Jewish students angry over treatment at LSE meeting

Introduction — March 22, 2016

On Monday night Zionist Jews protested at a lecture by a former UN rapporteur on human rights to the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk.
Instead of answering his charges that Israel was a “racist state” however, protesters at the London School of Economics resorted to an old tactic to silence critics of Israel. They accused Falk of “anti-Semitism”, a charge that is echoed in the Jewish Chronicle report below.
Even though protesters interrupted Falk on a number of occasions, it’s the protesters who portray themselves as victims.
In effect they were trying to silence Richard Falk and other critics of Israel, like Gilad Atzmon, who was also at the LSE, and their protests only confirmed Falk’s accusations.
According to Falk, Zionist Jews were “playing the antisemitic card” as “a smear tactic designed to avoid substantive discussion… because Israel’s arguing position is so weak.”
This appears to be exactly what is happening.

Jewish students angry over treatment at LSE meeting

Daniel Sugerman — The Jewish Chronicle March 21, 2017

LSE protests

Officials at the London School of Economics have launched an investigation after a public lecture on the Middle East conflict descended into acrimony, with a clash between Jews in the audience and the anti-Israel musician Gilad Atzmon.

Mr Atzmon, who has described himself as “a self-hating Jew”, allegedly told a group of students that the Jews had been “expelled from Germany for misbehaving”, and recommended that they read the work of David Irving, the disgraced historian and Holocaust denier. 

In a separate incident, a pro-Palestinian activist in the audience allegedly shouted abuse at the students and attempted to approach them but was restrained.

One of the students told the JC: “He turned around and started shouting abuse and tried to assault my friend”.

In a statement, following the event on Monday, the LSE Student Union Israel Society said they were “appalled by the treatment of Jewish students.

“It is completely unacceptable that Jewish students were subjected to the comments made during today’s talk”, the statement continued.

“We expect the university to take strong action to ensure the welfare and safety of Jewish students at LSE.”

An LSE spokesperson acknowledged that there had been “a number of disruptions during the event which were dealt with by the security personnel in attendance”.

The spokesperson added: “Furthermore, the School has received complaints that a member of the audience made a number of antisemitic comments. The School is investigating these complaints and the timeline of incidents during the event.”

The event featured Richard Falk, a former UN rapporteur on human rights to the Palestinian territories, and a virulent critic of Israel, who has accused the country of being an “apartheid regime” and a “racist state”.

Two Israel supporters in the audience interrupted Mr Falk on a number of occasions, holding up signs saying “Richard Falk: Condemned for Antisemitism” and “Richard Falk: Shame on LSE”.

They were both escorted from the room by university staff.

During his talk, Mr Falk said supporters of Israel were “playing the antisemitic card” which was “a smear tactic designed to avoid substantive discussion… because Israel’s arguing position is so weak.”

He defended sharing an antisemitic cartoon on his blog by claiming the antisemitic content was “not very visible” and that it had subsequently been removed.

Mr Falk also said Mr Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who, “challenges a lot of assumptions”.

In the book Mr Atzmon questions whether the blood libel was false, declares that “robbery and hatred is imbued in Jewish modern political ideology on both the left and the right” and that “the history of Jewish persecution is a myth, and if there was any persecution the Jews brought it on themselves”.

Sapan Maini-Thompson, a masters student at LSE, called for the university to conduct “stricter vetting” of campus speakers. 

He said: “In attendance was Gilad Atzmon, a known antisemitic activist, who at the back of the room was inciting Holocaust denial, recommending that people read David Irving and saying that the Jews were ‘expelled from Germany for misbehaving’.

“These sorts of fascists and racists should not be allowed on our campus. I completely agree with open discussion, but we must have much stricter vetting procedures to make sure fascists and racists aren’t allowed on our campus.”

Following the events at LSE, two universities cancelled talks featuring Mr Falk.

The University of East London said a book launch due to take place on Tuesday was not organised in accordance with UEL’s event guidelines. 

A spokesperson said: “The University of East London has taken the difficult decision to cancel a book launch by Professor Richard Falk which was scheduled to take place at our Stratford campus on Tuesday 21 March 2017. It became clear, the day before the event, that the University ‘s External Speakers Policy had not been adequately followed. 

“UEL is a diverse and inclusive environment. We host many events on campus, with a wide range of speakers, and strongly believe that universities should be a place of debate and free speech.  We would consider welcoming Professor Falk to our campus on another occasion if the appropriate policies and procedures were followed.”

Middlesex University cancelled its event 24 hours before it was scheduled to take place on Wednesday. A spokesperson cited “safety concerns” for the decision.

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, said he had contacted both LSE and Middlesex University to express his “anger and disappointment” over the invitations to Mr Falk, and had sent them a dossier on him.

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