‘‘I do not think that the university should condone violence such as this in letting him justify his actions at our university.’’
‘‘I think that KCL has a responsibility to prevent its students from feeling threatened and that by prohibiting Mazzig to speak they could avoid much unnecessary controversy that is likely to follow.’’
‘‘It really is unacceptable for someone who actively partook in the recent massacre (or any of the attacks on Palestinians) to be allowed to speak at our university.’’
‘‘I do not see any harm in not allowing this man, who some may accuse of murder, to speak at their event.’’
[The quotes above are short extracts from a series of complaints levelled against King’s College London’s pro-Israel student group.]
What is free speech and what is hate speech? Who has a right to speak — and does anyone not deserve this right? Does it count as free speech when someone shares their life story? And is it hate speech when a nation is demonized — while its national rights are consistently challenged by boycotts, propaganda and sheer lies?
A pro-Israel society at King’s College London sought to show another side of the Arab-Israeli conflict by hosting a series of talks, one of them given by an IDF commander who served in COGAT, the humanitarian unit of the Israeli army. These students specifically requested to share the story of an Israeli who worked to save lives of civilians from ‘the other side.’ But these students were attacked for that; attacked by bigotry and racism. The speaker, Lt. (res.) Hen Mazzig, was accused of murder. His mere existence apparently posed a threat — and of course, offended all peace-loving students.
‘‘Not only will Mazzig’s presence on campus alienate and threaten our Palestinian students but it will also offend students adhering to pacifist beliefs.’’
At King’s College London, a University with an enormous ‘war studies’ department, only the presence of an Israeli will ‘offend’ pacifists. Because you see, Hen Mazzig, who wants to speak at King’s College, is a threat to peace.
This 25 year old Israeli — whose family were ethnically cleansed from Iraq and N. Africa in the 50’s for being Jewish — is a threat.
This young man — who at the age of 12, was almost blown up in an ice cream shop by a Palestinian terrorist — is a threat.
This 18 year old teenager — who chose to serve in the Humanitarian unit of the Israeli army (instead of combat unit), because he wanted to help bring peace closer– is a threat.
This 21 years young second Lt. who saved the life of a Palestinian kid from Gaza, (and even coordinated the reunion with his family in Ramallah), is a threat.
This 24 year old Israeli who wishes to fight for the civil rights of the most oppressed minorities in the world, the Jewish people- is a threat.
Not Hamas, the terror group, who bombarded his home and family with more than 20,000 rockets in 8 years. Not the tens of thousands of people marching down the streets of London calling to ‘bring down Israel.’ Not the BDS movement calling to boycott Israel based on lies and propaganda. Not the extremists who want to enforce a fundamentalist interpretation of sharia law across Britain (who by the way, often speak at King’s College). The Student Union in KCL is afraid of Hen Mazzig. They are afraid of me.
I have never killed anyone — but my character has been assassinated by KCLSU. I was found guilty of being Israeli. For these bigoted students who seek to shut down free speech, my existence is a crime. My case was never presented to them – nor am I even allowed to present my case since my mere presence will ‘threaten and alienate.’ They have no idea about my beliefs, my experiences or what I plan to speak about — yet I am still guilty of whatever they accuse me of…
Thankfully, there was no cancelation ofMonday evening’s speaking engagement – one of the many such engagements during my brief tour with StandWithUs UK.
Britain has a long history of upholding liberal and democratic values – and when I speak at King’s, I’ll be sure to reiterate their importance.
As the rowdy folks in Parliament might put it, hear hear for democracy, freedom, peace and equality!
Lt. Hen Mazzig of StandWithUs will be speaking at KCL’s Strand Campus in the Nash Lecture Theatre (K2.31) on Monday, November 3rd, 7PM
This piece was co-authored with Jonathan Hunter, UK Campus Director of StandWithUs.