Israel deputy ambassador 'shocked' by Manchester attack

Talya Lador Fresher, deputy ambassador from Israel

Talya Lador Fresher, deputy ambassador from Israel

Israel’s deputy ambassador to Britain was forced to seek refuge in a security office after protesters attempted to attack her following a university lecture.

Talya Lador-Fresher said she feared she would be physically assaulted when demonstrators climbed on the bonnet of her car and attempted to smash the windscreen.

She had been speaking to members of Manchester University’s politics society when the incident occurred on Wednesday evening. Around 40 demonstrators had gathered at the venue.

Ms Lador-Fresher had been asked back to the university after a previous arrangement to address students in February was cancelled when more than 300 protesters from the Action Palestine student society scuffled with Jewish students and police.

Speaking about Wednesday’s protest she said: “It was quite a shocking experience. I have had people stand up and shout and wave the Palestinian flag when I have spoken, but it was the first time I have been in this situation.

“When we finished I could not get out of the university building. The demonstrators saw me on the way to the car and they started running towards me.

“The security team rushed me back into the building and we were standing in the corridor for a few minutes.”

The diminutive deputy ambassador was eventually escorted through a back door to a security vehicle but the demonstrators discovered the evacuation plan and surrounded the car.

Ms Lador-Fresher said: “They were screaming and shouting. Two of them were on the bonnet trying to break the windscreen. It was very unpleasant.

“I don’t think they wanted to kill me but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me. If I had not had the police and security team I would have been beaten up.”

Security guards eventually moved her to their nearby office for her own safety. She was later picked up by her Embassy driver.

Manchester University officials had been keen to re-arrange the lecture after its initial cancellation and had offered Ms Lador-Fresher an “open invitation”.

The deputy ambassador praised the efforts of University staff and Jewish students to ensure the event took place. She said despite the experience she would be happy to return to speak at Manchester again.

But she added: “No foreign diplomat should have to go through what I went through.”

Ambassador Ron Prosor said: "What is going on at British taxpayer-funded universities is shocking. Extremism is not just running through these places of education, it is galloping. My ears are ready and waiting to hear the strongest condemnation of this behaviour both from the heads of campus and the local authorities.”

A Manchester University spokesman said: “The University is fundamentally committed to freedom of speech, exercised within the law. It follows that it should also allow peaceful and lawful protest to take place on its campus.

“We took all reasonable action to put appropriate security measures in place for this meeting, including a complete lockdown of the building, a high-level security presence, ID checks at the door and ticket-only arrangements.”

Last updated: 3:49pm, April 30 2010