On the 3rd of November 2014, King’s College London’s Israel society hosted Lieutenant Hen Mazzig who had served in the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) for five years.
He is now the Director of Education at the Stand With Us group, a right-wing pro-Israeli group with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, whose aim is to ‘enhance Israel’s image in the eyes of the world.’ This is the same lobbying group that claims to have been behind the Trustee veto of the BDS motion that was passed at KCL Student’s Union last year, subverting the vote of over 300 hundred students to serve their political interests.
KCLSU received a number of complaints from students for not duly processing this controversial speaker, in line with KCLSU policy. The distress someone of this calibre can cause to students, especially Palestinians, is a strong reason for considering barring him from speaking.
KCL Action Palestine champions free speech but not when this tries to whitewash a 2,000 people massacre or deny of one of the most disastrous catastrophes in recent history, the Nakba.
In response, from medicine to political science students, a silent disruption of the event in order to raise awareness of the crimes Hen tried to whitewash was organised. With the help of KCL Action Palestine, students mobilised to attend the meeting. Around 50 of us sat down and listened to twenty minutes of what the former IOF soldier had to say.
As he spoke about rockets being launched into Israel during the latest massacre with a map on the background which did not even recognise the existence of the West Bank, students stood up with flags, kufifyehs and the names of families of those murdered in the summer and recently in the West Bank.
Students left the room more than half empty. A banner was held up with the names and figures of how many Palestinians had been killed in the summer.
We were then escorted out of the room by the safe space policy monitors as the speakers shouted us to stay and engage. Problem is it is not us that have to engage, but Palestinians. Palestinians are being deliberately silenced and killed every day, it is them who have to be given a voice by the Israeli Occupation.
A video we have compiled of the event and our silent protest action will follow shortly to substantiate our claims.
After the protesting students exited the lecture theatre, former soldier Hen Mazzig is quoted to have said that the reason that the peace process has failed is because “This is the mentality.” We call on Hen Mazzig to explain to the students of KCL what exactly is ‘this mentality’ and to stand denounce the war crimes of his organisation.
In the same way that pro-Palestinian student activists at KCL staged this protest, similar actions would have been staged at a member of the US army speaking at KCL. Members of the armed forces who have engaged in occupation and killings are highly controversial speakers that even organisations such as Amnesty International do not welcome in our campus.
Students have the right to peacefully voice their opposition in creative ways against the normalisation of Military personnel on our campus.
We would like to thank all the fifty students present in the protest. KCL students have shown they do not tolerate apartheid apologists nor speakers trying to whitewash the crimes of a brutal occupation.