University College London has published the findings of its investigation into the events which took place last October at a UCLU Friends of Israel event, where protestors disrupted a speech given by Hen Mazzig.
My comment, February 3, 2017, The Jewish Chronicle:
I’ve been a speaker and advocate for my country for over five years. I’ve experienced difficult audiences and tough questions but never anything like what happened at my UCL event
This week, UCL issued a report on the incident following three months of investigation, without taking any account from me.
The report is thoroughly done by Professor Geraint Rees, but it’s severely lacking in accuracy, as it doesn’t describe the horrors of the night in a way that does justice to how extreme the incident was.
It attempts to equate the actions of an angry mob with the victims of the angry mob and in doing so fails to acknowledge the true motivation of the protesters: antisemitism.
Somewhat absurdly, the chanting of the mob calling for violent intifada was described as a “legitimate and legal protest”.
To the credit of Prof Rees, he did note: “The only chant that was explicit enough to address was: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’… this chant appears to be calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”
One of the proposed solutions was to appoint an “interfaith champion” to consider “how best to prevent antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents on campus.”
This proposal is almost an insult to the students — and myself — who were threatened that night. It equates the clear-cut antisemitism motivating irrational hate and violence against Jewish students with “Islamophobia” — an issue which, while important, is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.
It’s disturbing that universities are perfectly willing to tackle homophobia, racism, sexism, and any other hatred head-on, as they should, but when it comes to antisemitism they shy away from taking serious action.
Although I did not expect much from the investigation, I am pleased that disciplinary action will be taken against five anti-Israel students.
If I were invited to speak at UCL again I would do it, but not without fear of being attacked by students.
I don’t blame UCL for the attack, but the report is simply not enough because it doesn’t address the root of the problem — the cancer that is festering in so many universities, and that cancer is antisemitism.