Saturday, 27 October 2012

Henry Jackson Society

This is a cross-post from the Henry Jackson Society

The ugly face of anti-Semitism appeared at our university campuses again this week, with a radical minority of students celebrating the stifling of Jewish opinion in Scotland. On Wednesday evening,  Student Rights, a campaign of the Henry Jackson Society, broke the news that a group of protesters had disrupted an event at the University of Edinburgh at which Daniel Taub, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, was due to speak.

Chanting anti-Israeli slogans including “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, activists shouted down the Ambassador and refused entreaties from university staff and students to allow him to continue. Organised via Facebook, campaigners described Ambassador Taub as “a propagandist for an apartheid state and a defender of war crimes.”

An individual present at the event told Student Rights that the protestors continued shouting for an hour, creating an intimidating and hostile atmosphere for the Jewish students who had attended the event. Of course, this was not just about frightening those on campus who are sympathetic towards Israel, but about stifling any debate at all which contradicts their radical opinions.

This is not, of course, the first time that such behaviour has been seen on the UK’s university campuses, or the University of Edinburgh itself. In February 2011 an event featuring the Foreign Ministry advisor Ishmael Khaldi was abandoned after 50 protestors surrounded him and began chanting “Israel is a racist state”. Student supporters of Israel have been assaulted whilst protesting against ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and told that “the best thing the Jews have ever done was go into the gas chamber”.  Other representatives of the Israeli government have been attacked after giving talks on campus.

Marginalising the opinions of Jewish students on their own campuses has become something to be proud of for these ‘activists’.  In refusing to allow Ambassador Taub to speak these students showed their true nature: their interest is not debate but intimidation.  It is high time that the university authorities took a stand on this thuggish-ness.  It is not only poisoning constructive research and discussion but poisoning the reputation of UK universities as places of education rather than propaganda.  Whether the Edinburgh university authorities take action against those involved in this week’s protests will be the clearest signal possible of whether they take this issue seriously or not.

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