01 February 2011
Aaron Porter, the head of the Britain’s National Union of Students (NUS), had to be escorted to safety by police after being surrounded by radical protesters shouting anti-Semitic insults at him at a rally in Manchester. Witnesses said that among the chants directed at him from a small number of demonstrators were reportedly "F***** Tory Jew" and “Tory Jew Scum”. Porter is in fact not Jewish and a member of the opposition Labor Party. Other protesters responded to the anti-Semitic taunts aimed at Porter by chanting: "No to racism, no to racism." Following the confrontation, he pulled out of plans to address a rally against the planned increase of tuition fees. Police have launched an investigation.
A small group of students had split off from the 3,000-strong march to barrack Porter after spotting him close to the University of Manchester Students' Union building. Porter has faced growing opposition from more militant sections of the student protest movement, which have called on the NUS to take a more radical stance against planned education spending cuts and increases in tuition fees, which the Conservative (Tory) and Liberal Democrat government is proposing.
The NUS chairman said: "NUS sought to organize a protest with our union partners at which all individuals could take part without being subject to verbal and physical intimidation. It's very disappointing not to have had the opportunity to talk about the real issue of the government's cuts to the next generation's future." Porter is due to travel to Israel this week on a fact-finding mission. He is expected to spend time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem meeting Jewish students and representatives of groups such as One Voice, which works with young Israelis and Palestinians. He will also travel to the West Bank.
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