Pro-Israel activist Hen Mazzig booed at Vassar College

"Students for Justice in Palestine at Vassar rejects Mazzig’s presence on this campus and VOICE’s role in obscuring Israel’s settler colonial project," SJP at Vassar wrote on Facebook.

Hen Mazzig (photo credit: HEN MAZZIG)
Hen Mazzig
(photo credit: HEN MAZZIG)
Pro-Israel activist Hen Mazzig was shouted down while speaking to students at Vassar College. Members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Vassar chanted "from the river to the sea" as Mazzig attempted to give his lecture entitled, “The Indigenous Jews of the Middle East: Forgotten Refugees.”
Prior to the event, the group also published a statement about Mazzig's lecture, condemning his presence on campus.
"Students for Justice in Palestine at Vassar rejects Mazzig’s presence on this campus and VOICE’s role in obscuring Israel’s settler colonial project."
"I walked into the room at 5:30 p.m. when the event was supposed to start, the doors were closed, people were inside, they introduced me... and as I started speaking they started chanting," Mazzig said. He added that as the chants began, a few school administrators walked out of the room towards where the students were protesting, but he is not sure what the administrators did.
Mazzig posted a video of the incident on Twitter, writing: "Tonight, as I spoke about how anti-Zionists hung my great grandfather in Iraq, anti-Zionists chanted for my death at Vassar College in NY. (Note: “from the river to the sea” is a chant used by Hamas when they call for the genocide of all Jews) Am Israel Chai [may the nation of Israel live!]."
He posted a second video in which protesters can clearly be heard chanting "Israel is an Apartheid state."

When asked if he thought that the students were using the slogan on purpose, Mazzig said, "They know that the Jewish community, by and large, has a problem with this statement."
Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley said that, "We have protocols that allow for peaceful protest. At the core of these protocols is our unwavering belief that we cannot have a free exchange of ideas if we do not allow diverse perspectives to be heard. Students today knowingly violated those protocols, which is unacceptable. We will follow our internal processes to address the situation."
SJP at Vassar issued a statement after Mazzig's talk, describing the event.
"At around 5:40 pm, we began chanting outside the doors of the talk, yelling: 'From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,' 'How do you spell justice? BDS!,' 'From Kashmir to Palestine, occupation is a crime,' 'Stop the killing, stop the hate, Israel is an apartheid state,' and 'When I say free, you say Palestine! Free - Palestine!'” the statement said.
"We played music by Palestinian artists, passed out flyers explaining our position, and spoke with attendees. Only a handful of students attended the event, outnumbered by administrators, professors and staff."

A week after the event Bradley issued a second statement in which she condemned the group's chants.
"I have spent time speaking with and learning from students, faculty, alumnae/i, and experts in the field, and I now believe the use of the chant—in this way, directed at this speaker—crossed the line into antisemitism," Bradley wrote.
Bradley said that the "protesters chose a chant that can be understood to be calling for the eradication of the State of Israel and is highly intimidating to Israelis and Jews, and directed it to an Israeli speaker discussing his perspective on Indigenous Jews."
The group accused Mazzig of approaching two of the protesters and "asking them provocative questions while a man whom he appeared to know discretely filmed the students on his phone, without their knowledge or consent."
“When I returned from the bathroom, two students approached me and I invited them to join the talk. But they said they reject my existence on their campus, and one of them said that as a white, queer Jew she opposed me,” Mazzig told The Jerusalem Post.
"Conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism is itself an antisemitic tactic, as it falsely represents the Jewish community and tells them what they ought to believe," the group wrote. "This misrepresentation erases the brave work of many Jewish people who actively speak out against Israeli apartheid. False accusations of antisemitism directed at activists acting in solidarity with Palestinians distract from real instances of antisemitism."
Prior to the event, the group accused Mazzig of "pinkwashing," which the organization describes as " the tactic of diverting attention away from the occupation of Palestinian land and Israel’s apartheid regime through Israel’s branding of itself as LGBTQ-friendly."
They said that "No matter how many pride parade pictures and drag race memes Mazzig posts, his queerness will never make up for the violence underlying his advocacy for a settler colonial occupying state."
The Post reached out to the Students for Justice in Palestine, which has yet to comment.