Priti Patel supports police investigation after LSE protest against Israel ambassador

Tzipi Hotovely was harangued as she left the event at LSE.
Tzipi Hotovely was harangued as she left the event at LSE.
Charlie Bayliss

By Charlie Bayliss

Published: 10/11/2021

- 16:34

Updated: 10/11/2021

- 16:41

Tzipi Hotovely was heckled and chase by angry protesters after her speech at the London School of Economics (LSE) campus

Ministers have condemned protests outside a London university event where Israel's ambassador to the UK as "deeply disturbing" and "appalling".

Tzipi Hotovely was heckled and chased by angry protesters after her speech at 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 showed police keeping order as protesters booed and shouted “Shame on you” while Ms Hotovely was leaving the university building.

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.”

Ms Hotovely was escorted into her vehicle by security.
Ms Hotovely was escorted into her vehicle by security.

On the protests, Ms 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.” 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: “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.”

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