Israel and Palestinian groups clash at LSE

PalSoc demonstrators on the steps of the LSE building, urging boycott

PalSoc demonstrators on the steps of the LSE building, urging boycott

Tensions between the London School of Economics' Israel and Palestine societies have risen after a surge in anti-Israel activity on campus.

The two student union societies were praised earlier this month for a joint debate on an academic boycott of Israel but since then, the Palestine Society has launched a campaign to boycott the Eden Springs water company and invited self-styled rabbi, Ahron Cohen of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group to speak to students.

PalSoc president Zachariah Sammour said of Eden Springs: "We believe a progressive institution like LSE should not be conducting business with a company facilitating a state of affairs that is illegal and which poses a massive threat to world peace, namely the continued, illegal Israeli occupation.

"Rabbi Cohen's talk is intended to shed an interesting and little-known light on the relationship between Zionism and Judaism."

Last Thursday, PalSoc students stood outside the university in military fatigues and mock guns with a petition.

Gabi Cobrin, president of LSE Israel Society, said: "The chosen campaign and method of protest by PalSoc only served to trivialise a hugely complex and serious conflict, and was deeply offensive to anyone affected by it.

"The use of novelty guns and fake blood served to indicate PalSoc's flawed understanding of the conflict and inappropriate messages."

A scheduled lecture next month by Mr Cohen, who spoke at a Holocaust denial conference organised by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran in 2006, has been postponed by LSE after PalSoc advertised it on Facebook before it had been confirmed.

The university's Free Speech Group, comprising LSE academics, has given the go-ahead for the event but has set conditions, including no entry to non-students and PalSoc-funded security.

PalSoc has also come under fire for its blog, London School of Emancipation, which includes poems by student Sharaiz Chaudhry. He writes: "I fight against their oppression with a gun in my hand and a bomb on my chest."

Mark Gardner of the CST said: "This clearly has the potential for radicalisation, and LSE should address it."

Ms Cobrin said: "It is absolutely shocking that they have a blog where students are glorifying terrorism."

Last updated: 3:35pm, January 27 2011