Andrew Freedman
Andrew Freedman

The night of broken hearts

“Shame on you!”, they chorused. Against whom? Russia? China? COP refuseniks? Covid conspiracy theorists? That chap over in Syria, what’s his name again – Assad? – something’s going on there; or even the more pedestrian – the current crop of MPs who seem to view the privilege of Parliamentary representation as a bit of a hobby? No. This was against a woman only a few years older than me, who is Israel’s ambassador to the UK.

Why was she physically bundled into a car by four security agents who then ran alongside the car which whisked her away to safety? Had she been in a warzone? Ah no, the London School of Economics, a seat of learning, one of the country’s and indeed, the world’s best universities. Why the opprobrium? It’s nothing to do with a comment she made or even her own political views against which many Jews in this country have objected. It is simple. She is the human embodiment of the start- up nation, of, as the increasingly tired moniker goes, the world’s only Jewish state. She is its representative to the Court of St James. Of course any country’s ambassador always necessitates security but the extent to which an Israeli ambassador needs protection was laid out in stark, visceral relief at the LSE last night.

I remember travelling to Israel (by chance) on the same El Al flight as former Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub and noted that his security detail walked him through Heathrow, right to the door of plane and then vanished, as he was deemed to be a) on Israeli soil and b) trapped with hundreds of Brits who all wanted to have just a quick chat over some chicken. Or beef. That is a natural hazard of being an ambassador, but what Tzipi Hotovely experienced was extraordinary.

How can the LSE, one of the world’s most prestigious universities be silent in the face of this savagery? In the face of a social media post in which students incited one another to smash the windows of the ambassador’s car to give her a “f****** fright”. So, what exactly should the ambassador be ashamed of? There is a pernicious antisemitism in this country, particularly among students which manifests itself in a faux woke anti colonialism posturing. What some students of such an august institution actually represent is an encyclopaedic ignorance, to quote a former Brit -turned- Israeli Foreign Minister.

The threat to life to Ambassador Hotovely was real. Purely because of who she is, what she represents: Israel. Whenever I hear Israel mentioned in non Jewish circles I always take a sharp intake of breath. Because Israel is our heritage, our home, notwithstanding the welcome this Sceptred Isle has given British Jewry. Happening on the eve of Kristallnacht, the violent display of unbridled hatred against Jews eight decades later is still as toxic, still as powerful as it ever was.

About the Author
Andrew Freedman is a communications consultant from London. Prior to embarking on a career in public relations, Andrew practised as a solicitor for a couple of years. Before that, Andrew read Classics at Oxford. He is a member of the World Jewish Congress Jewish Diplomatic Corps and is also active on behalf of several Jewish charities within the UK.
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