University investigating assault on Jewish students

TORONTO – York University in Toronto is investigating allegations of assault against two Jewish students during a pro-Israel program.

The incident, which is alleged to have taken place Feb. 1, occurred when about 20 Jewish members of the on-campus group Hasbara Fellowships at York University gathered, with permission from the university, to raise awareness of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and terrorist acts committed by Hamas.

Tyler Golden, co-president of Hasbara Fellowships, told JTA that about 50 activists and protesters surrounded the Jewish students and began chanting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs.

He said two Jewish students were slapped, one on the arm and the other across the face.

Two university security officers arrived on the scene. Toronto police were not called “because we wanted to give the university a chance to put its system into place,” according to Golden.

Golden said a complaint was lodged with York’s Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution Office.

The university has appointed an adjudicator and is reviewing videotapes from security cameras, York spokesman Alex Bilyk told JTA. He offered JTA the chance to view the tapes.

“An investigation is under way,” he said.

According to its Web site, the Jewish Defense League of Canada has offered a $500 reward “for the assailants [sic] identities, names, alias [sic], phone numbers and addresses.”

A year ago, a group of Jewish students at York were barricaded in the Hillel lounge by a mob yelling anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slurs. Police had to escort the Jewish students out of the building. Two York students were reprimanded for the incident.

In response to that and other incidents involving Jewish students, York established a task force. Among its recommendations were the creation of more student space for studying and socializing, and the expansion of the Student Code of Conduct.

At the time, B’nai Brith Canada slammed the task force report as failing to address anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism at York.