be held Thursday 21st February, from 7pm, in room 4421 of SOAS’ main building.
this is
1948: the birth of the state of Israel, and of the Palestinian refugee problem. The history of these events has been the subject of great controversy:
From the late 1980s, Israel’s “new historians” have questioned the foundational myths of their state. However, they have concentrated on high politics and military history: did Ben Gurion advocate a population transfer? were there military operations of ethnic cleansing?
Although these questions are very important, this approach has led to neglect the voices of common Israelis and Palestinians involved in the war, and their understanding of these events. Recovering these voices can shed light on many aspects of the war, and provide a more complete understanding of such a foundational moment for Israeli and Palestinian history and identity.

This event will be based on the interviews and testimonies of Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians fighters and civilians, and will be presented by Mical Nelken, a history student currently writing her dissertation on testimonies of the war of 1948.
We will also be joined via skype by Lia Tarachansky, Canadian-Israeli journalist and director of upcoming documentary Seven Deadly Myths (
fb event:

Hope to see you there!

30th January discussion: The 2013 Israeli elections


At first glance, it seems Benjamin Netanyahu betted everything on an early election – and lost. His own party depleted to 16% of the parliament, a rift with his allies on the right, and a new centrist juggernaut all seem set to make the next government more moderate, or at least weaker, than the previous one. But is it really so? And where does the election leave Israel’s minorities – Mizrachi Jews, Palestinians, Russians?

Join us for a briefing on the elections with Dimi Reider, co-founder of and contributor to the New York Review of Books, New York Times and other publications, freshly returned from Israel where he followed the elections from up close.

Wednesday 30th January at 7.30pm in room 116 of the SOAS main building. The discussion will be followed be a round up of other news from recent weeks, as well as a short organising meeting


All welcome, as always!

On anti-Semitism

Our first meeting this term will be on anti-Semitism, with a focus on anti-Semitism and the student left. It will be Thursday 10th 7.30 -9.30pm, location (check fb event

jewish octoBefore the discussion, we will go over recent news – including the anti-African protest in Tel Aviv on New Years’ Eve, the exclusion and then reinstating of Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi from candidacy, and the upcoming elections. After the discussions we will have a brief organising meeting, with planning for future events. Everyone is welcome to stay for the organising meeting.

The accusation of antisemitism is hurled from some quarters with incredible facility, while others argue that there is barely any anti-Semitism at all these days. What are our experiences, what do we think, and what are potential strategies to tackle this?

We would like to cover:
– context: brief history of anti-Semitic stereotypes
– attitudes on the Jewish and non-Jewish left: is there a problem in muddling criticising/opposing Zionism with being antisemitic?
– what is the role of some Jewish community organisations and media in relation to this, by insisting that Judaism is inseparable from Zionism?
– Judaism as a race, ethnicity, nationality, culture with collective history, civilisation, or what? And what implication does this definition have on how we classify anti-Semitism/ Judeophobia/ anti-Jewish racism?
– Jewish involvement in left-wing, anti-racist and Palestine solidarity movements, and dealing with anti-Semitism (both ignorant mistakes and deep-seated prejudices) from within the left
– are comparisons of Israel and nazi Germany antisemitic?
– what are our experiences of antisemitism and accusations of antisemitism?
– what about anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia within Jewish communities?
– potential strategies – we are thinking of drafting a new version of this blog post – we like the idea but would like to build a different content after the discussion. We are also aiming to get a PalSoc to make a similar document with points about how to talk about the conflict without being racist towards Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, to produce some kind of double-sided leaflet for the student left.

All welcome for a respectful discussion, and invited to speak from personal experiences. No bigoted behaviour or language will be tolerated.

Gaza: The Politics of the Escalation

We’re not in the business of taking a line on things, but we are in the business of getting involved and making space for people to discuss, learn, reflect. So:

On Friday 23rd at 4pm we will be having a meeting, in ULU room 3B

Gaza: The Politics of the Escalation
Speakers tbc, to include Israelis and Palestinians
The latest conflagration in Gaza took everyone by surprise, sharply breaking from the pattern of escalation and deescalation that dominated the conflict ever since Operation Cast Lead. We will meet to try and understand the dynamics that drive the players against each other, but also the internal politics – Hamas vs Fatah, Islamic Jihad and other groups, and Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak’s bid to retain power after the general elections early next year. We will also look at the West Bank – which has seen lethal clashes between Palestinian protesters and the IDF – and consider the international players: how different is the Middle East after the Arab Spring, and how different is  newly reelected Obama?

Arab Jews: Mizrachi politics in Israel

Our next event will be this Thursday 1st of November at 7pm in B104 (Brunei), and we will be talking about Arab Jews: Mizrachi politics in Israel with Guardian journalist Rachel Shabi, author of “Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands.”

Although Israel is traditionally cast as a “western” country set up and run by European Jews and their descendants, it is first and second generation immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa- alternatively known as Mizrachis, Sephardis or Arab Jews – who comprise the largest population group in the country. These Israelis have moved steadily from second-class citizens and underdogs to produce power-players and kingmakers, even as the majority still faces discrimination by their European compatriots; and despite carrying perhaps the greatest cultural link between Israeli Jews and the rest of the Middle East, they throw their lot determinately with the ultra-nationalist side of the political map.
(fb event here

Also happening soon our first proper social… stay tuned!

Hope to see you all on Thursday

Second meeting: Palestinian Authority collaboration with the Israeli govt, and recent West Bank Protests

Thanks to those of you who came to our first event, it went really well! We hope you enjoyed it too. If you didn’t manage to come, don’t hesitate to join us at our next meeting.

Our second meeting will be Wednesday, 17th October 7.30pm, room B104

It will start with a ‘media round’ about recent news on Israel: US elections and how they will affect the Middle East, Israeli elections, updates on the African refugee issue. We will then have a discussion on Israeli collaboration with Palestinian security and the recent Palestinian protests in the West Bank. After the discussion there will be a brief organising meeting about upcoming events and committee positions, which all are welcome to stay for.

Please feel free to email us with any questions or suggestions you may have.
Hope to see you on Wednesday!


First meeting of new term: Israel on Africa’s orbit

Thursday, 4th October, 7.30pm, room FG01 (Faber Building): Israel on Africa’s orbit:

This will be a teach-in about Israel’s approach to the rising numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Sudan and other areas. We will have briefings about the situation in Eritrea, Israeli policy and recent events relating to African refugees, comparisons to the UK as well as a photography exhibition. After the discussion, we will talk through recent news from the region and have a short organising meeting, which all are welcome to stay for.

Identity & Victimhood – A Conversation about Israeli Independence and the Nakba

26 April, 18:30 – 20:30, Rm 4421, SOAS Main Building

April 26 marks the Hebrew Calendar memorialisation of the Israeli Independence and the Nakba. As a key founding moment of the conflict, this day rouses some of the most contentious debates for members of Israeli, Palestinian and global activist communities, regarding how to engage with and make room for one another’s identity, participation, responsibility and experience of the conflict. On this day more than others, it seems we are forced to question whether in recognizing the identity and victimhood of others, do we necessarily negate our own?

On the 26th of April, we are inviting you to a discussion that will focus not only on Israeli and Palestinian responses to their opposing memorialisation of 1948, but how each of us, as activists, academics, Jews and non-Jews, Israelis, Palestinians, and so on, engage with the conflict, reflect on our right to critique and mobilize against it, and balance our beliefs about the existence of the state of Israel with the right of Palestinians to self-determination, return and equality. And in this way, develop a set of thoughts and strategies for finding space for multiple identities, memories and victimizations, as opposed to the “zero-sum” expectations of both Israeli and Palestinian discourses.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

SOASIS Meeting: 6 March, 7:30pm at the Queens’ Larder

We’re holding our monthly meeting at the Queens’ Larder, Russell Square, for beer and discussion of everything we’ve been doing, and will be doing in the near future.

Agenda will include:

  • Newscast of Israeli media headlines (Obama -Netanyahu conference is most likely the highlight)
  • Discussion of Itamar’s talk about a popular left in Israel (from the last session)
  • Update and discussion of Israel Field-research network project, upcoming Bedouin panel, and plans for term III

Everyone welcome!

SOASIS teach in on Israeli leftist activism, with Itamar Harita : 21 Feb, 18:30

The next Israel Society Meeting will include a “teach-in” on Israeli leftist activism, with Itamar Haritan, a visiting researcher and activist from Israel’s Tarabut/Hithabrut, social-political action network.

Itamar will discuss his experience and analysis of a “popular” or “grassroots” social-political left movement in Israel/Palestine, and its concrete realization, through the work of Tarabut and other members of local activist communities. The discussion will revolve around the often “unheard/unseen voices” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and will culminate in a discussion of the struggle in Al-Araqib, with which Itamar has been deeply involved.

The meeting will be held on Feb. 21st, 18:30, in 22 Russell Square, Rm. T102

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

WATCH: Is BDS Working? Exploring the impact of boycotts, divestment and sanctions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

On Monday 30 January 2012, SOAS Israel Society held its launch event. To a packed Khalili lecture theatre, ISSOC asked the question – Is BDS Working?

Watch the discussion below. With thanks to Isabeau Doucet for the film work and editing!

SOAS Israel Society meeting and BDS teach-in: 24 Jan, 6pm

The next SOAS Israel Society meeting will take place on Tuesday, 24 Jan, at 6:00pm, at 22 Russell Square in Room T102.

In preparation for our event on the 30th, the first half of the meeting will revolve around a teach-in on the BDS movement – what it is, what its aims are, who is involved in it etc. The teach in will be run by two activists from the UK campaign, Eleanor Kilroy and Jonathan Rosenhead (BRICUP). We will spend the second half of the meeting on organisational issues, as per usual, and start the evening with a short newscast on current issues in Israeli media

Hope to see you there!