British Jews appalled by Kings’ College protest against former Israeli minister

The representative body of British Jewry said it’s “appalled” by a protest staged at King’s College London (KCL) on Monday against a lecture by a former Israeli minister, during which audience members “were barracked and intimidated in a completely unacceptable way.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), the country’s EJC affiliate, condemned some 50 protesters who targeted individuals entering and exiting a talk with Dan Meridor — a former deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence in the Israeli government — with loud chants of “shame” and “criminal,” according to video footage.

“It was very aggressive,” recounted Tamara Berens, president of King’s College London’s Israel Society, which helped bring Meridor to campus. “The event was severely disrupted due to the amount of noise they were making throughout.”

“Even with double doors, we could still hear them screaming,” she told The Algemeiner. “Sometimes they weren’t even saying words, they would just scream at the top of their lungs.”

She indicated that KCL’s security officials had previously assured event organisers that members of the public would not be allowed to protest inside the building.

“They let us down by betraying their promise and allowing people to enter,” Berens explained. “There were protestors present who had previously seriously intimidated students at other events, at [University College London] for example.”

These concerns were shared by the Board, whose president said on Tuesday that failures on behalf of KCL’s event management “allowed these scenes to take place.”
“The deficiencies came in not ensuring that the demonstrators were adequately separated from those attending the event,” Simon Round, a spokesperson for the Board, said.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) — which represents some 8,500 students in the UK and Ireland — also expressed deep disappointment that attendees “were intimidated and harassed” by protestors who “sought to drown out the speaker.”

“Debate and discussion are vital aspects of university life, as is the right to protest,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday. “However, intimidating those who try to hear a variety of views with chants of ‘Shame’ is not conducive to informed and respectful dialogue, which should be front and centre of university life.”


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