NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress voiced concern Tuesday after a screaming throng of student protesters disrupted an Israel Society meeting at King’s College in London and attempted to torpedo an address by Dan Meridor, former deputy prime minister of Israel and current president of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, which operates under the auspices of the WJC.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder decried the “contemptuous demonstration” exhibited by the student protesters, who called Meridor a war criminal and accused Israel of being a terrorist state. Lauder thanked campus security for its quick attention, and urged King’s College to do everything in its power to prevent such an incident from occurring again.
“It is appalling and concerning that at an academic institution of such high esteem as King’s College, which thrives on political diversity, student protesters would stoop so low as to threaten their fellow students and a former state official,” Lauder said. “These students have shown a complete disregard for academic freedom and expression, and are sending a dangerous message that hostility and force are legitimate methods of protest. The World Jewish Congress supports the right to peaceful demonstrations, but it is never acceptable to engender fear in the name of political activism.”
“We urge King’s College and other institutions of higher learning to underscore the value of academic freedom and to ensure that students are given the opportunity to engage in their own political thought and discussion in a spirit of full safety and security,” Lauder added.
Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and a WJC vice president, said in a statement: “While the Board of Deputies supports the right to demonstrate peacefully, we were appalled at the scenes last night at King’s College London where those attending a talk by former Israeli Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor were barracked and intimidated in a completely unacceptable way. Clearly, there are deficiencies in King’s College’s event management which allowed these scenes to take place. We will be contacting the Principal to discuss last night’s events and to gain assurances that there will be no repeat.”