Thursday, April 29, 2010

Israeli Diplomat Attacked in Britain

The Israeli government is expecting a rather strong condemnation after this:
A lecture given by Israel's Deputy Ambassador to Britain Talya Lador-Fresher at the University of Manchester deteriorated Wednesday into violence when pro-Palestinian protesters stormed at the diplomat in an attempted attack.

The protesters were waiting for Lador-Fresher outside the lecture hall, but this did not deter her from entering as planned. Immediately upon her exit, the protesters lunged at the diplomat, prompting security guards to whisk her back into the hall. Following a consultation on the site, it was decided to escort her out of the premises in a police car.

The deputy ambassador was removed from the hall and into the police vehicle. However, this did not block the protesters, who surrounded the car and climbed on the hood, trying to break the windshield.

Lador-Fresher ultimately was taken away from the scene safe and sound.

Of course, if anyone gets arrested, we can expect to see some thugs protesting on behalf of the attackers. That will be the usual joy to behold.

UPDATE: At the very least, the statement by the University of Manchester is quite tone-deaf:
A Manchester University spokesman said: “The University is fundamentally committed to freedom of speech, exercised within the law. It follows that it should also allow peaceful and lawful protest to take place on its campus.

“We took all reasonable action to put appropriate security measures in place for this meeting, including a complete lockdown of the building, a high-level security presence, ID checks at the door and ticket-only arrangements.”

I think, being charitable, that the spokesman is not saying that surrounding the ambassador's car and bashing on the windshield is a "peaceful protest", but rather that the University's security arrangements were designed to allow both the diplomat to speak and for "peaceful and lawful protest" to occur. Still, it certainly could be interpreted as a dismissal of the violent nature of the attack here. Given the current atmosophere in British universities, it is fair to ask that their officials take a more unambiguous line on these sort of issues.


joe said...

This is not an observation particular to this incident, or Israel, or Britain for that matter, but I often find myself bemused when, after some terrible event or insult, the aggrieved party expects a third party to offer strong condemnation of offender. In some ways it seems like the default assumption is that the third party approves. And that doesn't sit right with me. It's a little too "silence is consent."

joe said...

edit to add: I suspect the reason for this phenomena has to do with the fact that a lot of modern society is an exercise in who can express the most outrage. (Michael Kinsley calls this the Culture of Umbbrage.)

Needless to say, this all goes double during election season.

PG said...

I think when a diplomat is attacked, it is wholly appropriate for the nation of that diplomat to expect the nation where the attack occurred to apologize for such a thing to have happened on its soil. This isn't from our modern Culture of Umbrage; this is like medieval-era expectations of international diplomacy. The sacrosanct status of a diplomat (as a form of messenger) possibly predates the birth of Christ.

joe said...

Interesting point, but even if I accept that particular appeal to tradition, the linked article goes a little beyond the host government. It talks about an expectation of a "sweeping denunciation of the event from the local authorities and universities." (And I should add that whenever universities in their institutional capacity are expected to "take a stand" on something I grow leery, given the difficulty of line drawing.)