Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely was evacuated under heavy security from an event at the London School of Economics on Tuesday evening amid a large protest by pro-Palesestinian activists against her presence.
Video from the scene showed security guards rushing Hotovely, who was clutching a bouquet of flowers, into a vehicle, while others tried to fend off a group of jeering activists, who chanted, “Aren’t you ashamed?”
A Twitter account, ‘LSEclasswar,’ had posted ahead of the event: “Whoever smashes the Ambassador car window (Lincoln’s Inn Field) gets pints. Let’s f**king frighten her.”
Hotovely had been invited by the prestigious university’s student union to take part in a debate forum.
“We will not give in to thuggery and violence,” Hotovely pledged after the incident. “The State of Israel will send its representatives to every stage.”
Hotovely and the spokesman for Israel’s embassy in London both stressed that the hour-and-a-half event took place in full, and 200 students were able to hear what Israel’s envoy had to say.
“The extremists will continue to demonstrate outside – and the embassy will continue to speak directly with students inside,” the spokesman said.
???? | NEW: Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely fleeing the London School of Economics
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) November 9, 2021
The event drew widespread opposition from pro-Palestinian and other groups on campus for “platforming racism.”
The protests specifically targeted Hotovely, saying that she had “advocated for settler colonialism, engaged in Islamophobic rhetoric and has perpetuated anti-Palestinian racism.”
1/4 Ambassador @tzipiHotovely was invited to speak with students at the @LSEnews about the new era in the #MiddleEast. It was a successful, open and fruitful discussion that went ahead as planned. Outside the venue, there was a demonstration organised by pic.twitter.com/SfdXEYnAJd
— Israel in the UK ???????????????????? (@IsraelinUK) November 10, 2021
Britian’s Home Secretary Priti Patel and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi condemned the “aggressive and threatening behavior” against Hotovely.
“This is deeply disturbing, I am so sorry Ambassador Hotovely,” Zahawi tweeted.
Patel said she was “disgusted by the treatment” and that “antisemitism has no place in our universities.”
“I will continue to do everything possible to keep the Jewish community safe from intimidation, harassment & abuse,” Patel added on social media. “The police have my full backing in investigating this appalling incident.”
Hotovely later thanked the British government and others “for all the support I have received.”
I’m thankful for all the support I have received from the British government, many friends and partners.
— Tzipi Hotovely (@TzipiHotovely) November 10, 2021
Hotovely, who took up her post last year, was a controversial pick for ambassador to the UK.
She is a member of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and was appointed by him to the post after serving as settlements minister. The move drew a petition by left-wing British Jews who called on their government to reject her as ambassador.
“Hotovely has an appalling record of racist and inflammatory behavior from throughout her political career,” last year’s petition read. “As British Jews we are clear: Tzipi Hotovely’s values and politics have no place in the UK. It is crucial that the UK government sends a message that her views are unacceptable, and rejects her nomination as ambassador.”
Hotovely, who also served as deputy foreign minister between 2015 and 2020, is a staunch supporter of Israel’s settlement movement and a vehement opponent of the two-state solution. She has also advocated for a unilateral Israeli annexation of the West Bank, which the British government has repeatedly rejected as a blatant violation of international law.
Earlier this year, the Noam youth movement affiliated with the Conservative-Masorti Jewish movement boycotted a UK event with Hotovely.
After Netanyahu was ousted from power in June, new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid moved to appoint a confidant to the post. But Hotovely, who signed a three-year contract, refused to give up the position.