Israel's extreme right-wing ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, was met by student protestors at Cambridge University yesterday in a demonstration reminiscent of the anti-apartheid campaign against the white minority regime in South Africa.
Hotovely, who served as a settlement minister under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was invited to address the Cambridge Union's debating society to deliver a "monologue". Student groups slammed the decision, citing the 42-year-old ambassador's long track record of deeply hostile and racist ant-Palestinian remarks.
"Hotovely is a proud supporter of Israeli settler colonialism," wrote students in an open letter, "and an open advocate of a 'Greater Israel'." They expressed their dismay that she had been invited to address the union.
While deputy foreign minister, Hotovely asserted that the entire West Bank belongs to Israeli Jews alone. "This land is ours," she said. "All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologise for that."
Early on in her time at the Israeli Embassy in London, Hotovely denied that the Nakba — the premeditated ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — ever happened. She has called it an "Arab lie" and a "made up story". Her rejectionist view is not a fringe opinion in Israel; it is part of the mainstream position of the Likud party led by Netanyahu and other parties on the right and far right.
Tuesday's protest attracted crowds from outside the student community, including representatives from Amnesty International UK and Jewish Voice for Labour. Amnesty released a report last week labelling Israel as an apartheid state. Apartheid is a crime akin to a crime against humanity. Protestors chanted "Silence is complicity, acceptance is complicity, platforming is complicity".
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There was no repeat of the controversy which followed Hotovely's appearance at the London School of Economics (LSE) in December. Footage from her exit from the LSE campus sparked wild allegations by the British media, the pro-Israel Jewish community and politicians, that the student protestors were "anti-Semitic".
Police in Cambridge, however, are said to have maintained a hands-off approach yesterday and the protest remained "peaceful and loud".
Well done! Reminds me of how people of conscience used to confront representatives of South Africa's barbaric apartheid regime. There's no place for segregationists in civilized society. https://t.co/lcPD3xNvwJ
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) February 8, 2022
Campaigners thanked the organisers on social media. "Well done! Reminds me of how people of conscience used to confront representatives of South Africa's barbaric apartheid regime," tweeted Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah. "There's no place for segregationists in civilised society."
Hotovely's visit to Cambridge Union comes as consensus grows among leading human rights groups over Israel's apartheid. Amnesty joined the likes of Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem and others who have labelled Israel as an apartheid state.
The trend is expected to continue as predicted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University which has issued a warning about the increasing number of parties classifying Israel as an apartheid state. Such a scenario is likely to put further pressure on western governments, whose position on Israel is strikingly at odds with the human rights community and the wider public, as well as their own rhetoric about respecting and upholding the law.
READ: UK: media and politicians 'misled public' with support for far-right Israeli ambassador