Vandals attack Israel solidarity stall at Leeds University

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Vandals attack Israel solidarity stall at Leeds University

Police Community Support Officer 'spoken to about his handling of the matter' as Israeli flag ripped from table where Jewish students were highlighting anti-semitism and plight of hostages in Gaza

Pic: StandWithUs UK
Pic: StandWithUs UK

Students supporting a leading pro-Israel educational charity claim local police did nothing when their stand at Leeds University was aggressively targeted on Tuesday. 

Using materials from StandWithUs UK, more than ten supporters were running a campus stall about Jewish identity to raise awareness of antisemitism and the plight of the hostages still in Gaza, when they were violently targeted, with the educational materials removed and damaged.

StandWithUs UK told Jewish News the students were keen to positively promote their Jewish identity, “especially after the recent climate of hatred and intimidation at Leeds University since October 7th” and are “dissatisfied to hear from our students of the inaction of the police who attended the incident.”

One of the students, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Yesterday a peaceful discussion and information table about Jewish identity and Israel was assaulted by two pro-Palestinian students with them ripping down the flag of Israel on the table and subsequently all the material used being scattered across the floor following the attack.

“The table was situated outside the ‘occupied Parkinson Building’ to raise awareness and offer an alternative viewpoint to those occupying the building for passers-by as well as handing out ‘Leeds against antisemitism’ badges. Minutes after the table was set up, occupiers of the building came outside and held Palestinian flags right next to our table.

“Some time later, 2 of these girls bearing the flag then approached the table, were offered badges before they ripped off the flag and ran away giggling and laughing.  The present police saw the event unfold and did not take any measures to identify the girls or take any details down but rather just spoke to them and let them go whilst they were still laughing.”

StandWithUs UK director of campus affairs, Daniel Marcus, said: “Campus environments must be protected places for free expression of speech where Jewish students should feel safe to express their identity and not intimidated by violent actors. We applaud the bravery of our Leeds fellows and the resilience of Jewish and Israeli students at Leeds. We demand extremism off our campuses now!”

A University of Leeds spokesperson told Jewish News: “We are aware of an incident outside the Parkinson Building yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). There is no evidence that any of our students were involved but we are investigating nonetheless. We’re sorry to see this happen and are supporting those concerned. The issue has been raised with the University’s police liaison officer, noting that a PSCO witnessed the incident and spoke to the alleged perpetrators.”

Inspector Richard Armstead, who leads the North East neighbourhood policing team told Jewish News: “Police are making further enquiries into this incident which occurred yesterday (Tuesday) and have recorded a crime of criminal damage for further investigation.

“The Police Community Support Officer has been spoken to about his handling of the matter after concerns were raised and enquiries are ongoing with partners to obtain more information about what happened.

“West Yorkshire Police is aware that the Israel/Gaza conflict has a far-reaching impact on our communities and we continue to engage with faith groups and key individual networks to fully understand the impact of these international events locally.”

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