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KCLSU Release Statement Addressing Cancellation of Israel Society Event

Photo Courtesy of Emma Carmichael

A statement from the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU) has recognised the controversy surrounding an intended speaker and encouraged students to report “any form of prejudice or discrimination”, but it also reiterated their commitment to freedom of speech.

The 226-word statement does not clarify whether or not the event would have been allowed to proceed as planned if the organisers had not cancelled. It recognised “concerns and complaints raised by our members”, but stated that the Union was “in discussions with KCL to agree how best to respond to the issues raised”.

Their statement was published at 16:50 on Wednesday 20 March, a day after KCL Israel Society had confirmed that it was cancelling the event.

One of the intended speakers at the discussion had attracted significant attention in the days prior for undermining the idea of Islamophobia on X (formerly Twitter). The KCLSU statement referenced “a speaker who has previously made inflammatory and offensive comments”, but did not specify if the comments would have broken the Union’s Safe Space policy.

The other intended speaker was an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) veteran. The topic of the panel discussion was ‘conflict resolution’.

The KCLSU recognised that “many of our members have strongly held and differing views on the subject of the event”. They also affirmed their commitment to “uphold[ing] the right to freedom of speech within the law”, but further stated that “it is essential to remain sensitive to the need to ensure KCLSU remains a safe space for everyone”.

The society cited “intimidatory activity” and “security concerns” for their decision, after posts encouraging protestors to rally outside campus at this time were liked by over 10,000 people. The SU’s statement states that the cancellation decision had been made by KCL Israel Society “in consideration of the wider King’s community and to avoid provoking further hostility”.

The SU also pointed students towards resources for mental health support, citing the possible “need [for] support or someone to talk to” in the light of these events.

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