A guest lecture at the University of Edinburgh was brought to an end mere moments after it began on Wednesday, when demonstrators stormed the stage in protest against Israel’s policy towards the Palestinian people.
The speaker, Ishmael Khaldi, who is of Bedouin origin, is a senior aide in the Israeli foreign ministry and among the most senior Muslim officials in that country’s diplomatic service. He was scheduled to discuss his experiences with an audience of around 100 people in an Appleton Tower lecture theatre.
But despite a pre-emptive plea from event organiser Matthew Carroll to "please keep your behaviour decent", Mr Khaldi was able to speak just long enough to introduce himself before around 40 protesters rose from the crowd and mobbed the stage.
In a co-ordinated surge triggered by a verbal outburst from second-year international relations student and Edinburgh Students for Justice in Palestine president Liam O'Hare, activists from SJP and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign mounted the dais waving Palestinian flags and chanting, quickly forcing proceedings to a halt.
Speaking later, Mr O'Hare told The Journal: "We object to any official representative of the apartheid state of Israel speaking on our campus.
"Until Palestinians are given their fundamental human rights and the right to self-determination then we will continue to protest officials from apartheid Israel and call for the boycott of the racist, colonial state.
"The BDS movement will maintain pressure on Israel until it abides fully with international law."
Mr Khaldi did not leave the stage immediately, remonstrating with protesters for almost an hour after the protest began. University security personnel, including chief security officer Adam Conn, formed a protective cordon around the lectern, but were unable to prevent demonstrators from taking control of the microphone.
Refuting accusations of antisemitism, SPSC chair Mick Napier told the audience: "If they're against human rights, they can go to hell – whatever their religion."
Amid tense scenes between demonstrators and bystanders who felt the boycott was preventing debate on a very contentious issue, one audience member was heard to shout, "It's not free speech if you don't let him speak."
Others expressed similar unease with the protest. First-year University of Edinburgh student Stephen Donnelly told The Journal: "I never thought I'd see the day when students are crushing debate."
A statement from Mr Carroll and JSoc president Timothy Abrahams blasted the protesters' "intimidating and hostile behaviour", and accused the group of having "little interest in freedom of speech or insight into Israeli society."
Much of the protesters' ire focused on Mr Khaldi's relationship with Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, for whom he works as a senior policy advisor.
A deeply controversial figure in Israeli politics, Mr Lieberman leads the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, a minority partner in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition government.
Initial plans for Mr Khaldi's appearance to be hosted by either the Politics Society or the International Relations Society are understood to have foundered over the weekend when the memberships of both societies voted against their involvement. The invitation to speak was eventually extended by members of the university's Jewish Society, including Mr Carroll.
Sources inside SJP privately confirmed that the group lobbied IRSoc over the weekend to withdraw their invitation to host the event, which they did on Monday evening. A statement from IRSoc president Ledys Sanjuan claimed that the society "was not aware that Khaldi was an advisor of Lieberman. He was portrayed as a member of a minority who was coming to speak about his experience as a member of a minority in Israel."
Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador in London, has expressed his unhappiness with the protest, telling The Jerusalem Post: "These attempts to suppress [Mr Khaldi's] freedom of speech come as no surprise. Once more a British university views this intimidating mob-rule as acceptable."