British ministers denounced on Wednesday the harassment of Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom by anti-Israel protestors after an event at the London School of Economics (LSE) the previous night, which saw her swiftly evacuated by security as protesters tried to reach her car.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “disgusted” by the treatment of Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, who was confronted by protestors after the LSE Student Union Debate Society event.
“Antisemitism has no place in our universities or our country,” said Patel on Twitter. “I will continue to do everything possible to keep the Jewish community safe from intimidation, harassment and abuse.”
The event had incensed student activists in advance, according to the Jewish Chronicle, with LSE’s Palestinian society calling for its cancellation.
“We are outraged by both the invitation extended towards a figure with a track record of anti-Palestinian racism and war crimes, as well as the LSESU’s approval of this event in the first place,” the group said.
An account dubbed “LSEclasswar,” the name of a fringe student activist group, had also tweeted on Tuesday, “Whoever smashes the Ambassador car window (Lincoln’s Inn Field) gets pints. Let’s f***ing frighten her. 18:25, we’re storming in. Let’s make her shake. F*** the old bill.”
Footage of the protest showed Hotovely being rushed out of the building as protesters swarmed her car and jostled with security, amid cries of “shame on you!” and other chants.
Hotovely responded to the incident on Wednesday morning, tweeting, “I had an excellent event #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.”
The Israeli Embassy to the UK also responded, saying, “the aggressive actions of protestors yesterday run counter to all principles of justice and tolerance in both our democracies. As we engage with British society, we will continue to overcome extremism and to condemn violence in all forms.
An LSE spokesman said on Wednesday that the university is investigating the students’ threats against Hotovely.
“Free speech and freedom of expression underpins everything we do at LSE. Intimidation or threats of violence are completely unacceptable,” he said, according to the BBC. “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.”
Senior British officials and Jewish groups roundly condemned the incident, with the Board of Deputies of British Jews urging LSE and the police to discipline any students “who exceeded the bounds of police protest.”
“Huge credit to @IsraelinUK Ambassador @TzipiHotovely for facing down intimidation & for an engaging 90-minute event with students,” the group tweeted. “The bullies will not win.”
British MP and Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi, in turn, condemned the “unacceptable intimidation” Hotovely faced, adding, “This is not disagreement or free speech 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,” he shared on Twitter. “Only yesterday I visited Auschwitz, and that experience has left me even more determined to ensure that the evil of antisemitism is driven out of our campuses and classrooms. Education is our vaccine against anti-Jewish hate.”
The Met Police have said they were present at Tuesday’s protest, but have made no arrests.