In­vite me back, says King’s speaker

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY NAOMI FIRSHT

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

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES (S)

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