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UPDATED: Arkush urges Jewish students to “shun LSE and study elsewhere”

Jewish students were allegedly told by an audience member that Jews were "expelled from Germany for misbehaving” and were told to read the work of Holocaust denier David Irving.

    Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush has urged Jewish students to “shun LSE and study elsewhere” after claims that Jewish students were abused at a public lecture on the Middle East conflict. 

    Complaints were made following a  clash between the students and anti-Israel musician Gilad Atzmon.

    The incident happened at a talk given by Richard Falk, a former UN rapporteur  to the Palestinian territories, at LSE’s central London campus on Monday. The LSE has said it will investigate.

    Mr Atzmon, who has described himself as “a self-hating Jew”, was in the audience when he confronted a group of students, telling them that Jews had been “expelled from Germany for misbehaving”, and recommending that they read the work of David Irving, the disgraced historian and Holocaust denier. 
    In a separate incident, a pro-Palestinian activist allegedly shouted abuse and attempted to approach the students  but was restrained. One of the group told the JC: “He turned around and started shouting abuse and tried to assault my friend”.

    The LSE Student Union Israel Society said its members were “appalled” by the incidents, describing them as “completely unacceptable”. It added: “We expect the university to take strong action to ensure the welfare and safety of Jewish students at LSE.”

    An LSE spokesperson acknowledged there had been “a number of disruptions during the event, which were dealt with by the security personnel in attendance”.

    In his lecture, Mr Falk, who has accused Israel of being an “apartheid regime”, said supporters of the country were “playing the antisemitic card” as “a smear tactic designed to avoid substantive discussion… because Israel’s arguing position is so weak.” He also endorsed Mr Atzmon’s book, The Wandering Who, which declares that “the history of Jewish persecution is a myth”.

    Two audience members repeatedly interrupted Mr Falk and were escorted from the room by security personnel after they held up signs criticising him.

    An LSE spokesperson said Mr Falk had been invited to speak because the university was “committed to encouraging the free exchange of ideas.”

    But a talk by Mr Falk at the University of East London was cancelled hours before it was due to take place on Tuesday. UEL said it breached its guidelines on external speakers. Middlesex University also cancelled a talk at short notice, citing “safety concerns”. 

    In his letter to the LSE’s director of public affairs, Mr Arkush said that the LSE was “the only university willing to give hospitality to this notorious antisemite [Mr Falk]” and that he has “no confidence in the School’s academic leadership’s commitment or ability to keep Jewish students safe.”

    This story was updated with additional information on March 24th, 2017.

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