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Posted on Nov 1, 2013

London School of Economics

London School of Economics


Dr John Chalcraft, who sits on the management committee of LSE’s Middle East Centre, spoke in favour of an academic boycott of Israel in January 2011.[1] Dr Chalcraft described Israel as an “apartheid state” while supporting the motion ‘This house believes in an academic boycott of Israel’, which was defeated by around 60% of students in a vote.[2] Speaking against the motion was Professor Hochauser, who questioned how Dr Chalcraft could sit on the board of the Middle East Centre whilst favouring an academic boycott of Israel.[3] Dr Chalcraft is the treasurer of the British Committee for Universities for Palestine, which through its work calling for an academic boycott of Israel promises to put pressure on the EU and UK government for the exclusion of Israel from the European Research Centre, and encourage academics to break professional links with Israel.[4] [5] Dr Chalcraft’s vocal support for a boycott of Israeli universities is contrary to the Middle East Centre’s stated aim of “establishing and cultivating ties with Middle East institutions” as well as its “values of impartiality and academic freedom”.[6] [7]

Dr Martha Mundy chaired an event with Abdel Bari Atwan in December 2010, a Palestinian journalist who has remarked that he would dance in Trafalgar Square if Iran bombed Israel.[8] Video footage of the event shows Mr Atwan repeatedly referring to the “Jewish lobby” and stating, when asked to condemn Hamas and Hizbollah, “Do you want me to condemn people for resisting the occupation? Did Hamas commit ethnic cleansing?”[9] Mundy is also involved with the British Committee for Universities for Palestine, and has written an article for The Independent entitled ‘Why we support the Israeli university boycott’.[10]

Dr Reza Pankhurst, who was employed as a graduate teaching assistant at LSE in 2010, is an active member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a misogynist, homophobic, totalitarian organisation that is subject to a no platform policy by the National Union of Students.[11] [12] Pankhurst’s position at the university was criticised by the Quilliam Foundation, which commented, “Hizb ut-Tahrir’s infiltration of internationally renowned universities such as the LSE makes a mockery of universities’ claims to be tackling extremism on campus.”[13] LSE has defended, however,  the decision to employ Dr Pankhurst, and released a statement: “No concerns about his conduct have been raised and we are not aware that he is a member of any proscribed organisation or has broken any laws or LSE regulations. All students and staff are entitled to freedom of expression within the law.”[14] Students, employees and societies at LSE signed a statement in support of Dr Pankhurst, which accused the media of a “witch-hunt”.[15] Mira Hammad, chair of LSE’s Palestine Society, said that criticism of Dr Pankhurst was “a reflection of how Islamophobia has become an acceptable form of racism”.[16]



In 2001, Sergey Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin’s then-chief spokesperson on the conflict, accused groups at LSE of supporting and funding Chechen groups.[17] While he did not accuse the university administration of being complicit, he identified the LSE as “one of a number of places in the world where extremists were recruiting followers”.[18] A spokeswoman for the LSE said the university was “astonished” by Mr. Yastrzhembsky’s claims and asked for any supporting evidence for them to be provided.[19]

The Times reported in 2010 that LSE students had been recruited by al-Shabaab, a Somali extremist organisation with links to al-Qaeda.[20]


In 2003, the late Al Qaeda spokesperson, Anwar Al-Awlaki, was advertised as a speaker at LSE for a talk organized between the Muslim Association of Britain and the LSE Islamic Society.[21]

In 2009, a Union General Meeting motion was passed to twin with the Islamic University of Gaza.[22] The Islamic University of Gaza has been accused of having close links with Hamas. It has been described as “the brain trust and engine room” of Hamas.[23] Palestinian security forces seized assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades during a raid of the university in January 2007, and the Israeli government has alleged that the university’s laboratories to develop and produce explosives and rockets and has even run a course on explosive making.[24]

In December 2010, the LSE Palestinian Society organised a student event with Abdel Bari Atwan in December 2010, who, as previously mentioned, has said that he would dance in Trafalgar Square if Iran bombed Israel[25] and made repeated references to the “Jewish lobby”.[26] The LSE Student Union’s anti-racism officer, Ben Grabiner, challenged Mr Atwan on his comments and accused him of anti-Semitism on the basis that Mr Atwan had made accusations of Jewish control of the world, and blamed Jewish people as a collective for imagined or real atrocities.[27] Mr. Grabiner’s remarks were met with a cry of “You are a Nazi!” from an audience member.[28]

In January 2011, the LSESU Palestine Society invited Ahron Cohen of Neturei Karta for a speaker event.[29] Mr. Cohen told the Sunday Times in 2006, that those who died in the Holocaust “deserved it”, and justified the Mumbai terror attacks as divinely ordained.[30] [31] The event was eventually cancelled, with the LSE Press Office explaining that the “organisers have not followed the procedures required to hold an event on LSE premises”.[32]

At an LSE ski trip in 2011, students played a Nazi-themed drinking game, in which playing cards were arranged in a swastika shape, and players were required to “salute the Fuhrer”.[33] Even more worryingly, a Jewish student who objected to the game suffered a broken nose following a fight. The student who suffered the injury told the Guardian, “it wasn’t so much the game that offended me, as much as the anti-Semitic gibes that went with it”.[34] The LSE Athletics Union president condemned the action, and the LSE released a statement promising to take disciplinary action should the allegations prove true, adding, “We do not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other form of racism”.[35] [36]

In February 2012, the LSESU Islamic Society invited Haitham Al Haddad to speak, although the event was eventually cancelled.[37] Mr Haddad has expressed the view that the death penalty for apostasy in the context of an Islamic state makes “perfect sense” and is reported to have branded Jews “the enemies of God, and the descendants of apes and pigs”.[38] [39] Mr. Haddad also sits as a judge on the Islamic Sharia Council, which has produced judgements, such as this one, that “angels curses are upon those who do not respond to husbands sexual needs because the purpose of a woman is to fulfill that and for that they are made in order to produce offspring.”[40]



Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted of murdering Daniel Pearl, attended, but did not graduate from, LSE in the early 1990s.[41] He later joined Harkat-al-Mujahideen and was invited to attend al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.[42] He served time in prison for kidnapping British tourists in India in 1994.[43] He was also linked to shooting in Calcutta that killed five policemen in 2002 and named as one of key financiers of Mohammed Atta, although these allegations have not been proven. [44]

Nadia Marques De Carvalho, who attended the LSE from 2010-2013, was criticised by The Jewish Chronicle over her support for extremist organisations and hate preachers.[45] [46] In 2010, Carvalho organised a student event with Abdel Bari Atwan, who has said that he would dance in Trafalgar Square if Iran bombed Israel.[47] On her Twitter feed, Carvalho has expressed her admiration for Raed Saleh, an Islamist preacher who has said that, “A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened!”[48] Saleh has referred to homosexuality as “a great crime” and claimed that Jews baked with the blood of gentile children.[49]

External Funding and Academic Links: Links to Libya and Gaddafi

LSE has maintained a number of links with Libya, including its Global Governance research centre accepting a donation of £1.5million in 2009 from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which was chaired by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was awarded a PhD by the school the same year.[50] According to its former website (it no longer exists), the Foundation “carries out developmental and humanitarian activities in the social, economic, cultural and human rights fields.”[51] LSE only ever received £300,000 and made the decision not to accept any further money from Libya.[52] Professor David Held, who, until his resignation, was a co-director of the center, said upon receiving the donation, “It is a generous donation from an NGO committed to the promotion of civil society and the development of democracy.”[53] However, following escalating violence in Libya and Dr Gaddafi’s February 2011 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, in which he defended his father’s position and promised to “destroy all these elements of sedition”, Professor Held announced that LSE Global Governance had suspended its North Africa Program.[54] [55]

LSE academics were targeted by consultancy firm Monitor Group, which was hired by Libya to “enhance international understanding and appreciation of Libya”, as well as to “introduce Muammar Gaddafi as a thinker and intellectual”.[56] Notably Anthony Giddens, an Emeritus professor at LSE and former Director of the university, visited Libya and met with Muammar Gaddafi.[57] His visit resulted in articles in a number of publications including El Pais, The New Statesman and The Guardian, in which he famously wrote, “Libya could end up as the Norway of North Africa.”[58]

LSE hosted Muammar Gaddafi, via video link, in December 2010. Gaddafi, who was introduced by Alia Brahimi, a research fellow at LSE Global Governance, as “Brother Leader”, voiced his opinion at the conference that the Lockerbie bombings were a “fabrication and creation” of Thatcher and Regan.[59] [60] Earlier in the year, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi gave a Ralph Miliband Lecture on Libya.[61] Outside the lecture theatre, a fight broke out between pro-Gaddafi supporters and anti-Gaddafi protesters, resulting in the police being called in, and one man being injured.[62]

Furthermore, LSE received £2.2 million to train Libyan bureaucrats.[63] [64] According to leaked cables, American diplomats were told in September 2009 by Libya’s National Economic Development Board that the board was “co-operating with the U.K. government and the London School of Economics, among other U.K. institutions, on an exchange program to send 400 ‘future leaders’ of Libya for leadership and management training.”[65] Charlotte Gerada, then General Secretary of the LSE Student Union, described the program as “the last straw” and as “sleazy”.[66] Indeed, revelations about LSE’s links elicited an enormous response from LSE staff and students who strongly condemned the university’s connections with the Gaddafi regime. The late Fred Halliday expressed concerns in 2009, arguing that the Gaddafi Foundation was a “legal fiction” and highlighting that at that time Libya had “made no significant progress in protecting the rights of citizens, or migrant workers and refugees, and remains a country run by a secretive, erratic and corrupt elite”. [67] In February 2011, students stormed the office of then-LSE Director Howard Davies, occupied the Senior Common Room, and held a rally expressing their “revulsion at the recent violence and gross violations of human rights in Libya”.[68] They demanded that the £300,000 be returned to the people of Libya, and that the LSE refrain from cooperating with dictatorial regimes, implicated in human rights violations.[69]

As a result of LSE’s links to Libya, Howard Davies resigned in March 2011, citing “errors of judgment”.[70] That same month, LSE announced that they had established an independent external inquiry into LSE’s relationship with the Libyan regime, to be conducted by Lord Woolf.[71] The Woolf inquiry was published in October 2011, and concluded that, “had Saif proved to be the reformer he was predicted to become, the LSE may well have been lauded as having contributed to a positive change on the world stage” but criticised the way in which LSE failed to adequately monitor its growing connection with Libya.[72]





[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.











[14] Ibid.


[16] Ibid.


[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.








[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.




[32] Ibid.


[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.






[41] Glees, Anthony and Pope, Chris, When Students Turn to Terror: Terrorist and Extremist Activity on University Campuses, The Social Affairs Unit, 2005.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.







[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid.








[61] Ibid.




[65] Ibid.

[66] Ibid.



[69] Ibid.


[71] Ibid.


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