LONDON – British police are investigating the verbal attack on Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon after an Oxford University student shouted “slaughter the Jews” during a talk he gave at the university on Monday night.
During the event, hosted by the university’s Student Union, a Muslim student, who had been heckling the deputy foreign minister, got up and shouted in Arabic “Itbah Al-Yahud” – “slaughter the Jews” as he was leaving the lecture hall.
The incident was referred to the police on Tuesday. Thames Valley Police confirmed on Wednesday that they have received a complaint and are considering a charge of racially aggravated public disorder.
A police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post they are taking the matter “very seriously” and that they are in the very early stages of investigation and no arrests have yet been made.
The university has promised to look into the incident once the police have completed its investigation.
“Our policy is always to await the outcome of police investigations where criminal offences are alleged, and to look at any internal disciplinary process after the police have finished their investigation,” an Oxford University spokesperson told the Post.
“So we will await the outcome. We abhor racism but obviously now that this is in police hands we cannot comment on the individual case.”
The Oxford University Student Union has released a statement condemning the disturbances at the event and distancing themselves from the individual.
“While the vast majority of the audience behaved in an orderly and responsible fashion, some members continually interrupted the speech and one individual in particular appears to have made a directly anti-Semitic remark. These individuals exceeded the principles of free speech that the Society upholds. They and their remarks are not representative of this Society, nor the vast majority of the audience. The Oxford Union will not tolerate this kind of behavior by its members.”
The president of the Student Union, Stuart Cullen, has launched an investigation to identify the members who disrupted the event.
“The Union will be taking disciplinary action against these members, in accordance with the Society’s rules. The president praised the work of the security and local police on the night of the occurrence and expressed his gratitude for their help, as well as that of the Israeli embassy, in coordinating the event.
“The Oxford Union believes in the rights of free speech and protecting our invited speakers’ ability to express themselves in an orderly and disciplined environment. We further believe that our members have the right to challenge and question the speakers in keeping with the Society’s expectations of good conduct.” Ayalon had considered pressing charges before police began their investigation.
“This demonstrates our new policy on hatred and racism and we will have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, something that should have happened a long time ago,” said Ayalon.
Ayalon received a hostile reception at the university and was heckled throughout his talk by accusations of “war crimes” and racism. Another student carrying a Palestinian flag tried to approach the platform from which Ayalon was speaking and was led out by security staff.
At a demonstration outside the lecture hall, organized by the university’s Palestine Society, protesters chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Speaking to a partly hostile audience, Ayalon took a number of hostile questions but received applause at the end. Ayalon said that after the event, several students approached him, thanking him for providing a narrative they said they had never heard before.
“Comments like these show proof that the narratives on campuses have been hijacked by those who have a hatred for not only Israel but also Jews,” said Ashley Perry, Ayalon’s media advisor. “The event also proved that if the Israeli narrative is explained in a calm matter, as the deputy minister did, then we can increase understanding among those who have not ever been exposed to another narrative.”