Opinion – Hen Mazzig: UCL protest resembled a scene from a horror film

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Opinion – Hen Mazzig: UCL protest resembled a scene from a horror film

When protesters tried to shout down an Israeli speaker with chants of 'intifada intifada', he was determined he would 'not be silenced'

Hen Mazzig is a former lieutenant in the Coordination of Government Activities in the Terrorities. He shares his story with campuses and Jewish communities around the world.

Hen Mazzig
Hen Mazzig

At 7.30pm last Thursday, I was inside the classroom together with about 25 people, mostly Jewish students. Four students suddenly broke into the room, jumping through a window.

The noise from outside was incessant: “Intifada, intifada!” I was almost killed when I was 12, during the Second Intifada – and traumatic memories flood back. “Where is Hen? Where is Hen? War criminal! Murderer! Shame!”

Although it sounds like a scene from a horror movie, this was just a simple event arranged by Jewish students with CAMERA – a group on campus committed to combating libels about the Jewish state at university campuses across the world. England was my last stop on an international speaking tour – and while my events in north America were a huge success, I knew London would be different.

Finally, at 7.45pm, I began my talk. The activists were furious – and chanted even louder. “Intifada, Intifada, Intifada!” Rap music was being played on a booming sound system. The police were outside, haplessly impotent. They were simply watching on the sidelines.

I was determined to continue, to not let them stop me from speaking. I told my story: about my Mizrahi heritage; how my family was expelled from the Middle East; my humanitarian work in COGAT; surviving a suicide bomb as a child. I struggled to speak above the noise of the protesters – but more than ever, of the thousands of talks I’ve given across the world, I poured out my soul.

I finished my talk – and reassured the crowd I would be glad to return. I will not be silenced- and they should not be silenced. “We won tonight,” I assured them. I asked everyone to stand tall. We all stood up and started singing Hatikvah.

I was soon rushed out of the campus, in a police coat by the police. They kept telling me: “Don’t look back, keep running.” It was as if
I were escaping a war zone.

That night has strengthened my resolve more than ever. The hateful mob reaffirmed my conviction that anti-Semitism remains alive – in Europe, North America and beyond. In 21st century Britain, Jews leaving a room to screams of “Shame! Shame! Shame!” is utterly horrifying.

I couldn’t sleep all night. I kept on thinking: how do we fight such hate speech? We fight bigotry and fanaticism by standing tall – but never being afraid. They must see that we are unbreakable.


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