Jewish LSE students & alumni say no to Hotovely on campus

JVL Introduction

As a follow up to our post on the Hotovely demonstration and its reporting in the mainstream media, we add below a statement by Jewish students and alumni at LSE.

It includes this:

  • So let’s be clear about why students protested Hotovely’s presence on campus: it was not because she is Jewish, but rather because she is the ambassador of a state that routinely flouts international law and is committing grave human rights violations against Palestinians on a daily basis.

You can see a video of Hotovely leaving, published in the Times, here. Pretty innocuous stuff.

And you can watch an Owen Jones’s video where he argues that “this whole discussion is defined by anti-Palestinian racism”.


We’re a group of Jewish LSE students & alumni, and we say: No to Hotovely on campus

As Jewish students and alumni of the LSE who are committed to Palestinian liberation and to the fight against antisemitism, we are deeply concerned about the event that took place on campus this week with Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, and about the conversations that have been generated in the aftermath of the protests.

First of all, we echo LSE Palestine Society’s condemnation of the decision by LSE Debating Society (with the backing of the Students’ Union) to legitimise Hotovely and her ideology by inviting her to speak at LSE, thus presenting Palestinian freedom as being a subject that is open for debate. Not only has Hotovely called the Nakba — the displacement and dispossession of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 — ‘an Arab lie’, she has also invited Jewish supremacists into the Knesset, advocated for complete Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank without the Palestinians there receiving full citizenship rights, and publicly opposed intimate relationships between Jews and Arabs. Hotovely played an active role in the expansion of illegal settlements as the former Minister for Settlements in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and she has described Israeli human rights activists who campaign to end the occupation as ‘war criminals’. Put simply, she is one of the foremost advocates of apartheid in Israel-Palestine.

As such, we also condemn the way the mainstream Jewish media, as well as UK government officials such as the Home Secretary and Education Secretary, have immediately jumped to characterise the protests against Hotovely as antisemitic in nature. Analogies to Kristallnacht, for example, which saw more than 90 Jews murdered and 30,000 Jews deported to concentration camps, are deeply offensive to the Jewish victims of Nazi antisemitism and the Shoah, and bear no resemblance whatsoever to the events at LSE this week. Protesting against representatives of the Israeli state — be they Jewish or non-Jewish — is not antisemitic. Significant parts of the British Jewish community have been protesting against Hotovely since she was appointed as ambassador last year. So let’s be clear about why students protested Hotovely’s presence on campus: it was not because she is Jewish, but rather because she is the ambassador of a state that routinely flouts international law and is committing grave human rights violations against Palestinians on a daily basis.

Narratives which conflate criticism of the Israeli state with antisemitism are incredibly dangerous, serving to constrain the rights of Palestinians and their allies to speak out about their oppression while also harming our fight against the very real antisemitism that exists in our society. In the aftermath of the irresponsible claims by public figures and journalists accusing the protesters of antisemitism, several student organizers have been subject to racist abuse and threats online, which we unequivocally condemn. Senior politicians in government and opposition have also made calls for arrests and police action against protestors; we wholeheartedly reject these attempts by government figures to use Jewish students’ sense of insecurity as a pretext to expand the policing of student activists on campus.

We know that the last few days have been painful and fractious for much of the LSE community, including for Palestinian students who have had been made to feel unwelcome at their own university, and for Jewish students who have been left feeling unsettled and vulnerable. No student should feel unsafe on campus because of their religious, ethnic or national identity, and we are committed to the fight against all forms of racism and bigotry, both on campus and in wider society. The struggle against antisemitism and the struggle for Palestinian liberation are not mutually exclusive.

University campuses have the unique potential for bringing together different communities in solidarity with one another, and we know that it is only through this collective solidarity that we can achieve true liberation for Jews, for Palestinians and for all peoples.

Signed,

Bo Jacobs Strom
Asher Kessler
Sonja Belkin
Max Hammer
Damon Hotz
Mira Mattar
Rachida Benamar
Daniel Bernstein Vulkan
Ben Reiff
Micol Meghnagi
Jo Bluen
Alex Small
Rachel Richman
Dave Postles
Douglas Gerrard
Hannah Swirsky
simon korner
Antony Lerman
Shay Lari-Hosain
Maarya Rabbani
Naomi Cavanagh
Shoshana Lauter
Ros Edwards
Jonah Lipton
Matt Gothill
Idan Sasson
Amy Perlin
Zak Cebon
Samuel Barnett
Maïa Pal
Rachel Cohen

Comments (15)

  • Margaret West says:

    Excellent post! In particular Owen Jones
    speaks very well indeed ..

    What more can you say..

    .. except I wonder if any of this will appear on the MSM – and the BBC in particular?

  • Allan Howard says:

    Looking through the media coverage of the LSE demo, I can’t help wondering if any of the people proclaiming their disgust have ever done so in respect of what the Israeli state has been doing to the Palestinians during the past seventy years or more. I doubt it somehow!

    And our wonderful and impartial media has ‘transformed’ a noisy demo in to ‘the thuggish abuse of the Israeli ambassador’ and ‘this is about physical, violent intimidation of your political opponents’ blah, blah, blah.

    The above is from a Telegraph piece which, as I had little doubt that it would, also manages to draw Jeremy Corbyn into it so that they can smear him:

    Across the Atlantic, it is the example of movements such as Antifa and some of the more radical elements of Black Lives Matter that are inspiring our home grown radicals. They see white middle class liberals playing make-believe about the dangers of fascism……

    Naturally, by the time such thuggery made the journey across to Britain, it was largely adopted by the far Left, still benefiting from the shot in the arm it received from Jeremy Corbyn’s short and disastrous tenure as Labour Party leader……

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/11/11/thuggish-abuse-israeli-ambassador-proves-hard-left-has-lost/

    What it all amounts to is fascists defending fascists by trying to transform those opposed to them into fascists in the public’s mind!

  • Angie Hudson says:

    Solidarity with those calling out human rights violations. It takes courage.

  • John Noble says:

    How saddening all this is, layer upon layer of good being peeled away until none is left uncorrupted. The conclusion one is forced to come to is they are very conscious of what they are doing, something so utterly reprehensible they must use all force to keep the lid on intellectual reaction to it, Joe public must not come to realise what is going on until it is too late to alter the trajectory. It is all as bad as it gets. So after Palestine is annihilated what next on the Israeli agenda?

  • Ruth Sharratt says:

    Israel is a fascist state and the treatment of the Palestinians is wrong by every moral metric I hold. However, I would defend her right to speak publicly, as of course we have the right to protest. Silencing, ‘no platforming’ whatever you want to call it, is wrong. Challenge the views, challenge the narrative, but don’t silence nor demand someone be silenced. Otherwise how can we complain when others refuse anti-Zionists or pro-Palestinians a platform. We seem to be living in time when the response to opinions that are disliked is personal attacks and the denial of free speech.
    The problem , as I see it, is not that people like Hotovely have a platform, but that organisations like JVL are not given a chance to present their views to the public.

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Very good contribution from Owen Jones, stressing the importance of evidence if the media and politicians are going to make accusations of antisemitism – and the total absence of any evidence in the Hotovely non-story. But I suppose someone has to ask the utterly bleedin’ obvious? Where was Jones when overwhelmingly evidence-free allegations of antisemitism were made against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left generally? And, I hope I am wrong and have just missed his comments – but where are his criticisms of Labour’s expulsions, suspensions and kafkaesque ‘auto-exclusions’ of supporters of Palestinian rights, and where especially is his criticism of the massively disproportionate assault on the membership rights of left wing Jewish LP members?

  • Mike Cushman says:

    Owen Jones has been putting fuel on the fire of the witch hunt for years. I’m glad he’s seeing where it’s led to but a mea culpa would be nice.

  • Paul Crowther says:

    “The struggle against antisemitism and the struggle for Palestinian liberation are not mutually exclusive.”
    Far from “not mutually exclusive”, they’re two aspects of wanting fairness and equality for all people.
    Yes, we each have our different emphasis, but it’s not right to fight for justice for one group while ignoring – or even condoning – the suffering of others.

  • Frank Land says:

    If it is not too late, I would like to add my signature: Emeritus Professor Frank Land

  • Allan Howard says:

    Needless to say, the MSM didn’t of course include the reasons why the students were demonstrating in their coverage!

    Anyway, I just came across the following article on the BBC News website:

    ‘Israeli ambassador LSE debate: Organiser says protest has been mischaracterised’
    A student organiser of a debate with the Israeli ambassador at the London School of Economics (LSE) has accused politicians of “mischaracterising” protests outside the event.
    Footage on social media showed protesters shouting at Tzipi Hotovely following the event on Tuesday night.
    Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would support a police investigation into the protest.
    But Abhijith Subramanian called the booing “freedom of speech”.
    Mr Subramanian, the vice president of the LSE Debate Society, said: “I was one metre away from the ambassador throughout the event and did not see any violence or threats.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-59250111

    It also says the following in the article:

    The Met Police confirmed it is only looking into a threatening social media post from an anonymous Instagram account at this time.

    I assume they are referring to the following, which was widely reported in the MSM and, as such, was the ONLY call to violence (this in the Mail):

    Before the event, a group called LSE Class War urged to storm the building and ‘make her shake’, adding: ‘Whoever smashes the Ambassador car window gets pints.”

    Would be interesting to ascertain when the account was set up, as I strongly suspect it was set up for the purpose of smearing the demonstrators. Talking of which, I also just came across the following:

    ‘Pro-Palestine protestors ‘followed students home calling them war criminals’ after barracking Israeli ambassador at LSE event’

    ‘https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10190223/Pro-Palestine-protestors-followed-students-home-calling-war-criminals-LSE-event.html

    Hmm…….

  • Allan Howard says:

    PS I just did a search, and, as I expected, the story about protestors following students home etc appears to have been solely ‘reported’ by the Mail, which says it all really!

    The point being of course that if it actually happened it would be all over the MSM, and headline news at that, and the fact that it’s not strongly suggests that the other MSM outlets concluded that it’s all complete fabrication, concocted and contrived for the obvious reason.

    Anyway, just spotted this from the JC:

    ‘Exposed: Sinister connections of LSE rabble-rousers to pro-Iranian groups’

    https://www.thejc.com/news/uk/exposed-sinister-connections-of-lse-rabble-rousers-to-pro-iranian-groups-1.522440

  • Allan Howard says:

    Apologies, but I just did a search on Instagram re lseclasswar to see what came up, and the only thing that did was the following dated July 30 (click on the square picture):

    https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/lseclasswar/

    And I just this second did a general search re ‘lse class war’ (on duckduckgo search engine), and threr were a few results (which I haven’t yet checked out), but also came across the following on the Jewish News website:

    ‘Labour councillor accuses Lisa Nandy of ‘appalling statement’ over LSE envoy incident’

    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/labour-cllr-accuses-lisa-nandy-of-appalling-statement-over-lse-envoy-incident/

    As for the demo – and it’s just stating the obvious – that given the police presence, had there been any aggression or violence towards Hotovely by any of the demonstrators, they would have been arrested of course.

  • I agree with Mike and Naomi. Owen Jones Damascene conversion is welcome but long overdue. He played a central part in Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ witchhunt. At the time he said questioning Zionist allegations of antisemitism was itself anti-Semitic.

    The video is good but it will take more than one video to overcome e.g. the appalling chapter in his recent book about the Corbyn years

  • Hugh Roper says:

    Reply to Frank Land (13 Nov, 12.09): the signatories of the statement will, I’m sure, be honoured to receive this request from such a distinguished LSE alumnus as Frank. It must be particularly galling for the current Israeli regime and its representatives and supporters to be subjected to criticism from an authority such as Frank, who, as a 10 year-old Jewish boy in Germany, was able to observe Kristallnacht at first hand. He knows what real hard-line anti-semitism looks like.

  • Ali H says:

    If you claim Palestinians have rights you will be equated with some of the worst people who have ever lived. To applause from cowards who wish to appear humane and progressive but would never support the actually-oppressed because they fully understand that if they did, they would be thrown under the bus with them. This is how so much of humanity now presents itself to the less fortunate.

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