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.
The 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.
“These activists 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.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UK Ron Prosor said he was not surprised to see this at a British university.
“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 disagree with.
“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.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights, a London-based organization which fights extremism on campus, is appalled. MuzzleWatch surely is not. And we are left with another example of speech actually being muzzled. An excerpt: