Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig invited back to UCL after violent 2016 protest

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Israeli speaker Hen Mazzig invited back to UCL after violent 2016 protest

University invites ex-IDF soldier as an 'explicit demonstration of its commitment to free speech', while anti-Israel students condemn the move

A former Israeli soldier whose speaking engagement on a London University campus in 2016 drew violent protests and a major investigation is set to return in 2018.

Pro-Israel activist Hen Mazzig is due to speak again at University College, London (UCL) as part of a UK tour despite his previous visit garnering such ill will.

A disciplinary probe at the time found fault on both sides, and this week the University’s Friends of Palestine Society condemned Mazzig’s invitation, promising to “make our voices heard when we say #notonourcampus”.

Facilitated by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Mazzig will address UCL students, as well as visit Radlett United Synagogue.

UCL bosses are reported to have restricted access to the event to UCL students and staff only, in order to prevent protests getting out of control.

In October 2016, Jewish students had to be escorted from the room where Mazzig was due to speak, amid a stand-off between pro- and anti-Israel protesters. Police were called amid claims of common assault and verbal intimidation by pro-Palestinian protesters.

A number of students at University College London (UCL) then faced a disciplinary panel in relation to the violent demonstration.

A university spokesperson told the Jewish News, that the invitation extended to Mazzig is “an explicit demonstration of its commitment to free speech.”

However, CAMERA on Campus UK Associate Tamara Berens criticised the decision to limit attendance to only UCL staff and students. She said: “UCL wants to show they are standing up for free speech, but preventing the attendance of the victims from last year’s event as part of precautions against another protest shows they are cowing to the anti-Israel demonstrators.”

Following the announcement of Hen’s return to UCL, a petition has been launched to ‘Let Hen Mazzig speak to students from across London without disruption’.

Launched by UCL Friends of Israel Society, KCL (King’s College London) Israel Society, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) Jewish Society, the campaign, which has so far garnered more than 200 signatures, seeks to allow Jewish students from across London universities to attend the event.

Demonstrators disrupting an event with Israeli speaker at UCL campus.
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