Students at the London School of Economics protested against a talk by Israel’s far-right ambassador to the UK on Tuesday.
Tzipi Hotovely spoke on campus at the apparent invitation of the LSE Debate Society.
“There is no room for such bigoted and racist rhetoric on our LSE campus. There is no room for the denial of Palestinian existence on our LSE campus. There is no room for colonial apologism on our LSE campus,” the open letter read.In a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada, student group LSE For Palestine thanked protesters for turning out against the “shameful” event.
Hotovely has “repeatedly espoused hate speech, contributed to the material oppression of Palestinians by planning and permitting illegal settlements in the West Bank,” they said.
Describing the night as “a tremendous demonstration of solidarity with Palestine” the group said protesters had gathered outside the building where Hotovely’s lecture took place.
They said they chanted “Free Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”claimed that there is “no Palestinian people” and last year described the Nakba – the well-documented 1948 expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians in order to establish Israel – as “a popular Arab lie.”
In May, Hotovely was the star speaker at a demonstration outside the embassy in support of Israel’s latest war against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Also in attendance was far-right activist Tommy Robinson, as well as Israel lobbyist and former Labour lawmaker Joan Ryan.
LSE For Palestine said in its statement that an activist had told protesters: “While Hotovely may have the platform and power as a government official, we students also have the power to be change-makers. This university belongs to us.”The group said that “students maintained a peaceful protest throughout the evening” and that several students had walked out of the event in protest at Hotovely’s racism.
Conservative government ministers, the Labour “opposition” and the Israel lobby have all attacked the protesters and falsely portrayed them as violent anti-Semites.Home affairs minister Priti Patel said on Twitter she had been in touch with Hotovely to support her and told the police to investigate.
She condemned “intimidation, harassment and abuse” against “the Jewish community” despite there being no evidence of such a thing taking place whatsoever.
Patel was in 2017 forced to resign from a previous ministerial role after being caught having secret meetings with Israeli ministers organized by UK pro-Israel lobbyists, in violation of government rules.
Former Conservative minister Alan Duncan earlier this year accused her of being “compromised” and said her relationship with Israel was an example of the country’s “disgusting interference in our public life.”
Hotovely posted on Twitter thanking the government for its support.leading anti-Palestinian newspaper The Jewish Chronicle outrageously compared the peaceful student protesters to Nazis.
Ironically, Pollard has nothing to say when Israel – the apartheid state he loves so much – trains and arms real life neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
Video posted online from Tuesday night shows Hotovely making a swift exit to avoid protesters after her talk. But she was heavily protected by both British police and Israeli embassy security personnel.
All sources agreed that she had completed her lecture to students.Some Twitter users described her as “fleeing” the university afterwards.
But LSE For Palestine disputed that characterization. They also said that police had physically assaulted students.
“It is laughable to suggest that a figure with the ear of the government and the mainstream media [such] as the ambassador to the UK can somehow be ‘canceled’ or have her speech curtailed,” they said.
“Palestinians face constant censorship and erasure by Israel and other complicit governments,” the group stated.
Video footage from the Zoom stream of the event seen by The Electronic Intifada suggests it was not so much a “debate” as a lecture by Hotovely, with no opposing outside speaker to challenge her.The LSE Debate Society said in a statement to The Electronic Intifada that students had had “the opportunity to ask questions and challenge the speaker for nearly an hour.”
Society vice president Abhijith Subramanian said that “we respect and affirm the right of people to protest at our events but condemn all forms of threats and aggression.”
Asked repeatedly to clarify what “threats and aggression” they had received, Subramanian did not answer.
Advertising the event on Facebook, the society had gushed that it was “honored to host Her Excellency Tzipi Hotovely” to discuss “a peaceful Middle East.”
In a second post addressing student opposition on the eve of the event, the society claimed it wanted to “encourage discourse” about the Middle East and promote a “diversity of opinions.”
But, ironically, the society had closed comments on the same Facebook post, calling into question its commitment to “debate.”