Israeli ambassador takes aim at 'extremist' protesters after being rushed away from LSE

10 November 2021, 22:56 | Updated: 11 November 2021, 17:35

Israeli ambassador takes aim at 'extremist' protesters after being rushed away from LSE

By Sam Sholli

Israel's ambassador to the UK has said she "won't be intimidated" after being ushered away from protesters by security following an event at the London School of Economics.

Tzipi Hotovely told LBC's Iain Dale that the London School of Economics (LBC) had invited her to give a lecture to students which "almost 200 students attended both in the class and by Zoom".

Ms Hotovely then told LBC: "And unfortunately some people that are extremist in my opinion [and] radicals tried to bully and to create the impression that the Israeli ambassador shouldn't speak on campus."

Footage emerged on social media after the debate on Tuesday evening which showed police keeping order as protesters booed and shouted "shame on you" while Ms Hotovely was leaving a university building.

Speaking to the Israeli ambassador, Iain said: "You did actually manage to speak though. The event went ahead. You weren't prevented from speaking, were you?"

She responded: "Absolutely not. I was speaking for over an hour-and-a-half, giving the students time to ask questions about everything [with] regards to Israel that they are interested [in].

"And also the dialogue was very fruitful and they showed interest and knowledge. It was [a] really fascinating evening for me."

Speaking of what transpired as she was leaving the university, she said: "Again, it's really important for me to say my protection team did great work, and I always feel protected and secure.

"But I do think that some of the people there were using violence and were trying to intimidate me and what I represent which is a democratic country in the Middle East [and] a great ally and friend of the UK."

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the treatment of the Israeli ambassador "unacceptable", while Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi described the footage as "deeply disturbing".

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was "disgusted" by the treatment of Ms Hotovely and added that the police have her full support in investigating the "appalling" incident.

The LSE said the ambassador spoke at the event and took questions before "leaving on schedule".

However, the university added that it was aware of "some threats of violence made on social media" and said it would review the processes around the event.

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Following the event, Ms Hotovely said: "I'm thankful for all the support I have received from the British Government, many friends and partners.

"I had an excellent event at #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."

A spokesman for the LSE said "free speech and freedom of expression underpins everything we do at LSE".

"Students, staff and visitors are strongly encouraged to discuss and debate the most pressing issues around the world, but this must be in a mutually respectful manner," the spokesman said.

"Intimidation or threats of violence are completely unacceptable."

The university added that any LSE students identified as being involved in making such threats will face disciplinary action.