Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub waded through dozens of protesting activists on Monday to tell Cambridge Union Society that you can be pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli at the same time.
Addressing students at the prestigious university, Taub expressed a quiet confidence that conditions could be improving and that it was important to “change mindsets” on both sides.
In one of his most upbeat speeches to-date, he added that there was a “remarkable moment of opportunity” in the region, given the lack of support for Hamas from Arab countries.
Beforehand, Taub spoke to the university’s Jewish society (or J-Soc) insisting that they were not there to “advocate” for Israel but were part of a partnership that aimed to paint a rounded picture of the country.
On the protesters, he said: “The Union invited them to participate, to hear the lecture and to ask questions. I think it’s sad they didn’t do this. The way forward is through opening up channels of dialogue, not trying to shut them down.”
The protesters had earlier said Taub’s invitation and presence was “a tacit endorsement of war crimes committed during the recent aggression on Gaza”.
The visit comes on the heels of September’s open letter blasting Israel’s conduct during the war in Gaza. Signed by 55 leading academics, the group noted “the unmistakeable asymmetry of power between the two sides in this ‘conflict’, which makes it so disingenuous to accuse critics of singling Israel out”.
Meanwhile, Israeli embassy spokesperson Yiftah Curiel spoke to students at the Kent University’s Centre for Journalism. The presentation and Q&A session focused on the Embassy’s work with the UK media and explored the parallel challenges facing Israeli and UK in foreign policy.
He urged invited the students to continue dialogue with the embassy on Israel and on wider questions regarding journalism and media.