University Students Harass Israeli Officials

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JERUSALEM, Israel - In two separate incidents - one at London's Oxford University on Tuesday evening and the other at University of California, Irvine, on Monday, university students harassed and threatened senior Israeli officials.

On Tuesday, deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, invited to speak by Oxford University's Student Union, was continually interrupted by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs.

One Muslim student, caught on camera heckling Ayalon throughout his speech, called out in Arabic, Itback al-Yahud (slaughter the Jews) as the deputy foreign minister was leaving the lecture hall.

Ayalon had considered pressing charges before British police agreed to investigate the incident.

"This demonstrates our new policy on hatred and racism," he said. "We will have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, something that should have happened a long time ago," he said. 

Earlier, security personnel escorted one student out of the room after he approached Ayalon waving a Palestinian flag.

Security guards blocked other students attempting to assault him, according to a press statement issued by the deputy foreign minister's bureau. 

Outside the lecture hall, members of the university's Palestine Society chanted, "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," alluding to the destruction of the Jewish state.

Following his remarks, Ayalon answered a stream of hostile and abusive questions, which in the end won him the respect of several students, who thanked him for providing a narrative they had never heard before.

"If I managed to convince you to go and learn the truth from the history books, then this will have been a successful event," Ayalon told them before leaving the lecture hall.

In a related incident, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren received similar treatment at the University of California on Monday evening.

Oren, who had been invited to speak on U.S.-Israeli relations, left the podium at one point after continual heckling by students in the audience prevented him from speaking.

One student, repeating a statement released by the University's Muslim Student Union, shouted, "Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech."

The Muslim group had issued a statement against the university for hosting the Israeli ambassador.

"We strongly condemn the university for cosponsoring, and therefore inadvertently supporting the ambassador of a state that is condemned by more U.N. Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined," the statement read.

"Oren took part in a culture that has no qualms with terrorizing the innocent, killing civilians, demolishing their homes and illegally occupying their land. Oren is an outspoken supporter of the recent war on Gaza and stands in the way of international law by refusing to cooperate with the United Nation's Goldstone Report, a fact-finding mission endorsed by the U.N. Human Rights Council."

Prof. Mark Petracca, chairman of the university's Political Science Department, called their behavior "beyond embarrassing."

"This is beyond embarrassing," he said. "This is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet, and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him, but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room," the professor said.

"Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech," he said.


The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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