Israeli minister calls for action over insult

Danny Ayalon furious at insult hurled during speech at Oxford Union

Israel's deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, announced yesterday he was exploring ways of pressing charges against a student protester who shouted "slaughter the Jews" in Arabic during a disrupted speech he was giving at the Oxford Union this week.

Mr Ayalon said the move against the student – whose outburst was a described in statement issued here as "tantamount to a call for genocide" – demonstrated "our new policy on hatred and racism." He added: "We will have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, something that should have happened a long time ago."

Thames Valley Police confimed to the Jerusalem Post yesterday that it had received a complaint which they were taking "very seriously" and were in the "very early stages" of an investigation into possible "racially aggravated disorder" and no arrests had yet been made. The Oxford Union has also launched an investigation into who disrupted the event and said that the culprits would be disciplined according to Union rules.

Film showing a student shouting "Itbach Al-Yahud " [slaughter the Jews] during rowdy scenes at Monday's event were shown on Israel's Channel Ten television.

The statement issued by Mr Ayalon's office said that one student shouted at the deputy foreign minister, a member of Avigdor Lieberman's right wing Yisrael Beiteinu party: "We will do to you what we did to Milosevic.

Mr Ayalon also said that chants inside and outside the hall by protesters of "Palestine will be free, from the river to the Sea" amounted to a call for the destruction of Israel. The incident came on the same day as 12 protesters were reportedly arrested as Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the US was addressing students at a California campus. Hecklers, apparently from the Muslim Students' Union at the University of California, Irvine, repeatedly interrupted Mr Oren shouting "killers" and "how many Palestinians did you kill?"

But the anti-semitic slogan yelled at Oxford goes well beyond most of the criticism and interruptions faced abroad by some Israeli figures especially since the end of its three-week military offensive in Gaza ended over a year ago. Mr Ayalon's office said that another protester carrying a Palestinian flag had walked towards the minister before security personnel intervened and ejected him. The statement said that Mr Ayalon had received applause after "patiently" answering "extremely hostile and abusive questions". It added: "After the event several students attempted to physically assault the Deputy Foreign Minister but were prevented from doing so by security."

The Oxford union said the event had been attended only by students with Union membership. It added: "Whilst the vast majority of the audience behaved in an orderly and responsible fashion, some members continually interrupted the speech, and one individual in particular appears to have made a directly anti-Semitic remark. These individuals exceeded the principles of free speech that the Society upholds."