A student street theatre put on by the Palestine Society at the London School of Economics was attacked by members of the Israel Society today.
Part of Israeli Apartheid Week, the peaceful mock checkpoint was attacked with water bombs, knocking down some of the set. LSE Palestine Society member Jen Izaakson said they shouted “Hamas” and “death to Israel” as they threw the water bombs.
With breathtaking hypocrisy, the Israel Society later put out a statement demanding a “full apology” and “dialogue”, claiming the street theatre had been “provocative”.
But Izaakson told EI the attack had only increased the Palestine Society’s “resolve to do more stuff this week” promising the checkpoint stunt would be extended from one day to five in response. “People did get hurt” by the water bomb attack, she said.
Reality of Israeli apartheid for Palestinians
The “checkpoint” had been set up to illustrate to LSE students the kind of restrictions Palestinians in the West Bank regularly face at Israeli checkpoints. Palestinians in the West Bank are stopped and detained at Israeli checkpoints every day, while (often armed) Israeli settlers living in the same area sail through them unmolested.
LSE Jewish Society President Jay Stoll seemed perfectly aware of this reality. He claimed on twitter to have responded to the checkpoint that “I’m Israeli and don’t need” an ID.
Although the students’ union blamed unnamed “organised individuals” Izaakson said she recognized the attackers as “prominent members” of the Israel Society.
In a statement, the Palestine Society said: “Students from LSESU Palestine Society re-enacted an Israeli checkpoint on Houghton Street, as the start of Israeli Apartheid Week. The re-enactment was to show the suffering Palestinians face on a daily basis, trying to live their lives. All students which took part, had pre-agreed to take part in the re-enactment and students who did not wish to be involved were not forced to take part. The re-enactment passed peacefully for two hours, with students responding incredibly positively to the action… We as a society call on management to continue to protect our right to peaceful protest on LSE’s campus.”
Rafeef Ziyadeh, a spokesperson for the London organizing committee of Israeli Apartheid Week told EI: “This is typical of the usual intimidation from Zionist groups. It’s not going stop this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week, which is set to be the biggest one yet. We call on London students to come out and attend our week of events and not let Israel’s apologists provoke or intimidate them.”
The LSE Students’ Union released a statement saying: “Whilst peacefully re-enacting an Israeli checkpoint and talking to students about the issue, a small group of organised individuals ran towards members of the LSESU Palestine Society and threw water bombs which hit several students and knocked over property of the Palestine Society… The safety and welfare of students is of the utmost importance and the Union will be investigating the matter immediately in conjunction with the School.”
Israeli Hasbara minister worried about sucesses of Israeli Apartheid Week
Coming on the first day of Israeli Apartheid Week, this seems to be an attempt to draw pro-Palestinian students into violence, and attention away from the week’s events that seek to highlight the realities of Israeli apartheid in occupied Palestine.
A report in the Jerusalem Post yesterday said that Israel’s Hasbara (propaganda) minister Yuli Edelstein had dispatched Israeli settlers and other “Faces of Israel” to London and other cities where Israeli Apartheid Week was taking place to “answer to the attempts to de-legitimize Israel”.
Israeli Apartheid Week is taking place on university campuses around the world this month. The London event is on this week, with the biggest event set for Wednesday. You can read more about it on this Facebook page.
Mohammed Suliman, an LSE student from Gaza and fellow EI blogger took part in the checkpoint action today, and has written this excellent firsthand account, with extra photos.