In the past few months, the issue of free speech on liberal campuses in the United States became front page news after a serious of violent protests against conservative speakers.
Violent protesters in Middlebury College chased out Charles Murray and sent another professor to hospital with serious injuries. Heather Mac Donald, a conservative commentator, was forced to cut her speech short by students at Claremont McKenna College, Mac Donald described the protest by liberal students as "exercise of brute totalitarian force." A violent crowd attacked the venue where Gavin McInnes tried to speak at New York University. According to a police report, four vans with riot police were required to put down the disturbance. Ann Coulter, one of the most prominent conservatives, had to cancel her plans to speak at Berkeley University after a violent protest had erupted. The irony that Berkeley University, the cradle of the free speech movement, would erupt in violence against non-liberal speakers puzzled many. One editor quoted Abraham Lincoln's 1838 statement, "something of ill-omen...the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country."
There are, of course, many reasons that universities today cannot tolerate free speech. Over the last few decades, liberal arts became the citadel of radical teachings which enshrined minority grievances and victimization. Universities were forced to create “safe spaces” to protect students from speech that was deemed detrimental to their mental well-being. Conservative narratives have been considered harmful, hence banned from the campus.
Conservative speakers are not the first victims of liberals on campus. Student of Justice in Palestine (SJP) and their network of allies had pioneered the violent shout-downs of Israeli speakers on campus. In 2009 protesters disrupted a lecture by Ehud Olmert former Israeli Prime Minister hosted by the University of Chicago. In 2010 Michael Oren, the then Israeli ambassador to the U.S. was shouted down repeatedly at UC Irvine by 11 Muslim Student Union members. In 2015 Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a talk by Professor Moshe Halbertal at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Earlier in 2017, activists disrupted a lecture by Danny Danon, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN in Columbia University in New York.
In Britain, in 2008 former President Shimon Peres was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters in Oxford University. In 2011 Edinburgh University security officers had to be brought in after 50 protesters have shut down a lecture hosted by the University's Jewish society, by Ishmael Khaldi, the Israeli foreign minister's special advisor, he was interrupted by students chanting support for Palestinian refugees. In 2012 activists from SJP at Edinburgh University disrupted a lecture by Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK. In 2016, police had to accompany Jewish students from a lecture hall after they were trapped by anti-Israel protesters while attending the talk by Hen Mazzig, an Israeli speaker, at University College London.
The ostensible reason for not letting the Israelis speak was to protect the students for a narrative which may hurt them. In most cases, university authorities, which had created the “safe spaces,” declined to guarantee the safety of the speakers, turning the campus into “no-go zone” for Israeli spokespersons. Except for some Jewish organizations, neither the faculty nor the public had protested this suppression of free speech.
Ironically, the SJP borrowed this method from the violent fascist and Nazi student groups which had disrupted the lectures of Jewish professors before WWII in Germany and other countries in Europe. These tactics were so effective that most Jewish professors were forced to leave even before Hitler came to power in 1933, especially as university authorities would not guarantee their safety. Needless to say, very few non-Jewish professors and the public at large did protest the hounding of the Jewish faculty.
This is not to say that campuses in the United States and Great Britain would turn into a Nazi type dictatorship where only “approved narratives” are tolerated. But as the backlash against the shoddy treatment of conservative speakers continues, it is imperative to remember the proverbial Jewish canary in the coal mine.
BDS crowds disrupt Israeli UN envoy's lecture
Speaking before some 300 students at Columbia University in New York on Monday evening, Danny Danon’s lecture was disrupted after crowds of BDS activists assembled outside and barged their way in, before drowning his statements to the chants of ‘Free Palestine’; Danon: 'We will not be quiet in the face of lies that you spread about Israel.’
Itamar Eichner|Published: 14.02.17 , 11:14
Activists of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement (BDS) disrupted a lecture being delivered by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon Monday evening to some 300 students in Columbia University in New York.
Carrying signs urging boycotts against Israel, the vociferous activists drowned Danon’s speech to the chants of “Free Palestine, from the river to the sea,” “Israel is a terrorist state” and “Israel has no right to exist,” and the like.
BDS students attempt to muffle Danon's speech
About 100 activists assembled outside the lecture theater while screaming slogans against Danon, against Israel and against the immigration policies of President Trump.
Shortly thereafter, they barged their way into the theater to prevent it from going ahead.
In light of the calls of incitement from the activists, Danon turned to the student agitators directly.
“We will not be quiet in the face of lies that you spread about Israel. We will continue to make our voice heard and we will continue to insist on our righteous truth,” he said.
Danon then invited the activists to listen to his lecture. “Instead of inciting and lying, sit in the seats and maybe you will learn something.”
He went on to say that the slogans espoused by the students represented the same problems endemic to the Palestinian people.
“This is precisely the problem of the Palestinians. They lie, incite and don’t recognize Israel’s right to exist. But I have an announcement for those students—The people of Israel will never leave the Land of Israel,” Danon said to the sounds of a rapturous applause by pro-Israel students and neutral members of the audience.
Throughout the attempts to muffle his lecture, the pro-Israel students responded with their own booing against the hostile BDS crowd, before the latter were duly removed and distanced from the lecture theater.
Once the tensions had been abated, Danon addressed the distortion of facts prevailing in the UN, manifested most conspicuously by countless anti-Israel resolutions adopted by its members.
“With the help of the new administration in the US we will see a new era in the UN, an era in which Israel receives fair treatment like all countries in the world.”
Pro-Palestinian Activists Disrupt Talk by Israeli Scholar at University of Minnesota
Activists attempt to silence IDF ethics code co-author Moshe Halbertal at lecture; Police clear protesters and make three arrests, as incident sparks condemnation from university officials.
Beth Kissileff Nov 05, 2015 11:29 PM
Prof. Moshe Halbertal addressing the University of Minnesota Law School, November 3, 2015. Courtesy of the University of Minnesota Law School
Hundreds of British academics sign letter vowing to boycott Israel
Why the BDS campaign can’t tolerate Israeli moderates
Oxford Union backs motion opposing Israel boycott
Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a talk on Tuesday by Israeli philosopher and law professor Moshe Halbertal at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, witnesses and university officials said.
Halbertal, a co-author of the Israel Defense Force code of ethics, was scheduled to deliver a lecture on the protection of civilians in asymmetric warfare at the university’s law school but had trouble starting his talk as protesters stood up one by one to shout him down and scream slogans denouncing Israel.
Around 50 protesters were cleared from the hall but continued to loudly chant slogans outside. Police were called in and three people, none of them students, were arrested and cited for trespassing, according to a university spokesman.
Sami Rahamim, an undergraduate and the president of Students Supporting Israel at the University of Minnesota, wrote to Haaretz in an email that “this lecture was the first time I felt my safety was truly threatened” at the university.
Rahamim said the protesters chanted "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," and that “police had to lock to doors to keep protesters from charging back in, in what was the definition of harassment and intimidation.”
Pro-Palestinian protesters outside Halbertal's lecture.Courtesy of the University of Minnesota Law School
Halbertal, a prominent scholar who teaches philosophy and Jewish thought at the Hebrew University as well as law at New York University, was eventually able to deliver his talk and answer questions, including some from those who were critical of his views.
The protest kicked off a wave of condemnations from university officials, who said they would continue to invite Israeli speakers.
David Wippman, dean of the Law School, said he “never encountered anything like this in 25 years in academia.”
“I applaud students who are politically aware and active,” he said, but that however “passionate one feels on an issue” it is necessary to have the “capacity to engage in respectful dialogue and respect the free speech rights of others.”
He said he would refuse to “self-censor” and avoid inviting Israeli scholars, noting that such a decision would “play into what people who shout down speakers are trying to achieve.”
Wippman noted the talk was not even about Israel, and was a more general discussion on human rights and the law of war.
“I think he is an outstanding scholar and people should have listened to him,” Wippman said. “You learn a lot more from someone with whom you disagree than from someone who says the exact same thing you are already thinking, which is particularly critical in law school where we teach our students that there are multiple ways to view almost any issue.”
Dale Carpenter, professor of civil rights and civil liberties at the university, denounced the protest in an op-ed in the Washington Post and added in a telephone interview that “the people most hurt by a world in which it is acceptable to shout down speakers are the minorities and the unpopular segments.”
“We cannot allow that kind of ethos to reign,” he said.
Students for Justice in Palestine, one of the groups behind the protest, wrote on its Facebook page that it had interrupted the talk to confront Halbertal “about his support and justification of the war crimes that were committed in Gaza,” a reference to last year’s war between Israel and Hamas.
Halbertal declined to comment for this article.
11 Muslim Student Union members charged with disrupting Israeli ambassador's speech at UC Irvine
Orange County D.A. charges the students with conspiring to disrupt a meeting. The university has already suspended the organization and disciplined the students.
February 05, 2011|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times
The Orange County district attorney's office charged 11 students on Friday with conspiring to disrupt a meeting and speech at UC Irvine last year by the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
In a statement, Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said charges were filed because of an "organized attempt to squelch the speaker." He said the students "meant to stop this speech and stop anyone else from hearing his ideas, and they did so by disrupting a lawful meeting."
"We must decide whether we are a country of laws or a country of anarchy," Rackauckas said. "We cannot tolerate a preplanned violation of the law, even if the crime takes place on a school campus and even if the defendants are college students. In our democratic society, we cannot tolerate a deliberate, organized, repetitive and collective effort to significantly disrupt a speaker who hundreds assembled to hear."
The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine has denied planning to obstruct the event on Feb. 8, 2010. The so-called Irvine 11 are accused of disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Oren was shouted down repeatedly, and supporters cheered as students were escorted away by police. About 500 to 700 people attended the meeting, authorities said.
The Muslim Student Union was suspended by the university last year, and those involved in the disruptions were also disciplined by the university. It was one of the few recent instances in which the school recommended the ban of a student group for an action other than hazing or alcohol abuse. The incident and its aftermath sparked wide debate about free speech on campus.
Rackauckas' decision was announced just days after about 50 protesters rallied Tuesday in front of his office against possible charges. Though some inside and outside UC Irvine have criticized the students' method of protest, many said university sanctions were sufficient punishment.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, said that he didn't think criminal charges were warranted and that he hopes the charges can be dealt with simply.
"I think that university discipline was sufficient," he said.
The defendants are accused of meeting with other members of the Muslim Student Union six days before the event to discuss options to respond to Oren's speech.
According to prosecutors, students circulated e-mails and held multiple meetings to plan the disruption. Mohamed Mohy-Eldeen Abdelgany, 23, a defendant in the case and the president of the Muslim Student Union at the time, is accused of sending an e-mail Feb. 3 to the organization's message board announcing: "We will be staging a University of Chicago Style disruption of the Ambassador's speech."
Abdelgany is accused of sending an e-mail on Feb. 7 to the same message board advising "nondisruptors" to cheer after each "disruptor" finished.
The other defendants are Khalid Bahgat Akari, 19; Aslam Abbasi Akhtar, 23; Joseph Tamim Haider, 23; Taher Mutaz Herzallah, 21; Hakim Nasreddine Kebir, 20; Shaheen Waleed Nassar, 21; Mohammad Uns Qureashi, 19; Ali Mohammad Sayeed, 23; Osama Ahmen Shabaik, 22; and Asaad Mohamedidris Traina, 19.
Jesse Rosenblum, president of the Zionist Organization of America's Orange County chapter, said he attended the event and called the students "unruly."
"It is only appropriate that violations of our valuable 1st Amendment protections should be prosecuted," he said in a statement.
Eight of the defendants are students at UC Irvine; the other three were students at UC Riverside. Each is charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one misdemeanor count of disturbance of the meeting. If convicted, they face possible fines, probation, community service or jail time.
Jacqueline Goodman, a criminal defense attorney representing some of the students, said Rackauckas' actions are "dangerous to a democracy."
"The last thing we want to do is inhibit the free exchange of ideas, and that's the only thing that prosecuting these students can achieve," she said.
The students will be arraigned March 11 in Santa Ana. Goodman said late Friday that all 11 plan to plead not guilty.
EI exclusive video:
Protesters shout down Ehud Olmert in Chicago
Maureen Clare Murphy The Electronic Intifada 16 October 2009
Approximately 30 activists – mainly students from area universities – disrupted a lecture given in Chicago by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday which was hosted by the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. While Olmert’s speech was disrupted inside the lecture hall, approximately 150 activists protested outside the hall in the freezing rain.
Protesters inside the hall read off the names of Palestinian children killed during Israel’s assault on Gaza last winter. They shouted that it was unacceptable that the war crimes suspect be invited to speak at a Chicago university when his army destroyed a university in Gaza in January. They reminded the audience of the more than 1,400 Palestinians killed during the Gaza attacks and the more than 1,200 killed during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006. Both invasions happened during Olmert’s premiership.
With interventions coming every few minutes throughout his appearance, Olmert had difficulty giving his speech and often appeared frustrated. At one point he appealed for “just five minutes” to speak without being interrupted.
The demonstration was mobilized last week after organizers learned of the lecture, paid for by a grant provided by Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Within hours an appeal was issued, urging those concerned with Palestinian rights to call the university and demand that the lecture be canceled. The call was put out by major community organizations such as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)-Chicago, American Muslims for Palestine and the United States Palestine Community Network, as well as solidarity organizations al-Awda, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, the International Solidarity Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago and area campus groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at DePaul University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as the Arab Student Union at Moraine Valley.
The security presence at the lecture was severe with university police, the US Secret Service and Israeli security present – many of them visibly armed – with Israeli security checking in those who had registered in advance to attend the lecture. Video and photography was banned inside the hall and media were not allowed to cover the lecture. Despite these restrictions, activists managed to take video inside the hall and drop an eight-foot-long banner from the mezzanine that read “Goldstone” in both English and Hebrew, referring to the recently published UN report investigating violations of international law during the Gaza invasion. One activist was arrested and put in a headlock by a police officer, witnesses said, and released around midnight. Approximately 30 supporters waited for him at the police station while he was detained.
Towards the end of the lecture, Olmert put his hand over his brow and squinted to search out the source of the shout, “There’s no discussion with a war criminal – the only discussion you should be having is in court!” That call was made by Ream Qato, who graduated from the university in 2007, and added, “You belong in the Hague!” Qato told The Electronic Intifada that yesterday’s protest “Set the stage for University of Chicago students and students in the Chicago area … no one should be afraid of speaking out against someone.” She added that the demonstration was significant because “The Palestinian community [in Chicago] for the first time went to a university campus to protest.”
Approximately 150 protesters demonstrated outside the University of Chicago hall where former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was speaking. (Maureen Clare Murphy)
Second-year medical student Afshan Mohiuddin was removed from the hall after she voiced her disapproval at the Harris School dean’s on-stage assertion that Olmert was invited to express his views. “He can do that at the International Court of Justice, not at this university,” Mohiuddin shouted, adding, “[Olmert] belongs in a cage, not on a stage!”
Mohiuddin told The Electronic Intifada that “it was ironic that they searched us [instead of him],” considering that Olmert is suspected of war crimes. She added, “As a University of Chicago student I was upset with the lack of commotion on behalf of the student body before the event … No one has protested the event.”
Mohiuddin’s frustration was echoed in a commentary published by the University of Chicago’s student publication The Chicago Maroon earlier this week, in which third-year student Nadia Marie Ismail decried the lack of protest by the university community towards the Olmert speech. She contrasted this silence with the pressure the Center for Middle Eastern Studies faced after a lecture earlier this year by The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah (who was the first to disrupt Olmert’s speech yesterday), University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer and Norman Finkelstein, whose lost bid for tenure at DePaul University is attributed to outside pressure by Israel government apologists. “[T]hat University center was put under unprecedented pressure for weeks before and months after the event, with claims that University centers and schools should not host ‘one-sided’ speakers,” Ismail wrote.
Olmert’s lecture in Chicago was one of several scheduled throughout the United States. His speech at the University of Kentucky the previous day was disrupted by activists and met with a protest outside. These demonstrations are part of a wave of notched-up dissent towards Israeli officials implicated in war crimes and racist policy. In 2003, former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky was greeted with a pie in the face by an activist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Last year at the UK’s Oxford University, a speech by Israeli President Shimon Peres was drowned out by protesters outside while students inside the hall disrupted his talk.
One of the organizers of the protest, Hatem Abudayyeh, National Coordinating Committee member of the United States Palestine Community Network, hoped for a larger count of protesters despite the adverse weather. However, he said, “The fact that there’s people around the world who know about it, the fact that PACBI [the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel] sent us a letter of support and endorsement of our action, the fact that there was coordination with the outside protest and the inside disruption – all of these components and aspects of the action made it one of the more successful ones that we’ve done.”
He added, “There is real change happening, whether it’s the international response to the Lebanon war or the international response to the Gaza war. The US is the most powerful country in the world, Israel is a powerful military as well, but the Palestinians have the world on their side.”
Video shot and produced by The Electronic Intifada.
Maureen Clare Murphy is Managing Editor of The Electronic Intifada and an activist with the Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago, which co-sponsored the demonstration.
Peres Speech at Oxford University Disrupted by anti-Israel Protesters
Peres, on trip to U.K., says Syria knows the benefits of a peace deal with Israel.
News Agencies and Anshel Pfeffer Haaretz Service
Nov 18, 2008 12:00 AM Updated: 12:42 AM
LONDON - President Shimon Peres, on the first day of a state visit to Britain on Tuesday, devoted part of his speech on the issues of peace and globalization at Oxford University to United States President-elect Barack Obama.
Peres' speech was then disrupted by anti-Israel protesters.
Zionism started because of anti-Semitism and racism, and the election of Obama to be president of the United States might just be the end of this racism, Peres said during his speech.
However, his speech was repeatedly interrupted by a group of students who vociferously protested Israel's policy in the territories. These students were silenced by a majority of the audience, while the president carried on with his speech.
Earlier, Peres said that Syria understands that it would benefit from the return of land in a peace deal with Israel, given that Israel had returned captured territory in peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.
"Egypt made peace with Israel, and so did Jordan and they got back all the territory. Syria knows that if it will make real peace and change its ways it will get the same," he said.
Israel seized control of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War. It annexed the area in 1981, although the move has not been recognized by the international community. The possibility of the return of the territory as part of a peace deal with Syria has met fierce opposition in Israel.
The president warned earlier Tuesday that making Israel's readiness to make peace with Syria depends on whether Damascus is prepared to rein in the Iran-backed Hezbollah organization, which is based in Lebanon.
Speaking in a BBC radio interview, Peres said that Syria cannot expect Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights while Iran furthers its influence in Lebanon with the help of Syria.
"Israel is not prepared to tolerate an Iranian presence on its border," Peres said, in an apparent reference to Hezbollah.
"If Syria will understand that they can't have the Golan Heights and keep Lebanon as a base for the Iranians, then the decision will be clear," Peres added.
"But if she wants the Golan Heights back and keeps her bases in Lebanon - which are really controlled and financed by the Iranians - no Israeli will agree to have Iranians on our borders."
Syria has held indirect talks with Israel through Turkish mediation in recent months. Syrian officials have in the past rejected Israeli demands that Damascus drop its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and give up its alliance with Iran as part of a peace deal.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband visited Damascus on Tuesday, after completing a two-day visit to Israel.
Peres' visit to London was aimed at marking 60 years of Anglo-Israeli relations. During his time in Britain, the president is set to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
He will also deliver an address to both Houses of Parliament in London.
Peres is expected hold discussions with British leaders on economic cooperation, Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations and Iran's nuclear program.
On Thursday, Peres will visit Buckingham Palace and meet with the Queen, who will bestow upon him an honorary knighthood.
The president will also speak at Oxford University to kick off a series of lectures named after him.
Although Peres was warmly received in the U.K., his visit came at a time of relative tension between the two countries, following Britain's bid to require Israel to label all products made in the West Bank.
Israeli minister sparks demo by students
10:48Wednesday 02 February 201110:23Thursday 03 February 2011
EDINBURGH University security officers had to be brought in last night after 50 protesters claimed to have shut down a lecture by the Israeli foreign minister's special advisor.
The talk by Ishmael Khaldi, hosted by the University's Jewish society and held in Appleton Tower at 5.30pm, was delayed, then interrupted by students chanting support for Palestinian refugees.
However, security did not have to intervene and Mr Khaldi, advisor to Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, left the stage after 45 minutes.
The protest followed a talk, hosted by Students for Justice in Palestine, earlier that day by US Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner, in which he linked US foreign policy to the suffering of the Palestinians.
The talk was set to be held by the International Relations society the previous night, but the society declined to host him.
President of the society, Ledys Sanjuan, said "The IR society had a long discussion about hosting Ishmael Khaldi. We came to the conclusion that providing a platform for a representative of the Israeli state would be at the expense of the millions of Palestinians who live under Apartheid."
Press Release: Students Disrupt Edinburgh University Talk by Israeli Ambassador
WRITTEN BY ADMIN • THURSDAY, 25.10.2012, 11:43
Last night, activists from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Edinburgh University disrupted a lecture by the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub. He was met by a lively crowd of 200 protesters outside. There were also protests inside, despite heavy security restrictions.
In the days preceding the talk, student union representatives had written to the Politics Society, who organised the event, urging them to cancel it. They cited Israel’s human rights record and occupation of Palestinian land.
“Taub was here to defend the racist policies of the state of Israel,” said Pete Ramand, Edinburgh University Students Association’s (EUSA) BME Officer. “and it is an unacceptable situation when someone with such abhorrent and dangerous views can be brought on to campus. It is threatening to students from a Palestinian or Arab background, who are then treated like criminals for attempting to voice their justified opposition to it.”
Protesters were met at Bristo Square with what was described as the “largest campus police presence seen in years”. Over 100 police officers surrounded students who were chanting “Zionism is a crime, Free Free Palestine” and “Boycott Israel”.
The location of the talk was kept secret and access was restricted, allegedly at the request of University security. Despite this, around 15 activists managed to gain entry to the event and interrupted the talk at a regular intervals, calling Taub a ‘defender of war crimes’ and ‘ambassador for apartheid’.
“I was there to show solidarity with the Palestinian people who live under a brutal occupation,” said one of the protesters who got inside. “They are denied their basic human rights by the Israeli state. SJP supports the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law. We feel we have a moral duty to protest against a state which commits war crimes and has been ethnically cleansing Palestine for over 64 years”
As the ambassador left, he was forced to flee to his car by a large group of protesting students.
Edinburgh University students have been noted in recent years for their support of the Palestinian cause. In 2010, a motion to boycott Israeli goods overwhelmingly passed at a student union AGM, whilst only last month a referendum to boycott G4S on campus due to their involvement in the occupation of Palestine was won.
Police called as anti-Israel activists disrupt UCL event
Marcus Dysch October 28, 2016
Police had to accompany Jewish students from a lecture hall at a London university after they were trapped by anti-Israel protesters.
One student claimed she had been "assaulted" while attending the talk by Hen Mazzig, an Israeli speaker, at University College London last night.
Officers entered the room and carried out an evacuation of members of UCL’s Friends of Israel group amid chaotic scenes.
Demonstrators had entered the room to fly Palestinian flags and chant. The event was being live-streamed online and the disruption was clear on the video footage, with protesters banging on windows and screaming "Palestine! Palestine!".
The event was run by the UCL Friends group and King’s College London’s Israel Society.
Devora Khafi, a volunteer with the StandWithUs advocacy group, tweeted: “I was assaulted. We were attacked. But freedom will prevail. @HenMazzig did a great job sharing his story amidst a whirlwind of hate.”
Mr Mazzig served in the IDF for five years as an openly gay commander. He is a former lieutenant who worked as an intermediary between the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, United Nations and other groups in the West Bank.
Shortly after being taken out of the room at around 9pm, he tweeted:
I had to be rushed out of the event at @UCL with security. The campus was the war zone and the streets are the safe place. I'm out. My god.
The Community Security Trust confirmed all the Jewish students had been safely helped from the room. Footage shows Jewish audience members being led from the building by police, as activists scream "shame, shame" at them.
Police confirmed officers remained at the venue until the meeting had "ended safely". An investigation has now begun into an allegation of common assault.
The JC understands the Board of Deputies has been involved in efforts to get UCL chiefs to investigate the incidents on their campus.
The Board is understood to have made four demands of UCL; for an immediate "rigorous" inquiry, for disciplinary action against UCL staff and students involved in the incident, for a statement giving assurances that Jewish students are safe on the campus, and for a meeting with the UCL Provost.
UCL issued a statement in which it said "we did all we could" to ensure the event went ahead as planned by the Friends of Israel group.
It added: "UCL and UCLU do not condone acts of intimidation or violence under any circumstances and, as a university with a longstanding radical history, we fiercely support the right to exercise free speech within the law.
"The freedom to debate and challenge views is fundamental to the nature of a university. We also acknowledge the right to peaceful protest.
"We did all we could to ensure that the UCLU Friends of Israel Society event could go ahead at UCL, working with our security team and the Metropolitan Police.
"It was widely advertised and open to the public, and as result a small but noisy group of protesters attended and occupied the rooms where the event was originally meant to take place.
"UCL security found an alternative location and ensured the event went ahead safely. We regret protesters took measures to try to prevent the event from happening but stress that the protest was non-violent.
"We are aware that the Metropolitan Police attended following accusations of assault and support them fully in their investigations. As this was a public event, it is unclear how many UCL students were present but we are instigating an enquiry and will consider disciplinary action against any student where there is evidence that they may have breached our disciplinary regulations.
"Both UCL and UCLU have a code of practice governing the participation of external speakers at events held at UCL. It is clearly stated in UCL’s code of practice that the premises will not be denied to any individual on any ground connected with their beliefs. The code also requires speakers to behave lawfully and avoid any action or language which is offensive, provocative or a clear incitement to violence.”
The National Union of Students said it would not be commenting on the incident.
In a statement, the Union of Jewish Students said: “There can be no excuses for the events that took place at UCL last night.
“The fact that such violence and hostility took place only nine months after the incident at KCL, with police having to once again be called, is an absolute disgrace.
“UCL Friends of Israel were simply trying to engage students in discussion on Israel, but instead were met with a wall of intolerance and intimidation aimed at shutting down free speech.
“It is reassuring however that, despite the acts of the protestors, the event went ahead as planned with around 50 engaging in peaceful and positive discussion on Israel and Palestine.
“We would like to commend the organisers of last night's event for their commitment in ensuring the event went ahead as planned. Despite the hostility, Jewish and non-Jewish students alike, across the country, will never stop engaging in constructive debate around Israel/Palestine.
“It is imperative that UCL and UCLU take action following last night's events and we will be working with UCL Friends of Israel to ensure just that. Whatever your position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is no place for intolerance and intimidation like was seen last night at UCL on university campuses."
We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests which took place in @ucl against an Israeli speaker. Free speech was shut down. pic.twitter.com/8xwE3141Q3
The Israeli embassy in London said: "We are concerned by the shameful violence recorded at last night’s event at UCL aimed at preventing an Israeli speaker from engaging students. We are confident the university will be investigating those responsible.”
In a statement the Board said: “We deplore the aggressive and intimidating protests which took place in @ucl against an Israeli speaker. Free speech was shut down.”
Sir Eric Pickles, Conservative Friends of Israel chair, said: "The shameful events of last night provide another sad insight into the levels of intimidation and harassment that Jewish and Israeli students can experience on university campuses across the UK.
"Having spoken just the day before at a UCL Holocaust remembrance conference held in a suitably respectful atmosphere, it was concerning to see the vastly different response to a pro-Israel event at the same university.
"The apparent antisemitism lurking behind some hard-line anti-Israel 'activists' is a terrible indictment of the intolerance of some modern students. Free speech must be guaranteed and protected for all."
UCL markets itself as a "global university" with a high proportion of international students. It is thought around 500 Jewish students attend the university.