Police investigating after vandals attack Israel stall on Leeds campus

Students had set up the stall with a sign saying: ‘Come talk to us about Jewish Identity’


Police are investigating after vandals attacked a stall where Jewish students had been giving out information about antisemitism and Israel.

On Tuesday the students had set up a table on Leeds University campus where they had placed an Israeli flag, photos of the hostages, information fliers and bin badges which said: “Leeds leads against antisemitism.”

They had placed a prominent sign on the table which read: “Come talk to us about Jewish Identity”.

An anti-Israel crowd – some of whom had been in a nearby building recently “occupied” by pro-Palestinian protesters – gathered close to the stall.

Two women allegedly broke away from that group and ripped the Israeli flag off the table, scattering the display all over the pavement, before running away.

The Jewish students spoke to a community support officer who approached the vandals while they reportedly laughed in his face. The officer allegedly did not take down the attackers’ details.

Anti-racism group, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, lodged a complaint about the officer involved, who has since been spoken to about his handling of the incident.

Inspector Richard Armstead, who leads the North East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Police are making further enquiries into this incident which occurred yesterday (Tuesday) and have recorded a crime of criminal damage for further investigation.

“The Police Community Support Officer has been spoken to about his handling of the matter after concerns were raised and enquiries are ongoing with partners to obtain more information about what happened.

“West Yorkshire Police is aware that the Israel/Gaza conflict has a far-reaching impact on our communities and we continue to engage with faith groups and key individual networks to fully understand the impact of these international events locally.”

StandWithUs UK, which had helped provide the information stall, is an educational charity that challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism.

The charity’s Director of Campus Affairs, Daniel Marcus, said: “Campus environments must be protected places for free expression of speech where Jewish students should feel safe to express their identity and not intimidated by violent actors. We applaud the bravery of our Leeds fellows and the resilience of Jewish and Israeli students at Leeds. We demand extremism off our campuses now.”

The attack at Leeds comes in the wake of a mob harassing students who set up an Israel stall at Exeter University campus

StandWithUs told the JC that Jewish students have started to wear bodycams in the face of mounting antisemitism on campus. 

StandWithUs fellow and Manchester student, Hadassa Schwinger, recently set up a similar stall and said: “The bodycams quite literally saved the day. I used them as a sort of protective shield, holding them up high as passers-by walked by as a deterrent. Whenever suspicious crowds looking for potential trouble, or aggressive individuals came up to the stand, it was clear when they caught sight of the bodycams as almost always they backed off entirely.”

Schwinger said because of the bodycams: “I felt safe and secure enough to host the stand without fearing for my physical wellbeing.”

A University of Leeds spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident outside the Parkinson Building on Tuesday (12 March).

"There is no evidence that any of our students were involved but we are investigating nonetheless.

"We’re sorry to see this happen and are supporting those concerned. The issue has been raised with the University’s police liaison officer, noting that a PSCO witnessed the incident and spoke to the alleged perpetrators.”

Leeds students occupying the Parkinson building have denied any links to the women who attacked the stall.

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