'Israel a rogue state' student runs for Cambridge Union president

By Jennifer Lipman, November 24, 2010
Lauren Booth

Lauren Booth

A student who helped win a debate on the delegitimisation of Israel by arguing that it is a “rogue state” only because of positives including humanitarianism and protection of civil liberties is hoping to become the next president of the Cambridge Union.

Gabriel Latner, from Toronto, was given a life ban from the union last month after the debate in which he opposed Ran Gidor, Israel’s minister for political affairs, to share a platform with pro-Palestinian campaigner Lauren Booth.

However he turned the motion on its head to defend Israel, and said “Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a nuclear Iran.”

The second-year law student, who attends Peterhouse college, was subsequently disciplined by the Union for allegedly telling Ms Booth that he was going to “nail [her] to the…wall.”

After he apologised the ban was overturned. Mr Latner is now looking to win the union presidency for the Easter term with a pledge to overhaul its debating system – and provide cheaper drinks. Students have until Friday at 8pm to vote.

In his manifesto, Mr Latner praised the fact that at the Union “disagreement and passionate argument aren't stifled.”

He said: “Where else in the community can you interrupt an expert in the middle of a speech and say 'You're wrong. Here's why‘?

“But the Union isn't at its best...The debates have become stuffy, routine, and all too often, boring."

He added: “I'm sure each and everyone of you can think of at least one debate topic that would put this last year's motions to shame.

“Together, we can form a more perfect Union. Where the bar is cheap, and the debates are priceless.”

Ms Booth, told Cambridge student newspaper The Tab that his candidacy was “an insult to the members of the debating union whose own rules he mocked and clearly has no respect for”.

In his debate speech, Mr Latner cited Israel’s Jewishness, its response to the issue of Darfurian refugees and the fact that it negotiates with terrorists as evidence for Israel being a rogue state – “one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner.”

He said: “If President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity.

“But Israel can do the exact same thing – and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue.”

Joshua Marks, president of Cambridge University Jewish Society, said the JSOC wished all candidates “the best of luck.”

He added: “Cambridge JSoc does not back any individual candidate in any election.”

Last updated: 2:34pm, November 24 2010