An Israeli diplomat smeared activist researcher

Hilary Aked is a London-based freelance writer and researcher, an NCTJ-qualified journalist and a PhD student at the University of Bath researching the pro-Israel lobby in the UK.
She has been smeared by an Israeli diplomat.
Recently, she obtained copies of messages that Matt Keston from Israel’s London embassy sent to students at the University of Bath, where she is a researcher.
In his comments, made in a Facebook chat earlier this month, Keston describes her as “an absolute nutcase of an academic” and as a “very extreme anti-Israel person” who has written “crazy stuff.”
Keston also alleged that she had “intimidated and threatened” the organizers of an event at which one of his colleagues had been invited to speak.
Not only has Keston tried to tarnish her reputation, he has told a lie.
Here is what actually happened: in March this year, she was asked to debate Yiftah Curiel, another Israeli diplomat who was planning to visit Bath.
A Palestinian student and a teacher critical of Israel were similarly asked to take part in that event. All three of them declined to do so, citing their support for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
She wrote a letter to the event’s organizers. In it, she respectfully urged them to cancel the debate, while letting them know that if they went ahead, she would call for peaceful protests on campus.
Far from being intimidating or threatening, her letter was polite and respectful.
In the end, the debate was called off – and that appears to be the cause of Keston’s irritation. In his comments, Keston claims that he “did over 100 events” during the last academic year and that Bath was the only one which was canceled.
Keston works as an academic affairs officer in the embassy. As part of his work, he has been contacting campus groups to arrange events at which his colleagues may speak.
His attack on Hilary Aked’s reputation followed a message he had sent to the debating society at the University of Bath in early September. In that message, he stated that he was planning visits to UK colleges for Israeli diplomats during the last few months of this year and the first half of 2017.
Keston claimed that “over the past academic year, Hilary Aked has placed speakers and diplomats into the departments and classes of 36 different universities, to do talks and be part of panel debates.”

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