This is a guest post by Jay Stoll of the LSE JSoc
It is important to detail, plainly, the events which took place yesterday outside the London School of Economics Student’s Union offices. Reporting, so far, has notably lacked impartiality. If any readers aren’t aware of recent events as this institutional beacon of coexistence, read on and form your own conclusions.
I am the Jewish Society president. Although the JSoc is not the same organisation as LSE’s Israel Society, I’m aware that my report will be denounced as ‘Hasbara’ – the pro-Palestinian equivalent of Jews dismissing criticism of Israel critique as ‘anti-Semitism’. I strongly feel that, if both sides stopped name calling and listened to each other, Israeli Apartheid Week wouldn’t become the equivalent of an ill tempered varsity match.
Just one other short introductory point -I can’t help myself! As advocates, we have a duty to behave with respect to one another. As University Union Societies, we are not in physical conflict with each other. This is not about “resistance”. The LSE is not a battlefield. We all hope to leave this university with qualifications and a job. We ought to behave, accordingly.
All sensible people will condemn the water balloon throwing and the violent assaults with followed. It is right for all of us to promote our beliefs vigorously, with words and not violence. Both supporters of Israel and Palestine need to accept that the majority in this country is alienated from this quarrel and cringes when it sees what we get up to. A major strategy rethink is long overdue.
Anyway, here are the events of yesterday, step-by steps, with some accompanying videos.
- The Palestine Society put posters up around campus for the Day of Action. Posters include Mandela quote on Palestinian plight. Posters also refer to Israel a racist, apartheid construct from its inception in 1948, directly comparable to South African Apartheid.
- Mock ‘checkpoint’ erected in front of key University thoroughfare, spanning around 10ft in width, accompanying watchtower.
- ‘Checkpoint’ surrounded by around 10 students, including LSESU Sabbatical Officers and Part Time Executive officers. Most wearing high visibility jackets with Tsahal, or IDF, written on the back. Imitation guns are brandished at the checkpoint.
- Students are very briefly delayed entering the thoroughfare, being asked for ID. This is largely peaceful and the protest continues to run its course like this throughout the day.
- Jewish/Israeli students email complaints that they are being publicly castigated them as Israelis, or as ‘students of privilege’ in front of other students, by those wearing the high visibility jackets. Formal complaints are made.
- The demonstration stages mock conflicts at the “checkpoint”, with Palestine society members, male and female, being dragged along the floor kicking and screaming. This takes place repeatedly.
- LSE Security Staff warn those running ‘checkpoint’ that there have been complaints, and issues over preventing access.
- Some SU members attack ‘checkpoint’ with water balloons, party poppers, shouting “death to Israel” and “Hamas” as they do it. The attack partly collapses the wall. Balloons hit several students wearing high-vis jackets.
- A few students, presumably those running the ‘checkpoint’ charge at those throwing the balloons. Two members proceed to attack the same individual, throwing a water balloon back and then kicking him repeatedly. The LSE Security is there in seconds to break it up.
- The SU releases a statement, initially with accompanying Palestine Society logo, states all violence should be condemned, defends the right to peacefully protest on campus.
- Societies, Palestine and Israel, release statements, condemning the actions of one another.
A microcosm of the Israel-Palestine conflict, or what?