Israeli Ambassador evacuated from LSE under heavy security
Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely was met with protestors after an event with the uni’s debating society
The UK’s Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely was met with hostility by student protesters outside LSE, after being invited to speak by the university’s debating society. A video shows her exiting from a building under heavy security.
Social media accounts have been captured in their attempts to incite violence. The chaotic incident also caused the Palestinian ambassador to the UK to postpone his scheduled invitation to speak at a related event until there’s a “healthier environment” at the uni.
The university, Students’ Union, MPs and government ministers have publicly condemned the “threats of violence.” While the student group that organised the protest justified the demonstration in a statement that attributed the negativity to “misinformation and misreporting.”
On Tuesday 9th November, Israeli ambassador to the UK was seen exiting LSE’s Centre building in Holborn under police escort. She was being protected from student protestors booing and shouting statements such as: “Palestine will be free. Occupation no more.” and “Israel is a terror state.” The Metropolitan police said in a statement: “Police were in attendance for a protest in Houghton Street, WC2 on Tuesday, 9 November. There were no arrests.”
The incident occurred after LSE Debate Society’s “Israel’s Perspective: A New Era in the Middle East” event. The session was the first of a two-part series designed to “encourage discourse about issues in the Middle East,” with the UK’s Palestinian ambassador scheduled to speak at the second.
Prior to the event, the uni’s debate society justified the invitation stating that the topic “requires challenging the positions of the people involved and ensuring a diversity of opinions and perspectives.” A spokesperson later told The Tab that “[the society] aims to make diverse voices available in order to promote discourse on topical issues. [So they] have invited both the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors to discuss issues that have amassed global attention.”
“We invite ambassadors not in their personal capacity, but as policymakers who have the authority to represent and be challenged on the views of their respective governments. We consulted relevant stakeholders before and during our event in order to assess any concerns they may have and subsequently incorporated their feedback into our safety and equity policies,” elaborated the society’s representative.
The university also stated that free speech “underpins everything we do at LSE” and that students, staff and visitors were encouraged to debate issues in a “mutually respectful manner.”
But the campus’s pro-Palestinian groups, such as the LSESU Palestine Society, were earnestly against the event. They described it as an “invitation extended towards a figure with a track record of anti-Palestinian racism and war-crimes” in a statement and a student group not associated with the SU, LSE for Palestine, publicly organised the Tuesday night protest on social media.
After the incident, LSE, LSESU, and governmental figures have criticised the protestors’ behaviours. The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel stated that she is “[disgusted] by the treatment of the Israeli Ambassador at LSE last night. Antisemitism has no place in our universities or our country.”
The Israeli ambassador responded by saying she is “thankful for all the support [she has] received from the British government” and that she “will not be intimidated.”
Further controversy arose after screenshots circulated online showing an alleged LSE student group inciting violence on social media, which the university responded with a threat to “take action if any students are identified.”
The Debate Society also made an “emergency statement” on Wednesday saying that their event’s second part is cancelled as Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, asked to reschedule the Thursday session until “when there is a healthier environment” at “his alma mater.”
Despite official reactions, student organisers made a statement justifying the “tremendous demonstration in solidarity of Palestine” as “student activism” and claiming that the students “maintained a peaceful protest throughout the evening and it was the police who incited violence.”
“We will not stop resisting and agitating for a free Palestine, starting with kicking apartheid off our campus,” stated LSE for Palestine.
The LSESU, Israel Society, and Palestine Society have all been contacted for comment.