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Pro-Hamas Demonstrators Attack Georgia College Student Outside Jewish Event

In a tense protest Tuesday night, pro-Palestinian protestors assaulted an Emory University School of Law student in front of Chabad at Emory’s house. The protest began around 6:30 p.m., with pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered around the front entrance with signs and Palestinian flags.

Emory Students for Justice in Palestine (ESJP) organized the protest in response to Emory Chabad hosting an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Reservist Commander for dinner and a talk. The Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States, Anat Sultan-Dadon, was also in attendance.

The law student, who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, brought his car adorned with American and Israeli flags to the Chabad house parking lot. The student said he was holding an Israeli flag at the Chabad fence when the assault occurred.

“Multiple guys came up to me from the bottom [of the fence], and they reached through the fence to grab the flag because I was on my side of the line,” the student said. “They punched me in the stomach, grabbed the flag and started a back and forth, and then one of them spit at me. And then I went to the cops, and apparently one of the guys that engaged in that had flashed his gun that he was carrying.”

Elijah Brawner (26T), who helped organize the protest, stated that the men who allegedly assaulted the student were not affiliated with Emory or ESJP. The men appeared to be beyond college age.

Brawner also said that he did not see the law student get hit.

“Nobody touched the student,” Brawner said. “They grabbed his flag. They pull on the flag, he pulls the flag back.”

The student said he filed a police report and that the two suspects of assault were in custody as of Tuesday night. Lipskier also stated that he believes two individuals were arrested after the protest.

The Emory Wheel was unable to reach the DeKalb County Police Department (DKPD) as of press time.

Organizers took turns leading chants such as, “Free, free, Palestine, long live Palestine,” “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” “There is only one solution, intifada revolution” and “Long live the intifada.” “Intifada” is a word for an uprising that is used to describe periods of Palestinian militant attacks on Israel throughout history. Protestors also chanted “Baby killers” toward students standing on the Chabad lawn.

At one point, a student came out from the Chabad house and attempted to talk to protestors, who yelled chants back and questioned why she was not protesting with them. 

Emory Police Department (EPD) drove past the scene multiple times at approximately 7:00 p.m. Approximately six DKPD cruisers and several uniformed DKPD officers were already present, and the organizers began chanting “EPD, KKK, IDF are all the same.” A few DKPD officers stood down on the street with protestors, and others positioned themselves by the Chabad house. A man with an AR-15-style rifle, handguns and a dog was present on the Chabad lawn.

Zachary Hammond (23Ox, 25C), a member of Students for Socialism at Emory, gave a speech with respect to persistent activism and the Israel-Hamas war.

“If there’s ever a moment in this movement that you feel small, if there’s ever a moment in this movement where you feel like you won’t win, just remember that we are all here with you,” Hammond said. “No matter how much they try to drown us out. No matter how many IDF soldiers come to this campus, no matter how many mosques they destroy, no matter how many homes they destroy, Palestine will be free.”

Soon after a series of chants led by organizers, the protest escalated after people parked behind the demonstrators with both an American and an Israeli flag hanging from one of the cars. While Hammond gave a speech to the protestors, the individuals in the Chabad parking lot began to play music from their car speakers. 

In recognition of Iftar, which is the meal eaten to break fast during Ramadan, Brawner led the Maghrib prayer, one of the five mandatory Salah prayers, to close out the protest. However, the people in the Chabad parking lot began to play music during the prayer. 

“The Israeli terrorists started chanting and playing their music during that, which was very, very disrespectful,” said Saturn Williams, a student at Chattahoochee Technical College (Ga.) who heard about the protest through the Atlanta branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

Although Williams arrived 10 to 15 minutes before people began dispersing from the protest, they noticed the “cops interrogating” a “man of color.” 

According to screenshots of the ESJP general body GroupMe chat obtained by the Wheel, protest organizers wanted to have members inside the Chabad house.

“I feel like there needs to be someone on the inside to be able to note any particularly disturbing statements,” a member of the chat wrote. “I know admin doesn’t really care but being able to quote specific damaging rhetoric would probably be beneficial?”

An organizer also discussed wanting “anonymous” people inside to video record the talk and see what the IDF commander said. 

“We need a white-looking person,” an ESJP member wrote.

An ESJP executive board member also directed members to “contact anyone in Atlanta” to attend. Additionally, another member said “yes” when asked if non-Emory students can “attend and disrupt” the protest.

Organizers noted that Emory’s Respect for Open Expression Policy did not apply to the protest since the Chabad house is private property.

“Even better it mean[s] we can disrupt more,” a member wrote. Another added, “This means at least one major barrier to disrupt has been removed.”

A “concerned” Jewish student who attended the event and requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns said that protestors were harassing Jewish students as they walked inside the Chabad house.

“As Jewish students came into the event, they were called k*kes,” the student said. “They were called Nazis. They were called f*ggots by these anonymous protesters that student groups invited to campus to pose as disruptors.”

Brawner said he utterly condemns any slur usage.

“We unilaterally condemn all forms of racial, religious, sexual and gender discrimination,” Brawner said.

The protest continued into the middle of dinner at the Chabad event, and Dylan LaBorwit (26C) noted it changed the atmosphere of the meal. 

“Everyone was kind of shocked,” LaBorwit said. “It was kind of hard to believe.”

LaBorwit also thought the protest could have intimidated underclassmen walking near campus property.

“Imagine a freshman walking into this and kind of be discouraged or kind of frightened because you’re just on the road alone, you’re walking by a bunch of people, and you’re not sure what’s gonna happen,” LaBorwit said.

However, Emory Chabad Rabbi Zalman Lipskier said he thought the actual talk was “beautiful.” He added that the event provided a space for students to hear firsthand what life in Israel is like, both in and out of the army.

“We all need to work to promote a more cohesive, unified Emory family,” Lipskier said. “It’s unfortunate that some people are looking to tear us apart.”

https://emorywheel.com/student-assaulted-at-protest-outside-chabad/