On June 24, at a rally (off-campus) organized by the University of Massachusetts at Boston chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Dexter Van Zile, who was known to SJP as a pro-Israeli writer, was verbally and physically abused by pro-Palestinian supporters. Much of the abuse was captured on video.
In addition to posting the above video on YouTube, Van Zile has written an op-ed for the Times of Israel Blogs, in which he describes his ordeal in detail.
Yesterday, Shlomo Noginsky, a Boston area rabbi was attacked and stabbed numerous times by a 24-year-old man who was subsequently arrested. His name is Khaled Awad.
My question is whether any connection exists between the Van Zile incident and the stabbing of the Rabbi, both of which occurred in the Boston area. I have no information that Awad was part of the Van Zile incident or if he was anywhere in the vicinity when it occurred. I have no information linking Awad to SJP. Of course, I must also point out that Awad was not arrested during the commission of the knife attack or in the near vicinity. He is presumed innocent until convicted.
Regardless of who the stabber was, was this potentially deadly attack inspired in any way by the June 24 attack against Van Zile? Maybe it wasn't, but until all the facts come out, it is reasonable to ask the question.
Ever since I began being active in the issue of anti-Semitism around 2007, I have been stating (based on my experience as a part-time teacher at UC Irvine, 1998-2016) that the focal point for the resurgence in anti-Semitism in the US was on our college campuses. Just in the last few years, we have seen that hate really metastasize into the community at large. The Israel-Palestinian conflict has much to do with it, but contrary to the protestations of the sophisticated and well-organized pro-Palestinian movement that they are not anti-Jewish per se, just anti-Zionist, they still often drag out the old tropes about Jews controlling the world, dual loyalty, and the age-old Jewish blood canard when stating their case.
Mr Van Zile happens to be Christian, as am I, but he was identified by his attackers as pro-Israel. Is it any stretch to conclude that Rabbi Noginsky was attacked because he was readily identifiable as a Jew in front of a local Chabad House?
As stated, it may be that there is no connection between the two incidents, but what the SJP chapter of UMass-Boston did is hardly an isolated incident. Many other SJP chapters have committed similar acts. On campuses, their favorite tactic is disruption and intimidation. That is why I repeatedly refer to them as "Brown Shirts". They may object to the comparison to Nazis, but the tactics are similar and in my opinion, Jew-hatred is part of the equation as well, never mind that SJP does admit some misguided Jews who have hitched their wagon to the pro-Palestinian cause. Sooner or later, they must face the fact that their tactics and actions are contributing to hate and other violent acts against Jews.
I have checked the campus paper of UMass-Boston (UMassmedia) for any mention of the Van Zile incident. Thus far, I see none though, in fairness, there are no articles since May, (they take the summer off). I hope when they next appear, whenever it is, that they will address this incident.
The UMass administration, however, doesn't have to wait for the fall. Even though it happened off-campus, it did involve the campus SJP chapter. Whether or not any of their actual members actually took part in the assaults against Van Zile, they did organize the event. UMass should ask themselves whether or not they feel it is in the best interests of the university to have an SJP chapter on their campus. It is a question every university should ask.