The Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom was part of the debate at the London School of Economics titled “New Era in the Middle East”. However, her presence at the discussion appeared to irritate some pro-Palestinian activists.
On Tuesday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely was escorted out of the London School of Economics campus by her bodyguards and taken away in a diplomatic car as demonstrators protested against her presence and shamed the university for even hosting the ambassador.
A video showing Hotovely hastily leaving the building and leaving in a diplomatic Jaguar as the crowd of protesters was chanting “Shame on you!” has since emerged online. The activists, held back by Metropolitan Police officers, continued to slam the ambassador even after her car, escorted by another security Land Rover, drove away.
The credit for instigating the chaos that followed the debate at the LSE was reportedly assigned to an Instagram account titled LSE Class War, which, according to the Daily Mail, posted the following lines to its stories: “Whoever smashes the ambassador[‘s] car window (Lincoln’s Inn Field), gets pints. Let’s […] frighten her”.
“18:25, we’re storming in. Let’s make her shake. F*** the old bill”, another story read.
Currently, the said Instagram account is not available. Hours after her hectic departure from the LSE, Hotovely took to Twitter to comment on the incident and thank those who supported her.
“I had an excellent event at #LSE and I will not be intimidated. I will continue to share the Israeli story and hold open dialogue with all parts of British society”, she wrote, sharing a photo from the discussion with the students.
Many UK officials condemned the protests against Hotovely’s presence at the LSE, with Home Secretary Priti Patel, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, and Minister for Middle East & North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office James Cleverly weighing in to defend Hotovely.
“Disgusted by the treatment of the Israeli ambassador at LSE last night. Anti-Semitism has no place in our universities or our country”, said Patel.
Truss echoed the sentiment, saying that the treatment of the Israeli ambassador was “unacceptable”. Cleverly underlined that the UK values “open debate and peaceful protest”, blasting the behaviour of Tuesday’s demonstrators as “aggressive and threatening.”
The event was announced on the Instagram account of LSE’s Debate Society as a “discussion [that] will revolve around on ground realities and what needs to change and happen to achieve a peaceful Middle East”.
“The Middle East has been affected by the Israeli-Palestinian issue for more than 70 years. The Summer of 2021 saw another wave of violence break out which only further beckoned the question of whether peace was ever a tangible possibility”, the caption for the announcement of Hotovely’s participation read.
The Debate Society also advertised the participation of Palestine Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot. It was said that students would be allowed to ask both speakers questions.
Ahead of the event, as cited by the university’s newspaper The Beaver, the LSESU Palestine Society condemned the mere fact of holding such an event, saying that “there are no ‘two sides’ to ongoing settler-colonialism, to apartheid, to ethnic cleansing, and to the occupation of Palestine”. The newspaper also reported that the organisers of the event had “received threats from anonymous accounts”.
Prior to the event, the Debate Society issued another statement, stressing that the discussion was organised in order to “encourage discourse about issues in the Middle East”.
“This requires challenging the positions of the people involved and ensuring a diversity of opinions and perspectives”, the group said on its Instagram account.