Israeli Ambassador: ‘We’re doing quite a commendable job’
Protests interfere with Ambassador’s talk at the Union
The Durham Union Society last night hosted Daniel Taub, the Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom – with heated exchanges inside and outside the lecture hall.
Delayed by almost thirty minutes, the Ambassador had to battle his way through a “silent vigil” of Palestinian supporting students.
The leader of the protest said: “This man is complicit with war crimes. He defends a government that, according to numerous human rights organizations, have committed war crimes.
“This is not equal debate; by having someone from Palestine they think students will believe it is an equal state but it’s not. This is occupied versus occupier.”
Joe Hill, Durham Union President, said: “We don’t intend, of course, to imply that they are the same power or authority.
“We welcome speakers from a variety of backgrounds and experience and ideas who we think will be kind of educational to our membership.
“We really look forward to hear what the speakers have to say independent of them coming at the same time”
The good-natured protesters handed out homemade cupcakes and bizarre leaflets, without explaining to most students their motives.
One such leaflet claimed it knew of Israel’s “Master Plan – for ethnic cleansing.”
Without prompting, the protesters defended their boycott saying, “boycotting Israeli goods are not boycotts like Hitler’s.
“We want to boycott only settlement food, but we have to boycott all goods because we can’t tell where the food is from.”
Taub said: “I’m not sure how you think that’s going to help,” when remembering similar student boycotts.
Appealing to cross-unity he said: “The Israeli-Palestinian issue is a not a zero-sum game. The idea if you’re pro-Israel you must be anti-Palestinian is genuinely not the case.”
Facing angry Giacomo Paolini, Secretary of Labour Club, the Ambassador said: “On Hamas I don’t need to say anything – if you have any doubt look at their reaction from them on today’s attacks.”
Giacomo Paolini had previously posted about these attacks on Facebook: “Bibi stop ideologising [sic] everything, and if you want peace, act now (but I don’t think you really want, given your party and the allies in your government.)”
Ambassador Taub said: “there is a growing commonality and a growing togetherness of Israel and its neighbours. We work together especially on security with the Palestinian Authority.”
“Palestinians need support from around the world,” before asking if “you should support a Palestinian child or a terrorist.”
However Daniel Taub did warn: “Peace no longer seems credible or at least it seems less so.”
Concluding, “If I haven’t been as controversial as you wanted, I can take some questions.”
Speaking exclusively to The Tab, Joe Hill, the President of the Durham Union Society said: “We’re really excited to host the Ambassador, he’s a great speaker.
“We welcome the opportunity to hear the Palestinian diplomatic representative to the United Kingdom, Professor Manuel Hassassian.
“Presidents of the Union Society are not meant to take political positions on issues we discuss; I think the second speaker will be very interesting to hear from independent of what our first speaker had to say entirely.”
While refusing to explicitly reject the comments of protesters, Hill distanced himself from the language of “oppressed versus oppressor.”
“Peace in the Middle East is a really difficult issue, and the best way to resolve that conflict is hearing people who are experts on it come and talk about it and not avoiding people who come and speak.”
He did, however, say that, “These are definitely better questions than the Palatinate, and you’re welcome to quote me on that.”