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Pro-Palestinian Protesters At London School Attempt to Deplatform Israeli Ambassador

Video footage showed the protesters chanting “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free”; when Hotovely was being escorted to her car, the protesters booed her and surrounded her security convoy

Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

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Aaron Bandler
Aaron Bandler is a staff writer for the Jewish Journal, mainly covering anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias. Originally from the Bay Area, his past work experience includes writing for The Daily Wire, The Daily Caller and Townhall.

Pro-Palestinian protesters attempted to deplatform and intimidate Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely when she spoke at the London School of Economics (LSE) campus on November 9.

The Jewish Chronicle (JC) reported that Hotovely was speaking to the LSE debating society that night; prior to the event, LSE for Palestine said they were “outraged” that Hotovely had been invited to speak on campus. An account called “LSEclasswar” posted to social media: “Whoever smashes the Ambassador car window (Lincoln’s Inn Field) gets pints.  Let’s f—in frighten her.”

Protesters gathered outside the building she was speaking at and called for her to be deplatformed. Video footage showed the protesters chanting “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free”; when Hotovely was being escorted to her car, the protesters booed her and surrounded her security convoy. One protester can be seen running through security before being tackled.

The Community Security Trust (CST) said in a statement that the protesters failed to disrupt the event and didn’t “chase” Hotovely off campus, but they did foster “an atmosphere of unacceptable intimidation.” “We condemn the violent threats made in some online posts regarding the event and the intimidation as the ambassador left the building.”

Various Jewish students told The JC that they hid their kippot as they walked through the protesters to exit Hotovely’s talk. “When you’re a Jewish student and you’ve been to Israel you do feel slightly threatened,” one student said. “You have to just live life and get on with it.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel condemned the incident in a tweet. “Disgusted by the treatment of the Israeli Ambassador at LSE last night,” she wrote. “Antisemitism has no place in our universities or our country. I will continue to do everything possible to keep the Jewish community safe from intimidation, [harassment] & abuse.”

Secretary of State for Education Nadim Zahawi tweeted that the incident was “deeply disturbing.” “I am so sorry Ambassador Hotovely.”

James Cleverly, Minister for Middle East and North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, also tweeted: “The aggressive and threatening behaviour directed at [Hotovely] last night was unacceptable.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted in Hebrew that Hotovely “is strong and will not let any gang of violent and anti-Semitic thugs intimidate her, as will all the other Israeli ambassadors in the world. The struggle against the delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism is part of our struggle for the Israeli story and our ambassadors are at the forefront of this struggle.”

Jewish groups also denounced the incident.

“Violent threats on LSE campus are unacceptable,” LSE Jewish Society and Union of Jewish Students said in a joint statement. “Jewish students have the right to feel safe when attending an event on campus free of fear, harassment, and threats. This type of behavior is absolutely inexcusable and only serves to create hostility on campus. We are here to support any Jewish students who felt unsafe.”

“Those who exceeded the bounds of peaceful protest must be disciplined by @LSEnews
& prosecuted where appropriate,” Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted. “Huge credit to [Hotovely] for facing down intimidation & for an engaging 90-minute event with students. The bullies will not win.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “We join our colleagues at [CST] in condemning the online violent threats and physical intimidation directed at [Hotovely]. Glad to see no one was harmed as a result.”

“When will democratic societies stop enabling such criminal behavior?” the Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted, asking if there have also been protests at LSE against “Chinese or Iranian regimes.” “Israel is systematically attacked by anti-peace, anti-Semites.”

LSE Palestine issued a statement lauding the protesters and accusing police of assaulting students. By inviting Hotovely to campus and deploying the police, LSE “failed in their duty of care to Palestinian students.”

LSE said in a statement, “Students, staff and visitors are strongly encouraged to discuss and debate the most pressing issues around the world, but this must be in a mutually respectful manner. Intimidation or threats of violence are completely unacceptable. We are aware of some threats of violence made on social media around this event. Any LSE students identified as being involved in making such threats will face disciplinary action. We will be reviewing the processes around this event to inform future planning.”

Hotovely wrote in a JC op-ed that the speaking event was “positive” and that her freedom of speech was not inhibited in any way. “This fact has been overshadowed by footage of the protest that raged outside and targeted me as I left the building,” she wrote. “Far from wishing to take part in the debate that the college had provided, the activists were calling for me to be ‘no-platformed,’ holding up banners proclaiming lies about Israel such as the pernicious smear that it is an ‘apartheid state.’ Such behaviour will help no one.”

Hotovely later added: “I will not be intimidated into letting these extremists decide what happens. They will never dictate what I do or how Israel conducts its diplomacy.”

The LSE debating society was scheduled to host Palestinian Mission to the UK Head Husam Zomlot on November 11, but he canceled following the Hotovely incident, saying that he’ll speak when there is a “healthier environment” on campus, The Guardian reported.

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