Bring him back

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

There are fine words this week from Pro­fes­sor Ed Byrne, Prin­ci­pal of King’s Col­lege, Lon­don. Re­spond­ing to the vi­o­lence on cam­pus last week, Prof Byrne stresses his op­po­si­tion to “any form of dis­rup­tive ac­tion” and how “open and un­cen­sored de­bate can and must take place with­out fear of in­tim­i­da­tion”. Quite right, too — and King’s have done the proper thing in set­ting up a speedy in­quiry into pre­cisely what hap­pened. But the man whose talk was dis­rupted, Ami Ayalon, the for­mer head of Is­raeli in­tel­li­gence, of­fers a more per­ti­nent re­sponse: sim­ply in­vite him back. In­quiries and state­ments of in­tent are one thing but, by forc­ing the aban­don­ment of the talk, the thugs have won a form of vic­tory. The most ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion now would be twofold. First, to en­sure those re­spon­si­ble are prop­erly pun­ished. And, se­cond, to re­con­vene the meet­ing so that they will have gained noth­ing. As Mr Ayalon rightly says: “Once it is free­dom of speech on the line, it is prob­a­bly more im­por­tant to come and speak. I be­lieve it is your democ­racy that you will have to de­fend.”

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