UCL to discipline anti-Israel mob
A LEADING university has pledged to discipline students who hounded an Israeli speaker on its campus.
Hen Mazzig, a former IDF commander in the West Bank, was escorted away from University College London last October after anti-Israel activists broke into a lecture hall and shouted abuse.
UCL this week published a 28-page report detailing the recommendations made by a senior academic who investigated the episode.
Professor Geraint Rees criticised the conduct of anti-Israel protesters, saying individuals had “planned to prevent the event taking place; created a hostile, aggressive and intimidatory atmosphere; and conducted their protest noisily and aggressively such that many students, staff and other attendees felt intimidated by their behaviour”.
Activists had planned to “prevent the legitimate exercise of free speech”.
However, the report also criticised the behaviour of “a small minority” of those who attended the Friends of Israel Society’s session, saying some had “engaged in aggressive and physically intimidatory behaviour”.
MrMazzigwascriticalof theoutcome but Jewish students and communal groups broadly welcomed the findings.
Mr Mazzig said: “The fact the report has come out three months after the event and it was delayed several times is troubling for me.
“I also find it sad that UCL haven’t reached out to me once even to ask for my reaction to the event, or my experience of it. As a speaker there, I hope they will enact some of the recommenda- tions, but I’m not sure I would feel safe to go back to UCL after what happened to me and the students at the event.”
UCL said no individual was contacted directly, but a public call for evidence was issued when the inquiry was launched.
The report recommended that five protesters who were UCL students “should be referred to the relevant officers for consideration of disciplinary action”. The development of a code of conduct for visitors to the campus and the need for the university to review how high-risk events are run will also be considered. The use of inflammatory chanting was noted by the inquiry, in particular the words “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
The report said the chant “appears to be calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. This goes beyond calls for a ‘free Palestine’” and could be “considered antisemitic”.
Professor Michael Arthur, UCL Provost, met Jewish student and communal organisations on Tuesday to discuss the report’s findings.
Liora Cadranel, UCL JSoc president when the incident took place, said Prof Arthur had been “reassuring”.
“He, together with his team, has approached the investigation with the utmost of professionalism with no biases,” she said.
In a joint statement, Jewish groups including the Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students praised the report as “thorough, detailed and balanced”. They said it was “a warning to anyone considering indulging in such activity in the future”.
Devora Khafi, a Jewish student who claimed she was assaulted at the event, said:“Therecommendationscontribute topreventinganythinglikethishappening again. They provide a set boundary to the limits protests can take.”
Prof Arthur said UCL would “explore the potential for a return visit by Hen Mazzig as a tangible sign” of UCL’s commitment to freedom of speech.
The clashes at UCL in October