For Immediate Release
CAMERA—Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Contact: Andrea Levin
National President and Executive Director
ASSAULT AGAINST TEMPLE UNIVERSITY CAMERA FELLOW
EXPOSES BIGOTRY OF STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE
Boston, MA (Aug. 21, 2014) – CAMERA—the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America—calls on Temple University to uphold its commitment to academic freedom and free intellectual debate by investigating the physical assault against one of its students by individuals at a “Students for Justice in Palestine” exhibit yesterday. “Those responsible for this apparent criminal act, and the antisemitic incitement that accompanied it, must be dealt with according to the law and campus regulations,” CAMERA President and Executive Director Andrea Levin stated.
Temple student and CAMERA Fellow Daniel Vessal was attacked while speaking with individuals staffing a “Students for Justice in Palestine” table at Templefest, an exposition of student organizations. He reportedly was punched in the face and knocked to the ground while being taunted with antisemitic and apparently anti-Israel slurs including “kike” and “baby killer.““
Levin noted that the assaulted student, Vessal, is pursuing the possibility of legal action and said that her organization, a 65,000-member, Boston-based communications media watchdog, “stands ready to help him secure justice in this matter.”
A managing information systems major at Temple, Vessal said he approached the “Students for Justice in Palestine” booth and said, “Listen, you should not be protesting Israel. If anything, protest the terrorists,” a reference to Hamas gunmen bombarding Israel with mortars and rockets.
One of the four or five people at the table punched him hard in the face, breaking his glasses and knocking him down. Vessal said others at the SJP table screamed ”You Zionist pig! You racist! This is what you get.”
“Inexplicably,” said Levin, “campus police did not detain the assailant. Instead, he was permitted to leave the scene. And, the SJP table continued operating.”
After the attack, Vessal went to Temple University Hospital, suffering from headache and neck stiffness. A medical evaluation confirmed mandibular pain, cervical sprain and a closed head injury.
CAMERA calls on Temple University President Neil O. Theobald to condemn this act of antisemitic violence and to launch an investigation into the individual or individuals responsible and “Students for Justice in Palestine” as an organization. According to Levin, SJP “has a record of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish incitement nationally, and now this incitement has led, almost inevitably, to violence.”
Aviva Slomich, CAMERA’s campus department director, said “the physical harassment, intimidation and now assault coming from the so-called ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ is becoming more common on American college campus and must not be tolerated. Not only does it subvert what ought to be open, civil academic discourse in general, it also amounts to naked anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli bigotry.”
Slomich said CAMERA—which has Fellows and Pro-Israel groups on more than 50 campuses—expects Temple University “to address this outrageous behavior and stand up and protect the civil rights of its students.” She said she “seriously doubted” whether, if a violent sexual assault took place on campus, that Temple University police would “merely allow the assailant to leave the scene. Anti-Jewish assaults should not be handled as if they were some lesser, tolerable category of violence.”
CAMERA’s mission is to hold communications media to traditional journalism standards of objectivity, accuracy, context and balance. The organization takes no position on negotiated Arab-Israeli agreements.