Last week, University College London (UCL) released its report into an incident of anti-Israel activity that occurred in October. Hen Mazzig, a former Israeli soldier, was speaking at an event hosted by CAMERA on Campus, CAMERA – supported group UCL Friends of Israel and CAMERA-supported group, KCL Friends of Israel, when the room was surrounded by anti-Israel protesters. They refused to allow people to get into the room, banged on walls and shouted to drown out his speech. The police were called, and attendees left the event under police escort.
UCL investigated the event, and recommended that five of the protesters face disciplinary action. The report found that protesters had breached the right to free speech of the attendees, as well as physically and verbally intimidating the participants. The report also noted that certain chants, such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” explicitly call for the destruction of the State of Israel, and “could be interpreted as anti Semitic.” This is especially significant, as it acknowledges that anti-Israel protests often are anti-Semitic, something which is often denied. It is important that UCL recognized that extreme demonization and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state cannot be described as “legitimate criticism of Israel,” and they are actually anti-Semitic.
The report draws light to many of the core issues that face students who stand up for Israel on campus – a breach of their right to free speech, physical and verbal intimidation, and a counter-narrative that demonizes Israel and calls for its destruction, which is anti-Semitism. Hopefully the disciplinary action taken against the UCL students can serve as a warning to students at UCL and other campuses, and the situation will improve. CAMERA on Campus hopes that the situation on campuses change, and pro-Israel students get to enjoy same rights as everyone else; to be able to express their opinions without fear of harm, and without being hated for their religion and identity.