Anti-Israel protesters clash with Israel's top Bedouin diplomat

Ismail Khaldi

Ismail Khaldi

University security officers were called to protect the most senior Muslim in the Israeli Foreign Ministry when pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted his appearance at a British campus.

Diplomat Ismail Khaldi, a Galilee Bedouin, had just started to speak at Edinburgh University on Wednesday evening when demonstrators began chanting and surrounded him.

The university’s International Relations Society had earlier pulled out of the event, saying the invitation to Mr Khaldi was “unjust to the Palestinian people who live under an apartheid regime”.

A security team encircled Mr Khaldi as the gang chanted “shame on you” and accused Israel of ethnic cleansing.

The lecture was held up for around an hour before the speaker abandoned the event.

One Jewish student who was present said protesters had also had verbal clashes with Rabbi Garry Wayland, university chaplain for Scotland.

Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the UK, said: "Mr Khaldi reflects the tolerant, open, Israel of 2011. These attempts to suppress his freedom of speech come as no surprise.

"Once more a British university views this intimidating, mob-rule as acceptable."

A university spokeswoman said: “The university attaches great importance to freedom of speech as long as points of view are put across in a safe and lawful way.

“It is unfortunate that this event did not provide the opportunity for the constructive exchange of ideas and opinions."

Last updated: 9:21am, February 7 2011