Violence breaks out at LSE anti-Israel protest

Jewish and Israeli students clash with pro-Palestinian activists who put up mock “Israeli apartheid wall” on campus.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
February 23, 2012 05:42
2 minute read.
A poster for Israeli Apartheid Week.

israel apartheid week 311. (photo credit: Screenshot)

 
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LONDON – Violence broke out at the London School of Economics on Monday after Jewish and Israeli students clashed with pro-Palestinian activists who had set up a mock “Israeli apartheid wall” on campus.

Members from the school’s Palestinian Society erected the mock checkpoint at the entrance of a classroom block as part of “apartheid week.” The activists then stopped students and asked for ID.

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“We are only trying to recreate the conditions Palestinians have to face on a day-to-day basis,” claimed Niamh Hayes from the Palestine Society.

Jewish and Israeli students accused the activists of harassment and intimidation, resulting in water balloons being thrown at the mock wall. Scuffles then broke out between the two sides. Witnesses said that fighting continued on the main street of the campus.

Security staff at the school intervened to stop matters from escalating.

They asked the protesters to refrain from preventing students from passing through the mock checkpoint. The request was ignored.

“LSE security staff acted immediately to calm matters, to prevent escalation and to advise the society that students should not be hindered from going about their normal business on campus,” LSE said in a statement.

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“Whilst I welcome a diversity of opinion; actions such as these undo a lot of the good work that has been done in creating and maintaining a dialogue between students and groups on campus,” said Alex Peters- Day, secretary of the LSE Student Union.

The Israel Society at the school said in a statement that it condemned “all violence” seen on the day.

“We do not however, condemn the anger that caused this. The Palestine Society are mocking and simplifying the complexities of life in the region,” said Aimee Riese, president of the Israel Society. “The Palestine Society’s interpretation of an Israeli checkpoint was intimidating for Jewish students as they held [mock] guns, called Jewish students ‘Israelis’ as they walked through, and the protests further angered students who have been directly affected by the conflict.”

“Provocative acts instigated by the society only serve to fuel tensions on campus. Dragging women kicking and screaming along the floor, as it simulated, is not an accurate description of reality; rather it is a disgusting simplification of a complex situation for both sides,” Riese added.

The Israel Society called for the school to restore calm and for the Palestine Society to apologize for the stunt.

The Union of Jewish Students also condemned the protest.

“UJS has consistently opposed these fake security checkpoints as being intimidating against Jewish students,” a UJS spokesman said in a statement. “These stunts reduce what is a serious and complex situation between Israelis and Palestinians into theatrical provocations that can only ever prove divisive here on British campuses.”

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