University of Edinburgh blocks own student from Israeli ambassador’s speech

Edinburgh University students protesting a previous visit by the Israeli ambassador

(courtesy Edinburgh SJP)

Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, is scheduled to speak at the University of Edinburgh on 13 May – but only invited guests will be able to attend. 

In an invitation to a restricted group of students, Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice Principal for Public Policy and Impact in the School of Social and Political Science, said that he “see[s] the University as a platform for open and critical debate about contested issues in UK and international politics.”

But when a graduate student not from one of the chosen courses asked to be allowed to join the event, he was told repeatedly in emails released exclusively to The Electronic Intifada that “we have over a period of months worked with internal and external stakeholders to agree a complex set of arrangements for this event. With regret I am unable to make exceptions to those arrangements.”

The student declined to be named publicly, fearing possible reprisals.

Another email from Professor Jeffery to the same student said: “I’m truly sorry that it will not be possible for you to attend. As you will appreciate such visits are sensitive and involve a number of considerations, including security. We have agreed a particular format and audience with the Embassy and are unable to change plans at this stage.”

No clear reasons were given for the student’s exclusion from the event, although Professor Jeffery denied that students from the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) had been specifically banned. Those invited share a program of study with the excluded student, who is from IMES, but are registered with a different department.

A previous visit by Daniel Taub to the University of Edinburgh was seriously disrupted by protests by members of Students for Justice in Palestine, despite an enormous police presence.

Edinburgh Students for Justice in Palestine, along with the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Edinburgh University Student Association’s Black and Minority Ethnic Campaign, has called for protests against the latest event.




What is the University of Edinburgh up to? It's pretty extraordinary that this man should be invited AGAIN, only eighteen months after the previous debacle.
And even more extraordinary that Prof. Jeffery should contend that "an open and critical debate" can take place when the university is obviously in cahoots with the embassy and has vetted the list of student participants. Disgraceful.


I was formally invited as a student completing a Master's in International Relations of the Middle East, which is NOT within IMES. However, my invitation was rescinded "due to reasons beyond the university's control," which admittedly, is probably because of my pro-Palestinian beliefs.


THis uni's being oddly really fascist as of late
Remember when Princess Anne came they kicked out a couple of intl students
Well I'm going with a group of friends and all of us have a mind to heckle this man back the middle ages from whence he emergeth


I work at the university, at the School of Social and Political Science, and I will be contacting my trade union about this.


It's difficult to understand what such a prestigious universitywould hope to gain from this laughable and contrived "discussion". Israel, or this particular Israeli ambassador, seems to have a big foot in someone's door.Maybe the trade union has thoughts on that, and on how to stop this sullying of the university's good academic name.


It is very likely that the Israelis have directly or indirectly offered Edinburgh Uni money for a hasbara chair in middle east studies or suchlike and money tends to win over morality and truth.

Sarah Irving

Sarah Irving's picture

Sarah is a freelance writer and editor, author of a biography of Leila Khaled and of the Bradt Guide to Palestine, co-editor of A Bird is Not a Stone (a volume of Palestinian poetry translated into the languages of Scotland), and a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked and traveled in Palestine since 2001.