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Friday, 28 October 2016

Eyewitness report: Inside the UCL anti-Israel demonstration

Devora Khafi, the campus director of Stand With Us, was recovering today after allegedly being assaulted during the protest at University College London on Thursday night.
She described the moment she was confronted by up to 50 angry protesters.
Ms Khafi said: “I was standing outside the main doors of the room where the meeting was planned to take place, with a list of people to tick off as they arrived.
“All of a sudden, about 40-50 protesters appeared in front of us. They were in the same building as us. They approached and I was pushed against the doors by one of them – a girl.
“I was held there for about two minutes. Her back was to me and she was pressing me against the door. She didn’t move. Then her friend came and she moved. She took a step forward, but she still stood in front of me the whole time.
“I was feeling very claustrophobic. I managed to get outside the building where I had a bit of a panic attack. It was the feeling of claustrophobia - that was really terrible.
“Another of us, Liora Cadranel, who is co-president of UCL Israel Society, was assaulted. I didn’t see it happen because she was inside the room, but she got a pushed by a man. She’s OK, but shaken up.
“We’re all very shaken up. We go to a lot of Israel events on campus, but we’ve never seen protests on this scale before. We’re all thinking about what it means for Jewish students.
“We knew a protest was going to happen. A mass text was sent out to a lot of students beforehand. But we had no idea that it would be like this.
“During the actual event, when Hen Mazzig was speaking, two men managed to open a window and get into the room. They jumped over two girls sitting there, who were very shocked.
“When we were escorted out of the room in the face of all those protesters shouting at us, that was very intimidating. We felt more police should have been called to escort us out. Cameras were in our faces as well. I felt many there truly enjoyed making us feel scared. And that is what is truly worrying.
“I filed a report to the police. Liora filed a report. We’ll see what happens. It will be very disappointing if the people who did this don’t get banned or expelled.
“I go to a lot a Israel events. This one was very different. They weren’t afraid to hurt girls. These people are not afraid to do anything. It was unbelievable This was the worst experience I’ve ever had at an Israel event on campus.
But I am so proud of the Jewish students unifying and carrying on with the event. We didn't cower in the face of intimidation and stood up with our heads held high.”
Metropolitan Police have confirmed they are investigation an allegation of common assault made by a female student.
UCL has launched an inquiry into incidents at the event, which it said was “not violent”.

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