Apartheid Israel & the Zionist Corruption of the London School of Economics

Apartheid Israel & the Zionist Corruption of the London School of Economics
by Pauline Park, M.Sc., Ph.D.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (to use its full name) is regularly ranked with Oxford and Cambridge universities not only as one of the top educational institutions in the United Kingdom but as one of the foremost institutions of higher education in the world, and — on those rare occasions when it comes up in conversation — people are invariably impressed to hear that I have a master’s degree from LSE.

When I finished my M.Sc. in European studies in 1983, I considered it my greatest achievement to that point and I was gratified when the LSE alumni magazine included mention of my appointment as executive director of Queens Pride House — the LGBT community center in the borough of Queens — in 2012; but that pride has diminished considerably since then. For one thing, while the school was founded by Fabian Socialists, LSE has since Margaret Thatcher’s all-too-long reign of error abandoned their ideals and instead become an entrepôt for the advancement of neoliberal capitalism. And the school has been tarnished by a scandal involving Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam Alqadhafi, who was awarded a Ph.D. after the Gaddafi Foundation — of which he was the founder — gave LSE a ‘donation’ of £1.5 million; it became clear that the younger Gaddafi’s doctoral dissertation had been written by some anonymous Libyan bureaucrat back in Tripoli. The Libya scandal rocked the school and forced Sir Howard Davies to resign as LSE director (the equivalent of ‘president’ at most colleges and universities in the United States) — the first director to be forced out in the school’s long and generally distinguished history.

My esteem for my esteemed alma mater has now collapsed in the wake of Tzipi Hotovely’s appearance at LSE on Tuesday, November 9. Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom was invited to participate in an event organized by the rather mysterious LSE ‘Debate Society’ — which almost no one had apparently even heard of before the event was announced — but no other participant appeared to ‘debate’ her on the announced topic of “Perspectives on Israel/Palestine” and the only ‘perspective’ was an extreme right-wing Zionist one. In the absence of any debating partner, Hotovely had the floor to herself to spout hasbara to her Zionist heart’s content, with secret police from Israel’s Shin Bet standing guard. When Hotovely left the building, she was met by an entirely non-violent if boisterous protest from LSE for Palestine members, many of whom were Jewish — a fact deliberately obscured by Boris Johnson’s government and the corporate media, both intent on smearing the protestors as a ‘violent mob’ intent on killing Jews. Boorish Johnson’s home secretary Priti Patel — notorious for her dishonesty — knowingly created the entirely false impression that this ‘mob’ was attempting to ‘intimidate Jews’ and that Hotovely had had to flee for her life. BoJo the Clown’s Conservatives were aided and abetted by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his foreign affairs spokes-Zionist Lisa Nandy, who “echoed Patel’s baseless smears,” as Asa Stanley noted in his account of the event (Asa Winstanley (@AsaWinstanley), “Politicians are lying about the Palestine student protest at LSE,” Middle East Monitor, 13 November, 2021).

As Nasim Ahmed notes, the police account confirms LSE for Palestine’s account of an entirely non-violent demonstration and “The rush to defend Hotovely’s right to free speech is all the more ironic because the biggest threat to this democratic ideal on campuses and within society at large comes from pro-Israel groups that want to put a stop to valid criticism of Israel through a highly controversial definition of anti-Semitism that conflates legitimate criticism of the occupation state with racism towards Jews. Israel is a state which, let’s not forget, has taken an extremely authoritarian turn by denying Palestinians their right to free speech in all kinds of ways, from criminalising human rights groups to jailing peaceful protestors” (Nasim Ahmed (@Nasimbythedocks), “Rushing to support the ‘ugly, extremist face of Israel’ does not defend ‘free speech’” (Middle East Monitor, 11 November 2021).

Needless to say, the Zionist campaign of slander and defamation orchestrated from the highest levels of the British government led to a wave of a harassment and intimidation against LSE for Palestine, to which the group responded,

“The virulent harassment and racism we have received the past few days for exercising our democratic right to protest for Palestine have been despicable. In particular, baseless calls from the British political establishment to investigate and arrest protesters exercising their fundamental rights have been especially reprehensible. There is a gross imbalance of power at play here: politicians at the very top of the British government unjustly singling out university students for protesting the racism of the representative of a nuclear-armed ally of Britain… This crackdown comes in the context of a sustained effort by the government to criminalise all forms of dissent. This has included the characterisation of Black Lives Matter UK with coded racist language such as a ‘violent mob’ and the ongoing use of the PREVENT agenda. This is while the British establishment readily signals ‘free speech’ when the powerful are held to account at the same time as suppressing this right to Black, Palestinian, trans and marginalised communities. Protecting our right to protest is therefore central to combatting efforts by the government to criminalise dissent and justify its investment in imperialism and apartheid” (members of LSE for Palestine statement, 13 November 2021).

LSE for Palestine was far from the only student group to object to Hotovely’s appearance; as Asa Winstanley reported, 18 student groups signed an open letter objecting to her appearance in advance of the speaking engagement — including not only the London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU) Palestine Society and the LSESU Islamic Society, but also the LSESU Modern Languages Society, the LSESU Food and Cooking Society and even the LSESU Korean Entertainment Society (Asa Winstanley, “UK government attacks Palestine student protesters,” Electronic Intifada, 10 November 2021). In fact, the LSESU overwhelmingly passed a referendum motion declaring LSE an ‘apartheid-free zone’ (17 June 2021), which the invitation to Hotovely clearly contravened; so it is clearly not LSE for Palestine members who are out of touch with student sentiment at the school but rather those who organized Hotovely’s speaking engagement and those who attacked LSE for Palestine for protesting it.

There is some irony in the fact that this incident occurred during the directorship of Nemat Talaat Shafik, who in 2017 became LSE’s first Arab director; born in Alexandria, Minouche Shafik was made Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2015 and in July 2020 was made a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords. I am struck by the fact that no one has noted the irony that an institution directed by an Egyptian would invite an Israeli fascist to spout far-right propaganda and Nakba denialism and promote the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arabs of illegally occupied Palestine. Given that Minouche Shafik is deep in the bosom of the British establishment — having served as deputy governor of the Bank of England and part of the global elite, having served as deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund — it is unsurprising that there has been no comment from Baroness Shafik about the Hotovely affair; but it is difficult to imagine that Beatrice and Sidney Webb — Fabian socialists who co-founded the school — would have remained silent in the face of the odious and disgraceful campaign of slander and defamation of LSE students who in protesting Tzipi Hotovely’s appearance were upholding the founding ideals of the London School of Economics; does the director not have a moral and ethical obligation to do so as well…?

Pauline Park received her M.Sc. in European studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1983 and her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994; she led the campaign for the transgender rights law that was enacted by the New York City Council in 2002. Park co-founded New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (NYC QAIA) in 2011 and participated in the first US LGBTQ delegation tour of Palestine in 2012.

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