In Response to Violent Anti-Israel Protest at London College, UK Universities Minister Says Student ‘Intimidation’ Must Not Be Tolerated
Responding to last Thursday’s violent anti-Israel protest at a London college, the UK’s universities minister said schools must have zero tolerance for “students that use intimidation or violence to attempt to shut down” those with whom they disagree.
Member of Parliament Jo Johnson was responding positively to a letter sent last week by Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) Parliamentary Chairman Sir Eric Pickles, who expressed “strong disappointment” over the disruption of a pro-Israel event at University College London (UCL), during which police were called in to rescue trapped attendees.
“There is no place in our society for bigotry, hatred or any form of racism. Universities have a clear responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment and no staff or student should ever feel threatened or intimidated. The Government takes antisemitism very seriously,” Johnson wrote.
The universities minister said he has tasked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to “engage with UCL” and review whether its policies were “implemented appropriately in this instance.”
As reported by The Algemeiner, British Jewish leaders expressed their outrage over the violent disruption of a lecture featuring Hen Mazzig, an Israeli peace activist and former IDF soldier.
In his letter to Johnson, CFI’s Pickles wrote, “It is simply unacceptable in 2016 that a group of students expressing their right to free speech require a police escort to leave a prestigious university building for their own safety.”
British universities have a “growing problem of antisemitism,” he wrote, and an increasing number of “Israeli and Anglo-Jewish students are wary of pursuing higher education in the United Kingdom.”
“This Government has a proud record of challenging antisemitism, but there is a deep rooted problem in our universities that must be wiped out,” Pickles said.
British police, as The Algemeiner reported, are actively investigating antisemitic social media postings of a UCL student, Yahya Abu Seido, believed to be the ringleader of last week’s protest.
According to watchdog group Campaign Against Antisemitism, which submitted evidence to police, Abu Seido invoked classical tropes of Jewish control, writing: “Zionists own the economy,” and referring to the media as “Zionist.” He also compared Israel to the Nazi regime and wrote, “ISIS serves Israel.”
Read Johnson’s letter in response to the UCL protest below: