‘Shun LSE’ urges Arkush

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

BOARD OF Deputies pres­i­dent Jonathan Arkush has urged Jewish stu­dents to “shun LSE and study else­where” af­ter claims that Jewish stu­dents were abused at a pub­lic lec­ture on the Mid­dle East con­flict.

Com­plaints were made fol­low­ing a clash be­tween the stu­dents and an­tiIs­rael mu­si­cian Gi­lad Atz­mon.

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at a talk given by Richard Falk, a for­mer UN rap­por­teur to the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries, at LSE’s cen­tral Lon­don cam­pus on Mon­day. The LSE has said it will in­ves­ti­gate. Mr Atz­mon, who has de­scribed him­self as “a self-hat­ing Jew”, was in the au­di­ence when he con­fronted a group of stu­dents, telling them that Jews had been “ex­pelled from Ger­many for mis­be­hav­ing”, and rec­om­mend­ing that they read the work of David Irv­ing, the disgraced his­to­rian and Holo­caust de­nier.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, a pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivist al­legedly shouted abuse and at­tempted to ap­proach the stu­dents but was re­strained. One of the group told the JC: “He turned around and started shout­ing abuse and tried to as­sault my friend”.

The LSE Stu­dent Union Is­rael So­ci­ety said its mem­bers were “ap­palled” by the in­ci­dents, de­scrib­ing them as “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able”. It added: “We ex­pect the univer­sity to take strong ac­tion to en­sure the wel­fare and safety of Jewish stu­dents at LSE.”

An LSE spokesper­son ac­knowl­edged there had been “a num­ber of dis­rup­tions dur­ing the event, which were dealt with by the se­cu­rity per­son­nel in at­ten­dance”.

In his lec­ture, Mr Falk, who has ac­cused Is­rael of be­ing an “apartheid regime”, said sup­port­ers of the coun­try were “play­ing the an­ti­semitic card” as “a smear tac­tic de­signed to avoid sub­stan­tive dis­cus­sion… be­cause Is­rael’s ar­gu­ing po­si­tion is so weak.” He also en­dorsed Mr Atz­mon’s book, The Wan­der­ing Who, which declares that “the his­tory of Jewish per­se­cu­tion is a myth”.

Two au­di­ence mem­bers re­peat­edly in­ter­rupted Mr Falk and were es­corted from the room by se­cu­rity per­son­nel af­ter they held up signs crit­i­cis­ing him.

An LSE spokesper­son said Mr Falk had been in­vited to speak be­cause the univer­sity was “com­mit­ted to en­cour­ag­ing the free ex­change of ideas.”

But a talk by Mr Falk at the Univer­sity of East Lon­don was can­celled hours be­fore it was due to take place on Tues­day. UEL said it breached its guide­lines on ex­ter­nal speak­ers. Mid­dle­sex Univer­sity also can­celled a talk at short no­tice, cit­ing “safety con­cerns”.

In his let­ter to the LSE’s direc­tor of pub­lic af­fairs, Mr Arkush said that the LSE was “the only univer­sity will­ing to give hos­pi­tal­ity to this no­to­ri­ous an­ti­semite [Mr Falk]” and that he has “no con­fi­dence in the School’s aca­demic lead­er­ship’s com­mit­ment or abil­ity to keep Jewish stu­dents safe.”

An Is­rael sup­porter holds a sign protest­ing against Richard Falk at his LSE talk

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