Letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner over calls to investigate anti-Israel student protest

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Dear Commissioner,

I am writing about the calls from government ministers for the police to investigate university students demonstrating against the presence of Israeli ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, at a university event in London on Tuesday 9 November.

The calls are being led by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who appears to want to turn what was a peaceful anti-Israel protest into a panic about anti-Semitism. By deliberately and falsely conflating the two, she is attempting to scare and intimidate campaigners who are critical of Israel into silence.

The faux alarm over a supposed threat to Hotovely is not supported by the facts which are that the protest was peaceful, if noisy, and no arrests were made. Your officers were present, as was I, and we all saw young students standing up for the rights of the Palestinian people. The event included young students from all backgrounds, as well as rabbis and academics from a Jewish background as well as people of many different faiths.

The Home Secretary and other ministers’ intervention in this matter is anti-democratic as they seek to conflate peaceful protest against Israeli policy with anti-Semitism. They are abusing their power in order to call for a police intervention as a means to intimidating young students who wish to be critical of Israel. Instead of kowtowing to this political arm-twisting , it is imperative that you publicly state that people are free to express their views peacefully in a democratic society without the risk of being investigated on trumped up allegations. If you fail to do so, you will be sending a clear message to students and campaigners in London and across the country that the police will not protect their rights to protest where their views offend politicians in power.

Yours sincerely

Massoud Shadjareh

Chair, Islamic Human Rights Commission