Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Tzipi Hotovely, had to be whisked away under heavy security after she was confronted by raucous pro-Palestinian demonstrators outside the prestigious London School of Economics on Tuesday.
Hotovely had been invited by the university’s student union to take part in a debate forum. Following her appearance at the event, video footage showed the Israeli ambassador being verbally assaulted with shouts of “Aren’t you ashamed?!” and “Shame on you!” as she was rushed into a waiting vehicle.
The urgency demonstrated by the security detail indicated that they feared the situation could quickly deteriorate into some manner of physical assault on Hotovely.
🚨 | NEW: Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely fleeing the London School of Economics
— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) November 9, 2021
Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who currently serves as Secretary of State for Education, quickly tweeted an apology.
This is deeply disturbing, I am so sorry Ambassador Hotovely. 🙏🏽 https://t.co/4CxK2H8h80
— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) November 9, 2021
Zahawi is an Iraqi Kurd who immigrated to the UK as a child. The Kurds of Iraq have warm relations with Israel and the Jewish people, and Zahawi himself has been at the forefront of combatting antisemitism in Britain.
Also upset by Hotovely’s ordeal was MP James Cleverly, the current Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, who decried the “aggressive and threatening behaviour” of the protestors who confronted the Israeli ambassador.
We value open debate and peaceful protest.
The aggressive and threatening behaviour directed at Israeli Ambassador @TzipiHotovely last night was unacceptable.
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) November 10, 2021
Local reports suggested that the demonstrators were targeting not just Israel, but Hotovely herself.
The Israeli ambassador to the UK is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party. More than that, she is a vocal advocate of the Jewish people’s right to settle the biblical heartlands of Judea and Samaria, what the world calls the “West Bank” that makes up the bulk of the desired future Palestinian state.
In her previous role as Minister of Settlement Affairs, Hotovely pushed hard for Israel to unilaterally annex the parts of Judea and Samaria where most Jewish settlers live. She and others presumed that former US President Donald Trump would back, or at least not interfere with such a move.
Israel’s new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, wanted to replace Hotovely as ambassador to the UK, but she refused to leave the post until her three-year contract is finished.