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Friday, 30 January 2015


A complaint has been lodged to the Students’ Union against remarks made by external speakers at a joint event hosted by LSESU Feminist Society and LSESU Palestine Society on Tuesday night.

It has been alleged that one speaker at the event ‘Gender and Resistance in Occupied Palestine’ made remarks “glorifying” violence against Israeli soldiers. A report of the event which is being widely circulated on social media claims that the speaker praised specific acts of violence perpetrated by females against the state of Israel, such as a suicide bombing against an Israeli convoy in Southern Lebanon which killed two Israeli soldiers and injured ’10-12 more’, as “amazing”, “admirable” and worthy of a “standing ovation”.

The speaker, a writer for ‘The Electronic Intifada’, had previously tweeted at the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “@Netanyahu Chutzpah backfires. Learn the Paris lessons ;)” on January 14th 2015, a week after the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo had been attacked by Islamist gunmen. A further tweet posted since Tuesday’s event, in response to the Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson Peter Lerner confirming the ‘sad news’ of the death of two Israeli soldiers in Hezbollah’s attack on the border with Lebanon, replied “sad for you :-)”.

Video footage attached to the article, meanwhile, shows a different speaker claiming that “rape for Israelis was almost a site of war against Palestinian women”.

The event was chaired by Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, an research fellow at LSE’s Middle East centre. Ms Muhanna-Matar told The Beaver:

“Within the concept of freedom of expression, any panellist has the right to present her analysis based on her own understanding, whether it satisfies or dissatisfies others’ reading and understanding of the topic of discussion. The panellist who spoke about Palestinian women who were involved in military resistance against the Israeli occupation has not invented something new… The speaker in the event glorifies women’s resistance against the military occupation and for the sake of freedom and justice but not violence against civilians. These resistance military actions were done in the western history by the IRA, during the American and French revolutions. At a lesser extent, Jews resisted against the Nazist kidnappers, but faced certain death, the same as Palestinians who committed violence against the Israelis certainly face certain death. This is how what is said in the event should be interpreted from the concept of resistance but not violence in vacuum.”

At Thursday’s UGM, General Secretary Nona Buckley-Irvine confirmed that a complaint had been lodged to the SU over the remarks, and that an investigation would shortly follow.

The LSESU Israel Society criticised the comments, telling The Beaver that:

“We at the LSESU Israel society are horrified and deeply offended by statements made by speakers at the joint LSESU Palestine Society and Feminist Society event, entitled ‘Gender and Resistance in Occupied Palestine,’ on Tuesday 27th January, Holocaust Memorial Day. We condemn the incitement of hatred and glorification of terrorism by the speakers at this event. Advocating the slaughter of Israelis is a direct form of racism and must be dealt with by the university and the Student Union. We have received a number of complaints from students who feel intimidated and uncomfortable by a number of the comments made. Racism affects all students and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The LSE campus must be a safe space for all students. We would also like to make it clear that we support gender equality and the peaceful creation of a two state solution. We hope that the university and the Students’ Union will join us in condemning statements made at the event and will continue in their commitment to fostering a tolerant and safe environment on campus.”

The LSESU Feminist Society issued a statement that said “Having reviewed the statements, regarding applauding an attack against Israeli soldiers, made by a speaker at our event we apologise unequivocally on behalf of the Feminist Society. We give platforms to oppressed peoples, including those under violent occupations, but that does not mean that their views always reflect our own. The Feminist Society is truly regretful that we have caused offence.”

The Vice-President of the Feminist Society Lena Schofield told The Beaver “I wasn’t able to attend the event, so I’ve just heard about the complaints regarding the event at the UGM. I personally am regretful that we have caused offense. Femsoc will be cooperating with the Students’ Union’s inquiry, and if it’s clear that we need to apologise we will do so unequivocally.”

In an open letter to The Beaver, LSESU Anti-Racism Officer Esther Gross said that “The simple fact that someone was able to stand in front of an assembly of students and declare that it is legitimate to kill someone because of their nationality baffled me, and I could not understand how people who claim to fight discrimination could stand by such statements without a single objection.”

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