Use the back door, Paris university tells Israelis

By Naomi Firsht, March 27, 2014
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Israeli students visiting a Paris university were asked to leave and re-enter through a back door to appease pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

The request came from the president of the Paris VIII University, after 50 members of the anti-Israel Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement protested against their presence.

The Israelis were in Paris as part of a tour of French universities organised by the Union of Jewish Students in France (UEJF), designed to improve the image of Israel abroad and encourage dialogue on campus.

They had already visited universities in Lyon, Bordeaux and Assas without incident. But when they arrived at Paris VIII, where they had arranged to erect a stand and hold a conference, the protestors set up their own stand and lobbied students to boycott the conference.

UEJF president Sacha Reingewirtz said: They were chanting ‘Zionists get out,’ and ‘Zionists are criminals’. They were insulting, intimidating and trying to prevent students coming to our stand.”

One of the Israelis, Dan Taieb, said the protesters entered every lecture theatre to tell students not to attend the conference. As a result the meeting was cancelled.

The Israelis were invited to meet the university president, Danielle Tartakowsky, but were told they had to use a back door to get to her office.

Mr Taieb said: “She agreed to welcome us but she wanted us to go out of the main gate to show the protesters that we were leaving and then security would take us to a private gate behind the university to come back in.”

The group refused to comply. Mr Taieb said: “In Israel we don’t discriminate against students. Jews, Arabs — all students come through the same gate.”

Instead Ms Tartakowsky met members of the UEJF, to whom she apologised.

The university did not respond to a request for comment.

Last updated: 11:45pm, March 27 2014