Muddling the Mayhem of a Palestinian Protest


The Evening Standard responded to HR reader complaints by revising the wording of its “Israel Occupation Forces” reference. The term’s not in the reporter’s voice anymore, but A) highlighting the term in the first place and B) not identifying the name of the Friends of Palestine Society spokesman who said it is still poor journalism.


* * *

It was an ugly scene at University College of London on Thursday night.

Hen Mazzig, a writer and former IDF humanitarian affairs officer, was scheduled to talk to students about his experiences working in COGAT, a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense which coordinates civilian issues between the Israeli government, Palestinians, and relevant international organizations in West Bank and Gaza. The event was sponsored by Friends of Israel at UCL in London and CAMERA on Campus. Two papers botched their coverage (more on that below).

News breaks fast. Get HonestReporting alerts by e-mail
and never miss a thing.

Free Sign Up

The Express describes what happened before Mazzig was even able to speak: A mob of 100 anti-Israel protesters showed up to disrupt the event, and disrupt it they did, banging on doors, climbing through windows, chanting slogans, and reportedly assaulting Jewish students, who were forced to barricade themselves in a separate room while police tried to get the situation under control.

Footage showed crowds of pro-Palestine campaigners with placards who were shouting “shame” at those who had come for the talk and were trapped inside.


Mr Mazzig posted a Facebook live video showing more than 20 policemen trying to put themselves in between a crowd shouting “free, free Palestine” and the room where the lecture was.


A man banging on the window is then heard saying: “From river to the sea, Palestinian will be free.”


In the video, the Israeli speaker said: “I don’t think that even in my days in the IDF it was as bad as it is right now.


“It’s really scary. I hear they’ve been attacking some girls, Jewish girls who came to support my talk and wow, it’s crazy, they’re really out of their mind.”



Devora Khafi of Stand With Us described her experience to the Jewish Chronicle.

Other individuals, like Elliot Miller, posted their own videos of the mayhem.


Two Papers Blew It

While the Daily Telegraph, Times of London, LBC, Daily Mail, and the Jewish News responsibly reported the story, two papers botched their coverage.

First, The Independent, in which a misleading headline and statement in the reporter’s voice say pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students “clashed,” implying that both sides were equally responsible — a distortion of facts.






In a separate report, the Evening Standard refers to the “IOF” in the reporter’s voice. It stands for “Israel Occupation Forces,” an abusive term used by Israel-bashers. I presume this reference was used by one of the protesters interviewed by the Standard, in which case “IOF” should have been put in quotation marks. So either the Evening Standard is guilty of gross ignorance (at best, misleading terminology), or even worse, offering a blatant opinion disguised as news.




Jewish students did not clash with anyone. The Independent must be reminded that there is no moral equivalence between Jewish students exercising their their free speech and the Palestinians who violently disrupted the event.

And “IOF” is a slur which is just as offensive as, say, “DRC” (dirty rotten cops). The Evening Standard should have handled the quote in a more professional manner. Period.

HonestReporting has been in contact with The Independent and Evening Standard, but in the absence of a reply from the editors, please demand the two papers make the appropriate corrections. You may find our 10 letter-writing tips helpful.

Send your considered comments to The Independent at and to the Evening Standard’s complaints page.


Featured image: screengrab via Elliot Miller;

  Like what you just read? Sign up for more:


Before you comment on this article, please remind yourself of our Comments Policy.