Deputy Israeli ambassador cancels uni talk

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 18, 2010

Deputy Israeli ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher has cancelled a talk at Manchester University within the last hour amid rising security “threats” from protesters.

Ms Lador-Fresher was due to speak at 3pm to the politics society of Manchester University Students Union. But after 300 protesters were expected to turn out, organised by another student society Action Palestine, the embassy cancelled her visit.

Politics Society president Jonathan Ridge, who was to chair today's event, says the cancellation is disappointing for freedom of speech, especially since controversial speakers like Dr Azzam Tamimi had been allowed to speak unhampered at the Palestine Conference held at Manchester University on Saturday.

“There has been a clear lack of equality and it's problematic for freedom of speech at higher-education institutions. It's much better to have a policy of engagement rather than pass up the opportunity to question and hear what they have to say - that's the entire point of university - to hear different viewpoints.”

Mr Ridge, whose personal email account has been bombarded with spam mail protesting against the talk, also said the embassy had been concerned about protesters storming the meeting with banners and items they claim are banned from the West Bank, whilst more serious threats from fringe protesters had also been feared. “I'm not going to blame Action Palestine for any particular threats but their attitude has not been helpful, let's just say that,” he added.

Last updated: 4:52pm, February 18 2010