Screaming campus activists tried to silence a humanitarian Israeli speaker by shouting him down, trapping his guests in a room and allegedly assaulting an attendee.
Pro-Palestine activists effectively blockaded a room on the campus of prestigious University College London being used to host Hen Mazzig, a child of refugees and former Israeli Defense Force officer who gives talks on his humanitarian efforts in the West Bank.
Video from the event shows them standing outside the room and attempting to shout down Mazzig’s talk, hosted by the Friends of Israel Society:
The protest continued for around two hours.
Afterwards, attendees needed a police escort to help them leave the room, outside of which dozens of protesters shouted “shame!” and jeered. The footage below shows guests leaving the event (from 1.40):
A female guest at the talk accused a protester of assaulting her. The Metropolitan Police confirmed that they are investigating – though he was not arrested at the scene.
The university is also investigating, and says that it will “consider disciplinary action” against any students who broke campus rules.
UCL’s Friends of Palestine Society said the protest was nothing to do with it – but nonetheless issued a press release defending the protest and describing it as “peaceful”.
Maya Garner, a student at the protest, claimed attendees were “free to leave at any time” and said the group was expressing their freedom of speech as well.
I had to be rushed out of the event at @UCL with security. The campus was the war zone and the streets are the safe place. I'm out. My god.
— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) October 27, 2016
Speaking to Heat Street in the wake of the event, Mazzig said that in years of giving similar talks, this was the most extreme response he has received.
He said: “Last night was truly radical attack on me. I did the event – but there was an angry mob screaming. It was going to be a two-hour speech but we ended up doing about 20 minutes.”
In the wake of the event, the Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted footage of the event and said “free speech was shut down”.
University authorities condemned the protest in a statement to Heat Street, saying they “fiercely support the right to exercise free speech” and that their security staff “did all they could” to ensure the event went ahead.
— Board of Deputies (@BoardofDeputies) October 27, 2016