Israeli lecturer attacked by Belfast pro-Palestine activists

An Israeli law lecturer had to be rescued by security officers when a seminar was abandoned after being disrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Solon Solomon, a former legal adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs committee, had been invited to speak to law school students at Queen's University in Belfast.

But he was heckled by members of the university's Palestine Solidarity Society (PSS) and the youth wing of Sinn Féin shortly after starting his lecture about the legality of Israel's security wall on Wednesday last week.

Sally Wheeler, the law school acting head, abandoned the lunchtime session after less than 10 minutes, and a security team bundled Mr Solomon out of the lecture theatre.

Protesters then surrounded the room where Mr Solomon and other panel members were sheltering.

When the security team eventually moved him out of the university building, protesters attacked the car he was travelling in, punching the vehicle and attempting to smash its windows. One person's foot was run over in the melee.Mr Solomon declined to comment on the incident this week.

A spokeswoman for Queen's University said an investigation had been launched. She added: "We are disappointed that the event could not take place."

Supporters of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel group were in the audience for the lecture but said that they had been forced to hide on the building's top floor until the protest ended, as they felt intimidated.

The protest was organised by Gary Spedding, president of the university's Palestine Solidarity Society. Mr Spedding works for the Holy Land Trust charity, which seeks to empower Palestinians in the West Bank.

When not studying in Belfast, he lives in Bethlehem.

Mr Spedding, who led the disruption in the lecture theatre by shouting at Mr Solomon, said the attack on the Israeli's car was not perpetrated by PPS supporters and said he did not condone violence.

Stephen Jaffe, of Northern Ireland Friends of Israel, said: "The situation on campus is extremely menacing for any speaker or student who is brave enough to be supportive of Israel."

Last updated: 9:54am, March 4 2011