Houghton Street was the scene of a violent altercation Monday, as a protest by the London School of Economics Students’ Union Palestine Society came to blows after water balloons were hurled at the protesters.
It started as members of the Palestine Society formed a mock checkpoint outside of the St. Clements Building. Students were stopped before entering the building and asked by protesters for “I.D.” or “papers.” As the protest continued, certain Jewish students complained of “harassment and intimidation” as access to St. Clements was “blocked.”
Palestine Society members taking part in the protest claimed that while students were asked for their “papers,” only protesters were physically stopped from entering the building.
Niamh Hayes, a member of Palestine Society, said that “we are only trying to recreate the conditions Palestinians have to face on a day-to-day basis.”
Soon after making those comments, a group of counter-protesters ran down Houghton Street screaming “death to Israel” launching water-filled balloons at the protest. After soaking the protesters, they retreated with the Palestine Society members following.
Quickly a brawl broke out with a member of the Palestine Society protest punching a counter-protester in the face and various skirmishes began taking over Houghton Street.
Soon after the initial violence, members of both sides tried to settle the violence, with LSE Security cordoning off the enraged protesters and counter-protesters.
LSE Security had previously requested that the Palestine Society refrain from preventing students from passing through the mock wall, but the checks were continued.
Students’ Union General Secretary, Alex Peters-Day, said in a statement “The safety and welfare of all our students is, and will maintain to be, our utmost priority as a Students’ Union.” Peters-Day continued, “Whilst I welcome a diversity of opinion; actions such as these undo a lot of the good work that has been done in creating and maintaining a dialogue between students and groups on campus”
Aimee Riese, President of the LSE Students’ Union Israel Society said “LSESU Israel Society condemns all violence that was seen today. We do not however, condemn the anger that caused this. Palestine Society are mocking and simplifying the complexities of life in the region.” Riese continued, “LSE students on this campus are victims on both side of this conflict. Jewish and Israeli students should not have feel targeted and intimidated on campus.”
Here's a short video of the counter-protesters throwing the water balloons:
The full hypocrisy of the Palestine Society can be appreciated at their statement on the YouTube page, where they condemn harmless water balloons as being super-dangerous but are silent about how their people punched someone in the face:
Monday the 20th of February, students from LSESU Palestine Society re-enacted an Israeli checkpoint on Houghton Street, as the start of Israeli Apartheid Week. The re-enactment was to show the suffering Palestinians face on a daily basis, trying to live their lives. All students which took part, had pre-agreed to take part in the re-enactment and students who did not wish to be involved were not forced to take part. The re-enactment passed peacefully for two hours, with students responding incredibly positively to the action.The idea of throwing mock Molotov cocktails and fake bombs at a fake checkpoint is a fantastic idea, and it is almost a shame that the Israel Society implied that it is not. After all, the counter-protesters were merely "peacefully re-enacting the daily struggles" of the Israeli people. Isn't that what the checkpoint terrorist supporters claim to be doing? Five seconds of harmless water balloons explain exactly why there is a security barrier to begin with, something that the pro-terrorist Palestine Society is unwilling to mention.
An hour and forty minutes into the stall, four students threw numerous water bombs at the wall which was being held up by several students who were members of the LSESU Palestine Society members. The balloons hit our members, with several of these missiles hitting these students directly in the face, who were as a result incredibly upset by the incident. The missiles which were thrown knocked down one of the walls being held up by members of the society falling on these students. This could have potentially seriously injured society members and passers by, as they were heavy wooden panels which required holding up by students.
The LSESU Palestine Society fully condemns the actions of the four students who threw the missiles. The re-enactment and stall by the Palestine Society was completely peaceful, and the reaction of these students is unjustifiable. The actions of the four students presents a threat to the wellbeing of our societies members who were peacefully re-enacting the daily struggles of Palestinian people. As soon as the incident was over Palestine Society members returned to re-enacting the checkpoint. This incident shows the victimization of peaceful protesters who were simply trying to draw attention to the cause of the Palestinian people. For students taking part in a peaceful protest to have missiles thrown at them for no reason is completely unacceptable. Many members of our society who were taking part in the re-enactment felt incredibly threatened as a result of the incident. We as a society call on management to continue to protect our right to peaceful protest on LSE's campus.
Note how these protesters claim to feel "incredibly threatened" by water balloons, but the idea that Israelis are threatened by real bombs does not cross their minds.
(h/t Alexander, Anne)