Students for Justice in Palestine admits pro-Israel student assaulted, but denies claimed anti-Semitic slurs.
When I told you on July 16 that I was Expecting anti-Israel violence on campuses this fall, you might have thought I was needlessly worried.
But I have observed over the past academic year the increasing fury and frustration of the campus BDS movement — and that was before Gaza.
So in my post I predicted:
Merely unhinged BDS on campus will be the good old days.
And it may already have come true, just as most universities are seeing students return to campus for the fall semester.
A Jewish student on the campus of Temple University was assaulted on Wednesday afternoon and called “kike” and “baby killer” by members of the anti-Semitic student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Daniel Vessal, a Camera on Campus fellow and a member of the Jewish fraternity AEPi, was punched in the face by a violent member of the anti-Israel organization SJP at “Templefest” which is organized for students on campus to gain new information about campus clubs a week before the start of classes. Vessal is a managing information systems major at the Fox School of Business at the university…..
A short time later, after experiencing a headache and neck stiffness, Vessal sought medical attention at the Temple University Hospital. He spoke to TruthRevolt just prior to undergoing a medical evaluation.
A copy of the medical evaluation provided exclusively to Truth Revolt listed mandibular pain, cervical sprain, and closed head injury.
Josh Josephs and Alex Winokur witnessed the assault and confirm Vessal’s account and added that they heard members of Students for Justice in Palestine call Vessal a “kike” while he lay on the ground.
“Daniel went up to talk to them and have an educated conversation, and try to rationalize their opinions,“ explained Josephs. “Alex and I, being not as educated on this topic, stood to the side and let them converse. The ‘conversation’ shortly escalated to the Palestine group being very arrogant and irrational. The people behind the table started attacking Daniel calling him a “Zionist, racist, baby killer.” Daniel asked the people behind if they could keep the name calling out of it, and just try to have a calm talk about their opinions.”
“Out of nowhere, a member of the group strikes Daniel, straight in the jaw with a closed fist. This led to Daniel going straight to the ground, losing his glasses and in immediate pain.”
“While on the ground, the members in this group were just pointing at Daniel and were laughing at him,” Josephs told TruthRevolt. “In addition, names including kike, stupid Jew, and Zionist, were used by the members in reference to Daniel.”
“This was unacceptable, uncalled for, and a clear act of Anti-Semitism. The organization ‘Students for Justice in Palestin’ at Temple is a disgrace to this University, clearly shown by acts like this,” Josephs and Winokur told TruthRevolt in a joint statement. “Temple University should be embarrassed to allow this type of behavior to happen right on campus, especially at a big event like this.”
The student further told Truth Revolt:
“Before this I just thought Students for Justice in Palestine was crazy but I didn’t know it would lead to violence.”
Temple University has issued a statement condemning the attack:
Temple University is investigating a report of an attack against a student late Wednesday afternoon. The attack is alleged to have included physical violence and anti-Semitic statements and religious slurs. As part of its investigation, Temple asks that anyone with information about the incident contact Campus Safety Services immediately at 215-204-1234.
Temple University unequivocally condemns the disparagement or assault of any person based on religion or nationality. The university will not tolerate violence of any kind directed against members of the Temple community.
In addition, university officials Wednesday night reached out to leaders of the Temple Jewish and pro-Palestinian communities to discuss the incident and a best path for moving forward.
Temple SJP is denying involvement:
Temple SJP then issued a statement indicating that the Jewish student was merely slapped, and the the person who did that was not a member of SJP just a friend of a member and was provoked. The statement reads in part (emphasis in original):
Thursday August 21, 2014
Wednesday, an unfortunate incident occurred during Temple Fest at Welcome Week at Temple University. A student, who is not a member of Students for Justice in Palestine, slapped a former student who was repeatedly harassing the SJP table. In all the years that SJP has existed at Temple, arguments have never escalated to physical confrontation. Temple SJP condones [sic – condemns] this act of physical violence, just as we condone [sic – condemns]the violence that is committed against Palestinians by the state of Israel on a daily basis. While the student who slapped Vessal is an acquaintance of SJP members, he has not been involved with the group in the past and is not a member. ….
One of these students was not part of SJP, but a friend to some of the members of the club. He was standing near the table socializing when Mr. Vessal became involved in a heated exchange with him, even after continuous requests to leave. “I heard him say Israel is not occupying Palestine, but that Palestinians are occupying Gaza. I started laughing at the sheer absurdity because Palestinians are indigenous to Gaza and also unable to leave because of the inhumane siege Israel has maintained since 2007,” Samantha continued. “In response, I heard him say ‘You’re sitting here laughing like idiots!’ He aggressively moved closer to me as he said this. It was then that B.*, who is not an SJP member, slapped Vessal. His sunglasses fell to the ground, but he did not.”
Accusations leveled at SJP claim that anti-semitic slurs such as k*ke were hurled, but this is patently untrue
So there was an assault by someone at an SJP campus table, it was over Israel, the only question is how serious an assault and whether slurs where shouted.
While obviously whether a the slur was shouted is important, the violence aspect is critical, reflecting (even by SJP’s statement) how frustration with a pro-Israel student escalated.
I expect many more of these incidents.
Update 8-22-2014: Alleged Suspect Identified in Violent Assault on Temple Univ. Jewish Student.