By Robyn Rosen
December 7, 2010
Last night I was refused entry into a lecture at LSE.
The lecture was by Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and was entitled How much influence does the Zionist lobby exert in the US and UK?
Mr Atwan, who was invited by the Palestine Society, was captured on video in 2007 on MEMRI TV saying: “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel – by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel.”
Before the event, a statement on Mr Atwan’s website denied “defamatory” statements made on his Wikipedia page and said: “It would be a regrettable thing indeed if Israeli students, rather than engaging in a proper debate, are able to silence one of the few voices that speaks for the Palestinians.”
Unusual to use the word “debate” considering requests by the Israel Society to bring their own speaker to balance the panel were refused.
I arrived at Clement House for the talk at 5.30pm. The lecture was due to start at 6.30pm. I was informed by stewards and security guards that those with LSE student or staff cards would be given priority, followed by those with London university cards, followed by members of the public.
Despite reports about the lecture on Harry’s Place and the Jerusalem Post and more than 170 attendees on the Facebook group, representatives from the Palestine Society claimed they had not anticipated the large turnout.
I waited at the front of the queue with about 50 other members of the public while students took their seats. After everyone with LSE cards and London university cards had gone into the room, the rest were told that room was full, and due to health and safety rules, no more were allowed in.
I spoke to Zac Sammour, president of the Palestine Society and said that I was from a newspaper and that it was important that a representative from the press was present. I was told that a representative from Al-Jazeera had made it into the hall and so the press was present. Curious as to how Al-Jazeera were given access without a student card, I was told they had let in members of the public. I was again confused, as I had been at the front of the queue and was there an hour before it started but heard no announcement about others being let in.
I said I was from the Jewish Chronicle and said it was important to have other representatives present. I asked if I could stand at the back of the room or even outside with the door open. All my requests were refused due to health and safety regulations.
I was told that a full recording was taken and would be made available to the public and am still awaiting an unedited copy.