UK school condemns violence, distances itself from attack

University condemns Hate-fueled attack that brought 1 pro-Israel protester to hospital, says it awaits police report.

March 23, 2011 06:28
2 minute read.
Security officers at Israel demonstration

UK school 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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LONDON – The London university where two pro-Israel demonstrators were attacked on Sunday has condemned the use of violence and distanced itself from the hate-fueled attack that led to one protester being taken to the hospital.

The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) said on Tuesday that the use of violence was not acceptable and that the school would help police with their inquiries.

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“The school deplores the use of violence and hate speech and will not tolerate them in or around its premises. We are in touch with the police and await their report on this incident,” a SOAS spokesman said.

“Neither individual [the attacker or the victim] is a SOAS student or staff member. The incident is now a police matter,” he added.

On Sunday afternoon, a small group of pro-Israel supporters held a demonstration against a controversial anti- Israel event, part of Israel Apartheid Week, in the university’s main building.

The protesters said the attack had been unprovoked, adding that they’d had anti- Semitic abuse hurled at them before an anti-Israel activist punched and bit a protester on the cheek, requiring that he be taken to the hospital.

“I am totally shaken and distressed by what happened,” said Gili Brenner, one of the pro-Israel protesters.

“One of the most disturbing things is that the people involved, fearing negative publicity... started accusing us, shouting, ‘How dare you come here, you knew what would happen, you asked for it.’” Brenner, an Israeli living in London, said she’d felt as if she was “in Nazi Germany.”

“I didn’t think I would ever get to a stage in which I would feel like a Jew in Nazi Germany, and I don’t say it lightly,” she said after the incident.

The school’s security officers called the police, who arrived minutes later and arrested two men. Police are currently investigating the incident.

The Israeli embassy in London said the incident showed the “hostile, extremist environment and restrictions on free speech overtaking British campuses.”

The embassy added that it would follow the investigation and expected “clear answers from the university on how it views the weekend’s events.”

SOAS is known as a campus hostile toward Israel. The school’s Palestine Society is the only student union society in the country professionally run by the Student Union and funded by outside sources.

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