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The event, hosted by the University’s Jewish society and held in Lecture Theatre 1 of Appleton Tower, was re-arranged only the night before after the International Relations society refused to host Khaldi, due to the fact that Palestinian were living under “Apartheid”
The talk was scheduled to start at 5pm but was delayed until 5.30pm, with the organisers citing ‘security concerns’. When it did eventually get under way, one SJP member interrupted immediately shouting “Where is the freedom of speech for the 1,500 massacred in Gaza? Where is the freedom of speech for the Palestinian students in Israeli dungeons?”
The protesters – approximately 50 people – were the majority of the audience and comprised students activists, members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and members of the local Palestinian community. The demonstrators proceeded to occupy the platform of the lecture theatre and chanted slogans such “From Cairo to Ramallah, globalise the Intifada”, “Boycott Israel” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
University security soon arrived but the peaceful demonstration continued unabated for a further 45 minutes until Khaldi finally got the message that he was not welcome and left the lecture theatre. The majority of the people present in the lecture theatre had made it clear that they were not interested in listening to Israeli propaganda.
Earlier in the day, Edinburgh University SJP hosted US Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner who spoke of the link between US Imperialism and the suffering of the Palestinians. He urged the students present to fight against imperialism and for justice in the Middle East.
President of Edinburgh University SJP, Liam O’Hare, said “We sent a clear message today that those who come to our University to represent an Apartheid state and to defend the dropping of white phosphorous on children are absolutely not welcome. Khaldi works for the openly racist Avigdor Lieberman, a man who has called for the execution of Arab members of the Knesset 1(Israeli Parliament). The recent leak of the ‘Palestine Papers’ has proven beyond any doubt that Israel does not seek peace and that it is purely a colonial settler state which seeks to indefinitely oppress the indigenous Palestinian population. We will continue to protest events where representatives of a racist state are present and fully support the global campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Apartheid Israel until it abides by international law”
President of the International Relations society, Ledys Sanjuan, said “The IR society had a long discussion about hosting Ishmael Khaldi. At the end we came to the conclusion that providing a platform for a representative of the Israeli state would be at the expense of the millions of Palestinians who live under Apartheid.”