Israel’s deputy ambassador to Britain, Alon Roth-Snir, was forced from a British university campus Wednesday after protesters caused a lecture on the Middle East to be abandoned.
Roth-Snir was speaking at Essex University when 40 students disrupted the meeting, university officials split students into two groups, according to who was and wasn’t supportive of Mr Roth-Snir’s presence, and allowed the lecture to continue in a small side room.
However, security officials ultimately decided the protestors posed a great enough risk that Mr. Roth-Snir was evacuated.
Nathan Bolton, president of the student union, protested ahead of the deputy ambassadors appearance on campus,even setting setting up a Facebook page calling on protestors to bring “pots, pans, whistles and sirens” to create a disturbance. After the event Bolton posted to the page “Victory – free Palestine!”
A university spokeswoman told the Jewish Chronicle that although the university did not believe there had been a threat of violence to Mr Roth-Snir, a decision to evacuate him from campus was made.
The spokeswoman added that the university would consider taking disciplinary action against any students who had broken university rules on the right to peaceful protest.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, a prominent Rabbi and writer based in the UK, tweeted that Essex University “should hang its head in shame for deplorable treatment of Israel deputy ambsador [sic]today.”
An Israeli embassy spokesman said: “These students make a mockery of the very foundations of freedom of speech, a pillar of the academic world. Their actions shame Essex University and British academia, and damage a long tradition of positive academic exchange.
“Such behavior should be strongly condemned by all those who cherish democratic values.”