‘Don’t Feel Safe’: Jewish Columbia Student Says He Was Attacked By Pro-Palestinian Activist

“As an Israeli Jewish student, I don’t feel safe going to campus anymore.”

A Palestinian flag is flown as supporters of Palestine demonstrate near the intersection of Weslayan and the Southwest Freeway, near the Israeli consulate, as they show their support to the Palestinian resistance to the ongoing violence in the Middle East Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Houston.
Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

A Jewish Israeli student at Columbia University said he was attacked on campus by a pro-Palestinan activist who was tearing down fliers raising awareness about Israelis who have been taken hostage by Hamas. 

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Wire, the student, whose identity was confirmed but asked to remain anonymous, said that the physical altercation occurred after the attacker started tearing down the posters with the victims’ faces. The student said he suffered a broken finger, as well as bruising from the attack. 

“As an Israeli Jewish student, I don’t feel safe going to campus anymore, which was promised to be a safe haven,” the student told The Daily Wire. 

He said at the time of the incident, he was trying to raise awareness for the victims of Hamas attacks on innocent Israeli civilians by hanging posters displaying the terrorist group’s hostages’ pictures on campus. An image obtained by The Daily Wire shows one such poster, allegedly torn in half by the anti-Israel activist, displaying a “Young Israeli Couple.” The upper part of the flier read, “Kidnapped from their home by Hamas.”

Flyer for Kidnapped Israelis

Ripped flier for Kidnapped Israelis

The student said the alleged attacker was carrying a wooden stick and used it in the assault. 

“My friend and I went to him while he was tearing down posters we just hung asking him to stop and then he pushed me,” the student wrote to The Daily Wire. “I tried taking our posters and he hit me with that piece of wood.”

The alleged attacker was seen carrying a wooden stick

The alleged attacker was seen carrying a wooden stick

In a written statement, the NYPD told The Daily Wire that the attacker was a “19-year-old female” and confirmed that officers responded to an “assault in progress,” adding, “Upon arrival, officers were informed that the victim, a 24-year-old male, was engaged in a dispute with an unknown individual.”

The statement further confirms that “the dispute became physical and the individual struck the victim in the hand with a wooden stick,” and that the individual was taken into custody.

According to NYPD, 19-year-old Maxwell Friedman was charged with assault.

Columbia University Public Safety confirmed to The Daily Wire that there had been an incident on campus and that an arrest ensued. The campus police force did not confirm whether the attack in question was caused by religious motives.

The alleged attacker, who was later arrested by law enforcement, appeared to be wearing a bandana to cover his face. In their announcement for an upcoming protest organized by the Columbia chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the organization tells its followers, “DO wear red/black/green and consider wearing face coverings for safety from doxxing.”

The student told The Daily Wire that he and his friends decided to take out their phones to document the incident because this isn’t the first time they’d faced violence on campus. One of his friends said he was spat on for speaking Hebrew on campus, and later told that nothing could be done about it due to the lack of photographic evidence. 

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” the student said.

The alleged attacker is seen in an apparent scuffle with other students

The student told The Daily Wire that Amber Griffiths, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Wellbeing for Columbia’s School of General Studies, contacted him Wednesday to discuss the incident. 

According to the student, “she was shocked” and “did not know how to respond.”

On the call, the student claims, he informed the dean of how unsafe he and other Jewish students felt on campus, and that he was no longer planning on going to class the following days. He said he also pointed out that SJP was planning on hosting a rally on campus the following day, and that this story would be minuscule in comparison to the violence he feared would ensue. 

The Columbia SJP condemned General Studies Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch for an email that “victimized Israeli soldiers who uphold the occupation,” and “obfuscated Palestinian resistance as ‘terrorism.’”

The student said that he wished Columbia and other universities would do more to protect Jewish students from violence. 

“I wish academic institutes would take a stance against anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic violence to make Israelis and Jewish students like me feel safe on their campuses around the United States,” he said.

Hours after the attack, some Columbia University students started posting about the events on Sidechat, an online forum only accessible to those with a university email address. The chat appears to confirm that the pro-Palestinian activist was arrested, as well as many of the details of the attack. 

Screenshot: SideChat

Some students, however, tried to blame the Jewish students, claiming it was they who started the altercation and that the activist shouldn’t have been arrested because of his race. 

One such comment claimed “counter protestors had a BLACK pro-Palestinian arrested for putting up fliers. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE.” 

“Students who don’t stand with the black student arrested rn, let’s be clear, you’re racist so sadly,” another commenter said.

Others demonized the Jewish students for getting the police involved. “Maybe you should recognize that a group of white people decided of their own volition to involve the NYPD in a situation against 1 singular black person,” a commenter wrote. “That is an act of violence.” 

Columbia did not respond to a request for comment on the incident. Anti-Israel activists are planning a national “Day of Resistance” on Thursday to rally support for Palestinians.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Don’t Feel Safe’: Jewish Columbia Student Says He Was Attacked By Pro-Palestinian Activist