~Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of parties involved, including KCL Israel Society or Kings College London in general. The goal of this article is to spread awareness of recent events, and this American solely attempts to share the story of her British counterparts.~
You’re standing in front of a crowded room. Every set of eyes starring back at you has come here to hear you speak. You begin confidently, expressing your passionate opinions and beliefs and hopes for a peaceful future. Suddenly, screaming. Voices of dissent rise as the protesters begin to bang on the windows of this crowded room. “From the River to the Sea!” is shouted, over and over and over again. You know that this is a direct call for the genocide of the Jewish people. The group inside, gathering for no other purpose than to learn freely, begins to fear for its safety. In a second everything changes, it isn’t just threats flying inside, but chairs through the windows of this University building.
As the glass shatters, so does any hope of security in free speech. Fire alarms all throughout the building begin screeching, reminding you of all the fear you've felt simply because of what you believe in. Alarms go on and off, on and off, while the group of faceless hate attempts to set real fires, real fires they hope go undetected due to their previous false alarms. You feel helpless, and take solace in grabbing your phone to record the violence coming your way. The world goes dark as you’re pushed to the ground by a man twice your size. The group pushes their way through the closed doors, the worst is yet to come.
This is not dialogue, this is violence. This is not resistance, this is not protest, this is a clear attempt to silence all contradictory opinions from a group that is based solely around the hatred of tolerance.
Sadly, this was the reality felt by Esther Endfield and the attendees of her most recent event through Kings College Israel Society. This is her reality. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Esther during my six months studying in London. I arrived like a deer in headlights, searching desperately for a sense of community in a country that seemed to disapprove of all that I believed in and valued. Esther found me, helped me, and truly changed my life.
For followers of my writing, it is no surprise to hear that these events happened because of nothing but Anti-Semitism. I arrived in England and was immediately faced with hatred, labeled a ‘baby killer’ and supporter of genocide, and all the while was told that I was being dramatic. Once returning back to the states, I found myself comfortable again in a strong and large Jewish community. I made my way back to Hillel, enrolled in not one, not two, but three separate Hopkins courses about Israel and Zionism, and forgot about the feeling of being so attacked in London. Sadly, Esther cannot forget about the daily environment she walks into every single morning at Kings College London.
Today I want to share Esther’s story as she is by far one of the most dedicated and passionate people I have met through all of my travels. Esther expressed to me the issues she deals with on campus, the hurtful nicknames she is called due to her position as President of KCL Israel Society, and her discomfort in a University that promotes free speech and safe spaces, as long as you agree with the European liberal narrative. Esther and I shared a love of Israel, and even sat next to one another on a flight home from Tel Aviv. I watched Esther work to exhaustion for causes she wholeheartedly believes in, and not once ever denouncing those who disagreed with her.
Kings College Israel Society allowed me to work with them during my short time there, and through this experience I learned a lot about the harsh realities facing Zionist Jews in Europe today. I learned that every single event they have ever held has been protested. Regardless of subject matter, regardless of speaker, regardless of intention. Naturally I inquired about how many events they had protested in return, and was told none. KCL Israel Society believes in free speech, in never suppressing the activities of others, even those who do nothing but attempt to silence them. They believe in doing the right thing, a sentiment their dissenting groups clearly do not understand.
I have shared Esther’s immediate testimony of the recent events, as I feel her story is far from an isolated incident:
“Never did I ever think that I would have to write a post like this, but in life sometimes you do things that you never expect. This evening KCL Israel Society along with LSE Israel Society (David and Jamie) attempted to host an event with Admiral Ami Ayalon (he is now considered a peace activist and was the former head of the Shin Bet).
Protests by KCL action Palestine at this event were inevitable but it was never inevitable that it would turn violent, not to the point that I have just reported being assaulted to the police (which is also being investigated under a hate crime), not to the point that there were chairs thrown at the room and at me, not to the point where they were so violent that Kings College London windows have been smashed, not to the point where two police cars and two police vans along with 15 + officers came to protect the people inside the room, not to the point that people were running up and down the 4 story building on each floor so set the fire alarms off probably 15+ times, not to the point that I was crying hysterically for over half an hour because I was so terrified, not to the point where my event had to be stopped and the building evacuated because college security and the police were so scared that they would light a real fire and that we wouldn’t know because of the false alarms. When did I become so unsafe in one of the global universities in the world that we can no longer hold an event without being scared for our safety.
What if I hadn’t pre-arranged the 3 campus security guards plus 3 Safe Space Offers ( plus 7 other staff- included KCL and KCLSU staff)? What if all the protesters had got into the building? What if they had managed to get into the room and started throwing the chairs at the people inside? What if they had started hitting not only windows but speaker and the people attending? What if they had set a fire? What if I had been seriously injured? What if KCL Action Palestine would have come to event with questions and challenged the speaker in a respectful and peaceful manner…
Also sincere apologies to the 200+ people that came to our event to listen and learn, I’m truly sorry that it turned violent and to the 150 of you that got turned away because only 56 people being allowed into the room. Thank you for coming along and giving an Israel society a chance to have its voice heard. Despite us being shut down early I heard that he was actually a great speaker and I wish I could have been inside the room to listen instead of being barrcading against the door by 4 security officers. I hope that in the future no student society event ever gets violent as this had. I am looking forward to seeing you all at the next event.”
In response to this hate crime, Esther’s story has been shared all over British Media. Esther’s group has even been the topic of conversation in Parliament, and countless newspaper headlines. In this article alone I have attempted to share as many images of the senseless violence as possible, though most of the evidence has been sealed by the police as this incident is currently being investigated as a Hate Crime. It is not safe to be Jewish in Europe, it is even worse if you’re a Zionist Jew, and gd forbid you’re a young woman brave enough to stand up and proudly say you’re both of those things…
My thoughts and prayers go out to Esther and the other hard working members of KCL Israel Society. I hope with this horrific incident can come media awareness of the danger we face today. One must never stop defending the right to free speech, especially in the context of Judaism and Zionism in this increasingly more hostile world, which seeks our destruction. If you want to help in this cause, please comment and reach out via this post.
~The only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil is for Good men to do nothing.~