Anti-Israel protesters prevented Israel’s ambassador in Dublin from addressing students.
An event at Trinity College Dublin with Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Ze’ev Boker was cancelled following disturbances and pressure by anti-Israel activists.
Boker was due to deliver a 15-minute speech at the Society for International Affairs (SOFIA) on Monday night, which would have been followed by a question-and-answer session.
The event was disrupted by a group of some 40 protesters from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who demonstrated and chanted slogans outside the venue where the event was due to take place.
They chanted: “We are all Palestinians, in our thousands, in our millions,” the Irish Times reported.
SOFIA chair Grace Conway said she was “deeply saddened” that it had to be cancelled.
“We feel that it was a misunderstanding of what we were trying to do as a society, which was to provide a platform for discourse and we don’t discriminate against any ambassador, we invite all ambassadors and treat them with respect and decorum as diplomats,” she said to the University Times. “We don’t discriminate against countries whether or not we support their political beliefs.”
SJP founding member Ciaran O’Rourke claimed the anti-Israel group conducted a “peaceful” protest and called to boycott the Jewish state.
“We feel that until the human rights in civil society groups are respected, then we should show that solidarity to them [the Palestinians] as was the case with anti-apartheid movements, as was the case with movements around the civil rights era where boycotts were also used as a tactic,” he said.
‘Unacceptable Attack on Free Speech’
Trinity College Dublin condemned the protest as an “unacceptable attack on free speech.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the university said it “regrets” that Boker was unable give his speech “after protesters from inside and outside the university threatened to disrupt the event. The university regards what happened as an unacceptable attack on free speech.”
The university said the event was cancelled before the arrival of Boker due to security concerns. “University officials had unsuccessfully tried to get the protesters to leave an area surrounding the door to a lecture theatre.”
An Irish4Israel spokesperson described the protest as “hysterical behavior from certain segments of students.”
Irish4Israel is a pro-Israel advocacy group. Its spokesperson asked why the police, who were present, had not intervened to ensure the event proceeded as scheduled. He said eyewitnesses reported that the protesters had blocked the door of the room where the event was supposed to take place. Nobody was reported injured or arrested.
“Every time this happens, we end up getting more supporters for Israel,” he said. “People end up getting so frustrated. Had they [SJP] let him speak, they could have asked him difficult questions.”
Irish4Israel described the protesters as hypocrites for condemning Israel while allowing the Turkish ambassador to address the society last week, despite his country’s human rights abuses against the Kurdish population.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that it was “horrified by the vicious action of a group of protesters, which denied the Ambassador of Israel his right to freedom of expression at Trinity College.”
By: World Israel News Staff