The representative body of British Jews called on University College London to sanction students who disrupted an event organized by supporters of Israel.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews issued its statement Friday about an event at UCL the previous night in which “a hate-filled mob supporting the worst kind of extremism in the Middle East once again trampled on free speech at a leading UK campus,” the board’s vice president, Marie van der Zyl, wrote in a statement.
The police were called and the venue was changed several times as pro-Palestinian activists shouted slogans that prevented the event from starting, and then physically blocked the entrance to prevent the audience and organizers from leaving, according to the board.
In a series of videos from the event, the protesters can be seen banging on the windows and the door to the hall, shouting “Free, free Palestine,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as well as “5,6,7,8, Israel’s a terror state.”
Outside the room, one attendee confronts a group of protesters who refuse to let him and others into the room to hear the speech.
Security guards can be seen blocking the door of the room to prevent the protesters from storming in, while generally trying to keep everyone calm.
Police arrived on the scene shortly after to escort the attendees out past the protesters, who yelled “Shame! Shame!” at them.
“We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests,” van der Zyl said of the incident, which Devora Khafi, campus director of StandWithUs UK, described as anti-Semitic.
“Last night I and fellow students were barricaded in by violent extremists,” Khafi wrote in a separate statement, detailing how she experienced the event. “Students under threat, holed up in a room, facing abuse and violence — just because they are Jewish.”
The event was organized by UCL Friends of Israel Society and King’s College London’s Israel Society with Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig, who is speaking at campuses on a trip sponsored by CAMERA. A few dozen students showed up for the event, as did a similar number of protesters.
“We call on UCL to initiate a strong disciplinary process against the perpetrators,” van der Zyl wrote. “We will be raising this across Government today and in a meeting with the Home Secretary on Monday. This abuse must have no place on our campuses.”
In a video broadcast on Facebook from inside the hall on Friday evening, Mazzig told followers: “The situation is really out of control, we’re hiding in a room and there are protesters outside.”
Posted by Sussex Friends Of Israel on Thursday, 27 October 2016
“I don’t think that even in my days in the IDF, it was as bad as it is right now, it’s really scary,” he said, adding that he had heard that some of the female Jewish supporters of the talk had been attacked by the protesters.
Last week, Universities UK, the umbrella group representing university heads, published a 114-page document on the steps that faculty should take to deal with hate crimes, including anti-Semitism, which affect students. British university bosses should work more closely with Jewish community leaders in order to “better understand antisemitism,” the report stated.