Wednesday 10 November 2021 3:29 pm
Protests outside a London university event where Israel’s ambassador to the UK spoke have been condemned by ministers as “deeply disturbing” and “appalling”.
Tzipi Hotovely was invited to the London School of Economics (LSE) campus for an event hosted by the student debating society.
Footage emerged on social media after the debate on Tuesday evening which showed police keeping order as protesters booed and shouted “Shame on you” while Ms Hotovely was rushed out of the university building into her car.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the treatment of the Israeli ambassador “unacceptable”, while Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi described the footage as “deeply disturbing”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “disgusted” by the treatment of Ms Hotovely and added that the police have her full support in investigating the “appalling” incident.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, who shared a video of the protests outside the event on Twitter, added: “This is absolutely shocking. At a London university.”
On the protests, Truss tweeted: “We in Britain believe in freedom of speech. The treatment of Israeli Ambassador @TzipiHotovely last night and the attempt to silence her was unacceptable.”
We in Britain believe in freedom of speech.
The treatment of Israeli Ambassador @TzipiHotovely last night and the attempt to silence her was unacceptable.
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) November 10, 2021
The LSE said the ambassador spoke at the event and took questions before “leaving on schedule”.
However, the university added that it was aware of “some threats of violence made on social media” and said it would review the processes around the event.
Ms Patel said on Twitter: “Disgusted by the treatment of the Israeli Ambassador at LSE last night. Antisemitism has no place in our universities or our country.”
She added: “I have been in touch with @TzipiHotovely and the police have my full backing in investigating this appalling incident.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that officers attended the protest but no arrests were made.
Mr Zahawi said on Twitter: “This is deeply disturbing, I am so sorry Ambassador Hotovely.”
In a statement, the Education Secretary added: “Last night the Israeli ambassador was subjected to unacceptable intimidation.
“This is not disagreement or free speech – it is harassment, and it will have deeply shaken Jewish students both at LSE and across the country.
“I have invited Jewish students from LSE to a meeting to hear directly from them and offer any support that I can.”
Following the event, Ms Hotovely said: “I’m thankful for all the support I have received from the British Government, many friends and partners.
“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.”
A spokesman for the LSE said: “On Tuesday November 9, the LSESU Debate Society hosted the Israeli ambassador to the UK for an event on the LSE campus.
“The event, which attracted some protest outside, lasted approximately 90 minutes, with the ambassador speaking, taking questions from the audience and leaving on schedule.
“Free speech and freedom of expression underpins everything we do at LSE. 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.”
A statement from the Israeli Embassy said: “Ambassador Hotovely was invited to speak with students at the LSE titled the ‘New Era in the Middle East’. It was a successful, open and fruitful discussion that went ahead as planned.
“Outside the venue, there was a demonstration organised by Palestinian and Islamic societies across London universities. British police maintained order at the scene.
“The violence we witnessed when the ambassador left the premises after the talk will not deter Israeli diplomats from engaging in meaningful dialogue with all parts of the British society.”
Johnson apologises to Israeli minister who was unable to access COP26 in wheelchair
Similarly tagged content: