Palestinians’ right to live free from Israeli occupation, apartheid and genocide should never be up for debate

Palestine solidarity protest
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On 9 November, students from the London School of Economics (LSE) protested a debate hosting Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely on campus. As British Jews Against Occupation have set out, Hotovely has an “appalling record of racist and inflammatory behaviour”. In spite of this, the university – as well as Tory and Labour politicians – rushed to denounce the peaceful protest. Police have launched an investigation.

People took to Twitter to highlight the hypocrisy of those defending Hotovely’s right to free speech while denouncing the actions of peaceful pro-Palestinian protestors.

Platforming a vocal fascist

Ahead of an LSE Students’ Union Debate Society event hosting Hotovely, LSE for Palestine shared plans to protest the platforming of the reported anti-Palestinian racist and Islamophobe. The student group planned a peaceful protest to take place outside the event in a display of solidarity with Palestine, and an attempt to disrupt and discredit the Israeli ambassador’s fascist ideology.

Hotovely is an ambassador of the apartheid Israeli state. She has a track record of spreading Israeli settler colonialism propaganda, Islamophobic rhetoric, and anti-Palestinian racist hate. She has described the Nakba – the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the Israeli state – as an “Arab lie”. Hotovely also called for further Israeli occupation of Palestine through annexation. And she has denied the very existence of Palestinian people. Protesters also highlighted that she has espoused Islamophobic rhetoric, and is openly against relationships between Jewish and Arab people.

Ahead of the debate, the LSE Students’ Union Palestine Society shared a statement reading:

There is no room for such bigoted and racist rhetoric on our LSE campus. There is no room for the denial of Palestinian existence on our LSE campus. There is no room for colonial apologism on our LSE campus.

A peaceful student protest

While protesters chanted outside the building in which the debate was taking place, Hotovely retained her platform for the duration of the event. During that time, she denied the Nakba again. The only disruption inside the building was a group of students walking out in protest.

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Student protestors booed as Hotovely left the building. In video footage, one protester can be heard asking “aren’t you ashamed” while security bundles the ambassador into a car. It appears that the protest was disruptive, raucous and passionate, but never violent. However, police allegedly assaulted students on their own university campus.

Maintaining that “Palestinian human rights are not up for debate”, LSE for Palestine posted:

Speaking out in support of student protestors, Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal tweeted:

However, LSE published a statement insinuating protestors engaged in “intimidation and threats of violence”. The university stated that it is prepared to take action against student protesters.

One Twitter user responded with:

Fascists supporting fascists

In the wake of the protest, Hotovely soon garnered the support of right wing UK government officials. Home secretary Priti Patel posted a tweet saying that she was “disgusted” by the peaceful protest. And Middle East minister James Cleverly characterised protesters as “aggressive and threatening“.

Netpol responded to the home secretary’s support for the police investigation into the peaceful protest with:

Reminding us where Patel stands on Palestinians’ right to live free from Israeli settler-colonialism, rapper Lowkey tweeted:

Labour’s Israel apologists chip in

Soon, even Labour MPs spoke out against the peaceful student protest. Leader of the opposition Keir Starmer and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called the protest “unacceptable“. People were quick to call out the absurdity of members of the opposition vehemently supporting an out and proud fascist.

Responding to Starmer’s denouncement of student protesters, writer, journalist and broadcaster Aaron Bastani tweeted:

Labour councillor Aydin Dikerdem said:

And campaign group Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Socialists shared:

 

Solidarity with student protesters

In spite of backlash from LSE, the government and the mainstream media, many have spoken out in defence of the student protesters. Pro-Palestinian student societies from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) and King’s College London (KCL) spoke out in solidarity with LSE protesters, setting out that proponents of apartheid are not welcome on their campuses either.

Moved by this display of inter-institution solidarity, City, University of London Students’ Union president Shaima Dallali tweeted:

Journalist Robert Carter, who reported from the protest, shared:

Al Jazeera producer Linah Alsaafin shared:

Free speech for whom?

Speaking to the suppression of marginalised voices in the name of ‘free speech’, Ana Oppenheim shared:

Responding to LSE for Palestine’s statement defending the protest, Palestinian writer and journalist Mohammed El-Kurd said:

Urging people to speak up in defence of Palestine, assistant professor at LSE Sara Salem tweeted: 

And co-director of LSE’s centre for human rights Ayça Çubukçu said:

Bringing attention back to the violent reality of Israeli occupation, one Twitter user shared:

Arguments denouncing the peaceful student protest while crying wolf about the Israeli ambassador’s right to free speech beg the questions: ‘free from what?’ and ‘free for whom?’. Palestinians’ right to live free from Israeli occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing should certainly never be up for debate. The state and its institutions may be coming after student protesters, but the protesters stand firmly on the right side of history.

Featured image via Ömer Yıldız/Unsplash

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  • Show Comments
    1. An Extremist Racist Apartheid White Colonialist Terrorist Regime has an Embassy with an Extremist Racist White Colonialist Apartheid Ambassador in Great White Britain 2021!
      The “Opposition Party” Thatcher’s Neo-New-Labour Parasite TORY Party is as keen as their hero Thatcher and their Colleagues accross the Aisle to stand by Apartheid just as Thatcher did and
      too busy witchhunting, persecuting Black, Muslim, Other Minorities including “Fringe” and Black Jews, especially is they are Women!
      I guess in The Neo-New-Labour TORY Party’s little minds ‘if they get rid of them the Forde Report “vanishes with them”‘, I very much doubt that the Forde Report is going anywhere untill it’s dealt with!
      It is quite mind-blowing that in 2021 we are sympathising and even entertain having an ambassador from an Extremist Racist Apartheid White Colonialist Terrorist Regime in Britain, but she is painted the victim!
      All while her Terrorist Regime are Testing Weapons “Mowing the Lawn” on Children, Woman and Innocent Civilians, so that they can have them MANUFACTURED AND STAMPED AS TESTED, RIGHT HERE IN THE UK!
      That on it’s own should be enough to expel the Ambassador, shut the embassy, expell Apartheid Terrorist Arms Manufacturing, Ban Zionism as Racist, Apartheid, Terrorist and extremely Dangerous!
      The Palestinians have every right to self determination, every right to be furious, yet who is the angry, killer? The invading Zionist! You just have to look at the factual figures to see who is Terrorist and who is the REAL victim!
      It is sickening how easily the misinformation capital of the world squashed NGO’s who are sharing the truth and facts and how quickly certain nations condemned said NGOs! Frightening to think, like Julian Assange speaking the truth now has to be done undercover and in hiding, The Thruth, Justice, Equality, Peace, etc has become the Enemy of most Nations and Regimes, anyone who dares to speak it a Terrorist!
      Luntzspeak is now the only language and The Global Language Dictionary, the only version of it! The only trouble of the limited Luntzspeak and start leaning it at 4yo is that your lies become easily exposed and “your reality” becomes what your lies are!

    2. A fascist’s right to freedom of speech does not include the right to shut down peaceful protest. And we have anti-hate laws. If anyone stood on a platform in the UK and said the Jews do not exist, they would quickly find themselves being prosecuted for hate crime. Why is it fine for an Ambassador to deny the existence of an entire people? The entire episode has all the hallmarks of a set-up. The Israeli lobby is very good at them. Why didn’t Hotovely debate? What kind of debating society lets people speak without opposition? Hustling her away under security was intended to signal she was under threat, and then came the hysteria. Classic manipulation. She didn’t even have a soft tomato thrown at her. If there had been one old man outside the venue carrying a placard reading “Israel is a racist State” the pro-Israel lobby would have claimed Hotovely’s life was in danger. Soon it will be anti-Semitic to say it rains in Tel Aviv. All this is a sure sign of the crumbling status of Israel in the world. Israel not Jewry. Let Jewry flourish, but the racist State of Israel must be brought to heel.

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