Friday, February 28, 2020

Police were summoned to the University College London (UCL) last Thursday evening after pro-Palestinian protesters tried to forcefully shut down a pro-Israel event and trapped attendees in the room.

Hen Mazzig, a former humanitarian affairs officer in the Israeli military, was speaking at an event organized by the student group Friends of Israel when protesters affiliated with the Friends of Palestine Society stormed the event while shouting slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The chant refers to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, entirely replacing Israel.

Protesters banged on windows and doors in an effort to enter the barricaded room. Footage from the scene showed two men jumping in through a window and laying down on the floor. They were eventually removed by security.

Police took reports from attendees who said they had been assaulted, including two women who said protesters pushed them against a door. Footage showed multiple protesters shouting at attendees in close proximity and forcefully pushing smartphone cameras before their faces.

“There was lots of screaming and banging on the doors. We all felt scared and struggled to concentrate on the talk. It was manic,” event organizer Liora Cadranel told the Jewish News.

“We were trapped in the room with Hen and only one security guard,” added Hadar Langerman, a student at King’s College London. “I was holding the door closed, trembling the entire time. Suddenly, two Palestinian protesters managed to jam the window open and jumped into the room, screaming. I felt ambushed in a whirlwind of chaos.”

Mazzig managed to speak for 20 minutes despite the interruptions, and attendees danced and jointly sang Israel’s national anthem amid the chanting. Participants were escorted outside by police officers after the event concluded.

Over 20 police officers were on the scene by 8:00 p.m., bystanders told the Jewish News.

Elliot Miller, national organizer at the anti-campus extremism group Student Rights, criticized the protesters for trampling on the rights of fellow students.

‘‘Students who deprive others of basic rights through violent means should be penalized, disciplined and ultimately punished. We will stand for personal safety and basic liberties—and combat bigotry at every opportunity,” he said.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement on Friday condemning the protesters’ behavior. “A hate-filled mob supporting the worst kind of extremism in the Middle East once again trampled on free speech at a leading U.K. campus,” said board vice president Marie van der Zyl.

“We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests,” she added. “We call on UCL to initiate a strong disciplinary process against the perpetrators. We will be raising this across government today and in a meeting with the Home Secretary on Monday. This abuse must have no place on our campuses.”

The incident came just one week after an umbrella group for university heads in the U.K. published a 114-page report on steps administrators should take to combat racial hatred on campuses.

By Staff

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