Article
Written by Student Rights on 27 January 2012 at 3pm

Aggressive protest tactics spark discord at Brunel University

NOTE: We have removed images due to copyright restrictions however the images have also been found online, using the TinEye service, here, here and here.

The use of intimidation and violent behaviour by students when protesting against Israeli diplomats reached a new level on the 18th January at a demonstration at Brunel University.

Ran Gidor, an Israeli diplomat, had been invited to speak at the university by Dr Matthew Hughes. Despite this being a seminar for Masters students to learn more about their subject, those attending were allegedly subjected to a barrage of abuse including “Zionist scum” and “Fascist w****r”.

Worse than this though is the claim from some students that an imitation firearm was brandished by protestors, something that is a direct contravention of Section 19 of the Firearms Act of 1968.

A protestor involved in organising the event has written that they were imitating Israeli Defence Force soldiers and that their role was to be “as faux aggressive as it was possible to be without getting chucked off the strip by campus security”.

Later on he wrote that these individuals “pulled aside random people coming out of the building and interrogated them”.

Protesting in this aggressive manner left one student feeling that he had been subject to attack, stating that “I fully support the rights of students and anyone in society to hold a peaceful protest. The attacks upon myself and my character were both unfounded and untrue and no person should ever be subjected to racist anti-Semitic slurs”.

In response to these events the Student Union at Brunel has passed a motion condemning this “unacceptable method” of protest and noting the lack of notice given by the demonstrators to the university. An investigation has been launched by the Union and will look into accusations of “racist and offensive behaviour.

Here at Student Rights we have pointed out that these aggressive methods of protest serve only to alienate student communities from one another and do nothing to promote dialogue. We also note that the Union of Brunel Students has begun an investigation and welcome this but would ask why an event on such a contentious issue did not have a greater security presence. Students should feel safe attending any event on campus and should never have to feel threatened because of their beliefs. 

UPDATE: The author of the original blogpost has asked us to point out that the protest was 'faux aggressive' and that the interrogations were also done'to perform an action that would amuse and interest fellow students without causing disruption or harm'.