Written by Student Rights on 26 April 2013 at 2pm

Jewish student event cancelled after threats (Update: Event held at 'Secret Venue')

UPDATE: Student Rights has been contacted by the University of St Andrews Jewish Society who informed us that despite the cancellation they were able to find an alternative venue to hold the Ball. They have also provided a statement which reads:

"I am delighted to announce that the St Andrews Jewish Society was able to hold its charity ball on 26th April in conjunction with AEPi, despite much pressure and intimidation. The event was a resounding success, featuring a jazz band, a ceilidh and a DJ set and raised nearly £1000 for seven worthy charities.

Despite the adverse circumstances of the venue pulling out the day before due to allegedly aggressive phone calls and emails from individuals supporting the SPSC, the Jewish Society was able to secure an alternative venue.

The hotel manager has reported the relevant incidences to the police and made the cancellation on the grounds that he could not guarantee the health and safety of his guests and staff.

The security of our guests will always be our primary concern and so we relocated the ball to a secret location. However at no point did we cancel the event and we are thrilled it was such a success, both in terms of the amount raised for charity and the enjoyment of our guests.

We have been overwhelmed by the support received from the Jewish community, the university and the local authorities. In particular we would like to thank the local chaplaincy board, UJS, AEPi, the police and of course the ball guests for their help and support in dealing with this difficult situation.

The fact that the protest was organised by people with little or no connection to St Andrews speaks volumes about our town and university, who we are extremely proud of.

The St Andrews Jewish Society will not cave in to intimidation or bullying. We will always protect our members and shall continue to provide events to enrich Jewish life in St Andrews". 

An event due to be held by the University of St Andrews Jewish Society at the St Andrews Golf Hotel has been cancelled after the hotel received threatening emails and phone calls.

The 2013 Matzah Ball was due to take place at the hotel tonight, yet pressure from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) has led to health and safety concerns for staff and guests.

The protests centred on the use of the event to support the ‘Jewish National Fund’ and ‘Friends of the Israel Defence Forces’, and is another example of Jewish student events being targeted in Scotland.

In October 2012 Student Rights reported that protesters disrupted an event at the University of Edinburgh at which Daniel Taub, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, was due to speak.

A student at the university claimed that the protestors continued shouting slogans for an hour and refused entreaties from university staff to allow Ambassador Taub to give his talk.

In February 2011 the same university saw Ishmael Khaldi, at the time the most senior Muslim in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, surrounded by 50 protestors and shouted down at an event.

Sadly, this kind of behaviour is not uncommon on campuses, with Deputy Ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher’s car attacked at the University of Manchester in April 2010, and Israeli activists assaulted at SOAS in March 2011 after protesting against Israeli Apartheid Week events.

Regardless of the protestor’s views on the groups supported by the event, the use of violent threats to oppose any event is unacceptable.

The SPSC have released a statement claiming that the event had “been cancelled on police advice in the face of serious mobilisations for planned protests”, failing to appreciate that this is nothing to be proud of.

Here at Student Rights we have highlighted and denounced threats from the EDL-linked 'Casuals United' when they have tried to shut down student events.

These tactics are no different, and should receive the same level of condemnation.