Israeli ambassador made to feel secure on Liverpool campus

By Marcus Dysch, May 3, 2012

Israel's ambassador to Britain has defied attempts to ban him from a university campus by successfully delivering a lecture in Liverpool.

Daniel Taub spoke amid stringent security measures at Liverpool University on Wednesday after the Israeli Embassy "upped the ante" by sending him to appear in place of his deputy, Alon Roth-Snir.

Students, academics, alumni and trade union members had last month signed a petition condemning the university's original invitation to Mr Roth-Snir and campaigned for a ban on all Israeli diplomats at the university.

It is thought that Mr Taub's lecture to 70 students at the politics department was the first by an Israeli speaker at the university for at least three years.

Embassy sources said there had been a determination to ensure the event went ahead in spite of the anti-Israel campaign. University officials worked round-the-clock to ensure the safety of Mr Taub, imposing a range of far-reaching measures on students who wanted to attend the session.

Around 20 anti-Israel activists demonstrated outside the lecture hall, waving Palestinian flags and handing out leaflets.

Two students later stormed out of Mr Taub's lecture. He discussed his career as a negotiator at Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and answered questions on the current situation in the Middle East.

Later, Mr Taub said: "When extremist elements try to silence us our response must be to be even more active in reaching out and making our case."

A separate initiative promoting Tel Aviv has taken place at campuses across the country this week.

The Union of Jewish Students took the "Tel Aviv Week" road-show to Leeds, Hull, Nottingham, Birmingham and Staffordshire, offering students a chance to taste Israeli food products, view promotional films featuring the city, and sit in deckchairs to recreate the beach experience.

Around 2,000 students entered a prize draw offering a chance to win flights to the city, and Tel Aviv-themed club nights were held in three of the cities.

On Tuesday, UJS assisted University College London JSoc's hosting of a tasting session to gauge the demand for kosher food provision at the London campus. UJS Hillel's commitment to wider kosher provision follows the decision to close its London Euston student centre last December.

Last updated: 2:02pm, May 3 2012