An attempted attack on Israel’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom may have followed earlier threats, but it was certainly not “business as usual” at the University of Manchester, according to members of the school’s Jewish community.

Eyewitnesses who attended Ambassador Talya Lador-Fresher’s April 28 lecture at the university’s politics society reported that a group of pro-Palestinian protesters who lunged at the diplomat and attacked her car following her address may not have been students at all. A delegation of Jewish Society students told Rabbi Yitzchok Kaye that only those with student ID cards were allowed in the hall.

“These are scare tactics,” contended Kaye, a Chabad-Lubavitch Chasid who founded the ManuJew organization. “These are people who want Jews to be afraid, but [those that advocate violence] are a very small group.”

Lador-Fresher, who had originally been scheduled to appear in February but postponed her lecture because of security concerns at the time, spoke for about 15 minutes before answering questions from the audience. As she left the building, about 40 demonstrators ran towards her, forcing a detour through a back entrance and towards a waiting security vehicle. Reports suggest that two protestors leaped on the hood of the car before campus security personnel transferred Lador-Fresher to their office, from which she was escorted by Israeli Embassy staff.

“I don’t think they wanted to kill me, but I genuinely believed they wanted to physically hurt me,” the diplomat told the country’s Jewish Chronicle. “If I had not had the police and security team, I would have been beaten up.”

While the university has a vocal pro-Palestinian contingent, said Kaye, most people engage in peaceful discussion.

“I have an Ask the Rabbi stand where I get questions from the whole spectrum of views on campus,” stated Kaye. “It’s very rare when someone is not respectful. There is always room for discussion and for friendships to be formed.”

To Rabbi Dovid Jaffe, executive director of Lubavitch South Manchester, the issue is one of empowerment. The university counts some 2,000 Jewish students and staff members, he said, making it one of the largest populations among United Kingdom campuses. At the same time, the university has been a hotbed for increasingly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views.

“There’s a lot of emotion all the time, but there’s never been this type of viciousness,” Jaffe said of the move against the Israeli ambassador. “My view on all this is that it just underscores what we as Jews need to do.”

Jaffe pointed to a Sunday Jewish unity parade in honor of the mystical holiday of Lag B’Omer as evidence of the type of message that the Jewish community needs to send. As late as a week before, said Jaffe, the existence of the parade and accompanying rally were in the air. But in the end, organizers decided to make it the largest such event in the city’s history, taking the festivities through three Manchester neighborhoods.

“We must keep focused on our mission,” said Jaffe, “to create more Jews and better Jews.”