(JTA) — Eight Jewish organizations condemned an assault on an Arab teacher allegedly carried out by members of the Jewish Defense League outside last week’s AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C.
The organizations also condemned an alleged attack by JDL members on a member of the anti-occupation group IfNotNow protesting outside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference that they said resulted in a concussion.
“We condemn the violent attacks by Jewish Defense League (JDL) members on peaceful protesters. While members of our community hold a range of opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must agree that violence is an unacceptable response to political dissent,” the groups said in a statement Friday.
The groups are the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, T’ruah and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
The JDL’s stated goal is to protect Jews from anti-Semitism, but the FBI in a 2001 report called it “a right-wing terrorist group.”
Two men were charged with a hate crime in the attack on the teacher, listed in a report released last week by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia as Kamal Nayfeh.
972 Magazine in its report on the attack said that Nayfeh, 55, is an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. According to the North Carolina school’s website, Nayfeh has taught networking technology there for 16 years.
The alleged assailants are not named in the police report, but a police spokeswoman identified them as Yosef Steynovitz, 32, of Canada, who was charged with assault with significant bodily injury, and Rami Lubranicki, 59, of Howell, New Jersey, who was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
In both instances, “suspected hate crime” based on “anti-Arab” bias was added as “other felony involved.” Hate crimes, if added to a conviction, automatically increase penalties.
Meir Weinstein, who reportedly is the national director of the Canadian JDL, in a video released on Facebook said that individuals affiliated with the group acted only in self-defense. Weinstein alleged that videos of the incident were “selectively spliced.”
“We’re going to be releasing a lot more information to put everything into context,” he said.
According to the police report, Nayfeh said he got into a “verbal altercation” with Steynovitz, who then punched Nayfeh “about the face area.” Nayfeh fell to the ground, according to the report, and Lubranicki kicked him in his side and hit him in the right eye with a wooden pole.