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Written by Student Rights on 24 October 2012 at 11pm

Breaking: Israeli Ambassador shouted down by anti-Israel activists

This evening Student Rights has been informed that a small group of protesters disrupted an event at the University of Edinburgh at which Daniel Taub, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, was due to speak.

Chanting slogans including “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, the protesters shouted down Ambassador Taub and refused entreaties from university staff to allow him to continue.

While the majority of students were keen to see Taub speak, this small minority hijacked the event to air their radical views, regardless of the Ambassador’s right to free expression and even forced the head of the Politics and IR Department to intervene and call for a balanced discussion.

Organised via Facebook, the action was called by Edinburgh Students for Justice in Palestine and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and described Taub as “a propagandist for an apartheid state and a defender of war crimes”.

Student Rights was contacted by a student at the university who told us that the protestors continued shouting for an hour, with the Ambassador attempting to give his speech in vain.

He stated that whilst the university and Lothian and Borders Police Force had been helpful in setting up the event, they were unable to control the demonstrators, who “were very intimidating and...brought about a hostile environment that affected their fellow students”.

He continued by stating that in his, and many of his fellow students’ opinions, “the views of the representatives and supporters of the Jewish state are being silenced”.

Sadly, behaviour like this is not an uncommon occurrence on the UK’s university campuses, or even at the University of Edinburgh.

In February 2011 an event featuring Ishmael Khaldi, at the time the most senior Muslim in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was abandoned after 50 protestors surrounded him and began chanting “Israel is a racist state”.

In March 2011, supporters of Israel protesting against ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ at the School of Oriental and African Studies were assaulted, and one anti-Israel activist stated “the best thing the Jews have ever done was go into the gas chamber. It was the best thing to happen to Germany to have been cleaned of Jews.  The same thing needs to happen in the Middle East”.

Other members of Israel’s government have also been exposed to such behaviour, with the Deputy Ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher’s car attacked at the University of Manchester in April 2010.

Worse still, in 2010, a student at the University of Oxford shouted Itbach Al-Yahud [Slaughter the Jews]” at Danny Ayalon, Israel’s then Foreign Minister.

Protests like this only damage campus relations, and make Jewish students feel marginalised and frightened on their own campuses. By engaging in dialogue, students can enjoy constructive debate and can air their views in a peaceful atmosphere. In refusing to allow tonight’s speech to go ahead these protestors showed that they are interested in none of these things.