Student teacher speaks out for Israel at ‘extreme’ debate
An anti-Israel event held in the heart of London’s Jewish community spurred a group of students to organise a counter-protest and redress the balance.
Ben Rosenberg and members of Middlesex University’s Jewish Society handed out leaflets supporting Israel outside the university in Hendon.
A debate organised by the university’s Free Palestine Society formed part of a “Free Gaza” week of events.
The meeting featured a panel of three speakers — Asghar Bukhari of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK, broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth, and John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition.
The Union of Jewish Students encouraged the university to cancel the event, but it went ahead last week with only students from the university allowed to attend.
Mr Rosenberg, 27, said: “I saw the event advertised on Facebook. People were urging us to get it stopped, but we wanted to hear what the speakers said.”
He worked with JSoc colleague Miriam Rose to make pro-Israel views heard.
Around 100 students attended the debate, which Mr Rosenberg described as “very extreme”, with accusations made that Israel was guilty of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
“After the speakers they called for questions and I was itching to get one in,” said Mr Rosenberg. He asked the panellists whether they backed peace for people of all religions and nationalities in the Middle East.
“I got some applause which was a surprise, but Lauren Booth said my question was part of a ‘Zionist trick’, and that got louder cheers.”
Mr Rosenberg is now in discussions with the university’s students’ union to hold a panel debate featuring pro-Israel speakers.