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Anti-apartheid protesters face backlash from pro-Israel UK government

Saeed Pourreza
Press TV, London

Leaving amid shouts of "shame," Israel’s UK ambassador Tzipi Hotovely was escorted flower-in-hand by her security detail to her car as British police warded off peaceful pro-Palestine protesters earlier this week.

Hotovely, a fervent opponent of Palestinian statehood, had been controversially invited by the London School of Economics Student Union’s Debate Society to a debate on Middle East peace.

As she left the debate, she was met here with students and pro-Palestine activists exercising their democratic right to protest. But there was a problem with that. It was a peaceful protest against the ambassador of one of Britain’s closest allies with influential pressure groups in British politics.

That has meant a torrent of criticism and condemnation from the pro-Israel media and government ministers: from the British foreign secretary, who’s called the protest "unacceptable" to the home secretary, who described it as "disgusting and anti-Semitic."

Once again, an expression of solidarity for Palestinians portrayed as anti-Semitism. One of the targets of that labelling: the chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission himself, who’s spent a lifetime calling out the Israeli regime’s repressive apartheid against Palestinians.

It’s a curious thing about freedom of speech and of expression in the UK. While it’s free against some, it’s restricted against others, in this case against someone Palestinian groups say espouses hate speech and material oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

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