College peace protest
Anti-war demonstrators allegedly attack Jewish students
Posted: March 7, 2003
A college protest against a U.S.-led war in Iraq turned violent when students with an American flag were attacked and two Jewish students were harassed by anti-war demonstrators, reports the National Post.
According to the report, Miriam Levin, who is Jewish, was intimidated and roughed up by protesters when she tried to drive onto the campus of York University in Toronto. The protesters were picketing entrances to the campus and blocking traffic on Wednesday morning.
"I told the guy, 'Making me 20 minutes late for class isn't helping the people in Iraq,' and then he started calling me a terrorist and an occupier," Levin told the Post.
She said she could not understand why the man was shouting anti-Semitic remarks at her until her friend, Hannah Wortsman, saw that she was wearing earrings with a Star of David design.
According to Cim Nunn, spokesman for the university, protesters had agreed not to block traffic. York has as many as 35,000 cars passing through its property every day, he said.
Three protesters were arrested but released without being charged. A group of protesters then attempted to occupy the university president's office, according to the report.
Levin said she and Wortsman also were heading to the president's office to file a complaint when protesters again confronted her. Wortsman said student demonstrators surrounded them. "The floor was completely full of protesters, who weren't letting us go anywhere," she said.
Levin pulled out her camera to take photos of the scene and the group tried to take it away from her, she said, adding a security guard did nothing when she and Wortsman called for help.
"I asked why he didn't do anything and he said, 'Well you shouldn't have been there,'" Levin said.
It was only after she called 911 that she and her friend were able to escape.
She said she would be pressing charges against one woman who allegedly assaulted her.
Later, the protesters entered classes for a few minutes to talk to students, said Joel Duff of the Canadian Federation of Students told the paper.
It was when the line passed a booth set up by the Young Zionist Partnership and the Canadian Alliance that a confrontation occurred. Students who ran the booth claim protesters shouted insults before charging them.
"Hundreds of people basically swarmed three people," said Paul Cooper, president of the Zionist group. He said only a few people were confrontational, but everyone else "watched and did nothing to stop it."
Duff said his group did not instigate the incident, saying it began with name-calling from the booth. "We attempted to keep moving. Our message was we shouldn't be distracted, but the goal of those people who set up the booth was to disrupt and distract us today."
Another Jewish student claims protesters singled him out because of his faith.
Said Yaakou Rath, campus president of the Canadian Alliance: "They chose to attack me, and I'm identifiably Jewish, but they didn't attack Paul [Cooper], who's not, and that's scary."
He said the group also stole the booth's U.S. flag and tried to set it on fire.