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‘Go back to Poland’: Masked UCLA protesters harass Chabad rabbi, threaten his life


During a pro-Palestinian protest at the University of California, Los Angeles Monday night, Rabbi Dovid Gurevich, the head of the campus Chabad, was verbally harassed and had his phone knocked out of his hand.

Gurevich said that he went to the protest to “support our Jewish students.” After nightfall, he began to livestream on Instagram the protest near Dodd Hall, located in the middle of campus. His goal, he said, was to keep parents informed of what was happening on campus.

When one of the protesters realized Gurevich was recording, they hit Gurevich’s phone out of his hand. Gurevich later said that he was not physically injured. 

“You are assaulting me,” Gurevich said in the video. “You are threatening me.”. When one student intervened between the rabbi and the protester, Gurevich encouraged deescalation, saying, “Back off.”

“We love the Jews, we hate Zionists,” another protester said. “If you are a Zionist, we hate you.”

“Go back to Poland,” the protester said. “Where the f**k you’re really from.”

Throughout the course of the video, protesters called Gurevich a “pedophile rabbi” and accused him of wanting to sexually assault children. The protesters also approached the UCLA Jewish students, screaming at them. Gurevich encouraged protesters to remove their masks, to which a protester responded, “If I show my face, I’ll have to f**king kill you.”

At the end of the video, Gurevich approached the UCLA Police Department officers. “They are talking about killing me,” he told them. “Is there ever going to be any arrests for this kind of behavior? I mean, this is beyond assault, this is a direct threat.”

“The police were right there, but they told me I would have to go to a station to file a report,” Gurevich said in an interview Tuesday. “They told me they were only there to deescalate.”

Gurevich said he has not gone to the UCPD station to file a report because he is preparing for the holiday of Shavuot.

How the day progressed

The UCLA Police Department reported in a news release on Tuesday that at around 3:15 PM, approximately 100 people affiliated with a UCLA student organization set up “an unauthorized and unlawful encampment” that consisted of tents, canopies, wooden shields, and water-filled barriers. Those protesters were warned that they were violating the law, and they dispersed. One individual was arrested at the first encampment of the day for interfering with a police officer and was cited and released.

The protesters then set up a second encampment, were instructed to disperse by the UCPD, and did so. Then, at the third encampment of the day, at around 8:00 PM, UCPD arrested approximately 25 members of the encampment for “willful disruption of university operations.” They were in the process of being cited, issued 14-day stay-away orders from UCLA property, and released when the statement was published at 10:30 PM.

According to Students for Justice in Palestine UCLA, the encampments were part of an “Honor the Martyrs” protest, which included a funeral procession and remembrance.

“We ask you all to commemorate the lives lost, and to join us in protest of the UC’s complicity in such destruction,” SJP’s UCLA chapter posted on Instagram. “We will not rest until we recognize every martyr: from those that were only a few months old, to those that were older than the occupation itself.”

The pro-Palestinian protests have continued since April, until what is now finals week at UCLA. Since then, some Jewish students have left campus because of the protests.“Especially since the first encampment, which started on Passover, the vast majority of Jewish students are reporting to us that they’re feeling much less safe,” Gurevich said. “The atmosphere is much more toxic on campus, and a lot of them are afraid to express their identity or just to go about their lives. You know, it’s still finals here, so it’s another major disruption to their academic lives as well.”

Despite this, Gurevich encourages students to remain strong in their Jewish beliefs.

“My message would be to stay strong and to keep feeling Jewish in the face of adversity, because in the end, it’s only our light that will dispel the darkness,” he said.

The post ‘Go back to Poland’: Masked UCLA protesters harass Chabad rabbi, threaten his life appeared first on The Forward.