The visit attracted criticism after Taub gave a talk to a group of POLIS students. Some attendees were shocked by what they felt were controversial statements. One student told this paper:
“There were some quite shocking things said about Palestinian identity being nothing more than an ‘anti-Israeli’ construction.”
Students studying an Israeli politics module were told that they had to attend the event. An e-mail sent to the students beforehand stated “attendance is compulsory unless you have a clash with work or sport”.
One Palestinian student told Leeds Student,
“It did not take into account students who may not feel comfortable, or disagree with a platform being given to an Israeli State representative. It is outrageous that it was compulsory to have to hear and engage with an official mouthpiece of the Israeli State.”
The lecture was one in a series of talks Ambassador Taub gave during his visit. In separate events, he spoke to a number of PhD students and also held an event with members of Leeds University Union’s JSoc.
A spokesperson from JSoc said: “The University itself invited His Excellency Daniel Taub in to speak, however Leeds JSoc continues to support Israel’s right to free speech and representation on any campus or area in the UK. Britain holds free speech, and both sides of the affected parties deserve to be defended on campus. JSoc, and the Ambassador, continue to make their hopes for peace between the Israeli and the Palestinian people very clear.”
Ambassador Taub has previously attracted controversy when visiting university campuses. In October last year a number of students at Edinburgh University disrupted an event he was speaking at.
This week, Israel’s Deputy Ambassador was also forced to abandon a talk after International Relations students at the University of Essex protested over his invitation to the campus. Police were called and Deputy Ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was “rushed away” by his security personnel.
It is understood that a visit from a Palestinian guest is also planned to discuss contemporary issues in Israel.
Words: Phil Mann