Dozens of police officers were called to University College London (UCL) on Thursday evening after anti-Israel protesters targeted an event organised by pro-Israel advocacy groups, according to initial reports.
Israeli activist, Hen Mazzig, was addressing an event at UCL hosted by the Friends of Israel student group, when anti-Israel protesters from the Friends of Palestine Society tried to stop the speech.
Loudly chanting “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free”, the protesters surrounded the room the event was being held in and tried to climb through the windows.
Attendees were subsequently locked in the room for the duration of the talk as footage showed protestors shouting through the windows, yelling “shame” and “murderers” and intimidating attendees.
They were joined by activists from Friends of al-Aqsa, an organisation with a record of publishing writers with a history of antisemitic views, such as Israel Shamir and the Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.
The group’s founder, Ismail Patel, has said: “Hamas is no terrorist organization…we salute Hamas for standing up to Israel”.
In the end, attendees were escorted out by police officers, who were taking reports from people who claimed to have been assaulted. Both sides also engaged in shouting outside of the room.
Liora Cadranal, who organised the event, told Jewish News: “There was lots of screaming and banging on the doors. We all felt scared and struggled to concentrate on the talk. It was manic”.
Councillor Lewis Barber, a student at UCL, wrote on Facebook: “The events I saw last night were utterly outrageous; we were unlawfully trapped in a room, we were surrounded by assaults and racist chants; and eventually escorted by the Metropolitan Police for our very physical safety.We owe a huge debt to our police force – but I cannot believe this is London in the year 2016.”
Elliot Miller, Student Rights’ National Organiser, attended the event after hearing a protest was going to take place, and encountered a very intimidating atmosphere.
He said after the event:‘‘Students who deprive others of basic rights through intimidating protest should be disciplined. Student Rights will stand for personal safety and basic liberties and combat bigotry at every opportunity. At present, Jews all too often find they have no safe space on campus, and when confronted with aggressive and violent protesters, universities often fail to adequately provide the necessary security.”