Iain Smith

THE Israeli Ambassador to the UK is to attend Glasgow University this morning to give a talk to members of the student body.

Daniel Taub will visit the law department today but is likely to be greeted with a hastily-arranged protest led by the Glasgow University Palestine Society.

Details regarding on the nature of the talk itself are unknown but the university said they would receive Mr Taub as a 'welcome guest' as they would any other diplomat.

A spokesman said the ambassador's views would be a welcome addition to the academic discourse, and revealed a representative from the Palestinian Mission has been invited to do the same later this year.

However, those campaigners who view Israel as an oppressive power have hit out at the university for arranging the event in secret, while accusing them of hypocrisy in the process.

Wael Shawish, spokesman for the Association of Palestinian Communities in Scotland, said: "We want everyone in Glasgow to realise the hypocrisy the university is showing here.

"Their defence for inviting the ambassador of Israel to give a talk is that anyone is free to express their right to speech and to education.

"But in arranging this event on such short notice and without telling anyone, they are denying the rights of those oppose this to show their objections and to formally demonstrate.

"We were not told anything about this visit and struggled to find out any information from the university."

Mr Shawish added: "Israel is an occupying power and the university is giving a platform to a representative of a country which refuses to adhere to international law.

"We are trying to engage with the faculty at the management level to try and convince them that dealing with Israel in this way is not in the interests of peace.

"If an ambassador for any other oppressive nation had arrived in Glasgow for this purpose, people would be rightly upset about it. Why then do we treat Israel different?

"We don't believe the students at Glasgow University, nor the people of Glasgow for that matter, are happy to entertain a representative of an oppressive nation and so we will continue to raise awareness of the issues."

The Glasgow University Palestine Society is planning to hold a demonstration outside the university's law department in response to Mr Taub's talk.

A group spokesman said: "The students of Glasgow University do not welcome any dealings with Israeli institutions, until such a time Israel stops suppressing civil liberties and human rights of Palestinians."

Previous attempts to host Israeli diplomats at the university have provoked consternation on campus.

Last November, Yiftah Curiel, the media spokesman for the Israel Embassy in London, was invited to give a presentation to around 60 students.

However, after it became clear the event was going to be 'disrupted' by protestors, it was moved to a separate nearby venue.

Mr Curiel later accused university chiefs of failing to defend free speech and for their capitulation to an extremist minority that use 'violent messages to demonise Israel'.

The university would not comment on those security measures taken for today's talk or their reasons for keeping the event under wraps.

Dr Ezra Golombok, director of the Israel Information Centre in Scotland, has called on anyone planning to protest to pursue an amicable dialogue.

He said: "The last time an Israeli diplomat came to the campus he was forced to move to a different venue. On that occasion, the protestors didn't even let him speak.

"Freedom of speech implies that we should give the right for everyone to express their views, especially if we disagree with it.

"It is an offence to prevent that and anyone who does so only shows their own weakness.

"No one is saying these protestors should not be allowed to demonstrate or to have their views expressed but it is not right they attempt to physically oppose any events and prevent them from happening."

Mr Taub is due to arrive on Campus at around 10am and is also due to speak to members of the local Jewish community later in the day.

A spokesman for the University said: "We regularly host high profile individuals to our campus and believe that our students should have access to a range of perspectives on important issues.

"The Israeli Ambassador is a welcome guest, as will be the representative of the Palestinian Mission to the UK who has been invited to the University of Glasgow later this year."