On Wednesday, the Israeli embassy said that Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, would not be stopped because of violent extremism. After a speaking engagement at the London School of Economics, the Israeli ambassador have to be evacuated followed by an attack from students and other pro-Palestinian protestors. According to a video posted online of the event that was held on Tuesday night, Hotovely was being escorted by security guards past the protest, when a protestor had rushed at her. She was pushed into the car by the guards. Hotovely said that she wouldn’t give into violence and bullying and representatives of the State of Israel would go to every platform.
Hotovely stated that she had spoken to an audience of 200 students for an hour and a half and said that these were people who wanted to hear the history of Israel in one of the world’s leading universities. Ohad Zemet, the spokesperson of the embassy referred to the discussion that took place at the university as ‘open and deep’. There was a protest going on outside that was organized by the Islamic Society and the Palestinian Student Union and the police was keeping order. Zemet added that they would not be deterred by violence from extremist elements.
He added that as part of its diplomatic duties, the Embassy of Israel would continue to represent the country in British society and encourage an open dialogue with the people. He said that the embassy would continue speaking inside while the extremists protest outside. Before the event with Hotovely, an Instagram account by the name of ‘LSE Class War’ had indirectly encouraged people to smash the Israeli ambassador’s car window. It was argued by the Palestine Society of the Israeli Student Union that Hotovely was in violation of the external speakers’ policy of the university.
This is due to the fact that the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom is in support of settlements and has referred to the conflict between Israel and Palestine as a religious one. She was also called a racist. The videos of the protest that were posted online showed that people had gone as far as calling her a war criminal. After the incident, a tweet was also made by Nadhim Zahawi, the UK Education Secretary. He apologized to Ambassador Hotovely and added that he was deeply disturbed because of the incident. James Cleverly, the Minister for North Africa and the Middle East said that peaceful protest and open debate is welcome.
However, the threatening and aggressive behavior of the protestors towards Hotovely was downright unacceptable. In recent years, most of Israeli ambassadors to the United Kingdom as well as pro-Israeli speakers have had to deal with protests happening outside their events. Next week, the LSE’s debating society will host the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Husam Zomlot. Hotovely was given her post last year and has been a controversial choice. She is a member of the Likud party of former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and had previously been the settlements minister.