anti israel 88.
(photo credit: )
LONDON – Described as a scene “reminiscent of tyrants silencing their
opposition,” a student organization has condemned a group of protesters who
disrupted a talk at a Scottish university by an Israeli- Arab diplomat accusing
them of shutting down debate and free speech.
On Wednesday evening, a
group of anti-Israel activists, mainly nonstudents, descended on an event at
Edinburgh University where Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Beduin diplomat at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was scheduled to address students.
protesters surrounded the senior Muslim diplomat and hurled abuse at him.
Security officers had to be brought in to contain the situation and the event
was eventually canceled.
“This isn’t free speech; it is hatred, it is
vandalism,” Khaldi told The Jerusalem Post on Friday.
abuse the values of freedom and democracy of the UK, they put the seeds of
hatred in Europe and they betray the cause of moderate Palestinians who, despite
everything, are ready to do everything to reach reconciliation and peace with
Israel, toward establishing an independent Palestinian state.”
ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor said he was not surprised to see this at a
“Ishmael Khaldi reflects the tolerant and open Israel
of 2011,” said the ambassador. “These attempts to suppress his freedom of speech
come as no surprise.
Once more a British university views this
intimidating, mob-rule as acceptable.”
Raheem Kassam, director of Student
Rights, a London-based organization which fights extremism on campus, was
appalled by the crowd’s behavior.
“It’s a shame these protesters, many of
whom weren’t even students, didn’t feel confident enough to quiz Mr. Khaldi in a
rational and academic manner,” he said.
Kassam highlighted that an event
with the editor of an Arabic newspaper, Abdel Bari Atwan, at the London School
of Economics in December was not disrupted despite radical views that people
“Atwan is on record as claiming he would dance in
Trafalgar Square if Iranian missiles hit Israel. However, his event was not
subject to the disruption that took place at Edinburgh. It flies in the face of
those who defend controversial speakers on campuses, if they attempt to silence
people they don’t agree with.
“This gagging is contrary to the freedom of
speech student groups work hard to defend,” Kassam said.
day, the university’s Palestinian Society hosted the US anti-war,
Marxist-Leninist activist Mike Prysner. The former American soldier, who has
compared Israel’s action in Gaza to Nazis, urged students to fight against
“imperialism and for justice in the Middle East.”
In a statement on
Friday, the university stopped short of condemning the action but said it was
“unfortunate” that the protesters that disrupted the event did not allow for the
constructive exchange of ideas and opinions.
“The university attaches
great importance to freedom of speech as long as points of view are put across
in a safe and lawful way,” an Edinburgh University spokesman told the Post. “It
is unfortunate that this event did not provide the opportunity for the
constructive exchange of ideas and opinions.”
Initially the talk had been
scheduled to have been hosted by the university’s International Relations
Society. However, the society pulled out saying it would be wrong to provide a
platform for a representative of Israel at the expense of Palestinian who “live
“The IR society had a long discussion about hosting
Ishmael Khaldi,” said the society’s president Ledys Sanjuan. “We came to the
conclusion that providing a platform for a representative of the Israeli state
would be at the expense of the millions of Palestinians who live under