Chaos erupts as anti-Israel activists trap Jewish students inside UK lecture hall

Police were summoned to the event at University College London (UCL) shortly thereafter and escorted the Jewish students from the building.

October 28, 2016 17:42
3 minute read.
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Flags are seen above a souvenir kiosk near Big Ben clock at the Houses of Parliament in central London. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Chaos erupted at a London University lecture hall on Friday after anti-Israel protestors crashed an event hosted by Jewish students, trapping attendees inside,  according to The Jewish Chronicle.

Police were summoned to the event, which was sponsored by CAMERA, at University College London (UCL) shortly thereafter and escorted the Jewish students from the building.

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At least one Jewish audience member claimed she had been "assaulted" at the event hosted by UCL's Friends of Israel group and King’s College London’s Israel Society.

“I was assaulted. We were attacked. But freedom will prevail. @HenMazzig did a great job sharing his story amidst a whirlwind of hate,” Devora Khafi tweeted following the incident.

According to the Chronicle, the event was thrown into turmoil after protestors entered the lecture hall chanting "shame, shame" while waving Palestinian flags as IDF veteran Hen Mazzig was delivering a speech.

Mazzig, an openly gay IDF commander who served in Israel's armed forces for five years, also expressed his shock through Twitter, writing: "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."

Video footage from the event shows police officers escorting Jewish students from the event amid screams from the pro-Palestinian activists, the Chronicle noted.

Police added that they remained at the venue until the event "ended safely," with an investigation being opened into the assault allegations.

In repose to the event, UCL issued a statement saying it does not "condone of intimidation or violence under any circumstances and, as a university with a longstanding radical history, we fiercely support the right to exercise free speech within the law."

The statement added: "Both UCL and UCLU have a code of practice governing the participation of external speakers at events held at UCL. It is clearly stated in UCL’s code of practice that the premises will not be denied to any individual on any ground connected with their beliefs. The code also requires speakers to behave lawfully and avoid any action or language which is offensive, provocative or a clear incitement to violence.”

The Israel embassy in London later expressed concern following the incident at UCL, reproaching the "shameful violence" documented at the event "aimed at preventing an Israeli speaker from engaging students."

"We are confident the university will be investigating those responsible,” the embassy added.

Chairmen of the parliamentary group Conservative Friends of Israel, MP Sir Eric Pickles, also released a statement stating: "The shameful events of last night provide another sad insight into the levels of intimidation and harassment that Jewish and Israeli students can experience on university campuses across the UK.

"Having spoken just the day before at a UCL Holocaust remembrance conference held in a suitably respectful atmosphere, it was concerning to see the vastly different response to a pro-Israel event at the same university.

"The apparent antisemitism lurking behind some hard-line anti-Israel 'activists' is a terrible indictment of the intolerance of some modern students. Free speech must be guaranteed and protected for all."

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