UCL students face disciplinary measures after October’s anti-Israel protest
It was concluded that both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students were hostile during the incident
Several students are set to face a disciplinary panel after confrontation between the Israeli and Palestinian societies at a talk run by Hen Mazzig, which the Tab reported on this October.
Hen Mazzig, an educational activist who travels to different campuses defending the actions of the Israeli Defence Force, was asked to host the talk by UCLU Friends of Israel Society.
The talk received a bad reception from members of the UCLU Friends of Palestine Society, who barricaded doors to the talk, which trapped the speaker and Israeli supporters.
Hen Mazzig himself commented: “I was genuinely fearful for my life. It is intolerable.”
Over 40 police officers were required to attend the scene, in which protestors shouted various insults and chants, such as “shame, shame, shame.”
After seeing video footage of the incident and taking witness statements, an internal investigation was initiated by UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur.
The investigation was led by Profressor Geraint Rees, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, and it was concluded that both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students were hostile during the incident.
He commented: “Both protestors and counter-protesters in the G03 lecture theatre were verbally hostile and occasionally verbally abusive towards each other.”
Despite the incident not causing any serious violence, Rees commented that it was “a sustained attempt to prevent free speech on campus within the law that went beyond a legitimate vigorous protest.”
Within Rees’ report, it was also revealed that UCL management overuled two decisions from the Student Union to prevent the talk from even happening.
Intially UCL’s Union rejected the application to host the talk on the grounds of the Friends of Israel Society’s “failure to disclose full information on the speaker.” An appeal made to this decision was rejected since no new evidence was presented within it.
The investigation found that UCL’s Friends of Israel Society stated in their application to the UCL Union that “security was not required… and that in the past, the speaker and topic have not generated any controversy.”
With the advice from UK Lawyers for Israel, UCL’s Friends of Israel Society applied directly to UCL’s President, Michael Arthur, who overturned the original decision made by the Union.
Recommendations within the report include: “A number of UCL students should be referred to the relevant officers for consideration of disciplinary action under the UCL student disciplinary code.”
As part of the report, the Provost commented: “We remain steadfast in our commitment to freedom of speech for all within the law, and I intend to explore the potential for a return visit by Hen Mazzig, as a tangible sign of that commitment.”
The full report on the incident can be read here.