12th Feb 2018, Kings College London (KCL). Former Deputy Prime-Minister Israeli Dan Meridor had been invited to speak on the campus. The event was arranged by The Pinsker Center, KCL Israel Society and City Israel Society. The majority of those attending were Jewish students. Because of increasing intimidation, KCL Israel Society issued a statement to address ‘behind the scenes’ issues related to the event:
Because of the strict security conditions that events such as this require, another message was then posted:
This isn’t normal student politics. These messages are a sign of students under siege. And not without reason. Over the last few years, several events of this type have been disrupted. There had been violence at this university two years ago. Violence that involved the same groups of demonstrators.
Everyone was aware that this event would face opposition. Below is a screenshot of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, advertising a call for opposition to a student event. Promoting a call for opposition well beyond the confines of the KCL campus. Intimidating behaviour directed towards students, from a group riddled with antisemitism. Incredibly, despite our growing understanding of the antisemitism within the PSC, and this type of intimidating behaviour, Jeremy Corbyn still remains a patron of this organisation.
We must also remember that in a few days, these anti-Israel activists on campus, will begin a ‘festival of hate’ directed against Israel. A whole week (or more) of events where they will listen to the lies contained within the polished delegitimisation campaign against Israel. They will have their opportunity to chant all manner of threats against the Israeli state. ‘Apartheid Week’ is coming:
And yet on the other side of this ‘discussion’ it is very different. The Jewish students are under attack. Some hold their head up with pride, but it is absolutely certain some are intimidated into silence. Just one event of this type results in dozens of groups organising an action that tries to shut the event down. It is advertised by organisations off campus that have high level political support. The demonstrators tend to be highly organised, just as we have previously seen on UCL, another London campus.
The shaming of the Jewish students
The protestors came, they stood outside the room, and they tried to make as much noise as possible, to disrupt the event. They call it ‘free speech’, but it isn’t. It is an attempt to deny free speech.
This from an official statement from the KCL Israel Society
‘They came onto campus this evening with one aim; to intimidate us and shut down our event. They coordinated their voices to scream throughout the talk, without even a minute to allow us to listen to the speaker in peace. There were reported screams of ‘Khaybar’, the battle cry against Jews, and we left the room to fingers pointed in our faces with the word ‘shame’, repeated over and over again.’
When the students left the room, they faced a barrage of cries of ‘shame shame’
As further signs of the ‘external influence’ involved, it was another non-student, anti-Israel group, ‘Friends of Al-Aqsa’ that live streamed the protest. They also proudly posted a video of this ‘shaming’. Notice the first comment underneath the video.
It is important to note that this comment is not made towards an Israeli official, or about an Israeli policy. It is being directed towards British Jewish students at Kings College London. British Jewish students are ‘cockroaches’. No doubt in need of another attempt at ‘extermination’.
Demonstrators as victims
It is also interesting to record how the demonstrators twist the events. They had chosen to come onto a campus to disrupt an event. The campus security tried, and partially failed to contain the protest. One demonstrator was not permitted inside because he held a megaphone. An instrument clearly designed (outside a door of an event) to disrupt. This became the tweet of the night:
So as Jewish students are huddled in a room, struggling to hear what their invited speaker against a background of vocal hate, the demonstrators portray themselves as the victims. In the footage, the security man explicitly references the megaphone (see under his arm). The person tweeting this is Ayo Olatunji, who is part of the UCL student union, and was part of the UCL protest and disruption in late 2016. More of a concern was this tweet by Ayo:
He claims he was denied, not because of his behaviour, his intent, or the need to uphold free speech, but because he is black. I saw this weaponisation of racism at Cambridge with Malia Bouattia, and recently being used at Warwick by Nicola Pratt. A truly divisive strategy. There is of course nothing about his colour mentioned in the footage.
The protestors have complained to the university. They are in ‘outrage’. Why? Just as I described their dissatisfaction at events at UCL two week ago:
What of the Jewish students?
This is all intimidation. And it works. The university is not capable of fighting a war for the Jewish students, because this is not a battle of students. Palestine Solidarity Campaign advertise it, Friends of Al Aqsa live stream it, off-campus ringleaders turn up to assist in the organisation.
How many of those Jewish students who may have been intimidated by yesterday’s events, will not attend another meeting of its type? Will supporters of those Jewish students now look over their shoulder and say to themselves ‘it is not worth it’? How many of those who organised the event, will not organise another? Will invited speakers not want to come?
Intimidation works because it works through intimidation, not debate. Non-democratic forces are undermining our academic spaces. Values of equality, democracy, free speech are all under threat. When you have Jewish students forced to leave a room surrounded by haters screaming ‘shame’, alongside posts on Facebook calling these students ‘cockroaches’, then you have to accept you are in dangerous territory.
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