Invite me back, says King’s speaker
THE SPEAKER whose talk at King’s College London was halted by violent anti-Israel protests last week has called on the university to show its support for free speech by inviting him back.
Ami Ayalon, a former head of Israel’s Shin Bet security agency, was giving a lecture organised by the college Israel Society when pro-Palestinians forced their way into the building, damaging property and setting off fire alarms.
Two Jewish students had to hold off around 10 protesters who attempted to break into the lecture theatre.
Mr Ayalon said KCL should “invite me as soon as possible to show that a person like me can give his speech and open it to a debate. The idea is not to find out who should be blamed. The response should be to show you can do it. In England, you can create such an event that will not be violent and the speaker will have the floor to present hi s id e a s a nd
Ami Ayalon everyone will be able to oppose his ideas and respond. This,” he said, “is the right response.”
Mr Ayalon said he had never before experienced such violence when giving a talk. “They were trying everything in order to stop me speaking,” he said.
But he remained defiant. “Once it is freedomof speechontheline,itisprobablymoreimportanttocomeandspeak,” he said. “I believe it is your democracy that you will have to defend.”
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has said an investigation into the incident is ongoing, but no arrests have been made. The university is due to publish the findings of its investigation early next month.
One student who was at the talk said this week that she had been shocked and scared by the actions of the protesters.
But Devora Khafi, 19, added: “It will not deter me from going to events. I think it makes me want to go more. If more of us come to these things we
would be able to look stronger. It just shows that more support is needed.” In a statement on its website the KCL Action Palestine student group claimed its members and other pro-Palestinian students had been victims of “intimidation, victimisation and online harassment” since the event.
The group said: “The College has not yet addressed how pro-Palestinian students on campus may be feeling as a result of this.”
A protester holds up a Palestinian flag outside last week’s meeting